“I owe my career to the internet, which is awesome and scary at the same time,” says Faith Erin Hicks, animator extraordinaire (whose serial Superhero Girl you may remember from The Coast’s comics page). But she’s not bragging. “The fact that I’m making comics as a living is astonishing,” she admits. After heading to the east coast for an animation job, Hicks was blindsided by the “crash and burn” of the Halifax animation industry in 2008. Since she’d been writing and illustrating her own comics since 1999, she decided to finally share her work—including the 700+ page Demonology 101—online. “It was a hobby at first; it was just something I enjoyed,” she says. But very soon Macmillan’s graphic novel imprint, First Second, took notice. She’s still a bit in shock: “You never know who’s reading your comics,” Hicks says.
The rest is history and, well, the present. This week, Hicks’ newest illustration project, Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong, a graphic adaptation of a YA novel by Prudence Shen, hits the shelves. Through no stranger to writing her own comics, Faith was moved to illustrate the story of two unlikely groups of friends—jocks and nerds—coming together for a common goal that involves a robot battle, cheerleaders and plenty of power tools. “You have to really love what you’re working on in comics. I love drawing but I have to be interested,” she explains. And since she spent a year and a half completing the drawings, her selectiveness is understandable.
Also of interest to Hicks was the story’s attack on stereotypes and superficial judgments—something she sees as a major issue for women in the comic industry. As for talking about the treatment of female comic fans, “I do think it needs to be discussed, but you get tired of discussing it,” she admits. “I’m pretty active online. As women become more visible geeks and make their way in traditional male roles, sometimes the crap you have to put up with is overwhelming—it’s complete bullshit. They’ll say ‘Oh, you’re a girl, you’re not a real geek,’” she says. “My first crush was on Data from Star Trek. It doesn’t get nerdier than that.”
But ultimately, the pros far outweigh the cons, and Hicks is hopeful for the future. “Comics are a struggle. But what industry doesn’t have its problems? I’m thrilled that at this point I can make almost a living wage doing what I love to do.”
You can purchase Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong and chat with Faith Erin Hicks during the launch, Wednesday, May 8 from 4–6pm at Strange Adventures (5110 Prince Street). The book is currently being serialized—along with many other comics—on her website, faitherinhicks.com.