Amy Reeder is a comic artist and writer, probably best known for her creator-owned series, Rocket Girl. She actually earned a Bachelor of Science in Social Science Teaching before being discovered by Tokyopop. After entering Tokyopop’s Rising Stars of Manga competition, Reeder was selected to write and illustrate Fool’s Gold. She has since illustrated for Vertigo, and DC Comics on Madame Xanadu, and Batwoman.
In 2012 Amy Reeder, and writer Brandon Montclare, turned to Kickstarter to fund their 40-page one-shot comic, Halloween Eve. Following the campaign’s success, the duo were back on Kickstarter the following year. This time, with ambitions to bring to life an ongoing series called Rocket Girl. The series focuses on protagonist, DaYoung Johansson, a teenage cop from the future who is sent back in time to 1986 New York City. Through a string of discoveries she realises the high-tech future she is from is actually an alternate reality version of 2013. The Rocket Girl series, published by Image Comics, is currently on issue #6, with #7 set for release this December 2nd.
Reeder and Montclare have a podcast called, Podcorn, where they discuss their projects, process and comic news. Not only does Reeder share her comic knowledge through the podcast, she is very verbose on her Tumblr too, regularly posting art advice and storytelling tips. If you want to watch the magic happen, Reeder also has a YouTube channel with a few short, but inspiring process videos.
The duo, Reeder and Montclare, have most recently collaborated on Marvel’s Moon Girl & Devil Dinosaur. They are writing the series, with interior artwork by Natacha Bustos, and Reeder also supplying cover artwork. The first issue was released today.
A year before graduating from the CCS, in 2008, Knisley released her first book, French Milk. Published by Simon & Schuster, French Milk is a very personal comic journal detailing the six-week trip that she and her mother took in Paris. During a milestone birthday for both, it also deals with their shifting relationship.
It was Knisley’s second book, Relish, that really captured people’s attention. Drawing inspiration from her mother again, Relish is a tale through the eyes of a young Knisley growing up with a chef for a mother and the importance that food and cooking had during her childhood. Released in 2013, published by First Second, the book was a New York Times best-seller, an American Library Association award winner in the YA category, and has since been translated into five languages.
That same year Knisley moved back to Chicago, but thanks to the success of Relish she travelled all over America. A special guest at San Diego Comic Con, Toronto Comic Arts Festival, MoCCA Arts Fest, New York Comic Con, Miami Book Fest and many others. Part of her country-trotting includes teaching and giving lectures on comics at conventions, after-school programs, camps and workshops.
Knisley has contributed to various anthologies and worked with mainstream comic publisher Marvel, Valiant and Boom Studios. Amidst it all, continuing to write and publish her own autobiographical stories, An Age of License and most recently Displacement. Presently, she is at work on two graphic novels. The first is Something New, a journey into the dating world, through the heartbreak and headaches, all the way to the wedding aisle. The second is another venture into Knisley’s youth as she relives her high-school years in New Kid.
Lucy Knisley works offers an open and frank window into her life. Her style, cartoonish and vibrant, helps add humour to sensitive subjects. She observes and draws scenarios, emotions and nuances that make the story that much more relatable and captivating.
Daniel S. DeCarlo was an illustrator and comics artist best know for his work with Archie Comics. DeCarlo grew up in a poor neighbourhood of New Rochelle, New York but dreamed of becoming an illustrator like his hero, Norman Rockwell. Young DeCarlo attended the New Rochelle High School and upon graduating, he actually phoned Rockwell to discuss his university options. Inevitably, DeCarlo enrolled in the same university that Rockwell’s once attended, the Manhattan’s Art Students League.
After three years at art school, in 1941 DeCarlo was drafted for World War II. Stationed in Great Britain, he originally served in the 8th Air Force worked. However, once his artistic skills were quickly noticed and he was assigned to the drafting department. There he designed posters and advertisements, as well as drawing the weekly military comic strip. DeCarlo also painted cartoon mascots on the nosecones of fighter planes. Whilst overseas he went on a blind date with a Belgium girl called Josette Dumont. She would later become his wife and a source of inspiration.
After the war, the couple returned to New York. Timely Comics had advertised a call for artist. Responding to the advertisement, DeCarlo was invited to meet Timely’s editor-in-chief, Stan Lee. Lee hired DeCarlo and assigned him to the teen-humour series Jeanie. Common for the time, DeCarlo’s work on Jeanie was uncredited. Under the employment of Timely he got his big break when he was reassigned to Millie the Model. Starting in 1949, DeCarlo wrote and drew the romantic (mis)adventures of Millie Collins for a whole decade. Transforming a poorly performing title into a huge success.
During the comic industry’s falter mid-1950’s, DeCarlo was forced to give up his full-time position at Timely and become freelance. This did, however, present some good opportunities. He drew for magazines The Saturday Evening Post and Argosy. He continued working for Timely on a freelance basis and in 1960 partnered with Stan Lee again to create a newspaper comic strip, “Willie Lumpkin the Mailman”. Interesting side note, Willie Lumpkin actually had a cameo in the 2005 Fantastic Four movie, played by none other than, Stan Lee.
