Name: Shea Proulx
Type of Creator: Artist, Writer, Letterer, Designer, CEO of Hillgrove Books
List your work:
Alice In The Womb: A Colouring Book is a visual narrative that features realistic drawings of my eldest daughter’s development, from conception to birth, against a background that slowly evolves into a curious wonderland of forms and creatures. Each phase is accompanied by a figure number, tucked into the book’s binding, which corresponds with a description in a candid, occasionally humorous, glossary.
ABC Monstrosity is an alphabet book where each illustration not only corresponds with a letter, but also combines with the illustration that precedes it to form an evolving monster, whose incarnations are likewise described in a nonsense-filled illustrated glossary. Definitions for the more ordinary illustrations are just as bizarre, pointing out just how much we take for granted in this bizarre world we live in. The book flips to become 123 Monstrosity, a counting book where ascending numbers of items one typically finds on the floor whilst attending to children combine to form a monster mess (!).
What was the first comic you read?
I broke into my Dad’s locked den in the unfinished basement to read Conan The Barbarian comics and … other stuff.
What inspired you to make comics? A specific story? Writer? Author?
I accidentally started drawing stories, tracing images from page to page until I stumbled on a drawing practice that led to making books. Oops!
What do you like about comics? What is it about them that interests you? Inspires you? Moves you?
I make my drawings tell a story that couldn’t be described in words. My texts are supplementary, the way pictures often are in other picture-books. Mostly I just love to draw.
What is the most important thing people need to know about comics?
Comics are words + pictures. There are no other rules.
What comic would you recommend to a first-time reader?
I introduced comics to my six-year old daughter with “Rollergirl” and “Adventure Time.” I tried to get my book club to read Daniel Clowes’s most recent book, “Patience,” but they picked my other recommendation instead (Amy Schumer’s biography “The Girl With The Lower Back Tatoo”) : next time I’ll give them nothing but comix options.
As an artist, what medium do work in? Pencils? Ink? Digital?
Micron 005 pens and Moleskine notebooks. I’m colouring work by hand with Prismacolor pencil crayons.
As a writer, pen or keyboard?
Micron 005 or 05 pens, Word/Photoshop and the notebook on my phone.
What’s the first thing you do when you sit down to work? Do you have a routine?
I work around caring for my kids, and cram it in wherever I can; standing up between unloading dishes, waiting through swimming or ballet lessons, stolen hours when I should be sleeping, blissful but limited set hours when they’re both in school/preschool or are being taken care of by their maternal grandma. It’s very chaotic.
Do you have a set work space? Where?
I have a studio in my home in Calgary, but it’s usually just a loading zone because of the way I work at this point in my crazy life. There are very tidy looking pictures of the studio on my website. Those are a lie.
Do you listen to music when you work? Other background noise?
I listen to other parents gossip about their lives at ballet. I listen/watch sitcoms written by women I would like to emulate (Tina Fey, Mindy Kaling, Amy Pholer). I’m in the trial-stage with a music streaming app because it’s free. I used to listen to vinyl but the records and turn-tables are in storage until my handyman-husband builds the entertainment system of his dreams. When the girls are home I’m half listening to them ask for random things over and over again, unless I’m listening to them watch way too much TV on a tablet, like I’m doing right now. I’m feeling super guilty about it, though not guilty enough to be brief. Typical.
Nope. Being a stay-at-home mother of young children/sole employee of a fledgling publishing company that features books created entirely by me is easy. Everyone should do it!
If you had to pick one comic as a favourite, what would it be?
“The Great War: July 1, 1916, The First Day of the Battle of the Somme” is a comic that tells a gripping story using a 25 foot fold-out drawing and a glossary. Sacco let’s his drawings take primacy over the story, epitomizing what I love most about this art form. To hear more (much more) about how much I love this book, check out my review on goodreads.
What is the:
Most romantic comic you’ve ever read?
Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh
From Hell by Alan Moore
Maus by Art Spiegleman
Who is your favourite comic character?
Spider Jerusalem of Transmetropolitan; I’m a sucker for this Huster S. Thompson of the future idea, it’s no coincidence my daughter’s have the names of the only two female characters in Fear and Loathing.
What is the natural talent you’d like to be gifted with and why?
I’m don’t believe in the idea of talent. You get good at the things you spend time doing. That said, I wish I was not so terrible at Illustrator. The only colours on my book covers on my books are 100% yellow, and 100% cyan for the dumbest reason.
What three words would you use to describe your work?
Psychedelic line-drawing morphologies, but only if you really understand the word “psychedelic.” Alan Moore’s “Promethea” provides some good background reading.
What is your favourite place to go in Calgary?
The Library and the park beside it on a sunny day, with my girls. I go whenever a comic book is waiting for me in the Holds section. So, all the time.
You are stranded on a desert island, you must have:
Which 3 comics?
The Walking Dead series, The Last Man (depending on when I get trapped on the desert island: if Saga is finished I’ll take that Brian K. Vaughan epic instead) and Calvin and Hobbes.
Which 3 albums?
Funeral by The Arcade Fire, This Year’s Model by Elvis Costello and The Attractions, and the soundtrack to Reservoir Dogs.
Which 3 movies?
Apollo 13, Twilight (if I’m honest), and Pulp Fiction. I’ll be taking White Christmas as well, in my mind, because of how many times I’ve watched it with the family at Christmas.
Which 3 foods?
Burritos, Strawberry-Rubarb Pie, and super fattening Cherry Greek Yogurt (I also love coconut flavor, but on a desert island that seems like a superfluous choice.)
Which 3 television shows?
Southpark, Adventure Time, and Drunk History
And which 3 people would you be happy to be stranded with?
My husband, Ryan, and our daughters, Alice and Lucy. But if I can take a fourth I’d bring my mom. I don’t know if I’d survive without someone to babysit the kids so we can eat our burritos and pie in peace once in a while.
What are you working on/would like to work on?
I’m working on a coloured version of “ABC Monstrosity” and posting my progress as I go. I’m also finishing up “Alice at Naptime,” which chronicles my eldest daughter’s first year of life in my usual bizarre fashion, and is peppered with an essay on my transition from artist to artistic-mom. There’s only a few hand-lettered words on each page, a sentence at most, like you might see in a child’s reader. It’s in post-production editing phase.
I’ve been drawing the same way ever since taking a class twelve years ago where I began a project in a book I made myself using really crappy thin office paper. The key was the slight transparency in that cheap paper. I’ve moved on to a higher quality thin paper, but that cheap stuff brought with it a necessary revelation. I really, really, really like tracing