We’ve had quite a few UK creators respond to the Women in Comics Spotlights. Jade Sarson is the next!
How did you get into comics?
Originally I thought I was an illustrator pure and simple, until I began reading manga and realised that there was so much more potential in the sequential stuff. I started out writing and drawing lots of short comics and submitting them to competitions and anthologies, and a lot of them have been published in the small press market, in anthologies like Leek and Sushi and magazines like Non Repro. During university I decided to take on some bigger, more challenging projects (not that short comics aren’t challenging in their own right) and this was how I got into web comics and graphic novels.
Tell us a bit about the projects you’ve worked on:
As I mentioned I’ve built up a portfolio of lots of short comics; I think my favourite is the latest one I worked on called Shear Brilliance, which was written for me by Dean McKnight (collaboration is fun!). This comic has been shortlisted for this year’s Manga Jiman competition and is set to be published in an artbook later this year. I also self-published another short comic called Click Click Bang Bang last year which was an unusually gritty detour from my usual comedic/heartwarming comics.
My web comic Cafe Suada is my most well-known project however, and it’s my experimental baby. It’s a quirky story about a small teahouse and the war over customers that begins when a coffeehouse opens right next door. I started it in my second year of uni when I was frustrated with my course and my art style. It’s helped me to practise my writing, try lots of new techniques for creating comics, and is just plain fun to draw. I’ve really come into my own and found ‘my way’ of doing things through experimenting on this. Lots of readers seem to enjoy the unique tea-inspired colour scheme and the eccentric story… I hope they’ll stick with it to the end.
In my final year of uni I also worked on a short adaptation of parts of the Shakespeare play Antony and Cleopatra, which I self-published as an intended preview of a larger book. It was heavily inspired by the Self Made Hero Manga Shakespeare series, and was so much fun to design because I re-set it in the 1920’s. No word on whether I’ll be continuing with this one yet, we’ll just have to wait and see. I’d love to continue it one day.
I still update Cafe Suada when I can, it’s a story I have big plans for and will definitely finish eventually. However right now it’s taking a bit of a back seat while I work on my first full length graphic novel, SIDDOWN!, an exciting story about time travel used as public transport by disgruntled British passengers. I can’t reveal too much about this one as it’s still in development, but a preview chapter is being published in the londonprintstudio anthology Parallel Lives in March for anyone wanting a sneak peak~
What is your favourite work that you’ve done so far?
Probably the SIDDOWN! preview comic for Parallel Lives. It’s my strongest work in terms of both inventive storytelling and stylish artwork – I play around with limited colour schemes a lot in this one. I’m really excited to work on the full length version.
Enjoy what you’re doing – if you’re not enjoying what you’re working on, chances are people aren’t going to enjoy reading it. And don’t be afraid to try new things! I always like to learn something from each project I do, which can benefit the next thing I work on.
What is your favourite thing to write or draw?
I really like the challenge of drawing mundane things in interesting ways. I think it was in the manga Bakuman that I read that truly great writers and artists should be able to depict something really boring like sweeping the floor in a way that convinces readers it’s interesting. There’s a page in Cafe Suada that I love because it depicts all the simple movements of making a cup of tea in what I hope is a beautiful, interesting way.
I also really enjoy drawing energetic, flowing character designs. I used to be really stiff in the way I drew people so being able to draw people the way I do now is so much more fun, and nicer to look at.
In an ideal world, in what direction would you like to see your project evolve?
I certainly want to continue Cafe Suada to its completion. As for SIDDOWN!, I want to spend the time doing a lot more research and development towards it so that when it’s finished it’s a really entertaining, immersive read. I have a lot more work to do on it and I want it to be my best comic yet!
Links to your work:
And finally your last thought:
My work’s going to be in a couple of exhibitions, and I’d like to invite people to come along and check them out! The first is the Manga Jiman exhibition which will open in February at the Japanese Embassy and exhibits my Shear Brilliance comic. The second is an exhibition and book launch at the end of March in the londonprintstudio, and will exhibit development work on SIDDOWN! and some original prints, plus the Parallel Lives anthology. Both are free to attend, so please come along!
I’d also like to add that it’s great to be a part of the UK comics scene, it’s full of fantastic people who are a joy to be with and are really talented. If you haven’t read any British comics yet, you’re missing out!