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Interview: Women of BOOM! – Stephanie Hocutt

Stephanie_Hocutt_picIt’s Thursday which brings us a new interview and our 32nd “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.

Stephanie Hocutt helps with the company’s marketing as the PR Assistant, that means she gets to work on ALL of the comics!

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

Stephanie Hocutt: I studied animation in school, but during that time I realized that my real passion was for comics. I was a freelance artist for a while, and when I heard about the internship at Archaia, I packed my bags and moved across the country in one epic road trip. After the internship, I started working at a comic shop, and now I’m here at BOOM! It’s been a wacky, winding road!

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

SH: I was a voracious reader growing up, but I was kind of a late bloomer when it came to comics. My parents didn’t read them, and I grew up on military bases that didn’t really have comic shops. Instead, I was watching Batman: The Animated Series, The Adventures of Tin-Tin, Justice League Unlimited, Batman Beyond, and the 90s X-Men all the time. I started reading manga late in high school, and in college my friends started inviting me to conventions, which is where I picked up American comics. Around that same time, I studied abroad in France, where I fell in love with bande dessinées. I got hooked on European and American comics around the same time, so now my pull list consists of a wide variety of comics, and I have a library that is quickly outgrowing my apartment!

GP: How did you come to work with BOOM! or one of its imprints?

SH: I interned at Archaia a while back, and once it was over I just sort of dug my claws in and refused to go back to Virginia. I got a job at a comic shop, kept in contact with the Archaia crew, and when I found out that BOOM! was looking for a marketing assistant, I jumped at the opportunity.

GP: How would you describe your job for people?

SH: I pretty much get to talk about how awesome comics are all day! It’s incredibly exciting and I always have to think outside of the box, because there are a lot of awesome comics out there that all want to be noticed. I set up interviews with creators, work closely with press sites, host the Buzz on BOOM! YouTube show, and do everything I can to get people excited about BOOM!

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

SH: A big part of working in this industry is knowing the right people, so get out there and mingle! Go to conventions and talk to people face-to-face, and snap up internships if you can. The most important part of an internship is the connections you make, so keep in contact with them. You’re not gonna get your dream job if you’re hiding in the shadows! It is a balancing act, though, because you also don’t want to be harassing industry professionals and come off as overbearing. Just remember to be friendly!

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

SH: I’ve had a lot of people in my life who have been incredibly supportive and helpful! One in particular is Mel Caylo, who was the Marketing Manager at Archaia when I was an intern. He taught me a lot about marketing and helped me realize that it’s a pretty rad job! Now, several years later, he’s the Marketing Manager at BOOM! and I get to work with him. Full circle!

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?

SH: Comics have been a male-dominated field for so long that it really can be difficult for women to get involved. There’s this archaic idea that inviting the girls into that treehouse is just gonna ruin it for everybody, and there are a lot of people out there who are just so afraid of change that they don’t even want to recognize it’s already happening. Women are all up in that comics biz!

So that being said, I’m going to look on the bright side and say I think it’s getting a little easier every day. It’s an awesome time to be a woman in the comics industry. Yes, there are a ton of problems that still need to be fixed, but we’re actually talking about them. People are speaking up and recognizing the problems, comic forums and conventions are creating safer spaces for women, and we’ve got awesome campaigns like “We Are Comics” that support equality and diversity in the industry. It’s an open conversation, which is the only way things will actually change.

GP: We notice that when it comes to women in the comic industry, BOOM! and its imprints have a lot of diversity present. Why do you think they have succeeded when so many other publishers struggle with this?

SH: This is actually a really difficult question to answer, because I don’t know why it’s harder for other publishers! BOOM! just works with awesome people, and those awesome people come from all walks of life, so our comics tell a wide variety of stories. It’s a great big world out there, so why would you limit yourself to working with only a specific group of people? Broaden those horizons!

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?

SH: I’ve been pretty lucky in that I haven’t been the target of a lot of harassment. When I worked in a comic shop, I would occasionally get a guy who didn’t think I actually read comics, or was really surprised when I asked if I could help him find something, but that was pretty rare because my LCS is open and inviting. Conventions have traditionally been the worst places for women, so I’m really glad people are stepping up and changing that. If I’m ever bothered by something a guy or gal says, I just call them out on it. They’re either being jerks or they didn’t even realize what they said was offensive, and now they’re learning.

