With a month to go before this year’s Singapore Toy, Game and Comic Convention (STGCC), we were given the opportunity to interview some of the guests headed our way! We were really excited to kick off our interview series with the co-creator of Eisner-award winning series Lumberjanes – Brooke A Allen.
1. Hi Brooke! To start off, you’re best known, of course, for your work on Lumberjanes – what were the inspirations for your designs and would you do anything different two years later?
Brooke Allen: When I read Grace Ellis’s character descriptions they were already so fleshed out, they felt like real people, most of my work imagining wardrobe, body type, etc. was greatly informed by the richness of each character’s personality profile and background. All of my early designs were pretty terrible though, and Noelle Stevenson reworked most of them into what they are today, the only one that really didn’t change would be April. I think all of my early art I look back on wishing I could streamline it a little more now that I’ve had so much time with the characters to learn how to draw them and keep them on model so to speak.
2. You did an exclusive cover for Newbury Comics for Lumberjanes/Gotham Academy – would you want to work for Marvel or DC in future? If so, what projects would you want to work on?
Brooke: My favorite DC title in a long time has definitely been Babs Tarr, Brenden Fletcher, and Cameron Stewart’s reboot of Batgirl. As far as Marvel goes I love Ms. Marvel, Hellcat, Squirrel Girl, She Hulk, the new Hawkeye, Howard the Duck: any of those titles I’d be thrilled to do work for.
3.Lumberjanes reminds us all of how important it is to have diverse female leads and female creators. Was that something you were looking for in a project?
Brooke: I was definitely looking for a female protagonist for my next creator-owned project so naturally I was beside myself when I was offered to draw a series with an ensemble cast of more than five! And finding out the whole creator team was all female was just the cherry on top of the sundae. I was beyond excited to be a part of such a stellar team.
When I was growing up I didn’t have very many female cartoonists whose work was readily available to me to admire (I remember picking up some of Ashley Wood’s stuff when I was 12 or 13 thinking FINALLY! A WOMAN COMIC ARTIST! naively assuming Ashley had to be a woman’s name and feeling very foolish when I found out he wasn’t). A couple years later I found the work of Chynna Clugston (Blue Monday) and it was life changing. Here was a woman drawing comics about teenagers like myself and she even had funny notes about her fighting with her editor about things and for some reason it just clicked: I can draw comics too when I grow up.
4. What are your thoughts on shows (and their comic adaptations) which have diverse character portrayals such as Avatar: The Last Airbender, The Legend of Korra and Steven Universe?
Brooke: I think cartoons like these are so incredibly important to holding up a mirror to society and showing it how beautiful it could be. They show an accurate and positive depiction of how the world really works when men and women are working together and heroes of their own stories because the world isn’t just male, straight, and white, and homogenizing all of your characters to be so isn’t just stale but totally unauthentic to reality of the rest of the world. It’s important to show people a character they can relate to and see themselves being the heroes of their own stories.
5. In what ways do you feel the comic industry can be more welcoming to diverse creators? In what ways do you feel comic fans can be more welcoming to diverse creators?
Brooke: I think it starts with employing more women, people of color, LGBTQ people, and differently abled people in administrative and editorial positions because they’re responsible for recruiting talent and will look for stories to tell that speak directly to their own experiences and communities.
Fans can be more welcoming to diversity by supporting books (and by extension the creative teams behind them), spreading the word, pre-ordering new titles that have a diverse cast and demanding better representation in future titles and within the teams that create them.
Thanks Brooke for taking the time to write these lovely responses! We can’t wait to see you at STGCC.
Brooke Allen will be making her first appearance at the Singapore Toy, Game & Comic Convention (STGCC) on the 10 and 11 September, at the Sands Expo and Convention Centre, Level B2, Halls E and F. Tickets are available now.