Comic Creator Interview with Sara Lindo
Name: Sara Lindo
QRD – How old were you when you first got into comics & did you always stick with them or did you come back to them?
Sara – I was a little kid when I got into comics & I suppose I’ve gone through a few different phases over the years. I was always into reading, so people would always give me lots of books, comics, & magazines (with more comics in them!) to encourage the habit, I guess. The first comics I remember being really into, though, were the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (the kid- friendly ones, mostly) & Ren & Stimpy. I had a few others around that time, including a few issues of Groo & some weird Beatles bio-comics that I loved - there was a whole issue devoted to the “Paul is Dead” theory that I read over & over.… I fell out of comics for a little while, then got back into them around 6th grade with Archie comics & Calvin & Hobbes. I stopped reading Archie when I started noticing the recycled plotlines & a few years later I got into some of the indie stuff, like Tank Girl & Milk & Cheese in my later teen years. Since then, I’ve kept reading & expanding my tastes.
QRD – What was the first comic book you ever bought?
Sara – The first comic I ever bought (that I remember) with my own money, at least, was the Milk & Cheese collection. I bought it on a trip to Vegas & went back to the comic shop a day or two later to buy the companion lunchbox!
QRD – How old were you when you put out your first comic?
Sara – I was 23 - I had never published any of my work before it!
QRD – What decade do you think produced the best comics?
Sara – I don’t think that there was any one decade that produced more amazing comics than any other - I think there are too many different genres, creators, & characters to try to pin down a “golden age” for comics. In some ways, that’s the beauty of comics, though - it can be so many different things & tell so many different stories & be amazing in so many ways. I think if you were to name a golden decade, it would depend on your taste in comics - someone who likes superheroes would give you a very different answer than someone who likes independent or humor comics.
QRD – Why comics instead of just writing or drawing?
Sara – Well, I’ve done both drawing & writing separately & sometimes those processes just feel incomplete when you’re trying to tell a story. To me, there’s something exciting & fulfilling about telling a story with pictures & connecting images with words. It sort of tickles the brain! Often, it just seems perfect to see the words coming straight from the character’s mouth, or to experience the character’s unique world with them visually. I went art school with the thought of going into children’s book illustration, which is sort of connected in spirit to comics, so the jump to comics was pretty natural. I was always drawn to using words with images & when you see the flexibility of the comics medium, it’s hard to resist at least trying it!
QRD – Do you see mini-comics & indie comics as paths to mainstream comics or as their own unique media?
Sara – I think they are a little bit of
both - I think if you’re talented & have an interest in advancing more
towards the mainstream, independent publishing offers you a great springboard.
There are a lot of professional cartoonists that are popular now who have
started out in indie comics & are making a living from what they do
- artists like James Kochalka, Raina Telegemier, & Peter Bagge
come to mind. The interesting thing about indie comics is you can
invest as much or as little as you want - if you just like doing it for
fun, there’s still room for you to be a part of the party!
Sara – I usually do about 50 books per run, per book. I like small quantities, because they’re easier to store & move around to shows! I may have to start upping the quantity, though, as I’m selling more books than I used to!
QRD – How much do you think comics should cost?
Sara – I think it depends on the kind of book - I’ve seen some amazing handcrafted books with a justifiably high price tag, but I’ve also seen some ‘optimistically’ priced stapled-&-xeroxed stuff! I think the important thing to consider, especially for those artists who are just starting out (like myself), is that you need to create a price that covers your printing cost & provides you with a small profit; but also makes your books appealingly priced to new customers. I’ve heard a good rule, that I try to adhere to, is that most people are willing to take a chance & spend between $2-$4 on books from creators that are new to them. I don’t want to tell people how to value their work - it’s a personal decision, but you should consider the folks buying your work & what it might be worth to them.
QRD – How many books do you produce a year & how many would you like to?
Sara – So far, I’ve done about 1 new book per year & I’m trying to up that to 2 this year. I also paint & illustrate, so I have to balance my comics output with my other projects & of course day job work. I’d love to do 2-3 shorter books per year, or one “graphic novel” length in the near future. As I become a faster & more skilled cartoonist, it becomes a more obtainable goal!
