Wednesday

Interview with ARIA INGRAHAM


TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT YOURSELF?

I am a Sagittarius. I love eating, but detest cooking. I run, but mostly to have an excuse to listen to 45 minutes of uninterrupted music a day. Coffee over tea. Beer, never wine. My favorite part of any story is the part where they dance. 


HOW DID YOU GET INTO COMICS?
By inches. My parents took me to see "The Rocketeer" in 1991. While haunting the mall in 1999, I stumbled upon a comic called "Aria" (Avalon Studios). Somewhere along the line I discovered Neil Gaiman and proceeded to read everything he'd ever written including "The Sandman". In 2006 I thought of a great idea for a book- then realized it would work much better as a graphic novel- resolved to read more graphic novels and figure out how it's done. In 2008 an old friend invited me to go to Baltimore ComicCon. That was the first time I was really immersed in the medium. He recommended "Watchmen", "Rising Stars", and pointed out that I missed "Marvel 1602" (Gaiman/ Kubert). I took it from there.

WHAT CREATORS DO YOU FIND INSPIRATION FROM?
All of them. Telling a story is so difficult to do well. It's such a delight to be entertained by someone who can capture your imagination and hold your attention simultaneously. However, there is a lot to be learned from figuring out why you failed to become engaged with something or where you were disconnected from the narrative and lost interest. 

But if you're looking for recommendations, I offer: Neil Gaiman, Mark Millar, Brian K. Vaughan, Bill Willingham, Scott Snyder. Bruce Timm, Mark Hempel, Mark Buckingham, Mike Mignola, Chrissie Zullo. Jasper Fforde. Wes Anderson, Hayao Miyazaki. Frances Hodgson Burnett, Charlotte Bronte, Jane Austen.

WHAT DRAWS (PUN INTENDED) YOU TO DOING COMICS?
When I was younger I wanted to be a novelist. Then I remembered a picture is worth a thousand words and making comics seemed more efficient...

Or maybe I am too much of a control freak. With a traditional novel so much of the heavy creative lifting is done by the reader. All the texture and detail is added by the audience. They decide what the characters are wearing, how the architecture compliments the landscapes, what color the walls have been painted, etc. The only way to ensure that the reader experiences the story exactly as you do is to draw it yourself. Maybe not even then...

Or possibly I was simply bored and looking for a new way to spend a quiet afternoon.

HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN DOING COMICS?
Not long at all. Two years? Maybe three.

IS THERE A CHARACTER OR A TITLE YOU'D LOVE TO WORK ON?
It would be fun to reimagine a classic Sherlock Holmes story in the Batman universe. If someone hasn't already done it, it should be done. 

Honestly, though, I like making comics far too much to consider a career in the industry. When I was in high school I liked flying airplanes. I got my pilot's licence and thought, "I should be a commercial pilot." One (expensive) semester as a Flight Operations major sucked all the fun out of flying. I've not been up in over 15 years. 

ARE YOUR COMICS DONE FOR ANYONE, I.E. DO YOU HAVE AN AUDIENCE IN MIND?
Thus far, I've done them all for me. They're sort of an elaborate Facebook post or Tweet: Look at me! Let me tell you about a thought I had or this thing that happened to me in a way that makes me seem smart, witty, and impossibly cool. Almost everything we put on social media is for our own gratification, isn't it? Mostly we're not engaging with others. It just makes us feel good to stand on the cliff and shout into the void. It's the same with my comics. I'm not saving the world. Just amusing myself in my tiny corner of it.

ARE YOUR COMICS AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL?
Unintentially, yes. When I first started trying to figure out how to draw and tell stories visually (not something I would recommend doing simultaneously, by the way) I was advised not to jump into working on my Big Idea, but to hone my skills with some work that wasn't as near and dear to my heart. To practice, I would just make comics about stuff that happened to me. I would think, "What's the simplest story I can tell?" and pick the first thing that seemed promising. It was an easy way to learn the craft and work on the art without having to think too hard about substance.  It became sort of a habit. Now every time something happens that makes me chuckle, I am automatically thinking about how I would spin it into a comic narrative.

WHAT IS YOUR WORK DAY LIKE?
The days when I don't have a project waiting for me are the best days. Making up stories is my favorite part. Creating a narrative; breaking the beats down into panels; choosing shots: Pure bliss. Fumbling around with pencils and ink is the part that frustrates and (often) disappoints me. I realize I haven't really answered your question.

People are aways asking about my work day. Do you know what I tell them? I tell them, I have a foolproof plan for getting work done. Of couse I do. 
Everyone knows that if it's a day- Look. I'm a worker. Anyone can see that. People, smart people, are impressed by the outstanding work I do. Every day I do it. Let me tell you, we're gonna do a lot of work today. A lot of great work.

WHAT IS YOUR DREAM PROJECT?
I would like to write a graphic novel. With dancing.