Thursday, January 15, 2009

Interview w/ Comic Book Artist/Author Eleanor Davis

This is Eleanor Davis. She is the amazing new, young and very hip artist and author on the scene. Just this morning I received her email with all the answers to my questions and I'm so excited to share this interview with you.

On December 9th, I posted a review of her new picture/comic book for children, STINKY. Toon Books had the brilliant idea to incorporate comic books into picture books and Eleanor is one of the first creators to be involved.

Top Image: Eleanor Davis in Athens, Georgia

Above Image: Dot and Louisa comic series

Below Image: Witch House from Hansel and Gretel

1. Where were you born/raised? Do you have siblings?
I was born and raised in sunny Tucson, Arizona. I have a younger sister named Leta.

2. What made you want to become an artist? Who or what encourages/influences your art?
My family and teachers were always very encouraging. I drew a lot of comics when I was younger, and in Highschool, my best friend Kate Guillen introduced me to zines and minicomics. Those were a huge inspiration; I got really making zines and minis myself. The work of John Porcellino was really important to me.

3. Is STINKY your first publication? How old were you when it was published?
I have self-published lots of comics, and also contributed to comics anthologies, but Stinky was my first solo professional book! I was 23 when I wrote and drew it, and 25 when it came out. I was very excited that Francoise Mouly, the mastermind behind the Toon Book series, asked me to do a book with them!

4. Where did you go to college and did you major in art?
Savannah College of Art and Design; I majored in comics. (Sequential Art)

5. Where do you live now?
Beautiful Athens, Georgia.

6. As a child, what were some of your favorite picture books?
Little Lulu comics were probably my favorite, along with Carl Barks' Donald Duck and Uncle Scrooge comics. Also, Paddle to Sea, Raymond Briggs' Father Christmas books, Mister Dog by Margaret Wise Brown, The Funny Thing by Wanda Gag, anything by Janet and Allen Ahlberg, the My Father's Dragon books, anything by Tove Jansson- the list goes on and on!

7. What's your favorite way to spend free time?
I like talking with my family and friends, bicycling, walking, traveling, and eating. I'm also getting into puppetry and puppet-making.

8. What do you think is the hardest part about putting together a children's picture book?
Whatever part I'm having to work on at the moment! Every part is hard. The hardest part might be the writing, but that's also the most rewarding.

9. What kind of movies do you enjoy?
I like old movies. I get really emotionally involved with the movies I watch, so I can't watch anything too scary, and I have a hard time with movies that are too sad. My current favorite movie is Children of Paradise.

10. Are you a comics reader? And if so, what are your favorites?
I am an avid comics reader! Some of my favorite comics include: Anything by Joann Sfar, Rutu Modan, Dan Zettwoch, Gipi, Daniel Clowes, Osamu Tezuka, Raymond Briggs, Ai Yazawa, Carl Barks, Lynda Barry and Dash Shaw; The Kind-er-Kids, Scott Pilgrim, 20th Century Boys, Maison Ikkoku, Skim, the Dungeon books, and the list goes on and on and on. These are not all comics for children, but all of the books and authors are highly, highly recommended.

11. What kinds of things give you ideas for your art?
I try to sketch a lot. I'll draw a picture, and then try to figure out the story behind the picture.

12. Please describe your creative process how, when, materials, etc.
To start a story, I'll spend a long time brainstorming in my sketchbook. Then when I come up with a good enough idea I roll it around and around in my head and take a lot of notes. I spend a couple days on character design and development, and try to thumbnail the thing out- drawing little sketches of each page, figuring out the staging and pacing and dialog. I pencil and ink the final art on bristol board, with crow quills and brushes. When I'm able to work on art full time I try to spend eight hours a day at my drawing board, although often I sketch and thumbnail at coffee shops. And of course, the longer the comic, the longer the whole process takes!

13. What kind of music do you like to listen to, favorite songs/musical groups? Do you listen to music while you are creating art?
I have to listen to music all the time! I love The Knife, Bonnie Prince Billy, De La Soul, MIA, old Soul music, old Country music, and on and on. I don't like music with yelling unless it's the Pixies. I don't like music without any singing unless it has banjos.

14. Do you cook and if so, what is your favorite thing to make?
I actually hate cooking! I'm too impatient. Luckily my awesome boyfriend loves to cook and bake. My current favorite thing for him to make for me is Chile con Queso. I do the dishes.

15. What can we look forward to from you in the future, are you working on another great book?
I have just finished my second book, written and drawn with my boyfriend Drew Weing. It's called The Secret Science Alliance and the Copycat Crook, and it should be coming out in 2010 from Bloomsbury books. It is an action-adventure about a team of kid inventors, for ages 8-12. We've been working on it for two years so I'm very excited about it.
Now I am just starting on a young adult murder mystery set in Tajikistan in the 8th century. (I'm writing it with my mother!) I'm also looking forward to spending more time on my adult short story comics, which are often featured in the comics anthology MOME.

Thanks so much Eleanor! Here's a very cool video I found for you:
The Knife - Heartbeats


  1. Eleanor is super creative! Now I know a bit more about what it takes to draw and write a comic book. And it's fun to read about what/who inspires her. Thanks!

  2. Cool interview!! Little Lulu is one of my all time faves, too. Looking forward to seeing more of Eleanor's work :)! Thanks.

  3. I must have spent an hour looking up some of Eleanor's inspirations/favorite authors, artists and music. So much fun and so many I've never heard of before. I do adore Tove Jansson's art too. Thanks again Eleanor, we are all looking forward to your future works.


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