While some of us may be delighted by the biggest and the most popular in the world of comics, we all realize that for every popular book, writer or artist there has to be a beginning. While there are many ways to success with each story finding its own route, there is one attribute that can be found in each one: talent. Up & Coming is a regular feature at Newsarama.com that seeks out the next generation of comic creators and profiles them today.
Cartoonist Annie Wu came to our attention from a post on Warren Ellis' website, and we fell down the rabbit hole into her flickr gallery and blog. Although we couldn't find any concrete comics work, that's what UP & COMING is about – finding new talent before (most) anyone else.
Let's talk to Annie and look at some selections from her artwork.
Newsarama: Hello Annie, thanks for talking to us. To start off can you tell us what you do for a living right now?
Annie Wu: I'm actually a full-time art student, so that takes up a great deal of my time. The plan is to have that translate to full-time illustrator as soon as I graduate, most likely freelance. I also have a weird second life as a professional blogger for a variety of sites, including TVSquad.com and CliqueClack.com's TV blog. I like that both help me keep stay pop culture savvy despite my hectic school schedule. Plus, I've gotten some interesting opportunities from writing on those blogs, such as reporting from events like New York Comic-Con.
NRAMA: What comics/artwork have you done in the past?
AW: Heh, not enough. I feel like it's only fair to call it experimentation. I've been asked by some writers to join forces a few times in my life; some had awesome ideas and good backgrounds so I got all excited about working with them, but then things would unravel on their side and their scripts and my sketches would never see the light of day. In time, I realized that I'm comfortable enough with my writing to manage both sides of future comic-related jobs. That is, unless I somehow find a magic writing partner or someone like Brian K. Vaughan calls me up. I guess you could say the greatest part of my comics history has yet to be written.
NRAMA: Do you have any upcoming comic work planned?
AW: There's nothing particularly concrete in the works, but I'm very determined to develop a personal comic series to pitch by the end of this year. This Fall, a few friends and I will have an Artists' Alley table at the Baltimore Comic-Con (which is an epic ten minute journey from my campus) for the first time and I'll hopefully have some comic work available by then. Again, although there's nothing specific in the foreseeable future, there's a variety of amorphous plans and inklings in the midst. Until then, I'm honing my story-telling skills and learning as much as I can from people I admire.
NRAMA: What about this great Snow Queen image you sent in to us?
AW: Oh yeah. I'm currently taking a course called The Illustrated Book, which is essentially a single project that takes an entire semester to complete. Everyone picks a book to (re-)illustrate and we just have at it, doing everything from cover designs to typography to end papers. I chose Hans Christian Andersen's "Snow Queen" because I greatly enjoyed it when I was little -- not sure why, since it's about kids getting glass in their eye and having a miserable time -- and I think my style will have fun with the tone of the story. There will be lots of moody imagery and oddly fashionable, sinister creatures wearing loud socks and Winklepickers. I'm pretty excited about this project and I hope it comes through in the end product. If everything works out all nice-nice, I'll look into pitching it at the end of the year.
NRAMA: Do you have a dream project you'd like to work on? If so, what is it?
AW: I'd love to take on the challenge of working on my own graphic novel series, Scott Pilgrim-style, or maybe even doing an animated series like The Venture Bros. I really appreciate how SP is very much Bryan Lee O'Malley's project because he both writes and illustrates, and VB's Jackson Publick and Doc Hammer are a major part of the writing, directing, editing, designing, voicing, loving, etc. Certainly, there's nothing wrong with more systematic, layered collaborations, but I'm really interested in that level of involvement and even creating things independently. And I may or may not be saying that because I don't play well with others.
NRAMA: You're going to school for art. Can you tell us about it?
AW: Currently, I am studying at the Maryland Institute College of Art as an Illustration major. There's a definite struggle between fulfilling one's role as student -- you know, making the most of being right in the middle of a high intensity learning process -- while also taking that first step into the professional world. I'm trying to do what I can without exhausting myself and/or wanting to strangle everyone around me. Thankfully, it's a really interesting environment with an incredible variety of talented students and instructors.
NRAMA: Before we go, let's finish off with your ultimate origin: what initially prompted you to get into art?
AW: I've been drawing since Kindergarten or so, and my goals haven't shifted that much since then (you can decide if that's a good or bad thing). As soon as I found out art could be done as a living, I was all over it. Comic books, on the other hand, I didn't get into until high school, and that love has continued to grow throughout college as friends introduced their favorites to me.