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  1.  (7631.1)
    Emma Vieceli is one of the busiest creators most people don't yet know about. Founder member of comics collective Sweatdrop, Emma's done graphic novel adaptations of Shakespeare, created a series for the groundbreaking and fondly-remembered kid's comic THE DFC, taught and run workshops, had a piece in COMIC BOOK TATTOO and many other anthologies, and is currently running DRAGON HEIR as a popular webcomic.

    She's a writer, an artist, a publisher, a teacher, an organiser (Comics Village at the London MCM Expo? That's her)... and a proper Essex comicker like what I am.

    And she's very kindly agreed to sit in here for a week, talk about her work, answer questions on pretty much anything, post pretty pictures, drop links, and basically do whatever she wants.

    (There are a lot of beginning artists here. I say to you: Em knows everything. Ask questions.)

    Say hello to Emma now.
    • CommentTimeJan 25th 2010 edited
    Essex comickers MASSIIIIIVE! *hi five*

    Thanks so much for the lovely intro, Warren....though I had hoped to conceal my omniscient nature for a while longer XD

    *ahem* Clearly I don't know everything, guys, but if you're a budding creator or just want to chit chat about some alternative routes into the industry over a virtual cuppa, then this is the place, and I'd love to hear from you!

    Starting as an indie presser, and as someone who still keeps up the indepenent work alongside my contracted work (because I'm mad like that) I can certainly offer input on small press, working on your own projects and getting your work out there if you'd like. Along with the bits Warren has already mentioned (Shakespeare/CBT/DFC/dragon heir) I've also worked on My Little Pony (not with knives, Warren!), Princess Ai with Tokyopop, a Phonogram B-side with the lovely Jamie McGillen (Gillen and McKelvie), am a regular contributor to the wonderful ImagineFX magazine, have a pretty large project with Oni Press coming up this year, and am currently working with a French publisher on developing an original magazine project called Bella Nolita which is shaping up to look pretty cool!
    I also have a couple of the standard I-wish-I-could-Tell-You-About projects in the pipes, including a small something with it's shaping up to be a busy year.

    But it also, and more importantly for this thread, means I hope I have a wide enough spectrum of experience to be able to offer something of interest to you guys!

    *starts boiling up the kettle*
    So, who wants a brew? Let's get this tea party started ^_^
    • CommentTimeJan 25th 2010
    hey emma,

    I just quit my job and am thinking of going back to school for a sequential art course with a focus on comic writing (my job was a creative suckhole). I've been slowly, neurotically working on a graphic novel script and getting back into sketching etc. but I was wondering if you have any other useful tips for someone getting back into the game besides practice and the usual suspects.
  2.  (7631.4)
    Helloo Emma!

    Starting as an indie presser, and as someone who still keeps up the indepenent work alongside my contracted work (because I'm mad like that) I can certainly offer input on small press, working on your own projects and getting your work out there if you'd like.

    I'd definitely like to hear your inputs on small press and getting work out there! How it was for you when you started off...

    And I'd love to hear more about balancing contractual work with your own independent ones. Does it come down to taking on less contractual work so you have time for the other things etc? Does the contractual ones help pay for the independent ones? Or do the independent ones mostly pay for themselves? [I am worse than a beginner probably, sorry if the questions are lame, but Warren said...]

    Glad you're doing this, looking forward to your posts!
  3.  (7631.5)
    Oh yes, Chinklet's post reminded me of another question. A lot of people have a lot varied opinions re art school, what is yours?
    • CommentTimeJan 25th 2010
    Good morning, Emma! Speaking of events, organising and etc: Can I get you to pop up your tentative UK events schedule for 2010 (where Emma's gonna be doing wot) so it's here on the first page?
    • CommentAuthorWelland
    • CommentTimeJan 25th 2010
    What tips would you give anyone about to dive head first into creating a webcomic.

    also milk no sugar I'm.....cough......I'm sweet enough...............sorry.
    • CommentTimeJan 25th 2010 edited
    Hi Chinklet ^_^
    First off - wow - good for you! Sounds like changes are afoot! Best of luck with it all.

