Conventions The Nameless City


Hi guys, I have two upcoming Canadian conventions where I will be exhibiting, along with my boyfriend Tim. At the Toronto Comic Arts Festival (TCAF), you can find me on the second level at table #200. Click here for the TCAF map. I’ll have copies of my most recent books (The Stone Heart, The Nameless City, Superhero Girl, Friends with Boys, etc) for sale and I’m happy to sign any books you bring yourself. Tim will also have copies of the self published edition of his webcomic Mush A Mush for sale.
I’ll be on one panel at TCAF at St. Paul’s on Bloor Street. Panel info:
1:00 PM – Adventure Awaits! – Four authors talk about the adventures that occur inside comics — how do you create a plot full of adventures and characters that are ready for adventures? How do you write and draw the fun and excitement of adventures into the page? Adventures await you in this panel discussion. A conversation between Scott Chantler, Faith Erin Hicks, Sara Goetter, and Molly Ostertag; moderated by Alison Wilgus.

At the Vancouver Comic Arts Festival (VanCAF) I’ll be at table N3 in the Gym. Here’s the map. Like TCAF, I’ll have copies of most of my books for sale, and I’m happy to sign any additional books you might bring. I also did a VanCAF poster! I’m happy to sign that as well.
I’m on one panel:
The Terrifying World of Kids Comics
Saturday at 10:30 – 11:15 AM in the Performance Centre
Kids comics are a big deal in the comics business these days. But what do you need to watch out for when you’re creating comics for kids? When it comes to violence, drugs and alcohol, scariness, and mature themes, how much is too much? What’s acceptable/unacceptable to publishers, to parents, and to the kids themselves? Laser Moose and Rabbit Boy creator Doug Savage hosts Strangebeard’s Kelly Tindall, Katie Shanahan (Silly Kingdom), Kean Soo (March Grand Prix), Faith Erin Hicks (The Nameless City), and Mike Lawrence (Star Scouts)
Panelists: Doug Savage, Kelly Tindall, Katie Shanahan, Kean Soo, Faith Erin Hicks, Mike Lawrence

See you there!

Conventions The Nameless City

LA Times Festival of Books!

I’ll be at the LA Times Festival of Books at the University of Southern California on Saturday, April 22nd.
My one panel is:

YA Graphic Novels: Drawing You In
12pm at the YA Stage
There will be a signing afterwards. Hope to see people there! 

Conventions Published Work The Nameless City

The Stone Heart (Nameless City 2) Book Tour Dates!

The Stone Heart (The Nameless City book 2) will be published on April 4th, and I’ll be on tour to promote it! You can find me at these events through April and May. Some details will be updated later, so check back here for further info. For the Stone Heart tour, I’ll be talking and signing with a number of fantastic cartoonists and writers. Very grateful all these wonderful creators have taken time out of their busy schedules to talk to me about comics, writing, and other awesome things. Hope to see you at these events!

Tuesday, April 4th
Seattle, WA
Elliott Bay Books with G.Willow Wilson
1521 10th Ave, Seattle, WA

Wednesday, April 5th
San Francisco, CA
Books Inc with Raina Telgemeier
Santa Clara City Library, Central Park Location, 2635 Homestead Road, Santa Clara, 

Thursday, April 6th
Portland, OR
A Children’s Place with Victoria Jamieson
1423 NE Fremont St, Portland, OR

Friday, April 7th
Salt Lake City, UT
King’s English with Shannon Hale
1511 South 1500 East, Salt Lake City, UT

Saturday, April 8th
Omaha, NE
Legend Comics with Rainbow Rowell
5207 Leavenworth Street, Omaha, NE

Sunday, April 9th
Brooklyn, NYSy
Community Bookstore with Marie Rutkoski
143 7th Avenue, Brooklyn NY

Monday, April 10th
Syracuse, NY
B&N Syracuse with Tamora Pierce
3454 Erie Boulevard East, Dewitt, NY

Thursday, April 13th
Vancouver, BC
Chapters Metrotown with Elieen Cook
Metrotown Eaton Centre, 4700 Kingsway #1174, Burnaby, BC


April 22nd-23rd
LA Times Festival of Books
Los Angeles, CA

May 13th-14th
Toronto Comic Arts Festival (Exhibitor)
Toronto, ON

May 2o-21st
Vancouver Comic Arts Festival (Exhibitor)
Vancouver, BC



Conventions The Nameless City

My Last Three Conventions of 2016!

