Monday, April 16, 2012

Progressively Aggressive Sit Down with Jean Kang & Katie Shanahan

Jean, Mike and Katie Are Ready For Action C2E2 2012!

I must admit when we received a request from one of our Twitter followers to cover The Ladies of Womanthology panel, I was a bit skeptical. At that point I had never even heard of Womanthology and had no idea what we were getting ourselves into, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned over my years of networking it’s to forget about what you’re interested in covering because it’s all about your fans. Now I admit, I use fans quite loosely as we’ve recently rebooted the site and are just now starting to build our identity, but there was no way we could ignore this request.

All I can say about my experience at the panel is WOW, what an amazing group of artists and writers.

I was already a Gail Simone fan before we went in—I love Batgirl and we had the pleasure of meeting her at C2E2 last year—but the real story here isn't about the big names, it's about opportunities for the smaller ones. What this project has done for a few of these artists can’t be put into words. It goes beyond their careers. This piece was not just a game changer, but a life changer as it raised funds for The Global Giving Foundation.

I was lucky enough to be given the opportunity to sit down with Jean Kang and Katie Shanahan, both artists on the book. You can read a bit more about their involvement on the project in Ronniguy’s panel summary, The Ladies of Womanthology, including Jean asking to work with Gail and subsequently being flabbergasted when her request was granted.

PA: We are here today at C2E2 2012 with artist Jean Kang known for her amazing animation work on Popzilla, Zombie Murder Explosion Die, and Katie Shanahan. Make sure to check out some of Jeans work on, follow her on Twitter @BlueJeanius, and on DeviantART at To reach Katie simply follow on twitter @KtShy, or

Check out the Audio and Complete Transcript After the Break!

PA: Thanks for meeting with us today [ladies], how’s your C2E2 experience been?

Katie: It’s been pretty great so far

Jean: Yeah, it’s been really fantastic! It’s been super fun and I’ve really been enjoying myself.

Katie: For the two of us I think it’s our first year here. We’ve met a lot great people, we’ve done really good at the table. It’s just such a happy, optimistic convention so I’m glad to be here.

Jean's T-Shirt Design
PA: I’d imagine it’s been quite a month for the two of you with the release of Womanthology on March 14th. How has that affected the two of you personally and professionally?

Jean: For me, my work had never gotten that much exposure as it got on Womanthology. My various designs that I’ve done for Womanthology like a T-shirt design I made and a couple of other things have been up on Google News and Forbes, and I see it on Newsarama and Comics Resources. Usually when there’s an article on Womanthology I see the T-shirt design with my name underneath it which always throws me for a loop.

Katie: First of all it’s amazing to meet just a whole new group of friends and peers that I can be inspired by and talk to. Also, I’ve been a part of some really cool anthologies in the past with Flight and the Anthology Project as well, [but] this one, especially the impact that it has [and] the powerful message it has just brings so much to it. I feel an extra little punch; it’s something I’m really excited to have worked on. It’s the first hardcover book I’ve worked on too which is awesome because that thing is huge! You drop it on your coffee table and it’s such a bang!

Jean: This is my first anthology. I’ve never done one before so to have this be the very first one I’ve ever done is super exciting

Katie: Yeah, that’s a great start.

PA: Jean you worked as an animation artist for some pretty cool projects including some video games including Tech Dech, Beanie Babies 2.0, [and] iCarly. What’s traditionally been your favorite artwork to work on and how, if at all, did Womanthology change your outlook?

Jean: The happiest I am [when] working on something art related is usually if there’s some story behind it. A lot of the work I’ve done for games and for animation it’s their own story and I’m just there to help with it. With Womanthology I got to play an active part in the story and the actual story telling. This is something completely different than what I get to do usually for animation. Animation usually I’m involved in designing the background, or designing the props—little elements here and there—or building the flash characters. It’s part of story telling but this way with Womanthology I got to be the main story teller [and] that was super exciting for me.

Katie: Katie you’ve got some really fun things going on right now including Shrub Monkeys, your “auto-bio” webcomic.

Katie Laughs: Sorely in need of an update!

PA: You’ve got Simply Potterific which is a parody on Harry Potter, and a weekly live show called Shanahanigans on U-Stream with your brother Shaggy.

