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Comics Herstory: Emily Carroll

24727085Emily Carroll is a writer and artist from Ontario who has been terrifying readers since 2010. She gained notoriety for her webcomic, His Face All Red, which, after publication on her site, made rounds (and still occasionally pops up) on various sites.

Carroll began her comic career in webcomics, publishing fairy tales, romance, and dream journals in addition to horror stories. Her illustration work has appeared in Paste Magazine, Wolfen Jump online anthology, and Spera. Carroll also illustrated the graphic novel Baba Yaga’s Assistant, written by Marika McCoola and published last year.

In 2014, she published her first collected work, a book of short horror comics titled Through the Woods. Visually, the book is stunning. Carroll stretches the medium, using a combination of art, coloring, and lettering that builds the suspense of each story. The illustrations themselves are layered and rich, giving the book an otherworldly feel.

What makes the book truly special, though, isn’t just the visual element. The stories are creepy, yes, but can feel ambiguous. However, when these comics are read as a way to understand reaction to trauma and trauma itself, they become much more accessible. The horror of seeing something that cannot be there is grounded in the very real horror that comes with various types of loss.

91bldt8cbtlThis theme is also exemplified especially well in Carroll’s webcomic, Margot’s Room. As with the print medium, Carroll pushes the boundaries of webcomic by forcing readers to interact with the comic in order to read it. Clicking on the comic (available on her site) takes the reader to a screen with a poem written over an empty bedroom with bloodstained floorboards and a broken window. In order to read the comic, readers must click on various objects in the room, all related to the poem at the top of the page.

The order in which the reader is supposed to click on the objects is given, but somewhat subtly. The end result of this is that it forces the reader to interact with the trauma that the main character has gone through. The fact that the order isn’t immediately clear points to the disorienting nature of a traumatic experience, and this produces a visceral sort of fear.

Carroll continues to push the boundaries of storytelling in any given medium, which makes her an exciting artist and storyteller to follow. These stories are valuable not only for their aesthetic appeal (which is not a small amount of appeal) but for forcing readers to consider the source of the horror in the story–what constitutes horror for the characters and why.

Review: Halogen #1

halogen001aAt its heart there is maybe no better fit of a genre to a medium than science fiction to comics.  While comics has essentially every genre of fiction, science fiction fits best because science provides only so many answers, and it is to the dreamers to fill in the rest.  In the vast expanses of outer space, or in stories based in the future, there is no better medium to capture the essence of these stories.  Certainly movies and video games are good, but high and long production costs mean that only so many can be produced, and while books are good as well they lack the impressive visual element.  Science fiction stories thus have an advantage when it comes to this medium, but they are equally at a disadvantage.  They equally have to keep on top of the science, and they also have to be pretty imaginative to put out anything new compare to what has come before.

This series aims to be fairly ambitious.  It focuses on a futuristic space station which doubles as a large city. It is somewhat self-contained and floats in the middle of nowhere.  Instead of taking the Star Trek like image of the future where everyone works together, it instead regards humans as still just a greedy, willing to work within industrial espionage even when their entire living conditions is locked to the fate of their neighbors.  The main character Rell specializes in computer espionage but also knows a thing or two about holograms.  At the periphery of this story is the discovery of the corps of an ancient space god that still has devoted followers.

The problem with this series is that it does not really try anything new.  The mixture of all the elements together takes a smart approach to telling its own story, but it never hits anything deeper than the surface of the characters interacting.  As opposed to some series where characters jump out and beg to be paid to attention to, the characters here just aren’t as dynamic.  That is not to say that this is a bad series, it is quite readable (even if the formatting of the text bubbles is a bit sloppy at times), but it is also not gripping nor is it much different from thousands of other space stories.  The potential is there for something better, and hopefully the creative team manages to harness is in the coming issues.

Story:  Josh Tierney Art: Afu Chan
Story: 7.7 Art: 7.7 Overall: 7.7 Recommendation: Read

Boom Studios and Archaia provided Graphic Policy with a free copy for review.

Archaia Launches Spera with Spera: Ascension of the Starless

Archaia has announced the October debut of the Spera: Ascension of the Starless Vol. 1 original graphic novel hardcover. Eisner Award-nominated writer Josh Tierney has once again assembled some of the most talented web and indie creators in the industry for this fresh new story in the world of Spera, including Giannis Milonogiannis, Atelier Sentô (which is comprised of the duo of Cécile Brun and Olivier Pichard), Mindy Lee, Sourya Sihachakr, and Valentin Seiche.

