Overground Comics has a new digital series called Tinker from writer Jon Hughes and artist Rachel Uildriks. David Oshman talked with Uildriks about her work on the series and her artistic background as she tackles her first ever comic book project.
RACHEL UILDRIKS: I’m only 25; I haven’t done all that much yet. The extent of it involves attending, and then dropping out of, two separate art schools; one in Chicago and one in Los Angeles, which has been one of the best decisions I’ve made as an artist (aside from working on Tinker!).
Previously, I would do a lot of freelance work for random, private individuals online. I’ve always wanted to get into some sort of storytelling medium, whether that be animation or comics, but before Jon (Hughes – Editor-in-Chief of Overground Comics) contacted me with his offer of Tinker a year or so ago, I had no idea how to get my foot into the industry. He had me do the first 5 pages of Issue 1 as a test, flew me out to Houston Comic Con later that year, and next thing I knew, I was officially hired to do the book. It was a huge, validating moment for me as an artist, and it’s been pushing me forward in my work ever since.
DO: How would you describe your artistic style and what are some of your favorite types of projects to work on?
RU: The most important thing to me in my work is that I portray the way characters are feeling accurately. Feelings and emotion, in my opinion, are what drive a narrative forward, and if those are lacking in the art, no matter how technically good the art may be, then the story falls flat. I’ve still got a long way to go, but I love working on projects where there are feelings involved. Action gets boring.
DO: What was it that really drew you to this story? As Tinker is the story of a young girl trying to develop into a superhero, do you think you were able to add to the story from your own experiences and perspective as a young, developing female artist?
RU: Tinker itself is relatable to me in that it’s essentially about an insecure inventor trying to make it into the industry (superheroes) that she’s most enamored with, while very much feeling like she isn’t good enough. Swap out the words “inventor” and “superheroes” with “artist” and “art” and that’s basically also me. That’s basically also a lot of people, actually. And I love stories like that. This story is going to speak to a lot of people who are passionate about what they do, but lack confidence, I think, and that’s why I want to work on it.
DO: Would you say that Tinker (aimed at a younger audience) plays as a sort of fun, light-hearted counter-programming for some of the heavier, more serious books in the Overground Universe?
RU: Oh, definitely. It’s not like Tinker is all sunshine and rainbows, it’s got itself some sad and serious bits, of course, but it’s definitely a far cry from some of the other things being cooked up by Overground.
DO: One of the missions of Overground Comics has been showing the growth of characters over time and presenting the current world and how characters/stories progress through it. How do you think that seeing a character in her early stages before potentially developing into a major/substantial hero helps fans to really connect to the character and story?
RU: I feel like that’s essential. I am so tired of the stories where the protagonist is already awesome and the whole focus of the story is about them doing awesome things; I want to read the stories about what they were before they became awesome, I want to know how they got there in the first place.
Nobody starts off amazing. We all have that wall to climb before we accomplish greatness. Watching someone struggle their way to their goals is relatable. And when that character finally makes it? You’re that much more proud of them, because you were along for the ride, and everything awesome they do afterwards is so much more meaningful.
DO: Would you also view this as a good growth opportunity for yourself?
RU: Jon hired me to do this project knowing I’ve only done maybe like 11 serious comic pages in my entire life. And I feel like you can see that, in the first book, if you know what you’re looking at. But I also feel like that actually fits pretty well. When reading Tinker, you’re not just going to see the evolution of Amy; you’re also going to see my evolution as a comic book artist. When the volume is finished, I want readers to go back to the first issue and compare both my artwork and Amy as a person to the artwork I’ll do in the final issue and Amy as a person. Hopefully, you’ll be able to visually see just how much both of us have grown, and that it’ll be an extra something special about this series.
RU: After Tinker, I’m excited to work on my webcomic, DNA. Tinker’s actually taught me a lot and has given me the drive and confidence to get going on that, and I’ve been very excited to share that with the internet. So far, it’s been well-received, and that’s been great. Independent, creator-owned and controlled content is very important to me, so that’s what I’ll be doing in the future.
And if it turns out I am doing more stuff for Overground, then that would be really exciting as well. I’ve loved working on Tinker so far, and I’d love to do more if there’s something more for me when it’s finished.
For more information on Overground Comics please go to www.overgroundcomics.com.
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