About.

Spike portrait by Matt Feazell

I’m Spike. I’m a lady. I live in Chicago, with a dog and a man. I was born in Washington, D.C. the day that Jim Jones poisoned 900 members of his doomsday cult in Jonestown, Guyana.

I’ve been thinking, drawing, and writing about Templar since I was a kid. I started the comic in summer of 2005. I’ll finish it before I die, but probably not soon. It’s pretty long.

Templar, Arizona is a story about a town that doesn’t exist, and the people who live there. I alternately describe it as speculative fiction, an alternate timeline, and an alternate history.

This isn’t the Arizona you’re probably thinking of. This is a different Arizona. This is a slightly irregular Arizona that fell off the back of a truck somewhere, and now all the power outlets are a weird shape and a couple of wars never happened.

Templar’s populated with junkies, fuck-ups, pretty girls, millionaires, hockey teams, weird religions, dumb subcultures, and people in love. So it’s a lot like the cities you might already be familiar with, except the air there gives you Miner’s Lung and nobody has a cell phone.

FAQ.

Are you available for commissioned work?

It’s best to assume I’m not. I’m pretty busy. Thanks anyway, though.

Will you link to/plug my comic?

It’s best to assume I won’t. If I ever plug or link a comic, it’s because I genuinely like it, not because someone asked me to.

I sent you an email and you never replied.

I’m sorry. Don’t take it personally. I get lots of email, and when it comes down to it, I assume you guys would rather I keep drawing the comic than answer every single letter. I read everything I’m sent, though, and appreciate your kind words. One fan letter is enough to make my entire day.

If your email was important, don’t be afraid to resend it. Because sometimes, I just plain fuck up.

But if you wanna just be chatty, I recommend following me on Twitter. I’m a lot better about replying, there.

What do you use to draw your comics?

My comics are fully digital. They’re sketched, inked, and colored in Manga Studio 5 on a Cintiq 21UX, with the assistance of:

What’s your day job?

I don’t have one. I make comics full-time. In addition to making TAZ, I run a teeny-tiny publishing company, Iron Circus Comics. ICC is currently responsible for publishing TAZ in book format, as well as Poorcraft, an educational comic about frugal living, and two anthologies: Smut Peddler and Sleep of Reason.

Really? How much money does it make?!

Enough to justify not having a day job.

You’re nosy.

Do you have any advice for someone who wants to be a professional cartoonist?

A little, I guess.

  • It’s not enough to just be good. Promote yourself and your work at every opportunity. Attend cons, talk to other creators, make podcasts, be friendly, solicit advice and opinions, do interviews, buy Project Wonderful space, join comic forum discussions.
  • That said, being good helps. Learn to write, draw, or both.

    Try to see your characters as actors on a screen instead of drawings, and the panels as camera angles instead of boxes on a page. Try to give each character an individual and believable voice.

    Draw, draw, draw. Draw from life. Draw people, cars, doorknobs, your own feet, a stove, a tree. Try to draw every day, and for the love of God, don’t sit there and worry about “what style” you should be drawing in. Your personal style will develop naturally. Trying to crowbar shortcuts and affectations into your work before you’ve mastered basic skills is like practicing your autograph before you’ve even moved to Hollywood and begun auditioning: It’s pointless and kind of dumb.

    Things that will NOT automatically make you better under any circumstances include computer programs, digital tablets, MFAs in Sequential Art, and drawing your comic so it reads from right to left. And stay the hell away from those “How to Draw Manga” books.

    Stuff I use regularly and recommend:

    • You can download free art instruction books by Andrew Loomis here. He was one of the finest art instructors to ever walk the earth.
    • Perspective! For Comic Book Artists by David Chelsea
    • Rendering in Pen and Ink by Arthur Guptill, for those of you who like to kick it old school
    • Making Comics, by Scott McCloud. Scott knows his stuff. And I’m not just saying that because I’m in there somewhere.
    • And finally, regular figure drawing sessions. Wherever you live, you can probably find a class nearby if you need the structure, or organize a night of practice if you want something less rigid.

    And I learned to write for comics by watching Law & Order with my eyes closed, so I haven’t got any books to recommend there. But the best possible way to develop as a writer? Read. And not just comics.

  • You probably won’t be able to quit your day job right away. Or for a while. Give it five years, and you should have a good idea if things are working out or not. Very, very few people making a living in comics started to do so right away, myself included. This includes both web and print comics. And nothing says “n00b” like expressing frustration when you’re not pulling 50k at the eight month mark.

    Comics isn’t a get-rich-quick scheme. If you want easy money, find another way. As a matter of fact, if you could imagine yourself being even remotely happy doing anything besides making comics for a living, I strongly recommend doing that.

  • Know exactly what you want. Do you want to be an independent webcomics artist? Part of a Marvel assembly line? A pen-for-hire with a page rate? These are all different things with different plans of action. If you specifically wanna be an independent webcomics artist, which is what I am, I suggest you learn some basic pre-press and accounting on top of everything else. If you want to be something else, I’m not the person to ask, because this is all I’ve done.

And that’s it.

Where are you online?

A lot of places. I’m more active in some than others.

Who are your favorite artists?

Ralph Bakshi, Banksy, Lynda Barry, Vaughn Bode, Charles Burns, Emily Carroll, Dave Cooper, Howard Cruse, Evan Dorkin, Warren Ellis, Frezatto, Rick Geary, Roberta Gregory, Los Bros Hernandez, George Herriman, Don Hertzfeldt, Junji Ito, Shintaro Kago, Carla Speed McNeil, Katsuhiro Otomo, Rebecca Sugar, Frank Quitely.

What’s your email address?

Spike at ironcircus dot com. But seriously, if you actually want an answer? Twitter. For real.

Thanks!