What other jobs and experiences have you had in the comics industry? Fantagraphics was my first comic industry initiation when I did a stint as an editorial intern my senior year of college. After moving to New York, I did another internship with the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund (CBLDF), because this industry is a labor of love, and you have to work really hard for free for a while. In NYC I also did my first retail work with Forbidden Planet, which honestly is one of the most informative areas of comic book publishing.
When the West Coast called me back home, I bummed around for a few months on the internet writing reviews for blogs and retailers, until Fanta found me in a ditch and brought me back into the fold.
What was the first comic you read? I think I've been reading newspaper comics since I could read, even the creepy weekday ones that talk about work place sexual harassment (I'm looking at you, For Better or for Worse). But then it was a gradual slippery slope into manga with Toriyama and Otomo, and mostly Vertigo titles, like Hellblazer, by high school. I was always an art fan, so without realizing their comic book ties, I was a fan of people like Moebius, Barry Windsor-Smith, and Jack Davis. These dudes expanded my reading and visual tastes for the better.
What was the first comic that made you want to write, react, something? I've always enjoyed comics, but I think I'd be lying to myself if I thought it was anyone but Brandon Graham that made me feel like the worlds he created were visceral, and existed beyond storytelling purposes. I think I got my hands on King City sometime in high school, and I hope this makes him feel old. His street/graffiti, Japanese, Moebius style wraps my head in a blanket and tucks me in at night, while simultaneously fulfilling my need for sexy puns. The best of both worlds if you ask me.
Anna's Brandon Graham tattoo of Earthling J.J. Catingsworth the Third, photo Robin McConnell
What can you recommend to Fanta readers? A book I picked up completely at random, but fell completely in love with has been Things Just Get Away From You by Walt Holcome. His whimsical and classic cartooning style often feels like how Pogo would read if all those characters grew up to be slightly dejected about society. But throughout his stories, Holcome hits on distinctly profound moments of love, childhood, and chasing dreams.
Weirdest Fanta experience so far? I think this place used to be a lot weirder than how I found it. At least according to all the stories I've heard from legacy employees. I do remember once talking about whether or not plants would grow better with the nutrients of menstrual blood. But I'm probably the only one who remembers that, so who's the weird one now?!
I remember that conversation well, Anna. What's your favorite way to wind down? I love to bake. Cookies, pies, etc. Ask Kristy Valenti (Fanta editor) and she'll probably regale you with stories of my pies. I also sing a lot, mostly show tunes. Alienating one coworker at a time listening to Cabaret. Which shouldn't be hard to do since I only have one coworker.
What's your favorite drink? Whiskey. In my experience, if you work in comics you either drink whiskey or nothing at all. So chose wisely.
What projects do you have ahead of you outside of your job? The past couple of years have been spent on a pet project with local artist Josh Heath. It's probably one of those 'will never see the light of day' things, but you can't stop working on it either; quantity creates quality. I still write weekly columns about new comics coming out and why you should buy them, along with awesome preview videos hand made at Zanadu comics. But long term, my dream would be to curate and produce at least one multi-artist book, which is kind of the like the nerd idea of a fantasy team.
What's the best part of comic conventions? Conventions can be stressful, but I honestly love talking to people who are genuinely curious about the books you're trying to sell. They usually have a lot of enthusiasm, and are wiling to let me sell them amazing and weird books that hopefully makes them appreciate the unconventional, and become a reader for life. I sell people what I believe in.