Katie:  We started a book actually, Silly Kingdom, that came out last fall and just because we’re so busy—I’m working full time as an animator doing story boards and freelance work and like Jean I’m super busy working in animation. My brother also, he is also busy working part time animation design as well so we don’t have time to put stuff out like webcomics like we used to so this show is a way to at least be there, be present, answer people’s questions. I guess the way Womanthology might have affected that was maybe just bringing some more eyes to the work we’ve done. With how much notice the Kickstart of the project has gotten had people be interested in all of the artists and creators involved in it so more people are coming to check out what I’m up to as well which is amazing. Hopefully they stick around for our work as well.

Katie's Silly Kingdom
PA: I had the opportunity to interview another sibling team, Neal and Graham from the webcomic Post Script. How is working with your brother on the projects that he’s written for you.

Katie: It’s great actually. We grew up with very similar geeky nerd-dom together so we get each other. We grew up on Monty Python, we grew up on Warner Brothers, we grew up on a lot of anime so a lot of times he’ll have something in mind and be like, “we should do something like,” and he doesn’t need to finish the sentence, I know the reference he’s going for. A lot of times what he has in mind I can visualize really easily so it’s been really simple. The only problem is that because he reads a lot of manga and I read a lot of western and indie comics so for some reason our screen direction in our heads is flipped so I’ll have direction going left to right, he’ll have it right to left but we usually fix that up no problem.

PA: Jean, what was it like working with such an iconic figure in female comics such as Gail Simone.

Jean: At first I really didn’t think I would get her at all, I was like “she’s going to choose someone else who’s extremely amazing” [but] it’d be stupid not to try. When I got her I was so shocked. I sent Renee [De Liz] an email full of capital letters and exclamation points of “yes, yes I would do it, I would do anything for Gail Simone!” I really enjoy and love superhero comics and Gail has written some of my favorite episodes of the animated Justice League with Bruce Timm, and she’s also on an episode of Batman: The Brave and the Bold involving the Birds of Prey with a song in it. It was a complete honor to work with her and she was just an amazing person to work with. I was intimidated at first but she began the dialog through Twitter and immediately I could tell that we are very similar in terms of humor and personality, and we hit it off really well. It’s great that she is equally as funny and slightly dirty minded like I am. The two of immediately picked up on that!

Katie: I was going to say, it looked like you got goose bumps as soon as you started talking about her.

Jean: She’s so cool! When I grow up I want to be Gail Simone! I want to be as cool as her!

PA: So what projects are the two of you working on now? Any plans for more comics?

Katie: For me we’re working on the second volume of our Silly Kingdom comic and I’m looking to start my own anthology soon. I’ve been a part of so many great books I’d like to take the head and learn how edit, put it all together and bring artists together. Other than that, animation work [that] isn’t for me, it’s for the company, but is also creative too.
Ranunculous: The Monstrous Brigade

Jean: I’m definitely working on a comic with my friend, Alix Clinkingbeard. It’s called Ranunculus: The Monstrous Brigade about a werewolf and a vampire that rescue the future Queen Victoria from zombies. We have issue #1 out, issue #2 we’re hoping it will be out by the end of the year. We’re still hammering out details for issue #2 but we have the whole story line written out, It’s just that both of us get really busy. Alix has a full time job plus going to school to get a master’s degree in library sciences, plus I also do full time work in animation and I’m always constantly trying to improve my portfolio. I’m also trying to go more for story boarding instead of having to stick with design all the time. Because story telling is my passion I’ve been trying to get more work doing that so I’m constantly working on my portfolio, taking classes [and] that takes a lot of time as well.

PA: The sales for Womanthology far exceeded expectations; it sold over 1,500 copies in the first week. The project was designed to raise about $25,000 for The Global Giving Foundation but eventually raised well more than $100,000. Tell us more about The Global Giving Foundation and what exceeding that goal meant for the two of you.