I’ll be at 3 comic conventions/book festivals over the next couple weeks, and then that’s it for me until next year! Whew, 2016 has been quite a year for travel. *_*

Massachusetts Independent Comic Expo (MICE)
October 29-30, Cambridge, MA
Exhibitor (Atrium), table #A31
I’ll have copies of most of my books for sale. Unfortunately I’m not able to offer a credit card reader, so please bring cash if you would like to buy something. 🙂

Friday, October 28th, 7-9pm

MICE Kick-off Party, Hub Comics

Saturday, October 29th, 4-5pm
Live Drawing Demo
Cartoonariam (Located on the Eisner Level)

Sunday, October 30th, 1-2pm
Panel, Developing the Independent Graphic Novel
Lecture Hall

Thought Bubble
November 5-6th, Leeds, England
Exhibitor, Royal Armories Hall, table #26
I’ll have copies of The Nameless City for sale. I’ll also have a signing with First Second (New Dock Hall, table 165B) on Sunday. They will have copies of my other books available. I’m happy to sign any books bought from First Second at the show (or any books you’ve brought yourself). 🙂

Saturday, November 5th, 3:10-4pm

Panel, Comics for Everyone
Newsroom, Royal Armories (Forth Floor)

Sunday, November 6th
Signing, First Second Books,
2pm, New Dock Hall, table 165B

Panel, #Artcred
Newsroom, Royal Armories (Forth Floor)

Monday, November 7th
Signing at Gosh! Comics, 6-7pm
London, England

Miami Book Fair
November 18-19th, Miami, FL

November 18th

Comics Presentation, RSVP required (click to RSVP)
Room 3314, Building 3, 3rd floor

November 19th

Panel, Brave New Worlds: Building Comic Universes
MAGIC Screening Room (Building 8, 1st Floor)

Panel, Adventure is Around the Corner
Wembly Wordsmith’s Storytoriam (in Children’s Alley)

Panel, Unlocking Secret Histories
Wembly Wordsmith’s Storytoriam (in Children’s Alley)

And that’s it! Hope to see people at these conventions! 🙂

Conventions Published Work The Nameless City

Conventions! (Later half of 2016)

Hi everyone, I’m doing a few upcoming conventions/book festivals this fall. Some of the info is not yet confirmed and will be updated later. But here’s where you can find me:

SPX! (Small Press Expo)
Saturday, September 17, Bethesda, Maryland
Signing at the CBLDF table (W84), 1-2pm
All Ages Graphic Noveling (panel), SPX/White Oak Room, 6-7pm
**Note: I am not tabling at SPX, but my books will be for sale at the CBLDF signing.**

Brooklyn Book Festival
Sunday, September 18th, Brooklyn, NY
Guest Bookseller, Macmillan booth #512, 11am-12pm
Let Me Show You My World (panel), 2pm
Saint Ann’s School Rotunda, 129 Pierrepont Street, Brooklyn, NY

Word on the Street Vancouver
Sunday, September 25, Vancouver, British Columbia
Comic presentation, 12:05-12:30pm, Peter Kaye Room

Vancouver Writer’s Festival
Tuesday, October 18th, Vancouver, British Columbia
Illustrated Imaginations, 10AM-11:30AM, Studio 1398
**You must register to attend this event.**

Massachusetts Comic Expo (MICE)
Saturday & Sunday, October 29th-30th, Cambridge, MA
**I will be tabling at this convention, schedule to come!**

Thought Bubble
Saturday & Sunday, November 5th-6th, Leeds, England
**Schedule to come!**

Making Comics

Making Comics: Emotion and pacing in comics

One of the reasons that I love comics so much is that there are many valid ways to approach the medium. When I make comics, the parts I’m most concerned with are character and story. Everything I draw on the comic page is in service to character and story. Because of my focus on those two elements over, say, experimenting with my art and page structure, I will sometimes get criticism that my work is safe or boring. This is probably fair criticism! I don’t do a lot of experimenting with paneling or challenging storytelling or explicitly challenging artwork in my comics, because right now that’s not what I’m interested in. Maybe I will be more experimental someday, but not right now, with the kind of stories I want to tell. 🙂

When I make a comic, my goal is for my readers to be engaged with the story I’m telling, and the characters in that story. That’s also what I look for when I want to read a good comic. I want characters to love, I want a story to be engaged with.

