with Virginia Shields
Name: Virginia Shields
Comics: The Orbs of Power
Websites: www.shieldsink.com, www.orbsofpower.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?
Virginia – I got really into comic strips when I was 5 or 6. I started obsessively drawing my own for a few years, then I switched to drawing people from pictures to improve my abilities. When I was 12 I started making Xena comic books & eventually made the first version of The Orbs of Power, which I am redoing now. College kind of killed my productivity, but boring office jobs brought it back. I started drawing in my cubicles & on the bus. I was hooked again after that.
QRD – What was the first comic book you ever bought?
Virginia – It was a Xena comic called The Temple of the Dragon God drawn by Aaron Lopresti. I loved it.
QRD – How old were you when you put out your first comic?
Virginia – I completed my first 20-page comic book at age 12, but the only person who read it was my mom. I was 26 when I self-published my first comic for reals.
QRD – What decade do you think produced the best comics?
Virginia – I have no clue.
QRD – Why comics instead of just writing or drawing?
Virginia – I like to tell stories, but I always hated writing descriptions. I would much rather draw them! Plus I really love to draw.
QRD – Do you see mini-comics & indie comics as paths to mainstream comics or as their own unique media?
Virginia – Not necessarily. I like indie comics & if I could make a living at them I would. When I hear “mainstream comics” I automatically think of super hero comics, but I think in reality it just refers to how popular a comic is. Mini-comics are pretty unique though, because they seem to be mostly self-published & unfiltered.
QRD – How many copies of your comic do you print in your first run?
Virginia – Around 30.
QRD – How much do you think comics should cost?
Virginia – As much or as little as the creators choose.
QRD – How many books do you produce a year & how many would you like to?
Virginia – Only 1-2 per year, but I would like to make 3 or 4.
QRD – Do you think stories should be serialized or delivered as complete works?
Virginia – Both. I like it when they are serialized at first, but then collected in a complete volume later.
QRD – How are comic strips different than comic books & which medium do you prefer?
Virginia – I prefer comic books, but I think the difference is only in form. You can tell any kind of story you want with either; it just looks a little different.
QRD – How long is it from when you start a comic until it’s printed?
Virginia – A month to a year.
QRD – What do you do better with your comics now than when you first started?
Virginia – Just about everything. I’ve learned a lot since I started self-publishing, from reading other comics to talking with other creators.
QRD – Do you do thumbnails?
Virginia – Yes, but I just started using them in the past year. I noticed a friend who draws really nice layouts using thumbnails to plan them out & a little light went on. They have helped me make my pages flow better.
QRD – At what size do you draw?
Virginia – I draw in a 9X12 sketchbook.
QRD – What kind of pens do you use?
Virginia – A brush pen or the digital equivalent.
QRD – What does your workstation look like?
Virginia – I have a grey drafting table with a floral dinner chair, a short filing cabinet filled with action figures all over it, stacks of paper on the floor, some speakers for music, & a couple bookshelves.
QRD – At what point in the artistic process do you work digitally?
Virginia – At the inking stage.
QRD – What do you think of digital comics & webcomics?
Virginia – We cool.
QRD – Do you prefer working in color or black & white?
Virginia – Black & white.
QRD – How do you find collaborators?
Virginia – They usually find me.
QRD – How tight do you think a script should be as far as telling the artist what to draw?
Virginia – I think as long as your expectations are clear, they can be a tight or loose as you want them to be.
QRD – What comic book person would you be most flattered to be compared to?
Virginia – Craig Thompson.
QRD – What do your friends & family think of your comics?
Virginia – They like them, I think. At least that’s what they tell me….
QRD – What do you think of superheroes?
Virginia – I wish I was one.
QRD – Marvel or DC?
Virginia – No preference.
QRD – Ideally would you self-publish?
Virginia – Not really. Self-publishing is really fulfilling, but I would love for someone to pay me to publish my comics.
QRD – What conventions do you try to attend & why?
Virginia – Any in the Pittsburgh area, because I’m lazy.
QRD – What do you do to promote your books?
Virginia – I post them online & try to get them in local comic shops.
QRD – Do you think your comics are well suited to comic shops or would sell better elsewhere?
Virginia – My comics are pretty normal for comic book shops, as long as they accept self-published works.
QRD – What other medium would you like to see some of your comics made into (television, film, games, action figures, etc.)?
Virginia – I would love to see the Orbs series as all of the above! But if I had to choose, I’d go with video games.
QRD – Do you consider yourself a comic collector or a comic reader or both?
Virginia – Definitely more of a creator, but I’ve been trying to be a better reader as of late.
QRD – What do you see as the most viable mediums for comics distribution 10 years from now?
Virginia – Probably digital, but I think hard copy volumes of comics will always be in style.
QRD – What would you like to see more people doing with comics?
Virginia – I’d like to see more people come out with awesome comics that stand up to literature. Comics can be beautiful expressions & are such a great medium. I really want them to keep garnering the respect they deserve.
QRD – Anything else?
Virginia – Cheers & thanks!