Last Year’s News…
So last year’s pre-SPACE interview started out with the confirmation that you were ending your much applauded series, “Next Year’s Girl”. What are you going to do to us this year? Should we get out the Band-Aids, get the ice? How will you be wounding us this year, this interview Mz. Katie?
You should get ready for a curve ball, at least! This year, my big project is completing the first two full-length issues of The Rotten Ones, written by my 2 Headed Monster colleague James Moore. I've started (digitally!) inking Issue 1, so that one's well under way, and James is putting together the script for Issue 2, which is even wackier than the first. I can't wait to read it once it's done.
Kidding aside, what was it like exhibiting at a show like SPACE showing off samples of Next Year’s Girl, while also knowing that this chapter was soon closing? Relief? Dull ache?
I love S.P.A.C.E.! I had attended as a guest in 2009 and was so happy to be able to participate last year. I felt good about the show despite the ending of NYG, or maybe even because of it, having the knowledge that I would be moving on to an even more fun and challenging project that I think our readers will be really excited about. Admittedly, it was a bit of a relief, because I had been experiencing some anxiety about keeping NYG interesting while entering a phase of my life that wasn't all that exciting or even cheerful. Nothing major had happened to make it so, and part of that shift was likely an aftereffect of the non-stop excitement and busyness of the prior year, from my engagement to my new job all the way to my honeymoon. I didn't want to let my readers down by keeping anything from them when I was feeling down or bored—or conversely, by putting out a comic that was dull or depressing, because as an artist, that's really not my style, and it's not the sort of thing I like to read, either.
What were the responses from fellow attendees of SPACE when they found out?
Overwhelmingly supportive, which was a relief? I don't think it's hard for people to grasp that auto-bio work can be a bit of an energy drain. I always rallied against the view of auto-bio as just a stepping stone to other comics work, but it ended up being the case for me. Can we look at it as more of a gateway drug? I don't agree at all that this path plays out for everyone, or that it should, by any means... I mean, look at James Kochalka and Alison Bechdel, for big, blatantly obvious starters. Auto-bio is a totally valid realm. Erika Moen's DAR: A Super Girly Top Secret Comic Diary is one of my big inspirations, and I carry Lucy Knisley’s French Milk with me whenever I'm traveling.
How was the show for you in general? What stuck out as most memorable?
S.P.A.C.E. was a blast. It really opened my eyes to what a comic convention can be. We met so many interesting and talented creators and comics enthusiasts, and the energy of the show was really productive and positive. The best parts were trying to find a restaurant that could feed all the new friends we'd plucked from the show (we rounded up about 20 out-of-towners for dinner the first day!) and then talking shop at the after party. Making connections with other people who have the same love of art and comics, who are making the same sacrifices to make space in their lives for this type of work, is a pretty powerful thing.
For those that have never attended a show small press or big Convention wise, can you describe what it’s like sitting on the other side of the table?
You’ve done the work, now you’re there to show it to the public.What else goes through your head? What do you and the rest do in between talking to people that approach your table? Do you talk shop, plan for more stories/comics? Take it easy and chill, people watch etc.?
It really depends on the show. The indie shows are the most fun because there's a lot of interest in our work, and people come by who are artists themselves, just starting out, and looking for advice or encouragement. I just want everyone to get excited about reading and making comics, so that sort of thing is super fun for me. I look for opportunities to let people know that it's entirely possible to do a show; possible to make work that people will buy... you just have to get started! At a bigger show, I do a lot more people-watching. Sometimes we get some work done, sometimes we have more of a chance to try and turn some new people on to our style, but we're always trying to connect with passers-by. When there's downtime, we're usually talking about our plans for the evening, especially if we're out of town, or our upcoming projects and business stuff. There's a real euphoria that comes with doing a good show. You see a lot of great work, you have some enriching conversations about what you're trying to do, you hear a lot of enthusiasm from readers and from other creators... it's a really good feeling.
