In the latest edition of Multiversity Comics Presents, we interview Portland’s Emi Lenox. We recently spotlighted Emi’s webcomic Emitown, which is a very entertaining look at Emi’s day to day life. She is a very talented young creator who I think has a bright future in comics, and I’d definitely recommend checking her work out sooner rather than later.
Check out our interview with her and be sure to take a look at her work if you enjoy this interview.
To take a page out of Warren Ellis’ book…why comics?
EL: If you hate descriptive writing and can’t afford film equipment, how else are you going to make whatever you want to have happen, happen? Ha!
When did you first know that you wanted to work in the comic industry?
EL: I went through a long period where I had no idea what I wanted to do. The idea of the comic industry really didn’t hit until perhaps 5 years ago. I’ve always enjoyed comics but never could fathom making it a full time job. At first, I didn’t want to draw for a career. I worried deadlines and forced art would make my hobby into a chore. I interned for Periscope Studio and Top Shelf Productions back in March, thinking I wanted to work behind the scenes in production instead. It wasn’t until just a couple months ago that I started to apply myself more and began to see it may be possible to make something out of my silly comics! I am still working hard towards a career and I’ve learned a lot thus far. I doubt that if it wasn’t for the encouragement I received from both internships that I would be where I am today. I’d probably be eating ramen noodles in front of the ol’ tube, drafting table still tucked away in my parent’s garage.
Given that Portland is the home of many fantastic comic publishers, including (but not limited to!) Dark Horse Comics, Oni Press, and Top Shelf, how does the city that you live in influence your work?
EL: I don’t want to sound repetitive but a lot of it was the encouragement I received from fellow artists and my internship at Top Shelf and Periscope. And what’s more inspiring is knowing that I am living in a comic city where all sorts of comics are coming to life. That’s pretty awesome.
A lot of people (myself included) have personal blogs where they share lots of details of their lives on the web for all to see. However, yours is even more open as you not only share the minutiae but bits of your imagination as well. When did you decide that you’d be willing to share your life with basically the whole world? Was it a tough decision?
EL: It wasn’t an easy decision. I started drawing my diary comic a year ago, never thinking that it would someday be online. I doubt I would have ever put it online if Brett Warnock and Leigh Walton (Top Shelf) hadn’t encouraged me to do so in March. Even then, I debated it for a good week. A lot of the older entries are much more personal. As time went on, the personal stuff became increasingly vague or was replaced by metaphors such as Ocean Girl, war, and the girl in the fishing boat. The really personal stuff, which dates back in October of 2008 to February 2009, still is not online. I am thinking about making a book of the old entries to sell exclusively at cons.
Who would you say your main influences are on your art? It often reminds me of Craig Thompson by way of Bryan Lee O’Malley, with maybe a little Kazu Kibuishi thrown in there. You seem to be able to change styles on a dime, which makes it difficult to pinpoint.
EL: I had been drawing circle head versions of myself since 2002 but I would be lying if Bryan Lee O’Malley didn’t influence me when I read “Lost at Sea”. Craig Thompson is definitely a huge factor in that I had always admired his brush work and how he could make anything beautiful and sincere. I’m not very familiar with Kazu, but I would have to say my main influences would have to be Craig Thompson, Jeff Smith, Bryan Lee O’Malley, Becky Cloonan, Adrian Tomine, Alan Tew, and even Charles Schulz.Continued below
If I look back to when I was super young, I’d have to admit that Akira Toriyama had the biggest influence. He got me drawing comics in the first place when I was 12. I think a lot of the over-the-top expressions were inspired by him. I watched/read a lot of “Dr. Slump” (it’s HILARIOUS) and “Dragonball”. You see something you like and you study it and it naturally becomes incorporated in your own style.
In regard to changing styles on a dime, I’ve been told that before. I think I draw in the style of whatever mood I am in or mood I want to portray in the drawing.
