Comic Creator Interview
with Jackie Crofts
Name: Jackie Crofts
Websites: www.jackiecrofts.com, www.strangerdreams.net
QRD – How old were you when you first got into comics & did you always stick with them or did you come back to them?
Jackie – I always casually had an interest in reading comics since a young age, but it was mostly manga & comics that were made after cartoons I watched. I didn’t start to really follow things until I got in my teens, which was also when I started drawing comics.
QRD – What was the first comic book you ever bought?
Jackie – The first comic I can remember buying was Ren & Stimpy. I think it came out sometime in the mid-90s, but I loved the show when I was younger & my dad would take me to the comic shop down the street to get them. I still have a few!
QRD – How old were you when you put out your first comic?
Jackie – The first time I made a full issue of a comic was in college. I was maybe 20, but it wasn’t published.
QRD – What decade do you think produced the best comics?
Jackie – This is a tough one. I think the history of comics is really interesting & I love the stories surrounding the classic characters & where they came from. So I think I can appreciate each decade for different reasons. I’m a fan of the incredible amount of wonderful independent comics that have come out recently. Every decade shines for a different reason.
QRD – Why comics instead of just writing or drawing?
Jackie – I enjoy collaborating with other people, so even though I can write my own stories, I mostly prefer to have a writer that shares a vision for a story with me that we can go back & forth on. I still draw outside of comics, & making games is a big interest of mine as well. However, making comics is a great way to tell a story that you want people to hear with no limitations to the way you want things to look.
QRD – Do you see mini-comics & indie comics as paths to mainstream comics or as their own unique media?
Jackie – If someone has an interest in something it’s a pretty natural response to seek out more of it, so I think it can lead to mainstream comics.
QRD – How many copies of your comic do you print in your first run?
Jackie – Two! Hah. For a comic I did in my sequential narrative class in college. I haven’t had anything printed in hard copy yet. Everything I’ve done has been online for free.
QRD – How much do you think comics should cost?
Jackie – Something always seems too expensive until you start to do it & realize how much hard work & time goes into things, then they almost seem too cheap. Comics can get pretty costly now if you follow a lot of series; but it’s a tough thing to make money from, so I feel okay about supporting artists & writers.
QRD – How many books do you produce a year & how many would you like to?
Jackie – Everything I’ve done so far has been online, but I’d like to be able to complete an issue every month & a half or so.
QRD – Do you think stories should be serialized or delivered as complete works?
Jackie – I really enjoy both so it all depends. It’s exciting to go to the comic shop in anticipation of what will happen in the next issue of a series you’re following. At the same time some things just work in a graphic novel format. It’s like either watching a movie or following a TV series.
QRD – How are comic strips different than comic books & which medium do you prefer?
Jackie – Comic strips are usually a lot shorter than comic books. It usually allows for more frequent updating which is why it works really well online. There are a lot of great comic strips, but I think I prefer comic books because I really get into an ongoing story. That’s the part I’m interested in.
QRD – How long is it from when you start a comic until it’s printed?
Jackie – I haven’t printed anything yet, so I can only hope it isn’t a nightmare when I get to it!
QRD – What do you do better with your comics now than when you first started?
Jackie – Oh boy. I think I just understand a lot more about comics now after reading & studying them. Practice always helps too. I started out drawing them only traditionally with comic boards & would do the penciling & inking on them too. It took forever & made it difficult to make changes if I wanted to. I still like drawing things out traditionally in the early processes now, but bringing the pages in to color digitally makes things much more streamlined.
QRD – Do you do thumbnails?
Jackie – I absolutely do thumbnails. I like to try out a lot of different angles & shots for a panel before I commit to something so drawing the page out as a thumbnail helps me see how it will flow from panel to panel, or page to page.
QRD – At what size do you draw?
Jackie – Huge! It’s always better to have a nice, big, crisp looking file & make it smaller if you need to. Plus you can get in there for details.
QRD – What kind of pens do you use?
Jackie – I like to experiment with a lot of different pens. Brush tips can be fun to draw with in general, but I haven’t used them for any comic work yet. Mostly fine tipped pens. I have a special thin sable paintbrush I like to use sometimes with black india ink. It takes some work to not mess things up with that though.
QRD – What does your workstation look like?
Jackie – Nice & tidy. It’s hard for me to work around a cluttered mess. I’ve got two monitors & my intuos4, sketchbook, & pens. I have a dry erase board & a cork board on the walls around my desk if I need to make lists, put up reminders, or do brainstorming. & candles!
QRD – At what point in the artistic process do you work digitally?
Jackie – After I draw out the page on comic boards I’ll scan it & do coloring & inking digitally. Sometimes it varies for the inking depending on what look it needs to have.
QRD – What do you think of digital comics & webcomics?
