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Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
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Wednesday, February 1

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Events Mon Oct 28 2013

Trick or Treat at Laydeez Do Comics this Thursday

Laydeez Do Comics, a reading and discussion series that celebrates graphic work from local female artists and writers, returns to Quimby's Bookstore, 1854 W. North Ave., on Thursday October 31, 7pm.

The event began in London and has moved across the pond, finding roots at Quimby's, Chicago's headquarters for independent publications. Each event welcomes a different panel of speakers who present their work and discuss their process. A Q&A follows, allowing fans, fellow creators and aspiring artists a chance to become part of the event.

The October lineup features cartoonist Beth Hetland, whose releases include the titles Fugue and Half Asleep. Joining Hetland is Jacyln Miller, cartoonist and Chicago Zine Fest organizer. Miller's newest work, Rememberies, documents her adventures as a kid growing up in Central Florida through her move to Chicago.

I interviewed Miller asking questions about her process, her inspirations and her work.

What initially prompted you to express yourself and your stories through comics?

A good friend of mine from high school made a post about Hourly Comic Day (every February 1st, where you make and post a small comic for every hour you're awake in that 24 hour period) back in 2010, and I decided to give it a go. It was difficult, and it took me way longer than that day to finish, but I completed the task and I was pretty much hooked on making my own auto-bio comics from that point forward.

Did you have any formal education before self-publishing your work?

I attended a small Liberal Arts college in DeLand, FL. I got my BA in Studio Art with a minor in Art History in 2009. During college I really hated to draw (go figure), and concentrated more on mixed media. But looking back at the work I made then, I'm not surprised I eventually turned to cartooning as a way to express myself.

Thumbnail image for Jaclyn Miller image.jpg

Your work has an inherent cartoon/comic strip feel, yet it seems very precise and structured. What is your process of telling stories in graphic form and the design and print mediums you employ?

Usually I'm inspired to make a small comic by something that has happened around me: a conversation, a weird or funny situation I found myself in, something that's really been bugging me, etc. Oftentimes I'll do a small amount of thumb nailing to make sure it flows the way I want it to, and that the timing and physical spacing on the page will work. I use non-photo blue pencils to create my under drawings, which are fairly detailed because I'm a planner and I like to know what my intentions are before I start using ink. Next I'll outline everything with a Pitt Pen, and add detail with several different media-- fine lining, ink washes or pencils mostly. I scan all of my work and clean up the pages/make edits in Photoshop. To get my stuff into print, I use InDesign, and then send the final layouts to the printers! I like to do all of the trimming and binding and other embellishments by hand. I probably spend a lot of time on each book, but piecing together the final object is one of my favorite parts of the process.

How has being a native of central Florida influenced your work, especially in your collection Rememberies?

I left Florida for many different reasons, but being away from the only home I knew for the majority of my life has made me feel really sentimental about it, and sometimes totally embarrassed by the times I spent growing up there. My next issue of Rememberies will be entirely linked to central Florida because I plan on making a mini about my experiences growing up with Walt Disney World as a persistent presence in my everyday life, either through school field trips or roaming the park unsupervised at eight years old on the weekends, or just being inundated with tourism and Disney paraphernalia at every turn. I know it gets a bad rap and there's a lot of garbage coming out of the state these days, but Florida is a part of me for better or for worse, and I like the idea of preserving that through my comics now that I'm far away from my first home.

Thumbnail image for rememberies.jpg

Since moving to Chicago, what are some positive experiences that have shaped and informed your work?

Discovering Quimby's, and seeing so many examples of small press works that people have put a ton of themselves into and done all on their own was definitely a huge inspiration to me when I first moved here. Once I realized CZF existed and was something community based that I could get involved in, I started attending open meetings and volunteering to help out. The 2012 Chicago Zine Fest was my first ever tabling experience, as well as my first time putting my comics into print. I owe a lot of the development of my own work to CZF. Also being in a city like Chicago, there are so many opportunities to read the works of my contemporaries, and I feel like every minicomic or zine I pick up informs my work in some way, either by content and the way these other creators are storytelling, or by the different ways there are to package stories physically.

Do you think being an organizer of Chicago Zine Fest has altered the self-publishing community's perception of you or your work?

I feel like the tiny minnow in the ocean of creators, just trying to put myself out there as much as I can. I don't really view the role of CZF organizer as purposefully influential. The goal of organizing the fest is to best represent the wants and needs of the community as a whole. Chicago Zine Fest belongs to our community, we as organizers just do a lot of the heavy lifting.

How does organizing Chicago Zine Fest bring perspective to your work?

Sometimes organizing the fest makes me feel really good about the work I'm doing, and other times it makes me feel like I'll never be able to do enough. It's both inspiring and daunting to see all of the amazing stuff being put out by the zine community in Chicago and beyond. I mostly view the position as a way to learn new techniques, to meet new creators, and to open myself up to new works that can in turn inspire my next creative move.

Stop by Laydeez Do Comics next week to find out more about Miller's process, check out her work and to ask you own questions.

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