Influenza of Artists…
Let’s do a speed round of some of your influences… Favorite Comic mainstream wise?
I've got to admit that I'm never 100% certain what's considered mainstream and what's not. There's such a range of labels and publishers out now that the lines have become a little blurred. That said, this answer's an easy one: Berkeley Breathed's Bloom County.
Favorite Indie Comic?
Tank Girl! I was thrilled to see two of my favorite artists (Ashley Wood, then Jim Mahfood) get a chance to work on the TG series over the past couple of years.
Favorite overall Artist?
Going to have to go with Berke Breathed again on that one. Anyone who can make me laugh, tear up, and get serious about 80s politics in the span of a page wins my love for keeps.
I've been listening to a lot of electro pop lately. My husband and I actually had our first DJ gig this past week, and my set had some Ladytron, some Robyn, La Roux, Icona Pop...
Leinie's Summer Shandy, in the summer, on a patio.
(Indy Hunter's note, I concur!)
The Rotten Ones much like Next Year Girl seems to be rocking some copic colors! If you don’t stop now young lady, this is gonna be like a signature look for you! Designer by day, Mystery Mistress of the Marker by Night?
Do you find the contrast between your digital work and the use of copic coloring a liberating balance or is there a struggle for dominance between the two?
I'm glad you think The Rotten Ones has that Copic feel; it's actually colored digitally in the Little Monsters EP sampler! I was trying to figure out how to keep a bit of an organic feel in my coloring while making it easy on myself and not smearing all of my ink around my Bristol board. The full-length comic is being drawn on my new tablet PC, which has been a lot of fun to work with. I plan on experimenting a little with my coloring, so stay tuned!
(Shenanigans! Fooled again!)
If you could only have three copics with you on an island, which ones would they be?
BG05 (Holiday Blue), R22 (Light Prawn), YR68 (Orange)
For new fans of art/comics, or just interested parties, can you describe what it’s like working with the Copics?
It's amazing. I'm a big fan. I had always marveled at artists who'd mastered marker colors, and never understood the magic, but then I learned about alcohol-based markers. Since the liquid base evaporates quickly, you aren't left with a gross, wet, shredded piece of paper like you would be with, say, a pack of 8 you'd buy at the drugstore. It's so simple. If you've never tried them before, you can find them pretty cheap online. Get two or three different colors so you can play around with blending.
As a follow up, do you mind describing your approach when you're looking down at a piece of line art?
As with most of the work I do, I just try to do what sounds the most fun to me first. I draw my pages all out of order, start inking in the middle of the thing if I feel like it, and I usually color a page at a time so I get to use a variety of colors. It's all about staying interested and moving through the work. Any progress is good progress!
The Rotten Ones has a genre blending of character types, what’s your approach to each and which ones do you look forward to drawing and which one more of a challenge?
I don't know that I necessarily have a particular approach to each of the characters. They do come from a wide variety of backgrounds, but they all have to coexist in the work in a way that makes sense, so I just play out the script in my head and imagine that the characters are people I've met--because, in a way, they're all made up of bits and pieces of people I've known. That's what's great about James' characters; he makes them very relatable, even if one of them is, say, a cigarette-smoking French robot DJ.
Year two now, on The Rotten Ones and now with 2-Headed Monster, you, Joel and James, how’s the journey so far?
It's been great! For my first comic’s collaboration, I really lucked out. The guys are a lot of fun to work with, and they're both really smart and full of good ideas, which make for some productive work.
Has it been what you initially expected?
Even better, 100%. I'm not sure what exactly I expected, but I figured there'd be some conflicts along the way or at least some rough spots. Traveling with people, being in close quarters at a show all weekend, it seems like it could be a recipe for grouchy times. Not so.
Joel just set up a new workspace for you all. Until then it was just you and James working in a coffee shop. Describe what that was like?
