Allison Conway studied illustration in college. Her college offered illustration and comics classes in the same building, and she didn’t decide to try a comics class until her final semester.
“I just kind of had this moment where I was like: ‘What am I doing? I’m about to graduate, and I didn’t even try comics,’” Conway said.
With the help of that class, she came up with the pitch for The Lab, her haunting, wordless debut graphic novel about exploitation, which was released this year and published by Top Shelf Productions.
In his comic Working Stiff, Fred Noland exhaustively outlines all of the jobs he’s had, from a Taco Bell gig as a teenager to doing design work for the Golden Gate Bridge Highway and Transportation District. Throughout much of his life, he’s done comics alongside other work.
“I think I once would have just described myself as a cartoonist, but the way I look at it now is I see myself as a visual storyteller,” Noland said. “And as I’ve gotten to broaden my palate work-wise and actually had more opportunities, I’ve seen there’s ways to apply what I learned in editorial and what I’ve learned doing comics and these other venues.”
Noland, who has an eclectic bibliography of comics that encompasses fiction, autobiography as well as historical biography, continues to make comics alongside other meaningful visual storytelling work.
Early on, Alex Graham made comics by accident.
“I didn’t know it at the time, but when I was a kid, I was kind of making comics without knowing they were comics,” Graham said. “I would draw a picture of my day and then narrate it underneath. So I always had an urge to tell stories and to illustrate them.”
Today, the 32-year-old, Seattle-based artist paints and creates independent comics like Angloid, which follows a painter with some experiences strikingly similar to Graham’s – along with some cosmic alien encounters.