I know there are a lot of women out there who haven’t been so lucky, so the most important thing is to stand together and shut that mess down. Silence kills progress, so speak up and don’t let it slide!

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

SH: Figure out what you want to do in comics, and do everything you can to be the best person for that position. Be persistent, friendly, and positive!

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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

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Interview: Women of BOOM! – Moro Rogers

Moro RogersIt’s Thursday which brings us a new interview and our 30th “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.

Moro Rogers is the writer and artist of the Archaia original graphic novel, City in the Desert, which is now available in two volumes which you can purchase here and here.

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

Moro Rogers: I was in animation, but I was between jobs and I decided that would be a good time to do something independent, and if I wrote a graphic novel I would have the kind of control I wanted. In animation it’s tough to tell a story with a big scope, especially if you like working alone.

City_in_the_Desert_v2_CoverGP: Did you read comics growing up? Do you read them now?

MR: I didn’t actually read a lot of comics growing up, I was more into movies. Before the internet, I wasn’t really aware of comics outside of the funny papers and superheroes. My parents had a book of B. Kliban stuff, which I memorized, and I read a lot of The Far Side, but when I wanted a story I’d watch a movie or read a book. I read a lot more comics now. They’re slowly taking over our bookshelf.

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

MR: I submitted my graphic novel to several comics publishers and it got picked up by Archaia. Woo!

GP: How would you describe your job for people?

MR: I draw and write City in the Desert. (I usually work digitally so I spend a lot of time looking at a screen.)

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

MR: If you think you have a story to tell, don’t wait for someone to give you a chance, just find a way to do it. It’s not anyone else’s responsibility. (Also, um, check out your local parks and hiking trails! This advice is for everyone, I guess.)

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?

MR: Everyone has a different experience. I’ve been lucky as far as that goes. My parents, teachers and peers have always been very encouraging.Women have more freedom to make comics than ever, and more tools at our disposal, so we just need to keep at it.

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?

MR: BOOM!/Archaia seem to be pretty cool about trying new things and giving new people a shot. Sometimes, I think, publishers and producers decide they want to try a story from a different point of view, but then they get cold feet and decide it won’t sell, so it ends up very similar to everything else. BOOM!/Archaia embraces weirdness, so that’s good.

Interview: Women of BOOM! – Haiwei Hou

haiwei houIt’s Thursday which brings us a new interview and our 29th “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.

Haiwei Hou is an artist focused on visual development, character design, illustration, animation, and storyboarding.

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

Haiwei Hou: I love visual storytelling. If I have a great story in mind, I’m desperate to draw it out neglecting the fact of getting paid or not.

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

HH: Yes, I grew up reading, so have a huge influence from Manga and Anime. I still read them when I need some inspiration.

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

HH: One day, there’s an email from Jasmine. She asked me if I’m interested and I said yes.

GP: How would you describe your job for people?

HH: I deliver the project on time and they love my work.

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

HH: Never stop trying, even when professionals tell you that you are hopeless. Everyone can get to the level they want in time, but passion is what keeps you moving forward. When your artwork is strong enough, jobs will come to you.

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

HH: I didn’t have a specific mentor that helped me break into the industry. I met up with new artists and learned from their experiences.

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?

HH: Personally, I don’t see that there’s a problem for woman to break into the comic industry. Lots of my co-workers at BOOM! are female. It is just a mindset. Women have to stop destructing themselves and just pursue what they really want in life.

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?

HH: BOOM! is an uprising studio. It is not huge, so there are more opportunities opened to new artists. It is a fact that women play an important role in our industry. More than half of my schoolmates are female. They just need an employer with an open mind to hire them.

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?

HH: If someone harasses me or my friends in person, I will crack a joke and offer him a beer. If someone harasses me on the internet, I will reply with a laugh. I never take them seriously because most of them do so because they are drunk.

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

HH: Gender is not an excuse to stop you pursuing your dream. Just go and do what you really want.

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Interview: Women of BOOM! – Hae Mi Jang

SONY DSCIt’s Thursday which brings us a new interview and our 28th “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.

Hae Mi Jang is a Korean artist who has worked on BOOM!’s Hellraiser: The Road Below and Clive Barker’s Next Testament.

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

Hae Mi Jang: I was in a group of six artists who wanted to start work in US comic book industry. We were supported by Korean governmental agency named ‘Korea Manhwa Contents Agency'(KOMACON) which put together a six month project for introducing our work and seeking for comic book publishers.