For the most part, I struggle with drawing comics (most artists do, if we’re honest ;)), but there are some parts of comics I think I have a good handle on. I feel like I’m strongest when portraying emotion on the page, and I’m good at drawing those scenes out and making the reader feel what my characters are going through. Some of the techniques I use to convey emotion came from being obsessed with movies when I was a teenager, and some techniques are stolen from my holy trinity of influences: Jeff Smith (Bone), Hiromu Arakawa (Fullmetal Alchemist) and Naoki Urasawa (Monster, Pluto, 20th Century Boys).

Of the three artists I’ve mentioned, I consider Urasawa especially to be a master of emotion and pacing. When I first started reading his comics, it was like light struck my brain; finally I saw what I’d been trying to do for years right there on the comic page in front of me! I like the way he lays out his emotional scenes a lot. Here’s an example (read right to left):

Faith Erin Hicks presents Urasawa example of emotion and pacing

Urasawa uses repeating panels and decompression to draw out the emotions of a scene. In this single page there isn’t a lot of movement. It’s literally just two characters staring at each other, but the tension rises going from panel 1 to panel five. Gesicht (the man)’s expression doesn’t change between panels two and five, but we literally feel his anger rising off-panel, concluding in the close up in panel 5.

There’s an excellent You Tube channel called Every Frame a Painting (I’m sure you’ve heard of it, but if you haven’t, please go watch all the videos! There aren’t many, and they’re all really informative). My favourite video is this one, about editing:

This video hit on something that I strive for in my comics: emotion takes time. When I draw a scene that is emotional, when characters are struggling with something, or celebrating something, or being challenged, I want my readers to feel what the character is feeling, and one of the best ways to do that, for me, is to take my time. To give that emotion time to breathe on the page.

I’m going to use some scenes in my graphic novel The Nameless City to illustrate how I use decompression and pacing to underscore the emotion in my comics. To avoid spoilers and because this is getting a little long, I’m going to put it under a cut. Please read on! 🙂

Hello again! In The Nameless City, one of the main characters, Rat, lives in a monastery, because she’s an orphan. She seems to have a good relationship with one of the monks in particular, Joah. When we first see them together, they act like this:

Faith Erin Hicks presents Rat and Joah from The Nameless City

Up until this point in the story, Rat hasn’t been particularly nice or affectionate to anyone, but it’s different with Joah. And it’s hopefully obvious from these two panels that he’s fond of her too. Rat and Joah don’t have a lot of scenes together throughout the course of the book, so I use their body language to immediately establish their bond. Rat is very different with Joah than she is with Kai, who she’s either been mean to or openly mocked for most of their interactions.

There are a couple more scenes where Joah and Rat interact, and in those scenes I visually drive home their relationship. Rat is more of a kid around him, bouncing on her toes, asking if there’s anything to eat:

Faith Erin Hicks shows example of how Joah and Rat interact in The Nameless City

… and Joah’s kind of a dick to Kai at first, which Rat thinks is hilarious:

Faith Erin Hicks shows example of how Joah and Rat interact in The Nameless City

So basically we have a fairly straightforward Surrogate Dad & Daughter relationship. Rat’s parents are dead, and she comments that the monks are “nice,” but we don’t really see her interacting with anyone but Joah. He’s her connection to the monastery and the monks, and a tiny bit of parental oversight in her unsupervised life. Until he goes too far, and really tried to parent her, and Rat loses her shit:

Faith Erin Hicks shows Rat of The Nameless City showing great emotion


Anyway, this very long set up finally brings us to this scene, which is where I get to unleash my love of decompression and silent emotional beats.

