So, the speckles over the silhouetted figures are meant to be snowflakes. I see stars, allowing the page to take on a much more metaphysical feel than any other in all of Ultrasylvania. And I like it.
If you like to read your comics for free on the web, we're still here for you. However, if you love your comics of the digital variety, you can now go to ComiXology and gobble up Ultrasylvania, Vol. 1: King Dracula.
Me, Kraig Rasmussen, Jimmy Palmiotti, and moderator Chris Brandt
Last weekend at WonderCon, I found myself on a panel with Jimmy Palmiotti, Kraig Rasmussen, and Chris Brandt. We discussed the role of the comic creator as it pertains to the future of comics publishing. So, naturally, we spoke mainly about Kickstarter. We all had a great time and - based on their response - it seems the audience did as well. If you'd like to read CBR's take on the panel, then you can find it here.
If you'd like to step into my time machine - courtesy of Mr. Rasmussen - you can actually now listen to the entire panel by clicking here and visiting his Storycraft Podcast.
For the creation of Ultrasylvania, Vol. 2: Emperor Frankenstein, we had our first female artists come on board. With the book just a few short weeks away from being unleashed, we figured it would be a good time to check in with a couple of them - Monica Disher and Apple Q. Zhang - to hear their assessment of the comics industry as it pertains to female creators, characters, and readers.
Do you find the comic industry to be more or less of a "boys' club" these days?
Apple: I wouldn’t say so for the comic industry in China. There are plenty of famous girl comic book artists, cartoonists and illustrators, who have been absolutely competitive and even more popular than male artists. So is Japanese Manga industry. I suppose their elegant and exquisite artistic styles breezed in young Chinese audiences’ aesthetics. Maybe Western comic fans are still into more action and muscular character style that mostly guys do, thus the industry seems like a “boys’ club” here in the States. But I see the variety of comics springing up and in fact, more and more female artists are attracting public’s attention.
Monica: I do think the industry still functions largely as a boys' club. Women and girls aren’t seen as a viable market audience, and female creators are by default thought of as creators for exclusively for women. In other words, girls only make girlie comics that are for girls. Trying to break out of that imposed niche is like swimming upstream.
Is there anyone working in comics who inspires you? If so, how so?
Apple: Well I’m inspired by a lot of amazing artists, as I do enjoy appreciating different artistic elements and ideologies. I admire comic master Frank Frazetta, who could finish an oil painting masterpiece overnight; and animation master Miyazaki Hayao, who has created Utopia in his ideal world. I love Greg Tocchini’s The Last Days of American Crime, Kishimoto Masashi’s Naruto, Matsumoto Taiyo’s Tekkonkinkreet and so forth. I learn from each one of them to improve my ideation and skills.
Monica: There are lots of people in comics who inspire me for lots of different reasons, but Kate Beaton is a name that jumps to mind. Her comics are funny and insightful, and seemingly exactly what she wants them to be. And by pursuing her own avenue she’s managed to make a space for herself in the industry.
Are you more or less encouraged by the current job climate for female comic artists?
Apple: Totally. We’ve never been less talented than male artists. So as long as we work as hard or even harder, there will be opportunities spared for us in the market. I’ll just keep it up and see how far I can go beyond the inexistent limitations.
Monica: I’m mostly optimistic. And every time I see the industry called on its sexism I get a little more optimistic, despite the push-back that inevitably follows.
What's your take on the state of the industry as it pertains to female creators?
Monica: I think the self-publishing movement, and things like Kickstarter have been a real boon for female creators. It can operate in a realm where content is, if not necessarily king, then at least it can eclipse gender.
What do you think U.S. comic publishers should do to attract more female readers?
Apple: Female readers prefer more touching stories than pure actions. Instead of creating figures that have deltoid muscles twice bigger than their heads, unique personalities and rhythmic storyline could probably attract more female readers. Oh and, there’s certain amount of girl fans crazy about homosexual love stories as well. (^_^)
Monica: To think of them as fully formed people. And I refer here to both their readers and the characters in their books.
For those of you making your way to Wondercon in Anaheim this weekend – Ultrasylvania will be well-represented. You will find us in the Small Press area – SP-45, to be precise – where you will also have your first chance to pick up a copy of the freshly minted Ultrasylvania, Volume Two: Emperor Frankenstein!
Just so there’s no confusion…. I’m only receiving a couple dozen copies of the book in time for Wondercon – and paying our printer extra for the ability to debut the book at the convention. The balance should arrive sometime next week. And thus will begin the signings, the sketchings, the packagings, and the mailings to our Kickstarter supporters!