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

HMJ: Yes, I read a lot of comic books and and watched animation. I usually read Korean and Japanese comics as a teenager, but now I’m into various books and media, like novels, photographs, paintings and movies. It all helps a lot for drawing many things in comics.

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

HMJ: The six artist made a portfolio about our work and KOMACON connected us to the publisher’s actively to introduce us. They got the portfolio and the style of my work, which was black and white, inky and dark. It was good for drawing Clive Barker’s comic.

GP: How would you describe your job for people?

HMJ: Creating a new world on a piece of paper with a pen is amazing. I feel so gratified when the flow of the story I draw can touch people emotions.

NextTestament_01_preview_Page_1GP: For people who want to pursue a career in what you do, what advice would you give them?

HMJ: It’s not always fun, you need to study hard about the flow of the story, panel, perspective and characters movement. You need to observe everything in the world. Because drawing comics it’s not only creating a new world but also copying the real world in the paper.

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

HMJ: Korean comic artist Hyun Sae Lee was the leader of KOMACON who supported us. He is an icon of the Korean comic history. Also he is the professor of the University I was in. He always gives good advice for younger comic artist in Korea.

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?

HMJ:  I think there is no difficult thing to break in and make it in the comic industry because you’re a woman. People read and watch my drawings, not me. Comic book is the communication between readers and artist (also writers). It doesn’t matter what your gender is or how you look.

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?

HMJ:  Well, I draw horror comics. I think it’s just a taste of what people like. and it’s not just concerning women, some men doesn’t like horrors. so many men, so many minds. And also personally I’m not a big fan of horror or violent things but I like to draw a dark side of the world and people and it doesn’t harassed me at all. :)

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

HMJ:  Don’t care about the fact you’re a woman or not. What you draw and how can you draw/write a good story is the important part. Readers know what is good or not.

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Interview: Women of BOOM! – Lorena Carvalho

Lorena CarvalhoIt’s Thursday which brings us a new interview and our 27th “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.

Lorena Carvalho is an artist who has provided covers for BOOM! on Steed and Mrs. Peel, and Hellraiser: The Dark Watch.

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

Lorena Carvalho: I love drawing and have been reading comics since I was a child. My dream was to become an illustrator so after 10 years it has been an inevitable destiny.

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

LC: I grew up reading Japanese comics because of the anime series broadcasted on Catalan TV. Later when I was a teenager I started to be interested in American and French-Belgian comics. Nowadays I read a little bit of everything, but I confess that I like American comics the most.

GHellraiserDarkwatch_11_rev_Page_1P: How did you come to work with BOOM!/Archaia?

LC: The editor Chris Rosa contacted me after seeing my work on internet and asked me to work for BOOM! Studios.

GP: How would you describe your job for people?

LC: Every time I’m asked about my job, it’s difficult for me to describe it and even more so if the person who asked me doesn’t know about the comic world.

For me it’s lonely work, difficult and with some kind of slavery because it takes a lot of the hours of the day.

You have to face critics in a proper way and you have to be aware of everything that is going on out there. One could say that it’s more than a job it is a way of life.

And every request is a personal and professional challenge.

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

LC: Well, although it could sound a typical I’d tell them that if they really want to pursue a career in the comic world, they should never give up, they should keep on practising ( drawing, writing…) until they are proud of what they are doing. No matter what other says. they should never compare themselves, everyone has to find their own tools and style and try to promote the skills and style that makes one person’s work different from other. You should be constant, patient and learn from other. Also you have to be self critic and selfdemanding. However I think that if you are faithful in every aspect you can get what you desire.

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

LC: Santi Casas, another professional of the comic sector, has been always advising and guiding me. He was the one who taught me everything I know. He taught me to work with photoshop and help me to introduce me into the comics and he got me the firsts illustration jobs. I’m really grateful because without his help I wouldn’t have progress that much. I admire him very much and nowadays I keep learning from him.

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?

LC: Maybe ten years ago It was difficult but now I think it’s not. I think that everyday more women are involved in this industry, professionally and  as readers. I have to say I never had any problem.

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?

LC: I don’t know…

It may be because BOOM! Archaia makes it easy to get to work with them. Boom!/Archaia bet by new artists offering various opportunities and large projects from the first moment.

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?

LC: In my personal experience I have never been discriminated for the fact of being a woman. Instead, I have always been supported and appreciated.

