How do the pros #MakeComics? We’re here to tell you. Every second week, Comicosity is picking the brains of a pro who is killing it in the comics industry, and this week I was lucky enough to talk to Tini Howard! Tini is the writer of Assassinistas, Rick & Morty: Pocket Like You Stole It, The Skeptics, Hack/Slash Resurrection and more, and was kind enough to give us a glimpse into how she makes comics!
What does a typical day in the life of Tini look like?
I really like to ‘pass’ on this question…but I won’t.
I’m not happy when I have the same schedule every day. If I was, I’d probably still be in the marketing field. So long as the day starts with coffee, I like the rest to change from day to day. But I do plan it. I’m a slave to my paper planner. Like a datebook. An agenda. My Queer Feminist Agenda, if you will.
I like to write in the morning while my partner is either out working or still in bed sleeping, and get done with my writing and paperwork with enough daylight to go out into my garden. I either pull weeds and work, or I just lay out there on a blanket and take my ‘lunchbreak’ to read a book in the sun. Then I’m usually back at work on the second shift when my partner leaves for evening work (he does haunted historical tours, we live in an old city) where I do my best creative work. Pour a drink, crank a playlist, and create.
What time of day do you do your best work?
I like having two shifts – one early in the day, and one in the evening. I’m not a late night person, though, that’s for sure.
Comics is a collaborative medium. How do you work with your teammates on your projects?
I’m in comics because it’s collaborative. I’ve mentioned before that I came up writing out of fandom, that I love the feeling of sending a project back and forth between me and my collaborators, texting each other ideas and headcanons about our own creation, loving a story together. That’s how my favorite collaborations feel.
How do you manage your to-do list?
I put in chores that I actually like doing. I’m an ‘active relaxer’ – meaning I relax better working in my garden or cooking than I do sitting down and watching TV. So my list will be like ‘respond to a fun email survey from Aaron Long’ in there with ‘go to post office’ and ‘pack things for a con.’ And then I’ll also put things like ‘eat lunch’ or ‘water your plants’ in there, too.
What is your workspace like?
I’m supposed to clean my office today. I’ll do that and then send you one.
I have an office that doubles as a guestroom. It’s got a lot of my favorite things – a whole case of Batman and Robin figurines, my record player and vinyl collection, a lot of original art from friends and favorite artists. My writing computer is also my Overwatch machine, which means I have to be very good. But I like that I have a guest bed in my office. Sometimes I can just lay there and listen to music if I’m stumped. I eat my dinner in there a lot, that’s probably not good, actually. It’s also overflowing with comps at the moment.
What tools are essential to your creative process?
I need a notebook and a good pen to brainstorm, a playlist and a way to play it, a computer to type on, a snack and a cup of coffee. And a place to pace and wander. Sunshine helps, too.
What do you love most about creating comics?
Collaboration. Making something with someone and then showing it to the world.
What is your favourite phase of a project?
The ‘listen-to-music-and-drive-around-getting-butterflies-about-it’ phase, for sure.
What do you listen to or watch while you work?
I have playlists for EVERY project! Literally every one. The only one I never made a playlist for was Rick and Morty – their banter is so perfect that I couldn’t get it right if I listened to anything but Rick and Morty episodes while I wrote. But everything else, yes. Playlists. When I’m not writing and I’m just doing other work – like responding to emails or packing for conventions – I listen to podcasts. I’m addicted to My Favorite Murder right now.
When you aren’t creating comics, how do you like to spend your time?
Cooking, reading, gardening, hiking, shopping, drinking wine on blankets in the grass with my friends. I live in a beautiful beach town in North Carolina, I spend a lot of days at the beach!
Networking and meeting other creators is an important part of the business. What is your preferred way to network?
Cons are a blast, of course, but I end up being friends with a lot of artists I admire via things like fanart or work they do! I just reach out and tell them how much I love it and we get to talking. Also there’s this thing called the telephone that I tried to avoid for a long time? But Shelly (Bond, my ASSASSINISTAS editor) is a phone person, and we get on the phone once a week and talk about my projects. It’s….transformative, I’m addicted.
What comics are you reading right now?
I’m reading a lot of Junji Ito again, I just picked up the new collection of his stuff, Shiver. I’m always reading Deadly Class, Batman, Low, Nightwing (always), Wicked + Divine, a lot of the New Archie stuff, and my fave, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. I’m reading a lot for my next creator-owned project, too – lots about death and the controversies surrounding how we process it in a modern world. Less comics, but a lot on my mind.
What do you hope to see in the industry in the future?
I was a kid who didn’t feel comfortable in comic shops and got all my books from the library or the bookstore. I want to see comics continuing to diversify by reaching out to those spaces more and more. And I want to see people that aren’t straight white men getting to write the big characters if they want. I’m big on women writing male characters.
Check out Tini’s work here and check back in 2 weeks for a new #MakeComics interview!