Hire This Woman: Cartoonist Julia Nikitina
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.”
Cartoonist Julia Nikitina is the focus of our feature today. Nikitina is from Russia, where she studied extensively as a fine artist and has completed her first graphic novel, Wizard’s Journey, which she wrote and drew. None of her work has, as of yet, been translated into English and is presently available only in Russia, but its fine quality and her great potential in the English-speaking market are manifest.
ComicsAlliance: Which is your preferred form of creative output?
Julia Nikitina: For me it’s hard to say what I prefer. I like to do everything step by step; every part of the work is wonderful. Usually I see how the idea can be realized, and do my best to perform it.
CA: Do you work on paper or digitally? Why?
JN: In comics I usually start on paper, then after inking scan everything and work digitally with it. My experiments with fully digital comics weren’t satisfying. A combination of methods gives me the best results now.
CA: What’s your background/training?
JN: I was born in Salekhard (it is town on the Polar Circle, in Russia). It’s quiet and beautiful, and northern nature is severe but so inspiring. I’m so lucky to have grown up here! I graduated from the Tumen State University as a teacher of fine arts after I was trained as printmaker and illustrator at the Herzen State University in Saint-Petersburg and graduated from this university as master of graphic art. In sum, I studied fine art professionally for seven years.
CA: How would you describe your creative style?
JN: It’s not easy to give description, but I’ll try. Simple but constructive; many patterns contrast with minimalistic shapes; sometimes it looks linocut-like (because I love lino). For me in comics it is more important to transfer required feelings through drawing, not to do overly realistic or overly detailed pictures.
CA: What projects have you worked on in the past? What are you currently working on?
JN: I started drawing five-seven pages comics for anthologies, and made some short stories for the Internet. In 2009 I had the idea to do a series of stories about the strange man with missing legs. The first story was about 20 pages, then I redrew it, and in 2012 I redrew it once more, and made it bigger (about 160 pages). So the short story became a graphic novel (I would translate the name of it as “Wizard’s Journey”). Now I’m working on a second part of this novel.
CA: Approximately how long does it take you to complete a 20-page issue?
JN: I know exactly that I can do a seven-page thing in three days (with all writing and drawing), and 160-page thing in five months. Maybe for 20-page it would be a week.
CA: What is your dream project?
JN: I want to accomplish trilogy about journey of my dear hero with missing legs, so for now this is my dream project. The third book is always a hard one, I need to imagine a kind of right open ending for story, and now I dream about inspiration, hehe. When I finish it, I’ll have new dream project, I suppose.
CA: Who are some comic creators that inspire you?
JN: There are many, but first I think of Wendy and Richard Pini, Neil Gaiman, Winsor McCay, Shaun Tan, CLAMP group, Natsume Ono.
CA: What are some comics that have inspired you either growing up or as an adult?
JN: The first comics that I admired was Elfquest. I found a Russian translation of it when I was about seven years old. It was like a miracle and I was deeply in love. There were pictures from Little Nemo in Slumberland in an encyclopedia for children, but I had no Internet, and nobody in town library could help me to find it. I was so happy to see it in translation in St-Petersburg comics library! I also like xxxHolic, it’s my favorite work of the CLAMP group, it’s so inspiring to me.
CA: What’s your ideal professional environment?
JN: My computer with all things for digital drawing and painting , clean table, paper and pen. May be headphones and good music. Other things are not very important.
CA: What do you most want our readers and industry professionals to know about your work?
JN: I love calm, gently developing stories — stories about magic — so in my work there are no explosions and car chases. For me it is important to show world as I can see it - intuitive, emotionally full, and full of stories. I still search for balance with drawing and writing, and I hope someday I’ll find it!
CA: How can editors and readers keep up with your work and find your contact information?