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QRD #51 - Indie Comics Interview Series
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Indie Comic Creators Interviews:
Kimberlee Traub
Liz Suburbia
Michael Anthony Carroll
Mike Kitchen
Sloane Leong
Troy Little
Wayne Wise
Blair Kitchen
David Lawrence
Dawn Best
Gary Scott Beatty
Jack Knifley
Jason Strutz
William Schaff
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Interview with Indie Comic Creator Liz Suburbia
June 2011
Name: Liz Suburbia
City: Fairfax, VA
Comics: Sacred Heart (online GN-in-progress), Cyanide Milkshake (zine)
Websites: Lizsuburbia.corkyberlin.com, lizsuburbia.livejournal.com

QRD – How old were you when you first got into comics & did you always stick with them or did you come back to them?

Liz – I started reading the comics in the paper at around age 5, pretty much as soon as I learned to read.  I’ve always loved comics in some form, my tastes have just moved from newspaper comics to superhero & webcomics to the wider print variety I’m into today.

QRD – What was the first comic book you ever bought?

Liz – Probably a Garfield book, but I dunno if that counts.  I think it was the Hellboy: Conqueror Worm trade, when I was in my late teens.  Hellboy was the first comic I truly loved.

QRD – How old were you when you put out your first comic?

Liz – When I was 18 I started a semi-autobiographical webcomic that ran for a few years.

QRD – What decade do you think produced the best comics?

Liz – I’m pretty partial to a lot of what’s coming out now.  I think there’s a lot of talent & a lot of comics awareness that’s pushing the medium into its next stage of evolution & that’s exciting.

QRD – Why comics instead of just writing or drawing?

Liz – Because why choose when you can have both?

QRD – Do you see mini-comics & indie comics as paths to mainstream comics or as their own unique media?

Liz – A little of both, maybe.  I think anyone would enjoy a certain amount of mainstream recognition, but it’s important to make a comic because you believe in it & because you want to make THAT particular comic, not just as a way of paying dues.

QRD – How many copies of your comic do you print in your first run?

Liz – I’ve only made about 12 copies of each issue of Cyanide Milkshake so far, just to give out to my friends.  I plan to start selling them at cons though, so probably more than that in the future.

QRD – How much do you think comics should cost?

Liz – Ideally it’d be enough that the creator doesn’t go broke, but not so much that anyone who wanted the comic couldn’t afford it. 

QRD – How many books do you produce a year & how many would you like to?

Liz – Sacred Heart has been on a semi-weekly update schedule for over a year now; Cyanide Milkshake is up to two issues, but I’d like to push that to three, four, or even five if I have time for it (I have a full-time day job).

QRD – Do you think stories should be serialized or delivered as complete works?

Liz – Depends on what works best for the particular story.

QRD – How are comic strips different than comic books & which medium do you prefer?

Liz – I think strips demand a lot less continuity, but that can also limit them.  I prefer books.

QRD – How long is it from when you start a comic until it’s printed?

Liz – Sacred Heart pages go up on the web as soon as I finish about 5 or 6 of them.  When I finish an issue of Cyanide Milkshake I try to get it printed within the week, because I’m excited to get started on all that stapling!

QRD – What do you better with your comics now than when you first started?

Liz – The drawing, the dialogue, the jokes, the ideas... all of it really.  I’ve learned so much just by trial & error, but there’s always room for improvement.

QRD – At what point in the artistic process do you work digitally?

Liz – SH pages get cleaned up & resized before I put them on the web, but that’s about it; I’m not very good with the digital end of things yet & mostly prefer traditional media anyway.

QRD – What do you think of digital comics & webcomics?

Liz – I think they’re just as legit as any other kind of comic & they have the benefit of being easier to share.  There’s still something really comforting about an actual physical book, though; that makes me a little wary of this supposed “death of print” everyone’s been talking about.

QRD – Do you prefer working in color or black & white?

Liz – Black & white, for now.

QRD – How many different people should work on a comic & what should their jobs be?