QRD – Do you think stories should be serialized or delivered as complete works?
Sara – I think that’s a decision an author/creator needs to make - I’ve done both serialized (Carl Finds Love) & standalone (Lobotomy, Wall Street Cat) work & I’ve made the decision based on how I felt each style would best serve the story. I also consider the speed I can put something out - at this point in my career, I tend to want to serialize longer stories, so I can consistently have new work to sell at conventions & shows. As a consumer, though, I tend to buy complete collections, because it’s inevitable that I’ll always miss an issue or two of a series!
QRD – How are comic strips different than comic books & which medium do you prefer?
Sara – I prefer comic books. I tend to like characters & their development & I feel that that a longer-form story offers that to me more often than strips do. There are always exceptions to that rule, like Calvin & Hobbes or Peanuts (two hard-to beat classics!); but for the most part I find that books deliver a more satisfying experience. Strips can be entertaining, for sure - the Far Side is an amazing collection of smart humor & bizarre non-sequitors & “Our Valued Customers” always cracks me up, but I connect more to stories that bring me to a character’s world & explore it with me, like Tank Girl, or Sam & Max, Freelance Police.
QRD – How long is it from when you start a comic until it’s printed?
Sara – That depends - there are so many steps to building a comic from scratch & doing it yourself, that the process often happens while I’m doing other things, until I get into the art stages at the end. A story starts with an idea, then develops into a rough written outline. A script gets written around that outline, which can take anywhere from a day to 2 months, depending on length & complexity of the story & dialogue. Once the script is completed, it’s thumbnailed into a rough layout, which usually takes a day or two. Then, the final artwork process begins. If it’s just black & white, depending on the amount of pages, the work can be completed within 2-3 months. For a full color painted book, it can take 4-5 months of work, as watercolor needs more time. Once the artwork is done, it needs to be scanned & put into a layout, which usually takes about a day.
QRD – What do you better with your comics now than when you first started?
Sara – Pretty much everything. My drawing, layouts, & inking have all improved & a lot of that comes from just the act of making comics. I’m also lucky to have a few people I can trust to critique my work & tell me what I need to improve, in addition to the continual self-critique I do as I work.
QRD – At what point in the artistic process do you work digitally?
Sara – Usually, it’s just at then end for scanning & layout, but I will occasionally do illustrations that I color in Photoshop.
QRD – What do you think of digital comics & webcomics?
Sara – There are some webcomics that I really enjoy, like Perry Bible Fellowship, Hark! A Vagrant, & Our Valued Customers. The neat thing about webcomics is that I see that there’s a lot of work out their for many different tastes & if there isn’t something for you, you can go ahead & create & publish it yourself. I see webcomics as sort of being the digital version of newspaper comics. As far as digital comics, like books for e-readers & iPads go, I think far too little has been done with them. There is such huge potential to create interactive comics & different presentation styles that only a few people seem to have taken advantage of. I want to learn to program for devices like the iPad to be able to use the technology to make some really interesting comic programs. Currently, I’m selling PDF versions of my print comics on my website, because I see a really interesting future in digital comics.
QRD – Do you prefer working in color or black & white?
Sara – I like both! They each have their advantages, but I think I like color just a little more - the final product has so much life & depth!
QRD – How many different people should work on a comic & what should their jobs be?
Sara – I’d say that you could have as many or as few people as you would like to work on a comic. There’s no right way to make a comic. You’ve got to decide what process is going to yield the best product for you. I personally choose to do all the work myself, but not everyone wants to do that. Some people just want to write, or color, or ink & that’s great if they can collaborate with each other & make a product they’re happy with.
QRD – How do you find collaborators?
Sara – Usually, my collaborators are friends, or people I meet at comics/art events.
QRD – How tight do you think a script should be as far as telling the artist what to draw?
Sara – Well, again, depends on how you like to work - if you write & draw; you may not need many guides or notes, because all your notes are in your head. If you’re a writer working with an illustrator, I’d imagine it would depend on how clear your vision for the story is or how much you trust the person drawing.
QRD – What comic book person would you be most flattered to be compared to?