    (EDIT - samita, I wrote all of this before realising other people had jumped in, haha..but the first part should answer your later question a bit! ^_^)

    Art/comics education is an interesting talking point for me, as I come from a slightly weird angle on it. Personally, my training was in English Literature and performing arts. I spent a few years working in the theatre and television before I even dreamed that comics could be a career option! As a result, I stopped any form of art education before I even hit my, my entire art education amounts to 'watching cartoons and reading comics' XD

    Now, don't get me wrong: I know that had I gone through some form of specific training, I may well have moved faster and been more confident, so I'm not knocking it at all. But I always want people to realise that - whilst helpful - working into this crazy ol' industry can be done on your own merit, with no need of a certificate ^_^
    The course will no doubt give you loads of experience and training though - and maybe even offer some helpful contacts, so I hope it all goes well!

    Now, my advice is often towards artists more than writers, so I hope this helps you, but I'd say the key points I offer at workshops for really getting yourself out there:

    1. Have a strong website - to artists I tend to say don't rely on DeviantArt and other gallery sites. Have one, sure! But to give off a professional feel, you should really look into having your own personalised domain as well. My own site is powered by Squarespace - which I recommend heartily! It looks to me like you've made a good start on your own space, so you're well away on that!

    2. Network - that old chestnut! Thankfully, these days, networking doesn't even have to mean heading along to IRL events - though nothing can ever quite beat meeting people face-to-face for getting yourself embedded in their memory. We're networking right now, thanks to this being online, being on the right forums - this all counts towards networking.

    3. As the great Wil Wheaton says: 'don't be a dick' :) This sounds obvious of course, but the flip side to the accessability and interactivity of the web is that there is also nowhere to hide! And though they say all publicity is good publicity, this isn't necessarily true. Being nice to people offers niceness in return. Karma is definitely at work in the comics industry, I think.

    4. Be prepared to go it alone. I think many people dream of that big break of course, and hopefully you'll get yours! But there are different paths into the industry and, for a writer especially, showing that you can motivate, organise and push yourself will speak volumes to publishers. The slow and steady approach is more realistic than the meteoric rise to fame, and can offer a more satifying reward at the end of it in some ways. Self publishing and POD are great paths to go down while you wait for that magic be prepared to prove yourself. It's a really rewarding feeling!

    5. Storytelling . You say you are getting 'back into' sketching, so I'm guessing you've drawn comics before? This may be obvious to you, but - to me -comics is all about storytelling. I see a lot of new artists keen to show off their skills, but they can get so carried away with the pretties that the storyflow and pacing gets lost somewhere. I'd rather see passionate and clear storytelling than perfect artwork that I can't follow - and many publishers are the same way. ^_^

    Woah - I've already gone off on one! I'll stop now, haha. I really hope that's helped - but if it's something more specific you're after, or I've missed the point, feel free to ask more! ^_^
    • CommentTimeJan 25th 2010 edited
    I'll jump to Ariana first as thath requires the most leg work, haha. Me and schedules don't mix well, as I discovered just yesterday when i realised I'd booked myself for 2 mad days straight after each other in February ;_;

    Okay, so - let's see: Emsie's 'potential' convention calender:

    Bolton - Midsummer Night's Dream Investigation - 27th February
    Hi Ex - Inverness comic con - 27th/28th march <----I'm hoping to make this one, but it's not definite
    Minami con - 16th/18th April
    Bristol Comic Expo - 22nd/23rd May
    London MCM Expo (like I could miss THAT! haha) - 29th/30th May
    Nemacon - 18th/20th June
    SDCC - 22/25th July
    NYCC - 8th/10th October
    BICS - 16th/17th October
    London MCM Expo - 30th/31st October
    ThoughtBubble - 19th/21st November

    Most of those are positive, a couple are tentative. A lot depends on how my workload turns out this year...I tend not to plan too far ahead, so that's already an impressive list for me. There are a lot of smaller events and workshops in between, but they tend to be more private booking things. Let's stick with cons and events! ^_^
    • CommentTimeJan 25th 2010
    Hiya Lovely!

    I've got a couple for you--I know we've talked before about the pros and cons of the manga stigma when it comes to getting work outside traditionally Japano-centric publishers. I just did a spate of interviews in support of the Sif one-shot and one of the questions I really tripped over was "How has your exposure to manga influenced your work?" Because of the incredibly diversity within that category, I felt like I was trying to say how working in comics had influenced my work... in comics. I wonder though, if I were a visual artist, would my answer be different? Are you able to articulate what it is about a particular visual style that reads "manga-influenced?" There's so much more to it than the irksome "big eyes" fanboy answer.

