Please welcome Fiona Staples, co-creator/artist of the ever popular Saga and artist on the recent relaunch of Archie, to our next fan chat. She will be joining us Wednesday, July 15th at 2pm New York time (7pm UK). If you will not be available during that time, please feel free to post your questions here in advance. However, any posts other than questions will be deleted. Thank you.
Welcome Fiona. I’ve enjoyed your work on Saga hugely, so my question is about that.
I would love to know what aspect of the series you find challenges you most as an artist, and brings out your best - is it the fantastical concepts that you have to realise, or is it capturing the human, emotional content (which can sometimes get pretty deep and heavy) through your characters?
Both are a big part of the book’s appeal, for me.
If you could illustrate the biography of any historical figure, who would it be?
Hi Fiona, your art is gorgeous and very original. I find its unmistakably your own, if you know what I mean by that - like I can immediately identify it.
It’s not often these days that artists break though without seeing their influences in the work.
Who would you describe as the biggest influences on your work? Is there anyone you aspire to?
Also, as well as having such a fantastic and distinctive style, you always service the story well.
If you had to choose, what would you put first, style or storytelling?
Also, Alana is one if the most beautiful and striking characters I’ve ever seen in a comic book.
Did you base her on a living person and whose idea was the hair - yours or Brian’s?
Hi Fiona–huge fan of your art! I’ve seen you say that artists and writers are equal contributors in a work; there’s a lot of debate on that in comics circles (not sure where I fall, but either towards equal or artists generally bringing more). What do you think each ideally brings to the table? What are the things you strive to do as the artist?
Also, do you have any interest in writing, either for comics you draw or for other artists?
Before I ask my question I just want to say thank-you for making Saga. I don’t know how to say this without it sounding cliché or stupid, so I’m just going to say it. Saga has literally changed my life. The complexity of these characters and their fictional lives has had a ginormous impact on my nonfictional life. It’s made me think about not only war in a different light, but love, marriage, violence, racism… I could go on and on.
Nothing else I’ve ever read has sparked such an emotional connection with me. There have been times when there’s a character death and I’ll get so angry that I feel like throwing the comic across the room. (Don’t worry, I haven’t. Yet.) And there have been times when I find myself crying (Most recently Chapter 27, really got to me.) because I feel like I know these characters like I know my best friends and I don’t want anything terrible to happen to them. Sometimes I feel like I really just want everyone to go back to Heists lighthouse and just hangout reading books haha. So my point is not only is Saga my favorite comic, it’s my favorite piece of fiction. And I just really wanted to say thank-you for creating it.
So one to my question haha
How do you create these character designs with so much detail and just flat out life? I’ve read comics before where I’m looking at a particular artists work and it very much just feels like pencils on paper. Your art style doesn’t feel that way. Yours feels like I’m right there in the room. So if you could just talk about your process on that I’d really appreciate it!
@FionaStaples - Thank you so much for coming and doing this fan chat here on Millarworld. I’m a recent convert to Saga. It is one of the first books people seem to recommend. So I finally broke down and picked up a bunch of issues in a sale last year and binge read all 24 issues in a matter of days. I’ve stayed up with it ever since. Thank you for such entertaining and insightful work. Like the poster above said, it really handles a range of real world topics in an interesting sci-fi story.
So I guess I should get to my question. You or Brian may have discussed this elsewhere, I’m not sure, but is there a planned ending to Saga? I would hate to see it end but I’m curious if there is an end or at least a milestone where everything diverges. There seems to be indications in the narration that this is the case but that could just be the storytelling technique.
How long does it take for you to actually finish drawing an entire issue of Saga?
Fiona, you’re my favorite comic book artist right now! Love your work! Thank you for also pushing for diverse characters in your stories.
Q: Which writer would you love to work with? What stories or type of stories would you like to tell if given the opportunity? Will you be coming to Texas anytime soon?
Thanks for taking the time to do this!
Welcome to Millarworld, Fiona.
Hi Fiona, I love your art in Saga/ What’s your approach to colouring the book? I love how vibrant everything looks.
Oh and bonus question: What’s your favourite Kurt Russell movie?
I think the “human, emotional” content that you mentioned is what brings out my best- or at least, it’s what my art is probably most known for. It’s not the most challenging part, though. Bringing the characters to life is largely instinctive, and the rest is fine-tuning their bodies and faces until they communicate what I want them to. It actually gets easier the longer we do the book, because I’ve really gotten to know our cast and how they react to things and how they express themselves.
The hardest part is designing everything else (environments, vehicles, armour and clothing and stuff) to look cool but also be easy enough to draw a hundred times a month! My environments are pretty sparse because I’m still figuring out how to paint them faster, while adding detail. So that’s my current challenge.
I watched “Meet the Romans with Mary Beard” and she shows us this tomb that a guy named Eurysaces had built for himself. He was an ex-slave who became a very wealthy baker, and he made this baking-themed monument to himself covered in carved stone ovens and rolling pins and stuff. That’s a cool rags-to-riches story that I’d love to draw!
hi fiona, what got you in to comics? do you have any good reccomendations?
Hey, Fiona, thanks for being here. I think Saga is the most beautifully drawn book I’m reading at the moment, and quite possibly on the stands, overall.
Saga is a pretty unusual work not even in its combination of fantasy and sci-fi - this being comics, after all - but rather in that it draws in equal parts on humour, romance, action and horror. It can go from being funny to being horribly violent to being touching in the space of just a few panels. How do you feel this mixture of very different moods informs your art on the book?
Thank you, and great questions! Earlier in my career I definitely wore my influences on my sleeve. Now I think I just have so many that they’ve gelled into something unidentifiable. The people I copied the most early on were probably Ashley Wood, Tony Daniel, Michael Turner, JS Campbell, Jose Gonzalez, Esteban Maroto, and anime. Just anime in general.
So to get an original look, just steal from a wide variety of artists!
And I’d put storytelling first, of course… but the way you tell a story is definitely part of your style. Speed lines, for instance- storytelling or style? They’re pretty interconnected.
She’s not based on anyone real- I looked at some models for reference, but she didn’t end up resembling them. I sent Brian some sketches like these, and he said he liked a more “punk” look for her, so I went with the shaved sides and green hair.
Well, both jobs are vital because a comic can’t exist without some form of narrative structure and some kind of imagery. So I think they’re of equal importance, but artists typically do more work. That doesn’t mean we “bring more” to the final product, or are more valuable, just that our job takes longer to do.
I’ve written some things just for fun and practice, and in the next year or two I’d for sure like to write/draw something on my own! What’s the point of having BKV’s e-mail if I can’t bug him to check my work?