Liz – As many as the comic needs, I guess.  I work alone & do all the duties for my own stuff, but there are definitely comics that I’m sure have been enriched from many collaborators bringing their unique experiences & abilities to the table.  If I were in charge of a collaborative project though, I’d want to keep it pretty straightforward - one person writes, one person draws, one person colors or letters or whatever.  Too many people doing the same job seems like it could get out of hand, but what do I know, I’ve never worked well in groups.

QRD – How do you find collaborators?

Liz – I haven’t really collaborated with anybody yet.

QRD – How tight do you think a script should be as far as telling the artist what to draw?

Liz – Good question.  I keep my own notes pretty loose & tighten as I’m thumbnailing, but if I was drawing what someone else wrote I think I’d want them to be really specific & if there was something problematic we could discuss it on a case-by-case basis.

QRD – What comic book person would you be most flattered to be compared to?

Liz – There are so many I admire & whose work I love!  Brandon Graham, Paul Pope, Carla Speed McNeil, Ross Campbell, the Hernandez Brothers... I can’t even begin to name them all & I certainly couldn’t pick an absolute favorite from among them.

QRD – What do your friends & family think of your comics?

Liz – My friends seem to like them; my family doesn’t know about them for the most part, but have had nice things to say about what they’ve seen.

QRD – What do you think of superheroes?

Liz – They have their place.  I’ve always loved the X-Men & I just read all of Ultimate Spider-Man & was surprised at how much I genuinely loved it.

QRD – Marvel or DC?

Liz – Marvel.

QRD – What comic characters other than your own would you like to work with?

Liz – It’d be fun to do an X-Force short, heh.  Maybe a Hellboy story, though I’d probably crack under the pressure of living up to Mike Mignola’s undisputable greatness.

QRD – Ideally would you self-publish?

Liz – I’m not really sure yet.  Maybe.

QRD – What conventions do you try to attend & why?

Liz – So far I’ve only been to the Baltimore Comic Con & the Small Press Expo (I work at a comic shop & they pay my way there).  I love SPX because there’s so much to see there that’s a little harder to find in stores or online & everyone’s so open & friendly & it’s a great place to share ideas & learn new things.  I’d like to get out to more cons in the future when circumstances allow & maybe start selling some stuff.

QRD – What do you do to promote your books?

Liz – Ha, not a whole lot so far... I’ve been fortunate enough to have a few well-known people mention my work on Livejournal & Twitter, but pretty soon here I’m gonna have to learn how to hustle for myself.

QRD – Do you think your comics are well suited to comic shops or would sell better elsewhere?

Liz – I really hope that there will always be comic shops no matter what, but it’s nice to see comics being sold in bookstores or available for checkout in libraries too.  Hopefully the increasing popularity of the medium will just mean more comics everywhere anyone would go for any kind of reading material.

QRD – What other medium would you like to see some of your comics made into (television, film, games, action figures, etc.)?

Liz – Sacred Heart action figures would be pretty cool!  I don’t know, I thought the Persepolis movie was really beautiful, maybe if SH was ever put on screen it could look something like that.  I’d be into it.

QRD – Do you consider yourself a comic collector or a comic reader or both?

Liz – More of a reader.  I mostly have trades & hardcovers at home; I have a few short boxes of special issues I like (all of King City, some old Tank Girls & Love & Rocketses, the never-finished Pirates of Coney Island) & minis/zines, but I’m trying to minimize the clutter in my apartment.

QRD – What do you see as the most viable mediums for comics distribution 10 years from now?

Liz – Probably the internet.  I really hope print never disappears completely, though.

QRD – What would you like to see more people doing with comics?

Liz – Just more people making them really.  There’s room for all of us.  Don’t worry if your work doesn’t look like that of the person whose work you love the most; just be yourself & don’t be afraid to get crazy with it.  Push this crazy medium as far as it can go.

QRD – Anything else?

Liz – Uhhhhh support your local comic shop!  & check out my comic Sacred Heart at the above-listed websites!