Thursday, April 16, 2020

Meet a Localish Cartoonist: A Chat with Rose Turner

 by Mike Rhode

 A friend of mine saw Rose Turner this February at a local event when that was still possible. 

Scott Stewart told me, "I attended an event in Round Hill, VA titled, 'Where Art Meets Hiking' focused on art based on the Appalachian Trail.  The speaker at the event was Rose “Comics” Turner who talked about “the importance of overlap between my worlds of art and hiking and how I managed to make art while I thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail.”

"It was a good talk and a very interesting comics project. Speaking with her, I learned, among other things, that she lives in Front Royal, VA, will be hiking the Pacific Crest Trail in the west coast as her next adventure, and is leaving for an Ireland jaunt."

"She recently started a podcast Journeys Through Art where she and co-host Melanie "Doodles" Cichocki 'interview artist adventurers from around the world to dive a little deeper into humanity.'  For example, Episode 2 features Kerstin A. La Cross, ;an Adventure Cartoonist and illustrator based in the Pacific Northwest. While not gallivanting in the mountains, they make comics about hiking, wilderness safety, and mental health. Their current comic project is ‘BASHers’, a memoir webcomic chronicling their first long-distance backpacking trip, where they hiked 100 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail and learned the difference between strength and stubbornness, and what it’s like to have your first asthma attack in the middle of nowhere.'”

I'd like to thank Scott for introducing me to Rose's work, and now she answers our usual questions and the new, inevitable, COVID-19 question.

What type of comic work or cartooning do you do?

I primarily focus on autobiographical comics. Within that, a lot of my recent and upcoming work is specifically about the adventures I go on, especially long-distance hikes.

How do you do it? Traditional pen and ink, computer or a combination?

Right now I primarily use watercolor, ink, and pencil, though I am slowly beginning to incorporate more digital work. It feels like there's a bigger buy-in for embarking into digital work, so I've been slow to get into that.

When (within a decade is fine) and where were you born?

I'm a 90's kid from the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia.

Why are you in now?  What neighborhood or area do you live in?

I'm still based in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley for now, though I'm hoping to move out west at some point, hopefully within a year or so after this pandemic really starts to subside.

How has the COVID-19 outbreak affected you, personally and professionally? 

I was out on an adventure in Ireland when things really started shifting due to the virus. I had just changed my flight to come home a few days early when the travel ban was put in place. But even before that, I was starting to try not to use public transportation or hang out in bigger cities. I'm, uh, broke right now to begin with, and had actually just lost my day job (the business closed) the day that I left for Ireland. I had been planning to get one or two jobs when I returned, like at one of the wineries nearby, and just work a bunch and save up. But now it looks like I'll be working a bunch and, well, not really saving, since most of my work (art) goes unpaid, unfortunately. At the same time, I have been able to focus on my art a little bit more during this time, so I'm kind of just doing what I can to build up my skills and profession. I'm also really trying to use my art as a resource and a gift for folks, including offering a recent art giveaway to help cheer people up.

What is your training and/or education in cartooning?

I've been an artist my whole life. I took a few classes here and there during my schooling, mostly just related to drawing in general. My degree is unrelated (International Studies), but I did do a study abroad that focused on incorporating art with travel. That was incredibly nourishing! My dad and my sister are both artists as well, and gave me some of my first lessons in the world of art when I was a kid.

Who are your influences?

Oof. So many. Bill Watterson, M.C. Escher, Alison Bechdel, Lucy Bellwood. Seth Pitt is probably my favorite these days; though our styles are completely different, I feel like our hearts are pretty similar, and in that way I resonate with his work very deeply. I'm fortunate to have a few extremely kind and talented mentors in my life who have inspired me immeasurably, including Ben Hatke, Zack Giallongo, and Kerstin A. La Cross.

If you could, what in your career would you do-over or change? 

Eh, not much really. I've been pretty happy with my path overall. I only wish I had started practicing my craft more consistently sooner. There are a couple projects I sort of wish I had printed as soon as they were finished and then actually taken them to cons and such, but I've always been so busy that I don't think it was ever really an option. I am planning to do more of that in the near future, however. 

What work are you best-known for?

"Miles of Comics", a collection of comics depicting my thru-hike on the 2,200 mile Appalachian Trail. Still working on these!

What work are you most proud of?

I'm really proud of those trail comics. It's the longest art project I've ever done, and I'm so glad that I've stuck with it. I think the work I'm most proud of though is anytime that my art has made people feel more understood and less alone in their experiences as a human - most of that comes from my March Madness Comics series, which are a bunch of 1-4 page, usually very vulnerable but sometimes funny autobiographical comics I've made. 

What would you like to do  or work on in the future?

I'd love to do more adventure art. For upcoming adventures, I'll be expanding my focus so that my art quite so exclusive to comics, but includes more portraits and landscapes and journal-style art. I'd also love to do more work with cartography, combining my love of maps and making art. 

What local cons do you attend? The Small Press Expo, Awesome Con, or others? Any comments about attending them?

While I've visited a few small cons, I only just have my first proper vendor gig coming up. I'll be set up at the Round Hill Appalachian Trail Festival, which has been postponed to September. Lots of great people involved with that event!

Turner in Feb 2020 by Scott Stewart
What's your favorite thing about the Shenandoah Valley?

The mountains and the hugs. When I was away at college, I started referring to Front Royal as "Hugsville", and nearby spots like Strasburg and Winchester are part of "The Greater Hugsville Area". It has certainly been strange being in Hugsville without all the hugs (due to social distancing). My housemates are getting extra hugs to make up for it. 

Least favorite?

It feels pretty segregated even today. I want to look into what I can do to address that and change it. 

What monument or museum do you like to take visitors to?

Does the library count? I worked there for a few years. I know I'm a little biased, but I've seen dozens of libraries around the country, and Samuel's Public Library is truly exceptional in its design (beautiful murals inside!), collection, technology, and above all its stellar staff and programming. It's one of the main places I like to make sure visitors go to.

Turner in Feb 2020 by Scott Stewart
How about a favorite local restaurant?

Happy Creek Coffee & Tea for lighter fair, but if you want a full meal I'd say Truss'd. 

Do you have a website or blog? 

My Patreon is active though! I'm in the midst of getting a little more of an online store available, but for now, Patreon is best.

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