Spera is a stunningly illustrated mash-up of some of the best things in life: webcomics, young-adult fantasy, retro video games, pulp adventure comics, and fairy tales. Fans of Zelda, Avatar: The Last Airbender, Frozen, author Tamora Pierce, and LUMBERJANES will love this series! Following the three previously released volumes of Spera: Ascension of the Starless is the launch of a new, epic, multi-volume story that follows the adventures of two princesses as they once again join forces to combat a common threat. This is the perfect starting point for new readers to fall in love with Spera charcacters Pira, Lono, Chobo, and Yonder alongside loyal fans of the series.

In Spera: Ascension of the Starless Vol. 1, the Starless Queen is plotting an invasion of Spera, and has sent the merciless General Zeal to secure its capital. Unfortunately for the Queen, exiled adventurer Princess Pira—the Queen’s own daughter—and Pira’s best friend Princess Lono have discovered her plot…and will go to any lengths to stop her. Along with their friends—the fire spirit, Yonder, and the ruthless cat, Chobo—Pira and Lono set off on a perilous journey to warn the Speran King, up monster-infested mountains, through a village full of crazed warriors, and down dark tunnels walled with madness itself.

The Spera: Ascension of the Starless Vol. 1 original graphic novel hardcover (176 pages, 6” x 9”, full color, ISBN: 978-1-60886-414-0) arrives from Archaia in comic shops on October 1st and bookstores on October 7th with a cover price of $24.99 and features a cover illustrated by Afu Chan.

spera ascension of the starless

 

Interview: Women of BOOM! – Kris Mukai

kris mukai bleeding cool adventure time coverIt’s Thursday which brings us a new interview and our 31st “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.

Kris Mukai is an artist who has contributed a short story to Spera Vol. 2 as well as a cover for KaBOOM!’a popular Adventure Time.

Graphic Policy: How did you get involved in the comic book industry?

Kris Mukai: I have been self-publishing comics for about 6 years.

GP: Did you read comics growing up? Do you read them now?

KM: I read a lot of manga scanlations as a kid, mostly shounen stuff that I don’t read so much anymore. My hometown public library had a great selection of journalistic comics, I read a lot of Joe Sacco, Peter Kuper, and Seth Tobocman’s comics. Becky Cloonan’s early works were also hugely inspirational.

GP: How did you come to work with BOOM!/Archaia?

KM: Yuko Ota and Ananth Panagariya started writing a comic for BOOM! (Candy Capers), and they suggested me to their art director as someone to draw a cover. Since it was for their book, I was excited to do the piece, although BOOM! ended up printing the image on a different book.

GP: How would you describe your job for people?

KM: Clients pay me to draw anything.

GP: For people who want to pursue a career in what you do, what advice would you give them?

KM: Draw what you want to draw and clients will seek you out to draw that thing. Be kind to your peers, they are the art directors and editors of the future.

GP: Did you have a mentor to help you break into the industry? Do you mentor anyone yourself?

KM: The ladies of the Love Love Hill collective were my mentors, I was penpals with Kim and Saicoink and everyone drew on the same oekaki board and encouraged each other. They introduced me to self publishing and to getting shit done yourself. Joshua Ray Stephens and my classmate Jane Wu (art direction at LAUNCH) mentored me in college. I got my first big breaks in illustration from Max Bode and Jordan Awan.

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?

KM: I work largely in the illustration industry, and there is a huge amount of women creators working in illustration. Many of the illustrators I know also create comics, so they are coming at it from a different direction. There is no one path that leads to your goal.

There are also many women comic artists publishing their work through small press publishers, art book and children’s imprints, and through web publishing. Their work shouldn’t be dismissed simply because they aren’t making work for Marvel or DC.

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?

KM: It seems like BOOM! and Archaia are making an effort to hire creators to make new content, whereas other companies are hiring artists to re-hash old content.

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?

KM: I was offered a job that wanted to pay me $3000 for a years worth of work, basically $20 per page from sketches to color. The client assumed that I would be jumping for joy at the “opportunity” to create a “real” comic book, even if it meant working for far less than minimum wage.

I have the luxury to decline job offers from rude or inconsiderate clients, but unfortunately many artists don’t have this option.

