The effects of a hard night’s worth of drinking is nothing like the hangover you get from leaving a convention as busy as Emerald City Comic Con. ECCC is huge and sprawling, taking up most of the Washington State Convention Center, with signs directing you every which way for SIX WHOLE LEVELS. I’m no green girl when it comes to huge conventions; hell, I’ve tackled San Diego Comic Con alone before! This is the first time I had ever attended ECCC, and I thought I knew what to expect out of another ReedPop owned convention.
This year’s entertainment guests included the likes of Norman Reedus, Dante Basco, Lana Parrilla, The Weasley twins, and more. The list of talent goes on and on, a list that seems beautifully endless and includes artists, authors, makeup designers, and prop makers. The artist alley was also incredibly packed with talent this year, ranging from a surprise signing with G. Willow Wilson to scores of indie creators I cheerfully met and purchased wares from.
Like usual, I planned out my days, from panels to interviews, and as I scrambled to familiarize myself with the convention center layout, I begrudgingly accepted the fact I would need to sacrifice a panel or two to make it to the aforementioned G. Willow Wilson signing. Even though I had to race through the TWO separate exhibition halls/artist alleys, I successfully got a few minutes to talk with the genius behind Kamala Khan.
Floating on cloud nine after such an encounter, I quickly checked my schedule and decided to check out the artist alley and hall I was in before scurrying off to a 3pm Vertigo panel about their upcoming projects. I normally do a quick lap around a room before gathering my courage to meet creators whose work I had enjoyed from afar and pushed into my regular customers’ hands. Then I made sure to visit friends, such as artist Megan Lara, and fellow Valkyries manning the Valkyrie table, before opening my wallet with reckless abandon. Purchases this day included “Oh Joy Sex Toy,” a pair of Hamilton inspired prints from artist Arielle Jovellanos, and one hell of a sexy Poe Dameron from Cara McGee before I queued up with fellow comic lovers for my first and only panel.
Speakers for the hour long panel included Kurt Busiek, who spoke about issue 41 of Astro City finally revealing how it got its name to Gail Simone describing some of the chills ahead in her horror comic, Clean Room. In all honesty, it was surprisingly underwhelming compared to earlier announcements from other publishers, such as DC’s new imprint Young Animal under musician and comic enthusiast Gerard Way.
Luckily, my panel wasn’t far from my first interview, but I got lost and ended up in the wrong artist alley! However, a kind young man dressed as Deadpool set me on the right path (thanks, Deadpool!) and I quickly found the booth I was meant to be at before getting distracted by Espionage Cosmetics gorgeous nail wraps. My Friday ended after WRAPping up an interview with the super cute artist, Camille d’Errico so I could get ready for a Wickedly Divine off-site party.
Saturday was my only other con day thanks to an early flight home on Sunday, so I stuffed it to the brim with meetings with creators to discuss upcoming Image Expo announced projects and a couple of interviews, including Faith Erin Hicks and Dante Basco. I’m stoked for several series from creators of color and women like, Graveyard Winnebago, Afar, VS, and Black Cloud. It’s an amazing time to pick up really good stories from diverse voices (need suggestions? ASK ME!).
My one panel of the day centered around a fantastic group of women in comic shops that I’m glad to be part of, the Valkyries. Discussion included how underestimated a group of 500 retailers with ordering power can be, and reasons why certain books mean so much to us. It was touching being among so many other female workers since I felt alone for so long working in my shop in Texas, but now I have this vast, wonderful network when I need help or suggestions! It was definitely one of my favorite convention moments.
I left the convention with a heavy heart and even heavier bags thanks to the rest of the exhibition hall.
Next year, I will attend with knowledge about Sea-Tac Airport security lines and with an additional day to explore the city if I can manage it! If you attended Emerald City Comic Con, what was your favorite part?
Faith Erin Hicks is a Canadian writer and artist. She worked in the animation industry for several years before transitioning into writing and drawing comics full time in 2008. Originally, her webcomics were “for fun” while in college, but eventually published her first work, Zombies Calling (SLG Publishing), in 2007. Since then, she has published a number of other graphic novels, including The War at Ellsmere (SLG), Friends with Boys (First Second Books), and The Adventures of Superhero Girl (Dark Horse Comics), which won her an Eisner in 2014.
Her latest work debuted at Emerald City Comic Con, a story about an unlikely friendship called The Nameless City.
L: The first work of yours I was exposed to was Adventures of Superhero Girl, which was so lighthearted and fun among gritty tales and space westerns from all of the indie publications. Did you have a hard time finding an audience for your work?
FEH: Honestly, no, and that was the surprising thing. I agree with you that right now there is a focus on realism, especially in superhero comics. The success of Superhero Girl has been astonishing to me. I made it for myself, since it’s basically my take on superheroes and I wanted to have fun with the tropes of the genre. I wanted this character to be…I don’t know, I see myself in her. She has this thing that she really loves. She loves the idea of being a superhero, she wants to be a superhero, but she’s young and inexperienced and struggling to do that well. I ended up putting the comic online and was just shocked by the response online and it was cool that people found it funny. I feel like now, there’s nothing wrong with wanting something gritty, but I definitely think there’s an audience and place for this lighter fare, with things out there like Ryan North and Erica Henderson’s The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl. It’s so much fun! People really like that kind of thing, and they’re hungry for it, so no, no problem finding an audience!