Faith Erin Hicks shows more examples of emotion and pacing from The Nameless City

(Above is page 136 and below is page 137 in The Nameless City. Just wanted to be clear where the pages begin & end!)

Faith Erin Hicks shows more examples of emotion and pacing from The Nameless City

The story beats on these two pages are quite slow, and I spend two pages on a part of the story where it might be more efficient to use only one or two panels. There are many kinds of scenes where it is appropriate to speed things along more quickly (for example, a fight scene, or a scene where characters are doing something quickly), but for this particular scene, I wanted the fallout from Rat’s emotional outburst to be made very clear. Kai gets three silent panels at the beginning of page 136 to walk back to his home and stare out the window, thinking about his role in the fight, and Rat and Joah get a page and a half to deal (poorly) with their relationship.

The paneling of page 137 is particularly important. Comic paneling has kind of a rhythm to it, and in my own dumb shorthand, I think of widescreen panels (panels that reach horizontally across the length of the comic page) as “boom” panels. I know, it’s silly! But generally speaking, readers tend to spend more time looking at large panels, so they “read” as more important than smaller ones. Large panels slow the reader’s eye down. They’re basically like the cartoonist is saying “hey! There’s something extra important happening in this panel! Or here’s an establishing shot I spent six hours drawing!” The first and fourth panel of page 137 is me, the cartoonist, jumping in and being like “BOOM! pay attention to this emotional stuff! BOOM!” XD But here’s the tricky thing: overusing large panels can lessen their importance, which is why comics that only use full-page-width “widescreen panels” can look stagnant. It’s a complex balance.

My hope is that my readers will feel the emotional complexity of the relationship between these two characters on page 137. Through the paneling, through Rat’s body language, and through Joah’s body language. Up until this point, Rat and Joah seem to have a good relationship. He looks after her a little bit, and she seems very fond of him. Until she very pointedly reminded him that he’s not actually her parents and probably has no business telling her what to do. So at the start of page 137, Rat is trying to apologize, to make things as they were. But Joah just turns away from her and goes back to his gardening, leaving Rat standing beside him, starting to cry. The scene ends on this page, and we don’t see what happens afterwards. There is repetition in the wide “boom” panels at the top and bottom of the page, and the only dialogue spoken is Joah saying “thank you” in panel two.

Emotion takes time! If I had been super efficient with these pages and wrapped everything up in a couple of panels, I feel like this scene would have less impact. Hopefully when a reader looks at this page, they’ll feel something for these characters and their struggles. That is my goal with every graphic novel I create, to make you feel something. 🙂

Anyway! These are my thoughts on decompression, paneling and emotion in my comics. I hope you enjoyed them. 🙂

Conventions Published Work The Nameless City

The Nameless City book 1 tour/convention schedule!

The Nameless City book 1 is nearly here! I’ll be doing a bunch of conventions and signings over the next few months to promote it. Here is where you’ll be able to find me through April and May (more conventions may be added later, so check back). Please come say hi!

April 2nd
Houston Teen Book Con
Houston, Texas

April 4th
Fantom Comics Book Launch/Signing
Washington, DC
Time: 6:30pm

April 5th
Barns & Noble Tribeca Signing
New York, NY
Time: 6:00pm

April 6th
Challengers Comics Signing
Chicago, Illinois
Time: 6:00pm

April 7th-11th
Emerald City Comic-Con / Featured Guest
Seattle, Washington
Artist Alley table I-04

April 14
Long Island Pop Culture Fest
Oakdale, NY

April 17th
Bolen Books, Q&A with Tony Cliff
Victoria, British Columbia
Time: 6pm

April 20th
Happy Harbor Comics Signing
Edmonton, Alberta

April 22-23rd
North Texas Teen Book Festival
Irving, TX

May 7th
Twin Cities Teen Lit Con
Mendota Heights, MN

May 14th-18th
Toronto Comic Arts Festival
Toronto, Ontario
Exhibitor (table number TBA)

May 21st-22nd
Vancouver Comic Artists Festival
Vancouver, British Columbia
Exhibitor (table number TBA)

November 1-6th
Thought Bubble
Leeds, England (more to come on this)

Making Comics

Comic Career Paths: Creator Owned Vs. Work for Hire? What is Right for You?

