5 Question Interview: Guest Edition #16

We put 5 Questions to TBCF2017 Guest, Jessica Martin...

What’s the secret origin story of how you entered the world of comic creation?  

I was bitten by the drawing bug after a family visit to the Tate Modern a few years ago.  It was a book called "The Creative License. (Giving yourself permission to be the artist you truly are) which I bought in the gift shop that set me on the path. This lovely hand drawn and hand lettered book advocated a daily practice of drawing anything, anywhere without judging your efforts or erasing and simply drawing what you see. 

Within a year I had a sketchbook overflowing with sketches of evolving skill and of objects that would never have interested me in drawing before.. like cars, houses, chairs!

I am a musical theatre actress by profession and after a quiet spell, with a lot of drawing, I got cast as Lady of the Lake in a tour of Spamalot. I took my sketchbook along and our leading man, Phill Jupitus who is a die hard comic fan took one look at my sketches and declared "You should try creating a graphic novel."

I'd never created a comic strip let alone a graphic novel but that was my epiphany. I immersed myself in reading graphic novels and was really excited by authors like Posy Simmonds and Alison Bechdel who really were achieving illustrated works with literary merit. 

I also found myself drawn to the realistic and beautifully rendered artwork in the mainstream comics of DC and Marvel which prompted to buy an entire series of the DC How to ... technical guides for comic making. 

Within a few months of teaching myself and a couple of online courses, I had outlined a graphic novel and completed 25 pages. The story "Elsie Harris Picture Palace" which has now been published was in embryonic form but I went to my first comic con in 2012 and bravely showed those pages to the editor of Titan Comics at the time, Steve White. He was very encouraging and introduced me to a network of other writers and artists. At my next comic con, I met Mark Buckingham the highly successful DC comics artist most known for his work on the Vertigo series " Fables". He was also very encouraging and offered to mentor me with my graphic novel and has been a good friend and adviser since that day.

I created my first self published comic " It Girl" about the life of Clara Bow in 2013 which I launched at Thought Bubble Comic Con. Corinne Pearlman from Myriad Editions saw my work and invited me to submit my graphic novel work in progress to the Myriad Editions First Graphic Novel 2014 competition. " Elsie Harris Picture Palace" was in the final shortlist of six. 

The book was picked up by Miwk Publications and published in 2015.

What inspires you to create? 

As people can see from the subject matter of my comics and art prints and indeed " Elsie Harris", I am obsessed with classic film .. the aesthetic, the stories of the stars and the genius of the creatives. 

I am inspired by the beautiful styles of golden age illustrators like Alex RAYMOND, Alex Toth, Jack Kirby and modern comic artists Mark Buckingham, Mike Kaluta, Bryan Talbot and Eddie Campbell. 

What's your favourite thing about what you do? 

My favourite thing about creating comics is the pure autonomy of being able to express something that is in your head in an immediate literary and visual way. After years in the profession of theatre where things are so dependent on the outcome of an audition or financial backing it is refreshing to find a much less obstructive route to one's own creativity.

Since you started, what moment so far has been your highlight? 

There are many highlights for me but one of the defining moments on my 'road to comics' was when I showed Mark Buckingham my early pages for "Elsie Harris Picture Palace" and watched his smiling face as he looked over the work and said " This is lovely!"

That for me, was the moment that gave me confidence and the hope that one day, I could be a contender!

If you could pick one line from comics... what would be your motto?

My motto is from the wonderful Vertigo series Madame Xanadu by Matt Wagner.  The heroine is a psychic and tarot card reader.  On the windows of her establishment are the words, " Enter freely and unafraid"... could be my mantra for entering the comics industry!

Thanks Jessica

You can find more of Jessica online at her WEBSITE, on TWITTER & on IMDB and don't forget to stop by her table at #TBCF2017 and say "Hello"

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