“Between the Panels” is a bi-weekly interview series focusing on comic book creators of all experience levels, seeking to examine not just what each individual creates, but how they go about creating it.
While artist Amalas Rosa may not be familiar to a wide cross-section of comic book readers, that is likely soon to change with new projects in the pipeline. Admire the craft now so that when her name is on everyone’s lips, you can say you knew her when.
Your specialty (artist/writer/inker/letterer): Artist/inker
Your home base: Germany
Fanbase Press Contributor Kevin Sharp: We always start with the big question up front: Why comics? What specifically appeals to you about working in this medium?
Amalas Rosa: I love stories and storytelling, and I think my mind and memories work very visually. When I read stories I already have images in my mind, and when I remember things, I see certain moments in scenes or pictures. I have always loved visual art. All from photos, over film, to illustrations and comics. And I love to draw! So, it just felt natural to combine the storytelling, my visuals, and my drawings and get it together in a comic!
KS: What did your comics journey look like as a reader? Were they a regular part of your childhood or did you come to them later?
AR: I grew up in Germany and when it comes to comics, I mostly grew up with European comics, mainly from Belgium and France—Asterix, Gaston, Lucky Luke. My personal favorite was Tintin. I loved those comics. My brother and I searched flea markets and tried to collect all issues. I still have them and they are well read and most of them are falling apart by now. As a teen I then discovered manga. First as a younger teen, it was anime but then later manga, too. Slam Dunk, Hellsing, and One Piece were my favorites then.
KS: How did you eventually discover manga?
AR: I think the first manga we had in our house was from my brother, and I think a friend gifted it to him. It was a manga neither of us read or was familiar with.
But then it slowly started to sneak up on me. I never really knew where to buy them, so I borrowed them from friends. Eventually, the internet also was a big source.
KS: Was making visual art always your primary area of interest, or did you dabble in other forms when you were younger?
AR: My parents are art lovers, both in consuming and creating it. So, growing up, I have always been surrounded by art and I was able to try different things. I don’t know when or how I did start drawing, but I feel as soon as I could hold a pen I did start doodling. I drew a lot of characters. I loved fairy tales and stories and I drew those characters—witches, vampires, mermaids. When I was an older kid, I started to draw people around me. My drawings were always very character based. I also wrote a lot! I loved reading, as I said, I loved — and still love — stories, and for the longest time I wanted to become a writer.
I remember I always had many story ideas and wanted to write and draw them all, but often got impatient and lost focus and always felt I needed to study more and get better at drawing. So, I feel a lot of my drawings were scribbles, studies, and smaller sketches. Photography was another thing I loved doing; I loved capturing moments and the life around me.
KS: What kinds of art were you surrounded by at home, as far as what your parents’ interests were?
AR: My mom paints and has always experimented with different ways of illustration and paintings, and my dad plays drums and makes music. Both visual art and music have always been present growing up. Both in the ways my parents produced it, but also in art or photo prints from artists they like, music that we listened to, concerts we went to, museum visits. From fine arts to illustrations, photography to music, you name it! Their interests are broad, and they still constantly search and get to know new artists.
KS: Can you remember an early art project of your own that felt like a serious accomplishment to you, whatever age that was?
AR: I don’t know how old I was, but I think I was just learning how to read and write. I had this one story in mind about a powerful sorceress and I made a small booklet. I could barely write so it was only some sentences and then drawings to go along with it. Not really panels, maybe more a picture book, but I was really proud of it and loved doing it. I folded it and stapled it together and all this. A nice small booklet.
KS: Aside from the things you enjoyed creating for fun, roughly when did you first have the idea of actually pursuing an artistic career?
AR: I think that when it really dawned on me that I can become an artist, I was already in my 20s. As a kid and young teen for the longest time I wanted to become a writer. Around 17/18 I voiced the wish to become a comic artist, but it wasn’t anything that I pursued really. Once I graduated high school, I started to study archaeology and art history and didn’t think of going to art school.
KS: Did you have an idea of what kind of writer that would be? Novels or kids’ books or something else?
AR: Novels and, for the longest time, I wanted to become a travel writer like Nicolas Bouvier. Or a bit of traveling and investigation like Hunter S. Thompson. I wanted to see many things, experience life, and live my own idea of adventure. I have also always been inspired by stories that life writes. I wrote a lot of short stories, little moments that captured things I felt, had experienced, and saw.
KS: Was your family supportive of your evolving artistic dreams?
AR: Yes, always! They provided me material when they could, and always showed interest in what I created and let me know I could go the way I wanted to. As I said, my parents are art lovers and all my life I have been surrounded by art. When in my mid 20s I decided to quit my archaeology job and go to art school and start all over again, they were understanding and a great support.
KS: When you made that decision to attend art school, did you have a vision of what type of artist you might be?
AR: I applied with the goal to become an illustrator and comic artist, although I didn’t go to a school that specializes in comics. I study integriertes design, which combines all types of design, from fashion to product design, over typography to illustration and then you get to pick which direction you want to go over the course of your studies. I actually didn’t get to draw a lot and I learned the things I am doing now elsewhere. And I say “study,” because I’m still enrolled and haven’t finished, as I focused the last couple of years on my work and freelancing and didn’t go to college anymore. So, I haven’t graduated.
KS: How did you choose the right school for you?
AR: It’s a small school in Germany, I don’t think many know it. I applied to two schools, one that has a comic class and focuses on comics, and another one that is more free in its design courses. I couldn’t really decide if I wanted to really just go into the comic direction, or rather study art and design as a whole and get some new input and try new things. The one with the comic class rejected me, so the decision was easy. In a way I think it was good for me to try new things and not actually draw a lot but experiment. I have been drawing a lot in my free time already, and I liked that the school gave me new input. On the other hand, I sometimes wonder where I would be if I actually studied drawing and especially comics.
