While I was attending Stonecoast, I needed to come up with a third-semester project. I knew I wanted to involve comic books somehow, but wasn’t sure exactly what I wanted to do. What I was sure of was that I wanted to take advantage of any connections I had made with people I met at comic book conventions and people I was going to school with. So I came up with eight simple questions and had multiple comic book writers and sometimes artists answer them and collected the interviews into one small book.
So, in the same vein as my new blog feature “Friend Files” – I present to you the interview I had with Kate Bresnahan. Kate was someone who was working one of the independent artist booths at Coast City Comicon back a couple years ago. Kate was kind enough to agree to help me with my project and answer some of the questions. Since she was so nice to take time out of her schedule to answer, I will share her insights with you now. Past installments of Eight Simple Questions can be found under the Eight Simple Questions tag on my blog.
Note: These are “beginner” questions for folks who are either interested in Kate’s work, interested in possibly getting into writing or drawing comics, curious about the methods comic book writers/artists use, or if you’re just curious in general. These are very simple questions, meant to just get a snapshot of what the comic business is like for these particular creators. Tune in to later editions of this blog feature for more interviews with other comic book creators. Also, this interview is now a year old or more, so some of the publication data might be old as well.
On with the interview!
- For those people who may be unfamiliar with your work, which comic book company are you working for at the moment (or in the past), and what are your current projects?
Currently I’m not employed by a company, I’m self-publishing. My current projects include finishing a complete edition of the journal comics I was making over the past year, as well as starting up a web comic titled Proserpina – a modern high school re-telling of the Hades and Persephone story from Greek myth.
- What got you into writing/drawing comic books or graphic novels?
I’ve loved comics since I was a pre-teen in the early 2000s, which was around the time manga really started being sold a lot in bookstores. I remember sketching story ideas in notebooks during class in eighth grade, and I’ve been doing that for over ten years. It was only very recently that I gained the confidence and know-how in my storytelling ability to see myself carrying one through to the end.
- What was the most difficult thing about breaking into the comic book industry?
I haven’t broken in yet! I’m not entirely certain I’ll ever want to. I love making comics, enough to want to do it full time, but I don’t know if I’ll ever be dedicated enough to try and pitch my original stories to publishers. For now I’m happy self and web-publishing, because telling my stories is what’s most important for me. But we’ll see!
- What do you think about indie publishing?
Indie publishing is really fantastic, most of my favorite comics have been published by indie companies. Indie publishers often carry a much wider spectrum of stories and art styles than the big guns.
- Who was your biggest influence?
My biggest comics influences are Lucy Knisley, Ross Campbell, Fumi Yoshinaga, Becky Cloonan, and sooooo many more. But my work is also heavily influenced by music, like the Beatles, David Bowie, The Runaways, the Sex Pistols, mostly glam and punk rock from the 70’s and 80’s.
- What is the hardest thing about working for a well-known publisher? If you don’t work for one, what’s the hardest thing about doing things yourself?
The hardest thing about making comics for myself is motivating myself to sit down and work every day. I’m not in the groove yet where I can just get home from my day job where I was sitting at a computer for eight hours and then sit down at a computer for another three or four. But when I put the time in it really shows, so I’m working hard to get my butt in that chair.
- How do you make your own work stand out?
For a long time I was just kind of aping whatever I found pleasing, both story-wise and visually, but I realized the only way to make myself happy with my work was to try and personalize it to my tastes. Everyone has a part of their brain that is totally original, and that’s the place artists need to pick at when they’re trying to develop their own style.
- What’s one piece of advice you would give to someone trying to create their first comic book or graphic novel?
The most influential piece of advice I’ve ever received was to just go out and make something, no matter how bad you think it is. When I was halfway through my journal comics I realized I had enough to print as a mini comic, and I fought with myself to make it because I didn’t think anyone wanted to read my self-indulgent journal entries. But since I made it, I’ve gotten so many people telling me how much they like them, how much they relate, and how much they enjoy my work. That never would have happened if I had chickened out! Just remember there’s always time to improve, you don’t have to get everything right the first time.