Creator Journal: Zoe Thorogood - ‘...with each pitch I’ve gotten closer to where I want to be.’

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.

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Creator Journal: Ben Kahn - 'To me, comics are the medium of the impossible.'

This piece is the third of a 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…

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Creator Journal: Jeffrey Brown

This piece is the second of a 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 second creator, Jeffrey Brown, a writer/artist from Live Oak, Fla., which is located in the northern part of the state between Tallahassee and Jacksonville. Jeffrey is as passionate and hard-working of comic writer/artist as there is. Check back the last Friday of next month for a look at our next participant!

Writer/artist Jeffrey Brown

Q: Tell us as much as you'd like to share about yourself...where are you from? How old are you? What is your life as an artist like?

A: Hello, my name is Jeffrey Brown (not to be confused with that other Jeffrey Brown), and I live in a Live Oak, Fla. My life as an artist thus far has been getting up in the afternoon or evening, sketching stories for my comics in my notebook, writing a rough outline of a plot, and when it’s good to go...pencil, ink, and color a page a day :). I take breaks in between projects to read my favorite books, chill out on Twitter, watch movies, and listen to my favorite podcasts.

Q: What are your aspirations for making comics and what is your biggest motivation to get there?

A: My aspirations for making comics are simply to be a storyteller. I want to make the kind of comics I like  to read. The thing that really gets me excited about making comics is that I have the freedom to let my imagination run wild. My goal as a cartoonist is to write and draw comics that will be timeless years from now. That’s really what motivates me. I want to leave a legacy behind with my work.

Q: Where do you see yourself right now in terms of your career trajectory?

A: My career is still a work in progress. Hopefully, I see myself making a decent living as a cartoonist some day, maybe getting the opportunity to work on interesting projects with talented writers in comics. I also want to one day work in animation, but my goal right now in life is to be recognized and valued for my talents as a young cartoonist. I want to keep putting weird and interesting stories into the world through my comics.

Q: What are some of your short term goals and what are some of your longer term goals for 2019?

A: To be honest, my short term goals for 2019 is to just build steady sales of my art and comics. I’d also like to Get my comics and art published in various publications. I want to make an income through making my art. I’m really thankful for the little victories I have had thus far but I am hungry for more. One day, I’d also like to win awards.

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Q: How much time each week do you spend working on comics and what do you spend that time doing?

A: A typical week for me making comics is something like this: on Monday I will write out a short outline of the plot, starting with the style of writing, and then I draw thumbnails in my sketchbook as my first draft. If I like what I scribbled out, I then get to work on my PC and sketch out from my thumbnails the sequential pages from my story (lately my stories have been like 16 pages), and then after doing rough sketch layouts I proceed to ink a page a day. If it’s a comic in color, I usually do that last after inking and lettering. I try to spend at least 2 to 3 hours on a page inking and coloring. I do take breaks in between, and I spend that time on twitter, listening to podcasts, playing retro games and watching movies.

Q: What are some of the biggest challenges--both logistically and emotionally--when it comes to making comics in your life?

A: I’m currently working from home, which is a both fun and a challenge. The fun part is right now I get to focus on my work and just create. The challenge is that right now I don’t have enough money to go out and travel. Ever since I got sick recently and lost my job at a BBQ restaurant, I decided to stop waiting for the right time to pursue my passion for creating comics. I decided to go for it. Right now I feel good about myself and what I am doing. Work that day job for two years was emotionally exhausting for me. It was a rough two years for me (lol). Right now, I feel like I’m emotionally in a better place. Right now, I enjoy spending my time pouring my heart and soul into making comics. I enjoy putting pen to paper and having fun and sharing that with the world. Doing this truly brings me joy.

Q: Finally, tell us about the piece you've shared here today…

A: I’m currently working on the fourth issue of my mini comic, The Misadventures of Izanami Grey. It’s about a brilliant scientist who has empathic vampire powers that occasionally turn her into a mutant Were-Bat monster. In this issue Izanami and her boyfriend Kieron are on a mission to rescue the president. They must find him alive and bring him back to the states to be prosecuted for his many human rights violations. Chief among his many crimes was denying humanitarian aid to the people of the fictional island nation of Gene-Verte, who now have the president and are also about to put him on trial to punish him for his grievous crimes against them. I can’t say any more, so please buy a copy of my comic to check it out for yourself over at Gumroad:

You can buy The Misadventures of Izanami Grey through the following links:

You can follow Jeffrey Brown on Twitter at @tsujigo and you can read last month’s Creator Journal feature here!

Check back next month to meet the third of four creators participating in this series!

Creator Journal: The Stewart Bros. Studio

This piece is the first of a monthly series giving nascent creators a chance to share and document part of their artistic journeys on our site. We’ll be following four individualswriters, artists, writers/artistsfeaturing 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 better with a question and answer.

With all that in mind, we’ll cede the space now to our first creators, Bo and Harrison Stewart, brothers from North Carolina who make up Stewart Bros. Studios. Regular contributors to our website, The Stewart Bros. are hard-working comic book writers. Check back the last Friday of next month for a look at our next participant!

From left to right, Bo Stewart, Mitch Gerads, and Harrison Stewart at Hampton CC.

From left to right, Bo Stewart, Mitch Gerads, and Harrison Stewart at Hampton CC.

Q: So let’s start with what are your aspirations for making comics and what is your biggest motivation to get there?

