Boston Comic Con ’14: Creator Interviews, Part 3


They came with Pikachus. They came with Batarangs. They came with tails, oversized mallets, spandex, trench coats, and lots of double-stick tape. And they came by the thousands.

This past weekend, the Seaport World Trade Center held its annual Boston Comic Con, and fans of superheroes, aliens, the supernatural, and everything in between gathered to celebrate art, fandom, and fiction. The Quad was fortunate enough to talk with some of the talented architects of these much beloved fictional universes.

Part 3 of our coverage includes interviews with Maris Wicks, Joe Quinones, and Tana Ford. Part 1 can be found here. Part 2 can be found here.

Maris Wicks | Photo by Ashley Hansberry

Maris Wicks

Maris Wicks is a writer/artist whose creative credits include DC Comics’ Batman: Black & White, DC Comics’ Batman ’66, Bongo Comics’ Spongebob Comics, and illustration for books Yes, Let’s and Primates: The Fearless Science of Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey, and Birute Galdikas.

The Quad: What was it like collaborating with Joe Quinones on Batman: Black and White #1?

Maris Wicks: It was awesome. We’ve been together for eleven-and-a-half years, so we naturally talk through processes together, even if its his superhero stuff and my cartoon-y things.

But we got asked to both work on a Batman: Black and White story together, and I was like “This is going to be rad!” So we brainstormed and I did the script and did really really loose layouts, and he did stuff on top of that and we gave each other feedback back-and-forth.

We haven’t collaborated as crazily since then, like I’ll color his stuff, but we are working on a pitch—I can’t say anything more than that. But it’s awesome working with him. We met in school at studios, so we were already used to a back-and-forth just as peers. It’s super, super fun. He puts up with my shit—uh, stuff.

Did DC say they wanted you to do a Harley and Ivy story for Batman: Black and White, or did they give you carte blanche?

MW: They said carte blanche, and Joe and I really loved the animated series, which is maybe obvious in our story, and I was just like “I totally want to do a Harley and Ivy story.”

And I love the duality, especially with Ivy, where they would play with that she was a villain who had good intentions. She was an eco-terrorist. She had good intentions at heart, but the way she went around doing things was not with the best intentions. So I went around with them getting in trouble, but also still helping.

I like when there are blurred lines in who’s good and who’s bad. Like how bad people can still do good things, and good people can also do bad things. And the dynamic between them is so much fun to work with.

Q: What influences your style?

MW: It depends. Sometimes it’s a nonfiction book I read about science, sometimes it’s some of my favorite superhero comics to read, like Batman: Year One, Batgirl: Year One; I really like the X-Men: God Loves, Man Kills, that was one of my gateway comics.

Obviously lots of animation. I watch Adventure Time and Gravity Falls. I don’t know. Kind of just everything. Growing up, I loved Norman Rockwell stuff and I still look at early American illustration, like “I love this.”

Food, sometimes. Color schemes in pretty much everything.

I see inspiration anywhere. And it’s kind of nice that way! I pretty much only read comics, and I will read nonfiction science stuff.

I don’t really read a lot of fiction prose. Every once in a while I read something that I’m really stoked about. I don’t know. It’s kinda just whatever’s lying around. Things that friends recommend.

We watch a lot of serial television. We rewatched X-Files recently, we watched Buffy [the Vampire Slayer], so stuff like that. And Buffy’s so good! I like going back and looking at how people tackle a really long arc is super helpful when you’re doing research for projects.

What is your favorite comic book sound effect that you’ve ever drawn or read?

MW: I have an appropriate one and an inappropriate one [laughs].

The inappropriate one is one that Joe drew a long time ago, but I can’t talk too much about the project. There’s an explosion that happens in a building, but there are sexual overtones, so the explosion is “POON!” instead of “BOOM!” Which is like super inappropriate and it’s really funny.

My favorite sound effects are generally ones that just reiterate what the process is. So there’s a guy running and it says “RUNNING!” after him in “running” letters. I think those are funny. They’re like the opposite of onomatopoeia.

Joe Quinones | Photo by Ashley Hansberry

Joe Quinones

Joe Quinones is an artist whose credits include Marvel Comics’ FF, Captain Marvel, and Dark Avengers, DC Comics’ Batman: Black & White, and the recent original graphic novel Black Canary and Zatanna: Bloodspell.

