Hire This Woman: Writer Sarah Vaughn
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.”
Sarah Vaughn initially started in comics as an artist, working on the webcomic Sparkshooter (full disclosure: she also illustrated one installment of a comic strip I wrote for Bitch Media called Don’t Be A Dick). When forced to cut back on drawing for health reasons, Vaughn switched gears to concentrate on writing instead. Her current project is the Image series Alex + Ada, where she is the head writer and co-creator with Jonathan Luna.
ComicsAlliance: What is your preferred form of creative output?
Sarah Vaughn: That’s tough. It really depends on the project. Sometimes an idea is so clearly an image. But in general, I’d say writing is my favorite.
CA: What’s your background/training?
SV: I’ve been surrounded by comics since I was a kid and I continue to read a lot. When I worked at my neighborhood comic book store in high school, I got a great look at how things worked from the retail side, and knew for sure I wanted to create comics. I graduated from Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College with a bachelor’s degree in Sequential Visual Narration, a major I created myself. It combined art, writing, and film. But there’s no learning experience like actually doing it.
CA: How would you describe your creative style?
SV: Creative style with writing comics is such an interesting concept, since so much of the writing is about laying the foundation for the artist. While the reader sees your dialogue or narration, there’s so much more going on backstage. I love cinematic pacing and exploration of silence. So much can be said in silence. In general, my ideas are character and relationship driven. It’s amazing how much of a chain reaction a simple emotional decision can cause.
CA: What projects have you worked on in the past? What are you currently working on?
SV: I was the original artist for the webcomic Sparkshooter, written by Troy Brownfield, about an indie rock band trying to make it in Indianapolis (it’s tons of fun: www.Sparkshooter.com). My current book is Alex + Ada, published by Image Comics. I’m the head writer and co-creator with Jonathan Luna. It’s a sci-fi comic that follows the struggles of a young man and his female android. Alex + Ada is my first published work as a writer.
CA: Approximately how long does it take you to write a 20-page issue?
SV: It depends. Every issue is different. Some issues write themselves, others need a lot of thinking in the shower to figure things out. I can have a first draft of an issue written in a matter of hours, once everything is plotted out and my direction is clear. It’s the planning and revision process that takes time.
CA: What is your dream project?
SV: I have lots of dreams and story ideas. A vast number. If I had to pick a small one, I’ve always wanted to create a 100-page romance comic ala the 1960s, with cheesy ads and advice columns included, only with modern stories that ring true. And if I get to pick a large project, one that’s near and dear to my heart is a fantasy/period romance comic series starring working class women. Period romances seem to love to focus on the elite, but us lowly mortals need love too!
CA: Who are some comic creators that inspire you?
SV: Chynna Clugston Flores, Vanna Vinci, Jeff Smith, Tony Cliff, Carla Speed McNeil, Hayao Miyazaki, Colleen Doran, Jess Fink, Gail Simone, Kelly Sue DeConnick, Kozue Amano, Kaoru Mori – and these are only a very few.
CA: What are some comics that have inspired you either growing up or as an adult?
SV: I still lather over Chynna Clugston Flores’ Blue Monday and Scooter Girl. I will always keep my copy of Halo and Sprocket by Kerry Callen. Hayao Miyazaki’s Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind was a revelation. Castle Waiting by Linda Medley is such an amazing read with loveable and unusual characters.
CA: What do you most want our readers and industry professionals to know about your work?
SV: I’m just starting out, but I love making comics. It’s one of the most challenging forms of art I can think of, and it fuels my soul. I’m also an artist. And I think that really helps in being able to communicate with other artists. It’s not going to stop me from from writing “Two-page spread: Hundreds of thousands of aliens destroy Earth with incredibly complicated weapons,” but I’ll at least be crying with them when they get the script.
CA: How can editors and readers keep up with your work and find your contact information?
SV: My website is www.savivi.com, where I have a contact form. You can also follow me on Twitter @sarahvictoriav.
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.