Thanks for joining us Nilah!
Thanks for having me!
So tell us a little bit about yourself!
Weeeeeell let’s see. Once upon a time I was a little girl who loved to draw and write, who then grew up and became a journalist for whatever reason. It was a ton of fun and I loved it, but what I *really* wanted to do was be an animator. So after working in journalism and marketing for a coupla years, I went to school for animation, then I packed up my cat and turtle and moved to Los Angeles. Now I’m a storyboard artist for a small film studio and it’s good fun.
Great! So tell us about your webcomic!
M.F.K. is about a girl traveling across the country to take her mother’s ashes back to her homeland, but she takes a wrong turn and ends up in a small town that’s plagued by troublesome criminals called rogues. It’s kind of a fantasy road trip tale, so we get to see a brand new world and meet outrageous characters along the way. The girl, Abbie, is wary of people and would rather complete her mission alone, but the situations she finds herself in force her to acknowledge that she has the power to make a difference in other people’s lives, and that no man is an island, as the saying goes.
What was the origin of the project? Was there any specific event that happened that made you want to create it?
Back when I graduated high school, I got into reading shounen manga. Naruto, One Piece, Shaman King… I was very keen on them, and I started thinking, “I’d like to read a story like this that’s about a girl.” I was a fan of magical girl anime/manga at the time too, but I wished for something that carried the tone of an action comic where the gender roles were more balanced. I started playing around with possible characters and a plot. A little later I visited New Mexico for the first time, and that solidified the look of the world in my head.
How did the style of M.F.K. come about? Are there any direct styles or inspirations you draw from?
Anime and manga have been a strong influence on me; I love the work of Eiichiro Oda, Tite Kubo and Hiromu Arakawa. I have no clue at what point I decided it was going to be in color ahahaha, originally it was to be black and white.
How do you come up with ideas for M.F.K.? Is there any special way you approach the creative process of the comic?
Ahahaha oh gosh, I have no clue! I suppose I always begin with the characters. Who are they, what are their personalities and histories, what do they want most, what do they fear and struggle against? From that I try to come up with the conflicts that will be the most difficult for them to face, and situations that allow them to learn and grow and change. It’s a lot of sitting around and thinking, and if I come up with anything good I try to always write it down or talk it out with a friend (collaboration really helps me flesh out ideas). I try to pay attention to current events too, and elements I see in movies, books or games that I like or dislike and want to play around with.
Do you listen to music or watch TV when you work? Is there a specific (tv show)(music album)(insert media) that gets you in the zone?
Yes, I can’t work in silence (or rather, outside noise is distracting and I need something pleasant to drown it out). As far as music, I either listen to my Pandora stations or my iTunes playlist. They’re both a random hodgepodge: Utada, Icon for Hire, Panic! at the Disco, Janelle Monae, Mumford and Sons, Florence and the Machine, One Republic, Tchaikovsky, Kalafina, Emeli Sande, BoA, Ellie Goulding, Chopin, and various soundtracks and Broadway numbers.
When I get tired of music, I’ll have Netflix or Hulu running in a section running in a section of my desktop. Usually it’s sitcoms and half-hour shows that I’ve either seen before or don’t require my full attention: Parks & Rec, Archer, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Bob’s Burgers, etc.
Who is/are your favorite artist(s)?
THIS IS HARD. But lately I’m really keen on Man Arenas. Also love Jon Klassen, Annette Marnat, and J.C. Leyendecker.
Do you consider them a strong influence on your work?
I learn and borrow from a lot of different artists.
How do you juggle your daily life with the webcomic? Are there ever any challenges?
Hah, going home after work and convincing myself to sit down and do *more* work is the biggest challenge. I started working full-time the same week I started M.F.K., and pretty quickly it became hard to muster the energy to keep working on art after I got home every evening. I had to figure out my ideal schedule, how much work I was capable of, when my peak energy hours were, and then figure out a routine that worked for me. For the comic, it’s thumbnails at the beginning of the week, pencils and inks toward the end, colors on the weekend (some adjustment depending on what else is going on each week). Knowing that people are counting on an update every Monday is usually enough to keep me focused. But I try not to work myself into the ground; I try to get a decent amount of sleep each night and take breaks to hang out with friends or just do something relaxing.
Are there any exciting things we can look forward to in webcomic?
Chapter three will be picking up shortly, and we’ll get to see the aftermath of the fight that ended the last chapter. There are big changes in store for Abbie and Jaime. I’m excited to start rolling into the main story, as well as introduce some new characters!
Where do you see M.F.K. in a year, in five?
Still going, I hope! And perhaps much better-looking, with a leaner, tighter story.
What are your future plans for M.F.K.?
Once chapter three wraps up, I’d really love to compile the first three chapters into a nice print book.
Do you have any plans for upcoming conventions or shows?
I’m planning to be at Denver Comic Con in June, and CTN Expo in November.
Thanks so much again to Nilah for her time. You must catch this amazing artist on social media, and if you’re at Denver Comic Con or CTN make sure to find her and buy all of her stuff!
Catch Nilah on Social Media!