The Secret Life Of A Bestselling Comic Artist

25 Aug 2016 by Chew Hui Ling

We’ve all familiar with popular comic series like Lumberjanes, Adventure Time and Powerpuff Girls, but how much do we actually know about the mastermind behind these cult phenomenons? Meet 28-year-old Brooke Allen, the award-winning comic artist who grew up with a love for monsters and mythical creatures, geeks out at bookstores, and spends her days holed up like a hermit. Via an exclusive phone interview, the self-proclaimed “creature of the night” gave us a peek into her veiled life beyond the pages.

Brooke Allen Lumberjanes

It’s not as glamourous as you’d think.

“It’s a lot of hard work. I spend most of the time at the desk; you can become a hermit very easily (laughs). A page usually takes around six hours to complete, from thumb-nailing it to edging it, depending on how much detail is in the picture. An issue of 42 pages takes around a month to churn out as we have a bigger team working on the books.”

She has a thing for monsters.

“I love monsters. It’s sort of like taking pieces that of an interesting nature and fitting them into a puzzle – like horns, claws and stuff that’d make my works a little more stranger, fiercer, weirder. I like to combine it with my favourite animals such as wolfs and foxes.”

And vampires…

Brooke Allen Vampire

“The first comic book I got really invested in was… (laughs) it might be a little embarrassing, but it was Crimson by Humberto Ramos. It’s a fantasy series about vampires and the art was very much a product of its time. The characters have giant teeth, which I thought was really cool as an adolescent.”

A Harry Potter comic spinoff in the future?

“I’d love to do a Harry Potter comic series! I think that’d be really cool. I don’t wanna get rid of Harry or anything, but he’s already told his story, so maybe I’d draw it from another perspective of the other characters. Also, I’ve just been really obsessed with Netflix’s Stranger Things. It’s so good! I’d want to do a comic of that too.”

She doesn’t hang out at a comic shop.

“I’d go into a comic shop to get comics and card games like Pokemon etc, but since it’s a very male-dominated space – specifically in my hometown – so there’ll just be a bunch of guys hanging there and you get the feeling like ‘Oh man, I’m being stared at real hard right now’ because I’m a girl (laughs). So back in the days, I’d rather hang out in a coffee shop or a bookstore with my friends, and read the comics that I picked up from the comic shop. I didn’t have a lot of fangirl friends and neither do I have a computer at home, so I was limited to how much I could nerd out with other people.” 

She has her insecurities.

Brooke Allen

“I identify myself the most with Molly from Lumberjanes. She doesn’t have the life everyone else have in the comics, so that’s why she’s a little insecure and on the reserved side. But I think nature is her sanctuary and she feels very safe there, which I can definitely resonate with that. I wish I was more like Ripley ‘cause she’s like a little wild child and knows how to have a good time, but I think I’m more like Molly.”

She enjoys building things.

“I love comics because you have so much control over the world that you’re building. You only have a small part to play in cartoons and animations, but you get to build everything from scratch in comics. If I could create my own world, it’d probably encompass a lot of Lumberjanes elements and mythical creatures, with friendship and adventure as its main theme.

…A lot of things.

“Most of my hobbies are actually related to art in some way, like toy making, card making, book making and spray painting. I also enjoy building furniture since my father’s a carpenter. It’s a great outlet because I’m making things, but not necessarily comics.”

She wishes to explore mature topics.

Brooke Allen

“I’d love to do more stories that are heavier in content and focus on the more sensitive issues that we face growing up. It’s something I feel like I need to tell at some point. But I’m sure there’ll still be a certain amount of magic and some fictional fantasy twist involved to keep it a little more lighthearted.”

Most importantly, she’s out to inspire.

“Be yourself, tell the stories you want to see made in the world and craft content that really sticks to the readers. For Lumberjanes, we wanted a comic that is made by a woman, featuring a cast of female protagonists, and had plenty of adventures and monsters. That’s something we all wanted to read and wish we had when we were younger – and we made it.”

Image credits: STGCC

Don’t miss the chance to meet Brooke Allen at the Singapore Toy, Game, Comic Convention (STGCC) on 10 and 11 September! There’ll also be fellow artists like Emma Rios, Phil Noto and Nick Spencer making an appearance, visit www.singaporetgcc.com more info.

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