We’re back with our Women in Comics spotlight, highlighting Chandra Free! She’s a fabulous artist and the creator of The God Machine, a graphic novel series about “a young man’s search for love and sanity.”
I’ll admit I’m still only half way through The God Machine, but I’ve been enamored with it from the first few pages. Chandra’s art is lovely; it flows from page to page with a natural grace that’s beautiful to look at. Honestly, half the reason I’m reading so slowly is because I spend so much time admiring her art.
Chandra graciously agreed to answer our questions, and I hope they’ll tide you over until I get my full review of The God Machine up. Enjoy!
How did you get into comics?
Throughout my life I have been constantly drawing and telling stories with my art. Originally when I was a kid I wanted to be an animator, but when I came to the conclusion that I really wanted to be a key animator and never an in-betweener, it kind of lost it’s appeal. You see, even as a kid I knew that you had to work your way up from an in-betweener for years before you got to be one of the big guys setting the emotion and action of the scene. The tedium of redrawing images exactly the same way with little change up didn’t appeal to me. I wanted to be the director, I wanted to tell stories the way I wanted to, I wanted to design the look and feel of the world I created, and I wanted to do it my way. The natural progression to making this happen was through comics. I don’t mean to dismiss the craft of cartoon making (it’s an art form and the people responsible for it are my heroes), I admire it to this day, but it wasn’t for me work wise. As a kid, I had already been creating comics with my cousin, Lindsay Cibos (The Last of The Polar Bears, Peach Fuzz), for fun. Lindsay and I would make our own fan comics/original creations together, and share the duties of writing together. Little did we know we’d be preparing ourselves for our future jobs.
Comics make perfect sense to me. I get to do all the things I love to do and I get to reach out with my creations to other people. There’s nothing more thrilling and enjoyable than that.
Tell us a bit about the projects you’ve worked on.
The God Machine is my graphic novel series about lost love, monsters and crazy gods! We follow the story of grief stricken Guy Salvatore in his search for sanity and his maybe ‘not so dead’ girlfriend. It’s a dark epic tale about life and loss. The first installment of The God Machine is out now, published by Archaia.
I’ve also contributed to Jim Henson’s Fraggle Rock anthology comic, also published by Archaia. I did the art for a short story called, “The Fraggle who cried monster!” It was really great to work on this because I grew up watching Fraggle Rock as a kid and I really loved the show. So being put on a franchise I grew up with didn’t feel like I was selling out, but returning to old friends from my childhood. Plus I got to design new muppet monsters based off of Henson creations! What could be better?
I contributed two digital paintings for the illustrated prose novel, Conspiracy of the Planet of The Apes, in stores now, and I was also involved on Sullengrey: Sacrifice GN as a digital painter.
I’m currently working on three projects — The God Machine Vol 2, of course. Then there is Boys + Girls (drawn by me, and also co-created with Andrew E.C. Gaska). Boys + Girls is a graphic novel about the two perspectives on the nature of failed relationships, as seen through the eyes of opposite genders. Finally, I’m contributing an adaptation of T.S. Elliot’s The Wasteland for The Graphic Cannon.
What is your favourite work that you’ve done so far?
By far my favorite work I’ve done has been The God Machine, which is my own creation. Creating my own mythos and style has it benefits infinitely. Nobody tells me what to do story and art wise, and really it is my own animal. Though if I screw up, I’m the only one to blame!
Did you ever get advice about the field that you’d like to pass on?
I never had a mentor myself, though what I’ve seen constantly in the industry rings true-
If you’re an artist, study from real life and draw every day! It’s a great foundation for your art and will help you solve problems in your future work. Also look to Wally Wood’s panel guide to help keep your panels interesting and less static. Variation in your panels will keep your reader flipping pages in excitement!
As for writers, write everyday! Whether it be a blog or a script for practice. My philosophy when writing for a comic script is to just write. It doesn’t have to be perfect, you just need to start writing! Remember edits and revisions are your friends, not your enemies. Nobody writes the perfect sentence the first time, usually…
Another good point is when it comes to contracts with publishers, make sure you know what you’re signing or have somebody look over your contract. It’ll save you from future surprises that you might find down the road. Also it’s okay to negotiate as well. Don’t expect to move mountains, but know you can ask to change something if you don’t agree with it. That’s the nature of business!
What is your favourite thing to write or draw? From situations to characters to themes, anything goes.
I really enjoy drawing characters and situations that I find fascinating or provide a level of challenge. Drawing to me is more than a job, it’s a passion. Art is who I am and the best way I know how to communicate.
I do tend to enjoy drawing darker things and taboos. Exposing and analyzing what makes us tick as human beings. Expressing human character and the inner psyche that drives us is an exciting thing to explore with art and story. Symbolism is highly underrated. From color to body language, you can express so much more in your drawings than just writing alone in a comic.
In an ideal world, in what direction would you like to see your project evolve?
I would love to see The God Machine become a mature cartoon or anime. The story really lends itself to a long format more so than a movie.
Also I hope to bring in other artist/writer teams to come work during the middle of the series run and contribute to the world I’m building. I would be overseeing it so it stays in continuity, but the artists/writers would be bringing their own unique visions to The God Machine. This is a perfect combination for this world due to the fact, we’ll be seeing many different worlds that are vastly different than the world we start off with. New ideas and fresh takes on the mythos will provide a intriguing group project. I *will* make this happen, by golly!
Links to your work:
+My website: http://spookychan.com/ (Further information and links to buy The God Machine are here, along with illustrations and updates about my work.)
+My deviantArt account: http://spookychan.deviantart.com/ -primarily where I post my newest art work.
@spookychan (personal rambling and general updates)
@TheGodMachine (God Machine only updates)
And finally your last thought.
–And now for something completely silly!
Also thanks to everybody at Girls Read Comics Too for giving me this opportunity to share my thoughts and work with everybody. -Chan