Our SPACE Pre-Coverage continues featuring an interview with Katie Valeska Wright!
Outhouse editor Christian Hoffer talks with artist Katie Valeska Wright of Next Year's Girl fame and artists of the upcoming, "The Rotten Ones"!
OH: First and foremost, I was certainly sad to see Next Year's Girl was ending. What was behind your decision to end Next Year's Girl and do you have any plans to revive it in the future?
Katie Wright: That's very nice of you, thanks! I was sad to see it end, as well, but it's for the best. Between working full-time and starting work on The Rotten Ones with James Moore, NYG was becoming more and more of an afterthought, a weekend chore. I felt it wasn't fair to my audience, or even to myself, really, to keep it going when I felt the ideas were running dry, and I was so much more excited to work on the new comic. I'm also at a point in my life where it's necessary for me to get out of my own head for once. NYG started as an experiment to get me drawing regularly, and it turned into something much bigger, something that has created many wonderful opportunities for me. I'm so thankful for that, but after two years, I'm looking forward to move on to the next step in my comic-making. I can't say for sure whether Next Year's Girl will come back in the same form, but I am still interested in auto-bio work to an extent. The NYG print collection (roughly 75 comics spanning two years) is something I'm working on for release in the summer.
OH: What's interesting about Next Year's Girl is that your traditional approach to drawing and coloring the comic is a rarity these days with all the digital tools available to an artist. What do you use, and what inspired the approach?
KW: I've always walked the line between traditional and digital media. I'm a web designer by day, and an out-and-out Photoshop nerd, but I've drawn with pencil and paper since I was a kid, and it's always been the most natural approach for me. There's something intimate about curling up with a pad of paper that just can't be captured (yet) with computers. I do wish sometimes that paper had an Undo button, or history states, but we can't have everything, right?
I work on smooth Bristol with a plain ol' mechanical pencil and a kneaded eraser, then ink with the Kuretake Fudegokochi Regular and Super Fine brush pens. I have yet to find an ultra-fine-point pen that I truly love, so I switch between a few of those until I get fed up with 'em. My colors are done with Copic markers, which I love more than just about anything. I carry my pens in a lenticular motion pencil bag I got at the Natural Wonders store in the mall fifteen years ago.
OH: Now that you're working with the 2 Headed Monster crew what's the dynamic like for you. Going from solo artists to coordinating with a team of creative people, is it everything you expected?
KW: Working with James and Joel has been nothing short of terrific. I think the second or third time we'd all hung out together was working the 2HM booth at Independents' Day last year, which was a 14-hour gig, outside in the cold. I had fun, the guys were good company, and I thought, if we can make it through that super-long day and still be laughing at the end, this is going to be a good partnership. They put out some great work, and it's been beneficial for me, too, to be accountable to other people for deadlines and for producing good work. I can't wait to work on the next installment of The Rotten Ones, which is going to be a bit of a departure for me, in the best way.
OH: The Rotten Ones is your first foray into "traditional comics". How have you been coping with the move from a weekly webcomic to a print comic?
KW: The main difference is that instead of cramming all my work into one Monday night, I was cramming all of my work into a Monday night, Tuesday night, Wednesday night... you get the idea. Mostly kidding, but there has been a bit of a learning curve. I'm so used to the NYG process, which is really pretty simple: draw, scan, crop, post. I took a couple of weeks just figuring out how I wanted to work with The Rotten Ones; making templates, discarding them, spending dollars of dimes at the Whetstone library resizing single characters on the photocopier in increments of 5% until they looked right in a layout, using a light box for the first time (which is so incredibly helpful), and creating page layouts, which is sort of a beast if you haven't done it before with a comic in mind. Time management is the name of the game. I love all of that strategy stuff, though, and I've been learning so much by just jumping in and doing it. Now that I have the sampler piece under my belt, I see what I've done well and where I can improve for the full-length book. It's been a lot of fun.
OH: What exactly is The Rotten Ones about?
KW: The Rotten Ones is an irreverent comedy about four roommates from very different backgrounds—I'm talking a philandering barbarian and a cigarette-smoking French robot DJ, for starters. The hero, Jenny Cornelius, is a flying Vespa-driving food-delivery girl who can navigate multiple dimensions. James and I were talking one day about how much I love the Tank Girl comics, which you might not guess from my drawing style (but really, they're my favorites—can't wait to see more of Jim Mahfood's take later this year), and James said, "You know, I've been kicking around a really bizarre idea for a while that I really think you should draw." He wrote up a script and challenged me with it, trying to push me out of my comics comfort zone. I said I was up for it, and here we are!
OH: How have you adapted your art style for The Rotten Ones? How is the Rotten Ones different than Next Year's Girl?
KW: I've shifted my style a little bit for TRO, but it's not a huge departure from Next Year's Girl. As much as I enjoy change, it can be a bit of a process for me, art-wise. I think the full-length book will be where you'll really start to see me deviate from my usual aesthetic. For the sampler, I added in quite a few little visual gags that James wasn't expecting. He said he laughed out loud a few times when he noticed them, so I hope to keep those up with some regularity as we continue with the story. I love little witticisms. One major difference, though, besides the subject matter and the fact that TRO is a lot edgier and less, well, cute than NYG, is that I've colored The Rotten Ones digitally. It was fun to establish a color scheme and style for the shading and effects, and I'm looking forward to expanding upon that, as well, in our upcoming work.
OH: After The Rotten Ones, what's your next step? What do you plan on having ready for next year's SPACE?
KW: Well, my big project for this summer is to draw the first full-length comic for The Rotten Ones, which is really quite a strange and clever story. It's going to be a blast—I already have all the pages roughed out in thumbnails. I can't wait for everyone to read it. By next year's SPACE, we might even have two books! Maybe! As I mentioned before, too, the Next Year's Girl print collection is also on my plate at the moment, but outside of those two projects, I do have an idea or two of my own I'd like to explore in the coming year. One is semi-autobiographical, but I want to re-work it as a fictional piece, so we'll see how good I am at making up names. Just kidding, I'm great at making up names.
For me, though, right now, print comics are where it's at. It's going to be a fun year.
To check out Next Year's Girl, click here!
Remember, all this week, The Outhouse will be showcasing SPACE! If you live in the Mid-West and are looking to check out some great small press comics, be sure to come!
The Small Press & Alternative Comics Expo (SPACE)
The Mid-West's Largest Exhibition of Small Press, Alternative and Creator Owned Comics
Over 170 exhibitors
April 21 & 22 Saturday 10am-6pm Sunday 10am-5pm
Ramada Plaza Hotel And Conference Center in Columbus.
4900 Sinclair Road Columbus, OH 43229
Off I71 at the Morse / Sinclair exit. Free Parking!
Admission $5.00 per day and $8.00 per weekend.
Written or Contributed by: J.M. Hunter