Hire This Woman: Writer Janine Frederick
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.”
Writer Janine Frederick has contributed to anthologies and was a finalist in DC Comics’ March 2010 Zuda digital comics competition. She’s currently working on her own ongoing comic, Quandary with artist Ken Frederick.
ComicsAlliance: What is your preferred form of creative output?
Janine Frederick: Writing is probably my preferred medium. You can communicate a ton with an abstract painting, but writing requires less “washing up” afterward and you can do it almost anywhere.
CA: What’s your background/training?
JF: I have no formal training as a writer. Instead, I have horrible memories of extremely structured “creative writing” sessions in the religion-based high school I was sent to, so writing on my own was my way of being a rebel. I was so turned off by writing in an academic setting that I avoided writing classes as much as possible when I got to college. Granted, I falter when it comes to perfect grammar and spelling, but the ability to find your voice and tell a story that has a captivating beginning, an interest-holding middle, and a crescendo ending isn’t something that can be taught in a classroom. It’s something you have to discover on your own — and it’s something I continue to seek.
CA: How would you describe your creative style?
JF: That’s a good question. I don’t think I can really categorize my style in a single taxonomy. I guess it would be an unholy combination of cyberpunk-action-suspense with a twist of subversive intellect and romance.
CA: What projects have you worked on in the past? What are you currently working on?
JF: I started this whole comics adventure with my husband, presenting our first endeavor to the comics community as finalists in the March 2010 Zuda competition that DC Comics used to hold. (We came in second place after holding first for most of the month.) After that, I enrolled in Andy Schmidt’s Comics Experience online community and writing classes which lead to a group anthology. Eventually I was asked to be part of some other anthology projects until finally striking out on my own with my current project, Quandary —a digital-only comic about hackers living in a slightly futuristic martial law society.
CA: Approximately how long does it take you to write a 20-page issue?
JF: Honestly? It takes a while. I gave birth to a beautiful little girl a few months ago, so right now doing anything that requires me to sit still for more than 20 minutes is a luxury. My writing had to take a break while I adjusted to being a mom. It’s getting easier now that she has a set bedtime, affording me a few hours to myself in the evening so I can write again. Before baby, I could knock out a first draft of a 20-pager in about two weeks. Any quicker than that and I’d feel I was handing you crap. For me, writing is like producing a play. I have to set the stage by conducting research, create the scene by giving even my tertiary characters a purpose and a background, act out my dialogue to make sure it’s natural — I get all into it. A writer with more experience probably doesn’t feel the need to do all that, but for me, it’s a completely immersive process.
CA: What is your dream project?
JF: In a way, I’m already working on a dream project, but I would love, one day, to work on reintroducing or enriching the background of a lesser-known or secondary character for one of the “big two.” I have an idea right now for a one-shot that would probably fit nicely in with the Batman universe, making one of their overlooked characters more interesting, but I have no way of pitching it. In the end, my dreams will not come true with the big two if they aren’t marketable. The powers that be also need to feel that I’m marketable. So, I create and hope.
CA: Who are some comic creators that inspire you?
JF: Todd McFarlane, Alan Moore, and Robert Kirkman — because they’re multi-talented and they took risks.
CA: What are some comics that have inspired you either growing up or as an adult?
JF: I actually didn’t get to read comics as a kid. I started late, in my twenties. As far as inspiration goes, I’d have to say Sin City, Watchmen, Punisher — comics that made me think.
CA: What’s your ideal professional environment?
JF: For comics, my ideal environment would be one where creators get to contribute as much to the future of the medium as much as the companies that basically run the industry do. We need the “big two,” but we also need the independent guy/gal who’s got an amazing idea that can influence an entire genre. There are quite a few creators like that making comics right now. They have small-ish, but faithful audiences and are a well-spring of creative energy. They will drive this industry and they will shape that future professional environment into the ideal it can and should be.
CA: What do you most want our readers and industry professionals to know about your work?
JF: I don’t shove my work down people’s throats with millions of advertisements. Most of my work, especially my current project, has accumulated an organic reader-base through word of mouth and the occasional press spotlight, like this one. Some industry professionals know who I am through my association with the Comics Experience, but even the pros I talk to regularly on social media don’t really know what I’m up to. They are busy focusing on their own projects and I really don’t want to bother them with “Hey!! Check out my comic!!! I made it myself!!!!” I don’t want to be that person.
CA: How can editors and readers keep up with your work and find your contact information?