Monday, January 31, 2011

Awards, Interviews, and Ponies?

Ok, so a few things have happened to me this month that I'd like to share. The list of articles I'm addressing is as follows: 1: I'm up for an award, and if you'd like to vote I'll tell you how.
2:I was interviewed about my career by a 15 year old who had a project, if you'd like to know what I think about being a cartoonist read on, it's long-winded.
3: My friend Kelly Mills made me a wonderful My Little Pony version of Tom Boy Tara!
If you'd like to read all three topics, please feel free, but if you'd like to skip one or two at least you know what I'm going to rant about so you can skim.

The Prix Aurora Award
So I'm pleased to announce that the lovely and always wonderful Liana K. has nominated my comic "Tom Boy Tara" for a Prix Aurora Award. I'm in the "Best Graphic Novel" section. Apparently webcomics are able to be nominated for it. My comics 129-165 from 2010 are in the running which involves *SPOILER ALERT* the huge story arc of my one character Jade coming out as a bisexual and Tara questioning her own sexuality. If you haven't read it, lots of stuff happens after that's a crazy read.

Liana and the fine people at Futurecon (a fabulous 3 day New Years Relaxacon that she and a few others made up and then donated all of the money gained from it to epilepsy Toronto) were also nominated for a Prix Aurora Award. Please vote for them if you can!

The Prix Aurora Awards are Canada's national popular vote Sci Fi & Fiction awards, meaning the public gets to vote on the best of the best in Canadian SF!

The nomination period is open, and it is free to nominate. However, since the awards are a one person/one vote system, you must register with the society and get your society number before proceeding to the nominations.

Nominations are live now, and close April 30th, 2011. Please help us get those who supported the Futurecon convention on the ballot! They donated a lot of time and work to help raise epilepsy funds.

Come voting time, there is a nominal $5 fee per ballot. This money goes directly to paying for the swanky trophies they give out, and other expenses related to the awards. You can donate more if you wish.

The nomination form can be found here:

The Prix Aurora Awards prefers that you complete all categories when you nominate. So to help you with that, here is our preliminary "Friends of Futurecon" list of recommendations. Let's get all our Futurecon guests nominated, so we party at SFContario, November 18-20th, 2010 in Toronto:


Best Novel - English:
Robert J. Sawyer: Watch (Penguin Canada)
Derwin Mak: The Shrine of the Siren Stone (Orchard House Press)

Best Short Fiction - English:
"Cloned to Kill", Derwin Mak, Infinite Space, Infinite God II, Twilight Times Books
"The Polar Bear Carries the Mail", Derwin Mak, The Dragon and the Stars, DAW Books
"Family Tradition", Derwin Mak, Night to Dawn, issue 17, April 2010

(Note: All these short stories can be read online here: )

Best Poetry/Song - English
Robert J. Sawyer: "The Transformed Man," Tesseracts 14 (EDGE)

Best Graphic Novel - English
Tomboy Tara, strips 129 - 165, Emily Ragozzino,, self-published.

Best Related Work - English
The Dragon and the Stars; Derwin Mak and Eric Choi, Editors, DAW Books

Best Artist:
Leonard Kirk, Examples: Dark X-Men: Issues 3, 4 and 5 - Penciling and Inking, Marvel Comics
New Mutants (vol.3): Issues 15 - 19 - Penciling and inking, Marvel Comics


Best Fan Publication:
The Dominion Dispatch, Adam Smith, Editor,

Best Fan Organizational
Liana Kerzner, FUTURECON!!!!!!!!!! (This was a team effort but the Auroras make you list a single name. This was the one RJS provided, so let's keep it consistent!)

Best Fan Filk:
Nero's Fiddle, Red is the Rose Album

Best Fan Other:
Andrew Gurudata, The Constellation Awards, Polaris 24
Nero's Fiddle, Live performance, Futurecon, December 31st, 2010 (In case the Aurora committee doesn't see the gals as "filky" enough. The official definition is muddy.)

An Interview About Being in the Cartoon Industry
Interview for Comic Book Artist and Author Emily Ragozzino

Q: How did you first decide to become a comic book artist?

A: When I was eight years old, I used to do my own comics based off of cartoons I watched on T.V. and newspaper comics I read. I didn’t have a comic book store near me, as I grew up in the country so I didn’t really base them off of comic books, but I always found all sequential art and animation to be extremely fascinating and an amazing storytelling method.

Q: Is there anything you think is important to do during your formative years if you want to become a comic book artist?

A: Well for one thing, I think it’s best to learn a thing or two about writing and art, especially if you want to do both. I’m mostly self-taught but I took Fine Art in college and all through high school, I also loved English. I think it helps to know how to craft your own stories and create some kind of movement with your art to make the story interesting. Creating a story that includes body language often helps make the art look more appealing, however if the story calls for it, small gestures can make the art look more organic, more boring perhaps but also more realistic if that’s what you’re going for.

Q: Do you think it was luck or your own choices, or a combination of both, that got you where you are today?

A: Well, I’ve always worked hard to achieve any goals. Sometimes coincidences happen where I met a cool person at the right time that would help me to further my career, but most of the time if was motivation and sticking with what I loved and never giving up hope that got me to where I am.

Q: How often do you work as a comic book artist?

A: I try to post a comic a week if I can. Sometimes more, sometimes less, but I try to stick with that goal. I think having goals and giving yourself a deadline really helps a lot. I try to work on a comic for about 3 hours more or less. I just began colouring it in. Because I change my style frequently and experiment a lot it can take more or less time, but I mainly have fun with it and the time flies by. It’s what I love to do, so it’s hard not to have fun.

Q: What are your favorite parts about this job?

