Hire This Woman: Artist Alison Sampson
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.”
Architect and artist Alison Sampson is relatively new to the world of comics, but has done work for both IDW Publishing and Image. In addition to her Image one-shot Genesis with writer Nathan Edmondson (on sale this week), Sampson is also working on the comic Winnebago Graveyard with writer Steve Niles for Black Mask.
ComicsAlliance: What is your preferred form of creative output?
Alison Sampson: Storytelling by any means.
CA: Do you work on paper or digitally?
AS: On paper mainly, with digital lettering so far. I'm very open to working digitally, though, and there should be more of that. My main work has been mainly digital for more than 20 years, so the paper is a bit of a novelty, still.
CA: What’s your background/training?
AS: I'm a chartered architect, meaning, I took an architecture degree and diploma and professional exams. I studied at Cambridge University and the Bartlett School, which makes me a mixture of steady/ thoughtful and progressive (I guess). I worked before, during and after college as an inker and on perspectives and lettering, in drawing offices. You do do a lot of drawing whilst studying architecture, but that was abstract and more than 20 years ago and really, I am learning to draw again. Architecture went over to computers in the mid '90s and what followed my professional exams has been mainly work in high profile firms, specializing in big schemes, 20th century conservation, education projects, working with artists, public works and making London amazing. I run projects and contracts, oversee design, mentor younger architects, make and publish drawings, spend time on site, and talk to clients and the authorities. Things I've helped make are scattered across London, from the O2 in the east to the Heathrow Control Tower in the west. Some people live in my projects, some work there, others just pass through. If you live in London, you'll know my stuff.
What this kind of work teaches you is many things, but you have to learn to work with other people, keep your eyes open, be flexible and patient, that you will deliver, and (when you do), there are reasons why it needs to be your best.
CA: How would you describe your creative style?
CA: What projects have you worked on in the past? What are you currently working on?
AS: I'm currently working on a mini-series with Steve Niles, for Black Mask, called Winnebago Graveyard, which has been recently announced. I've completed Genesis, with Nathan Edmondson, which is out from Image and have some plans for some more comics that I cannot share yet. Previously I've drawn shorts with Josh Tierney for Spera, Jon Callan for Image's Outlaw Territory anthology and with Matthew Dow Smith for IDW's In The Dark, out a week after Genesis. I do illustrations and pinups, draw people's children and manage an ongoing world-building project called Think Of A City, with a whole load of people. After so much work for hire, and despite being responsible through all of that, this is the first time in my life I've been able to take personal credit for my work. It is a new experience.
CA: What is your dream project?
AS: To draw comics at all. I'm (still) almost overcome that this is a possibility. I love drawing places I've never been to (this is a prime attraction of Winnebago Graveyard). Otherwise, to draw a comic written by Ray Bradbury; to contribute to the 8House universe; to adapt a specific piece of European literature to comics; to be paid to present an unknown world. Can I have all these things? To experiment with the form. I'm also very proud to be able to work with Image Comics and it is a dream to do it again, hopefully in not too long.
CA: Who are some comic creators that inspire you?
AS: The writers I am working with, currently Steve Niles. Artist-wise, Sean Phillips and Nate Powell for their work ethic; Jorge Zaffino and Tony Salmons for their art; Emma Rios and Brandon Graham for their approach and care. Emily Carroll, Boulet, Rob Davis. Damien Worm. David Rubin. The Think Of A City group of artists and writers. The guest artists in Genesis. Everyone who helped us. Many more than I can name.
CA: What are some comics that have inspired you either growing up or as an adult?
AS: I read Watchmen when I was in my late 30s and thought, "This is good," looked into comics, saw Jock's work and saw in it something I could relate to practically.
CA: What’s your ideal professional environment?
AS: A clean flat desk in a warm empty room, with a little background buzz to leaven the isolation.
CA: What do you most want our readers and industry professionals to know about your work?
AS: I'm willing to work and learn, I probably have a unique voice, but am a good collaborator. My work is there, and I'm not afraid to try out something new.
CA: How can editors and readers keep up with your work and find your contact information?
AS: Genesis is available from comic shops and hopefully bookshops from 16 April. My own work I record at my tumblr which has links to the rest of my online presence. I can be emailed here.