L: I actually use The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl to sell Adventures of Superhero Girl in my store, like if people need something else to read along those veins! When you first started out, was the comics industry alienating at all?
FEH: No, absolutely not! Comics have been really good to me. It’s been incredibly welcoming and now that I’m a published writer, I feel like I have a voice in comics. The Nameless City is my eleventh book, and it’s been a positive experience.
L: And you do comics full-time now, right?
FEH: I’ve been doing them full-time since 2008, so it’s been eight whole years!
L: What kind of schedule do you keep, or is just a matter of getting yourself motivated to write whenever?
FEH: I definitely keep a schedule, where I work six days a week and keep regular hours. I wake up, exercise, and try to be at my desk by a certain hour, take a break for lunch. I had an intense schedule the last eight months or so finishing up the second Nameless City book, and just worked crazy hours. I absolutely recommend to anyone trying to do comics full-time to keep a schedule. It’s important for your well-being and mental health.
L: Did you do everything yourself, from writing to drawing to coloring?
FEH: I didn’t do the coloring myself, because I’m really slow and I would much rather work with someone who actually knows what they’re doing! – laughs-
FEH: I do both actually. I do thumbnails and I do my script by hand. I fill a spiral notebook with thumbnails and very rough dialogue and then I go type it up and give it to my editor. Once it’s approved, I start pencilling and inking.
L: Do you have a project in the future that pushes you out of your comfort zone and challenges you in a different way?
FEH: The Nameless City is that for me! It’s a fantasy world that’s historically based. It was based on my interest in 13th century China and it’s a story with a lot of challenging themes. There’s this city that’s a place of conflict with strife and racism and I wanted to deal with those issues in a way that was thoughtful and challenging. Hopefully I did! We will see what readers and reviewers say!
L: As far as your work on adaptations, for instance, The Last of Us: American Dreams, did you get to play the game prior to working on the story?
FEH: I did not, because the game was not yet finished! What I was given when I started working with the game’s writer, he basically gave me the script. I got to know the story and the characters, but yeah, it wasn’t quite finished, and what actually happened, he brought in this character that we’d created for the comic into the game’s narrative, which was really wonderful. I definitely got to be privy to NaughtyDog’s creative process. I have since played it and it is super scary though. I’m a total chicken when it comes to horror. It was a rough one to get through, even though my favorite game of all time is Resident Evil 4 for some reason.
L: Do you have a favorite thing to draw, whether it’s something you doodle or otherwise?
FEH: You’re going to laugh at this, but my favorite thing to draw is people having deep emotions. I love the scenes in any of my graphic novels where people are going through a lot of emotions, right? I really like drawing people in the middle of huge emotional breakdowns. For me, the best way to convey emotions is to decompress a scene and give characters time to react and act it out on a page, so it’s like…I have a joke. When I do a graphic novel it’s like 250 pages long and you get 50 pages of plot and 200 pages of people staring at each other. – laughs-
L: Are you ever conscious of inserting yourself into your stories?
FEH: I’ve drawn myself and my friends in the background of a couple of scenes, like in Nothing Could Possibly Go Wrong, there’s a crowd scene at a robotics competition and I drew all of my friends in one scene. I do it so I don’t have to come up with designing characters!
L: My last question is what are you currently reading that you would recommend?
FEH: I have con brain at the moment, but I just finished the fourth trade of Ms. Marvel. Oh my gosh, I’m completely blanking! Oh! I’m reading this manga called A Silent Voice, that is so good and will break your heart. I’m really into that series, and I think it’s amazing.
Be sure to check out The Nameless City, which is now in local comic shops everywhere! It’s an amazing story and worth your money!
Camilla d’Errico is an urban contemporary painter, illustrator, character creator and comic artist residing in Vancouver, Canada. With roots in comics, Camilla’s work is seen on toys, clothes, accessories and more. She has been published by Random House/Watson Guptill books, Boom! Studios, Image Comics, IDW, Dark Horse Comics and more, with self-publishing roots for her literature-inspired series, Tanpopo. Camilla has distinguished herself as one of the breakthrough artists in Pop Surrealism’s New Figurative movement through her ability to seamlessly weave manga and western styles with surrealist elements, wrapping it together with an extensive emotional palette. Camilla’s unique style bridges cultural and geographical boundaries, working with creative partners Hasbro, Disney, Mattel, Coastal and more, while remaining totally relevant to today’s varied audience. Ever the prolific artist, Camilla lives the double life of comic artist/creator and New Brow painter, while expanding her horizons to include fashion, music, merchandise and designer toys.
I sat down with Camilla during a brief moment of down time during Emerald City Comic Con, literally seated on this gorgeous, vintage looking, re-upholstered chair printed with her art.
