Tell us about yourself!
I’m an artist who majored in Illustration and will be going on to get a Masters degree in art history, hopefully with a specialization in Animation and Illustration history.
How did you get into comics?
That’s really a multi-tier question. As a little kid, I grew up watching superhero cartoons, but there was always a sense of this being a Boy Thing. After all, Batman and Superman were men and I had Barbies. Then, when I was eight or so, I’m embarrassed to admit that I saw Batman & Robin. That was the first time I ever really encountered Batgirl and the idea that girls could be superheroes too. It was so strangely thrilling for me.
Not long after, I started watching Sailor Moon and that was pretty much it. I was sucked in. Not only could girls be superheroes, there were heroes made for girls. Hooked on the cartoon, Sailor Moon would be the first comic books I would ever buy. Ages eight to twelve were occupied with thoughts of being a magical girl, having fabulous powers, and being my own hero. Also talking cats. I really wanted a talking cat.
Do you just read comics, or do you express your love in other ways?
I really love to go to conventions and cosplaying. I guess the biggest testament to my love of visual storytelling is the fact that I pursued a degree in the arts. Pursuing and embracing what I love have opened a lot of doors for me; cosplaying gave me a portfolio that got me an internship at a theater company and I’ve gotten a pretty amazing package from my graduate school because of my grades and writing and my passion for art and visuals.
What are some comics you’re currently reading and enjoying?
I read a lot more webcomics than paper comics, but I’ve been buying the single issues of the new Ultimate Spider-Man with Miles Morales. Webcomics-wise, I follow Khaos, Spina Cage, Homestuck, and The Less Than Epic Adventures of TJ and Amal. I also really dig Faith Erin Hicks’ work and have two of her trade paperbacks.
Who is your favorite character?
Shadowcat, for years and years, and her buddy Nightcrawler. Kitty Pryde was young and smart and had an awesome power and, reading comics as a kid, it was thrilling to see not only a female superhero but one who was my age. Also Death and Delirium from Sandman, Snow White from Fables, and Gert from Runaways.
Most of my favorite characters from manga were the ones who had unusual powers, or relied on different kinds of strength. One of my favorite comics is Angelic Layer by CLAMP, whose main character Misaki designs a fighting robot and chooses to prioritize speed, agility, and cleverness over physical bulk and strength She’s determined to prove that you can be physically small (she’s quite short) and still command attention. In the same vein, I’m a huge fan of Alice from Alice 19th, whose magical power came from ancient words and the strength of her conviction as she said them.
Who are your favorite artist(s) & writer(s)?
Faith Erin Hicks and E.K. Weaver for webcomics. Then I also love Ben Templesmith, Yoshitaka Amano, and Dave McKean. Jill Thompson’s watercolors are divine. Of course, I have to give some love to Neil Gaiman; his comics were the first that I really encountered the idea of the Graphic Novel. I really love Andrew Hussie and Allie Brosh, whose works are nominally webcomics but both defy and fully make use of the freedom of this kind of medium.
Do you have a favorite comic storyline?
I don’t know if I’ve read long-running comics consistently enough to say that I have one particular favorite. I love character arcs and growth, so Chase’s story in Runaways and Miles Morales’ coming of age as Spider-Man come to mind.
I haven’t read it, but I’m really intrigued by the storyline in Iron Man where Pepper Potts received her own suit, but asked that it only have equipment for defense, rescue, and heavy lifting. I think there’s a lot that can be explored with superheroes who are healers and defenders and the different kind of strength that requires.
How do you usually buy your comics?
I did a lot of my buying at large chain stores and on sites like Amazon. I still do, but lately, I’ve been going to a local comic book store and hobby shop called North Coast Nostalgia. I used to go there all the time as a kid and thought it closed only to be pleasantly surprised to realize it was still open. I also like to visit a local used bookstore called Loganberry Books. Their graphic novel section is small but full of hidden gems.
When I was living in Boston, I visited Newbury Comics stores a lot and a store called Million Year Picnic. Apparently one of my favorite teachers also just bought Hub Comics in Somerville as well.
I’m really in love with the idea of small, local comics stores where the staff know your name and your favorite comics, who openly chat about what they love with you. I think I’ve been lucky, because I’ve heard stories about women who tried to go into comic shops and were shunned, ignored, or mocked but I’ve never encountered that kind of treatment.
And, on the topic of webcomics yet again, I love buying directly from the artists when possible. I have a signed comic by E.K. Weaver that I ordered through her site.
What are some thing you love about comics? Some things that frustrate you?
There was a fantastic line in a History Channel documentary, Comic Book Superheroes Unmasked, from one of the panelists. He called people in the industry “caretakers of myth.” Superheroes are our new Odysseus, Gilgamesh, and Hercules. They’re the new just-so stories, myths, and trickster tales for the modern day.
I also really, really love webcomics and the way they can blur genres. The first time I encountered this was K. Sandra Fuhr’s 5ideways, which incorporated animated panels and sound. Again, Allie Brosh’s Hyperbole and a Half, which is half-comic, half-blog, two thirds “PARP!” and all parts hilarious. Then, of course, there’s Andrew Hussie’s MS Paint Adventures and his current project, Homestuck. It’s a webcomic, yes, but it has flash animation, a whole bunch of soundtrack albums, interactive panels, and so much more. It could never, ever exist in any other time and format but this one. Even the print version of Homestuck says to go to the website to fully experience the animation and music.
On that topic, I also love Marvel’s current plan to create an interconnected continuity with their moves, tying together all these separate characters and storylines with The Avengers.
As for what I don’t like well…I’m sure plenty of attention has been given to women in mainstream comics. Fridge-stuffing, assault as dramatic backstory, and boobs as super powers have largely kept me from really investing more in superheroes in the Big Two companies. While I was and, to an extent, still see myself as a Marvel girl, there are only so many giant bosoms, mangled spinal cords, and eye candy that I can handle. Having studied anatomy at school, where I had to memorize so many bones and muscles and learned, again and again, the importance of a strong understanding of how to correctly draw the human body it’s a little ridiculous how much of that seems to get thrown out the window in mainstream comics. Especially when it’s done in the name of making characters “sexy.”
What does your dream book look like?
To an extent, it’s already been written. Sandman: The Dream Hunters incorporates some of my favorite art, a new mythology, trickster tails, Neil Gaiman, and gorgeous character design.
I also just want Faith Erin Hicks and E.K. Weaver to draw wonderful slice of life comics for the rest of forever.
I think what I’d love to see, as dream comics go, in general is a continued modern mythology and an exploration into new technology and new storytelling. There’s so much potential in tablet and internet-based comics, I think, to heighten levels of interactivity and immersion.
Any final thoughts?
There’s no limit on how to tell a visual story now. It’s simply amazing.