Yeah, I'm super excited about 2HMC Studio. Joel called it the Monster Pen today; I liked that. James and I have only been doing the coffee shop thing together for a few months. I had tried to work at home, but there are so many distractions. If you're out in public, you don't have much else to do besides your work. Working with James has been good, because we can bounce ideas off one another, ask questions about the art and the story, talk about upcoming projects and have regular-type conversations too. It's good to have company while you're working. Drawing can be a lonely biz if you let it!
Now that there’s a space where all three of you can work together what’s it gonna be like drawing next to another artist in Joel Jackson?
It'll be awesome. Joel isn't able to pop out of the house as often to work 'cause he's got a little kiddo, so now that we'll be working in his basement, we'll all get to enjoy each other's company while we're working. We've only gotten to try out the space once so far, but we had a lot of fun listening to old Weezer B-sides and wishing it were S.P.A.C.E. weekend already.
Are you going to share your Copics? (Joel wasn’t so sure, check out his response here).
Yeah, sure! I don't know how interested Joel is in trying them out, but I've got over a hundred, so he's welcome to take a crack at 'em.
This Year's S.P.A.C.E and Beyond…
This year’s SPACE, what are you doing differently as opposed to last year’s show? Any things you picked up?
I'll be making sure I talk to even more people. I'm finding that the most valuable thing at these shows is what I learn from other comic fans and creators.
What will you have on the table?
We're premiering the paperback collection of my web comic, NEXT YEAR'S GIRL the books just arrived in the mail, and they look terrific, if I may say so. It's an 80-page book, full-color. It's so neat to see the whole thing collected, and to hold the book in my hands.
You were the winner 2012 for SPACE’s 1rst place in Web comics, now your book is debuting in printed form, that’s got to be an interesting palette of emotions eh?
What an honor that was, winning the Web comics prize. I was so pleased that people had such a positive reaction to my comics. NEXT YEAR'S GIRL started out as just an exercise to get me drawing again, and now it's won a prize and I've collected it into a book, and one of the comics is part of an Elvis Costello box set! Having so many nice things come out of the project has been really humbling and amazing.
What do you have planned following SPACE?
Just trying to draw as much as I can, really. I'd love to get through the first two issues of The Rotten Ones this year. We've got a bunch of shows lined up for 2013; the latest of which we've been accepted into is SPX this September.
Is there anyone else besides of course your 2-Headed Monster crew that you’ve wanted to work with? Any other artists out there that you’ve followed or looked up to? Now’s the time to name drop, they might even see this!
Oh geez. There are so many talented artists and writers even just here in Columbus. Honestly, though, if I do any work outside of 2HMC, it's probably going to be solo. I have a few ideas lined up that I'll probably never have time for while I'm working full-time. Some of my favorite artists right now, though, include Danielle Corsetto of "Girls with Slingshots," Kate Beaton of "Hark! A Vagrant and I'm really looking forward to picking up Lucy Knisley’s "Relish" at TCAF in May.
I’m a fan of your blue line work….I literally can’t tell if it’s digital or traditional, do you have any of those nifty video how to’s or samples we can share with everyone?
Thank you! I've been doing the blue lines on my tablet PC, so it's digital, but I'm using the stylus directly on-screen, so it's a very natural translation of the line. I haven't recorded any videos of the process, but that might be something fun to consider for the future.
Alright Katie for those not in the know where can they find you and your work on the web?
Thanks for taking the time and enjoy the show this year!
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About the Author - J.M. Hunter
J.M. Hunter is best expressed as an artist who enjoys working in many mediums. One of them is writing. In the guise of InDiY Hunter, J.M. Hunter’s focus is as an independent comics creator who interviews other Independent artists/creators and showcases their personal ideologies and stories. The “hits” and “almost-got’ems” of the creative collective that do their craft not because it’ll make them rich but because they love what they do, even when they don’t is a special kind of magic. This is the reward that keeps on giving and J.M. Hunter likes it. HE LIKES IT!
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