Today’s interview is with Isabel Marks, the cartoonist behind the anthropomorphic slice-of-life comics Namir Deiter and You Say it First. While I’ve not read You Say it First, Namir Deiter follows the lives of two families and their friends as the characters grow up and cope with being adults and starting families of their own.
My name is Isabel Marks, I draw the on-line comic Namir Deiter, which hit its 11 year anniversary last year. I’m married to Terrence Marks, who is my best friend and co-author of our other webcomic series, You Say it First. We also color Kevin and Kell, which is printed in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. I’ve also recently started a new series, 100% Cat. I’m currently trying to get myself a college education, and doing a bad job at that.
How much time goes into each comic, and what steps do you take in making your comic?
It’s kind of difficult to give this answer… it depends on how you measure time- if the time it takes to think over a storyline taken into account, it can take weeks, sometimes months of thinking over a story line to come up with a skeleton for a script, then more time to fully write out the script.
Depending on how intricate a comic is and who’s in it, it can take fifteen minutes to an hour to sketch out a comic. Inking generally takes a bit less time than the sketching, but coloring usually takes about an hour per comic (thanks to pre-drawn digital backgrounds). I try not to think too much about the time when I work on comics…unless I’m running late.
There were two webcomics inspired me to start Namir Deiter: Kevin & Kell and Unlike Minerva. Kevin & Kell was the very first comic I saw that added the word “web” to it. If you had told me back then that I would one day color the series, I wouldn’t have believed it. That was I realized people really do this. I had drawn comics previously – none of them I would ever consider worthy of posting on-line – but it never occurred to me to put them on-line for others to see.
It was because of Kevin and Kell that I went searching for other webcomics, and eventually found Unlike Minerva, written by Terrence Marks (and drawn by various talented artists). He seemed really nice and approachable, so I decided to work on a series to show him a body of work and perhaps draw his comic as an artist-of-the-week (and if you told me a few years later I’d move across the country to marry him, I’d ask you what you were on). Before I started Namir Deiter, I had an on-line gallery on Geocites (long, long dead and forgotten) and the characters I started off were from this gallery.
Do you read any other webcomics? If so, which are your favorites, and why do those stand out for you?
Unfortunately, I don’t read other webcomics like I used to. A lot of my favorite webcomics are long gone or just stopped updating. As a reader, it’s disheartening. As a cartoonist, I do understand things happen… but it makes it difficult for me to get the kind of motivation like I used to read an archive just for the comic to stop updating… but I did recently start reading Cucumber Quest, which is looking to be a great comic. I also enjoy the epic quest which is The Draconia Chronicles, and the adorable series Precocious.
I find inspiration in a lot of things and various media, both real life and entertainment. I’m trying to come up with an example but really can’t. Sometimes it’s in a magazine, sometimes it’s from an anime I’m watching. One of my very first inspirations was Rumiko Takahashi and her work from the 80′s and 90′s. Recently I came to the realization that watching soap operas as a child on sick days (which there were quite a few of due to medical issues I had growing up) heavily influenced me. I write somewhat silly, tongue-in-cheek dramas that definitely take a lead from TV soaps.
Do you have any opinions on creating or designing webcomics for viewing on smartphones and other mobile devices?
Not really, it’s not something I’ve looked into yet, but it sounds interesting enough.
If you were to take a critical look at your own artistic talents and storytelling skills, what aspects would you consider flawed and how would you go about improving it?
It’s difficult to chose just one thing I would love to improve on when really, all of what I do needs improving in one way or another… a lot of times I can look at a comic I drew the day before and find things I want to change. I could keep changing them and spend forever on them or I can just move forward… sometimes that’s a good thing, sometimes it’s a bad thing. So yeah, I think everything I do needs more improving- I don’t think I’ll ever feel otherwise.