Monday once again rears its ugly head. Why not end the day with some new webcomic adventures? Today we are joined by Claire Connelly, an industrious 22 year old from Asbury Park NJ. Claire has been quietly and tirelessly making comics for everyone to enjoy. She takes the time to talk about her past, her education and the comic projects that are coming up in the near future.
All-Comic: Claire, do you have a Day job?
Claire Connelly: Yup! …I guess. I’m in school so I generally hold down a crappy part-time job. From bike sales person to working at a paddle boats ride, I’ve worked a variety of strange jobs…I’m not too picky.
AC: How were you first exposed to comics?
CC: I was first exposed to comics as a kid. I grew up in the 90’s so I could still get a few comics at food store like Nickelodeon magazine, Mad magazine, Archie, and Disney books.
AC: When did you decide you wanted to make comics?
CC: I made some comics as a kid and thought, “I want to be a comic artist” but after middle school I didn’t make comics anymore. Until I went college my one professor Chris Gash really pushed me to make comics. Without his encouragement I doubt I would be making the amount of comics I am today.
AC: How long have you been drawing and illustrating?
CC: Drawing…since forever! All my earliest memories are of drawing. I never stopped. As far as illustrating the past few years…So college. For me there is a huge difference between drawing and illustrating.
AC: Did you study illustration or are you self taught?
CC: I’m a last semester student at Montclair State University getting my B.F.A. in Animation/Illustration. I’m lucky I had a lot of amazing teachers at school, who are always willing to answer a 1 am email or deal with a freak out over my career. But I spend most of my time out of class working on my own projects.
AC: Do you get a lot of support from your parents and art teachers?
CC: I’m lucky my parents are pretty supportive. They have always encouraged me to draw and do my own thing. As a kid they always had me in art classes and buying me art supplies. They also let me go to college for Illustration, to me that show they believe that I have the talent and most importantly the drive to make this happen. I also have a small army of art teachers that are always there for encouragement and at times to bring me back to reality with punch me in the face.
AC: What was the first comic you remember working on?
CC: God this is so embarrassing but when I was a kid I had a comic called “Butt Wars” with my cousin Luke. It was a book where everyone in the world was a Butt! They drove toilet tanks and shot plungers at butt monsters. There was also super butt who had a pet bog that was a plunger. I read a lot of Captain Underpants books. The whole series is about poop and potty humor. I still love poop jokes.
AC: I hope you one day find that masterpiece and share it with the world. What inspired you to create and share your growing collection of comics online for free?
CC: I started posting my comics on my Tumblr because I really had no idea what to do with them. After a year or so of doing that, I made a real website for a class. But I really wanted a place where all my comics could have a home and be easily read.
AC: What has been the most surprising aspect of running this webcomic?
CC: That people read them!
AC: As of now you offer single comics on your web store. Would you ever consider Kickstarter or some type of crowd funding to publish these books in a collection?
CC: I have thought about. I can print my smaller works myself with my design jet printer. But I have considered doing a Kickstarter for some longer works or a collection of my short stories.
AC: When (and why) did you start inking up those beautiful book covers for classic books?
CC: The past few months, I average about one a month. I think I’ve done 6 so far. I like to illustrate more than just comics. It’s nice to use my other muscles and do book covers and design work. It’s fun to change it up and get my watercolors out.
AC: Out of all the stories you have worked on do you have a favorite?
CC: That’s hard! Right this second I’m going to say Desert Air. It’s a really personal story about a robot human hybrid…ya know when I used to be a robot human hybrid. But seriously it’s about how people change. I think people sometimes have a hard time excepting that people change. Sometimes change can be seen as negative but I see it as positive (generally). So many people tell me “never change” and to me that’s the worst thing you can say… like I hope I still don’t act like 17 year old.
AC: It seems to me that most of your work has a theme of acceptance/ self realization running through it. Am I reading too much into it or do you work that out on purpose?
