When I first got back into reading comics again I didn’t know where to start. A friend of mine suggested picking up the latest run of Demo by Brian Wood and Becky Cloonan. Instantly I found myself taken with the compelling artwork in each issue and so when I realized Becky Cloonan was going to be at this year’s Comic Con for a Spotlight panel I couldn’t resist going. During the panel, Cloonan spoke about her vast career as an artist and mentioned a few tidbits about current and upcoming projects.
Cloonan’s start consisted of simply drawing frequently as a child and she noticed that in a lot of her early work it happened to be sequential. Almost as though she was preparing herself for her future career before she could know what that would turn out to be. Early favorite comics included The X-Men (favorite character was Gambit as is mine) as well as Silver Surfer comics her father would read to her when she was young. Cloonan also mentioned manga as an early influence to her style and want to become an artist.
After she attended school for animation she dropped out since she had no interest in taking courses for 3D animation which became the next big thing in the medium at that time. When she was twenty-one, Cloonan was part of the team that did the animated segments in the film Super Troopers. Before she got her first paying gigs as an artist she started out interning as a lawyer’s assistant at Central Park Media which she said was a very good experience for getting into the business by learning more about that aspect of the industry.
She brought up the moment she met and began working with Brian Wood after he saw her work around contacted her. They soon started working together on a couple of projects and then they began Demo together. She didn’t think it would turn into anything big for her just as a good stepping stone into more work—it eventually gave her the stability to support herself through her work in comics and other side projects like storyboarding for TV commercials, an experience she didn’t speak very fondly on but it helped pay the bills.
After brief mention of some of her early works (including American Virgin and East Coast Rising) she took a moment to talk about how she regretted doing so much art for free in the beginning. She encouraged the crowd to never think of their art as worth nothing, and that they should try their best to get paid for what they produce when they can even when starting out. They teased about the possibility of more Demo someday but Cloonan emphasized how she’s into doing a lot of her own self-published stuff again on a larger scale than when she started out.
Her self-described labor of love, Wolves, was part of the self-publishing discussion. The book started as a short-story and then it was something she just couldn’t resist going back to. She also spoke about her run on Dark Horse’s Conan the Barbarian series and her love for the character Belit was very evident as she talked about the challenge in creating the character to be more than just a ‘cheesecake character’. It was important for Cloonan to have her be powerful, scary, and still beautiful in her version of the character.
The talk about Conan was short as this is when Cloonan made the announcement that about three years after the first announcement of it, she’d be jumping off of Conan to start work on Gerard Way’s The Fabulous Killjoys comic in a couple weeks or so. Hopefully that comes into fruition as the world Gerard has created for the Killjoys is still an intriguing one even though the My Chemical Romance concept record they’re first mentioned in has been out for a while now. In fact, that idea of everyone knowing everything about that world already was brought up, and Cloonan assured us that they’re doing more than just re-hashing the plot of the music videos. She claims the time it’s taken to get it going will do nothing but help the story be better than it would have been had it been done right away when the album was released. Her upcoming work on Batman #12, coming out in August was mentioned and I have to say that’s definitely highly-anticipated for me to see this wonderful artist work on my favorite character.
Audience Q and A
- When asked about sexism in the comic industry specifically with the big two, DC and Marvel: Personally, Cloonan says she hasn’t really run into any, but she knows people who’ve had less than stellar experiences. She talks about how with so many women getting into comics now that in a few years there should be a shift. She also mentions that just because women may not read a lot of DC and Marvel that it doesn’t mean they aren’t reading and enjoying the medium as a whole.
- She’s asked about if she intentionally makes an effort to keep her work looking hand-made and responds that it’s a side effect of not really being big on using computers. Even though there are ways to get the hand-drawn feel, she mentions that she prefers doing things the old-fashioned way.
- When she’s asked about if the Viktor Von Doom series will ever see the light of day she mentions that anything’s possible but that she’s far more into doing more creator-owned work.
- The Fabulous Killjoys is set to be a Dark Horse book.
- When talking about the current state of Comic Con she notes that yeah the shift can fall away from comics but she’s into other things too so it’s fun to go around and see all of the different things. As for more comics-focused events she cites Tr!ckster specifically as worthwhile.
- She’s asked about the issue of Demo she did some writing for and she mentions how she’d love to write more outside of her own books.
- The twins Ba are brought up as Cloonan discusses how grateful she is to have them as friends who are willing to really bust her ass so she can put forth her best work.
- In order to help balance her work on her own stuff, Cloonan is going to hire someone to help her. She talked about having to fill out over two thousand individual orders herself when she opened her online store. It also helps to have friends you can invite over with promises of beer and pizza in order to get them to help too.
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