A: Being partners came as a natural extension of being brothers. We’ve always told each other stories. It’s how we communicate and make ourselves understood. It’s as central to our relationship as anything. Over time, we realized that some of these stories (read: the ones that weren’t Star Wars fan-fic) weren’t half bad. And with the right artist, the worlds that had only existed in our minds could be made real and true for others, as real as they’ve always been for us.    

Our motivation is simple: we write comics we want to read. And, perhaps more importantly, we want to make comics we think will resonate with people, but that aren’t currently available in the wider industry.    

Q: Where do you see yourselves at in your career trajectory?

A: We’re focused on building a resume. Anytime you tell someone you’re a writer, you get the same response: “What’ve you written?” You’ll note the question isn’t about being published, but the only way to convey serious intent is with a body of work—proof of concept. This is the part of our career where rubber meets the road.

Networking is also a huge priority. But the fun thing about comics is that networking doesn’t have to be as cold and calculating as in other industries. It’s more like making friends. If you like someone’s work, say so! Being honest and polite takes you much farther than treating people as a means to an end. And eventually, you’ll find yourself with a solid group of peers and collaborators that will give you that extra push on the days you need it (thank goodness for Dave LeNoir).

From  Witch Hunt  by The Stewart Bros. and Caroline Autopsy.

From Witch Hunt by The Stewart Bros. and Caroline Autopsy.

>>CLICK HERE to read The Stewart Bros. comic, The Witch Hunt!<<

Q: What are some of your short term goals and what are some of your longer term goals for 2019?

A: Short term goal would be putting out our first full-length comic, i.e. 20+ pages. We’ve mostly dabbled in shorter comics, so graduating to a complete OGN would be a huge step forward. The project in question focuses on King Tut. We’re collaborating with artist J Paul Schiek, who nails the vibe we are looking for. We’re really excited to get it in people’s hands.  

Long term, we’re aiming to have a table this year at one of our local cons. Eastin DeVerna, a fellow creator and friend, was kind enough to let us help man his table so we could get a feel for it—an experience we highly recommend to anyone looking to break in. We also have a few additional mini-series we’re looking to get off the ground (possibly through Kickstarter), so stay tuned for updates on those!

Also, “Straw Man.”

From  Witch Hunt  by The Stewart Bros. and Caroline Autopsy.

From Witch Hunt by The Stewart Bros. and Caroline Autopsy.

Q: One of the most valuable pieces of advice I've ever gotten is there's no harm in not knowing things, as long you know what you don't know. With that in mind, what are some areas of improvement you're currently targeting within comics?

A: Unlike other media like TV or movies, which require large production teams, sequential art is inherently intimate. The only required positions are writer, penciler, inker, colorist and letterer, oftentimes casting creators in multiple roles. The small team mentality is wonderfully liberating, as it leaves only a few degrees of separation between you and a finished product. But as a writer (particularly one who doesn’t double as artist), you can sometimes forget this isn’t a solo act.

Using the art as a genuine means of storytelling and not just pictures to go along with your words can be challenging. Most creative writing classes focus entirely on words. Instruction about how to write for pictures isn’t that common place. So, reintroducing that extra element can feel jarring, as if you’re now supposed to ignore what you’ve been taught. But there is hope: listen to your artist. Trust that when they tell you your words aren’t needed in a given panel, they do so to improve the finished piece, not to take away from your work. We have by no means mastered the art of listening, but it’s an area where we are actively seeking to grow.

From  Witch Hunt  by The Stewart Bros. and Caroline Autopsy.

From Witch Hunt by The Stewart Bros. and Caroline Autopsy.

Q: Can you talk a little bit about your time management process in terms of working on comics?

A: Um… pass?

No, but time management is probably the hardest part. There’s no perfect solution for how to best use time, which is your most precious asset. But one thing we always try to keep in mind is this: does your action get you closer to your end goal in some way? That doesn’t mean you always have to be working. Even reading a bad comic can be productive if you’re taking time to notice the pitfalls you should avoid. It’s simply a matter of framing your leisure time within the larger structure of where you want to be.

Q: Finally, tell us about the piece you've shared here today…

A: First thing’s first: the fabulous art you see is by Caroline Autopsy. You’ll want to keep an eye on her. We met at a convention and swapped social media after discussing how much we liked her style. And when we saw that she was open for commissions, we started a script. This was our first time writing with a specific artist in mind, and, trust us, it makes a world of difference. It’s much easier to graft words to images when you have a solid idea of what they might look like.

>>CLICK HERE to read The Stewart Bros. comic, The Witch Hunt!<<

As for the piece itself, this was a blast to make. We wanted a simple message that could be slipped into a comedic frame.The news itself (which is rife with comedy these days) provided our answer, or at least the question: does a witch hunt necessarily preclude the existence of witches? With that, we were off to the races.

We’ve been asked how political the piece was intended to be. But in our view, that depends entirely on the reader. The term “witch hunt” existed long before current events and will probably be here long after. The underlying theme we wished to convey was simply a warning against allowing good intentions to blind oneself to clear and present danger. With that in mind, we hope you enjoy this little ditty from us, Caroline and our excellent letterer, Matthew Gallman!     

You can find more of The Stewart Bros. work here! And you can follow them on Twitter at @stewart_bros.

Check back next month to meet the second of four creators participating in this series!