Women in Comics – Cassandra James

It’s always great to highlight someone that I really love, both personally and professionally. Cass is a great artist and we were lucky enough to meet when Gail Simone was visiting Australia. I even have a few of her sketches. She was lovely enough to answer our questions after the cut.

How did you get into comics?

I grew up watching the X-Men animated series and reading the old Disney and Sonic the Hedgehog comics. (I used to play a lot of the old Sonic the Hedgehog video games. Augh, so many hours I could have been drawing!)

During my time at Art School I didn’t read many comics because I was a starving University student and lacked the time, but shortly before I left I started buying comics heavily again. Mostly DC and Marvel books featuring the work of fellow Australians: Nicola Scott and David Yardin. Looking at their work and their careers I knew that that is what I wanted to do. My Art School teachers didn’t think that drawing comics was a ‘real job,’ so I left and went about learning as much technical skill as I could, and about how to get into drawing comics.

Tell us a bit about the projects you’ve worked on:

I started out professionally doing rulebook illustrations for a local role-playing game company based of a sci-fi book series called Nylon Angel. My first professional comic work was a small job coloring a story in the Tromatic Tales trade for Devil’s Due Publishing.

Since then I’ve worked for a few different places, mostly doing sketch cards but have also produced quite a bit of sequential work for Grey Haven comics for their Gathering anthologies. In 2011 I had a story included in the Kickstarter-funded Womanthology project. I haven’t really had what I’d call my ‘big break’ yet although I have already had the opportunity to work with some amazing creators including DC’s own Gail Simone and Sterling Gates.

What is your favourite work that you’ve done so far?

My first ever Gathering story. Gail Simone asked me out of the blue if I’d like to draw her story and I burst into tears in-front of my keyboard. My husband ran over to see why I had suddenly started crying and then read my computer screen over the shoulder. It was only two pages but I learned so much and Gail is one of my all-time favourite writers so I was so awe-struck the entire time. She is far too nice to me!

Did you ever get advice about the field that you’d like to pass on?

Besides working your heart out drawing / inking / coloring / writing / daily, I recommend networking. Since the Big Two don’t accept unsolicited submissions it makes it hard for your work to be seen, unless you know the right people. I’ve never had an official portfolio review at a big International Convention but I’ve gotten work with industry pros just by knowing people and them passing my info along when a job comes up.

Also, tagging someone on Facebook with your art doesn’t count as ‘networking.’

What is your favourite thing to write or draw?

Women, women and women.I love reading, drawing, and writing stories about strong women.

In an ideal world, in what direction would you like to see your project evolve?

I’d really love to get a full-time job at DC pencilling a series with a strong, female cast. That or a Batman book; I’m a total Batman fan-girl, and would be living a life of bliss if I got to draw his delicious man-pecs all day. But my other dream is to have some of my own original stories published. I have so many ideas swirling around in my head; I just need the time and money to get them out.

Links to your work:

My website, which needs updating: www.cassubeans.com

My Tumblr, which I most frequently update: http://comiccharm.tumblr.com/

DeviantART: http://heartofglitter.deviantart.com/

And finally your last thought:

Don’t let anyone try and change your style. There is such a thing as a ‘marketable style’ in the industry but if your style suits a story you’ll get work, look at fantastic artists like Ben Templesmith and Skottie Young. Refine your own work into something awesome and don’t try and ape anyone else’s art style, be yourself.

About Chantaal

A book reading, nail polish hoarding, makeup loving, TV marathoning, comic book talking Philosophy major. I want to be Rashida Jones when I grow up.
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