We get a chance to have a no pressure conversation about comics with female creators in the community. Their creativity is inspiring to people throughout the comic fandom who enjoy their work.
They are our HERoes.
From Semiautomagic, Miranda Mercury, RoboCop, Exit Generation, Deadhorse, to Headspace and Sovereign… Dark Horse, Image, BOOM! Studios and the digital first Monkeybrain have all been touched by the colorful eye of Marissa Louise. We were able to ask the colorist about her work days, which books have influenced her and the importance of staying grounded even when things go well in your career.
Jessica Boyd: What is your favorite aspect of comics?
Marissa Louise: Low cost diaspora of ideas.
JB: What is your favorite part of creating comics?
ML: I love the collaboration. It always takes an idea to greater heights.
ML: EC Tales of and Mad Magazine always had a really high caliber of art. It was also much easier to get access to those when I was little. I also read lots of Mike Mignola from the library. Dark Horse fills lots of libraries in Portland with comics and manga.
JB: What is a typical creative working day for you?
ML: Get up around five am sketch a little. Go back to sleep for an hour. Feed the cats. Answer emails and plan my day while drinking coffee. Days when my husband is off work are always shorter (8 hours or so). Days where he’s at work I get to work 9am-7 pm or 9 pm. If deadlines are loose I goof around a little with the cats and take meal breaks. Do house hold chores when I’m stuck on a page.
But mostly I just color and answer emails for the day and try to take exercise breaks.
JB: Musical inspirations? Or do you need quiet to create?
ML: I like to be exposed to new things so I also listen to WFMU streaming or recorded programs like $mall Change for Heroes & Villians or Liz Berg Show or Bitslap. I will get my friends to send me plays lists. I have a “Meet your deadlines” play list of Hurricane Smith, Iggy Pop, Harry Nilsson, The Unicorns, Art Brut, Kid Creole & the Coconuts, King Khan & The Shrines, and other high energy stuff I can warble along to when I need to work extra fast. During the day I’ll listen to podcasts or history lectures.
JB: What is your favorite representation of women in comics (floppies, webcomics, any medium?)
ML: There are lots of excellent examples of female characters. I am fortunate enough to work with many great female characters right now like Miranda Mercury and Ann Lewis and a few more I can’t disclose right now. Original Spider-Woman is pretty great. It gets a little cheesy-cake at times but I think she sincerely cares and tries hard. I know lots of people hate the outfit, but I’ve always loved it. If we expand outside of comics I LOVE Mattie Ross from True Grit, she’s a complicated little girl. I really identify with an element of each of Ranma’s fiancee’s in Ranma 1/2. I would be remiss to not mention the Sailor Scouts. I deeply love Parker and Sophie Devereaux from Leverage.
JB: What is one of your favorite story or cover you have ever been part of creating?
I was also fortunate enough to be party to Georgia Webber’s silent reading happening. I helped iron out a few wrinkles so she can take it around the country. I think it’s an excellent example of comic’s direct ability to create empathy and disseminate idea’s quickly.
JB: What do you think is the biggest impact of female voices in the creation process?
ML: We’ve always been here. Women were working at EC from the beginning. Jackie Ormes created Torchy Brown in ’37. It is my understanding that women have always been highly represented in coloring. Especially if you count the little old ladies in upstate cutting up separations for production.
I think it was really only in the 1990’s when comics became an ouroboros of marketing, self censored history and pop culture reflection of comics being just for boys.
JB: What role do you think social media plays in comics or the comics industry? How has that changed since you began?
ML: I’m new enough to the game that social media has always been around for me in comics. But when I was doing fine arts and illustration in the early 2000s it wasn’t really a thing. I spent a lot of time going to openings and events trying to get face time with gallery owners, artists and collectors. It was intensely challenging to secure time with someone. I haven’t always been the charmer you see before you, so I messed up a lot of my early career connections with poor interactions.
JB: What do you feel is the biggest impact of the growing number of female fans or the acknowledgement of female fans in comics?
ML: Like I said earlier, women have always been here. It just depends on how you tilt the numbers. Saladin Ahmed is working on collecting hard data of young females consumers before the comics code went into effect. Archie & EC always had strong female readership. Why even Spider-woman #17 has a letter in the back asking them to chill it with the cheesecake and all the other letters are from women saying the love Jessica.
When comics moved out of spin racks and into dedicated stores many women moved over to manga. I went to comics conventions when I was 15 kn the ’90s, I was definitely not the only girl there.
ML: I was lucky in this regard because I failed in many previous industries and learned from it. But one piece of advise is true for almost all beginners in every industry: You aren’t hot shit.
No matter how good your work is, don’t be a jerk, because your work isn’t that good yet.Working in any creative industry is about building reliable networks that want to continue to work with you, be it galleries, publishers, art directors, or suits.
JB: What message(s) do you hope people get when experiencing your work?
ML: As a colorist I’m not as much in charge of creating the message, but I try to make sure all my books normalize diversity, because that’s normal to me.
JB: When it comes to comics, “all I want or dream is …”
ML: All I want is to do the best work I possibly can and to provide for my family.
Follow Marissa Louise on Twitter at @marissadraws
Follow Marissa on Facebook page where she puts up WIPs & appearances: https://www.