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.
Currently working as a freelance magazine illustrator, artist Ming Doyle has taken the first steps into a career in comics with a short in TOKYOPOP's Threads Of Time Vol. 8, and work in several upcoming anthologies. She's also gained some acclaim online for a series of fan fiction comics showing her true fan colors as a fan of DC Comics.
For more, we spoke with her by email.
Newsarama: Thanks for talking to us, Ming. Let's start with your credentials – what comics have you got published in comics so far?
Ming Doyle: Not a lot. I did a backup feature for Tokyopop while I was still in art school which was a fun exercise in using way too many speed lines, and last year I came up with a short gag comic for Sina Grace's indie series Books with Pictures about a girl's quiet passion for imported sequential smut.
NRAMA: On your website you've got a series of comic fanfictions that are hilarious. What prompted you to do these?
MD: Oh, jeez. Some of the comics like Why Kids Love Green Arrow and Making Bizarros are more fanthropological pieces inspired by actual events than fanfictions. The former concerns my first (successful) trip to the New York Comic-Con with Brandon, where we met a kid who could only have been more emphatically, vocally supportive of Green Arrow if he was preparing to renew his vows to the man on the occasion of their golden anniversary. The latter is a verbatim exchange between Brandon and myself during a telephone conversation concerning Bizarro's ghastly origins.We seem to find ourselves in all manner of nerdy situations. I haven't even drawn the encounter I had with a self-proclaimed "paranormal investigator" who was moonlighting as our cashier on a late night action figure run to Toys 'R' Us last Halloween! I was dressed as Batgirl at the time.
Lunky Beefhead is my only humorous comic featuring actual DC characters as themselves, but I've got a lot of love for it. I've got a lot of love for Clark Kent. I sympathize with his plight. Not his orphaned alien messiah plight, but his awkward around people sometimes plight. There's a lot to admire about the big galoot in free trade slacks with an earnest appreciation for semicolons.
NRAMA I see that you also have stories in two upcoming anthologies. Can you tell us about that?
MD: Sure! Both anthologies are being published by Image and should be out this summer. I handled full art duties on writer Tim Daniel's piece for PopGun Volume 2, a kind of freewheeling "mix-tape" anthology on the theme of not having a common theme. Our piece is therefore rather aptly entitled "Loner," and it's basically a spooky tone poem touching on love, estrangement, isolation and the endurance of a human spirit caught between classes at an average American middle school.
I also recently wrapped up pencils and inks for "The Waitress" by Rantz Hoseley in the Tori Amos-inspired Comic Book Tattoo (colors by Mark Sweeney, with Rantz pulling double duty as editor for the anthology proper as well). That'll be out in time for the San Diego Comic-Con.
NRAMA: Sounds like you just wrapped that up. What are you working on now?
MD: In terms of comics, a Western piece for another Image anthology, Outlaw Territory, and maybe a little something for Secret Identities, "the Asian American Superhero Anthology."
NRAMA: Ultimately, what do you want to do in comics?
MD: Draw superheroes a bunch! A few people have said that my style might be too "unique" for mainstream art, and I can appreciate where that viewpoint's coming from. But too unique for a billionaire in armored long johns, a woman made out of clay or anyone who's green or blue? Maybe, but I tend to think that their strange pulp and sci-fi roots are what helped many comics become so popular in the first place. Weeding out the weird can sometimes have the unintended consequence of killing what made them interesting at all.
That being said, bring on the Strange Doctors of Fate and the occult, the stage magicians, cranky underwater monarchs and mythological creatures. I'd love to develop or work on a miniseries dedicated to any of these lesser known distinctive dressers.
And like most other artists, I want to do covers. Preferably for one series over a sustained run. Nothing's more fun than building up a character's iconography and visual lexicon.
Ultimately, I want whatever I make to be good. I'm afraid I usually appreciate quality over quantity, which makes me think I should stick to the shorter, more self-contained stuff. Cool as he is, I couldn't get up and draw Batman every day of my life. I could, however, get up and draw him every day for a year.
And then there's original work, but I'm still figuring that one out.
NRAMA: Did you go to school any for comics, or art in general?
MD: I did. I actually took a beginning illustration course at RISD's summer program with Lucy Knisley back in high school, though neither of us ended up going there for college. I earned my BFA from Cornell University last year with a dual concentration in painting and drawing, and that's certainly informed my comics work. Since it was a fine arts program we didn't have classes in color theory or perspective or anything so useful as that, but we did do a lot of life drawing and were required to take at least five art history courses as part of our academic curriculum.
I also met one of my closest friends there, pop culture artist and enthusiast Brandon Bird. He's a great enabler when it comes to being a comics geek.
NRAMA: What do you do for a living now?
MD: Mainly freelance illustration for magazines, personal commissions and the occasional storyboarding or concept job. I love doing editorial work and covers even when the turnaround is just a matter of days. The pressure makes for a totally action-packed adventure, and I enjoy distilling a story or article into one singular image.
For more on Ming Doyle, visit her website at www.mingdoyle.com.