A Women in Comics Week column by Talisha Harrison aka Tali Adina
In honor of it being Women in Comics Week, I wanted to interview some of the many ladies in the industry. I asked each of them about how they got into comics, the projects that they’re working on, their thoughts on women in comics, and much more. Today’s interview is with indie writer, artist, and journalist Nicole Sixx.
Nicole: I was always into Batman, Superman, and X-Men as a kiddo but that was mostly exposure through their animated adaptations and the Batman and Superman film. Also loved Lois and Clark tremendously. I grew up in the foster care system and as such never really could afford many comics as a child so I never really got into them, until Buffy came out. Easily one of the biggest influences on my life next to The Labyrinth, Stephen King, and Mortal Kombat, I had to collect everything Buffy. I had the Watcher’s Guide, the comics, I had it all. Eventually I stopped collecting Buffy stuff because I moved around so much, but I continued on reading different comics about chicks kicking butt. A great deal of Top Cow as I was reminded of Buffy and Mortal Kombat all at once. Eventually I got into Dark Horse’s tastes and at this point I’m mostly into comics with very unique art, snarky writing, or chicks kicking butt. Clearly I prefer all three.
What inspired you to become a writer and when did you begin writing?
Nicole: I think I was born a writer. Even before I could write I would be the kid on the playground who said “Okay. This is the ‘Letter; tree. See? Something’s been writing letters all over it?” “What?” they’d ask inspecting the bark (clearly just peeled away in natural fashion that only looked like letters.) “Trolls.” “Trolls?” “Yeah, tiny ones. Like on the pencils! And they live under the roots, that’s why we can’t see them!” “Okay!” And then every day at lunch they would come out to play with me in another chapter of the “Letter Tree”.
This never really stopped. Part of being poor and creative I think is creating world better than your own, and when your own is also a very real and terrifying dark place with human’s treating you in ways you should never be treated, you start creating scarier humans and monsters in that imaginary world. And then you create heroes, who can kick their butt. I wrote a lot of action growing up. And the darker things got the darker my monsters got. Then one day, I found a safe haven with a really nice family. So now I can write whatever I want, I still prefer horror and sci-fi though, because while my world is no longer that dark, there’s still plenty of darkness in the world other people may need to get away from.
You contributed to WOMANTHOLOGY: HEROIC as a writer and artist and you were a founding member of their Social Networking team. How was your experience?
Nicole: Working on Heroic was amazing. I heard about it from Renae and I’s mutual friend Steve Niles. Now what most people don’t know about us is that Steve and I first connected on a mutual love and desire to promote the independent creator. People obsess over the mainstream in media and fanbases often skipping by any of those uniquely arted, snarkily written comics I refered to up top, and so when you add to that an anthology about women kicking butt? Well you know I was in!
Renae and our base team were incredibly nice and a pleasure to work with. It was amazing to see such an impossible dream come true for so many women in less than a year, and I loved doing my part to help them achieve it.
What advice can you give aspiring writers?
Nicole: There’s a whole list of different things people say to writers, but half of that is just fluff and the rest dependent on the individual. You want to write? Congrats, you’re a writer. You want to be an author however, then you need to finish something. I don’t care what. A collection of ten essays, script pages, or short stories. One short story or comic for an anthology. Whatever. Not every novella needs to be a novel to be published, what it needs to be is finished. One bad completed work makes you more of a writer than a thousand good ideas. Because it’s real, and you’re going to need that reality to teach you how to grow as a writer.
Are you working on any projects?
Nicole: Yes! My horror novella Carousel Boys is about to be out soon, I have a couple of comic projects in the works, and I’m helping out a lot with a my friend’s over at Agent 88 Films. They actually just got a kickstarter of their own going. Great people, I love working with them. Also very impressive cast they have lined up, so I really hope they get the funds they need.
I also am planning on making a tiny horror comic for you guys by the end of the year. I pretty much have made a career out of covering my friends, and while sitting in on their panels over the weekend and listening to Dave McKean talk at Tr!ck2ter this year, I wanna see about experimenting with art and panels to try and add another dimension to my horror work.
In your opinion, what things have changed for the better in comics for women? And what things still need to be worked on and what can be done about them?
Nicole: I’m indie, so I can’t really say for Marvel and DC and Dark Horse has never had any problems working with women, getting female readers, or having strong female leads. However, this isn’t about sex really, as Dark Horse shows. It’s about good strong characters, and good writing.
Women tend to need more mental stimulation, so if you want more women, be more stimulating.
Hell, if you want more people reading comics period, be more stimulating.
And please don’t hire writers and artists because they’re female, or homosexual, or whatever demographic you want to pander to this week for sales. Hire them because they’re just good writers and artists and the sales will follow.
How can those of us who love comics encourage young girls and older ladies who want to to draw, write, or just be involved in comics?
Nicole: My advice for writers is the same for any field. Just encourage them to get something out there. It doesn’t matter how many times you’re rejected, it matters that you have something completed that shows you are a creator and as you watch it grow you’ll grow too and someday if you still loved it enough to hang on you’ll wake up and be where you wanted to be.
As for getting them to read them, just give them a good story. A one volume tale that is just amazing. Amazing art, amazing writing, show them the side of comics the normal world typically doesn’t get to see, they already know about the tights and capes.
Who is one woman in comics that you admire?
Nicole: I admire women like Jane Espenson and Becky Cloonan who just see themselves as creators regardless of sex and stuck with it to do great things because they’ve seen enough in the industry to be completely independent and never rehash the company line. But most importantly, they are always having fun.
If you’re not having fun, you’re never gonna make it, and you really shouldn’t want too.