In the run up to the Lakes International Comic Art Festival (17th – 19th October), we’re aiming to run a number of interviews spotlighting at least a few of the huge number of guests and comic creators who will be at the event, continuing today with busy comic creator and Festival patron Emma Vieceli.
Emma loves telling stories with pictures. Her work includes the New York Times, best selling, Vampire Academy graphic novel series for Penguin Random House, the Alex Rider series for Walker Books and her creator-owned title BREAKS with co-writer, Malin Ryden; and the Yalsa 2013 recommended, Avalon Chronicles for Oni Press and her creator-owned and Eagle Award-nominated, Dragon Heir with Britain’s Sweatdrop Studios.
As well her work on comics, Emma has worked in both games and television, including the A&E television series Bates Motel providing the sketchbook found by Norman Bates. She joined Bryan Talbot, Mary Talbot and Sean Phillips as patrons of the Festival back in July.
downthetubes: What are you working on, comics-wise, right now, and when will it be published?
Emma Vieceli: I’m busy juggling a few bits at the moment, but the big two are Alex Rider: Scorpia – which will be published by Walker Books – I’m assuming next year. And BREAKS – which by total contrast is entirely independent and co-written with Swedish creator, Malin Ryden. We’re releasing it entirely free-to-read on www.breakscomic.com with hopes of making a beautiful collected edition when the time comes. I also have a Patreon campaign running, in case anyone would like to support the time I’m putting into the project for free. It’s a great feeling working on something so personal and being able to just point people at it… but obviously any support means a lot!
Beyond those two: I did a bit of writing for Madefire – which is really exciting and a change of pace for me, created a variant cover for Gail Simone’s Red Sonja #15 (out this month), drew a piece written by Robin Furth for the new CBLDF anthology, am contributing to a collection book being published by Quarto and there are a few more pipeline projects which are still at early days stage. So – keeping busy!
downthetubes: Which comic project you’ve worked on are you most proud of and where can people see it or buy it?
Emma: Oh that’s so tough a question, and you know it! They’re all my babies. Let’s see. Something nice about a few of them, maybe?
BREAKS – I really care a lot about this project. I created characters that mean a lot to me, and -working together with Malin – we made a story that really ticks some boxes of what we want to see more of in comics. And, since there’s a chunk already out to read, I think I can include this one. Vampire Academy – because the characters are amazing and so are Richelle and the community.
Avalon Chronicles – because I love my team and it has a special place in my heart. I just wish there was more time in the world. Young Avengers – because it may have only been five pages, but five pages of Billy and Teddy = win!
Dragon Heir – because it’s my baby. (Get it from Sweatdrop or me directly) Manga Shakespeare – because it’s Shakespeare. And the books, published by SelfMadeHero, will always represent the launch of my career for me. I could go on… seriously! I feel lucky that I’ve pretty much cared about every project I’ve worked on. From anthology shorts to full Graphic Novels, they all mean something to me.
downthetubes: How do you plan your day as a creator? (Do you plan your day?)
Emma: Currently I work on a page of Alex Rider up until about 3.00pm, leaving me a few hours to spend on side projects. I’m quite disciplined when it comes to schedules, and always have a target up to six months in advance. I’ll plan my daily workload to make sure I can hit that target.
downthetubes: What’s the best thing about being a comics creator?
Emma: Telling stories and spending time with amazing characters.
downthetubes: And the worst?
Emma: The paranoia and loneliness that can stem from a job that requires constant assurance, and that so rarely gets it.
downthetubes: What most distracts you from getting your work done?
Emma: Interviews… I jest! Probably the Internet in general. I’ve been much better recently at limiting browsing to windows in the day. Also – my cat, Ragnar. He’s a distraction.
downthetubes: Do you think it’s easier or harder for young comic creators to get published today?
Emma: It’s definitely easier to get creating and to get seen. There are a billion events and the internet. You can make comics and distribute comics very easily. As to whether it’s easier to make money out of them? No. I think that’s getting harder. But hard work will win out!
downthetubes: Have you ever been to the Lake District before and if so what did you think of it?
Emma: I love the Lake District! My husband and I have family who live in Kendal, and a mother in law in Penrith. I spent four years living close by in Carlisle, so the area means a lot to me. Cumbria gave me a television career and a husband. That’s not a bad deal. I even kept one of them… (laughs)
downthetubes: Which one comic creator would you most like to meet, and why?
Emma: Ooph – hard. I’m happy to say I have met and am friends with so many creators who I admire. If I hadn’t met the likes of Becky Cloonan, Kate Brown, Paul Duffield, Jamie McKelvie, Amy Reeder and more by now I’d probably be hunting them down, but – thankfully – we’re all great friends and I’ve been able to put away my butterfly net. I was super happy to meet Adrian Alphona and Christina Strain at New York Comic Con a couple of years back – they’d been on my list for a long time. But as to someone I’ve not met and would love to…I’m going to say Fumi Yoshinaga. Though I’d probably just gibber and faint into my tea if I did meet her. I’m sort of terrified about meeting Junko Mizuno at the Lakes Festival. She’s a legend!
downthetubes: How do Festivals and other comics events help creators most, do you think?
Emma: They remind us that we are part of something bigger than ourselves, especially if they can connect creators globally. It’s so easy to feel isolated and alone when you’re working at home or in a studio by yourself every day. Events help us to socialise with each other and with readers, be inspired and feel more like we want to create. I tend to head home from a successful event feeling fired up and ready to draw – they’re good for productivity!
downthetubes: What one piece of advice do you offer people looking to work in the comics industry?
Emma: MAKE COMICS. MAKE ALL THE COMICS. Challenge yourself. Draw out of your comfort zone. And set deadlines and meet them. then take the result to events and show everyone how awesome you are.
downthetubes: What’s your favourite comic right now?
Emma: All the hard questions, eh? I’m going to say (like so many others) Gotham Academy is going to be amazing. Issue One got me excited. And Fumi Yoshinaga’s What Did You Eat Yesterday? is the best cookbook you’ll ever read. But also, The Fifth Beatle: The Brian Epstein Story is the book I’ve been raving about for too long now. It’s beautiful, emotional, educational, evocative… it is what every comic should aspire to be.
downthetubes: Emma, thanks very much for taking time out of your busy schedule to talk to us. See you at the Festival! • Emma Vieceli’s official web site is at: www.emmavieceli.com and her tumble is here • During the Festival Weekend, Emma will appear at The Big Comic Draw: Mark Buckingham, Dave Gibbons, Boulet and Emma Vieceli and she’s also running a Character Design Clinic Workshop
• Tickets for all the events at the Lakes International Comic Art Festival (17th – 19th October) are on sale now. For the full guest list, details of events and exhibitions and bookings visit: www.comicartfestival.com