Monday, June 14, 2010

Colleen Coover - Cartoonist Survey #134

Born in Iowa in 1969, Colleen Coover is a comic book artist and illustrator. Other than a few art classes in high school and some life drawing courses in college she is mostly self taught. She is the creator and artist of the lesbian-themed erotic comic book, Small Favors which was published by Eros Comix. The first seven issues of Small Favors have been collected into two volumes by Eros and the complete series has also been published in a German translation. Her other comic book series is the all-ages four issue mini-series, Banana Sunday (written by her then boyfriend, Paul Tobin under the name ‘Root Nibot’) from Oni Press which was collected into book form in 2006. Colleen’s comic work can also be seen in Marvel Comics’ X-Men First Class, Spider-Man Family, Power Pack and other Marvel publications. Her illustrations frequently appear in newspapers and magazines including The Seattle Stranger, Portland Monthly, Nickelodeon magazine, The Portland Mercury and Dark Horse Comics. In August of 2007 Colleen married comic book writer Paul Tobin and they presently live and work in Portland, OR. She is a member of Periscope Studio which is a collective of more than twenty artists and writers who share a studio space in Portland. Visit Colleen’s website to see more of her work.

What is your favorite pen to use?
I don’t use a pen very often—I use a Winsor & Newton Series 7 watercolor round brush, size 1.

Do you draw in pencil first and if so do you use a standard pencil or a mechanical one?
Yes, I use a mechanical pencil; one of the cheap plastic thick barrel ones you can get in any school supply section, with F hardness lead.

Do you do your coloring by hand or on the computer?
I use Photoshop on my computer.

If you do your coloring by hand, what do you use?
I do sometimes do watercolor drawings for commission pieces.

What type of paper do you use?
I use Strathmore 500 series Bristol paper.

What thing(s) do you hate to draw?
Tables and chairs, because there are so many legs to draw and make sure they work in perspective.

Do you buy your supplies from big chain art store catalogues/websites or a local one that you physically go to?
There’s a large local art supplier two blocks from my home. I usually go there.

Are there any rituals that you do before starting to draw?
No, not really.

Do you listen to music while you draw and if so what genre?
Not much, though sometimes my studio mates will play music. When they do, I prefer classic rock because it’s fun to sing along to.

Did you read comics as a kid and if so what was your favorite?
I read comics extensively! I liked Harvey comics and any superhero books I could get hold of, but I can’t honestly point to any definite favorites. I was a very non-discriminatory comic book reader.

What is or was your favorite comic strip?
My favorite strip of all time is Terry & The Pirates by Milton Caniff, the adventure strip from the 1930’s and ‘40’s. My favorite strip growing up was probably Peanuts.

What was your favorite book as a child and do you still own a copy of it?
One of my favorite storybooks was The Color Kittens, by Margaret Wise Brown, which is all about a couple of little house-painting kitties who mix paint to make new colors. I learned about color theory at a very young age because of that book! I do not still have a copy, but it’s still in print as a Little Golden Book, and I bought a copy for a friend’s kids a couple of years ago.

Did you have any formal art training and if so where did you receive it?
I took art classes in high school, and some life drawing in college. Other than that, I am self-taught.

Do you feel that the Internet is a blessing or a curse?
Absolutely a blessing. It allows anyone to publish work for little-to-no money, and reach a worldwide audience.

Did either of your parents draw?

Who in your life is/was the most supportive of your art?
My husband, writer Paul Tobin.

Do you keep a sketchbook?
I’ve never been able to keep up the habit.

Have you ever taught cartooning/drawing and if so did you enjoy the experience?
I’ve done a couple of workshops, but I’ve never taught a class. I prefer to teach one-on-one, as I do with some of the interns at my studio. I help them see what they can do differently to make their work better, and of course by teaching them, I learn a lot.

Do you feel that talent or passion is more important in drawing?
Passion is more important, because passion can lead to talent. Talent without passion too often leads to laziness and hackery.

Do you collect anything and if so what?
My husband and I collect original art, both from comics and illustration.

If you were an animated cartoon character who do you think you would be?
Er, maybe a female version of Bugs Bunny, on account of his smart mouth. And I have never yet turned left at Albuquerque.

Are you a righty or lefty?

If you weren't an artist what would you want to do for work?
A year ago I would have said go mad and live off the dole, because I can’t do anything else. But now I think I would be a writer, as I realize there’s a lot of storytelling I could do that I don’t get to do in my illustration work.

In one or two sentences describe your drawing area.
I have a drawing table in a large office space shared communally by a couple dozen artists and writers in downtown Portland. We call it Periscope studio.

Do you play any musical instruments?
No. Music is a complete mystery to me.

If you could give one piece of advice to someone who wants to pursue drawing as a career what would it be?
You need to have a fundamental compulsion to draw. If I weren’t getting paid assignments, I would still be making comics on my own. I can’t help it! The best way—the only way, in my view—to get professional work is to show that you are motivated from within.

Who is your favorite artist?
Milton Caniff.

Thanks again Colleen.

Next time on David-Wasting-Paper is editorial cartoonist Nate Beeler.

1 comment:

P.L. Frederick said...

Wow, she sure can draw! Thanks for bringing her to my attention, Dave.

P.L. Frederick (Small & Big)