The Quad: What was it like working with Maris on Batman: Black & White?

Joe Quinones: It was fun! It was an interesting experience, because it was the first time we officially collaborated with each other. We’ve done some smaller things in our own personal work. There was a nice give-and-take because we’re very familiar with each other, so, you know, neither of us was scared to be like, “that doesn’t work, this works, change this, keep that.”

I remember I was fighting Maris a little bit to—not literally, fighting [laughs]—there was a bit of push-and-pull on how funny it was going to be. We wanted it to be funny from the start, but I remember there were a couple of gags where I was like “Maris, Batman wouldn’t do that” [laughs].

She had written this scene originally where Batman is investigating the crime scene and he comes out of a trash can covered in garbage. And I was like, “No! That can’t happen!” So we settled for him carefully putting a burger into an evidence bag, which I think is funny in and of itself and also something he would do.

What are your thoughts about Boston’s arts community?

JQ: It’s great! I think it’s always been existent. The longer that I’ve lived here, I’ve grown to become friends with a lot of people in the area, and it’s really nice.

I live in Somerville; there are a bunch of comics artists that live in the area, I see them constantly. It’s a nice way to stay sane. Especially in the long winters, we’ll go outside and go to a cafe and work with each other or have a work party at each other’s houses. It’s nice. It’s really nice.

What influences your style?

JQ: A big influence upon me, whether it’s apparent or not, is David Mazzucchelli. I’d say Bruce Timm, Paul Dini, and their work in the animated series was definitely formative for me and my interest in comics, definitely. In it’s own way, it influenced my style, even though it’s not very cartoony. I’d say, for modern stuff, Mike Allred has been a big influence.

What is your favorite comic book sound effect that you’ve ever drawn or read?

JQ: Huh. Hm. I don’t know.

I remember there was one sound effect usage that Cameron Stewart did once, it was in an issue of Catwoman. It was just “Splash!” which is just like, the most simple, sound effect possible. It was Catwoman running along the rooftop and her hitting a puddle, and the puddle made the word “splash!”

And I was like, that is so awesome and so much fun and such a unique thing that comics can do and get away with. I think I’ve stolen that a couple times, actually [laughs].

Tana Ford | Photo by Ashley Hansberry

Tana Ford

Tana Ford is the writer/artist behind the award-winning Duck and Duck: Second Chances graphic novels. She’s also the upcoming artist behind Marvel Comics’ New Warriors #9.

The Quad: So how did you doing art for New Warriors #9 come about?

Tana Ford: I just got contacted out of the blue by Marvel, by an amazing editor—


TF: Yes, Sana Amanat! Who is fantastic and if you haven’t listened to her TED Talk, you should. Yeah, she got in contact with me, asked me if I was available, and I was, and we started working together.

How was the Sean Gordon Murphy Apprenticeship program you entered a while back?

TF: It was absolutely incredible. I can’t recommend it highly enough for anyone that’s interested. Sean is amazing, the people were amazing, the project [Cafe Racer] was really fun to work on, and I learned so much more in the two weeks I was there than maybe ever. There’s nothing like being able to work with somebody while you’re there.

What influences your style?

TF: Oh god. All of the things that I love, but to say that might indicate that I copy—I don’t have a style—like, I like Fiona Staples, I like Sean, I like Ryan Ottley, so many different, varied artists, I love Picasso! But you don’t see a lot of that in the work that I make. So I’m influenced by it, but I don’t know if that influence shows up in what I’m making.

What is your favorite comic book sound effect that you’ve ever drawn or read?

TF: Oh my god. I don’t have a good—I always think of “BAMF!” Because it’s iconic and also “badass motherf*cker!” So, “BAMF!” That would be my sound effect.

About Jon Erik Christianson

Jon Christianson (COM/CAS '14) is the zany, misunderstood cousin of The Quad family. His superpowers include talking at the speed of light, tripping over walls, and defying ComiQuad deadlines with the greatest of ease. His lovely copyeditors don't appreciate that last one. If for some reason you hunger for more of his nonsense, follow him at @HonestlyJon on Twitter or contact him at!

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