GP: What advice do you have for women looking to break into the comic book industry?

KM: Don’t do free work for those that have the ability to pay you

Related:

Interview: Women of BOOM! – Penelope Gaylord

AT Fionna and Cake 001 Awesome Comic Con VariantIt’s Thursday which brings us a new interview and our 20th “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.

Penelope Gaylord is a cover artist and inker who has worked on such titles as Adventure Time With Fionna and Cake, Adventure Time, Fanboys Vs. Zombies, and the recently launched Loki: Ragnarok and Roll!

Graphic Policy: How did you get involved in the comic book industry? 

Penelope Gaylord: When I met my then-boyfriend/now-husband, Jerry Gaylord, he really opened my eyes to the possibility that being an artist could actually be a job. Comics was a natural industry that we wanted to be involved with since it’s been a huge influence in both of our lives. After my first taste of being behind an artist alley table at a comic con, it just felt good.

loki ragnarok and roll cover bGP: Did you read comics growing up? Do you read them now?  

PRG: No, I don’t really recall reading a lot of comics growing up. But the stories were always around me. I was definitely exposed to Superman and DC superheroes and the X-Men through tv/movies before I read any of the comics. When I got into high school, that’s when I started reading manga (Japanese comics) because it was really just starting to make its way into the U.S. From there I started to appreciate the medium more. I definitely read them now, both manga and American comics, but just a select few.

GP: How did you come to work with BOOM!/Archaia?  

PRG: When my husband Jerry Gaylord got the penciller job for Fanboys Vs Zombies, I volunteered to be his inker because we love to work together. When we went to San Diego Comic Con two years ago, I got to meet the BOOM! family and they were just the coolest people I’ve ever met. Honestly. There’s a bit of an expectation of editors being somewhat aloof and almost pretentious when you meet them for the first time, at least in my experience anyway. But all the editors at BOOM! were extremely friendly and down to earth. After getting to do an exclusive cover for Adventure Time with Fionna and Cake #1, I got to talk with Shannon (editor) and Whitney (asst. editor) and shoot them some more ideas which got me more work with them.

GP: How would you describe your job for people?  

PRG: Not as easy as it looks. =) Yes I get to draw for a living, and believe me that’s a dream come true. But just like any job, it has its good days and bad. You definitely have to persevere through the bad days because the good ones are so worth it. With being a freelance artist, you really have to work hard to make sure you get more work. More work means more bills paid but it also means less time to do other things. You don’t have a supervisor to keep you in check, you just have you.

GP: For people who want to pursue a career in what you do, what advice would you give them?  

PRG: Be sure that you really really really want to do this. And I can’t stress that last “really” enough. Anybody can draw, nobody can stop you. But to make a career out of it, you have to be willing to work HARD. Like I mentioned before, being a freelance artist means you have to work harder than everybody else. If you don’t work, you don’t get paid and you can’t pay bills – it’s that simple. You have to be ready to show your work, then show it some more. You have to be willing to learn new techniques and grow as an artist. You’ll have to draw some things that you really don’t want to, but you have to anyway. Always be ready to take some rejections and corrections. But with perseverance and a really strong support system from family/loved ones, it’s absolutely possible and you won’t have to worry about being categorized as a “starving artist.”

GP: Did you have a mentor to help you break into the industry? Do you mentor anyone yourself? 

PRG: I don’t think I had an actual mentor who knowingly helped me break into the industry. Jerry definitely kept me focused because of his determination to break in. But when we were first starting, guys like Jonboy Meyers and Sean Galloway were really the first ones that spoke to us on a real level. They weren’t secretive about how they broke in like most of the other artists we’ve met at the time. These guys understood where we came from and where we were trying to go as artists and really pointed us in the right direction. I suppose that qualifies them as my mentors.

As far me mentoring someone, I don’t think I am. I’m a terrible teacher in my opinion. But if I can spark someone to follow their artistic dream, that’s all I can really hope for.

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?

