Faith Erin Hicks interview

Our next creator interview is with the 2008 Fan Favourite Canadian Creator – English Language publications — Faith Erin Hicks.

What part of a Canada are you from/where do you live now?

I was born in Vancouver BC, moved to just outside of Toronto when I was five, and migrated to Halifax, Nova Scotia after I graduated college. It was a 25 year cross-Canada road trip.

faithWere you a comics fan growing up?

I was and I wasn’t. I really enjoyed the medium, but availability was always an issue. I grew up reading Tintin and Asterix, so much that I think I have every book in both those series memorized. However, there was no good comic store where I lived, and I had a hard time finding comics to read. I braved the crappy, gross local comic store (a dank shithole that terrified me) to buy X-Men comics when I was a teenager, then gave it up when the creepiness got to be too much. I discovered Bone by Jeff Smith while in university, and that opened up a whole ‘nother world for me. It also helped there was a decent local comics store close to where I went to school.

Faith Erin Hicks was nominated for the Outstanding Webcomic Creator Joe Shuster Award in 2007.
Faith Erin Hicks was nominated for the Outstanding Webcomic Creator Joe Shuster Award in 2007.

Who are some of your creative influences?

Jeff Smith, Paul Pope, Andi Watson and a ton of cartoons, actually. I loved Powerpuff Girls and that retro-inspired Cartoon Network stuff when I first started drawing.

zombies-calling-cover1Can you tell us a bit about your career as a comic book artist? (For example: What was your first job in comics? What job did you really enjoy or what job are you really proud of?)

I’m as astonished as anyone that I’m almost making a living wage doing this! And it’s only because I fell into contact with First Second Books, my current publisher. I never thought I would ever have a “career” in comics, mostly because I don’t draw in a standard superhero style, and I thought that’s what you had to draw in to make money in this business. Until right now, I’ve never been employed strictly as an artist drawing comics. So this is all new to me.

Art from Demonology 101 by Faith Erin Hicks
Art from Demonology 101 by Faith Erin Hicks

I started out doing my own online comics. That’s pretty much how I learned to draw. I did an online comic called Demonology 101 while I was in university. I drew and wrote it for about five years, while going to university and then animation college. What I really wanted (or thought I wanted) was to work in animation and do comics “for fun” on the side. Stupid me. I didn’t realize that once you start doing comics, they completely take over your life.

zcbackAfter a while I got tired of doing the online thing and submitted a proposal to SLG Publishing. They liked it and published my first graphic novel, Zombies Calling, in 2007. They just published my second, The War at Ellsmere last December. But due to the small returns of doing an indie book, there was no way I could ever make a living off what my SLG books were bringing in. So I kept working my job in animation by day (I worked at a studio in Halifax), and doing comics on the evenings and weekends. Then out of the blue I was contacted by First Second Books, who asked me to try out for a graphic novel script they had. I did and they offered me the job. So when the animation studio I was working for crashed and burned, I was able to support myself (sort of) drawing this comic for First Second. I also got a literary agent out of the deal, so that was pretty great. Hopefully she’ll be able to sell more of my graphic novels in the future, so I won’t starve when I’m finished drawing for First Second. But I’m not thinking about that right now. Mostly because it’s too scary.

warCan you tell us specifically about the comics work you had published in 2008?

I wrote and drew my second deadtree graphic novel, The War at Ellsmere, which was published by SLG Publishing. It’s a YA-literature-inspired comic about an all-girls boarding school and the rivalries, mystery and danger that happens therein. It was just named to the American Library Association’s Great Graphic Novels for Teens list! I was pretty thrilled. Libraries are awesome.

ellsmereWhat are you currently working on?

I am drawing The Fielding Course, a middle grade graphic novel for First Second Books. It was written by Laurence Klavan and Susan Kim, and should be out in 2010. Plus, it’ll be in colour, which is a new experience for me. I have another project lined up that I’ll start on once I’m done with The Fielding Course, but that hasn’t been announced yet. Shh, secret.

Do you have a website and/or blog?

Yes.
My website: www.faitherinhicks.com
My blog: smuu.livejournal.com