“Respect My Craft” – Fiona Staples

In this consumer-based industry, it can be easy to forget the years of hard work that the people in the business put in. Behind every panel, it takes a skilled writer, artist, inker and colorist to make the product complete. Hush Comics’ weekly article “Respect My Craft” will dive into the history of these comic book greats that will hopefully give a new perspective on how the men and women behind the pen (or stylus) contribute to the collective awesome-ness of comic books, or at least give you a reason to invest in their work.

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Click on the link to take you to all of our Denver Comic Con 2014 “Respect My Craft” articles

 

Name: Fiona Staples

Profession: Artist (penciler, inker and colorist)

Notable Work: SagaDV8: Gods and Monsters

“When I DO see kids, I don’t want to say I intently observe them because that’s very creepy, but I have noticed they have different mannerisms than adults. They exist in a world where nothing is really sized to their proportions, so they have funny ways of sitting and fitting themselves into spaces.” – Fiona Staples

Denver Comic-Con 2013 had a who’s who of comic-book elite.  Neal Adams, Chris Ware, Jim Steranko are literal magazine-stand juggernauts. They have stories about every character and book they ever illustrated. These men have created worlds the rest of us rely on for entertainment, and sanity. I stood in line to get into The Con for four hours, but not for them. I stood in line for Fiona Staples. If you haven’t heard of her, or read Saga, or read my review of Saga: Volume One, or have been kidnapped by Skrulls and off-world for the past 3 years, let me take this time to say, “You have no idea what you’ve been missing.”

“This is how an idea becomes real.” Fiona Staples was born in Alberta, Calgary. Like most comic artists, she began drawing at a very young age. Her work was goth and anime inspired. She created from satire and chaos. She found her calling at Sir Winston Churchill High School, and at 19, got her first work in comics shelving at her local comic book store in Calgary. She later attended Alberta College of Art and Design and majored in Digital Communication.

“But ideas are fragile things.” She self-described her earlier work as black comedy, and that attracted her to WildStorm Comics. She was soon approached by Superman Returns and X2 screenwriter, Michael Dougherty, to produce a comic adaptation of his cult classic, Trick ‘r Treat. She remained with WildStorm to illustrate for North 40.  Staples also worked with 30 Days of Night author, Steve Niles on Mystery Society published by IDW in 2010. He was so impressed with her work that he introduced her to his friend, Brian K Vaughn. Lucky us.

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“Two minds can sometimes improve the odds of an idea’s survival.” Brian Vaughn is arguably the best cross-media writer in the business.  He has written for ABC’s acclaimed series Lost, and worked with Steven Spielberg on Showtime’s Under the Dome. He also wrote Vertigo comic’s, Y: The Last Man. This pairing must have been conceived in Odin’s loins. The two began to work on a sci-fi book simply titled, Saga. The book was intentionally created so that it could not be easily adapted into a film. The duo just wanted to create a really good comic book with no gimmick or over-hyped pop culture fodder. Hopefully the rights will never be sold to a studio and we won’t be subjected to unnecessary seasons of bad TV. Both of these artists used a very non-conventional approach to story-telling, so a certain level of integrity had to be assumed. Vaughn and Staples didn’t even officially meet until their panel at San Diego Comic-Con 2011. Regardless, their finished product was astounding.

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“But there are no guarantees.” Saga is that rare work in an art form that comes around once in a lifetime. Staples is deliciously satirical. Flipping through her pages must be a little like reading Chuck Palahniuk’s mind.  It’s a wonderful blend of taboo and the absurd. Her construction is almost as interesting as her end result. Click here to visit her official website. Staples draws her panels in thumbnail format, scans them into Manga Studio where she inks them, takes selfies for reference, then colors them in Photoshop. She also hand writes text in her panels. This technique enhances the story by giving the reader a narrator’s voice through penmanship. It’s absolutely brilliant. From an artist’s perspective her technique may seem like overkill, but without it, we may not have such a polished result. So what do you get? Besides one of the most popular comics on the shelves, an Eisner Award winner for best new series, and the praise of industry peers…you get fans for life. Fans like me, who only want to be inspired again. Fans who want to visit far off lands and meet interesting characters. Staples is also co-owner of Saga and a large chunk of its universe is from her imagination.

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“Sorry, getting ahead of myself.” Much of Fiona Staples personal life is a mystery. Her age is unknown, her Facebook page is filled with riddles and playful myth, but one thing is certain, her work is a breath of fresh air. She conveys emotion through the stroke of a pen, the reader is drawn into her world through color and shape first, and then writing. I won’t spoil Saga for you, if you are interested in a synopsis of the first trade, go back in the Hush Archives. Truly, I suggest picking up or downloading her entire catalog. She has some impressive cover art and variants including the Art of Archie, Ultimate Spider-Man, Superman/Batman and The Walking Dead. 

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 Art taken from http://fionastaples.tumblr.com

 After four hours in line I was able to give her a smile, thank her for renewing my love of comics and awkwardly asked for her autograph. I feel like she is one of those fanboy favorites we love to insult others lack of knowledge of. She is definitely the end to the exhausted gasp of disbelief, “You don’t know….!?” In all honesty, writing this article reminded me why I respect her craft so much. She is an artist’s artist, and the darkest corners of her mind brighten our existence.

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None of the media in this article belongs to Hush Comics; it all belongs to their respective properties (NY Times, Spike TV, Broadway Books). Join us tomorrow as we continue our countdown to Denver Comic Con with Zombie Survival expert, Max Brooks.

Written by John Soweto

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