PRG: Yes I do, but not AS difficult as it used to be. As with anything in our society, the established norm is tough to break. Though the comic industry seems to have taken huge leaps in progress in the past couple of decades, it’s still very much a man’s world. Someone like Gail Simone has been extremely important in seeing women gain high recognition and respect from her peers, but she is ONE in an industry of many men around her. There are so many factors to look at, definitely too much to write here. But basically, when you see the age demographics of those that read comics and attend comic cons, it’s easy to see why it’s still very much geared towards men. The comics that were out during the Bronze Age and earlier were very much geared towards boys. And now those boys are men buying comics. Now I’m no history buff so I can’t tell exactly when, but at some point the focus shifted to include girls and women into comic readership. That, however, has been too recent so there’s not as many grown women buying comics YET. Webcomics seem to really lend itself well to female creators and younger audiences that, many times, are also females. These ladies are able to write/draw their own stories without any pretense, and readers (both men and women) really respond to that creative freedom. I think it’s really just a matter of time before women take a more dominant role in the industry as long as we continue to do what we love – whether it’s writing, drawing, or editing. There’s simply too much talent to hold back.

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?

PRG: I think the great thing about BOOM!/Archaia is that they’re willing to open their eyes to NEW possibilities. They’re not interested in the same stories that everyone has told, you can get those anywhere. They want truly unique and different approaches to the medium and I think that’s why the diversity is so great with them. They don’t promise brand new stories but hire the same writers/artists/editors to work on them. When you look at a title like Adventure Time, BOOM! has really taken it to so many different tangents. We can all be grateful for Pendleton Ward, that much is certain. But BOOM! has given the audience new stories with Marceline and the Scream Queens, Fionna and Cake, and recently Candy Capers with very strong female creators at the helm! Even when you look at the different variant covers for their books, they’ve really given artists creative freedom with their take on established characters. It just opens up the titles to all sorts of readers. It’s this fearlessness to open the doors to new storytelling that I think allows BOOM!/Archaia to be so successful in creating diversity in the industry.

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?  

PRG: I don’t think I’ve ever really dealt with a heavy dose of discrimination/harassment from being a woman in the industry. This may have something to do with being in a studio with three guys and we’re always together at comic cons, I can’t say for certain. I think the main form of discrimination I’ve had to deal with have been from people that come up to our tables at artist alley and just assumed that out of the 3-4 people there, I am the one that just collects the money. Always happens to me, not the other guys. I don’t think they do that maliciously, they just see a woman in a table of three other men and they figure I’m somebody’s wife just there to help out. It doesn’t make me angry so much as it’s just a nuisance. I think when that stops happening, I’ll know that women have become a dominant force in comics. I don’t make a big fuss over it, I just tell them I’ll gladly take someone else’s money and smile. I’m very choosy over my battles I guess.

The other form of discrimination I’ve faced, to a lesser degree, is how surprised people are that I drew the pictures that are in front me. It’s no secret that I like drawing sexy pin-up ladies so maybe that’s surprising to some. But again I don’t make a fuss. I just smile and tell them I drew that. Hopefully if enough women just smile confidently when asked if they drew the pictures that are in front of them, people will stop asking and just know.

GP: What advice do you have for women looking to break into the comic book industry?

PRG: Do you! Draw what you like to see, write what you want to read. It’s that unique vision that you have that makes you an asset to the industry. It doesn’t have to be anything like what’s been established, just do you! You’ll be surprised at how many people really appreciate that individuality.

Related:

Interview: Women of BOOM! – Polly Guo

polly guoIt’s Thursday which brings us a new interview and our 19th “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.

Polly Guo is a writer and artist, who has worked on Spera and Marceline and the Scream Queens as well as her own comics Houdini & Holmes and Strongman and Pianist.

Graphic Policy: How did you get involved in the comic book industry?

Polly Guo: I’ve been doing small comic jobs for people since college while working on my own comic Houdini & Holmes. Right now I’m working in animation on StoryCorps, MAD, and the new Mickey Mouse shorts while working on my own comic Strongman and Pianist.

GP: Did you read comics growing up? Do you read them now?

PG: Of course! I love comics. I’ve always really loved shounen manga, horror manga, and some fringe genres, too. Reading Giffen/Dematteis/Maguire’s run on Justice League International in particular really made me want to get into comics. These days I’ll read anything with Chris Samnee, Cory Walker, Nate Bellegarde, Mike Mignola, or Guy Davis attached to it. They RULE!

GP: How did you come to work with BOOM!/Archaia?

PG: I was asked.

GP: How would you describe your job for people?

PG: In comics, it’s been a lot of on spec work, test work, work for hire contracts, and some times no contract at all. Essentially, work for little to no pay.

