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Indie Creator Spotlight: Claire Connelly

photo by Carlos Gonzalez

COMIC LOUNGE: For those that may not be familiar with your work, can you us a brief run down on yourself?

CLAIRE: I’m Claire Connelly, I’m a comic creator and Illustrator. I’m best known for making off beat mini and alternative comics about sci-fi and dying.

I’ve written, drawn, and published the mini series Black Eyes, Down with the Ship: a collection of Comics, The Long Year, and Bird Song. I’m currently working on her sixth graphic novel Captain Lost.

I’m also known as the artist on the series Animals written by Eric Grissom, The Unauthorized Biography of Winston Churchill: a Documentary, and Cheese with Erica Schultz that are available on ComiXology. I’ve illustrated several short stories for mini comics and anthologies. As well have drawn several covers and pin-ups for comics floating in the comic-verse. COMIC LOUNGE: What was your first exposure to the world of comics?

CLAIRE: My first exposure to comics would be newspaper strips, like the Peanuts and such. I remember the Sunday pages being oversized and in color. There was also a small selection of comics at the grocery store like Archie and Disney comics.

Then when I got a little older I had Captain Underpants and Calvin and Hobbes, then I read a lot of X-Men and Simpson comics when I got a little older. I was coming to age during the ultimate’s line of marvel comics. So for better or worse I read a lot of those. But after a few years of reading super hero comics I was looking for something else. This was during the rise of Manga in America but couldn’t really find any series that resonated with me at the time.

Following that I didn’t read comics for many years until I discovered Mouse guard and Skottie Young’s Wizard of Oz early in college. I was lucky to have a professor who had a huge alternative comics collection and would bring me bags of books to read during class like Drawn and Quarterly, top shelf comics, and Fantagraphics.

COMIC LOUNGE: To me a see a little Lemire and Kindt in your art, Who were some of your artistic influences growing up?

CLAIRE: I’m definitely a Jeff Lemire fan. I was reading his book Essex County when I was getting seriously back into comics in college it was the first time I thought, “ Oh I could make comics”. I’ve never seen a comic drawn in such a brushy inky style. His style is so raw especially his earlier work. I like the abstract nature of the art that then makes a narrative image.

I’m also a huge fan of Mike Mignola, especially the way he builds up panel composition with the use of positive/ negative space and the use of Black. As well a Mobius for subject manner and composition, the long horizon off in background.

I also grew up in the Disney Renaissance and the rise of Nickelodeon then cartoon network. So animation played a huge role in my artist development. Especially shows like Rugrats, Samurai Jack, and Courage the Cowardly Dog.

More general inspiration would be the 80’s black and white boom, 90’s alt comics, and componentry small press culture. Some of my favorite publishers would be Top Shelf and No Brow. Both produce some truly beautiful books.

COMIC LOUNGE: I discovered your work from the Kayfabe channel. Has that exposure led to any new fans?

CLAIRE: Kayfabe has brought me some attention; I live on the east coast of the US. So it’s given some more west coast people a chance to see my work. I do a few shows a year but haven’t been able to travel to the west coast for a show yet. The Kayfabe channel is a constant source for me in getting a more in-depth education in comics and connecting with people who want to have in depth conversations about comics.

COMIC LOUNGE: What do you tackle first, story or art, when working on a new book?

CLAIRE: It really depends on if I’m working with a writer/publisher or not. When working with another collaborator I work in a very traditional American style of comic making.

First I get the script from the writer and start breaking it down into layouts and try to get through the whole script. Then I take the small draws and make them larger and more detailed, to send off and be approved by the writer or editorial. Then it’s a back and forth game until every page is approved before moving onto final art. Final art is a pain to change. Then I moved forward and start to draw the final art. I use some pretty standard tools when it comes to drawing, watercolor paper, pencils, brush, and ink.