Comic Creator Interview
with Brenda Hickey
Name: Brenda Hickey
City: Charlottetown, PEI
Comics: In the Air, Ary’s 24 Hours: A Quack in the Night, Ary Inspires
Websites: crazyary.com, ary-doodle.blogspot.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?
Brenda – I was probably in 3rd grade when I first decided to draw comics. I stuck with them pretty much all throughout my school career until 11th grade when I, for some reason, hit a slump. It took a couple years in college & Scott McCloud’s Making Comics for me to get the confidence to pick up the pencil again.
QRD – What was the first comic book you ever bought?
Brenda – The first one I bought... Hmm... probably a Smile magazine or a single issue CardCaptor Sakura comic (released back in the day of Tokyopop’s Mixx/Chix comics).
QRD – How old were you when you put out your first comic?
Brenda – I was 19 when I began serializing In the Air online & then 23 when I collected it in as a print version.
QRD – When do you think you produced the best comics?
Brenda – It’s difficult to say since I still feel very new as a person creating comics seriously. If I had to say, last year when I began a new comic project that was neither In the Air or anything with my character Ary I really noticed a difference in how confident I felt when I was drawing the pages.
QRD – Why comics instead of just writing or drawing?
Brenda – Thinking back, I came to comics naturally without thinking much as to why I chose them as my medium. I wanted to tell stories, but I loved drawing too much to be limited to only writing. On the other hand I couldn’t imagine just drawing without giving some kind of story to the characters I drew.
QRD – Do you see mini-comics & indie comics as paths to mainstream comics or as their own unique media?
Brenda – It depends on what your comic goal is. If you’re trying to get noticed by the big guys in the comics industry, your mini/indie comics can be a great stepping-stone towards that goal. However, I think a lot of indie guys just like doing their own thing. That’s what attracts them to creating comics in the first place.
QRD – How many copies of your comic do you print in your first run?
Brenda – My first print run of In the Air was 50 copies done print-on-demand.
QRD – How much do you think comics should cost?
Brenda – A comic should be priced according to print cost, page count, colour versus b/w, & page size. It’s not unreasonable for a 30 page comic issue to run anywhere from $3-$7 or a full 200 page b&w manga-sized graphic novel to range around $12-$17.
QRD – How many books do you produce a year & how many would you like to?
Brenda – If I had my way I’d want to try to make a book a year. Unfortunately in my current state I’ve created one book over a span of 4 years... *sigh* I’m halfway through drawing a second book though!
QRD – Do you think stories should be serialized or delivered as complete works?
Brenda – I think it should be up to the creator. If they feel it works as a serial, all the power to ‘em! If they feel they’d rather wait & BAM! Release the book as one finished piece that’s cool too.
QRD – How are comic strips different than comic books & which medium do you prefer?
Brenda – I like both! Strips like Faith Hick’s Superhero Girl or Anthony Clark’s Nedroid are smart, quick witted, & fun. Comic books are great for having the ability to get more in depth with the story & characters & can create great atmospheres where you can watch characters grow & evolve. I think if you have a creator who really understands the approach they’re taking to tell their stories great things will happen!
QRD – How long is it from when you start a comic until it’s printed?
Brenda – Uh... I wish it was a lot sooner than what it is! Ha-ha! However, I do comics for Bayer Pharmaceutical with a 2 month deadline. When I can commit my full time to comics I can finish 12 pages of pencils in a week & a half, have them inked within the next week, & then take up to 3 weeks to get them coloured. I assume they see print soon after? I make 2 comics a year for them & I usually see my print copies late in the year or early in the next.
QRD – What do you do better with your comics now than when you first started?
Brenda – Everything! A 3rd grader really hasn’t had the time to grasp many art fundamentals (ha-ha)! Back then I coloured with crayons.
QRD – At what point in the artistic process do you work digitally?
Brenda – For In the Air, I add the tones digitally, but the rest (even the colour) is done traditionally. Client work I’ll colour digitally in case they need the colours changed. Ary Inspires! is half digital colouring & half traditional.