Sara – It’s always nice to hear people say any of my influences - someone once told me they saw R. Crumb’s influence in my work & that was pretty flattering. I’ve also been told that some of my painted work reminds people of Hieronymus Bosch, which is pretty cool too. I try not to think about it too much, though - I like my work to be very much my own.
QRD – What do your friends & family think of your comics?
Sara – I think they like them - I know some people close to me really like them, others, I can’t really tell. I’m not good at asking about that kind of stuff.
QRD – What do you think of superheroes?
Sara – They’re okay - I’m not really into superheroes, but I can get into a character if the story is good. I liked Watchmen & Hellboy, but they’re kind of off-kilter superhero stories. If someone tells me I’ll like it, I might give it a try; but I don’t find myself seeking out those kinds of stories usually.
QRD – Marvel or DC?
Sara – I can’t really make a call on that one.
QRD – What comic characters other than your own would you like to work with?
Sara – I really enjoy creating my own characters, so I’ve never thought about this - I’d probably pick something odd or obscure. Or if someone came to me & asked me to work with their characters, I’d probably give it a try.
QRD – Ideally would you self-publish?
Sara – I do & I like doing it. There’s a lot of freedom in self-publishing, which is nice. There’s also a lot of work, but it’s well worth it to see your own stuff in print & to have people (that aren’t yourself) enjoy it.
QRD – What conventions do you try to attend & why?
Sara – MoCCA & SPX definitely - a lot of people go to both cons & I will often get repeat business year after year. Both shows attract a ton of cartoonists, so it’s nice to get to see people that you only see a few times a year & meet new friends. & they’re usually pretty fun! It’s great getting to talk to people & share work & stories with them. Some other good shows I’ve done have been Philly Alt Con & KingCon in Brooklyn. Both shows were small, but brought in good crowds. This is my first year at SPACE, so I’m looking forward to something new!
QRD – What do you do to promote your books?
Sara – Less than I should - I have a website
(www.theLindo.com), & I’m doing
more conventions each year (6 last year!). Right now, I’m mostly
relying on word of mouth/Facebook & a few reviews on some smaller websites.
I plan to send my work out to more reviewers & some publishers this
year & I’m going to be looking into some Project Wonderful advertising.
I’d also like to get hard copies of my books in more comic stores locally
& maybe even in some different cities.
Sara – I think my comics do well in comic shops - I’ve sold a few dozen books on consignment with very little effort. I just need to get more organized to be successful in stores. You really need to stay on top of where your comics are & if they’ve sold or not. Not all stores are ideal places to try & sell indie comics in & you have to learn from trial & error & word of mouth which are good & which are not. Getting myself in more stores is my comics resolution for this year! My books also do well at conventions, I think because people come to indie shows to discover something new that they can’t get from their local store. I think some people also enjoy interacting with creators, which gives them an idea if they’d like the book or not.
QRD – What other medium would you like to see some of your comics made into (television, film, games, action figures, etc.)?
Sara – I’d love to do cartoons & action figures of some of my existing characters! I think my work would translate well, especially into stop-motion animation. I’d also love to create new characters for film/TV & games too! I’m always interested in creating something new - concept artwork is something I’d love to get into. I always have more ideas than I know what to do with, anyway. I’m also really interested in the history & creation of advertising mascots, so that could also be a neat side business.
QRD – Do you consider yourself a comic collector or a comic reader or both?
Sara – I think I’m more of a reader than a collector - but I guess ask my bookshelf about it! I’ve got a few shelves filled with books, so I dunno.
QRD – What do you see as the most viable mediums for comics distribution 10 years from now?
Sara – I think print, especially specialized editions, will still be popular - who doesn’t enjoy the feeling of holding a nice book in their hands? However, I think we’ll see a lot more comics being offered in electronic media too - e-readers & iPads are great for reading comics! They also make production & distribution easier, especially for smaller, independent publishers.
QRD – What would you like to see more people doing with comics?
Sara – That’s hard to say - I’d always love to see more people doing the things that I like to see in comics, but that’s obviously unrealistic & selfish. I guess I’d like to see people work hard at their craft & improve their own work & the medium as a whole. I’d also like to see people embrace electronic formats & see what we can do with it. Also, we should all keep trying to enjoy ourselves, & our comics too!
QRD – Anything else?
Sara – Thanks for reading!