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“The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys” and “Swamp Thing Annual” artist Becky Cloonan made her inaugural visit to the world famous CBR Tiki Lounge high above the show floor at New York Comic Con. Cloonan was on hand to tell CBR about her early involvement in “Killjoys,” how she approaches each new project and the thing she most hates drawing. The conversation wraps up with Cloonan discussing her role as a female creator in the comic book industry as well as her recent move from New York to Montreal.
On her approach to an original project like “Killjoys” as opposed to the “Swamp Thing Annual” for DC Comics: I think every comic deserves a different approach ’cause you’re working on something new so there has to be — you’re in a different head space. The hardest thing to do is to jump back and forth on different books because, as an artist, you’re in one mindset, and then the other. The “Swamp Thing Annual” was much more like a horror, kind of creepy — you know, Swamp Thing’s so spooky, and Arcane is such a creepy bad guy. … There’s some scenes [in the book] that I had to watch deer skinning, like “How to Skin a Deer” videos on YouTube, so it’s a completely different headset than what “Killjoys” is all about. With “Killjoys” it’s more like there’s a lot of future, a lot of inspiration from Syd Mead, “Blade Runner” stuff, Moebius — so it’s a completely different headspace than what I’m in.
On what she hates drawing: The more I draw, the less I hate drawing things that I hate drawing. It used to be that I hated cars, and I hated drawing anything that had angles on it. So this actually goes really far back. In 2001 I worked on a film called “Super Troopers.” … My friends and I did the animation and I did the storyboards. So I go into the thing and I’m sitting there doing the storyboards and they’re like, “So here’s a car chase sequence.” And I drew these cars and they kinda just looked like — I was also, like, 19 or 20 at the time — so my cars all looked like shoe boxes. You know, Kleenex boxes with wheels. And they were kinda like, “Well, really? This is the cars?” I was like, “You got me.” So the next day I went out and I drew all these cars on the street ’cause I was so embarrassed that my cars were so crap. And then I went in again and they were like, “Oh, wow, your cars look a lot better today,” and I was like, “Yeah, I was just having a bad day yesterday. The more I draw it, the more I realize that you can’t really hate drawing anything. Even the backgrounds, like, you have to make — everything is important. And if you hate drawing something it’s gonna show up on the page, so even when I may not necessarily enjoy it, I try to find a way to really like what I’m doing even if it’s a car.
On her role as a high-profile female creator in an industry dominated by men: I definitely like to encourage ladies to get into comics, and try to make my work accessible to girls as well. I taught at SVA [School of Visual Arts] for a little bit and my classes were over half girls and it was awesome. So that was really cool to see, and whenever a girl comes up to me like, “Oh, you know you’re my inspiration, blah blah blah,” it’s so sweet, and it does mean a lot because I had ladies I looked up to as well when I was first starting out.