Womanthology is a large-scale anthology that showcases the works of women in comics. In this interview, Womanthology contributing writer and host of all things geek Jenna Busch talks with Fanboy Comics Managing Editor Barbra Dillon about her experiences in working with other female creators, the best way to get noticed in the industry, and her own creative inspirations.
This interview was conducted on April 13, 2012.
Barbra Dillon, Fanboy Comics: Womanthology started with a single tweet asking if there were any female creators who would be interested in creating a collection of work. How did you become involved with the project?
Jenna Busch: I was asked to be a part of this project by Nicole Sixx. I had never written a comic before, but I’ve been reporting on entertainment (movies, TV, video games, and comics) for years now, for sites like IGN, Huffington Post, AOL, Zap2it, Newsarama, and many others. I’ve appeared as a guest host for Blair Butler on G4’s Fresh Ink, and I read comics avidly. I was thrilled to be a part of this!
BD: Over 150 writers and artists were paired together to work on collaborative projects. What can you tell us about the individuals on your team, and what was the creative experience like for you?
JB: I actually wrote two stories. My first, “Archetypes,” was written after a trip to New Orleans. When I submitted my story to my artist Elisa Feliz, she got me back line drawings right away! I was so overwhelmed by seeing my work in pictures that I actually had to sit down. Once I saw her coloring…I was blown away. So gorgeous! We’ve never actually met in person.
My second story, “Ladybird,” came about because of a meeting with Eisner Award-winning artist Janet Lee. I was a huge fan of her beautiful work, and we met up at the San Diego Comic-Con. We wanted to work together, and I pitched it to Renae De Liz. She said it would work if I worked with a co-writer. That’s how I met the most amazing co-writer, Rachel Pandich! I’ve always been a solo writer and getting a chance to work with a woman of such talent was the most incredible experience. These ladies are over-the-moon good!
BD: The theme of Womanthology is being heroic, and all of the stories and art in the book are different interpretations of that idea. How do your contributions represent heroism?
JB: In “Archetypes,” my lead character dreams in archetypes. She uses the ability to solve crimes. She’s also working closely with someone she adores (he’s Prince Charming in her dreams) but she can’t tell him. She could stop, but the greater good wouldn’t be served.
In “Ladybird” we tell the story of the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire that happened one hundred years ago in New York City. There were some incredibly heroic women in that tragedy. It was an event that changed safety codes in buildings. This was a tribute to them.
BD: One of the many amazing features of Womanthology is a section of the book devoted to recognizing female creators in the past. Are there any specific female creators that have inspired your work?
JB: Gail Simone, Marjorie Liu, Jane Espenson…these women are just phenomenal. I can’t say enough about them. Gail for her tough ladies. Marjorie for begin a pioneer and writing scintillating stories and Jane for — god, so many things, from her writing to her personality to creating the wonderful web series Husbands when no one would tell the story she wanted to tell.
BD: What impact do you hope that Womanthology will have on today’s comic book industry and its readers?
JB: When I was at WonderCon, I was showing the finished book to a friend and I felt a tug on my leg. A little girl said to me, “Are you in this book?” I said I was and she asked me to show her my stories. After I did, she asked if I would give her a hug. Her mom said she’s wanted to write comics since she could remember. I’ve never been so moved in my life. I think the industry is starting to wake up to the fact that women love comics. I hope this sends a clear message to anyone who doesn’t think so.
Another important thing about Womanthology is that all the work is creator-owned. Steve Niles got me all riled up about it, and I think it’s incredibly important to support creator-owned work. Check out his blog for more information.
BD: Can you give us the inside scoop on any upcoming projects in the works, or your plans for attending conventions in 2012?
JB: I actually have something huge coming up soon, but I’m not allowed to talk about it yet. Driving me nuts! I’ll just say this: stay tuned to YouTube. There is an announcement coming, and I’ll be able to say in a week or two. In the meantime, I work full-time as a writer for the entertainment website Zap2it. I interview celebrities, review TV and film, etc. I’m working on expanding my Womanthology stories, co-hosting TV wrap-ups on Maria Menounos’ website AfterBuzzTV, which is a joy. And, one other secret project. I don’t get a lot of sleep!
BD: What is the most important piece of advice that you can offer to female writers who aspire to work in the comic book industry?
JB: Follow the careers of the women (and men) in the industry that you admire and start writing or drawing. Don’t stop. The biggest piece of advice I can give, though, is to be your own advocate. Publicize your work. Everything I have in my career is because, once I got an opportunity, I let everyone know about it. I’m my own publicist. Don’t be shy. Get your work out there. Be proud of yourself!
BD: Lastly, what is the best way for Fanboy Comics fans to find out more about you and your work?
JB: You can follow me on Twitter at @JennaBusch. Friend me on Facebook and Google+. I’d love to hear from you! My blog is GirlMeetsLightsaber.blogspot.com. My articles are up on Zap2it.com. Hell, I’m on Pinterest, too! I can’t wait to hear from you!
Stay tuned for more interviews, reviews, and podcasts on the Fanboy Comics website!