Megami Jadeheart is a local webcomics cartoonist who is appearing this weekend at Intervention Con in Gaithersburg. I suspect she’s operating under a non de plume, but being polite, I didn’t ask. Ms. Jadeheart has been taking a break from her ongoing strip, Annie a Space Western, for health reasons but it is planning on returning to it. She was inking panels when I asked her to do this interview.
ComicsDC: What type of comic work or cartooning do you do?
Megami Jadeheart: I tend to do full page continuing narrative style comics, in the style of American Graphic Novels and Japanese Manga.
ComicsDC: How do you do it? Traditional pen and ink, computer or a combination?
MJ: Different comics are worked different ways. Annie is usually drawn in pencil and inked by hand. Then scanned and colored or shaded, and lettered digitally, but there are some pages that were drawn entirely on the computer, and some that were colored with Copic markers. Annie is my experimental art style comic.
MJ: I have worked on another comic called Sword Of Survival, which is a Zombie apocalypse story that very, very rarely gets touched, that is worked completely digitally but in the style of charcoal drawings.
ComicsDC: When (within a decade is fine) and where were you born?
MJ: I was born in the 80's in Dayton, Ohio. There was a lot of corn and baseball when I was growing up. And air shows. The Dayton Air and Space Museum is awesome. XD.
ComicsDC: Why are you in Washington now? What neighborhood or area do you live in?
Mom's work moved the family when I was ten, and after living briefly in Crofton and Bowie they settled us in Columbia. I ran away to join the circus in Ithaca NY for a while though.
ComicsDC: What is your training and/or education in cartooning?
MJ: An associate’s degree in Fine Arts obtained at the wonderful HCC, and most of an Animation Degree bounced off of it at UMBC.
ComicsDC: Who are your influences?
MJ: Spider-Man and Rumiko Takahashi. A bit more seriously, my mother ran the art shows at science fiction conventions when I was a wee young thing, and was something of an artist herself. She and her father always encouraged me in my art as a child, and after I lost my way in the confusion of middle school, my high school art teacher, Mrs. Coulson, reminded me that art was my love and passion, and encouraged me to push past the limits of a cartoony style and draw the real world. She gave me a gentle push towards her art teacher, Jim Adkins, who teaches at HCC, and is one of the best artists, best teachers, and best people I have ever met. He is right up there next to Stan Lee and Takahashi-San in my book. Also, Phil Foglio and Wendi Pini. Dear goodness, I probably misspelled all of those names. This is why I draw and make people proofread my scripts.
ComicsDC: If you could, what in your career would you do-over or change?
MJ: I would have started earlier! I also would have tried taking school down to part time when my health went bad, and tried finishing my animation degree. I still love animating, and wish I got to do a little more of it. Maybe if I get the chance, I'll animate part of Annie.
ComicsDC: What work are you best-known for?
MJ: Probably Annie, and a partially finished protect on DeviantArt where I set of to write a novelization of a video game. That went over pretty well.
ComicsDC: What work are you most proud of?
MJ: Annie! She is my baby, and my pride and joy.
ComicsDC: What would you like to do or work on in the future?
MJ: Dear goodness, there are so many other ideas. Finish Annie, of course. I want to work more on S.O.S. There's a comedy series outlined called "The Adventures of Captain Michiko and the Starship Innuendo". There's this theme in my work, I guess, women and space. There's also a comic called I have a hundred or so pages thumbnailed for, inspired by a friend's novels. But that one will wait to be released in tandem with the novel it's set during.
ComicsDC: What do you do when you're in a rut or have writer's block?
MJ: Spin my wheels in frustration. For a while anyway. Often, talking to my best friend will help me bring the idea bubbling back up. And if I'm simply burnt out from doing, say, nothing but Annie for three to seven weeks, sometimes I just need to give my brain a vacation and go to one of the other worlds and work on S.O.S. or the novel one. Or I play a video game, or I role play, or I sew something. Sometimes your brain needs a break XD not to mention your hands.
ComicsDC: What do you think will be the future of your field?
MJ: That's a tricky one. Web comics are certainly big and very very accessible now. I love print media, but web is so accessible, and there's no submission criteria. You just do it and put it out there and people find you. There are also people like Hussie of MS Paint who combine flash animation with comics and games, and I've seen both Marvel and Square-Enix play with adding games and interactivity to comics in app-comics for the iPad. But in my personal experience and opinion, it doesn't always Add to the comic reading experience, to the story consuming and mood conveying, to have random mini games for the hell of it. If multimedia is going to keep getting woven into comics, it needs to be done skillfully and very very intentionally.
ComicsDC: What local cons do you attend ? The Small Press Expo, Intervention, or others? Any comments about attending them?
MJ: Oh, I go to a lot of local cons. Mostly Anime cons. Intervention of course, Katsucon and Otakon. Anime USA, CHS Otakufest and Tigercon. Anime Midatlantic, Nekocon. I'll be going to Magfest for the first time this year, and will be looking into T-Mode and Zenkaikon, too. I'm even looking at Anime Boston.
ComicsDC: What's your favorite thing about DC?
MJ: The Smithsonian
ComicsDC: Least favorite?
MJ: How hard it is to drive through, and how awkward it can be to Metro around if you live outside Metro reach.
ComicsDC: What monument or museum do like to take visitors to?
ComicsDC: How about a favorite local restaurant?
MJ: My favorite local restaurant is, of course, up Columbia way. There is a little family run sushi restaurant called Hanamura. Best unagidon ever.
ComicsDC: Do you have a website or blog?