Your guilt will be the ink on my paper! – Cat Farris
At the closing reception for her gallery show at the Macadam Frame Central, illustrator Cat Farris was joined by friends and family as she took a final look at her display of original art.
As visitors milled about the store, Farris was kind enough to talk about her origins and projects with the Portland Comic Books Examiner.
PCBE: How was the show for you?
CF: It was great actually. I was really impressed with the way my stuff looked on the wall with all the nice frames. It made me feel all professional and stuff. I think I got a nice and positive response from the folks who showed up, and I enjoyed sharing my stuff with everybody.
PCBE: How did you choose the pieces that you displayed?
CF: The watercolors I did specifically for the show because I realized all the stuff I had was black and white, and I was panicking that maybe it wouldn’t be interesting enough if it wasn’t colorful. So I did the three watercolors especially for the show off the top of my head.
PCBE: And for your original art?
CF: I pretty much went through my stash of original pages and tried to pick ones that I didn’t totally hate. [laughs] I mean, I have favorite pages in every book, so it wasn’t too hard.
But I really like the stuff that I’ve done with J. [Kingman] the most, so I went through the two things I did with him and thought, “Oh hey, I’ve got some great pages from these.” I picked one of my favorites from each, and the consecutive page to go next to it, since they were going to get framed next to each other.
PCBE: One of those was The Legend of Larsha [2: Imaginational Magic], and what was the other?
CF: That was Queer Weather.
Farris Family Team-Up
PCBE: Your parents came to the show, and you’re working together with your dad, Dr. Clyde Farris, on a book.
CF: It’s called Things I Found While Looking Down.
PCBE: And that’s not just a clever rhyming title?
CF: That’s pretty much what the book is about. Dad had it in his head that he wanted to do a book about a little boy who goes for a walk and instead of looking up and looking around him, he just looks down at his feet and sees what he can find.
PCBE: What kinds of things does he find, or is that revealing too much?
CF: Oh no, he finds a bug, and a sweet rock, and he finds somebody’s abandoned hopscotch board, and basically realizes that there’s a lot of things you could pass by if you don’t look down at your feet.
PCBE: How is it working with your dad?
CF: I love my dad. He’s sometimes frustrating to work with because he’s so, “Oh you can do whatever you want, just whatever makes you happy, honey.”
PCBE: It’s kind of the opposite of the nightmare working with your parents where they’d be micro-managing everything you do. He’s giving you completely free rein on the art.
CF: Yeah, which is kind of cool, but for me still really stressful because I know some of my skills are in development. I don’t want him to be afraid of offending me by giving me corrections.
PCBE: Do you have an ETA for the book, or is that just as it comes along?
CF: That’s the other thing with Dad. He’s very much, “Oh if you have more legitimate work to do, by all means put that first.”
So that means that the book continues to get pushed back, but I think around the beginning of October I’m just going to make it a “legitimate job” whether my Dad likes it or not. [laughs]
Cat Came Back
PCBE: Tell me the process that brought you to Portland for comics.
CF: Well, I originally went to SCAD [Savannah College of Art and Design] for 2-D animation, and the year I graduated both Disney and Dreamworks closed their 2-D studios. So I graduated and was sort of floundering around.
I went to the JET Programme for a year, and when I came back, you know, all my friends and family were in Portland so I moved back.
All my friends from SCAD that were there had done comics and had kind of gotten hooked up with Periscope Studio. I started hanging out with them watching them make comics, and me not being able to get any animation work made me realize I just wanted to draw.
Comics looked like a place where I could draw and have a better say in what I was creating… I’m doing it all myself. Everything I put out on the page is me and people will be able to see me in it.
PCBE: Not to say that people in animation are in the wrong line of work…
CF: Oh no, not at all! I just realized that maybe animation wasn’t the thing I was supposed to be doing after all.
PCBE: It’s kind of a fate sort of thing.
CF: Yeah, I guess it kind of ends up like that.
Coming Up At Periscope
PCBE: You picked up a lot just hanging out at Periscope. Were there any particular people you remember who really helped you with your development?
CF: Well, I would definitely say Ron Randall and Steve Lieber. Especially Ron Randall; that guy’s been so patient with me, especially when I was just starting. I’d take all my rough layouts over to Ron Randall because everyone said he was the best: “If you want to lay something out right, you take it to Ron Randall.”
PCBE: And Lieber’s no slouch either.
CF: Well, Steve looked at all of us and said “Here’s the future generation of comics; I have the chance to influence this for good.”
He was always willing to set us on the right track and give us pro tips that we never would have figured out on our own.
PCBE: I don’t know if this is the way it is Back East or in other comics communities, but there seems to be a real trend here of sharing knowledge. No one is hiding their techniques from someone they consider to be their competition.
CF: Exactly. It’s too friendly here for that. We’d feel we were screwing over the industry somehow.
PCBE: Are you going to be at the Rose City Comic-Con?
CF: I sure am! I am super excited about it too. It’s going to be awesome to have another sweet convention to go to locally. I don’t have to really to do anything but show up and bring my A game. I don’t have to pay for plane tickets or hotels or anything!
The Return Of Flaccid Badger
PCBE: You told me you have another Flaccid Badger story written.
CF: Yes. It is all scripted out, it’s just waiting for me to sit down and draw it.
PCBE: As soon as you get your legitimate jobs out of the way.
CF: Yes, because that’s the “me” project. It’s really hard to justify the personal projects when you have people offering to pay you money for their non-personal project.
PCBE: That’s true. But you do get people asking for more Flaccid Badger.
CF: Yeah, all through Emerald City last year and all through Stumptown last year. And then I felt really guilty, “Well, yeah, I have this one but I haven’t drawn it yet!”
So I promised them that I would have it done by next Emerald City, so it has to be done by then or I’m going to feel really bad!
PCBE: How many pages?
CF: It’s probably going to be about 28.
PCBE: That’s pretty big even for the smaller format you’re using.
CF: Yeah, I’m looking forward to doing it. I think this one’s going to be the most fun out of all the Flaccid Badgers so far.
PCBE: And it’s the alphabet?
CF: Yes! Flaccid Badger’s Forest Friends A to Z.
PCBE: I can’t imagine who is going to be in that.
CF: It’s going to be ridiculous. It’s going to be everybody’s favorites plus a bunch of new ones.
PCBE: And that’ll come out when it comes out, as time permits.
CF: Well, it’s going to come out at Emerald City Comicon.
PCBE: I’ll make sure to yell at you.
CF: Everyone should, because that’s the only way it’s going to get done is if people remind me that I promised.
Tweet me, find me at parties, send me a letter. [laughs] Your guilt will be the ink on my paper!