How to become a comics publisher
This alternative job fits the bill for:
- Part time jobs
- Most exciting jobs in the world
- Jobs that allow piercings
- Unusual jobs
Thanks to the popularity of ‘Subculture of One’ and the friendly feel of the ‘Mangapunk’ community, Rachel Nabors has done a lot to change the face of comix. Veteran Mookychick Guillame tracks her down in her stylised iridescent lair to find out more…
How did you find yourself becoming a Renegade Grrrl Freelance Comicker, missy MangaPunk?
About four years ago, I submitted a comic which was called 15 Revolutions to gURL.com, and they liked it enough to put it on their site. I’ve been making comics for them on a freelance basis ever since. Now I also self-publish my comics and run a community web site, MangaPunk.com.
Did you need any qualifications or training or did you just wing it like some kind of buccaneer?
I have always made comics and written stories. I am a storyteller, and this is how I have learned to communicate those stories. The women on my mother’s side of the family have always been very creative with a passion for writing. Mom had a word processor, but I had a box of crayons. They became my voice. Drawing was my outlet. If my family had been more into music, I may have taken up song writing and performing. But, I didn’t start listening to the radio until I was fourteen, and at first I was very suspicious that God was somehow trying to contact me through it.
I started drawing when I was still an itty bitty little girl. Well, I was never really a little girl, especially since I was born at nine and a half pounds and have always been the tallest in my class. So, let’s just say that I started drawing as soon as I discovered crayons, and I have been drawing comics for almost as long! Around 1995 I saw Sailor Moon on television for the first time, and that’s when I started drawing big eyes. I always got creatively blocked when I had to draw realistic eyes, but when I drew them big and sparkly, it made drawing the entire artistic process easier. So, that’s how I learned to draw people. I don’t watch Sailor Moon anymore, but I still draw anime-esque eyes. I started seriously drawing comics when I was fifteen, and have been drawing them for six years now. It takes a lot of practice. I get many emails from girls asking me how they can learn to draw comics. I tell them that it doesn’t happen over night. You have to practice for years and years, but determination and patience pay off. It also helps if you read a couple of books on coloring, graphic design and sequential art 😉
Grrrl, what are your skillz?
Writing, drawing, inking, toning, lettering, pre-press, web design and HTML/PHP coding. I had to learn to wield many different programs like Photoshop, Illustrator, Word, and Frontpage. A lot goes into making and promoting your own comics.
I wish. I have to buy all of my own supplies and pay for the printing of my books out of my own pocket. If my computer has problems, it’s the end of the world. The digital prepress of comicking requires a powerhouse of a computer, and you can’t buy one of those cheap. Last year my laptop died, and I still haven’t fully paid back the computer I replaced it with!
There must be some perks of the job, right?
Some of my fans send me things like CDs, jellybeans, nailpolish, even a handmade purse in the shape of Tuna (the cat). One girl knitted me an awesome scarf, which goes with all of my winter clothes! (Take note, fans – presents are always appreciated! – Mooky Eds)
Does it take a toll, to keep creating and update the websites and keep groovin’ on?
It is very demanding. Most people don’t know just how much energy and time it takes. I am not able to doodle something on a napkin and slap it on my site. I could do that, but the comics wouldn’t be as good as they could be. I spend much time working on the scripts, which are usually compilations of backlogged gags or poetry that I’ve been musing on for months ahead of time. Then there are the layouts, the pencils, the inks, the scanning, the toning AND the lettering to contend with! All that hunching, either over the drawing board or the keyboard, gets to my back. It is very demanding both mentally and physically. Before I started comicking, I thought waitressing was one of the more stressful jobs, but now it seems like a paid vacation in comparison!
I make my own hours, but if I miss a deadline, it’s my own fault. (Haven’t missed one yet, knock on wood!) I can’t just shirk off a day’s work to go on a trip or see my friends.
Are there any super-wow highlights in what you do?
I feel loved. No, seriously, I get so much mail from girls telling me how much they love my comics and how they relate to my stories. I love it! I’ve met so many friends through my work that I could never have met any other way!
Yay for yummy love. That makes us feel gooey inside! Is there a downside of the job though?
Long hours, little pay. Parents and teachers rarely take you seriously when you tell them you want a career in comics. Very few independent comickers can make a living at doing what they love. It’s not like in movies where there is a chance that you’ll make it big. In comics, even big is small. Not that I’m saying I crave fame and fortune, but I am coming to terms with the fact that most everyone I know in the comics industry has a second job. Making comics is truly a labor of love.
What’s your most mega-glorious career moment?
In the summer of 2003, I was selected from among thousands of entrants to be one of the top twenty finalists for the 2003 CHANEL “Colour of the Year” Contest. My entry was, of course, in the form of a comic.
Did you meet interesting people and if so, who was the most interesting?
Leigh Dragoon, another female comicker is an awesome person with whom I get along with well.
Very high, if you count “going insane” as a danger. Otherwise, nill.
Is there a comicker sexy uniform? What’s the potential for dressing up or down?
Whenever I go out in public to promote my books, I dress to the nines. People pay attention and get interested in my books more when I’ve got a glittering rhinestone choker around my neck than if I’m just wearing blue jeans. (I have the statistics to prove it.) While I’m actually working on the comics, though, I do wear the blue jeans for the sake of practicality.
Do you ever get to go abroad with what you do? Are you, like, internationally-known?
Better-known comickers get invited to conventions all around the country and sometimes oustide the country. They promote their books and give talks for other attendees. I have not yet attended a convention as a guest, but I am going to a few this year to promote my work in the artist section.
Do you meet fit, clever, and/or solvent blokes in your line of work? Please answer fully, this is a very important question 🙂
It’s a work-at-home deal, so there isn’t much opportunity to mingle with people. You can meet some nice people at conventions, though, and there are many smart, bright young men in comics. Sadly, most of them already have girlfriends or wives helping them with their tables. It can be embarrassing if you are making goo-goo eyes at a seemingly unattached comicker when his mate comes back to the table! It has happened to me!
What advice would you give young women who are interested in comicking their little hearts out?
Don’t be shy about showing your work to others. Don’t be a narcissist, but don’t be too humble. Accept criticsm graciously. Never get on the bad side of an editor. Don’t just imitate comics you like; draw from your own experiences. Write from what you know–i.e. don’t try to make a comic about a Japanese schoolgirl unless you actually are or have been a Japanese schoolgirl. Draw inspiration from the things you love and the things around you. Always broaden your mind, otherwise, you will end up repeating yourself and your ideas will become stale. Challenging your mind and your creative ability, stretching yourself to the limits, these things are what make good comics. You don’t have to have perfect art, but you must have perfect grammar. Sequentials are more important than pinups. Don’t burn bridges. Cherish your fans for they are the people who matter most to you, no matter what. Get a scanner. You need it.
A good place to start putting your own comics online is DrunkDuck.com. For manga-style tutorials and a community with an eye for comicking as opposed to sheer fandom, I recommend my own site MangaPunk.com
Rachel Nabors, missy MangaPunk, we love you. Thank you for playing with us!
You can read more fully about Rachel Nabors’ work experience here to see the amount of work involved in getting to her level:
Self-published my first graphic novel, 18 Revolutions, in 2004 while I was only 18.
Self-published my second graphic novel, Crow Princess
My sequential artwork was featured in the annual Gold Digger swimsuit edition. I drew the comic, but Chris Nemec wrote it.
Working as a freelance colorist for small comic companies in between making comics for gURL.com and self-publishing.