Hire This Woman: Artist Rachael Anderson
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.”
CA: Which is your preferred form of creative output?
RA: I really enjoy penciling the most, although inking is a close second. I love the problem-solving aspect of storytelling: figuring out my angles or shots, deciding how to light my characters, etc.
CA: As an artist, do you work on paper or digitally? Why?
RA: I actually have a fusion process. I'll do the thumbnails by hand so I can get away from the computer and think. Once those are done, I scan them in and work on my layouts digitally. Doing the layouts in Manga Studio allows me to move things around, rescale, and make quick perspective grids to save me some time when drawing backgrounds. Once that is done, I print the layout out in non-photo blue on 11x17 paper and finish penciling by hand. Penciling digitally just allows me to zoom in too much. I can get lost in building details if I'm not careful, so I choose to pencil by hand to keep me focused on the page as a whole. Plus, there's something very satisfying about finishing a stack of pages!
CA: What’s your background/training?
RA: I studied art at Harrison High School for the Visual and Performing Arts in Florida. For a High School Program, it was very intensive. Half of every school day was spent in the studio and we were expected to do three hours of art homework every night. After High School, I mostly taught myself everything else through convention critiques, life drawing classes, books, and lots of practice.
CA: How would you describe your creative style?
RA: I would say I strike a balance between detailed and cartoon-y. Doing a webcomic for these last two years has had a huge influence on my style and has helped me bring a lot of fun into my work.
CA: What projects have you worked on in the past? What are you currently working on?
RA: I did some work for a professor at Harvard Business School, making educational comic book handouts for his students and I have penciled a comic text book called "University Life, A College Survival Story" for Flat World Knowledge. Currently, I am working on wrapping up a two-year run on my own webcomic, Worsted For Wear.
CA: Approximately how long does it take you to draw a 20-page issue?
RA: I can pencil a 20-page issue in four to five weeks and Pencil/Ink an in issue in six weeks. I spend a day or two on research and thumbnails, but then I can do a page a day consistently.
CA: What is your dream project?
RA: My dream project would be penciling Batgirl with Gail Simone. I love the entire Bat-family, but I sketch Batgirl the most...and I've been a huge fan of Gail ever since I was fifteen. A close second for dream project would be working with Peter David on anything.
CA: Who are some comic creators that inspire you?
RA: Mike Wieringo, Adam Hughes, Terry Dodson, Todd Nauck, Pat Ollife, and Greg Capullo are huge influences on my work and have been for a long time. But I've also always looked up to the likes of Joe Kubert and Will Eisner in particular because of their love for this medium, their vast knowledge of story-telling, and their old-school professionalism. They've always been my greatest heroes.
CA: What are some comics that have inspired you either growing up or as an adult?
RA: My first super-hero comic was Spider-Girl and it's what made me realize I wanted to do comics for a living at the age of twelve. I would spend hours tracing panels and drawing my own comics using characters who were inspired by May-Day Parker. The second biggest inspiration for me was Peter David's run on Young Justice, which is still my favorite series to this day! I just love how much fun everyone seemed to have on that book: the silly puns, the hidden MST3k references, the goofy storylines... That book never failed to put a smile on my face. I also read a lot of Ultimate Spider-Man, Runaways, Batgirl, Robin, Nightwing, Batman, and anything with the X-Men. I still have quite the collection!
CA: What’s your ideal professional environment?
RA: Ideally, I'd love to work in a studio with other cartoonists. I love working from home, but it can be very isolating at times. I worked in a studio with Will Terrell and our creative friends when I lived in Lubbock, Texas and it's amazing how much you can push each other to do better, get faster. Iron sharpens iron, as they say.
CA: What do you most want our readers and industry professionals to know about your work?
RA: My mission in life is to draw fun stories whether the genre is Super-Hero, Fantasy, Sci-Fi, or Slice-of-life. I want to inspire others with my work or, at the very least, endeavor to bring a smile to a reader's face. If a book is "gritty" or "realistic", then I'm probably not the right fit for it. Growing up, I needed the escape from the real world that comics offered every now and then. I want to be able to give that back to my readers. If I've made at least one persons day a little easier to get through or if I get at least one smile, then I've done my job as a story teller.
CA: How can editors and readers keep up with your work and find your contact information?