Tuesday, August 30, 2016

STGCC 2016: Artist & Creator Emma Rios Reveals Her Own Memorable Fan Encounters

Every year without fail, STGCC organizer Reed Exhibitions would send out a survey to attendees and guests asking them for their views about different aspects of the year's show. And in every single survey form, Red Dot Diva would request that Reed should invite more female creators as guests.

Red Dot Diva's wish has finally come true as there will be at least four women comic book creators on the guest list in the upcoming STGCC 2016. (Yes, there have been female guests before, but for several years, the male comic book guests far out number the women ones!)

Spanish graphic book artist and creator Emma Rios will be heading to Red Dot Island together with other stellar female artists - Brooke Allen, Stephanie Hans and Hwei Lim. Each of these artists have made their mark in the comic book sphere with their enriching and noteworthy creations.

In Emma Rios' case, she has built a solid fan base through the years drawing for comic, ranging from Boom! Studio's "Hexed" series to Marvel's "Dr Strange" with writer Mark Waid. She then worked with high profile writer Kelly Sue Deconnick on "Osborn" and the collaboration continued again with twisted Western-horror folklore "Pretty Deadly", published by Image Comics. Her fluid and wildly imaginative art style lends a kind of unearthly quality to the images, making them seem as if they are about to pop up from a fuzzy dreamscape or bloody nightmare.

Beyond just providing artwork for books, Emma Rios has also written original stories and designing new worlds, for example in the dystopian tale called "I.D". She has also been working closely with best friend Hwei Lin for fantasy series "Mirror", which was also published by Image Comics. The two ladies will join forces as guests of STGCC 2016, and will be launching the convention-exclusive "Mirror: The Mountain" book during the show.

In the short Q&A below, Red Dot Diva got to know a bit more about Emma Rios and her creative preferences.

Red Dot Diva: Both "Pretty Deadly and "Mirror" are surreal and filled with allegories and symbolism. Is this kind of story-telling a personal preference to you, and who are your favourite authors who write in similar styles?
Emma: Yeah, I think that the comics I enjoy the most are those where you can play a bit of an active role as a reader, without having everything over-explained. Books like Daisuke Igarashii’s "Children of the Sea" or Frederik Peeters’ "Lupus". Or even games like Bloodborne. Immersive experiences where you don´t need exactly to know what’s happening, but whose worlds feel very personal,believable and attractive in a way that makes you want to discover them, making the observer part of the experience in a meta sense, as if they were another character in the story. These kinds of world-building choices always ask for a bit of trust and attention, but normally the rewards are beautiful memories that hopefully stick in your head for a while.




Red Dot Diva: I understand that you and Hwei Lim are best of friends. Has collaborating in the "Mirror" series brought the two of you closer or has it highlighted even more personal differences (which may not necessarily be bad ones!) between the two of you?

Emma: Hwei and I got to know each other through comics thanks to a program called Lingua Comica in 2008, in which a few cartoonists from Asia and Europe were invited and paired to work together to create stories. That year it was celebrated in Japan and having been part of it was one of the best experiences of my life. The work we did back then was a short of 20 pages in which we tried to introduce ourselves to each other before even meeting in person. Having been in touch since then, getting to collaborate again in Mirror brought back that feeling, and definitely took it beyond. Aesthetically, at first sight, probably our styles look rather different but I think our priorities in terms of taste and storytelling are really close. That, and a total respect, trust, and admiration, for what each one does separately is, I think, what allows us to always, or almost, be on the same page. Teamwork means inspiring one another. Trying to surprise your partner as much as possible, and take it one step further each page at a time. Mirror is not Hwei’s, nor mine, it belongs to a mixed persona that comes to life when we think together.
Red Dot Diva: "Mixed Persona." That's a cool and very organic way to describe the partnership!

Red Dot Diva: Would you be excited if you are given the chance to write for a different media (like TV)? 
Emma:
Aside from comics, what attracts me the most as a narrative medium would be video games.



Red Dot Diva: What practical advice would you have for those who are starting out on developing their own creative stories? 
Emma:
To never forget to have fun. As a cartoonist I’m always in this point in between the need to express myself through some kind of exhibitionism, and always wanting to hide under the blanket and forget about the world. Comics are tough, they demand so many hours and also to have a lot of security in yourself. But being self conscious and afraid of reactions cannot stop you from doing them.

Red Dot Diva: What's the most memorable fan encounter you've ever had?
Emma:
I met Frank Quietly in a small convention called Viñetas desde el Atlántico, that is held in my city, Coruña, on the North West Coast of Spain. This con is very intimate and I’ve known the organization for quite a while so I got to talk with him but never told him I was a cartoonist myself haha. But finally he found out from a friend and apparently he knew some of my work at Marvel. He wrote me a really nice email after returning home, and it was super lovely. Another amazing experience was getting to meet Yoshihiro Tatsumi. I gave him a mini comic and got a pack of cigarettes in return. I still keep the empty box as a precious memory.
Red Dot Diva: Awww. These are sweet stories!




Red Dot Diva: Have you heard much about the fans and comic industry here in Singapore? And what is most exciting to you about your impending trip here as an STGCC guest? 
Emma:
I have a couple of friends there, but I’m afraid I don´t know much about Singapore’s comic scene. I’m dying to see a bit of it, and buy as many fanzines and mini comics from local artists as possible.

So, local creators, you got that direct from Emma Rios. She is eager to meet you and get her hands on your original works! Don't forget to bring a few copies along with you when you head to the convention on 10 to 11 September 2016.

Oh, and another thing. Grab your geek pals and do not miss the "The Women Talk Comics: Make Good Art" panel, held at 3 PM to 4 PM on Sunday, 11 September.

Joining Emma Rios on the main stage will be the other wonderful women artists - Brooke Allen, Stephanie Hans, Hwei Lim, Sakimichan and Rachta Lin. Red Dot Diva is certain that the panel will be a lively celebration of diversity and women creators' contribution in comics. Hope to see you there!



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