All month long at Biff Bam Pop we’ve been featuring various origin stories. Today I asked comic book creator Emily McGuiness to share her own origin story and that of her graphic novel, Ties. Take it away, Emily!
My name is Emily McGuiness and my origin story is quite a tale. I am a comic book creator and all around art maven. I am the writer, penciller and inker of my slice-of-life comic book Ties: A Chronicle of Letters and Scotch. I also have my hands in about a million other projects like gallery shows, film, illustration, etc.
It started in a small Massachusetts town when out of the blue I decided I was going to art school. The 4 years that followed at Savannah College of Art and Design were magical, despite the fact they tossed out my 2D animation major. But how else would I have discovered the wonderful world of comics!?!
My book Ties has been a pet project for quite some time. The idea started back in college and the premise boils down to “What would happen to you if you had parents by mail?” From this premise grew the idea that this story deserved a completely different art style. If I ever uncover my first pages, you would see how far I wanted to push it; sharp-angled linework and characters without mouths. I was going to try and rely solely on using their eyes for expression. That idea quickly went out the window after doing the first 8 pages, and I still get critiqued for the fact my characters have no noses. It eventually turned into a semi-realistic style with these modified faces. In the year that I spent working on the book I grew so much!
As I have gotten better and more knowledgeable at my craft, this project has served as a marker of my progress. This spiffy, full-length book is just one more step in my journey to becoming a great storyteller. My next project should be even more interesting as it’s taken from my own life and the time in Los Angeles I spent unemployed. It should be a wonderful new exploration of the medium of comics and how we can tell stories with not just panels, but illustration as well.
I have always been one to push the boundaries of what you can do with any medium. I’m never satisfied with doing something straightforward. What fun would that be? With this new story it’s not just a matter of creating a new drawing style, I want to weave comics with blog posts, make exposition part of a plot and maybe get a little frustration out. The job market has gotten no easier since I first started writing the book so I still have plenty of fodder to work with
My own evolution puts me in mind of my favorite superhero origin. Batman could not have had a cooler origin, with the noir elements, the necklace, the hard work and training – it’s a memorable one. Just when you think he’s defeated and all his dedication has not prepared him one bit, he hits upon this idea to become a completely different creature. A creature of the night, to be feared. We can all only hope that we can make such a radical transformation in ourselves and take that what hurts us the most, embrace it and do good with it.