QRD – What do you think of digital comics & webcomics?
Brenda – I honestly don’t read many... *fail*. I’m an old-fashioned gal; I prefer to have a print copy to display proudly on my shelf. I’m not saying that I think webcomics are a bad idea though! They’re actually wonderful. It’s a great way to give the world access to your work. I just hope that you webcomic people who are making awesome webcomics have print copies for old-fashioned gals like me.
QRD – Do you prefer working in color or black & white?
Brenda – Colour comics look great, but adding colour triples the time it takes to make a comic (at least for me since I’m a slow colourer). It looks good when it’s finished; but save for a few books, I think I’ll make more black & white comics than coloured ones.
QRD – How many different people should work on a comic & what should their jobs be?
Brenda – I like single creator comics personally. At the very most though, I can see a comic project broken up between a story creator, a writer, an artist (or a team of artists), & a colourist. Any more than that & things just get silly!
QRD – How do you find collaborators?
Brenda – They can be awesome depending on who collaborates with who.
QRD – How tight do you think a script should be as far as telling the artist what to draw?
Brenda – The script should be clear in terms of what it needs to portray & how the story should flow. Focus on the essentials first & foremost when you’re writing a script. When you begin dictating every detail in each panel down to how the alley cats in the background should look, then you’ve gone too far. Your artist has probably totally lost the main point of the story if you’ve done that.
QRD – What comic book person would you be most flattered to be compared to?
Brenda – I have a self-deprecating kind of personality, so I guess I’d just be surprised if anyone compared my work to anybody else’s in a positive way!
QRD – What do your friends & family think of your comics?
Brenda – I’m lucky that my friends are supportive of my work & that some are even enthusiastic about it! As a child I’d made comics with two of my sisters & am lucky that even after some rough patches in our teenage years, they still support me even though they’ve moved on to different career paths.
QRD – What do you think of superheroes?
Brenda – I think superheroes are wonderful! I tend to enjoy them more when they’re kinda campy rather than being gritty & dark though.
QRD – Marvel or DC?
Brenda – Just like with Pepsi or Coke, I just shrug & say “Whatev’s, man.”
QRD – What comic characters other than your own would you like to work with?
Brenda – I’ve asked Troy Little if I could make an Angora Napkin guest strip someday. & I’ve had an idea for a Hulk comic strip, which would be fun to see through someday.
QRD – Ideally would you self-publish?
Brenda – Naw, it would be sweet to have a publisher. Self-publishing & self-promotion are a lot of hard work! Someday I’d like to leave that in someone else’s hands.
QRD – What conventions do you try to attend & why?
Brenda – I’ve been to a few anime conventions because my art style is very anime/manga influenced. My favourite convention of all time would be the Toronto Comic Arts festival because it focuses on comics & their creators. Anything more mainstream where the attendees are more interested in fan art than original work really drains me.
QRD – What do you do to promote your books?
Brenda – I’ve made a website, facebook page, blog, tumblr, twitter (search Crazy Ary & you’ll usually find me). Conventions help too. I’ve also promoted my work locally with a book launch at a local coffee shop that was advertised publicly.
QRD – Do you think your comics are well suited to comic shops or would sell better elsewhere?
Brenda – I’ve been trying to sell them in stores locally & also have them available to order online. It’s best to cover as many options as you can.
QRD – What other medium would you like to see some of your comics made into (television, film, games, action figures, etc.)?
Brenda – Animation would be fun! I’ve made a few figures for myself out of Sculpey clay too.
QRD – Do you consider yourself a comic collector or a comic reader or both?
Brenda – Both. I like to collect the comics I read.
QRD – What do you see as the most viable mediums for comics distribution 10 years from now?
Brenda – Internet. Unless 10 years from now we have something more awesome than internet.
QRD – What would you like to see more people doing with comics?
Brenda – Reading them! Unashamed & in public.
QRD – Anything else?
Brenda – Thank you very much for interviewing me. I had a great time answering your questions & hope that you are at least slightly amused in reading my responses. I’ll continue to work hard to make comics!