I used to do way more unpaid work in college, but now I mostly work in animation, and during my time off I work on my own comic Strongman and Pianist instead of having a social life. I figured if I wasn’t going to get paid, I might as well not get paid doing whatever I felt like doing!

Spera Vol 2 CoverGP: For people who want to pursue a career in what you do, what advice would you give them?

PG: Do something other than comics for your money, and then do comics because you love it. I’ve had to turn down multiple graphic novels because I simply could not financially sustain myself on what they were paying me. The story of the self-made comic artist is a myth. Many of the famous comic artists you know are only able to do what they do because they have a breadwinning spouse with a stable job or they were able to work out of their parents’ house for YEARS without paying rent, with few exceptions.

My friend was just saying to me yesterday: it’s like if someone got to the top of Mt. Everest via helicopter and started telling everyone at the bottom that, hey, if they got there with their bare hands and then everyone else could, too.

GP: Did you have a mentor to help you break into the industry?

PG: Nah. Comics has always been something I do for myself.

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?

PG: Style has a lot to do with it. A lot of women just don’t draw in what people would deem ‘house style.’ There are obviously exceptions, but for the most part women have a pretty different and varied set of influences that might not fall into a ‘house style’, and that shouldn’t be a bad thing, but it prevents a lotta people from giving women artists the benefit of the doubt.

I’ve heard editors say they don’t hire women because women can’t draw backgrounds and perspective. Even if that were true (it isn’t), if this was any other industry, that’s something you could teach someone to do passably well through a little bit of mentorship or training. Most learning is done on the job in ANY industry. And when introducing diversity into a workforce you always have to reach across the aisle and do a fair share of giving people the benefit of the doubt, which, admittedly, when there’s money to be made and bellies to be filled, is hard to do.

On top of that, it’s simply difficult to get women to reach for these opportunities because everything about the comics industry tells them they aren’t wanted in it (sexist imagery, fake geek girl-ism, white male dominated work environments, seasoned professionals declaring that comics are not for women, etc.).

I once spoke to a major tv network executive (white male) who said that since his youth he understood the failings of the lack of diversity in tv, and he’d go out of his way to connect with women and people of color in the company and request that they submit tv pitches. Only a small handful of the employees he reached out to actually came to pitch. He told me he realized then that offering the opportunity to people is only half the battle.

The people he reached out to had spent their entire lives subtly being told their work was not wanted, in a way he had never personally experienced. And if you tell a certain group of people again and again that they won’t succeed, eventually they’ll stop trying.

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?

PG: They go out of their way to reach out to women, which is something that other publishers could learn from. Again, when introducing any diversity into a work force it’s important to reach across the aisle and give people the benefit of the doubt even if they don’t fit the perfect employee profile.

It also shouldn’t be ignored that a big contributor is that the projects are low budget. Low budgets mean more risk taking, and more marginalized groups of people with no other options. Countless of my friends, women and people of color, have taken pay that would be way less than we would normally have taken with hopes of some kind of way to break into the industry because there are no other routes for us. “Hey, this is probably gonna be our only chance to break in, so I should probably give it a shot!”

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?

PG: The horror stories are NOT about the overt sexism. If you’re a woman, you deal with overt sexism in your life every single day. It’s the tiny signals in every corner of your life and in the comics industry that say ‘you don’t belong here’ ‘you don’t draw well enough’  ‘your art isn’t what this company wants’ and ‘your art isn’t worth paying a living wage for’ that really get to you.

That is how discrimination works. It’s not someone telling you your ass looks perky- it’s someone telling you your work is a little too ‘childish’, it’s a seasoned professional telling you that you ‘shouldn’t expect to be paid more than $10-20 a page to start out with’, it’s an editor telling you maybe you could try working for $25 a finished page IF ONLY you worked a little faster or that they can’t offer you a contract because ‘that’s just not how we do it in comics.’ Everything adds up.

GP: What advice do you have for women looking to break into the comic book industry?

Don’t take crap or false words of inspiration. Your work is worth fair pay, and most people out there aren’t even willing to give you a living wage.

Related:

Interview: Women of BOOM! – Meg Gandy

Meg GandyIt’s the fifth week of our “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.

Up this week is artist Meg Gandy, the artist on Archaia’s Spera Vol. 3 (out now, hint hint)!

Graphic Policy: How did you get involved in the comic book industry?

