Kelsey Sandy
My little sister, Annie Cox, is 16, and though the term YA may describe her age, it does not define her. Annie Cox was born to be an artist. I find myself often caught between awe and jealousy. She has what I often think of as the artist trifecta: technical talent, creativity, and dedication. She carefully and constantly observes the world around her, then spends nearly all of her free time trying to interpret it through the new (or newly popular) artistic medium of "sequential art."

Via email (because sadly my sister is currently hundreds of miles away from me), I interviewed Annie about her sequential art, her current reading list, and her involvement in the blog community. Below you will find an example of her art, a picture she created for me inspired by my novel-in-progress, The Looking-Glass House.

You can find more of Annie's work at Potluck Comics, here:
"Ghosts in the Bathroom"
If you enjoy her hilarious comic, please spread the love via Facebook, Twitter, or StumbleUpon (links are provided below the comic)!

Q1: Annie, you are a “sequential artist,” right? Could you explain what that means and describe some of the pieces you are working on?

A1: Sequential art is more or less a fancy term for comics in which images are placed in a sequence in order to tell a story. Currently I’m working on illustrating a story for this year’s issue of Hallowscream, an annually released online comic with various Halloween and horror themed stories. It’s a collaboration project between writers and artists and it has the possibility of going to print if enough people contribute to its upcoming fundraiser. My main project, however, is my original comic Hack Girl. Briefly described, it’s about a sociopathic vigilante who confronts online offenders (predators, cyber bullies, etc.) in person, exposing them for what they are when not hiding behind a screen, breaking their computers to prevent anymore of their idiocy, and, depending on the severity of their crime, roughs them a little (or a lot). I only have four pages completely finished, but the first story arc is entirely plot pointed and the first issue is scripted. I have endless enthusiasm for it and tons of future concepts, but haven’t really discussed it with family since it’s weird, dark, and contains copious amount of cursing (for natural effect mind you), but I don’t think fear of family approval should hold back your writing. Kelsey often discussed her worries of writing lesbian scenes in her novel with me and I can easily say without bias that The Looking-Glass House is one of my favorite books.

Q2: Comics and graphic novels have gained a sudden position of prominence in the literary world, particularly with young adults such as yourself. When did you first become interested in graphic novels, comics, and sequential art? What is it about the medium that you enjoy?

A2: I was always excited when a superhero movie was coming out and I started reading tons of webcomics (comics published online) in middle school while occasionally making my own comics. However, I didn’t really get into reading or drawing comics seriously until around last year. It’s a medium that permits my love for writing and drawing to work together. There’s something about how images convey character’s emotions and progress the story that can’t be achieved with simply words. And yet, in that same aspect, a challenge to do so correctly is presented which always adds extra incentive to improve my work. In addition, sequential art allowed me to discover my love for dialogue, something that had always been an awkward aspect of my prose.

Q3: Do you read for inspiration, and if so, who are some of your favorite authors/artists?

Q3: Of course! As for prose, I love Alice Hoffman and am starting the Jeff Lindsay Dexter books (of which I am already in love). A couple of my favorite books are The Catcher in the Rye and One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest because they both have this very natural narrative and relatable/common way of speaking that somehow still achieves eloquent writing. As for comics, I keep up with over fifty webcomics. This is no exaggeration and I won’t start on titles because I have too many favorites. Seriously, some the best comic work can be found online for free by undiscovered artists. My favorite printed comic, however, is Chew by John Layman and Rob Guillory. It’s fantastically strange in story and has a really unique art style. I also love all of Mark Millar’s (Kick-Ass) work and my favorite superhero is Mike Mignola’s Hellboy.

Q4: Do you follow any blogs or participate in any artist forums, and if so, why?

Q4: I’m mostly active on Deviantart which is a great community for artists to share their work and help each other grow and it also includes a “journal” feature which I often treat as a blog to accompany posting my work. It’s just a really good way to receive feedback, give feedback, and make connections. I also follow a lot of artists on Tumblr, a short-form blogging site, but I don’t really post any of my own work there. Sometime I’d like to start a blog just to talk about my projects and ideas. The online community has its flaws, but it’s perfect for shared interests and getting your name out there.

Q5: What comes first, the visual art or the written story?

A5: Typically it’s the written story first as I write a script for myself, but images and panel layouts are already forming as I write.

Q6: Describe your usual writing routine.

A6: I write little blurbs alongside sketches and come up with various things I want to happen during a chapter or issue. Then I connect these events by plot pointing and write a script. Because I’m writing it for my own reference, some scenes are improvised when putting the comic in final form while others are more vivid in my head so all the dialogue is written out. My prose is much more spontaneous.

Q7: You have so much talent as a writer and as an artist. What do you hope for your future?

A7: Thank you! I’m working hard in school in hopes of gaining a scholarship to attend the Savannah College of Art and Design to major in sequential art. After that I’m unsure of the specifics and I know it won’t be easy, but I want to someday be able to work in collaboration with writers and hopefully find a company willing to print my crazy stories.
8) What advice do you have for other young artists out there?
Practice, practice, and practice some more! If you’re passionate and dedicated to art, you will make it the priority of your free time. Make a habit of drawing or writing and make it fun for yourself. It’s going to difficult, but it shouldn’t be a chore. Learn what you enjoy most about art but don’t avoid what’s challenging. Real life is the best reference and at the same time I stress the importance of developing your own style. Oddly enough, this quote comes from Bruce Lee but I feel it especially applies to creating your own style, “Absorb what is useful, discard what is not, add what is uniquely your own.” Drawn on!
4 Responses
  1. Such an awesome interview! Annie's answers were so eloquent, and Hack Girl sounds amazing. I'd love to beta-read for you :). Thanks for doing this, Annie!

  2. Abby Says:

    WOW! She is amazing. What talent. I love to see this kind of stuff. I'm so glad you shared.

  3. Anonymous Says:

    I love her so much. <3 Been following her on deviantART for awhile now and every piece she puts out is just incredible. Her ingenuity will definitely take her places.

    (just a note, though--sequential art has always been popular and it's been around for over 100 years. SeqA includes comic strips and comic books, but it hasn't been until recently that independent graphic novels and webcomics have taken the stage. Just to clarify.)

  4. Kelsey Sandy Says:

    Stripems, I'm so glad to meet a fellow fan of Annie's art! I meant to clarify by saying "newly popular" artistic medium. I know that sequential art has been around for a much longer time, but it has seen a recent explosion in the publishing and pop-culture world. But I do admit that I know relatively little about the art form. I once saw a presentation on the history of comics given by Art Spiegelman at the 2009 AWP conference in Chicago. It was amazing, and I'd love to know more about the subject. I have no drawing capabilities, but I hope one day that Annie and I can work on a project together, me writing, her drawing (though, she is talented in both). Maybe a comic book. Maybe a children's book. Who knows!