During this time DeCarlo came up with a character, Josie, of Josie and the Pussycats fame. He was inspired by his wife’s cat costume for a fancy dress party, and subsequently naming the character after her. However, after approaching and being rejected by a couple of publishers he decided to shelve the idea.
In 1951 DeCarlo starting freelancing for the company for which his name would become synonymous with, Archie Comics. His first published work was issue 4 of Betty and Veronica. He made a conscious effort to keep the characters up to date with fashions, he added the ponytail on Betty and was the artist who gave the Archie girls their simple but distinctive lip line. By the mid-1960s DeCarlo was drawing the covers of all Archie titles, his work became the Archie house style. In 1969 Betty and Veronica had become Archie’s best-selling title. DeCarlo introduced many new characters to the Archie universe. Cheryl Blossom was first featured in Betty and Veronica #320. He also created Sabrina the Teenage Witch along with writer George Gladir.
You remember that idea he shelved? Well, when Archie Comics heard about it, they loved it. In December 1, 1962 Josie was introduced inside the pages of Archie’s Pals ‘n’ Gals #23. Quickly publishing her own title, She’s Josie, in February 1, 1963. The comic went through a few names changes until finally in December 1969 arriving at the one we are all most familiar with, Josie and the Pussycats. The original trio actually consisted of Josie, Melody and Pepper. Valerie Brown was only introduced at the same time as the name change, replacing Pepper. The name change also saw Josie’s boyfriend, Albert, replaced with dreamy Alan M.
Even with all of the success and joy that Josie gave to DeCarlo, it is sad to know that it was also the catalyst to him leaving Archie Comics. In 2001 at the announcement of the Josie and the Pussycats film, DeCarlo took Archie Comics to court for greater credit and compensation of his creations. There was a lot of back and forth, with Archie Comics claiming they had in fact commissioned DeCarlo to create Josie, making her “work for hire”. Which, if true, would strip DeCarlo of any creator rights to her under copyright law. The Judge ruled in favour of Archie Comics saying DeCarlo had waited too long to assert any rights to Josie, but also dismissed Archie’s counterclaims. So after 43 years, Dan DeCarlo and Archie Comics parted ways.
It should come as no surprise that DeCarlo was still in high demand. He continued working for publishers including DC on a Harley Quinn title and Bongo Comics for The Simpson’s comic. Just a year before the court case, DeCarlo won the National Cartoonists Society Award for Best Comic Book for Betty & Veronica. That award along with a Shazam Award nomination stand as recognition to his outstanding contribution to the comic industry and highlights the tireless work he put into it.
With the release of the anticipated Marvel title Spider-Gwen nearly upon us, I thought now was a great time to feature American Designer and Cartoonist, Robbi Rodriguez.
With just over a decade of making comics, Rodriguez in that time has worked on a host of great titles including his creator-own title Frankie, get your gun, Vertigo’s FBP: Federal Bureau of Physics, Image’s Night Club, 24seven (Vol.2), Hazed and Oni Press titles Tek Jansen, Maintenance and Polly and the Pirates (Vol.2).
Speaking of Polly and the Pirates, I was deeply disappointed to read all the negative comments it has on Amazon. Mostly from readers who preferred the author and original artist, Ted Naifeh’s style. With all respect to Naifeh, these commenters don’t know what they are talking about. I realise that Rodriguez’s work by no means needs defending, but I can not help but put these comments in their place. Yes, art will always be subjective, but Rodriguez brought more energy and better-developed characters to the book. Which, for a swash-buckling pirate book, can only be a good thing.
Interestingly, comparing his artwork from Polly to his recent work with Marvel, really showcases his versatility. Looking at the pages of Polly, you can see a strong European influence in his work, especially from the likes of Pierre Alary and Denis Bodart. His Marvel work has a rougher more edgy feel to it, in a similar vain to artist like Paul Pope and Jeff Stokely. Then there is his personal work where he really goes to town and experiments with his style, medium, and incorporating more graphic design elements.
Check out more of Robbi Rodriguez’s work on his website and DeviantArt page. Also don’t forget to pick up a copy of Spider-Gwen #1 when it hits the comic stands on February 25th.
Scanning the bookshelves in our offices for some inspiration on an artist to feature for today’s post, Book one of “The Walking Dead” by Robert Kirkman leaped out at me. I just can’t believe that we have yet to write up a feature for this great and current comic book.
(If you don’t already know) The Walking Dead is a huge franchise published by Image Comics and is one of the most successful comic series of our generation spanning a dedicated TV show (currently airing around the globe), toys & merchandise.
Robert Kirkman is also best known for “Invincible”, “Battle Pope” and his multitude of collaborations across Marvel and Image comics including “Marvel Zombies”, “Haunt” and “Ultimate X-Men”. Kirkman helped breathe new life into the fledgling comics book industry when he first broke on to the scene and has helped inspire and develop a new generation.