    And on a more, um, Actor's Studio bent--What scares you, Emma Vieceli?


    Kelly Soup
    • CommentTimeJan 25th 2010 edited
    *sips tea*
    Okay, continuing ^_^

    Samita - Not lame questions at all! Don't worry ^_^ This is a space to chat, so don't feel bad about asking any questions!

    Small press is phenomenally rewarding. There's nothing quite like the feeling of holding a comic in your hands that you know you and you alone have created! We don't do it for the money, but for the kicks. Indie press and Sweatdrop is where I get my 'fix' :) We used to joke that you're not a real comicker unless you've turned up to an event with papercuts on your hands because you were stapling your latest issue that morning, haha. There are so many events out there to help indie pressers get their work seen now. Combined with the internet, these events become lifelines for creators. Always expect to start small of course, but I can certainly recommend forming or joining a collective like Sweatdrop. We're pretty big now, and a registered publisher, but that's because we've been going for 8 years...when we started, we were ust a group of creators who wanted some support and motivation. Having people egging you on and pushing you harder is a HUGE advantage when you're working alone. Of course, even if you're not in a group, these days the internet and forums like this offer the same camradery in many ways. ^_^ The more events you appear at, the more hits your site gets, the more your name is known and the easier job you'll have of networking.
    Running a webcomic version of your title is a method that's catching on now, and I'm trying it out with Dragon Heir of course. It's all about getting your name, and your work, seen.

    Balancing work/hobby is HARD. I make no bones about this: you will not have a lot of time for much else if you choose this path ^_~ I have a VERY patient husband, haha. Much as I'd love to say the indie stuff pays for itself, it doesn't. Not yet. Of course, my aim with DH is to release the book version this year, and - as it's all mine - I will take 100% of the there's potential there. (If I was working POD (print on demand) I wouldn't even have to spend out on printing, buuuut I'm picky and have a certain printer in I'll take the hit for the sake of my book looking exactly as I want it.) However, paying work still has to take a front seat in life. Not that I'm complaining much about this as I've been very lucky. I learn a ton from working with publishers, and it's all fantastic experience that I can use to power my indie work. It helps that most of my contractual work has been stuff I've enjoyed as well ^_^ But yes, balancing is hard. I tend to work on sweatdrop work in between contracts or while I'm waiting for editor feedback. Sometimes, I'll spend all day working on contract pages, and then settle into an evening's comicking on SD work after it...0_o
    But hell, it's all comics and I love it ^__^

    Welland -
    *proffers tea*
    I feel funny talking about webcomics as it hasn't yet sunk in that I have one, haha. :) TBH, Dragon heir is a comic, online. Not really a webcomic. In a recent Sweatdrop podcast we got talking about how in the coming year there may need to be a categorisation between webcomic and digital comic, as - to me - a webcomic is something short, punchy and episodic. It may be funny, it may be serious, but it should be something fast and digestible and preferable standalone each time...Dragon Heir is none of the above, haha. It follows more of a (dare I say it) Freakangels vibe. An ongoing story, clearly designed for print, but available to read online. What I would maybe class a 'digital comic'.
    So , i guess first things first is - are you making a webcomic or a digital comic? :)

    Both require a good host. I've found smackjeeves to be very easy to use, but prefer hosting on my own site.
    Both also require some really strong hooks. In webcomics, I'd say humour and quotability become really important. Something people can show their mates or talk about. Something people can connect to. Be wary of diary-style webcomics. Creators like Marc Ellerby and Adam Cadwell do these really well, but it can also be dangerous ground to write a comic about 'me and my friends and our injokes', as many people out there just won't get it.
    Digital comics, the sort you need people to come back and read more chapters of, present a whole different challenge. I definitely think longer chapters work on these overall...freakangels again is a good example of this and I followed suit for Dragon Heir. Also, character becomes extra important. If your readers don't care about the characters, they won't come back. Characters are the guides to a story, so - more so than in a book - digital comics need characters that can grab readers and make them want to come back.
    Mirror your updates! I find posting links places like twitter and LJ when Dragon Heir updates really helps me pull in some hits.