What is your process when you are planning out an edition of Emitown? As I said in our feature on Emitown, the inclusion of things such as post it notes or complete variations on your artistic style make it seem like you’d really need to ponder your layouts before even starting.
EL: Basically, I carry a notepad in my bag wherever I go. I am very forgetful at heart, so when something happens that I think is funny or that I want to remember, I jot it down. I may even include a sketch of how I want to draw it. Then later I sit down and just draw it out. I don’t really think of the layout beforehand, I draw a picture on one part of the page and then lay it out as I go along. I do try to make it look balanced. Some times are less successful than others. At work, I am surrounded by these sticky note pads. I LOVE THEM. I sit and make lists all the time (I can’t remember worth a dime!) and I stick them in my sketch journal because A) I will never lose it that way B) errr…uh..I like it!
I’ve read that you’re going to have a story in the next Popgun Anthology from Image. How does it feel to work on a project that such esteemed creators as Mike Allred, Paul Pope, Jim Mahfood and many others have worked on before?
EL: I’m very excited! I have to admit, I do feel a little intimidated but that will hopefully encourage me to do my best!
Would you ever work with one of the big 2 publishers? Your current situation has you working with Image for Popgun, but Marvel/DC is an entirely different spectrum given the editorial restrictions you’d likely face. Is there any interest there?
EL: I have to admit there isn’t a lot of interest but if by some act of God, I could work on Batgirl…I’m talking when young Barbara Gordon was Batgirl, I have no idea who it is now…I would definitely jump on that horse.
Who would a dream collaborator be?
EL: I’ve never really thought about this. If I were to choose I would love to collab with Bryan Lee O’Malley. Since we both have that silliness goin’ on. I dig that.
If such a thing exists (and it turns out that it isn’t something of a personal nature like Emitown), is there a dream project for you? Perhaps a character or something you grew up reading that you’d like to adapt/work with?
EL: OMG, Batgirl, young Barbara Gordon style. Or maybe reviving Dr. Slump.
Alright — cats…why cats? Cats appear as much as anything besides yourself in your work, as your title banner is yourself and a platoon of fearsome kitties. Given that Multiversity creator Matt adores cats and they frequently appear at our site, I’d be remiss to not ask that question.
EL: The answer is simple: I LOVE CATS. I understand I own a dog and am currently catless. I make it up by drawing them into EmiTown. Plus, it only seems right that I have a platoon of kitties.
If you could have a super power (besides the ability to fly, shooting missiles from your eyes, or materializing H-bombs out of your hands), what would it be?
EL: Teleportation or is that kind of a derivative of flying? If so, then telekinetic powers…That’s the one where you move things with your mind, right?Continued below
When looking around at your other blogs, I saw one in particular that caught my eye: an illustration of Supergirl covering her eyes with her hair with a post it note that quotes “Rebellion (Lies)” by Arcade Fire. Is music a big influence on your work?
EL: Biggie time! Music has been a big influence on my work since the dawn of time. There is nothing I enjoy more than getting absorbed into a song (I love sad ones) and drawing out the mood.
What are your future plans? Emitown to infinity and beyond? Becoming Queen of the comic world? Designing your own donut at Voodoo Donuts?
EL: I have some personal projects aside from EmiTown that I hope to complete and print out someday. I do want to see if I can manage to keep up with EmiTown until the day I die. Although, with old age, the drawings may progressively worsen but it would be awesome if I did it! What a feat that would be!! When I’m dead, it can say EmiTown on my tombstone…then it would REALLY be underground. GET IT? *cough* *ahem*
I just hope I can someday be successful enough to drop the ol’ 40hr a week day job and live comfortably. So I do as I was taught to do: produce, produce, PRODUCE!
As for the donut, it would totally be a breakfast burrito donut…I’m thinking donut cut in half, put ham, cheese, and egg? GROSS? But they make donut burgers!
If you enjoyed this interview with Emi, please check out Emitown. That page also has links to her other ongoing projects, which are also a joy.