Meg Gandy: I started a webcomic after college. Not long after that, a small time publisher saw it and offered me a work-for-hire contract, which was simultaneously one of the best and worst things I ever did–worst because it was a truly awful experience. Best because once a few of the local writers heard that I was available to work, I started lining up projects.

GP: Did you read comics growing up? Do you read them now?

MG: I did when I was introduced to a comic worth reading. The Sunday papers with Calvin and Hobbes were good, and Disney Adventures briefly ran Bone. I had a babysitter that had a massive box of older comics, like Casper the Friendly Ghost, Richie Rich, Archie, that sort of thing. But I had never seen a comic shop, and the rare superhero comic that made it my way was invariably ugly and dull (it was the 90s). So I wasn’t a regular fan until high school, when I first encountered manga. I read tons of books now.

GP: How did you come to work with BOOM!/Archaia?

MG: Josh Tierney dropped me an email, so it’s more that I was working with him than Archaia. I had already heard of Spera, and been a fan of both Tierney’s and Archaia for some time, so I was thrilled.

GP: How would you describe your job for people?

MG: Long hours, shit pay, incredibly lonely, often tedious, crazy fulfilling.

GP: For people who want to pursue a career in what you do, what advice would you give them?

MG: Be good at budgeting and expect to be quite poor. Make sure you get some manner of exercise. Take your vitamins. Learn to like backgrounds. Pull out your favorite comics and study why they work so well. And draw, draw, draw. There’s really only one way to get good at making comics, and that’s to make comics. Start a webcomic. And kiss your social life goodbye.

GP: Did you have a mentor to help you break into the industry? Do you mentor anyone yourself?

MG: No, and no. I like the idea though, and I hear Sean Gordon Murphy is looking to do something like that for a few lucky people.

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?

MG: Having never worked for the companies people usually mean when they say “the comic industry,” I can’t speak to the issue personally. What I can say is the #1 obstacle to my working for them isn’t even if they want me, which I’m sure they don’t, but that I don’t want them. The books I want to make are not the books they want to sell. The stories I want to read and write are not the stories they want to give anyone. The characters I want to know about are not the ones they want to make. And working for them would mean compromising values I’m not willing to give up. And that’s not even addressing how badly work-for-hire contracts suck. If I’m going to be poor, it’s going to be on my terms, making the kinds of books I want to make.

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?

MG: There’s a number of things at play here–for starters, Archaia was originally founded to publish Artesia. This is a company founded only a little more than a decade ago to publish a fantasy book about a female character in reasonable armor, who made the leap from concubine to general, outlives her king and sets out to avenge not her king, but her sister-wives (some of whom assist her from beyond the grave). I found this book by chance in a musty, crowded used book store and through that, discovered Archaia. After Artesia, Archaia published things like Mouseguard, Cursed Pirate Girl, and of course, Spera. Fantasy is a culturally safe genre for women, so there’s already a reason for women to be interested. The overt sexualization used by other publishers to attract readers just isn’t common in Archaia’s line-up. And since the books are creator-owned, women get to keep what they create, rather than just hope to tack onto some other guy’s idea. I can’t speak for other women, but having NOT grown up with mainstream comics, the whole set-up of how they work kind of appalls me. And their PR is awful. The response to serious criticism is never “well if you think we’re racist/sexist, don’t read our books” because I will always respond “okay” and go and spend my money, and take my talent, elsewhere.

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?

MG: I’m not well known enough that anyone’s ever felt like I needed to be taken down a peg. I have seen the bullshit flung Kate Beaton’s way. She handles it with great hilarity and grace. I don’t know that I would be so kind about it.

GP: What advice do you have for women looking to break into the comic book industry?

MG: That you don’t really have to anymore. The most useful thing I ever did was start a webcomic. Writers and publishers can see up front what I can do and decide for themselves if they’re interested in working with me. I can self publish using any number of tools available on the web. If you’re willing to do the work, you can be in comics.