Jackie – They’re great! It’s amazing that people love making comics so much that they’re willing to put them out for free as long as they get to make them. It’s what I’m used to doing & it takes a lot of work.
QRD – Do you prefer working in color or black & white?
Jackie – The first comic I made was black & white & that can really be a lot of fun to do. Black & white only can either be really interesting & dynamic, or be done really poorly. It all depends on what the story is. Right now I’m working in color. It can be challenging, but it’s also a great deal of fun.
QRD – How many different people should work on a comic & what should their jobs be?
Jackie – It depends. Right now for my comic Nutmeg I’m doing the pencils, inks, colors, & wording. I have a writer that I work with, so it’s just us two. It just depends on what people can do. If people are doing specialized jobs they’ll be free to focus on one thing & have more time to do it, but sometimes you just don’t have the people to do it.
QRD – How do you find collaborators?
Jackie – I met a lot of people through school. The writer I’m working with now, James Wright, I met through another friend that’s also collaborating with him.
QRD – How tight do you think a script should be as far as telling the artist what to draw?
Jackie – My writer makes the most fantastic scripts I could ask for. Everything is really organized & done panel by panel with the dialogue & descriptions of what could be going on if he has anything in mind specifically for the shot. He’s always open for me doing pretty much anything though if I have something else in mind.
QRD – What comic book person would you be most flattered to be compared to?
Jackie – Fiona Staples. She is a powerhouse in comics right now. SAGA is my favorite ongoing series that I’m following & it’s really inspiring to see what she does.
QRD – What do your friends & family think of your comics?
Jackie – Everyone I know supports me. I’m not sure if my family likes any of my comics, they haven’t read anything yet, but my friends tend to like the stuff that I do. Or at least they pretend to. Ha-ha.
QRD – What do you think of superheroes?
Jackie – I really like superheroes. There are definitely ones I prefer over others; but even ones that I’m not crazy about, like Superman, I still find the origins really interesting.
QRD – Marvel or DC?
Jackie – I’m a huge Batman & Batwoman fan, but I’d have to go with Marvel for quantity of things I really like.
QRD – What comic characters other than your own would you like to work with?
Jackie – I’m not sure. I normally don’t think about using other peoples characters because I’m not huge on most fan art/fan fiction & things like that, but if someone came to me & asked me to use a character or draw something for them it’s a different situation & I would be really humbled. I got the chance to do a cover for Jeremy Whitley’s Princeless, & that was amazing!
QRD – Ideally would you self-publish?
Jackie – However I can get my comics out without going completely broke is my ideal situation. I haven’t run into publishing anything yet, so I guess I’ll have to see when I cross that bridge.
QRD – What conventions do you try to attend & why?
Jackie – I go to Gen-Con every year because it’s here in my hometown so it costs me almost nothing to travel to & it’s a great time. I haven’t made it to any other conventions yet, but I’d like to some day.
QRD – What do you do to promote your books?
Jackie – Usually making a website & using social media like Facebook, Twitter, etc. It’s not hard to spread the word around Indiana, but getting it outside of that is a little tougher.
QRD – Do you think your comics are well suited to comic shops or would sell better elsewhere?
Jackie – I think they’d do well in comic shops once we get hard copies printed.
QRD – What other medium would you like to see some of your comics made into (television, film, games, action figures, etc.)?
Jackie – A cartoon might be fun. Action figures would be pretty cool too. As much as I like games, I’m not sure that it would work for that medium. I really want to see someone cosplay as the characters though!
QRD – Do you consider yourself a comic collector or a comic reader or both?
Jackie – I have no problem with borrowing comics from people, reading them, & giving them back. If I really like it a lot whether it’s for art or story I’ll buy a copy because I want to support the creators or maybe reference back to something if I need inspiration for my own comics.
QRD – What do you see as the most viable mediums for comics distribution 10 years from now?
Jackie – I hope hard copies will still be in print, it’s hard to predict though. With books & comics I like sitting down with a physical copy & taking time from my day to focus & read something. I’m sure online distribution will still be going strong, as well as tablets & other handheld devices.
QRD – What would you like to see more people doing with comics?
Jackie – I’d like to see a more positive image for women in comics. I realize that a large portion of people that read comics are male, but it’s not a great excuse for some of the things that are a down right embarrassing portrayal of women. Video games are getting a bit better with this issue, at least in bringing it up & discussing it. It’s one of the main reasons I was so excited to work on Princeless because it’s sending a great message through an equally as great story.
QRD – Anything else?
Jackie – I really think comics can be fun, inspirational, & tell great stories, so if you have a passion to make comics or just enjoy reading them, don’t give it up! You’re giving someone a great story or supporting artists who are really passionate about what they’re doing. Nutmeg will be released pretty soon, so if anyone is interested, keep checking my website for details. Thanks for giving me the opportunity to do this interview!