Blame Betty and Veronica: Why I Make Clothes For Comic Book Characters

Blame Betty and Veronica: Why I Make Clothes For Comic Book Characters

Posted by August 12, 2018 Comment

Ronda Pattison writes,

I wasn’t supposed to work in comics.

I read and enjoyed comics, as most kids do, but I wasn’t obsessed. When a comic store opened in our small town Alberta, Canada, it was my older brother who haunted the place while I was happy with the glossy tabloid sized Disneyland comics my great grandmother sent in fat tubes from England. And while he amassed long boxes of mainstream and underground comics, I filled a shoe box with Archie digests (a big shoe box, my dad wore size 16).

I did love those Archies though, and read them over and over. I longed to be a “grown up” and live in Betty and Veronica’s world of boys and clothes and dates at the ice cream parlor. One Saturday afternoon as I read my latest acquisition, I came across a contest to design clothes for B and V. This got my attention! Soon I was spending my weekends designing and drawing clothes– mostly elaborate gowns that had no bearing on my small town middle class life.

By high school I was cartooning, filling my school notebooks with endless drawings of impossibly tall and skinny girls with elaborate clothes and hair, the more ridiculous the better. But I left that behind when I went away to art school and learned that art is serious and meaningful, not fun. I made large dark and broody canvases, like any good teenage art student. My first serious boyfriend was obsessed with comics. He worked at a comic shop and spent half his salary on product. He took me to my first comic convention and a comic auction. But I had eyes only for the boy, not the books. By this time I was working in a small commercial art gallery and having some modest success selling my own art on the side. No comics for me.

Fast forward a few years, tired of my gallery job and looking for more hands-on work, I found myself working as color separator (translating paper color guides into Photoshop renders) at a digital color studio, and comics took over my life. I went from separator to studio colorist to freelance colorist to Eisner nominee to comic creator in the space of ten years. I moved from Canada to the U.S. to work with my creative partner Brian Roe who took my character Yva, nothing more than an image and a name at that point, and built her a whole world until she became Yva Starling: Troubleshooter, a sci-fi action adventure heroine. At some point during the creation of our first self published issue with artist Ryan Howe, all those fashion drawings of the past came flooding back. Perhaps it was the page where Yva goes through several increasing silly costume changes, but suddenly an idea was born: paper dolls! I could draw clothes to my hearts content and make them part of the world building for our character.

I am now in the process of Kickstarting my second collection of paper dolls based on Yva: ‘Yva Starling: Troubleshooter’ Paper Doll Version Beta. The final PDF, like the first, will include not just the doll and clothes, but fun facts about the situations and locales Yva might find herself in. It can be a simple nostalgic toy or immersive comic book experience.

I wasn’t supposed to work in comics, but they’ve had their hooks in me for 20 years now. I’ve had the good fortune to work on so may amazing properties like Legion of Superheros, Star Wars, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, The Maxx and so many more . For better or worse, i don’t know how to do anything else any more. But the industry continues to evolve and as color work becomes increasing more difficult for me to find, I have to expand and redefine my role in comics. These paper dolls are my passion project and I hope you enjoy them. All pledges received by Bleeding Cool readers will automatically receive the stretch goal package that includes the Alpha version doll and four bonus outfits.


About Rich Johnston

Chief writer and founder of Bleeding Cool. Father of two. Comic book clairvoyant. Political cartoonist.

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(Last Updated August 12, 2018 3:07 am )

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