Covers of Faith Erin Hicks publications

I did a pretty extensive interview with David Harper of the comics site SKTCHD, which has done some pretty great writing about the comics industry lately. The article I was interviewed for is this one: The American Dream: How Telling Your Own Stories Became the Endgame for Creators. It’s a good article with quotes from great creators like Kurt Busiek, Cliff Chiang, Marcos Martin, Emma Rios, Jake Wyatt and Skottie Young. The article only used about 10% of the interview I did with Harper, so with his permission I’m posting the rest of it here. Click below the link to read me rambling on about creator owned vs. work for hire, and the upside and downside to both. As always, my comments are based on my own experiences as someone who has made both creator owned and work for hire comics, and may not apply to your specific situation. 🙂

>>Before you started your career in comics – back when you were in pure aspirational mode – did you have an end goal of what you wanted to do or a vision as to what success looked like to you? If so, how has that shifted over your career?

All I wanted was to make a living wage doing some kind of creative work. That’s it, really. And I had no idea what that looked like. I didn’t even know what being a cartoonist was. When I was a teenager through college I didn’t think comics was ever something I could get paid to do, so I wanted to work in animation instead. Working in animation seemed like a realistic career to me; there were books written about animators and you could go to school for animation. Comics seemed like a weird pie in the sky career, something very few people got to do for a living. I don’t think I really started learning about what cartoonists do and how they make their living until I started getting published! It was weird. But really, all I wanted was to make enough money to live, pay my rent, own a car, that kind of thing. Very vague goals.

I don’t think much has changed in terms of my goals. I still want the same thing, to make a living wage off my writing and drawing, but I guess my goals have become more specific. I want the books I write and draw to sell well, I want them to be critically acclaimed, I want my art heroes to notice my work, I want to work on specific projects. I’d also like to make more money, but I hope that will come, as long as I continue to do good work. I’ve been really lucky: I’ve achieved a lot of my goals, even crazy ones like winning an Eisner.

>>Besides a few things that were for-hire gigs or pitches, you’ve spent your whole career telling your own stories. As a cartoonist who has been at this for a bit, what are the plusses and minuses of going that route?

To be honest, it wasn’t really a route I planned to take, I just ended up taking it because that was the work that was offered to me. If I had been offered work for hire gigs back when I first started getting published (2007), I definitely would have taken them. Work for hire pays well, and I was very poor back then. But my artwork and writing wasn’t polished enough to attract the attention of those publishers. However, now that I have a number of books published, I’ve gotten some wonderful, tempting offers from publishers like Dark Horse, DC, IDW, Marvel and Boom. Due to my drawing schedule and commitment to my current project (a middle grade graphic novel trilogy I’m doing with First Second Books called The Nameless City), I’ve had to turn most of them down, which is terrifying. I hope the work will still be there if I need it in the future. I have the freelancer’s fear of turning down work.

In 2013 I co-wrote and drew a video game prequel comic, The Last of Us: American Dreams. It paid more money than I’d ever been paid before, and allowed me to become a lot more financially secure. So that’s the big plus of doing work for hire: it really pays well!

However, for me, especially now that I’m more financially stable, I really want to work on my own stories. I’m in the middle of drawing the second Nameless City book, and it’s incredibly satisfying to me. I love creating my own worlds and characters and getting very involved with them. It’s so much fun. It’s a little scary to turn down well paying work on licensed comics to work on your own projects, especially when you don’t know how readers will respond to your original work, but I just have to trust that it will be worth it down the road. I don’t know, I just have an itch to make my own stories. Some people don’t have that itch. Working on other people’s stories is satisfying to them, and that’s great. But it’s different for me. There are very few properties that I love more than I love working on my own stories.