    Just my thoughts...but I hope they help ^_^
    • CommentTimeJan 25th 2010 edited
    Heyyyyyy, Kelly Soup *hug*
    - I need to have a mull over that one, haha. I'll come back to you on it *twitch twitch*. I can't believe they still asked you that in reference to Sif. Especially as a writer! But then, I guess as a writer who's worked in manga before, you must only know how to write Giant Mecha, right? ^_~
    It's okay, guys - I'm joking, I'm joking!!
    But seriously, it's a good question and one I'll totally come back to ^_^

    In the meantime, I thought it may be cool to share some linkies/piccies with you guys so that you have something to browse whilst you savour your virtual cuppa:

    1. for those of you wondering what this Dragon Heir thing is I keep mentioning - here's a link to the latest chapter online. You may want to jump to the webcomic link at the top and start from the beginning if you've not read any before^_^

    2. If you like prints, I haz some prints for sale over at my site. Here's a linkie ^_

    3. To take a look-see at some of the projects I've been/am involved with - feel free to peruse my scrapbook. It's kind of a pictoral resume with links to view/purchase most projects. Not entirely up to date, but almost! Click the totally random semi-naked woman ^_~

    4. ComicBook signature is a rather nifty project that allows you to buy customisable, personalised sketch books from several artists - myself included.

    5. SHHHHHH - utterly cheeky little tease of what the art on the Bella Nolita comic is looking's something a little stylish and funky and I'm really liking it. See what you think ^_^

    That'll do for now, methinks. On with the questions ^_^
  4.  (7631.13)
    Hello ^___^/
    I have but one burning question... can I have Blankets back? XD
  5.  (7631.14)
    What's the hardest thing you've ever drawn and why?

    (I'm going for broke hereXD)
    • CommentTimeJan 25th 2010 edited
    *new round of tea*

    Paul - LOL touche - yeah, alright XD We'll do an exchange of that and Silent Hill when you guys are here, haha! Damn. I'm gonna have to buy a copy now >_<

    Mimi - Hullooooo!
    Ooooh, hardest thing? hmmm. I find backgrounds really challenging, but mostly that's a patience thing. I'm really bad for that. In fact, if you take a look at the teaser shot above of the French comic, that building took faaaaaar too long to draw XD Buuut, that's about my patience threshhold more than actual difficulty maybe.
    I remember this shot from Much Ado About Nothing frustrating me a lot because of the angle as well as the complicated (for me) structure.
    much ado
    Otherwise - This may sound funny, but actually, My Little Pony was really difficult! haha. I was working from a style sheet and the characters had to look so spot-on to it that they were a real challenge.
    In broader terms, I'd say parts of the Manga Shakespeares were really difficult in that I had to come up with ways of bringing out a subtext visually...very tricky in some cases.
    I know in myself that I can technically apply myself to anything, any of us can, often what holds us back is our patience, and mine is awful. I get frustrated if I spend too long on one thing. I need to teach myself to spend longer on things XD XD
    • CommentAuthorsteevo
    • CommentTimeJan 25th 2010
    Hi Emma,

    Thanks for coming through and offering ideas and proffering teas.

    How personal of a journey is it from amateur to professional in a line of business like yours? In other words, do you think everyone gets there in their own way or is there a pretty set path to making some money with your art or writing or both? My guess is somewhere in the middle, but its the details that I'm really after.
  6.  (7631.17)
    I keep thinking of something to ask, but I can't come up with anything useful. So, in the meantime — Hi Emma!
      CommentAuthorJeff Owens
    • CommentTimeJan 25th 2010
    Thanks for doing this!

    In an earlier post, you talked about diary-style comics, and what to stay away from. I know you cited Ellerby and Cadwell as good examples, but as someone doing a daily auto-bio comic that is dangerously close to what you described, do you have any advice on what could make the life of a "normal" person fun to read?

    Hopefully this isn't too much of a rehash of the previous question.
    • CommentTimeJan 25th 2010
    Hi Emma! Thank you for answering these questions.

    I hope this one doesn't sound too general or dumb, but what are your thoughts about story pacing (or developing a pacing technique as a comics writer)? I write with an artist friend--go small press!--and one of the things that I find the most difficult is coming up with a consistent pace for each issue. How do you manage it? And also, in the cases when you find yourself drawing from someone else's script, is there anything you wish you could tell the scriptwriter ahead of time to make the artwork process go more smoothly?

    • CommentAuthorWelland
    • CommentTimeJan 26th 2010
    Thank you for the advice Emma, I would say Digital comic as it is a rolling story.

    Cheers for the brew, I've said it to you many times before but Dragon Heir is Ace and was well worth the wait and stupid computer faults (on my end not Emma's).