Hire This Woman: Artist Becka Kinzie
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.”
Today we're featuring comic artist Becka Kinzie, a color flatter and webcomics artist. You may know Kinzie's work from her color flats on projects like Tale of Sand, Cyborg 009, and Teenaged Mutant Ninja Turtles, or her webcomics Cadaverific and It's a Sikotik World.
ComicsAlliance: To start, what exactly does a color flatter do?
Becka Kinzie: A color flatter is someone who works with a finished inked page and fills it with “color flats” for an Artist or Colorist. This can be done in a program like Adobe Photoshop for example -- the flatter selects objects in the page with, say a lasso or wand tool, then fills in the area with a solid, flat color. Once the page is flatted, it is sent back to the artist/colorist so that they can add rendering effects, paint over it, change the colors, etc. Some artists will be specific with what color palette they want with their flats if they know what they want and if there's a time crunch.
CA: What is your preferred form of creative output?
BK: I love to draw, so I prefer penciling and inking. I don’t mind flatting, it’s cool that I get to be involved in so many different projects, but I don’t want to be doing it forever. Drawing’s always been my passion.
CA: Do you work on paper or digitally? Why?
BK: I like to work with both. With penciling and inking, I work on paper, then for tones or colors I usually work in Photoshop. Digital is of course convenient for correcting whatever mistake you made on the page, but there are times when I need to get away from the computer and paint something (I occasionally dabble with watercolor painting).
CA: What’s your background/training?
BK: Before I met Ian Herring, Scott Hepburn, and others from The R.A.I.D. (Royal Academy of Illustration and Design) Studio in Toronto, I was mostly self taught. I loved drawing since I was a kid, family and friends liked my art, so that kept me going. In my teens, my sister and I used to work at the local library, and at the time we were both getting into graphic novels and manga. If she found a book on how to make comics when we weren’t working on the same shift, she signed it out for me. Eventually I started to go to comic book conventions and watched how the pros worked.
When I drop in at R.A.I.D., I’ll get a few pointers from Ian and Scott. At conventions, I take the opportunity to go to a portfolio review and see what the artist has to say. I value constructive feedback, since I didn’t get enough of it growing up.
CA: How would you describe your creative style?
BK: Very cartoony, unpolished, a bit grungy. When I first started posting pages of Cadaverific, I had little to no experience working in comics, so my comics look different now than what they were back in 2008. I’ve grown more comfortable with my drawing style over time.
Lately, my style’s been compared a lot to the Hernandez Brothers. It’s flattering, but also weird because I don’t own a single copy of Love and Rockets. Anyway, I’m still going to allow my style to evolve.
CA: What projects have you worked on in the past? What are you currently working on?
BK: For flatting, I’ve been involved in projects such as Kill Shakespeare, Tale of Sand, Cyborg 009, Splinter Cell, TMNT…there are other projects that I’m involved with now that I can’t mention yet.
For comics, I’m currently working on finishing up Cadaverific, which is updated weekly. I try to work that around my flatting schedule, but sometimes I’ll miss a week. Anyway, there are less than 20 pages left for that series, and I’m anxious to start on a new project.
CA: Approximately how long does it take you to flat or draw a 20-page issue?
BK: For flatting, a 20-page book may take about a two week period. For my comics, since I’m not getting paid to post them online, I really take my time working on them. I don’t start putting new issues together until about a month or two before a show or convention. On a time crunch I can pencil, ink, and put tones on the page in one day.
CA: What is your dream project?
BK: In a way, my webcomics Cadaverific and It’s a Sikotik World are my dream projects. I can do whatever I want with them and not be constrained by anything (well, except for time). It’s been fun writing a story about an accidental resurrection and a slice of life filler comic. I want to continue to post other comics on the website when Cadaverific’s finished, maybe a series of short stories. We’ll see. I’ll also continue to go to conventions and show my work to artists and editors, just to see where it goes from there.
CA: Who are some comic creators that inspire you?
BK: This is a tough question, I’ve had to edit this so many times just to weed it down… I’ll start with Jeff Lemire. I love how he’s able to write about life in Essex County and then switch over to something like Sweet Tooth. Also a fan of his unique drawing style, and his storytelling skills.
Todd McFarlane’s work was part of my childhood -- I saw lots of Spawn, everywhere. That comic both fascinated and frightened me at the same time, and will forever be embedded in my brain. From Spawn, the toys, to the album cover for Korn’s Follow the Leader, his work inspired me to consider working in comics.
CA: What are some comics that have inspired you either growing up or as an adult?
BK: Calvin and Hobbes. Bill Watterson was probably the guy who got me reading comics. I was six or seven when I first saw the strip. My reading and writing was really poor at the time, but the art was strong enough that I could relate to Calvin’s world, and it was enough for me to eventually start reading. He was one of the artists that I started to mimic when I drew as a kid.
I was just coming out of my teens when I discovered Bone. I grew up on Saturday morning cartoons, Disney, and newspaper strips -- Jeff Smith fit all of those elements in that story. He’s another creator that inspired me to consider creating comics, and he makes it look so fun. Bone’s always enjoyable to read.
CA: What’s your ideal professional environment?
BK: I work from home, and most of the time I don’t mind it. But I would like to work in a studio with other artists down the road. When visiting Toronto I’ll drop in at R.A.I.D. and draw in there for a bit. So far, every time I’ve gone it’s been a chill and productive working environment. I can’t answer what it’s like there on a regular basis though…. :P
CA: What do you most want our readers and industry professionals to know about your work?
BK: I’m a hard worker, and I continue to strive to improve my sequential art. I’m excited to see where it will go next… I’d like to continue to work in the macabre/fantasy genres, maybe try some sci-fi comics, and whatever else comes along. I hope I inspire someone out there who thinks that working in the comics business is out of their reach to give it a shot.
CA: How can editors and readers keep up with your work and find your contact information?