Talking about dreams coming true may be something of a cliché, but looking at Sweeney Boo’s path from small-town France to American comics, it’s impossible not to see the power of the goal. Sweeney is now making her mark in the industry as an artist whose distinct style jumps off the page — or the cover — even with no credits attached. And her newest project is unlike anything she’s done before.
First, the particulars…
Your specialties (artist/writer/letterer/inker/etc.): Artist
Your home base: Montreal, Canada
Current project title(s):
Marvel Action: Captain Marvel (IDW)
Eat, And Love Yourself (BOOM! - April 21)
Fanbase Press Contributor Kevin Sharp: Why comics? When did your love for this artform begin?
Sweeney Boo: I used to read a lot of French comics and manga — my favorites were Skydoll and Black Sad. I was living in a small French town, and the only access I had to comic books was my local library. I moved to a bigger city when I was 18, which had a comic book store with American comic books. I was obsessed.
KS: Was there a specific comic you remember that gave you the “I want to try doing that” idea?
SB: Skydoll by Alessandro Barbucci and Barbara Canepa was the book that did it. I remember the art being very Disney-like, pretty, and colorful. And the story was a real contrast, with a more heavy subject. The association of both really got me into the “that’s exactly what I want to do,” and still do today.
KS: How did you make the leap from fan to professional? Tell us about your first paid comics work.
SB: I use to live in Angouleme, France. I was 22 at the time, and I went to a local animation studio for a color test on an upcoming comic book project. I got the gig and spent the next three months coloring it. It’s called Ovalon [published by Le Lombard]. It was a lot of fun and a wonderful opportunity I am very thankful for!
KS: From there, what circumstances got your name to Image Comics for Rat Queens?
SB: I love drawing fan art. I remember drawing a Linkle which caught the eye of Kurtis Wiebe on social media. We started chatting, and I did a one-page short story of Betty for the Rat Queens webcomic. Later on, I got to do a cover. I had such a great time working with Kurtis, and we are still friends!
KS: Would the Sweeney of 10 years ago be surprised at your current life?
SB: I think she would, very much. 10 years ago, I was finishing high school, battling an eating disorder, dreaming [of being] a comic book artist and moving to another country. Today, [I have] moved to Canada, and I wake up every day and draw comics. I overcame my eating disorder and chose to share a bit of this personal experience for my first graphic novel, Eat, And Love Yourself.
KS: Can you walk us through your current workspace?
SB: I work at a [shared] space with artists, writers, and game developers. I am a very shy person by nature, so it’s not surprising I’ve built walls of shelves all around me. It’s my cozy cocoon. I love having this huge window to watch the heavy winter snowfall. One of my biggest resolution for the year was to be healthier, so I am surrounded by healthy snacks, a lot of water, and I sit on my yoga ball to work to help me maintain a good posture. I have all the books I own around me, and I keep my favorite ones the closest. And of course, I have my witchy shelf, with my candles, witchy books, and other items.
KS: What’s one thing you’ve learned about the comics business that maybe you didn’t realize when looking in from the outside?
SB: It’s more than a business; it becomes like a second family.
KS: Tell us about working on Captain Marvel for IDW. How did the project find you, or vice versa?
SB: I worked in the past with IDW on a My Little Pony cover. They reached out to me in March last year about Captain Marvel and doing a sample for a future project. I was lucky enough to get it, and I’m LOVING it!
KS: Why were you as an artist good “casting” for this comic?
SB: Ha, that’s a difficult question. I have heard from a lot of people that I have a unique style, so maybe having a less conventional style for Captain Marvel was appealing?
KS: What’s your typical work routine these days?
SB: I usually go to my studio in the morning and work on emails and shipping packages. Then, I tend to work on contracts in the afternoon, and because I have a very difficult time disconnecting from work, I might go home and work some more at night while watching movies. Movies and TV shows are my go-to when I work.
KS: Some artists have their go-to snack or beverage for the process…
SB: I drink a lot of water all day long, and I will always have a fruit, dark chocolate, or a protein bar on me for a power boost snack.
KS: Talk about creating Eat, And Love Yourself. Did you start with a story idea or a particular image?
SB: I always had the idea in my head. But has it often happens to me, I love to doodle random characters, and, sometimes, there’s this one character that speaks to me. And I will be like, yes, I have to make a story about them. That’s what happened with [lead character] Mindy.
KS: Why was this a particular story you wanted to tell?
SB: The book is not autobiographical, but it is very close to home for me. I remember battling my eating disorder and feeling very lonely; the people around me had a tough time understanding what was happening and what they needed to do to help me. I know that a lot of people suffer from eating disorders and probably feel the same way, so I just wanted to offer a bit of comfort [for them] to know they are not alone and they are strong.
KS: What’s a comic or graphic novel by someone else that you look at with admiration?
SB: I am a big fan of Scott Pilgrim, Seconds, Gotham Academy, Blacksad… these books all have a little something that for me makes them unique. The story, the art team, the characters’ relationships, the settings — they represent everything I like.
KS: Finally, talk a little about what else you’re working on now and what you’ve got coming up.
SB: I am still working on Captain Marvel; Sam [Maggs] has cooked up more stories, and you are not even ready for how cool they are! I am also developing a personal project about a witches’ academy, which I am very excited about!