CC: You’re right on the money. Generally all my comics fit together thematically along that line. I’m interested in self-reflective work and I think comics are a good medium for my work.
AC: How do you get this drawn out? Physically or digitally?
CC: I do everything by hand. I pencil, ink, letter, and color by hand. It’s just out of habit and faster for me. But I clean up my work on photoshop before I post it online. I have stacks of comic pages all over my room.
AC: What are your preferred tools of the trade?
CC: Some vellum Bristol board, FW ink, and my cheap Blick studio Sables. I also never throw away any of brushes, I keep them all in a Star Wars lunch box. I use my “dead” brushes for grass, hair, or bark textures. I have been known to smash brushes on my table.
AC: How much time does it take to go from a script to a completed strip?
CC: It all depends. Some stories fly from my head to my hand and the story gets done in a week. Other times it’s like fighting a battle and can take a month. But generally I can get a 20 pg story done in about 2 weeks. For me the hardest part is coming up with the story.
AC: I know there might not be a concrete answer to this, but how do you choose the next story you’re going to work on?
CC: Well there are 2 answers for this one. 1. If I’m getting paid I stop what I’m doing to work on my paid work. Or 2. Whatever character is demanding my attention in my sketchbook. All my stories start with a character and some random shots. Then I have to figure out how to link all the information together.
AC: Did you set up your own website or pay someone to design it for you?
CC: I did it myself using a super simple website creator called “Cargo”. I wanted something simple and black.
AC: And how do you maintain your website?
CC: I maintain by paying my provider for my domain and website. Then putting up my new comics and art. I think it looks bad when websites aren’t up to date. I want people to know I’m making new work!
AC: You are edging closer to a collaborative webcomic, what can you tell us about that?
CC: Definitely I’m working with writer Eric Grissom (Dead horse, Planet Gigantic) on a book called “Animals”. It’s about a small rural animal community and the slaughter house that looms over the town. We have a full-color short over on Challenger Comics. He’s an amazing writer and I’m every lucky to be working with him. I also have a few other collaborative projects in the works but I’m not sure if I’m allowed to talk about them.
AC: If you have time, what comics, manga or web comics are you reading?
CC: I just bought a huge stack of comics this past weekend. I just read Paul Pope’s Battling Boy and Sacrifice by Sam Humphries and Dalton Rose. Next I want to read The Red Diary by Tedd Kristiansen. But I also read books like J.H. Williams III’s Batwoman and a bunch of other monthly titles. I also love small press books. Anything from Topshelf to handmade comics. I read lot! I try not to limit myself.
AC: Do you have an all time favorite creator? Be it music, comics or movies.
CC: I would have to say Jeff Lemire…I know big shock right! When I first opened Essex County I’ve never seen a book like that before. It was so loose and had so much feeling. I wanted to make work like that. He’s also really nice guy and encouraging to young cartoonists.
AC: What’s next for you?
CC: A lot! Sometimes I feel overwhelmed. I just launched my webcomic “Here” on my website. I’m also working on “Animals” with Eric Grissom. Working on 50-60 pg comic called “Black Eyes” that I have 10 pgs drawn. I might also be getting involved with teaching kids to make comics (which I’m really excited about). I’ll be graduating from college in a few months. Working on a lot of paid work and collaborations. It’s an exciting time in my life. I feel like years of hard work are paying off.
AC: How can readers best support you and your work?
CC: Buying my work always helps but more important to me is just saying “Hi” to me at a convention or signing. I love when people just send me an email to talk about comics. I like to know the people who read my work. Like twitter is a great place for that I’ve gotten to know a lot of cool people.
AC: Thanks for your time Claire!
Well if you’d like to check out Claire’s work you can read it all on her website, Facebook Fan Page or Tumblr. If you want to reach out to Claire you can catch her now and then on Twitter. If you REALLY like her work and want to own a framed piece to really tie your living room together you can shop here or email Claire for a personalized commission.