L: Wow, this is just…beautiful. These chairs are for sale?
CD: Yeah, I would like to do two a year! I was talking to Rubbish Rehab, a local company that makes them, and this is the first time we’ve had them available at the show. They sold so fast, and we had people ask to do more, and I’d love to bring more vintage chairs, and have them every year from now on.
L: Would you do different styles of chair?
CD: All styles. They did a throne for me, and it was the nicest thing. I wish I had a promotional photo seated in it.
L: All of you art has this sort of wide-eyed doll-like appearance. Is this something you pulled from yourself? Now that I’ve seen you in person, I can see you in these!
CD: Oh, really? That’s so funny. You’re making me blush! No, I’ve had people say that I look like my art, which I think is a huge compliment, cause they’re like, big doe-eyed adorable girls! I do have big eyes, but you know, the only time I realized I had big eyes was when I went to Taipei and the people there would tell me!
L: Do you use yourself as a model?
CD: Noooo, no, no. Not at all. Actually, I try to avoid getting photographed or recorded or even like, mirrors. I’m just not…I just try to see the world around me, I don’t actually look at myself, like for inspiration.
L: I noticed you’ve done some fantasy art, some anime inspired art, is there a favorite genre for you?
CD: I definitely like the melting colors right now. I finished work for my solo show and I melted so many colors into these multiple paintings…I can’t get enough, I can’t stop. I’m completely inspired by seeing different colors blending together, or just in contrast! Seeing color with weight, um, it’s just part of my obsession with wanting to eat color, which you can’t cause it’s toxic, ha ha. It totally looks like candy. These girls are like the fantasy I want, they get to experience and taste melting color.
L: So, you use traditional mediums when painting! I don’t know why I thought you did it all digital. Do you prefer oil, or acrylic?
CD: I use oils AND acrylics. There’s also this brand I use called Holbein Duo and it’s oil paint you can blend with water. It’s unbelievable.
L: How do you determine your color palette? Is it dependable on the subject, or the individual piece?
CD: I’m always going for bright. I try to blend it, so that it’s in contrast. I’ll have my muted colors and then mix the rich and vibrant. If I try to do it all vibrant, it gets lost. You don’t know where to focus the eye, but if you use, like, the Paint Catcher, there’s lots of pinks and reds and her face is really muted. I try to keep it a good balance. I love hearing people’s interpretations of my art.
L: I know you’ve done some comic art for different publishers, but would you be interested in taking on one of the younger heroes from Marvel or DC?
CD: I’ve done SOME superhero stuff, but I haven’t been asked to do any lately. If Marvel was like, “Hey, let’s see your version of Spider-Gwen,” I would be like heck yeah! Spider-Gwen is right up my alley. I would die.
L: What other projects do you have in the works, aside from your upcoming show?
CD: In July, I’m debuting my very first adult coloring book! I’m so excited!!
L: How have your fan experiences been? Are there any particular memorable encounters?
CD: Yeah! People overwhelm me when they bring me presents, or tell me stories of how my art has affected them, and I have these two fans that are just the cutest. They are from Costa Rica and they bring me these chocolates and coffee. I’m always like, “YOU GUYS ARE THE ABSOLUTE BEST!” Two years ago at San Diego Comic Con, we did this Zombie Escape run together. It was amazing and I…I left them behind. Oh my God, I totally left them for dead! – laughs- It was so high intensity. There’s dozens of zombies, and army guys. I had to leave them behind. I felt so bad even though it’s like, the apocalypse.
L: You did what you had to do. It was a people eat people world!! Let’s talk about about the expansion of your art into various other merchandise. You mentioned elsewhere that your dream is to make clothes, and it looks like you’ve brought that dream to fruition!
CD: Goldbubble and Nuvango carry my stuff!! I would love to do a lolita dress. I would do the coolest lolita dress!! I would just love to do high fashion too, THAT’s my real dream project. The scarves we just put out are just beautiful. Every year I try to branch out and do something different, so I don’t know. Maybe next year I will actually get to do runway dresses. How cool would that be?
L: It sounds like it’d be pretty cool! I just noticed you did a Sailor Moon piece, and I’m curious as to what you enjoy or gravitate towards personally.
CD: In my personal life, oh man, I am super obsessed with anything supernatural, especially vampires. I wish I was vampire, and like if you ever meet a vampire, let me know. I would so turn to the dark side, which would go against my color palette, but you know, whatever! I love all of that. Vampires, werewolves, ghosts…all of it. I would turn my husband because we said, “Til death do us part.”
L: That is hilarious! Since we are out of time, how do you get yourself in the mood to draw? Do you find yourself inspired and immediately go to put it on paper?
CD: Well, it depends. Usually if I’m on a deadline, I put on audiobooks, like Harry Potter, or Driving Mr. Dead, an awesome vampire book by the way, and I’ll get my latte going. I’ll just start drawing and create.
Rainbow Children and Pop Painting are the latest books of art from Camilla, and are both now available on her website! If you’re local to Los Angeles, her solo show at Corey Helford Gallery opens April 23rd!