Sunday, April 15, 2012

The Ladies of Womanthology - C2E2 2012

In a panel discussion and Q & A the ladies of this anthology shared how they became involved and their inspiration for doing so.  It was an amazing opportunity to hear first hand what drove each of these women to become part of something so unique.   For you aspiring creators, note that many became involved through the use of social networking.

Jessica Daniel - writer
Lauren Burke - writer
Jean Kang - artist
Janet Lee - artist
Raven Moore - writer
Candice Reily-Powell - artist
Katie Shanahan - artist
Gail Simone - writer

Some background on Womanthology:

Womanthology is a graphic novel created entirely by women designed to raise money for The Global Giving Foundation and to promote the works of female creators both seasoned and new to the industry.  The project was placed on to raise its goal of $25k and surpassed it many times over, eventually raising over $100K.  Within its first week 1500 copies were sold allowing the development of future issues.
Please support their efforts and give them a +Like! Womanthology on Facebook

Note:  Transcript is not exact and in areas paraphrased due to dead batteries.  I tried to get as accurate of a transcript as possible ladies, please forgive any errors as my poor typing fingers could barely keep up!

Each introduced themselves and explained how they became involved in the project to start the panel off.

Jessica - Developed an interest after seeing a tweet.

Lauren - Read about the opportunity via Tumblr blog: Ladies in Comics. Was also Facebook friends with Renae De Liz  and requested participation by messaging her.

Jean - Saw a RT of Renae's and decided to send her an email with her portfolio.

Janet - Came on late in the game after talking with Jenna Bush at NYCC.

Raven - Follows Renae on Twitter and was one of the first to respond.

Candice - I work as a team with Jessica and became involved through her.

Katie - Was messing around on Twitter instead of working on her (then) current project.  She was really glad she was goofing off because it was then she saw Renae's tweet.

The ladies then talked about the inspiration behind each of their specific projects.

Lauren - I tried a super hero story first - a prince and the pauper type - but it was too big.  Planning on doing a full length version.

Jean - The story was written by Gail Simone.  When applying, I threw together a website with my artwork and asked to work with Gail.  I didn't think I would get to work with her, so when I got the news I replied in all caps and exclamation points.  I saw a conversation on Gail's Twitter about minorities in comics and wanted to do a story making fun of the mainstream superhero genre.

Janet - I was paired with Rachael and Jenna and we did a period piece about a fire in New York.

Raven - I wanted to follow the Heroic theme involving a young girl.

Candice - Jessica wrote our story and put it together.  I did the art and the pair up was easy for us.  We were going through the story ideas and had an awesome fairy tale story, but - I just like to draw - I'm not the word person.  It was a lot of fun seeing the project grow and the response was overwhelming.  Especially the first piece being published.  It was so exciting with the impact it has had being out less than a year.

Katie - Renae emailed a pitch with two old flapper ladies climbing a mountain.  It was great working on it and sending reference images back and forth and doing 1920s research. 

Gail - This project was something I really wanted to do.  It's been very exciting seeing a growing percentage of females interested in entering the industry.  It is a great platform for females to enter the industry in.  So many people did not believe in the project and the fact it has done so well and it has great pieces to show of their talent.  It's very hard to get published now.  I wrote two pieces for the book and it was so fun.  Everybody was so welcoming and supportive of each other.  It has been one of the most amazing projects to work on.

Jessica - I asked my daughter what I should write about and she replied "Fairies!"  But beside being a fantasy story, it is about bonds of friendship.  In true fantasy form, one story is not quite enough and trying to get everything into four pages was really tough.  Im suprised when it came out it was still the same story.

How did Womanthology help your other work etc?

Lauren - People are much more aware of women in comics now and much more aware of what I do.  It's so nice to network with all of the other creators on the project.

Jean - Prior to working on the anthology I mostly worked in animation and on Flash games.  With being a part of Womanthology and with Gail being so open about trying out ideas, I was able to flex muscles I wasn't able to before.  It was a great opportunity to have fun and say "that's my baby."  The exposure my work has gotten has been insane.  Many of the images representing the novel were mine like on Newsarama and Google.  There was an instance where my work was displayed right under an image by Neil Gaiman.  I geeked out and took a screen shot later adding hearts and stuff.  It has been wonderful and I'm hoping for more work in comics.

Janet - I'm also new to comics.  The opportunity to explore new types of stories and tell what you really want to tell was a great experience.

Raven - I'm super new to comics, but I thought it was really cool.  I thought there was no hope for me to enter the already established industry, but it would be my passion project if I could get in.  It's inspiring to be involved without having to have a certain platform a publisher gives you.  It was an inspiration to be able to just do it, without needing a special permission to create what you want to.  It opened my eyes in wanting to be a comic book writer.

Candice - It was very interesting for me.  I was that kid drawing under the kitchen table.  Art makes me happy.  I've worked in many different mediums like painting, photography, sewing etc.  When Womanthology came out it brought me back to my core.  I said "this is where you need to be."  It's so mind baffling and amazing where it can take you from here.  You can't wait for somebody else, you do it for yourself.  Don't let someone say you can't.  It will take you to the stars.

Katie - Womanthology tought me to multi-task very well.  I love comics so much!  But with having a deadline and having a writer depend on me, it forced me to stay on it.  You get to meet so many awesome people when you are part of a group like this.

