Interview: Women of BOOM! – Nichol Ashworth
It’s Thursday which brings us a new interview and our 25th “Women of BOOM!” feature, spotlighting the many kick-ass women that work at BOOM!, Archaia and KaBOOM! We’re focusing on everyone, editors, designers, writers, artists, you name it! We’re making sure to include the hard-working folks whose contributions are often overlooked in the process.
BOOM! (and KaBOOM! and Archaia) has given us unprecedented access and the chance to ask questions to their staff, and creative teams, to find out why the publisher is so successful in hiring women and their experiences in the comic industry as women.
Nichol Ashworth is a writer and artist who has worked on Fraggle Rock volume 1 and 2 for Archaia.
Graphic Policy: How did you get involved in the comic book industry?
Nichol Ashworth: My degree is actually in animation. Though I LOVE animation, I found it (surprisingly) monotonous to illustrate 24 pictures per second. I turned to comic books as a way to still tell wonderful stories – just without so many in-betweens.
GP: Did you read comics growing up? Do you read them now?
NA: Not until I was in college, actually. From then on I became addicted! My poor fiancée looks upon our home (that is becoming ever-crowded with more and more bookshelves) with a deepening resolve to read less books to make up for my over abundance.
GP: How did you come to work with BOOM!/Archaia?
NA: I had prior relationships with the magnificent Tim Beedle, who edited the Fraggle Rock title for Archaia. We met each other when I was submitting/doing work for Tokyopop and got along quite famously! He knew that I was a true Fraggle fan, down to my tootsies, so he gave me a shot to pitch for the series. I was able to write for a story of volume one and do artwork for a story in volume 2. I laughed, I cried… and then I danced my cares away. :)
GP: How would you describe your job for people?
NA: It’s a little like giving birth, a little like being an overachieving successful communicator and a little bit like being lost in self-depreciation. I guess what I mean to say is that, the process of creation comes with highs and lows – and you need to embrace that as a part of the process. It is really fun to tell people what I do, though. It’s not something you hear from people every day… and it may or may not be cooler than being a proctologist.
GP: For people who want to pursue a career in what you do, what advice would you give them?
NA: Never give up. Your successes may be nil at first, or may come more slowly than you wish… but never stop trying. Also, never stop giving yourself the opportunity to learn from others. Listen. There’s a saying that “God gave you two ears and only one mouth for a reason”… but I think I also like the one that says, “The more you talk, the more you’re re-hearing what you already know. The more you listen to successful people, the more options you’ve now found for new success.”
GP: Did you have a mentor to help you break into the industry? Do you mentor anyone yourself?
NA: Again, I must bow to the almighty Tim Beedle. More than a mentor, he is also now my very good friend. He helped me break in, helped me stay in and is always there for some good feedback and a swift kick in the ass, when appropriate. While mentorship is a huge word and I wouldn’t be comfortable putting myself in that position of godlike power, I will say that I have paid it forward. I’ve helped people make industry connections, gone back to my high school and college to teach and even currently work together with an aspiring teenage writer to help her stay focused and motivated.
GP: Do you think women have a more difficult time breaking in and making it in the comic industry, if so why? And if yes, how do you think that can be overcome?
NA: I think that one of the reasons that breaking in/staying in has worked well for me is that I haven’t tried to be a part of the Marvel/DC creator world. Smaller publishers seem more open to creating relationships with women, in my opinion. That being said – I’ve never actually tried for a Marvel or DC job… so perhaps I would get one, if I tried hard enough! :)
GP: We notice that when it comes to women in the comic industry, BOOM!/Archaia has a lot of diversity present. Why do you think have they succeeded when so many other publishers struggle with this?
NA: My work relationships with these lovely human beings has always been very positive, productive and personable. I’m treated like an equal. In fact, the people I’ve been blessed to work with have all seemed just as excited to work in the industry as I am, so there’s a great energy and synergy that comes from that. Except for reading about other women’s struggles in the industry, I wouldn’t have known there was an issue!
GP: We’ve heard horror stories concerning women in the industry, have you ever seen or been discriminated/harassed and if so, how did you handle it?
NA: In this particular industry, I’ve personally had no issues… but I also work in the Real Estate Investor industry and the Software Security industry. Both of those can get intense. Discrimination and harassment both abound.
GP: What advice do you have for women looking to break into the comic book industry?
NA: My advice is the same as the answer to question #5. Plus, an added push to “prove them wrong”. If someone is a misogynist, that’s not your fault – don’t put any added stress or self-hate on yourself. That being said, don’t let it stop you, either. Don’t use it as a crutch that helps you explain away why you’re not getting what you want. Just make your work. If the work is good and you’re a good person to work with, the rest will come. Like anything, it just takes time and also, like any modern business, it’s partly about who you know. So, NETWORK, ladies! Make friends! Be responsive when called on and do your work well / on time. If people like to work with you once, they’ll usually work with you again! (And brag about you to others!)