Hire This Woman: Artist Afua Richardson
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.”
Afua Richardson has worked in comics for years including at Marvel, DC, and Image under her own name and pseudonyms Lakota Sioux and Docta Foo. Her comic Genius with writers Marc Bernardin and Adam Freeman won Top Cow's 2007 Pilot Season and will be published this year as a miniseries.
ComicsAlliance: How would you characterize your abilities?
Afua Richardson: I am a digital penciler, inker and colorist. I paint and draw by hand as well, but for comics I've been doing primarily all vector. I want to get back into doing some work by hand, just to keep the chops fresh. Once you get locked into a style for a book, it's hard to change midway. I'm also a character designer, graphic designer, a writer ( but I've not written many books), and on the weekends a singer, musician and voice actor as well.
CA: What's your preferred form of creative output?
AR: Oh goodness, it certainly depends on the day which my creative output is! But with respect to illustration, I love penciling and coloring the most.
CA: What motivates you to work digitally vs. on paper?
AR: Sometimes the tooth of the paper is better for hashing out ideas. Sometimes those ideas come better when sketched digitally. For my colors I prefer digital. It's forgiving. You can change color schemes and tones at the click of a button. When I used to paint my pages, I'd nearly weep when something spilled or a smudge would happen on a piece.
CA: What’s your background/training?
AR: I am self-taught! I was a musician and singer most of my life, but have always loved comics, anime, video games and sci-fi. Many of my friends were artists as I was growing up, so we'd all sit around are draw together. When I was off tour as a musician in my 20s I'd get either bar tending jobs or flexible office jobs that had computers with Adobe Creative Suite. On my breaks and downtime, I'd take in a few tutorials, but much of my experience was trail and error or the kindness of friends to recommend tips and tricks.
CA: How would you describe your creative style?
AR: I feel like I have a few styles. But it's mostly colorful, slick and heavily inspired by anime and graphic design. Sometimes it can be gritty and minimalist.
CA: What projects have you worked on in the past? What are you currently working on?
AR: It seems I've been a participant in many anthologies and do more cover work than full books. After the one I'm currently working on, I hope to change that. Credited as Lakota Sioux, I did a short story with Miles Gunter in the first 24seven anthology (Image Comics) and a few covers for a miniseries called Half Dead (Marvel). Under my name, I've done a guest issue of Cyblade with Rick Mays (Top Cow); cover art and an Illustrated a short poem by Langston Hughes for African-American Classics, (Eureka Publishing); a cover and 16-page short story for Graphic Classics 24: Native American Classics (Eureka Publishing); a short story with Steve Horton for DC Comics Holiday Special 2009;
-I won Top Cow's Pilot Season contest with the story Genius written by Marc Bernadin and Adam Freeman (the miniseries will be out this summer); I've done a cover for Valiant's Harbinger that will come out shortly; and there's another historical anthology called Bohemians, where I was asked to do a short comic book story of Josephine Baker's life.
I'm also currently brainstorming with a few writers about some creator-owned projects this year.
CA: What is your dream project?
AR: Creating a quirky, witty sci-fi that involves the esoteric. And drawing the X-men.
CA: Who are some comic creators that inspire you?
AR: Art creators whose hands I'd cryo-freeze for cloning are: Claire Wendling, Hiroaki Samura, Chris Bachalo, Travis Charest, Shigeto Koyama (designer of Michiko To Hatchin) and anything Mad House and Takeshi Koike (Animatrix's "World Record," Redline) touches. I could go on, but i'm not sure one can see how these artists influence my work just by looking at it.
CA: What are some comics that have inspired you either growing up or as an adult?
AR: As a kid I was big into Alan Moore's Swamp Thing and X-Men, X-Factor and the Dark Knight series. Warren Ellis and Darick Robertson's Transmetropolitan changed the way I looked at comics in general. China Mieville and Neil Gaiman's novels,I like to visualize my own mental comics for them. Lastly, Hiroaki Samura's Blade of the Immortal dragged me back into comics in general permanently. I won't leave you comics… not ever.
CA: What’s your ideal professional environment?
AR: I really like to organize my settings and work space. I like working in a space that has relaxed vibe even if a deadline is looming. I like letting the conceptual phase be the hardest part, not the unneeded stress of miscommunication or drama/gossip. In the groups and work spaces I create, I like to make sure that everyone has a mutual respect for one another. I don't mind critique or suggestion, I just hope it can be earlier in the creative process than something major in finals. In working with editors and more than one writer, it's really helpful if the changes and edits are sent to the editor and then that's sent to me. Sometimes I'll make a change for one person and there is a conflict with a change from another, so that helps minimize edit time. I do my own roughs, digital inks and colors so I like having a little time since I work in a labor intensive program (Adobe Illustrator).
CA: What do you most want our readers and industry professionals to know about your work?
AR: I put my soul into my work. I hope that whatever I create, it's honest. Even if it's not my own creation or original Idea, I really put a lot of myself into the work. Please know, I genuinely love to draw. You could say art has saved my life. I don't take a debt like that lightly! Thankfully, many folks have expressed to me that they feel a lot of emotion when they look at what I draw. It's all I can ask and hope for.
CA: How can editors and readers keep up with your work and find your contact information?
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.