Jill Thompson interview (April 2006)

April 26, 2006 | Interviews


She’s frank, funny and intelligent. She’s also one of the most talented artists in the comic book industry today. Jill Thompson, the Eisner Award-winning creator of Scary Godmother, is one of almost two-dozen top female creators who attended the Women Of Comics symposium at the Paradise Comics Toronto Comicon (www.torontocomicon.com) in 2006.
She spoke with JPK about her views on the status of women in comics, why the monthly comic grind isn’t for her and the status of a long-awaited collaboration with husband, Brian Azzarello.

JPK: What does it mean to you to be part of such a large collection of female creators?
Jill Thompson: It’s nice that someone’s taken the time to track down as many of us as possible. Usually that’s not considered very marketable.
I know a lot of the women who are going to be there, but then there are many that I don’t know, so it’s going to be nice to meet other people that do what I do that are the same gender as myself.

JPK: I’m told you were the inspiration for the event. Organizer Peter Fisico of www.allnewcomics.com said seeing you at a store appearance interacting with a woman and her little girl was the spark that more attention needed to be paid to women in comics. What’s it like to be the inspiration?
Thompson: I didn’t even know that. (Laughs)
Pete does pay attention to stuff like that. He’s always thinking about ‘how do we get people who go to bookstores all the time into comic book stores where they will find stuff they’d like if they only knew about it?’

JPK: What’s your impression of the status of women in comics right now? Do you think they get the respect they deserve?
Thompson: I’ve never had a problem. But I know that there are a lot of women that would argue otherwise.

JPK: Did you have any female artistic role models?
Thompson: There was a couple: Hilary Barta and Sandy Plunkett. But then I found out they were guys.
Wendy Pini [of Elfquest fame] is probably one of the only high-profile females in the field when first started reading comics. I enjoyed the books she created and her art style.
I liked Marie Severin, too.
I liked men and women — I was a huge John Bucema fan and a John Byrne fan. It was always an added bonus, like frosting on the cake, to find out that ‘oh and a girl did this’.
I always wanted to do this. It didn’t bother me that there weren’t many other girls doing it. I felt like it was this secret thing that I knew about that no one else did.

JPK: When you get the opportunity to meet young girls, in particular, at these events, is it a meaningful thing to you that you might be inspiring them?
Thompson: It’s very meaningful. One of the biggest influences on me was a friend of mine, a fellow named Bill Reinhold who works for Marvel and DC and used to work for First Comics illustrating The Badger. He took the time to look at all my drawings, to give me critiques about what was wrong or right with my artwork and really just push me along.
I think if I could do for someone else, boy or girl, what Bill did for me — it would be a great thing.

JPK: What can your fans expect from you next?
Thompson: I’m just finishing up a Goosebumps adaptation for Scholastic/Graphix. Then I’ll be working on another collaboration with Evan Dorkin for another Dark Horse ‘The Book of…’

JPK: And that is?
Thompson: The Book of Monsters.

JPK: Is it another dog story?
Thompson: Yeah. I think it’s called The Dog And His Boy. It made me cry when I read it so now I’ll have to do my best to make everyone else cry.
After that I’m going to be doing a four-book series for HarperCollins — a series of creator-owned graphic novels (for kids). It’s all painted and about 94-96 pages each.

JPK: Do you ever see yourself working on monthly comic again?
Thompson: No. I don’t need to be in the most extreme version of the monthly comic grind. I don’t think that there’s anything wrong with doing that, it’s just that I’ve moved to the point where I like to do black and white comics myself and I also like to paint my own comics so I just like to control everything.

JPK: And now the question that must be asked…
Thompson: Let me see if I can guess: Will Brian and I ever work together?

JPK: You win. The answer?
Thompson: Not on anything we can think of right now. People kind of expected us to and now they don’t — so maybe now we should. (Laughs)
It just has to be the right thing. I’m sure it’ll be just one of those things that’ll happen by accident.

JPK: Any negatives to having a symposium like the Women Of Comics?
Thompson: I guess you wouldn’t want a plane to fall on the convention centre because then there wouldn’t be any women in comics left.

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