An Interview with Alumnus
Class of 2016 Alex Graudins is a Rhode Island-based cartoonist who has self-published work both in print and on the web. She recently illustrated The Brain and has done work for sites like The Nib and College Humor. When she’s not drawing YA comics and memoirs, she’s usually attempting improv at her local theater. Congrats on the book! So exciting! What was it like to do a full graphic novel vs. all of your mini comics and shorter projects? x
It was a very big jump because my senior project was 16 pages and immediately after graduating I got a 110 page book. It was just a lot more to keep track of—I remember when I did my portfolio comic digitally, I had it in a file and it was very small. But then with this book the file was huge, I had to back up my computer a lot. The project was manageable, but the thumbnails were the hardest part. Even though thumbnails take me a while, usually with an 18 page comic I can get it out in a day if I really put myself to work. So it was a little tough to get 110 thumbnails done, but certainly do-able. Is it difficult working from a script written by someone else, rather
than writing your own material? Or do you enjoy it? x
I definitely enjoy it, I mentioned that thumbnails are hard but scripting and thumbnailing is like a whole other level of difficulty. I definitely think working from someone else’s script has been really nice for my first big project, because drawing is my favorite part of making comics, so I get to skip ahead to drawing rather than getting stuck on writing myself. Working from scripts is a really good head start into learning how comics are made outside SVA, in the industry. Do you have any advice for students at SVA on how to get the most out of the school? x
Oooh, yes. I think one thing I really appreciated was just the fact that it was in New York City. Taking advantage of events going around in the city was really nice; even clubs like Cartoon Allies are really great.
One thing you learn quickly is that community is so important. I work all the way in Rhode Island where I’ve only met one other cartoonist in the whole state. Having all these people in your classes that not only can you learn stuff from, but who can understand what you’re talking about is really nice. At SVA, not only are you improving but seeing your friends improve alongside you is really cool. So I would just say whatever you’re into, just pursue it. That’s something that you can include in your comic one day. You’ll be surprised where pursuing new things can take you. I did student government for two years, and that provided me with enough stories for years of comics. Just live your life and take advantage of the city, not just the school. I definitely miss it a lot, I wish I could even just walk down to Duane Reade—here I have to drive 5 minutes to a store.
want a job. Even with First Second (:01) I used to go up and give them little comics at New York Comic Con and say “Oh I love your books and I just want to show my appreciation” instead of just “Hey! Pay attention Would you say that that it is super to me because I could be beneficial in the future.” You should keep important to network during college? What advice to you have for talking to people who do what you want to do. Not even just people that? x or companies you want to work I definitely think that networkfor, you should just talk to them as ing is important during college. human beings. But I think a lot of what people Community is the biggest thing. misunderstand is that networking You should try and build a group of doesn’t necessarily mean making people who you can talk to frebusiness connections. Obviously it is quently and casually. Like if you see going to help with that but people them at conventions just wandering can tell from a mile away when around you could at least say “hi.” you’re doing it just because you Simply put, they know who you are
after a while so it’s important. You can’t just be at your desk all the time by yourself, that becomes really lonely and it is nice to have these people to go to after grauduating. On top of meeting people, you should try reading everything, and staying up to date on the industry goings-on. Find books you like, their creators, who publishes them, etc. It just makes conversations easier with publishers and creators when you’re all on the same page. Plus it shows you’re hip and invested…though I still find people mentioning books I’ve never read before!
A lot of your personal comics are autobiographical. What draws you to that as a genre? x
I think it’s just..it’s weird for me because I love reading autobio comics but I enjoy making them more because comics is the way I know how to process my feelings now. It’s funny, because I had to put together school visit presentations for The Brain so I was going through a lot of old art, and I have apparently been doing this kind of thing since I was five. Working with words and pictures. I specifically found a letter that my mom wrote on the back of something I drew when I was five: “You’re turning into quite
the artist” and “you draw to express when you’re sad or mad.” And I read that and thought, “oh my god I’m still doing that almost twenty years later.” So it’s really just about the way I know how to express myself and talk about my feelings. I find that it is hard for me to express myself in person, so to have it in a drawing—where I’m not necessarily stuttering or anything—just saying “here, this is it.” The comic becomes a visual representation of something that is hard to articulate. I just think comics are really good as something that people can connect with, and are also good for yourself. It allows you to work out whatever you’re struggling with. I’d say it’s very therapeutic. I enjoy reading autobio comics too because there’s often the feeling of “Oh I’m not alone in this. Other people feel the same way.” I’m trapped in my own brain so I don’t know what other people are thinking. So it’s therapeutic in both senses, seeing somebody else’s same battle with an issue and also dealing with something yourself. Any tips for post-graduation life?
stuff to do—like your own work, not jobs, is important. Put a comic together, start a project and finish it. Do what you think is fun, not what you think will sell. Eventually people will come to you, they’ll be attracted to the genuine aspect of you. I would also suggest you get a hobby that’s not drawing. When your hobby is your work it makes drawing miserable. But you really have to do some things for yourself and not because you want to write a story about it. Thank you Alex for talking with us!! We can’t wait to read your future books! You can find her at:
Stay in contact with friends. You’re gonna realize after being alone for two months that you’re going crazy. I think that finding
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