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To Better Know a Renegade: Elaine M. Will

Sean Tonelli - Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Normally, I use this moment to showcase my comedic wit (or, so I like to think). Sometimes, however, it’s more fun to be the fanboy than it is to be the funny guy (again-- or so I like to think). Being honest within the realm of the public eye is no easy feat. Hell, it’s difficult to be honest in your private life. My next interview is with a creator whose work I respect for the honesty in which she showcases her characters. Mental health, obsession, longing, these are feelings we wish we could ignore but our next artist tackles them head on with a fearlessness that I wish more artists had. I couldn’t be happier for you to read our next installment of...

To Better Know a Renegade! Featuring Elaine M. Will. Elaine is a cartoonist and illustrator from the wilds of Canada. She’s been drawing since she could hold a pencil, and has been drawing comic books since she was five. She also holds a BA in Illustration from The Arts University at Bournemouth in the UK.

 

Sean: How did you get started as an artist?

Elaine: I taught myself some rudimentary cartooning skills by copying Sonic the Hedgehog comics between the ages of 7-12. A little over a year ago I actually bought an original page from the very first Sonic comic, drawn by Scott Shaw!, as this comic had such a huge impact on me - I always say it was THE comic that inspired me to make my own comics. Aside from that, I also had some books about cartooning. My favourite one was called The Encyclopedia of Cartooning Techniques, by Steve Whittaker. I signed this book out of my local library countless times. It wasn't even really aimed at kids (and by that I mean it dealt with some fairly advanced stuff, not that it was risque or anything). Years later I was finally able to find a newer printing in a bookstore for sale! Some of the info is out of date, but it's still a great resource :)


Sean: Who or what gives you the most inspirado?

Elaine: I spent so much time talking about that cartooning book above because it's where I was introduced to the work of British comics artist Bryan Talbot, creator of Luther Arkwright, the Grandville graphic novel series and my favourite graphic novel of all time, The Tale of One Bad Rat. I was maybe 15 when I first read Bad Rat. It's a very powerful story about a sexual abuse survivor, and was the first time I had encountered such a serious issue tackled in the form of comics. I had suspected this all along, but it was then I knew for sure that comics were a medium with limitless potential (further cemented once I read Understanding Comics soon after!). Even though I didn't start drawing Look Straight Ahead for another nine years, I'd say Bad Rat was definitely a huge influence. Craig Thompson's Blankets was another one. I'm also a big fan of Iron Circus Comics publisher C. Spike Trotman, who's basically been my hero since I was 12. I used to take a lot of inspiration from music as well, as I'm sure many other artists do...

Sean: What are some secrets to your creative process?

Elaine: Rough drawing all of the pages as small drawings known as thumbnails helps me figure out how to lay out the final artwork and make sure it reads well. There are also smaller things I do: if I need to loosen up I'll draw with the side of my pencil instead of the tip. I need music on most of the time, unless I'm writing or thumbnailing.

Sean: Any upcoming projects that you would like to tell readers about?

Elaine: Hoping to do another mental health story. I'm still deciding what form I would like this to take. I'm realizing now, even though it's a subject I know very well, I'm going to have to do some more research (especially when I think of how many books I read before starting Look Straight Ahead...)



 

Sean: What are some of your favourite tools for being so creatively awesome?

Elaine: I still draw on paper because I'm old-fashioned and because I've not yet gotten to the point where I like anything I draw digitally. It's also nice being able to sell the original art when I'm done :) I use a variety of drawing tools. I like Prismacolor Col-Erase coloured drawing pencils for sketching, and sometimes a brush for inking, sometimes Staedtler or Faber-Castell pens depending on what part of the drawing I'm inking. Lately I've been making marker drawings shaded and outlined with pencil crayon, as I'd like to illustrate children's books at some point and I think this would be an appropriate style as it's "softer" than my comic art. For digital work (lettering, colouring, etc) I use Photoshop almost exclusively even though there are other programs now geared more towards making comics. I'm just so used to Photoshop (I've been using it since I was 13 that I find it difficult to use anything else...

 

Sean: Advice for up and comers/bitter rivals?


Elaine: I think the best advice I could give would be to have confidence in yourself. Too many artists belittle their own work and think they're being humble, when in reality that can drive people away. Fake it 'till you make it - I wish that I had done so earlier!

 

Elaine’s Dust-Ship Glory is coming soon, while Look Straight Ahead is available now. In the meantime you can check out some of Elaine’s work HERE

 


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