Job Title & Description: Comic artist, creator of M.F.K.
Jamie: How long have you been working in the comics industry? Three years
Jamie: Describe why you chose the industry and the path you took to get there (education, internships, etc.).
Nilah: My involvement in comics was fairly incidental. My goal was always to work in animation. I loved to draw and tell stories so I was drawn to any kind of visual story-telling medium, but animation captured my interest in a way nothing else did. So that’s where my training and experience lies, but while I was working on that, I went after any other opportunities to draw and write. I kind of fell into making comics because, unlike producing animated movies, it was something I could do on my own.
Jamie: What are the highlights of your career/current job or project so far?
Nilah: Winning the inaugural Dwayne McDuffie Award for my webcomic M.F.K. was a huge moment for me. I’m still reeling from it!
Jamie: Any lessons learned you like to share about your time in the business so far?
Nilah: Don’t be afraid to say “no” to a project or offer if it doesn’t seem 100% right. Sometimes you’re not very invested in the idea, sometimes you want to be invested but the timing’s wrong, or you have misgivings about the client or the company involved. It’s okay to turn down work, even when you’re desperate for it. Sometimes turning down a project makes an opportunity for another artist. Sometimes turning down a project gives you the opportunity to say yes to your dream project later on.
Jamie: What inspired you to create M.F.K., and can you briefly tell us what the comic is about?
Nilah: M.F.K. is about a teenage girl named Abbie traveling to her homeland to scatter her mother’s ashes, and the friends and foes she meets along the way. Abbie’s full of secrets and also a super power she doesn’t quite understand that gets her into trouble at the worst possible times. In my late teens I became a big fan of shounen manga – Naruto, One Piece, Shaman King, etc. – but I noticed a trend I didn’t like. Sure, there were girls involved in these stories, but they were never quite as strong as the guys. I thought that was lame and wanted to see an action comic where the main character was a girl, and she kicked as much butt as or even more butt than anyone else.
Jamie: Any links to past/upcoming projects or a portfolio you’d like to share?
Jamie: Since this series does revolve around comics, can you list some of your favorite comic creators?
Nilah: Ohhh let’s see! Jen Wang, Yuko Ota, Clio Chiang, and Derek Kim had a huge impact on my direction as a webcomic artist. In terms of style, definitely Kazu Kibuishi, Ai Yazawa, Eiichiro Oda, and Yukiru Sugisaki.
Jamie: Any advice you’d like to pass along to someone interested in the comics industry?
Nilah: If you’ve got a story you’d like to share, please do it! These days there are a lot of options available for getting your work out there. But if it’s your first time, I highly suggest working on short comics first. Starting with a big project right out of the gate can be daunting; much easier to build your chops on smaller, more manageable stories.
Jamie: Any last notes or information you’d like to include?
Nilah: Oh, I have a picture book coming out in Fall 2016 called HOW TO FIND A FOX. Keep an eye out!