AwesomeCon: Exclusive Interview with Comics Artist Brooke Allen (Lumberjanes)


BOOM! Entertaiment’s Lumberjanes is currently one of the most fun and creative comics out now. Boasting an all-female creative team Lumberjanes02and cast, it follows a group of five best friends, who get into all kinds of trouble at a summer camp that is more than meets the eye. Writers Noelle Stevenson (Nimona) and Grace Ellis, artist Brooke Allen, and colorist Maarta Laiho (Regular Show) bring this mixture of buddy comedy and supernatural adventure to life. At AwesomeCon, a comics convention in Washington, DC, I got the opportunity to interview Lumberjanes artist Brooke Allen about her work and career.

SoS: I did some research and saw you did some non-fiction comics about Washington DC. How did you transition from doing those kind of comics to doing stuff for BOOM! like Lumberjanes 

Brooke Allen: It wasn’t too hard of a transition. It’s all narrative. BOOM! editors Whitney [Leopard] and Shannon [Watters] contacted me to do some character designs, and I thought that would be the end of my involvement with that. It was in a baby stage, and they just wanted to get some visuals. It was just an idea at the point. That was about a year ago. And then those designs went over to Noelle Stevenson, and she hit it out of the park and was amazing. And then, there was a series, they asked me draw it, and here we are now.

SoS: There’s been a lot of positive reviews of Lumberjanes online and fan art on Tumblr. What’s your reaction to this?

Allen: I’m really overwhelmed. It’s amazing. I don’t know what to say.

SoS: One of the things I liked about Lumberjanes was its strong setting. It’s in the woods, and there’s a little of the familiar and a little of the supernatural. Did you have any particular places your referenced for the setting or drew inspiration from?

Allen: Nowhere in particular. I think a big part of the background being a character in it was that it’s made up. I was definitely thinking of the Pacific Northwest and the Northeast. Maybe the two combined and became a magical place.

SoS: Who is your favorite Lumberjane to draw?

Allen: I think I liked drawing Mal because of her little [undercut] haircut. It was cute to flop that little haircut right on top. She was probably my favorite to draw. I don’t know. Ripley is actually my favorite because she’s always doing something insane, and it’s a lot of fun.

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SoS: Kate Leth (Adventure Time: Seeing Red) designed the badges for the Lumberjanes. How did you guys work together to design the badges and the characters? What was your collaboration like?

Allen: She mostly worked with Noelle and Shannon on that end. There’s places in the comics where maybe they’ll talk about a badge in later issues, and I know Kate Leth is going to design it so I’ll leave that part blank so she can fill it in later. I’ll do a part, and then she does a part. Grace and Noelle talk a lot over Skype and have writer’s meeting. While I’m drawing it, I’ll send them a text and ask them, “Does this look too terrible? What does this look like to you?” And they give me feedback from that.

SoS: What is your collaborative process like with colorist Maarta Laiho? What does she bring to the book that wouldn’t be in it if it was just pencils and ink?

Allen: If it was just black and white or pencil and ink, it wouldn’t have as much life and magic. Laiho’s colors are amazing. I haven’t had much contact with her. I literally just hand it off to this magical place, and it comes back looking the way it does. It’s like what happens in a cocoon, and then [the art] becomes a magical butterfly.

SoS: Who are some of your biggest influences as an artist, comics or otherwise?

Allen: I would probably say that Jeff Smith (Bone) has been my biggest ongoing art crush of all time.

 

SoS: BOOM! has some great titles out, like Adventure TimeRegular Show, and Bravest Warriors. Are there any BOOM! comics you would like to do interior art or covers for? What about any of BOOM!’s horror books, like Curse or Hellraiser?

Allen: I would like to do covers for all of them. I would love to do a backup for Steven Universe. Or Bee and Puppycat. Even Amazing World of Gumball. I can’t wait to see how Gumball looks. I would love to work with any of the creators working at BOOM! I would love to cross over and work with them as well. I would especially love to work with Coleman Engle (Adventure Time) and Jeremy Sorese (Bravest Warriors). As far as horror, I would be open to draw some gore.

SoS: What are some comics that you’re reading now that you recommend to Sound on Sight readers?

Lumberjanes-001-BOOM-Studios-ExclusiveAllen: I’m going to sound like I’m plugging BOOM!, but I love Midas Flesh. I haven’t had a lot of time to read comics so that’s why I’m talking about a lot of BOOM! comics. Some other ones I just finished were She-Hulk and Matt Fraction’s run on FF. I do read comics, I swear! I mostly just listen to Audible books because I’m drawing the whole time.

SoS: What’s your studio setup like when you draw Lumberjanes?

Allen: It kind of looks like a Lumberjanes cabin because I have this loft bed that is built around this eight foot long desk. It’s this giant drafting table that I got from a furniture factory. They had these huge desks that they would lay out big pieces of furniture on. And everything I use to draw is digital and made in China. But I bought that desk for $25 and have had it for a long time. It’s a big part of my studio space. It’s got two huge lamps. And I’ve got lots of nature odds and ends here and there. All of that stuff was already in my room, I was just waiting to draw Lumberjanes.

SoS: Last question, which Lumberjanes character do you identify most with?

Allen: Molly seems super shy and quiet, but she’s got a lot of thoughts. There’s a lot going on underneath that quiet facade. So I guess I identify with her. She’s got this coonskin cap, and I feel that I would probably wear a coonskin cap.

 

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