Clara Meath has contributed much to the world of comic books and art through her talent, class, and work ethic. With the release of her newest works for Scout Comics in the form of Shadow Play, we sat down with her for another addition to “Five Questions and a Creator.” So sit back, relax and enjoy the wisdom and talent of Clara Meath.
This article has been edited for clarity and length.
Comic Burst: With such a diverse contribution to the world of comics, your form and art style is absolutely impressive. Who would you say influenced your style the most and what would be your dream collaboration?
Clara Meath: The best advice I ever got about style was from one of my professors at art school, Doug Dabbs, when he said “Draw the way you draw.” Do that, and you’ll be unique, you’ll be recognizable, and your style will always be evolving, and tightening, and improving because it’s a living thing—but it will always look like yours. Plus it will have joy in it, and it will be evident to your readers that you love what you’re doing. That sort of thing is very tangible on the page.
So from that ramble I guess I’d say Doug Dabbs had the biggest influence on my style. I will say though, the artists I study the most are Sean Murphy, Becky Cloonan, Frazetta, and James Harren. Find a really good artist with a style at least loosely comparable to your own. I love Mike Mignola for example, but his style is so different from mine I don’t grow as much artistically by studying his work, lovely as it is, as I do studying the work of someone like Becky Cloonan whose style is more similar to mine. Honestly though—and this is cop out answer—I would be super intimidated to work with any of these people since we are all artists, and that’s probably too many cooks. Pairing with one of them as a writer, or vice versa, would probably have pretty cool results though.
CB: Your latest project is the highly anticipated Shadow Play where you work with Stabbity Bunny creator Richard Rivera. What was it like working on that project with Richard and Scout Comics?
CM: Shadow Play has been cool in that it was a lot of ‘firsts’ for me. It was my first paying gig, first time designing the look of a fantasy world, first time seeing my work printed by a publisher. Richard is great to work with, especially as an artist. He really wants to see you put your own spin on things, and we’ve worked together long enough now that we understand each other well, and I can get was he’s asking for with minimal information in his scripts. I’ve heard of that happening on artist/writer teams, and I’m excited to be experiencing it. So I guess I’d say I’ve most enjoyed our ‘creative synchronicity’?
For the comic itself though—and I don’t want to give too much away because this is further on in the series—I designed a vehicle at Richard’s prompting called a ‘lizard cart.’ And I really love that lizard cart…sometimes it’s little things.
CB: Do you have any future projects coming up that fans should be on the lookout for?
CM: I just finished Kickstarting an adaptation of Poe’s ‘The Conqueror Worm’ that went very well, and I’m pretty happy with the final product too. Other than that, I do have a new project lined up with both a publisher and a writer that I am very excited to work with. I will be starting that in late February, but at this stage that is all I can say.
CB: Are you planning on being at any conventions in 2019?
CM: I will probably be keeping my con attendance light this year—last year got a little rough and I’m giving myself a bit of a break. I’ll most likely stick to drivable local cons here in the midwest. The only ones I can confirm at this date are MCBA Spring Con and Siouxpercon. If you’re not familiar with the midwest con scene I cannot recommend it highly enough, there is a big comics community here.
CB: Is it getting easier to get recognized as an indie artist and how do you break into the scene?
CM: The only experience I have is my own, so I probably don’t know enough to give a sound answer to this one. Some publishers are leaning harder into indie stuff, some aren’t; comics is a super fickle industry in many ways and I don’t know if it helps to try to predict its moods or trends—or at least, it certainly doesn’t for me, but I’m also not very business-minded.
The ‘how to break in’ question is similarly hard to answer because it is always so circumstantial and case-by-case. In school some of the professors stressed a way of measuring your hireability that has never steered me wrong. If you have two or more of these three traits, you will probably get work:
- 1. You’re fast.
- 2. You’re good.
- 3. You’re easy to work with.
In addition to that, I’d just say make a lot of comics. Post what you make, post every day, tag it well, get some attention, be as kind and grateful to your fans as you possibly can, and learn learn learn learn learn learn. Get training—that might be as simple as a few free classes at a local library, or as all-out as four-year art school—whatever you can manage but do it. You will save yourself so much time if you get training. Get real about self-discipline and setting tangible, escalating goals. Don’t dream; do.