A: Just being able to create something new and different really makes me content. I’ve always loved art and writing, so I think the fact that I’ve found something to combine both of my loves has really helped me to progress.

Q: What are your least favorite parts about this job?

A: Trying to find the time to do it among my day job and other daily tasks and challenges and at the moment I’m not making a ton of money off of it. It’s the price I pay for being an artist and enjoying what I do.

Q: Are their any particular skills and interests that are required for the job?

A: I think most people can do this type of work if they really have the passion for it, dedication and the talent. Talent comes last because I’ve seen some comics with good writing and bad art or vice versa and they still make it alright. I think if you have a new and different idea that will relate to people, that often helps. Creativity is a big requirement. I say passion and dedication because I’ve seen enough artists give up because they don’t think there’s enough money in it or they’re too shy to show their own work. If you like what you do you’ll want to show it to the world and keep going with it. If you put your mind to it, I really believe you can accomplish anything.

Q: Which of the following types of abilities are useful within your job?
(Copy from the following list)

A: Definitely Linguistic, I think without language in the comic realm (body language or speech) it would just be a bunch of random pictures. There must be a concept or some kind of story to suck the reader in. Visual is definitely another strong ability needed, or else it would just be a regular short story, conversation, narrative, etc. Art is what makes comics such a fascinating medium; it can convey a mood or set a scene. I believe you can use most of the other abilities in the above list to write about something, the ideas for comics are endless. I for one will use music in my writing to display the characters likes and dislikes or again, set a mood.

Q: Within the job, what sort of thinking is important?
(Copy from the following list)

A: I think “Creative” and “Discipline” are the top ones on the list. You obviously need to have creativity to even craft your own comic, and discipline to keep going with it, especially if it has a storyline that lasts a while like mine does.

Q: Is there a particular personality that best suits the job?

A: Well, like in any career, an ambitious personality will allow you to take the career far. Especially because you will most likely not receive overnight success, it takes a lot of hard work, dedication and a lot of money into it (that you may not easily get back) you have to enjoy what you do and I think creative methods in marketing yourself can really help get things out there a little bit. Most artists forget that if they begin this career, you must market your product and unless you have a partner you must do it on your own or with the help of friends and possibly family. If you have a business mind and a fabulous support system, it sometimes helps to get your idea out there. Creativity also helps obviously, but being logical about your goals in your freelance career also helps a lot, you’re your own boss, you call the shots, they may as well be smart decisions.

Q: Are there any good things that people can do to volunteer that prepare them for your job?

A: Well, I think if you have the time to dedicate to your future goal while you’re young, it can help. If my college had a newspaper that was published often, I would have definitely volunteered to do the comic in that newspaper. I have in the past made comics for things. I used to practice making birthday cards for people and coming up with funny little slogans and caricatures, just writing and doing random sketches can often help. Carrying a small notebook with you at all times too can help you get ideas down that you later forget about. I just practiced art a lot, and wrote whenever I could to keep things fresh. I think that’s all you can really do to prepare yourself.

Q: Are there any other interests that your job makes it easy to pursue? Are there ones that you feel are difficult to pursue?

A: Caricatures and face painting have been things I have done on the side. I can easily do storyboards for film because I know how to do sequential art. I can easily also write scripts for film as well, as I normally write out scripts before I draw out the panels.
I feel it is a very limited career, but you can also do a lot with art and writing. I have published books because of it, I have created t-shirts and other products with my art, there are endless possibilities. My core interests are art and writing, I find that this career path helps me fulfill all of my needs.

Q: Does your job often interfere with your personal life, and vice versa?

A: It can sometimes. I have been distracted at past side jobs because I was so focused on what I wanted to do next in my comic. I have even been fired over it. Although that job was not for me and the employer knew it, it was just at a bad time in my life that I lost that job. I have had friends and family think I was delusional for wanting to do this as a career as it makes very little money, especially at the start. I have ignored a lot of people because I have followed what most consider “just a dream”.

Q: Is it possible to create a healthy work/life balance, without cutting too much of either?

A: I have created one. I now work full time at an art store for spare money so I can eat, pay bills and generally have a roof over my head. It also helps me save money on supplies if I need them. I find doing a comic a week at least until I make some money off of my comic gives my viewers just enough to constantly go back to check in with it, and it allows me to pursue what I love while still giving me time to work and have a social life, and do all the things I need to do.

Q: Is there anything else you’d include that’s important information about your job?

A: It can be a difficult career. It may sound glamorous at times, but believe me, it takes a lot of discipline, and dedication and laborious life balance to allow you to survive in this incredibly sought after career. Let’s face it, a lot of people want to be their own boss and work mainly from home while making massive amounts of money doing it. If that’s why you got into this career in the first place though, you may want to rethink your life choices. It’ll take years to get there, I haven’t even received that luxury yet, and don’t know if I ever will. That’s the price I pay for doing what I love though.

Kelly Mills Makes My Little Ponies Even More Awesome!
So I just got the best present of the year, and I was so excited to share it with everyone! My friend Kelly Mills makes customized My Little Ponies. She came to visit me one time recently on her way to see the play "Wicked" with her boyfriend and told me she was going to make me a Tom Boy Tara pony. I didn't think she'd be making it so soon. I can't stop staring at the pictures she had of them below, I was just in awe of all the detail she put into it. She took my childhood girly toy and made it something tomboyish! Such an amazing thing! Well I luckily snagged the pictures of the making of the pony and the finished result is there too. If you want to see Kelly's other ponies she's customized she does such an amazing job, they're here, just click on this link: Midnightflurry
Please hire her if you know someone (or yourself) who would like a My Little Pony customized. She does an incredible amount of work, as you can see!