Preview: Spera Vol. 3

SPERA VOL. 3

Written by Josh Tierney
Illustrated by Michael Dialynas, Cory Godbey, Afu Chan, Meg Gandy, Amei Zhao, and Sam Bosma
Cover by Afu Chan
HC, 176pgs, FC, SRP: $24.95
Diamond Code: JUL13 0785

Exiled princesses Pira and Lono travel to avoid the clutches of Pira’s mother, the Evil Queen. Obtaining jobs as adventurers, the two best friends set out on a series of quests that land them in perhaps more excitement than they’d bargained for. This lush hardcover series collects and remasters the ongoing adventures, written by creator Josh Tierney and illustrated by a rotating collection of some of the finest sequential artists on the web. The series, which first began as a popular webcomic, brings artists together from around the globe to showcase their talents as some of the premiere fantasy artists in the industry, and Volume 3 is no exception! Featuring artwork from Cory Godbey, Michael Dialynas, Afu Chan, Meg Gandy, Amei Zhao, and Sam Bosma, Spera Volume 3 will transport you to a colorful world of wonder and excitement!

Spera Vol 3 Cover

Preview – Spera Volume 2

SPERA VOLUME 2

Original Graphic Novel Hardcover
Retail Price: $24.95 U.S.
Page Count: 168 pages
Format: Hardcover, 6” x 9”, full color
Genre: Fantasy
On-Sale Date: February 27 in comic shops, March 12 in bookstores
Rating: E – EVERYONE (all ages, may contain minimal violence)
Written by Josh Tierney
Illustrated by Giannis Milonogiannis, Kyla Vanderklugt, Timothy Weaver, and Afu Chan
Cover by Afu Chan

In this sequel to the critically acclaimed first volume of Spera, exiled princesses Pira and Lono travel to the bustling city of Kotequog to avoid the clutches of Pira’s mother, the Evil Queen. Obtaining jobs as adventurers, the two best friends set out on a series of quests that land them in perhaps more excitement than they’d bargained for. Told in four chapters and a series of stand-alone shorts, each drawn by a different rising talent in comics, Spera: Volume 2 brings the same gorgeous artistry as its debut installment. The series, based off the original webcomic experiment, brings artists together from around the globe to showcase their talents as some of the premier fantasy artists in the industry. Spera will appeal to art lovers and children of all ages, especially fans of The Legend of Korra, Patricia Wrede’s Dealing with Dragons, Disney’s Tangled, and the Flight series.

Spera v2 Cover

Archaia’s Rust Vol. 2 and Spera Vol. 2 Debut Today as Digital Firsts on comiXology

Archaia Entertainment continues its commitment to digital releases with two new comics debuting today on comiXology, Rust Vol.2 andSpera Vol. 2.

Rust Vol. 2: Secrets of the Cell is the follow-up to the critically acclaimed Rust Vol. 1: Visitor in the Field, the debut graphic novel by Royden Lepp. In this volume, the dysfunctional Taylor family continues to rebuild their farm lives after the devastating loss of a recent war, and the appearance of the mysterious jet pack-wearing boy, Jet Jones.  Jet’s behavior continues to raise youngest brother Oswald’s suspicion, particularly when the appearance of another robot invader puts them all in danger! Like its predecessor, Rust Vol. 2 is presented in nostalgic sepia tone to help set the industrial atmosphere of the title. This volume is especially highly anticipated because of the recent announcement that director Joe Cornish (Attack of the Block) has been attached to the Rust film in development at 20th Century Fox. Simon Kinberg (Mr. and Mrs. Smith, X-Men: First Class) is producing and Aline Brosh McKenna (The Devil Wears Prada) is scripting.

Spera Vol. 2 is the sequel to the critically acclaimed first volume of Spera, which is based off the original webcomic experiment created by Josh Tierney that brings illustrators together from around the globe to showcase their talents as some of the premier fantasy artists in the industry.  In this volume, exiled princesses Pira and Lono travel to the bustling city of Kotequog to avoid the clutches of Pira’s mother, the Evil Queen. Obtaining jobs as adventurers, the two best friends set out on a series of quests that land them in perhaps more excitement than they’d bargained for. Told in four chapters and a series of stand-alone shorts, each drawn by a different rising talent in comics, Spera Vol. 2 brings the same gorgeous artistry as its debut installment, featuring the works of Giannis Milonogiannis (Old City Blues), Kyla Vanderklugt (Flight), Timothy Weaver (Chivalrous), and Afu Chan (Spera Vol. 1).

The first chapters of Rust Vol. 2: Secrets of the Cell and Spera Vol. 2 debut digitally on comiXology today, available across iPhone, iPad, Android, Kindle Fire and the Web, with subsequent chapters releasing every month. The print editions will debut late Fall.

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