Jean: The whole point of Womanthology, [which] we knew from the get-go, was that we were doing this work for charity; to be able to give more money to charity, to help more people in need is amazing. Especially [because] there is a focus from Womanthology to choose charities that are helping out children in the arts. Since that’s so important to us, and since we even have a kids and teens section in our book, we really want to be more encouraging of kids in the arts. Especially since I feel that parents don’t always know what’s in the arts in the future for kids [because] there are so many images of the starving artist. That’s certainly what my parents thought so to be able to be like, “no, this group of women made this comic book. It made so much money and the money is all being given to charity and the arts to help out people and children in need,” I think it’s going to give parents a good message of: The arts aren’t useless. There is a future in the arts for your child, especially when your child is talented and wants to do it.

Katie: I don’t think I can say it any more perfect than Jean does, but it feels like when the project started, it started like a question. Renee asking, “Would any of you ladies want to make a comic out there?” In a question, almost like it’s a hesitation. But the fact that it was answered so powerfully and that it [Womanthology] over exceeded it’s goal—I’m so happy that that’s the final [outcome]. It shows. Yeah, we do want to make comics. We’re here, we want to read them, we want to make them and the world wants to help us out. It’s so encouraging.

PA: It’s inspiring, the turnout. It was mentioned at the panel that there’s going to be a sequel to Womanthology, or some more projects tied to it. Will we be seeing more of the two of your work?

Katie: I hope so!

Jean: I hope so too! It’s definitely possible, because the plan from Renee is that there [are] going to be new people, there are going to be professionals and there are going to be some people from the original contributing. The sequel itself is a 5 issue series, and since the issues will be composed of shorts the same way the book was, there’s lots of opportunity for lots of people.

PA: What advice do you have, not just for aspiring artists, but for females aspiring to get into the industry?
Buy a Copy of Womanthology Today!

Katie: I’d say you’ve just got to do it; you’ve got to make something first. Don’t think about doing it because a lot of times if you sit there and think too much you kind of psych yourself out. You’ve got to just give yourself a deadline. Have friends help you be accountable—“I’m going to make this, let’s just do it.” Then when you do it, you show it around to people, you show it around to different blogs, get it online so people can see your work, show it to people who you’re inspired by. It’s definitely helped me just being on the internet because I was a kid that used to just make comics and stick them in a drawer—nobody would see it. Then when the internet came up I put them on DeviantART, on blogs, and then I started to get eyes coming. Just being a part of the internet I started to meet groups of friends to work with on comics and anthologies and then Womanthology came along as well. Get your stuff online, be nice, draw what you want to draw and have fun because that’s what we’re all doing this for.

Jean: The only thing I could really add to that is also to study the hell out of your craft. Keep track of your progress. Keeping track also means posting them online and accepting constructive criticism for your work, especially from people who are better than you and who you aspire to be. So much of art people think, “oh, I’m going to sit here and draw a pretty drawing,” but there’s a lot of thought and a lot of study to put into good art. You can’t just always draw instinctually, you have to learn things like anatomy. That’s when you know when you can break the rules because you’re breaking them for a purpose instead of breaking them willy-nilly.

PA: Well there you have it boys and girls. Artists Jean Kang and Katie Shanahan, both of Womanthology right here at C2E2 2012. Be sure to follow Jean on Twitter @BlueJeanius, the same on DeviantART. Follow Katie @KtShy, the same and Do yourself a huge favor, pick up a copy of Womanthology, if you can find it, today!

Thank you so much again to Jean and to Katie for sitting down with us on Sunday. It was a pleasure meeting the two of you and I really look forward to seeing you at conventions in the future!

As always you can follow us on Twitter @JRAggressive, Facebook, and see all of our news and notes on

You can follow me, Mike Gallagher on Twitter @ouwosh.

Until next time,


1 comment:

  1. I too attended the Womanthology panel and that's where Jean Kang's enthusiasm quickly endeared her to me. I stopped by her booth and bought a copy of her Quickie Comics, which I read in the hotel room that night. It cracked me up enough that I came back to her booth on Sunday to buy another copy to give to someone I think will appreciate her humor.

    I'm afraid I didn't have the budget left to allow me to purchase Katie Shanahan's Silly Kingdom, but we did chat for a bit and I bought a couple 4x6 cards of her Alice in Wonderland sketch that I really liked.

    Both are very friendly and creative and I look forward to future works from both women. It's so nice to meet someone new who isn't obviously just out there imitating the industry's established creators. These two have their own voices and I dig that.


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