Hire This Woman: Artist Claire Connelly
In the overwhelmingly male comic book industry, it has been a challenge for some editors and readers to see the ever growing number of talented women currently trying to make a name for themselves. With that in mind, ComicsAlliance offers Hire This Woman, a recurring feature designed for comics readers as well as editors and other professionals, where we shine the spotlight on a female comics pro on the ascendance. Some of these women will be at the very beginning of their careers, while others will be more experienced but not yet “household names.”
Speedster artist Claire Connelly can complete three-to-five pages per day, so it's no surprise that she's consistently busy with projects like her own webcomic The Last Outpost, Animals with writer Eric Grissom, and The Unauthorized Biography of Winston Churchill: A Documentary with writer Erica Schultz. In addition to being a penciller and inker, she's also a writer, letterer, and painter.
ComicsAlliance: What is your preferred form of creative output?
Claire Connelly: I like being a creator and having my hands in everything. For years I’ve doing everything myself. I guess it’s out of habit. In college, I had to do everything, I wasn’t allowed to use outside help. So I enjoy the lengthy process of making comics, after you’re done you feel like you’ve just climbed a huge mountain, only to do it over and over again.
CA: Do you work on paper or digitally?
CC: I work on paper, mainly out of habit. I don’t really enjoy looking at a computer screen. I feel like I stair at the glowing screen enough, so drawing gives me time away from the computer. Plus I really love my brushes and the lines can’t be replicated on the computer. I’ve been told my brushes look like I’ve been using them to dig in the dirt. I’m way faster on paper then I’ll ever be on the computer, plus people really seem to enjoy owning my original pages.
CA: What’s your background/training?
CC: I went to Montclair State University in New Jersey and got a degree in Animation/Illustration. My school didn’t have a comics program or anything, so I took it upon myself to lean to make comics. One of my professors was the first person who suggested I make comics. Funny to think I was originally going to be an art teacher but that didn’t last long. I was really encouraged to develop my own style and put myself into my work at school. Which I think is a really important idea to learn.
CA: How would you describe your creative style?
CC: I would say it’s a cross between German Expressionism and a folk tale. My favorite movie as a kid was The Nightmare Before Christmas, so I’ve always been into dark and morbid visuals. I also grew up in the '90s so I watched a lot of Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network. I think those TV shows really influenced my sense of character design. So, cartoony but expressionistic.
CA: What projects have you worked on in the past?
CC: I just finished drawing the second issue of Animals entitled “Pigs” written by Eric Grissom (Dead Horse, Planet Gigantic). The first issue is available on ComiXology and the second issue should be available very soon. The story takes place in a world where animals eat people, it’s like Animal Farm but with its own fresh twist.
I also just finished my own comic The Last Outpost for my own site. It’s about a little explorer named Isaac finding the last of the Ancient’s in this crazy underground temple and his interacting with this unknown being.
CA: What are you currently working on?
CC: Now I’m currently drawing a comic called The Unauthorized Biography of Winston Churchill: A Documentary with writer Erica Schultz (M3, Revenge: The Secret Origin of Emily Thorne). It’s about Winston Churchill, time machines, and dinosaurs. It’s the funniest comic I’ve ever drawn and I think people are really going to enjoy it.
I basically just try to keep busy, I don’t like down time in between projects. So I always have layouts for stories lying around. So, who knows what I’ll start drawing next.
CA: Approximately how long does it take you to create a 20-page issue?
CC: It takes me about two and a half weeks to go from script or idea to final product. I’m sure it would be even faster if I didn’t have to go to work. If I have to watercolor the book, then maybe three weeks; it all depends on how much detail is needed for the story. I can pencil and ink about 3-5 pages a day, so I’m pretty fast.
CA: What is your dream project?
CC: My dream project would probably be a series like 20-30 issue sci-fi epic. It would be a combination of my love of science and folktales. It would be a low-fi sci-fi so all the technology would be from the '50s-'70s but take place in deep space. It would also have lots of monsters…because I love monsters.
I would also love to draw a Silver Surfer, Doctor Strange, Daredevil or Swamp thing book. Again something dark, different or weird.
CA: Who are some comic creators that inspire you?
CC: I would have to say the tri-force for me is Jeff Lemire, Mike Mignola, and Moebius. I’ve always been drawn to these three artists because of their distinct visions. I also really like the minimalism but the detail the three of them use. Jeff lemire’s work is the whole reason I’m making comics. When I picked up Essex County, I’d never read a book like it before. It was moody and captured a town in a way I’ve never seen. Reading Essex County gave me the permission to make the kind of comics I wanted to make, which was really freeing. Lemire’s work also allowed me to be free in my drawing and not strive to be a perfectionist.
CA: What are some comics that have inspired you either growing up or as an adult?
CC: When I was a kid it was all X-Men, all the time. I got into comics around the time where Marvel started the Ultimate line. I was a potato shaped socially awkward middle schooled that hide behind my sketchbook and read comics at school because I didn’t have a lot friends. So the X-Men are really important characters to me. Plus, who wouldn’t wish to be a superpowered teenager? I was also really into the Captain Underpants books in Elementary School… because poop jokes.
CA: What’s your ideal professional environment?
CC: I would really like to have a studio. I draw and sleep in the same place, so I have little space from my work. The only advantage is after a long night of drawing I can just flop into bed. I would to have the wall space to hang up my pages while drawing and have lots of table top space for my projects and my free-lance work. Also, having some space to do some screen-printing would be really nice.
CA: What do you most want our readers and industry professionals to know about your work?
CC: I would want them to know that I’m always to trying to push myself to get better and try something different. I think as a comic artist it’s important to have your own voice, much like a singer. So I strive to get closer to what my vision is and to stay as true as possible to it, but be open to capture whatever falls into my hands. I’m just going to keep working hard and see what happens.
CA: How can editors and readers keep up with your work and find your contact information?
If there is a woman you’d like to recommend or if you’d like to be included in a future installment of this feature, drop us a line at comicsalliance-at-gmail-dot-com with "Hire This Woman" in the subject line.