I came to know the artist/writer Emily Gillis when she started dating my cousin, Marc. Although we’ve actually never met in reality as I’m in Los Angeles and she’s on the East coast we have a mutual interest in creating indie comics. I heard that she was an up and coming creator and when finally reading her stuff I was knocked over by the creativity and unique vision. I sat down and chatted with her on a recent Sunday.
Okay, who are you and where are you from?
My name is Emily Gills and I’m from Colorado, but currently live in Baltimore.
Do you remember when you first knew you wanted to be an artist?
I’ve wanted to go into art since I was very little, but I didn’t really get serious about it till I got into college.
Were you always into comic book art or did you come to it from somewhere else?
Comics are definitely what got me into it. My favorites growing up were things like Garfield and Calvin and Hobbes. I remember drawing my first bound up comic in the 4th grade even.
Who are your major influences as an artist?
People like Hayao Miyazaki, Will Eisner, and Dustin Nguyen are big influences for me. A lot of different webcartoonists too like Sarah Ellerton and Danielle Corsetto have made an impact on me as well.
Yeah, you’re not just an artist, but a writer as well, a true cartoonist. What inspires you to create?
Everything! I get inspiration from people I talk to, songs on the radio, whatever show or book I happen to be watching. There’s no singular place I’ve found inspiration.
That I totally understand. You say that you got serious about art in college, when did you decide to create your on comic and how did that creative process go about?
I started to make comics fairly regularly in high school. Instead of taking notes and such during class, I was drawing pages and covers and jotting down ideas. When I reached college, I took those pages and notes, made some revisions, and started recreating it so that it contained more than just inside jokes that only my friends and I understood.
Do you remember the first comic that you actually published either online or DIY?
That would be the one I started in high school that I’m still working on, Jikoshia.
Wow, that’s cool. I read all of Jikoshia recently online, and I was blown away. The art is stunning and your writing is brisk moving the story along nicely. Its like Alice in Wonderland meets Narnia meets Last Airbender, yet totally unique. Tell us a little bit about Jikoshia and the creative process behind that?
Thanks! Jikoshia is about a girl, Nifty, who discovers another world where there happens to be a prophecy about her coming and saving it from the brink of doom. Along the way, she grows up and figures out what’s it means to be a hero and do the right thing.
It’s kind of an on-going process. I write out a chapter, go over it with my partner in comics, Crystal, who also acts as my colorist, and then draw the pages out by hand before sending them to her for coloring. Lather, rinse, repeat.
Crystal does a wonderful job with the colors as it brings Jikoshia to life. I know you are currently planning to publish the series as a graphic novel using Kickstarter. Tell us about this campaign?
I’m trying to raise $1200 to print 100 copies of the book. They’ll be in full color, roughly 150 pages with the first four chapters and extra content. I’m also offering prints, bookmarks, and commissions as an incentive for people to help the project out. The whole thing’s gotten a really great response so far!
Can you give me a link to your campaign?
Cool. One of you other projects is the online story A Day in the Life of My Cats. This too is witty and fun, where did this one come from?
That was part of an annual challenge called the 24 Hour Comic. The goal is to write a complete, original 24 page comic in a 24 hours period. That comic was the result.
Yes, I’ve heard of that challenge. Well, your results were great, a very fun read. Tell me about two other projects that you have in the pipeline, The Game and Storm.
Those are both going to be shorter fantasy stories. Storm I’ve been kicking around for several years now and is about a student who’s about to graduate college, but her life is interupted when she’s taken prisoner by a civilization in the clouds. It tackles how I felt as I was getting ready to leave school and enter a new life away from everything I had known up to that point.
And what is The Game about?
I started writing The Game last year. The Game is a game demons play to bide there time in the Netherworld where they place bets on people’s souls, as though it was some kind of horse race. When life appears to go wrong for good people, that’s the Game taking effect. One particular demon has been cheating his way through it and tries to help out one human who’s life is constantly kicked around by the Game.
Those both sound promising, I look forward to reading more from you and Wayward Studios. Do you have any advice to newer creators on making it in the indie comic scene?
Just keep producing. Even if you think you’re work is awful, you can’t improve you stop.
Cool, that’s good advice. Finally, where can the fans find your work and how can they contact you?
You can find me on Facebook at facebook.com/jikoshia , Twitter as @thealmightym, Google+at https://plus.google.com/u/0/115258527395560520541/posts, and on DeviantArt at taimariel.deviantart.com
Great thanks for your time and a fun interview.
Andre Owens has been hiding in Los Angeles for over 15 years, a former Director of Photography, he now writes and publishes the cosmic comic, Force Galaxia. He is currently writing and plans to produce a webseries, The Psychedelic Detective. In his free time he enjoys long form television, sushi and a celebration of all things 420. His name’s not Supergreen!