WC: So Emma, how does it feel to be a female comic artist, in an industry, which many still feel is rather male-dominated? Did you ever encounter any challenges based on gender bias?
EV: Not having ever been a male in the industry, I couldn”t tell you if it”s any different being a female, haha. I”m pretty sure it”s no different at all in most ways. I have never, ever felt that my being a woman makes editors or peers see me in any inferior way. I get asked this kind of question a lot and, honestly, it”s frustrating that it still comes up so much, you know? It”s hard to get into comics as a woman, yes. But it”s hard to get into comics, full stop! It”s a wonderful career, but one that requires a hell of a lot of work and commitment. Saying that women are being challenged more is an insult to the many women I know who are out there doing their thing. And implying that they should be treated differently is an insult to the many, talented males I know doing their thing. I”ve worked with a predominantly female team on nearly every project I”ve been involved with. So, from my perspective, there”s no shortage of females in the industry. I can only really offer my own perspective…so who knows? But from writers like Leah Moore, Robin Furth, Gail Simone, Kelly Sue DeConnick through visual artists like Amy Hadley, Emma Rios, Becky Cloonan, Kate Brown and to editors and publishers like Jeanine Schaefer, Karen Berger, Jill Beaton and Emma Hayley, I don”t think we need to mourn for women in comics right now. There may well be less women in the industry than there are men, but that”s true in a lot of businesses. I don”t think comics is a special case. Again, just my feelings ^_~
WC: Although you do commissioned work you also like to create your own stories. For the latter, what inspires your writing and your art?
EV: Everything! Haha. Friends, reading, games, people watching…It”s rare that I”m not being inspired by something; I think most creative types are the same. Every time I get told a cool story or a snippet of history I find myself thinking “damn, that would make a good comic”
WC: When one visits your homepage one can check out pieces from a variety of projects you have worked on. We”ve noticed that you tend to mesh up the western style of drawing and the oriental manga style in a very interesting and harmonious way. Is such a statement a true reflection of your work and what are the main influences for such a fusion of styles if there are any?
EV: I”m a believer in artists drawing what they enjoy and audiences enjoying art for what it is. ^_^ The way I draw is a culmination of inspirations and what I aspire to create. I”m pretty sure I”ll never stop experimenting and changing bits…we”re never finished learning really. If anything, I find it flattering to think that people can recognise my “style” at all as it”s always tough to see it in your own work. I grew up reading a lot of eastern comics, but also Italian, French, British and American. At some point elements of each will have seeped in and come out in my work, so what I”ve ended up with is some sort of fusion, yeah. Hopefully it”s an appealing one, haha.
WC: Your latest work is called Vampire Academy which is a graphic novel adaptation of Richelle Mead”s series by the same name and published by Penguin books. So, this question is in order… are you a vampire fan at heart too or was it strictly business?
EV: While I”ve sort of passed over the whole twilight generation of vampires, I used to adore Anne Rice”s work as a teenager. I don”t think that ever left me, so vampires are still appealing, yeah ^_^ And when I read Vampire Academy to find out what I may be signing up for, I absolutely fell for the characters and scenarios Richelle Mead had created. It”s a genuinely brilliant series that took me by surprise and had my weeping onto the pages in places!
WC: Vampire Academy also made it to the New York Times best seller list in September, Congrats :) What do you think, a graphic novel needs, to make it to the list? What in your opinion are the successful ingredients for Vampire Academy?
EV: I wish I knew…I”d have a lot more books in the NYT list, haha. IN all honesty I think what got VA there largely was Richelle”s work and Richelle”s story. The novels have a big following and that fandom has been incredibly embracing and supportive of the graphic novels. I love them for that and I hope their support means Leigh (dragoon) and I did a good job. The top ten that week we made it in were mostly titles related to television or film. Persepolis, Walking Dead etc…so perhaps wider recognition is part of the key? I”d love to see more original graphic novels getting recognised, but publishing is still just coming out of that place where they see GNs as a “risk”…so getting that wider recognition often relies on other media right now.
WC: What projects do you have in the pipeline and what can you tell us about them?
EV: Well, more Vampire Academy is coming up. ^_^ Also The Thrill Electric is now running online at www.thethrillelectric.com I designed this channel 4 project, written by Leah Moore and John Reppion, drawn by Windflower. It”s great seeing it out there. Updating every Thursday for free! Also, Next year sees the release of book one of the Avalon Chronicles, a series I”m working on for Oni Press with Nunzio DeFilippis and Christina Weir. It”s great fun and I can”t wait for people to be able to read it as I finished the book a little while ago.
WC: Do you have any advice for budding creators who want to break in the business of becoming a professional illustrator/comic creator?
EV: Keep creating! Keep working, learning, adapting, challenging yourself. Focus on getting something finished and out there in the world. Get to events and mingle. Share your work and accept opinions, and get yourself a nice web home. ^_^ Aim for the top, but be prepared to work your way up there.
WC: When did you first hear about the Malta Comic Con and was there a particular reason which convinced you to accept the invitation to attend?
EV: I”ve heard a few creators telling me they had a great time in Malta, and the chance to meet comic like-minds in another country is always exciting! The UK is small, so we tend to see the same crowd at most events over here, haha, I”m looking forward to seeing new faces! I was incredibly grateful to be invited, thank you ^_^