Hire This Woman: Cartoonist Jules Rivera
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.”
You may know cartoonist Jules Rivera from her successfully Kickstarted graphic novel Misfortune High which is about to launch a volume 2 Kickstarter campaign. She also has a webcomic called Valkyrie Squadron and has contributed to the anthologies Princeless: Short Stories for Warrior Women and Oxymoron.
ComicsAlliance: What’s your preferred form of creative output?
Jules Rivera: That’s so hard to choose. On one hand, I love pencilling/inking a story, working out the forms, drawing character acting and emotions, and telling a story. On the other hand, I love coloring. I love striking a mood with my color work and establishing atmosphere. I could be happy doing the pencils/inks or colors (I’m careful to say pencils and inks because my pencils are often super rough, and the line work actually gets finished in the inks).
CA: Do you work on paper or digitally?
JR: That depends on the project. For a lot of my freelance work, I’ll work digitally so I can share my work in progress and exchange ideas with my collaborators quickly. However, other projects that demand a certain artistic style may require some natural media work. Working with certain kinds of pens, brushes, ink washes and markers add a certain kind of unpredictability to the artwork that you just can’t capture digitally.
CA: What’s your background/training?
JR: I’m mostly self-taught, but I did go to the Gnomon School and a couple other southern California ateliers for a year and some change.
CA: How would you describe your creative style?
JR: I would describe it as energetic, exaggerated, and fun. Drawing character body language and emotions are a top priority of mine, so the story and jokes are extra punchy when accompanied by the art.
CA: What projects have you worked on in the past? What are you currently working on?
JR: In the past, I’ve done anthology pieces for Princeless (Action Lab) and the Oxymoron anthology (Comix Tribe). I’m currently juggling a webcomic, Valkyrie Squadron, and an OGN series, Misfortune High, which had a successful Kickstarter last October and is poised for more success (maybe) with book two’s Kickstarter, which closes April 11. My next upcoming project is something I can’t talk about in much detail just yet, but I’m sure it will make a lot of people smile. Or at least grin. I’ll take a grin.
CA: Approximately how long does it take you to create a 20-page issue?
JR: For writing, it takes me a couple of weeks. For pencilling and inking, roughly 25-30 days. For colors, two weeks including flats (I was recently able to color a 34 page book in just under three weeks).
CA: What is your dream project?
JR: I actually realized one dream working on Princeless a bit. Being part of comics’ favorite subversive princess story was an amazing gig. Also, any project that would let me draw Storm or any other X-Woman over and over and over again would also be great. Or a revamp of something like Sailor Moon in full color. Finally, I’d like to work on Booster Gold.
No, really, hear me out.
Booster is a D-list hero in the DC Universe who can’t seem to get any respect. His powers are manufactured by futuristic technology, and his motives are often totally selfish and obnoxious. Nobody in the Justice League likes him (except Blue Beetle, but even that guy died). And he’s a total bro right down to the popped collar (in some designs). There is so much humor potential there waiting to be tapped. His growing frustration with the Justice League, his desperate attempts to impress them, his bromance between Blue Beetle and himself (if it’s Elseworlds, you can bring him back), and his stunted relationships with everyone else are all rife with possibilities. I see it as Curb Your Enthusiasm starring Biff Tannen in tights.
Having said all that, I highly doubt DC’s ever going to let me portray any of their heroes as anything but an uber-badass, but you did say “dream” project.
CA: Who are some comic creators that inspire you?
JR: This will be a list and a half: First, Becky Cloonan for becoming the kind of creator I’ve wanted to be for over a decade. Fiona Staples for showing everyone that unbridled creativity can make you an art juggernaut. Naoko Takeuchi and her extensive staff for making all the Sailor Moon books I read as a kid. Also CLAMP for the same reason. Jeremy Whitley, Dewayne Feenstra and Kirk Kushin, for being dudes willing to reach across the aisle and write girl-centric stories. Tara Tallan for showing me that lady-centric sci fi is totally a thing people should aspire to do. Tyler James and Joe Mulvey for being Kickstarter champions. Jason Brubaker for being both amazing and generous with his art wisdom. Amy Chu and Savannah Houston-McIntyre for building their own indy comics empires from the ground up. Juanjo Guarnido for his eye-searingly gorgeous work on Blacksad. Amanda Conner for showing us that Power Girl can be fun. (I should probably stop myself here before I ramble into oblivion.)
CA: What are some comics that have inspired you either growing up or as an adult?
JR: I think I already touched base on Sailor Moon and the works of CLAMP (namely, Magic Knight Rayearth, an amazing fantasy story that’s made of 80% indulgent spreads). As I got older and drifted away from manga, I grew to love the long form comics in the webcomics scene such as the works of Sarah Ellerton (Inverloch, the Phoenix Requiem) and Gina Biggs (Red String, Demon Aid). Finally, seeing more off-beat books that blew my mind such as The Strange Talent of Luther Strode, ReMIND, and Princeless encouraged my artwork into all new directions.
CA: What’s your ideal professional environment?
JR: Any environment where the higher-ups won’t micromanage me to a bloody pulp. I like it when the other collaborators can trust me to do my job without hovering over my shoulder, figuratively or otherwise. Also, when I get notes, I appreciate keeping an open, constructive discussion, where everybody can communicate their ideas clearly as opposed to “Just make it 20% cooler.”
Finally, I like any professional environment where I get paid on time. That’s also really great.
CA: What do you most want our readers and industry professionals to know about your work?
JR: I am the one who knocks… and then brings funny, colorful picture books when you answer the door.
CA: How can editors and readers keep up with your work and find your contact information?