Before Amy Reeder arrived for her WonderCon spotlight panel, friend and Tokyopop creator M. Alice Legrow decided to have a bit of fun and hid underneath the panel table in order to surprise her friend upon arrival. The playful move set the tone for the panel as the two comic creators were obviously there to have fun and hoped the audience went along for the ride, which they definitely did.
Reeder admitted that she was slightly unprepared for the panel as she expected a moderator to be provided for her instead of her having to supply one on her own, but Legrow was more than up for the task, quickly nominating herself for the position.
Before the panel began in earnest, Reeder took the time to go through her slides she prepared for the presentation, quickly discussing her career in comics.
Reeder began by talking about her first professional work, “Fool’s Gold” for Tokyopop. The creator had always been a fan of manga and anime and loved the series “Unico,” telling the audience, “I was raised on this. Oh, and I like ‘Sailor Moon.'” In a way, Reeder misses her Tokyopop days because she could do everything, write, draw, ink, etc. She explained she enjoys her current career so much because, “I am bad at words,” and illustrated storytelling is the best way for her to express herself.
She next discussed her work on “Madame Xanadu.” The series took place over centuries and a variety of historical moments; something she loved as she has a degree in Social Science Teaching. In mentioning her college degree, she jokingly added, “I couldn’t get a job, so I went into comics.”
Her “Supergirl” covers were next spotlighted with Reeder telling the crowd it took so long for the editors to get her the design for Bizarro Supergirl, she just designed the character herself on the first cover. The cover featured a split character, half Supergirl and half Bizarro Supergirl, with Reeder purposely designing the Bizarro character as an opposite in every way.
Another cover shown had Supergirl floating in space with, as she put it, “Little Mermaid hair.” Reeder said, “I would love to do an underwater series.” Her “Supergirl Annual” cover, a crossover with Legion of Super Heroes, also inspired her, as she would really like to work on a team book. She made sure to add that she drew every female Legionnaire on the cover looking different, making a point not use a cookie cutter image of a beautiful woman.
Her current work on “Batwoman” was next, and a cover to issue #2 was shown, featuring Batwoman training her younger cousin. Reeder spoke about drawing techniques for a moment, explaining that whenever Batwoman is in costume, she uses grayscale techniques, but when out of costume, she doesn’t.
She re-emphasized that the reason “Batwoman” has been pushed back a second time is for promotional reasons, as DC Comics wants to give the book a big push marketing-wise and did not want it to get lost in the events currently going on. This means fans won’t see her work on the book until February 2012, since she comes on the title with the second arc.
Legrow took over at this point, asking her friend how she got started in the industry. Originally, Reeder just copied photos for fun, but she found out that Tokyopop was having a Rising Stars contest. Being a competitive person, she entered the contest and taught herself to draw without photo reference or copying. She was picked as one of the Rising Stars and soon after given a three-volume deal with the publisher. “Little did they know, I’d only ever done 35 pages of sequential art.”
Asked what aspect of her career she is most excited about right now, Reeder answered “Batwoman.” She described herself as getting lost in her own world when she works on the book. It takes her “forever” to draw her thumbnails as J.H. Williams III is so detailed and she still has trouble drawing certain things, like different gun models.
Thumbnails are a key part of her art process as she has trouble picturing scenes on a large page and it is easier for her to see and picture everything on a smaller scale, which she can then blow up to a larger size.
Reeder revealed that she had previously been offered a chance to work for Marvel, but she didn’t quite pass her audition. One of the books she tried out for was “Runaways,” when it was still written by Brian K Vaughn, but at the time, she still had trouble drawing action. She was also considered for “Spiderman Loves Mary Jane.”
Reeder wrapped the panel answering one final question about how she taught herself to draw action, Reeder shared that she regularly uses an animation book based on the anime “FLCL” as reference. Whenever she’s stuck on how to draw a scene or portray the action, she looks through pages of the book for inspiration. She also utilizes a mirror by her drawing board, positioning herself in different dynamic poses and noticing exactly how her body moves and bends. And when she was working on “Fool’s Gold” and living at home with her parents, she would ask them to pose for her in variety of ways.