Hire This Woman: Cartoonist Paige Halsey Warren
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.”
Animator and cartoonist Paige Warren is passionate about telling illustrated stories and has extensive training and education in her field. You may best know her work from her webcomics Busty Girl Comics -- "comics about the perks and problems of having boobs" -- and AHTspace -- pronounced like a New Englander saying "art space" and telling the story of artists in a shared studio.
ComicsAlliance: What is your preferred form of creative output?
Paige Warren: I enjoy the sketching process most. Coloring is really relaxing but there's something really satisfying about seeing the story all laid out, ready to be polished.
CA: Do you work on paper or digitally? Why?
PHW: My two webcomic series, AHTspace and Busty Girl Comics, are both created digitally from start to finish. However, I really enjoy working with ink and watercolor so I'm working on a technique for my new series that will blend traditional media and digital.
CA: What’s your background/training?
PW: That's a bit of a long story -- storyboard, comics, costume design, painting, animation -- it's been a winding road. I'm currently pursuing a career as a storyboard artist and found myself making comics because it was a way to practice visual storytelling -- not to mention it's a lot faster for me to tell a story in comic form than in animation all on my own.
I got to comics, however, when I was getting my undergrad in Studio Art at the University of Vermont. I spent the first three years of college as a double major, training to be a costume designer, when I realized designing characters was my passion, not constructing corsets and hats into the wee hours.
After taking courses in Animation, Comic Art, and Graphic Novels as Literature, my mind was made up. I graduated a semester early, moved back to Massachusetts, and started on a Certificate in Animation at the Rhode Island School of Design Continuing Education program. While taking courses at RISDce, I started Busty Girl Comics. BGC was pretty trial-by-fire but it cemented my love of making comics and visual storytelling. After successfully completing my Animation Certificate, I started my second series, AHTspace, and moved to Burbank, California to make cartoons.
CA: How would you describe your creative style?
PHW: My style is mostly emotion-driven. Literally in how I depict a character's emotions and expressions as accurately as possible so the reader has a visceral reaction vicariously. My work is also emotion-driven in that I mentally play out a scene in my mind like a movie and my sketching and line-quality tends to be fast and minimal to keep up with the scene.
CA: What projects have you worked on in the past? What are you currently working on?
PHW: My biggest projects in comics have been my own, namely Busty Girl Comics and AHTspace, but I have also done two educational comics and personal commissions. I'm currently working on continuing AHTspace (including the surrounding prequels and sequels), a new alt-history series, a sequel to Busty Girl Comics, and a handful of other things because I don't know how to stop myself.
CA: Approximately how long does it take you to create a 20-page issue?
PHW: If it's in the same style of AHTspace and I have no other commission work on my plate, a 20-page issue can take 20-40 days to complete. For something simpler like Busty Girl Comics, I could crank out an issue in about two weeks.
CA: What is your dream project?
PHW: I would love to develop my own animated series: either by creating a comic that is later expanded into a full series or by developing and pitching a series to a studio.
CA: Who are some comic creators that inspire you?
PHW: Where do I even start!? Johane Matte, Allie Brosh, Jackie Musto, Jess Fink, Nilah Magruder, Noelle Stevenson, Katie Shanahan, Kate Beaton, Tara Abbamondi, Bree Paulsen, Emily Carroll, Rebecca Sugar, Taylor A Crockett, Danielle Corsetto, Erika Moen, Amy T Falcone, Drew Green, Kadi Fedoruk, Alex Hirsch, Amelia Onorato, Lucy Knisley, Sean Galloway, Gemma Correll, Brian Kesinger, Michelle Czajkowski, and so many others that I will instantly kick myself for not including.
Many of these artists, I look to for professional inspiration as much as comic inspiration. Given the curviness of my own career path, it's immeasurably reassuring to see so many other artists finding their niche in unusual ways - especially the artists who bridge the gap between comics and animation as I hope to do someday as well.
CA: What are some comics that have inspired you either growing up or as an adult?
PHW: Growing up, I had the Boston Globe Sunday funnies which I read every week religiously, a handful of manga, and a promotional comic that USPS released of DC superheroes meeting historical figures like Teddy Roosevelt and the inventors of Crayola Crayons. Other than that, I didn't get to the comic store often so what comics I did have I read and reread obsessively. I was also wicked inspired by the little sharpie drawings my dad would make on my lunch bag as a kid.
CA: What’s your ideal professional environment?
PHW: I'm enjoying the perks of freelancing at the moment but I would love to work in a studio with similarly obsessed and inspired artists. It's nice not having a commute but it gets pretty lonely. Plus I hear larger companies have fun things like kickball leagues and team building days and that sounds pretty awesome (I was a wicked fun camp counselor in my day.)
CA: What do you most want our readers and industry professionals to know about your work?
PHW: Between my encyclopedic knowledge of trivia and weird history and my speedy sketching on the fly, I like to think I'm wicked fun to brainstorm with. I get so pumped up about new projects, whether they're my own or a friend's with a writer's block.
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.