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

LC: The same advises that I have given before, but I would add that If they are so unlucky of being discriminated for being a woman, they should be strong and shouldn’t care. They should keep on fighting and get over difficulties. They should ask themselves which is the origin of this discrimination…Is it that origin that some men now feel intimidated by women making great works in the comic industry? That isn’t an enough reason. Today women are contributing to the world of comics and illustration as never they did before, and this is a good thing!

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Interview: Women of BOOM! – Kathleen Webb

Kathleen WebbIt’s Thursday which brings us a new interview and our 26th “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.

Kathleen Webb is a writer and artist who has worked on Peanuts for BOOM! Studios imprint KaBOOM! as well as numerous books for Archie Comics!

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

Kathleen Webb: I wrote a fan letter to Dan DeCarlo that I drew like a comic book (as if I was talking to him), and he called me in May of 1985 and said he wanted to help get me on at Archie because he felt I had potential as both a writer and an artist. I did some pencilling work on Betty & Veronica fashion pages, then in September he suggested I submit a script. I sent one in, had it rejected, sent in another, it sold, and the rest was history. I worked for Archie primarily as a writer for almost twenty-five years.

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

KW: Oh yeah.  As a small child, I read the comic strips in the newspapers–my favorites were Peanuts, Dick Tracy (I loved Moon Maid!), Brenda Starr, The Phantom and Blondie and Dagwood. My goal was to become a comic strip artist “just like Charles Schulz”–I wanted that as early as age 8. When I got older (around ten) I started reading more Archie titles, and other “teen” humor comics, like Millie the Model, Date With Debbie, Scooter, etc. In my high school years I got into superhero stuff–used to read Sub-Mariner, Spider-Man and the Fantastic Four.  Later on I got into manga, by watching Sailor Moon on television.  I still read manga–mostly girl’s titles, like Fruits Basket.

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

KW: My friend, Jeff Schulz, who used to work with me at Archie, suggested I try out for KaBOOM! on their Peanuts title.

GP: How would you describe your job for people?

KW:  I used to put the words in Betty and Veronica’s mouths!

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

KW: Make sure you have a day job!  It’s not easy in this industry to make a living.

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

KW: Dan DeCarlo of Archie Comics was my mentor. He and I would have long conversations on the phone (he was on the east coast, I’m on the west) about cartooning, drawing, etc. He was a big encouragement in my early years at Archie.

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?

KW: Hmm. I think it’s more difficult for a woman to make it in the comic industry if she wants to write what a friend of mine referred to as “talky girl comics.” Nowadays one would just refer to Japanese girl’s manga to make the point. The stories are more emotionally driven, and have less action and more character development. The American comic industry is geared more to male readers, if you’re referring to the stuff you find in the stores. As far as web comics go, there are more girl’s comics to be found, but they are more difficult to find in print. Now, with the advent of Kindle and the like, that may be a moot point. The other thing I’ve personally felt a lack of, is what I consider “all ages” material. Stuff that can appeal across the board, without be offensive. I’d like to see more of that, particularly from female writers/artists. As far as overcoming the obstacles to getting that kind of material out, I have no clue what can be done.

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?

KW: I personally have never had any kind of discrimination or harassment. Archie Comics treated me fairly (they were pleased just to have a woman on board as a writer!) and never acted like I was anything other than just a good writer that they wanted to make use of. I guess I never let my gender get in my way–it never occurred to me that a woman couldn’t be a writer or artist, since I was aware of females already in the industry (Dale Messick, Ramona Fradon and Marie Severin come to mind). And the few conventions I’ve been to, I’ve never been harassed at. Maybe I just don’t travel in those circles?

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

KW: If you want to do it, keep at it. If you can’t get into the “big leagues,” put your work online, either on a blog or sites like Deviantart or create your own web site. Learn all you can about your craft–how to use your tools, how to make the best use of computer tools. Read other people’s work and think about what you like about it–learn from others. If you go to conventions, don’t be afraid to ask questions of the artists/writers there. Do what you love, not what you think will “sell.” And learn from the past! Go to the library and check out the comic strip compilations of stuff like Steve Canyon, Dick Tracy, Little Orphan Annie, Prince Valient, Little Nemo, etc. Read Asterix. Find out why these strips were so popular and enduring. And don’t give up!

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Interview: Women of BOOM! – Nichol Ashworth

Upside-downIt’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.