The question that I get asked a lot is “if you could work on anything, any comic book property, what would it be?” And honestly, at this point in time, I think I’d rather make my own stories. As long as I’m making a living wage, that is. 😉 I’m fortunate that publishers have paid me for my original work. I know it’s not always like that.

>>Once upon a time, releasing your own work via smaller publishers or even self-publishing seemed like a greater focus for newer creators with established creators dominating at Marvel and DC. These days, established creators seem to be shifting their focus to creator-owned and creating their own graphic novels. Why do you think that is?

I can only guess based on my own experiences. For me, when I make a creator owned comic, something that I created from the ground up, all of it is me. I’m not working with someone else’s characters or beholden to someone else’s canon, I’m the god of my own world. And every hour I put into that comic is my hour. I’m investing in my creativity. That sounds super bombastic, but that’s how I feel sometimes. It’s like, this comic is all mine, for good or ill. If it’s great and people love it, that’s for me. If it’s terrible, that’s on me.

Also, we seem to finally be in a place where it can be profitable to make your own comics, outside of the Big Two. My career has flourished through publishing with the graphic novel imprint of a book publisher. Other writers and artists find their niche at Image. And we can actually make a living writing and drawing our books. So that’s important.

>>Back when I was growing up, there wasn’t anything I wanted more than to draw the X-Men. Sadly, I had no talent. However, other creators I’ve spoken to had the same dreams, and they ended up either doing that or touching that world in their own way. These days though, it seems like younger readers are growing up on things like Raina Telgemeier and The Adventures of Superhero Girl and teens are reading things like Saga and Lumberjanes rather than superhero books. Do you think the next generation of comic creators growing up on different types of comics will lead to a shift in future creator sensibilities and priorities, and a greater focus on telling your own stories rather than someone else’s?

Maybe. I guess it depends on the kid reading the comic, doesn’t it? And the kind of comics the kid is reading. I meet a lot more kids who read Raina’s comics than I do kids who read Spider-man. I think Marvel and DC have done themselves a real disservice by deciding not to cater to kid readers. Every kid knows who Spider-man is, but do they read Spider-man comics? No, they read Raina’s comics, because her comics are made for them, and easily accessible through libraries, schools and bookstores.

>>It seems to me that the options for budding cartoonists or writers or artists to get comics in front of readers are more diverse and expansive than ever. What do you think having such a variety of options means for the future of comics, and for those aspiring to make them?

I think it’s pretty great, to be honest. I remember being desperate to read comics when I was a teenager and there was nothing for me. Like, just nothing. Now there are dozens of comics that I would’ve loved to read when I was 15, and more importantly, they’re pretty easy to find. Comics are carried in bookstores now, they’re in libraries, they’re in schools. Comics will always have an access problem, I think, but it’s gotten a lot better. Kids will be able to find the kind of comics they want to read, and maybe they’ll keep reading and fall in love with the art form and want to make their own comics. I’m really excited to see what comics will become in the next twenty years. I hope that we’ll continue to see a blossoming of diversity of voices in comics. I think we will. I don’t know what will happen to the world of corporate comics, but I think there will still be a place for them. I don’t think the Wednesday crowd will go away. The future of comics seems really bright at this moment in time. Selfishly, I hope it will include a spot for me. 🙂


Interview at Viz Media

Last year I went to San Francisco as a guest of the Alternative Press Expo (APE). While there, I was invited to visiting VIZ Media, publisher of some of my favourite manga (like Monster and Fullmetal Alchemist), which was really exciting. I enjoyed getting the chance to get a peek into one of my favourite publishers, especially a manga publisher. VIZ filmed me chatting with Mark de Vera about making comics, manga, and other (hopefully) interesting things. The video is pretty short, about 12 minutes, hope you guys enjoy it. (If I say so myself, my hair looks amazing, I should straighten it more often. ;))

Published Work

Cover for The Nameless City 1 Revealed!

The Nameless City 1

Big news today! The cover for The Nameless City book 1 has been revealed over at Entertainment Weekly! There’s also a short interview with me as well as two non-sequential pages from the comic.

Entertainment Weekly: Exclusive cover reveal: Faith Erin Hicks’ Nameless City comes to Comic-Con