Artist and creator Maggie Siegel-Berele has forged ideas and concepts with her characters and designs that build depth and insight. Her current series, Jesus Loves Lesbians, Too, stars Maria, a twenty-something woman, who’s collection of memoirs reflect her love for her family, her friends, her puppies, and Jesus. Maggie recently stopped by CBI studios and talked about her creative philosophies, her art styles, and her future projects.
JMH: Where were you born and raised?
MAGGIE: Baltimore, Maryland. I did most of my growing up in an Orthodox Jewish neighborhood in the suburb Pikesville to be specific.
JMH: Tell CBI about yourself…
MAGGIE: I am a 22 year old freelance comic artist currently living in Brooklyn, NY with my boyfriend. I am an alumnus of the School of Visual Arts and the co-creator and illustrator of the memoir comic Jesus Loves Lesbians, Too. I love to draw, read comics and books, and listen to news and history podcasts. I am a huge fan of feminism, and will devour most things fantasy and science fiction.
JMH: How long have you been drawing comics?
MAGGIE: About five years. Seven if we’re counting inconsistent and rough early comics scrawled out in my high school sketchbook. And I started working with Maria Burnham, (the author of Jesus Loves Lesbians,Too) about a year ago!
JMH: How did you break into the industry drawing comic books?
MAGGIE: I don’t if I am that much apart of the comic book industry, but I can tell you how I started with DIY self publishing. I started self publishing, printing out my comics and I exhibited at local comics festivals, (MoCCA is great), I trade with other artists, I update my website/webcomic/blog, and I keep making artwork.
JMH: Do you have any formal art training?
MAGGIE: I have a BFA in Cartooning from theSchool ofVisual Arts inNew York City, and I attended a magnet arts high school inBaltimore calledCarverCenter.
JMH: Who are your artistic influences?
MAGGIE: They’re always changing, but at the moment, Pia Guerra, Craig Thompson, Gabby Schulz, and not so much these days, but I am a huge Wendy Pini fan.
JMH: How do you focus when drawing?
MAGGIE: I am usually listening to music or a podcast while I am working, but I really love every aspect of drawing. It is one of the easiest things in the world for me to focus on.
JMH: What types of technology do you use to draw?
MAGGIE: My hands are the most hi-tech thing I use for the drawing and inking part of comics. Then I scan ‘em in and add color in Photoshop.
JMH: What was the first comic book you ever read?
MAGGIE: School is Hell by Matt Groening, it was my Dad’s copy and I carried it around with me for months.
JMH: Do you read any of the new comic books that are being published today? If so, which ones?
MAGGIE: I don’t have the money or the patience to buy comics as they’re released every Wednesday, but I read current comics! To name a few, Habibi by Craig Thompson was beyond amazing. I love Julia Wertz and will apparently buy whatever she puts out, if you haven’t already read Drinking at the Movies, I highly recommend it. And Y: The Last Man by Brian K Vaughn and Pia Guerra is one of my favorite stories of all time.
JMH: Print vs. Digital. Your thoughts…
MAGGIE: I understand why the “vs.” is there, paper in many forms is threatened by the reality of the digital age, but I think that in a comics context, both are helpful to reach wider audiences. Easy access is essential to gaining readers and giving your fans options can only help comic creators.
JMH: What sources do you use for a cover image?
MAGGIE: Covers should summarize the content while being eye catching. For Jesus Loves Lesbians, Too, Maria and I threw a lot of cover ideas back and forth, most involved Maria’s character typing (presumably the actual comic) on a typewriter. I used my own hands typing on a laptop as a source and Google image searches of typewriters was a huge help. I went through my JLLT reference folder and the comic itself to pull inside jokes and little bits of information about the story and the characters onto the cover.
JMH: What other mediums or genres have you drawn for?
MAGGIE: Advertisements and Illustrations for magazines mostly. But I have also drawn illustrations for film and the Hi Art! camp. I have also provided the covers for the last five issues of the feminist collaborative zine, Hoax, which have been a huge range of mediums and a lot of fun.
JMH: What project are you currently working on at now?
MAGGIE: Currently Jesus Loves Lesbians, Too and illustrations for Geppi’sEntertainmentMuseum to appear in the Baltimore Magazine.
JMH: What future projects do you have in the works?
MAGGIE: I am still processing a few sci-fi ideas for stories that I’ve wanted to get onto paper for a while, but besides that Jesus Loves Lesbians, Too is my top priority and it is far from being over.
JMH: Do you have any words for aspiring artists?
MAGGIE: Mostly technical advice. Push your boundaries, if you have trouble drawing something, draw it more often. Use reference and draw from life as much as possible, the answers to your problems are literally right in front of you. And backgrounds! Never underestimate backgrounds and environments, they’ll ground and enrich your drawings. Always challenge yourself and question your artistic habits.
JMH: How can fans and publishers get a hold of you?
MAGGIE: I am fairly easy to get a hold of, I can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org and I am on twitter @Maggie_SB
JMH: Maggie, CBI appreciates your time. All the best.
MAGGIE: Likewise, thanks for having me.
About the interviewer –