Interview with Alexis Sugden
by Amy Maynard
The Australian Comics Journal is celebrating the excellent anthology Starrytellers this week with creator profiles each day. Before today’s interview with the likeable Lex, check out the project’s Kickstarter campaign, with great stories and great prizes from a great bunch of gals. Now, fill up your glass with something delightful and read on as we discuss comic conventions, striving to make your goals happen and the ability to stop time…
My story is about a friendship between two kick-ass old ladies, one of whom is a bat and the other, a star.
Tell us more about your work in comics – what books have you made, which events have you been a part of?
I started making comics in high school, but nothing that I’d actually want to show anyone now. In 2013, I finished my graphic novel My Sister’s Voice and won the 24hr Comikaze Challenge with my comic Crazy Cat Lady. Right now I’m working on a new graphic novel called The Disappearance of Melody Dean, which updates weekly online at Tapastic. I also publish short, erotic comics under the pen name Maxxx Bronwyn. When I was living in Australia, my favourite events were ZICS and Supanova. I’m currently living in Vancouver, Canada and have been going to a few North American events. My favourites that I’ve exhibited at so far have been VANCaf and SPX, the Small Press Expo.
If you could invite three lady cartoonists to dinner, alive or dead, who would you invite and why?
That… is a very hard question. There are so many lady cartoonists that I admire. If I can only choose three, I think they would have to be Marjane Satrapi, Erica Moen and Sophie Campbell because they have been some of the most influential comic artists in my life and they all create very different comics.
What advice do you have for women and girls wanting to break into comics?
Make a comic. It’s really easy to get your comic out there, for free. You don’t have to get it approved by a publisher, you don’t have to pay money to make physical zines, you can just make a comic and upload it online. It’s great because you can make whatever comic you want, in whatever style, at your own pace. I had a web comic in high school and I learned so much just from making that silly thing. It was fun and helped confirm that this was the kind of thing I wanted to do with my life.
I don’t work in comics, but I work in animation, which is a similar field; creative, male dominated and competitive. So when it comes to breaking into that kind of industry, I’d say you have to be active in striving for your goals. Have an online presence, reach out to studios that you’d like to work at, even if they aren’t currently hiring. Find people in the industry you want to be a part of and ask for advice or feedback. Go to comic conventions, even if you can’t afford a table, you can meet people and hand out mini comics. Make yourself known and keep creating work so that you stay known, and so that people can see your strengths. When you aren’t on a job, make a project for yourself so you can show people your skills and dedication. My Sister’s Voice was a project I started after graduating uni and not finding animation work for at least three months.
Find your peers and befriend them. A lot of people think that networking is solely about finding the people above you on the ladder and trying to make friends with them. Sure, that’s a part of it, but don’t discount your peers. You might all be starting out now, but in five years you could all be in positions to help one another, or collaborate on projects. Plus it’s cool to have friends who know what you’re going through, because they’re right there with you.
But most of all, have fun! Comics and animation are things that I work hard at, but it’s because I find it a lot of fun.
It’s an old superstition to wish upon a star. What would your wish be?
For the ability to stop and start time. I basically just want more hours in the day for projects, because I’m a nerd who can’t actually relax.
For more information on Alexis’ work, check out alexissugden.com.