Fraggle Rock v2 003 Cover AGP: 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!)

 

Interview: Women of BOOM! – Leigh Dragoon

Fraggle Rock Vol 001 HC CoverIt’s Thursday which brings us a new interview and our 24th “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.

Leigh Dragoon is a writer and artist who has worked on Fraggle Rock for Archaia, Scholastic Canada’s Timeline Series, and adapted the Vampire Academy series into graphic novels, among numerous other things..

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

Leigh Dragoon: I started my own webcomic, By the Wayside, in the early 2000s. Shortly afterwards, I stumbled across Girlamatic. I prepared a pitch, and as soon as they opened their site for submissions that year, I sent it in!

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

LD: When we were kids, my sister and I read the covers off my dad’s old Little Lulu and Disney comics at our grandmother’s house. Then we unearthed our uncle’s complete set of original, mint-condition Elfquests, and read the covers off of those, too.

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

LD: I had worked with Tim Beedle on a few projects while he was at Tokyopop. He thought my writing style might be a good fit for Fraggle Rock, so he gave me a chance to pitch a story.

GP: How would you describe your job for people?

LD: I tell people I’m a sequential artist. It sounds really fancy, and by the time they figure out what that actually means, I’m long gone.

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

LD: Get a really good dayjob. With health benefits and paid vacation time.

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

LD: I’m extremely lucky to have Sam Kieth as a mentor. He’s an incredibly gifted artist, literally one of the nicest people I’ve ever met, and he gives wonderful advice.

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?

LD: I think women do have a more difficult time, at least as far as mainstream publishing goes, but I’ve seen things change quite a bit in the past ten years, and I’m hoping they continue to change.

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?

LD: I think Archaia’s done a good job offering a wide range of titles, instead of focusing on just one age group, gender, or genre.

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?

LD: Personally, I have not; however, I know that I’ve been very, very lucky in a lot of ways, especially when it comes to the projects I’ve been chosen to work on, and the editors I’ve worked with on those projects.

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

LD: Get a really good dayjob. With health benefits and paid vacation time.

Interview: Women of BOOM! – Katie Cook

Katie CookIt’s Thursday which brings us a new interview and our 23rd “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.

Katie Cook is a writer and artist who has worked on Fraggle Rock and Mouse Guard: Legends of the Guard for Archaia.

Graphic Policy: How did you get involved in the comic book industry? Did you read comics growing up? Do you read them now?

Katie Cook: These two questions go hand in hand… I have had a love of comics since I was old enough to have an opinion that Archie couldn’t possibly see anything in Veronica when he has someone like Betty. I’ve never wanted to be anything BUT a cartoonist since I was in kindergarten, so a career in comics was really my only option!

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

KC: When Archaia announced they’d be doing Fraggle Rock comics, I became an immediate pest and sent Fraggle sample after sample. Fraggle Rock is something I have a DEEP love for and i WANTED the comics. Luckily, the folks at Archaia agreed I should be a part of the book.

GP: How would you describe your job for people?

KC: I get to wake up every day and do what I love for a living. I draw, I write and I hang out in my pajamas with my kid. It’s great.

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

KC: Making comics is WORK. More work than you’ll ever think it is.

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

KC: I consider my comic peer group my mentors… all the folks in the same position I am in the field, who I’ve known through comic conventions and online for years, are who I look up to. When someone I know sees a great success, it’s a proud feeling of “I’ve been watching their career for XX number of years and NOW look where they are! Wow!”

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?

KC: I think the spot where you run into “women don’t work in comics” talk is when you talk about the “big two”. DC and Marvel don’t have a lot of female creators and that’s a sad thing… but step outside of them and the comic world is FULL of female creators that are kicking ass at what they do. There’s also a slew of indie creators that are women who are doing amazing, unique comics that make me slap my forehead and yell “why didn’t I think of that?!”.

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?

KC: When you have a great editor or team of editors looking for creators… It’s about talent, the art, the storytelling and turning in work on time. When you hire the right person for the job, gender isn’t 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?

KC: I’ve got a lot of weird stories from almost 10 years in illustration.. I think the one that I’m finding now that I’m a woman AND a parent is the question “Well, you’re a mom? Does that mean you can’t make a deadline anymore? We can get someone else…” This question just makes me MAD.

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

KC: Work hard, be good at what you do and be professional. It’s the same rules for any other job… you just get the bonus that you get to make comics.

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