Hire This Woman: Writer, Letterer and Editor Rachel Deering [New Feature!]
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.”
Our subject this week is writer, editor, and letterer Rachel Deering, whose work CA readers have seen in the Kickstarter hit Womanthology, her self-published lesbian werewolf epic Anathema, and Valiant's Shadowman, which she has lettered. Her next writing project is Relic, coming soon from Monkeybrain Comics.
ComicsAlliance: Which is your preferred form of creative output?
Rachel Deering: That's really a tough decision. I am probably best known as a writer, but I love editing just as much.
CA: How would you describe your creative style?
RD: I definitely have a very different sensibility than most creators in the industry at the moment. I'd describe my style as being heavily influenced by classic/gothic horror, high adventure, and mystery tales. My young mind was sort of molded by writers like Mary Shelley, Bram Stoker, Arthur Conan Doyle, Robert E. Howard, and Edgar Allan Poe. Later in life, I began to embrace a bit more poetry and elegance in horror with writers like Algernon Blackwood, Lord Dunsany, J. Sheridan LeFanu, William Blake, and Count Eric Stenbock. Most of the material I produce now, I would say, reads very much like those classic authors if they were filtered through an early Warren/Skywald lens and peppered with a bit of Hammer aesthetic.
CA: What projects have you worked on in the past?
RD: I first started with a local Columbus OH anthology called Nix Comics Quarterly. I then moved on to writing, editing, and lettering for Womanthology. After that, I launched my self published, creator-owned horror/adventure series, Anathema.
CA: What are you currently working on?
RD: Now I am editing and writing for a pretty massive horror anthology called In The Dark. I also have a book coming in December from Monkeybrain called Relic.
CA: Approximately how long does it take you to write or letter a 20-page issue?
RD: I can write a 20-page issue in a few days. I start with a rough outline, more like a beat sheet, and then evolve that into a more formal outline, and then I finally script with full dialogue and scene descriptions. I can letter a 20-page comic in about three-to-four hours.
CA: What’s your background/training?
RH: Being the intensely motivated self-starter that I am, most of the skills I have developed have been self-taught. I never went to college for any formal writing education, but I own a fairly extensive collection of books on genre writing, script formatting, and lettering. The rest of my practical knowledge of these various crafts came through simply doing the work. I've always been fascinated by storytelling, so I read a library's worth of books, and wrote as often as possible when I was in school. I took as many English, literature, and creative writing classes as I could, and used the feedback from teachers and peers to sort of assess my own strengths and weaknesses and mold my own style.
CA: What is your dream project?
RD: In many ways, I feel like I am currently producing my dream project with In The Dark. I've always been a massive fan of horror anthologies, and this book is a mammoth 250+ page beast of a tome, loaded with a cadre of extremely talented writers and artists. Beyond making a second volume of In The Dark, I'd love to try my hand at revamping some of the classic horror anthologies at DC and Marvel. Outside the realm of short story anthology work, I would be thrilled to write characters like Swamp Thing, Morbius, and Doctor Strange. Anything that would allow me to delve into the strange, mysterious, and unsettling.
CA: Who are some comic creators that inspire you?
RD: Bernie Wrightson, Bruce Jones, Gene Colan, Scott Snyder, Joe Hill, Mike Mignola, Matteo Scalera, and Scott Allie.
CA: What are some comics that have inspired you either growing up or as an adult?
RD: The first bunch of comics I ever read were Warren magazines like Creepy and Eerie, and some old Savage Sword of Conan books. Those were the comics that really got me hooked at an early age. After that, I read anything with a monster or a screaming lady on the cover. I devoured stuff like House of Mystery, House of Secrets, The Witching Hour, Tales From The Crypt, Nightmare, Psycho, Scream, and on and on. As an adult, I've been hugely influenced by Scott Snyder's Severed, Joe Hill's Locke & Key, and Mignola's Baltimore series.
CA: What's your ideal professional environment?
RD: Until now, I've only worked from my home office, but I did recently take a tour of the Dark Horse offices in Milwaukie, Oregon, and that really made me excited at the thought of working with a close-knit group of creators and editors in a centralized location. I am a big fan of collaboration and plotting with others, so I would really enjoy it if I found myself working on projects that would allow me to come together with other talented folk in a creatively charged environment and build all new worlds and mythologies. Working alone has its perks, but ideally, I would be in an office environment.
CA: What do you most want our readers and industry professionals to know about your work?
RD: I've never been afraid to dream big and go for what I wanted. I hope that sort of thing shows through in my work and inspires other creators to do the same. I know I want to continue to build my profile as a character-driven writer with a strong sense of pacing and atmosphere, so I hope the industry is receptive of that and allows me to show them what I can do!
CA: How can editors and readers keep up with your work and find your contact information?
RD: The best way to get news and updates, as well as interact with me, is through twitter. You can find me @racheldeering!
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.