This piece is the fourth of a semi-monthly series giving nascent creators a chance to share and document part of their artistic journeys. We’ll be following four individuals—writers, artists, writers/artists—and spotlighting each on a rotating basis throughout 2019. Future installments will take more of a traditional journal format, giving creators a space to share thoughts and comics. For the intro, however, we’ll get to know each participant better through a question and answer.
With all that in mind, we’ll cede the space now to our fourth creator, Zoe Thorogood, a talented artist from England who regularly shares sketches, process insights, and other increasingly excellent work on social media. Zoe is, simply put, a rising talent in comics. Check back next month when we re-visit some of our earlier creators from this series!
Zoe Thorogood Q&A
Q: What is your creative routine like, especially as it might apply to balancing time for writing or drawing with things like day job obligations, social life, or pressing family concerns?
Not as organized as it should be…As a university student, how my time is spent is fairly dictated by my studies (unfortunately), so often I’ll spend the morning on classwork, the afternoon on chores/other commitments, and the evening on my own personal work. It’s really far from ideal, but I’ll be finished with uni in a week, so hopefully I will be able to structure my time around my art rather than fitting my art around uni!
Q: What are you working on right now today, and, looking ahead, what are some of your goals for the rest of 2019?
Currently I’m working on a short personal autobiographical comic called ‘Angel’, I don’t have much time for big commitment projects at the moment, so I’ve been focusing on creating short comics to keep me sane through uni work! Angel is an 8-page comic about a very odd encounter I had at the age of 15 that truly changed my life (don’t want to give too much away but here’s the front cover.)
The past year I’ve created two pitches (one rejected, one still in review), and now I’m working on a third. I’ve always wanted to try my hand at a superhero comics, so for my third pitch I thought why not? It’s titled ‘Toast’ and the most accurate logline I’ve written so far is ‘a cyberpunk version of footloose with a super-powered pyromaniac as the protagonist instead of Kevin Bacon.’ Yeah…It’s almost as ridiculous as it sounds. I’m in very early development right now but here are some character designs.
My main goal for the rest of the year is to get a pitch through to publication, from the two pitches I’ve already done I’ve learned a lot about pitching comics and their pitfalls (even did my uni thesis on it), and I feel like with each pitch I’ve gotten closer to where I want to be. Just a matter of time until something bites. (Or until the Image editors get so fed up with me they decide to give me a chance just to get me to go away. Sorry, Jeff.)
Q: Where do you see yourself right now in terms of your overall career trajectory?
Oh boy. Hopefully at the start of a long and successful journey into comics? We’ll see. I’m 20 years old, so I feel like I have some breathing room before I start worrying about lack of progression. It’s something I’ve been thinking about a lot recently, whether I’ll make it as a creator and if so, how far will I go? It’s interesting. I have a lot of motivation, a lot of determination, and a hell of a lot of potentially horrendous comic ideas to keep me going. Right now I have no comics out, very little notability, but one day my books will be on comic stands. (I hope.)
Q: Could you share one major triumph you’ve had so far as an artist, as well as, conversely, one major challenge?
Ironically my major triumph was in the form of a rejection letter. Not long after submitting my first pitch I got a rejection letter from Image, which may sound like a funny thing to celebrate but it meant they’d seen it. I know often people don’t even get rejection letters so I was incredibly proud of being politely told my work wasn’t good enough.
A huge challenge for me personally was going to my first comic con. It was last September and I’d brought my portfolio along to gather feedback from my favorite artists. Nobody had really seen my work at this point. I suffer quite strongly from social anxiety and struggle a lot to talk to new people, I remember vividly approaching Alison Sampson at her table, nervously clutching my portfolio. In retrospect I needn't of been worried but the anxiety of introducing myself and my art never fades.
Q: How does the wider comics community where you live or even online factor into your work as a rising creator? Do you find Twitter and other platforms to be a useful platform for sharing your work?
I wouldn’t have my label as a ‘rising creator’ if not for Twitter. I started sharing my work on there almost a year ago and it’s changed my life. The people I’ve met through social media have proved incredibly helpful for my creative development. It’s so lovely having supportive online friends and followers, it’s underrated how motivating a simple retweet or comment can be. Oh and I love keeping up with other young creator’s work. It’s great being able to see the work of rising creators on a similar path to me (particularly Oliver Gerlach and Anna Readman, to name a few). Helps me feel not as alone in this bizarre comics journey.
Q: Finally, tell us a bit about the work you've shared here today…
Perhaps my work I’m most interested in currently is the second pitch I completed. ‘The Crossroads’ is a relatively short 100-page comic I submitted to the Creators for Creators grant, of which the winner is announced May 11, I believe. It’s quite an abstract story about a hub where characters gather to tell their stories.
Here’s the cover and first inside page with some behind the scenes planning.
It’s a story I’ve had in my head for a few years and is one I’d love to tell. I’m hoping and praying I win the grant so I can create the full book, but if not I’ll definitely be considering Kickstarter if it’s something people are interested in!
Thanks for having me! Hope you enjoyed learning about my work and process. You can find more of me over at my twitter @zoethorogood.
You can read last month’s Creator Journal feature here!
Check back next month as we re-visit some of our rising creators from earlier in the year!