The Face behind the comics – Alina Pete.
For this weeks Face Behind the Comics I interviewed the very lovely Alina Pete! Alina is the creator behind Weregeek, which I suggest you check out here , but before you do that, take a minute to see what she had to say!
1. Let’s start with the obvious, how and when did you decide to dive into the wonderful world of comics?
Hah! Technically, when I was five. My grandma still has the first comic I drew. It’s about a cat that lost its ball of yarn, and somehow aliens were involved and the cat wound up in space with a pet dinosaur that was also a spaceship. (I totally need to revisit that idea, because that sounds awesome!)
Later on, in highschool, I did a few comics for our school newspaper and played around with some long-form, *very* anime –influenced comics that I never finished or published anywhere.
Then, in my first year of university, after I’d really gotten into reading comics online, I realized that I could put my work up online, and even if no one read it, at least I’d be getting some good practice drawing and coloring!
2. How did the idea of Weregeek come to you?
The term “Weregeek” was kind of a joke between and friend and I. We worked together, and so would see each other in our work clothes most of the week. But, we also played D&D together, and dressed VERY differently there. We joked that you couldn’t tell that we were geeks by day, but by night…
3. As lovely as comics are (no sarcasm, I promise!) I know a lot of artists and writers have to keep a day job too, is it like that for you?vid so, is it tricky to juggle the two, work and comics?
I used to balance a full-time job and 3 color updates a week. It was pretty rough, and I remember a lot of late nights and weekends spent keeping my buffer full. I think I’d have gone crazy if it wasn’t for my buffer – working on comics the same night they go up is crazy stressful for me, even if it seems to work for a lot of other folks!
So, yeah, juggling the two is pretty tricky, and I admire and sympathize with anyone who’s trying to get a comic off the ground while still working full time. But luckily, I’ve been able to spend the last two years working full-time on my comic thanks to the support of my fans, who are absolutely wonderful people.
4. Conventions and touring is a huge part of the comic world, how do you decide which shows to do and which to leave?
I hate to sound all mercenary, but for me, it all comes down to the money. It’s very expensive to fly to conventions in the U.S. (and even within Canada!) from Alberta, so I have to be pretty sure that I’ll make back at least $700-$900 for the flight, plus whatever the table cost is, plus a little more for my time and product costs before I even consider doing a show!
I’ll generally try one or two new shows per year, and cut any shows that aren’t performing well from my list.
5. Being the girl in the comic shop has certainly left its mark on me (not a bad thing!) and left me with a whole bunch of observations into the geek world, would you say that being a woman in comics makes a difference and has it given you any funny little tidbits of insight into that world?
Actually, it’s funny. I don’t do a particularly ‘girly’ comic – it’s about roleplaying games, for starters, and the main character is a guy – so a lot of my fans are surprised to find out that I’m a girl when they meet me at cons. Often times, when my boyfriend is helping out at my table, I’ll take a break for lunch and let him man the table for a bit while I eat and rest my feet. Lots of people assume he’s the artist and will ask him questions about drawing or how he came up with the idea for X, Y or Z plotline!
I suppose some girls might be offended that people assume the guy *must* be the artist, but I’ve always found it kind of amusing to correct them.
6. If you could give any one piece of advice to someone beginning in comics, what would it be?
Draw. Draw. Draw. Draw some more. Draw until your hands fall off. Fill a sketchbook a month, at least.
And don’t worry about making ‘the perfect’ drawing. That will never happen, and if you let you psych yourself out of drawing because ‘you’re not good enough’, then you’ll never *be* good enough. I have so many friends from school who were WAY better artists than me, and still are, but they talked themselves out of a career in art because they thought they weren’t good enough, and that makes me so sad.
7. What is the best advice you’ve ever been given?
Art wise? See above!
When I first when to animation school, I drew very small, very detailed drawings with a mechanical pencil. I had zero fluidity to my lines, and if I ‘messed up’ a drawing, no matter how close to being finished I was, I would leave it. My sketchbook was full of unfinished drawings.
In the first week of school, my instructor took away my mechanical pencil and gave me a ballpoint pen and an empty sketchbook. He told me I had until the end of the month to fill it, and could only use the pen to draw. I spent the first few weeks of that month drawing like I had been before, and then in the final week, seeing that I was never going to finish the book in time, panicked and began drawing like crazy. My art got SO much better after that – more fluid and less concerned about making mistakes!
8. Which convention has been your favourite so far?
Oooh, that’s a tough one. I love Emerald City because it’s the first con of the season, so I get to see all of my fellow creators again after a long winter’s hermitage. (Plus, Seattle is just such a fun city to visit.) Calgary Expo is practically my local show (it’s only a 2 & 1/2hour drive from Edmonton), and I’ve been going there since the second year it ran so I’ve been able to see it grow over the years so it’s pretty close to my heart. But, I think my favorite has to be Gen Con, in Indianapolis. It’s a gaming show, so it’s right up my alley, but it’s also the only show I actually get time to game at, since people are playing boardgames and roleplaying games round the clock!
9. If you could have any guest artist (dead or alive) come do one page for you, who would it be, and why
Oh, man. I have to pick just one?? That’s almost impossible. Wendy Pini, maybe, or Glen Keane. I remember getting Elf Quest books from the library during school and painstakingly copying each panel to learn about posing, clothing and hair. Same thing with Disney movies – I’d pause them and draw what I saw on screen.
10. If you had to pick one word to describe your experience in webcomics so far, what would it be
AWESOME!! I’ve had so much fun – meeting new people (both fans and other creators), travelling to new cities, and learning the ins and outs of producing merchandise. A++, would do again.
I’d like to thank Alina for taking the time to answer my questions! Until next time, just keep reading!