Kathryn Briggs is the creator behind Story(Cycle), Anatomy of a Broken heart and Triskelion, among other amazing works.
Her comics are beautifully rendered in a mix of styles and media and so multifaceted I found it very difficult to review, so instead with the release of Triskelion #2, she has taken time out of her busy schedule to talk to the Big Glasgow Comic Page about making comics!
Kathryn: Ok hit me!
Elmoos: Ok, lets start at the basics, Where are you from and what do you do?
Kathryn: I’m from the Philadelphia suburbs originally, and I currently live and work in Scotland. I’m a graphic novelist and I also work in arts education.
Elmoos: What led you to making comics?
Kathryn: Well, I was a fan for ages, but pursued a fine arts education/career. When I studied my Masters I first used comics as a way to explore the archetypal Hero story, but then I fell head over heels in love with the medium. I love making art that can exist outside the gallery setting, that’s affordable, and that people can read on their own terms wherever they like.
Elmoos: Which comics inspired you most?
Kathryn: David Mack’s “Kabuki” exploded my poor little 18 year old mind. I’m currently inspired by Emma Rios’ work on “Pretty Deadly“, and Glyn Dillon’s “Nao of Brown” proves that you CAN paint a whole graphic novel, so I have no reason not to!
Also, Dustin Nguyen’s work on “Descender” for the same reason. But really, there are too many to name. I love comics and I love the dedication and hard work that comic creators put into their projects. That, even more than all the technical storytelling achievements, inspires me to do what I do.
Elmoos: So tell us about what you are currently working on!
Kathryn: Well, Triskelion #2 is fresh from the printers, so I’m currently researching and sketching away on Issue #3. I’m also working on another mini comic for Treehouse Comic Collective and soon I’ll be back to work on pages for a graphic novel with 5 other artists called “Untitled”.
Elmoos: Busy Bee! Tell us more about Triskelion!
Kathryn: Well, I guess it’s a meta-narrative; a superhero story about superheroes. Or more specifically, the relationship between the trinity of the superhero genre: Superhero, Supervillain, and innocent victim. There’s a story and there’s some analytical writing and quotes thrown in as well. The story opens with a typical, epic showdown scene, but the character decides to step outside of their usual script and see what happens.
Did I mention that they all happen to be women, as well? Triskelion is also an exploration of the heroic feminine. I’m playing around with ideas of gender, heroism, and the roles that are usually allocated to women in fiction.
Elmoos: Reading through it, it was so multi layered… so many new things to pick up on on each read through. How much of this is intentional?
Kathryn: Thank you! I do try to load up the pages with symbolism and meaning, but it might have more to do with spending a really long time on each issue. 6 months, to be exact. That’s a long time to live with the ideas and concepts and characters. Each page being different, I sort of treat them like individual works of art; or maybe that’s just a hangover from my background!
Each page is like a meditation, I guess. I’m meditating on the concept or point in the story, working through the emotions and meaning as I paint the page. Intentional and unintentional stuff happens as a result.
Elmoos: Do you plan the stories thoroughly before beginning?
Kathryn: Not really, I’m afraid. I feel guilty about admitting that! I have a broad outline of where things will eventually end up, and then a more detailed step-by-step for each issue. However, it usually all changes as I work. I’m treating Triskelion like a graphic record of a research project; I have a hypothesis, but there is the very real possibility that my hypothesis will be proven wrong during research and experimentation. I’m working through my ideas as I create the pages, so unexpected 180 degree turns are to be expected, I suppose!
Elmoos: What would you say to people that argue comic books are not an art form?
Kathryn: Honestly, if they want to think that, fine. Enjoy the rest of your day. Comics have nothing to prove. They’ve been around long enough and you only have to barely scratch the surface of the comics world to see amazing feats of art. Arguing against the legitimacy of comics as an art form just seems like willful ignorance to me.
Elmoos: How has the response to your comics been so far? (overall.)
Kathryn: Amazing! At least I’ve had an amazing experience talking to people at cons and showing them my work. People seem to really respond to the idea of art you can hold in your hands, art that you can accidentally dump your tea all over and not ruin forever. Comic fans are a discerning bunch and I feel really honored to have had positive feedback about my work.
Elmoos: Well, it is very high quality and quite unique with in the comic world, whilst still embracing the medium!
Elmoos: Have you ever come across other artists or creators that work in a similar vein?
Kathryn: Thank you! I know several who make absolutely stunning artist books, but not too many who make print runs of them. I think watercolours will continue to be a part of comics; who would pass up a beautiful Jill Thompson?
Elmoos: You use a lot of collage too… What inspired you to do this?
Kathryn: A struggle to keep myself entertained, actually. I’d get bored by only working in one medium throughout a whole book, so I switch it up from page to page and let the content dictate the approach.
That, and Dave McKean’s “Sandman” covers, of course. My very first comics.
Elmoos: If you couldn’t work in comics, how would you tell your stories instead?
Kathryn: Oh no, perish the thought!
I’m not sure, to be honest. I’ve tried writing, I’ve tried blogging (way back in 2002, mind you), I’ve tried painting large scale pieces, I’ve tried poetry, I’ve tried plain old academic writing.
Comics was the end point of all those attempts to tell stories. It feels like I find home when i got here.
Elmoos: So what advice would you give to aspiring comic creators?
Kathryn: Make comics! Make your comics, don’t try to fit in to anyone else’s idea of what comics should be. And read comics! Be a fan as much as a creator. Meet other comics makers, exchange war stories, collaborate on projects to take a break from your own head; you’ll be inspired and you won’t feel alone, because sometimes artying hard can be a lonely thing.
Elmoos: Good advice!
Elmoos: Would you like to add anything?
Kathryn: Just a big thank you to you! I feel really lucky, even on bad days, to be doing what I love. Thank you for letting me ramble on about it!
Having read Triskelion #2, I am blown away and can’t wait for #3! I cannot recommend it enough.