Gail - I'm really, really, happy this inspired people.  It's a gift to get into an impenetrable business.  The whole package is amazing.  Thank you who bought the book and supported it on Kickstarter.

Jessica - I came into this new and it made me realize with work and effort I can do whatever I want to do in life.  These people are so amazing and supportive.  With my other stories I bring forward themes of friendship and following your dreams to do it all.  I see excitement and pride in my daughter's eyes.  It's what I tell my kids, a lot of work, but a lot of fun.

Janet - I was a total pessimist.  At every turn I was proved wrong.  I was sitting in a storyboard class and getting texts watching the Kickstarter funds jump amounts.  I figured it would settle around $70k and it ended up at $109k.

Q&A -

Whats next for all of you after this, any new opportunities you didn't perceive?

Candice - Nothing new for me.  I've been working on a graphic novel for the past year.  I'm going to give it to the publishers.  If no one is interested we have decided to self publish.

Gail - From a business perspective, these girls are now published.  They can now bring that with them when presenting future work.  It adds a level of seriousness to it.  Having something published is a major stepping stone.

Lauren - Publishers are now wanting to see our work!

Jean - Jim Lee came to our signing.  It was amazing, Jim Lee said he was jealous since he hasn't worked with Gail yet.  It really has opened doors for me.

Janet - I will be working on a sequel and working on a curriculum comic to teach math and science in the classroom.

Jessica - Eyes glaze over in a venue like this for networking, but when Womanthology is mentioned people open up for you.  It's exciting meeting people involved in the industry.

Jean - I would not have gotten into C2E2 without Womanthology.  I've been rejected in the past.

Gail - I've been getting people bringing the book to my table to get signed.  The book was outside of what I normally do for DC Comics and in a different style.  I enjoyed doing the essays in Chicks Dig Comics which is filled with essays written by female comic creators.  You get different perspectives outside your normal job.

Katie - I was able to get my own book out and it helped us get more projects out and keep up motivation.

Kickstarter was successful for this project, would you use it for your personal projects?

Resounding "YES!"

What got you into comics?

Lauren - The Supergirl movie.

Raven - I never really read comics growing up, but I'm a long time fantasy fan.  A friend gave me Fables and I was hooked like crack!

Jean - I grew up with comics.  I read manga and watched a lot of animation growing up, and still do.  When Batman: The Animated Series or Superman came on I enjoyed them.  I started reading Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman comics.

Katie - I grew up on comics.  The Archies etc.. My dad was a comic book fan and had stacks of them.  I used to sneak into his Heavy Metal comics when he was out of the house and it showed me not everything was the same.  In high school I read manga and in college some European comics.  I just devoured them and loved them.  I'm excited to be here.  Thank you all!

Gail - I grew up in a small town in Oregon - or really - a small farm outside of a small town in Oregon.  It rained a lot.  Once chores were done there wasn't much tv.  I first fell in love with Batgirl on syndicated tv.  I was isolated and red headed.  I got made fun of.  I saw Batgirl on screen and she could kick ass.  I was like "wow," this is relevant to me.  I went to a 7-11 one time and saw a Justice League comic.  It was my first experience with Wonder Woman and I read it all the time.  I loved it from age four on.  I realized all the stories I loved before had adventures thrust upon the female protagonist.  Wonder Woman was a character who created her own adventures.  She was a Princess and I loved that too, but it was her going out there and creating her own adventures that opened my mind a lot.  I grew up in a family of strong women and I couldn't identify with Prince Charming.  I couldn't wait on an isolated farm for adventures to happen.

Jessica - I grew up with comics.  Wonder Women was awesome and kicked butt.  With my own kids, I want them to realize these stories are out there.  I like mostly indie stuff now.  Archaia puts out great stuff, but I mostly like stories I can share with my kids.

I'm wondering if you've seen an impact on the industry, or how it might cause change in getting women into the industry?

Gail - So many barriers have been broken in the past eight years.  Not only are we fighting the industry itself, but I see us fighting ourselves.  I met a girl who asked for art supplies and her mother gave them to her brothers and expected her to get married, have kids, and settle down.  So we have to battle ourselves as well as the industry.  But now the industry is always looking for more talent.

Do you think Womanthology was additionally successful for being released at the right time along with DC's New 52?

Candice - It might have had an influence, but Renae's networking and sharing of it on and on made it what it was.

Gail - The key is to find something that doesn't exist but should.  Make a black and white copy and share it around.

Janet - There is an explosion of indie comics that are great right now.  It was very good timing, very well done.

What is your opinion on the resistance to color in comics in relation to the recent backlash of color in The Hunger Games movie?

Gail - My whole agenda is to bring about diversity in my work.  It has never been turned down.  As far as people reacting to it, I can't speak for them.  This whole thing about racism or people attacking is going to happen when people are out of their comfort zone.  There will be haters and to them I say "I don't give a shit."  I'm not going to not do it because someone won't read it.  It is hard to be attacked regularly.  I believe strongly in what I'm doing and we need people to make what doesn't exist and who don't care if haters hate.

Gail cont. - We made one character a Laotian and I had to be very careful with research to make a well rounded character, not a stereotype.  I didn't want the character to fall flat and become a token.  It takes a certain type of leader and a good team.

Are all of you participating in the next Womanthology book, or will new creators be added?

Jessica - Anyone can submit on the message boards and we will accept men as well for the next project.  No one is being grandfathered in.

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