Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Profile Antics: A Chat With Rebekah Isaacs (Artist on DV8)

Rebekah Isaacs got her first published comics work drawing "The After Hours" for the Twilight Zone series of graphic novels from Walker Publishing, shortly after graduating from the Savannah College of Art and Design in 2005. She has worked for Devil's Due Publishing, as a guest artist on Hack/Slash and other titles. She relocated from Dahlonega, GA to New York City in 2008, and then landed her first mainstream work at New York Comic-Con '09; a fill-in issue of Ms. Marvel, with writer Brian Reed. Rebekah is now the artist on WildStorm's miniseries revival of DV8, which is currently on the stands. Rebekah lives with her boyfriend Jon and their cat, Fantastic Donut in Queens.

I had noticed Rebekah's listing as a guest at next weeks Heroes Convention in Charlotte, NC. A quick web search revealed that she was a talented artist, so I shot off a request for this interview and thankfully, she agreed.


Q) Rebekah, what kind of story material inspired you as a young person to pursue a career in comics?

I didn't have much access to comics as a kid (the closest LCS was over an hour away) so I wasn't inspired by those until I got into college. What got me into comics was first illustrating my own short stories based on my own X-Men and Star Wars characters. We didn't even have Internet at the time so I had no idea then that I was just writing fan fiction. I mostly just did character designs and a few scenes for each story, nothing really sequential. One of the first comics I read, and the one that ultimately made me realize what I wanted to do, was Watchmen, which I was lucky enough to find at our tiny public library. The next year I was enrolled at SCAD.

Q) By the way, your likeness of Ms. Marvel in her classic, original 1970's costume is pretty cool. How did it feel working on Carol Danvers as your first mainstream comics project?

Ooh, she tricked ya! [My bad!] That was actually Karla Sofen (Moonstone), who'd just been given Carol's identity and old costume as part of joining the Dark Avengers. That was actually way cooler for me because I've got a soft spot for villains!

Q) You've worked for a handful of publishers since graduating from the Sequential Art program at the Savannah College of Art and Design in 2005. What are your long term career goals?

Mostly, I just want to do fun work -- fun for me to draw, but also fun for people to read. I mean, obviously someday getting an exclusive contract, winning an Eisner, getting on the Wizard Top Artists list, etc, would be amazing, but if I'm not having fun drawing, then what's the point? In the long term, that's all I can hope for, that I'm still enjoying it as much as I did when I was a kid.

Q) Women have handily broken through the glass ceiling at this point in the comics industry, with several popular female writers and artists competing for space on the racks, but do you feel that previous work by other women aids your ability to drum up assignments or have you noticed an "all boys" mentality still in place?

I've never felt that being female hindered me from getting work, actually. As a woman, you're automatically going to stand out in a sea of men no matter what, which never hurts. You're going to be remembered for it, and if your portfolio is also good, it's going to get noticed faster. In fact, I would say that if you're looking for mainstream work, being female is going to be a huge boon right now. Editors are actively looking to make the workforce more balanced to attract that elusive female readership. The one thing that I still run into occasionally, though, are preconceived notions about what female artists draw like, and what they're interested in drawing, and which genres they're suited for. I got a lot of "Wow, I wasn't expecting this" and "You don't draw like a girl" when I was showing my portfolio before breaking in, and even though I took them as what they were meant, compliments, it's still a bit troubling. But we're seeing a really diverse style pool from all the female artists working now, new and old, so I hope that'll start to change.

Q) Are you more proactive in seeking out specific work or do you prefer to sit back and see what is offered based on your published stuff?

I don't really feel like I've paid enough dues to really seek out projects yet, but I do try to keep in touch with all my contacts regularly and luckily, that's been keeping the offers flowing in fairly well.

Q) What comics or other genre stuff are you following at the moment? Whose current work do you respond to?

Unfortunately, drawing 10-12 hours a day doesn't leave with much reading time, but when I do I love DMZ, Scalped, and Ex Machina. When I go to the comics store I mostly browse for art that inspires me, and I'm especially loving Chris Sprouse and Rafael Albuquerque's work right now.

Q) What do you think that people find most surprising about you?

My toilet humor is so ridiculous that sometimes I even gross my boyfriend out.

Q) What do you do just to chill out, when you're not at the drawing board?

Anything that gets me out of that chair! I feel restless if I don't log 8-10 miles of exploring the city every weekend. Nerd rock shows, Rifftrax parties, and museums. It's hard for me to just chill when I spend so much time sitting down for my work, but I wouldn't have it any other way.

Q) "Fantastic Donut" is an interesting name for a cat! Is there a story behind that?

I heard a segment on This American Life about two young brothers who were fighting about the name for their new Dog. One wanted "Pasta" and one wanted "Batman." Their mother got so frustrated with their bickering that she chose "Pasta Batman." So my boyfriend and I wrote 5 of our favorite things and on slips of paper and chose random pairs. Our first was "Japan Boner," which was awesome but not appropriate for parents. The second was "Tom Brady Jeff Goldblum" which was just too much of a mouthful. Our third and final was "Fantastic Donut." Also, we had previously planned to swing by Doughnut Plant in the Lower East Side before going to the adoption center, so was just too perfect to pass up.

Q) Lastly, I love team books, and I remember seeing solicitations for DV8's earlier incarnations before, but never picked up any issues. What about the relaunch of this series should appeal to me as a potential fan?

Luckily, it's accessible to people who've never even heard of the team before. There's definitely a large element of mystery to it, and even long-time fans of the team will have questions that won't be answered in the first issue, but because it is so focused on what's happening to them right here, right now, and not on back story, it draws you in immediately. I came into it as a new fan, as well, and I was so surprised by what I read in the first script. It wasn't at all what I expected, and I mean that in a very good way.

Rebekah Isaacs will be appearing in Charlotte, North Carolina as a guest of the Heroes Convention from June 4-6, 2010. The page of artwork included with this post is from DV8 #2, with art by Rebekah and colors by Carrie Strachan. As you can see, she is the "goods"!

Thanks, Rebekah! I really appreciate your willingness to visit the Catacombs and wish you all the best with your career.


nyrdyv said...

Keep up the great work. This interview with Rebekah Isaacs is outstanding.


Steven G. Willis

Chuck Wells said...

Thanks! I'm glad you liked it.

I actually have two more interviews in the pipeline and plan on lining up several more at next weeks Heroes Convention in Charlotte, NC.