KS: Okay, so when was the first time you ever got paid for a piece of your art?
AR: Haha, I think when I was 20 and drew some guy I met and his girlfriend based on a photo he showed me. I think I got 20 bucks or so for it.
KS: Twenty bucks is still a start! Talk a little about your arrival in the pro comics world. How did your first big break come?
AR: A mix of both. The last few years I have put a lot of work into my social media and [connecting] with people. I was fortunate enough to build an audience and some visibility, so now sometimes great people reach out to me because they see my work online. And I have wonderful peers and friends who drop my name for great projects when they can. My first big pro comic project is sadly something I can’t say much about as it’s not out yet and under NDA, but the writer I worked with found me on Twitter, I think, and reached out via the publisher.
KS: I’ll ask this vaguely without getting into the project: Do you know what work of yours the writer saw that made them reach out? Not every artist is perfect for every project, so there must have been something in your work that aligned with this one.
AR: I’m not too sure and I don’t think it was one specific work. As I understood — and I hope I don’t put wrong words into his mouth — it was my way of telling stories and capturing a mood in even single illustrations. The mix of character and body language and my backgrounds as like an extra character forming a scene together that feels like something we know from life.
KS: When you started getting exposed to more comic artists, how did your tastes change? Who were your favorite names?
AR: I never really had a huge knowledge of comic artists. Even when I read more comics as a kid, I was always more interested in the stories than the people behind [them]. And even as I have read several graphic novels since then, I do remember the story and art, but often have a hard time remembering names—which is really no reflection on the artist’s work, but just me. Only when I started to use Twitter more and more did I get exposed to a lot of new artists and comic artists. Before I [had] been really in my own bubble and created on my own. The world of comics has been widened and broadened … and this has only really happened to me in the last few years. Before, I was pretty much just using Twitter for my fandom circle. Since 2019/2020 I started to dive more into using it as an professional illustrator and comic artist, and have since discovered great artists and their work!
KS: Talk about your favorite part of drawing comics. There are many steps in making a page, so what do you most look forward to each time?
AR: Inking and coloring. It’s what I enjoy most in my drawing process and for comics, too. Layouts are fun, because it’s the part where the written story becomes visual, but they are also often messy and [trial] and error, and I love when they are done and things come together! The panels get clear, the lineart is crisp, and the story really forms into a visual medium. In my professional work I don’t yet get to color my pages, but I color my personal comic pages and my illustrations; I love when I have my palette and the colors come together and the whole thing comes and fits together like a puzzle. Adding the final touches and the light. Beautiful! I think in general I am a process person. Trust the progress! See it come together. Seeing it turning from rough sketches into more defined sketches and clean lineart, adding the colors to tie it all together and for the mood. I just love it!
KS: Yes or no: listening to music, or other background noise, while you work?
AR: Yes! I always have a lot of background noises and it depends a bit on my mood and what mindset I need for a certain scene. Often it’s a silly TV show I already know or can easily understand even without looking. Other times it’s loud music. And with music I really have to see what mood I’m in or what kind of mood I’m creating. TV shows are more neutral. Especially for my personal work and my own characters I like to listen to music, because they are closer to me and I already project a lot onto them from myself. Music is also a great way to get me motivated and started. Once I [find] a workflow and know I will sit here for longer, I eventually will switch to a show or the listening play Die Drei Fragezeichen.
KS: Do you have a set work routine, or certain times of day or night you prefer to sit at the drawing board?
AR: Sadly no. I know I have to be stricter and more organized with myself, but I go with the flow. Usually, I’m a night owl, but lately I realized those late nights are not doing me any favors, so I try to get a more day work balance. But in general, it’s still easier for me to really get into drawing and be concentrated around afternoon and then into late evening/night. I try to get organization and other less creative stuff done in the earlier half of the day.
KS: What’s a hobby of yours totally unrelated to art? Something you study, collect, practice…
AR: I have to admit I’m a bit hobby-less at the moment and drawing is next to my professional work a hobby, too. Or there is nothing I really focus on right now. But I have done several things already and I’m still interested in some and I try to do them when I can. I love photography. Traveling is something I love to do, but due to COVID it has been something I haven’t really done in some time. Most of my hobbies though are kinda art and story related. Like photography, or exploring new things. Something that has fallen a bit short the last year is sport. I have always been an avid sports player. I played soccer, basketball, and field hockey, tried kayaking and climbing—but it feels false to state them as a hobby right now as I haven’t really been doing them for some time. I really hope to go back to some of it as it would also be a great balance to desk work and drawing.
KS: Is there one title you’d name as a comic story that just hit you right for whatever reason?
AR: On a very personal level, the manga Haikyu!! by Furudate has been representative [of] my last year and has been very important to me. Not only because I love the manga and story, but also because it was the first and only time I joined a fandom and was part of a community and fanwork based on an existing story. This doesn’t describe an actual era but just a personal phase and era I went through.
KS: As we wrap up, please let readers know where to find your work, what you have out now or coming out — as much as you can say, of course.
AR: Sadly, there is no full comic out yet with my work. If all goes well, I hope to have the first comic issue I’m part of published later this year. I can’t say more yet, but I’m very excited! For some personal single comic pages, comic covers, and my illustrations, it’s worth checking out my Twitter and Instagram. I am also on Tiktok and try to create some videos with my illustrations. On all those sites I can be found under Amalasrosa.