In this interview, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief Barbra Dillon chats with Vanessa Shealy about the inspiration behind her projects, how theatre influences her approach to writing, her shared creative process in bringing stories to life, and more! READ THE FULL INTERVIEW HERE
BD: What can you share with us about your creative process in working [on COURI VINE] with co-creator Leah Lovise, as well as artist Liz Lathem and colorist Indigo Rael? In addition, what have been some of your creative influences?
VS: Leah and I grew up in Oklahoma City, and we’ve known each other since we were kids, so our long friendship makes collaborating feel natural. Leah has a career in Austin as an illustrator, graphic designer, motion graphic artist, and animator, and I’m in New York City. I had been working as an actor and a playwright, and I’d made a few films – but neither of us had ever worked on a comic book. Our process from the beginning has been highly collaborative. We spent almost a year tossing around ideas and details about the world of the book and the characters, and eventually the story. She’d send me some sketches, and I’d send her long chucks of descriptive text, and we’d talk about all of that. Leah is a good writer, and I was an art minor in college, so we both have a pretty good eye for what the other is doing.
Our work on the book has had to be in fits and starts, over almost five years. When we started, we assumed that we’d have the entire thing done in about a year or so. But we both have day jobs, plus each of us has two kids, so finding time to work on an indie project has taken a lot of time and discipline. We have to sneak in the work whenever we can. Bringing in more help with the art made it possible, and assistance from Indigo Rael on Books 1 & 2, as well as Liz Lathem, Dorothy Shaw, and Julia Zipporah on Book 4, was invaluable.
I think being a theatre practitioner for so many years (both onstage and off) gave me a leg up as a collaborator and made me a person who appreciates the insights and input of everyone. It takes a lot of practice to stop feeling like, “Oh, that just isn’t the way I would have done it,” and instead feel like, “Awesome! That isn’t the way I would’ve done it!”
As far as personal influences… some of my favorite graphic novels are Blankets, Roller Girl, Zita the Space Girl, Only Living Boy, and El Deafo. There are more, but those are the ones I’m thinking about right now. My main writing influences are playwrights like Carol Churchill and Timberlake Wertenbaker. That’s my background – theatre, and I’m never really far from those roots.
The Couri Vine series recently received two raving reviews from two separate comic fan sites – and we are over the moon!
Have a look at these great quotes below, and click through to read the review in full!
“Couri isn’t unfortunate… she’s extraordinary! . . . Where writer Vanessa Shealy has concocted a story full of interesting situations, artist Leah Lovise makes it shine! . . . This is a title to pick up if you’re a parent whose little person is interested in reading a comic about hijinks and adventure, with a relatable hero in Couri Vine. She’s the ultimate kids’ hero, loyal to her family and friends and determined to discover all that she can despite the obstacles and challenges in her path. The bonus here is that Couri Vine is a pretty painless read for any adults who might be reading along with their kids.” READ MORE
“Couri Vine has a lot of whimsy for a space adventure. And while the reading level of the comic skews fairly young, the fact that it features a disabled protagonist makes it endearing and relatable for me, a grown woman. Couri’s adventure is a thrilling journey of self-discovery.” READ MORE
We are at Table 46 with – for the first time ever – ALL FOUR books of the Couri Vine Series!
Here is the amazing Leah Lovise, Couri Vine Co-Creator and artist, standing at our table…
And Couri Vine writer Vanessa Shealy with Book 4…
And Liz Lathem, who did amazing line work on Book 4…
Thanks to everyone who has followed this series at Staple – we are honored to be here!
We’ve owed you a “COURI VINE” update for a little while, so fasten your seat belts because a lot has been happening.
Book 4 (the final book in this story) was expected to launch in the fall of 2018, but we’ve had some other LAUNCHES that have taken our full attention, namely… TWINS!
A hearty congratulations to Leah Lovise and John Van Lowe, who gave birth to a son and a daughter in January! We are over the MOON about these Wonder Twins.
So while Book 4 is taking a little longer than we initially planned, please stay tuned. We hope it will be worth the wait. Slow and steady wins the race, (that’s what they say) so sit tight and expect to hear more about the final Couri Vine book later this year.
Thank you again for your ongoing support, and for sticking with us on our comic book space adventures.
Vanessa (and Leah)
Couri Vine creators will be at STAPLE! Independent Media Expo
The Couri Vine co-creators, Vanessa Shealy and Leah Lovise, will be at STAPLE! Independent Media Expo on September 8 & 9. Please come on out and meet us, along with all the other exhibitors!
Leah has been exhibiting Couri Vine at STAPLE! since 2015, when she brought a small print run of Book 1 and sold out our very-first-ever 50 copies. Since then, each year a subsequent Couri Vine Book has made it to our table at the expo.
This year both Leah and Vanessa will be at STAPLE!, and we have a new Couri Vine Book 4 preview ready, as well as our previous books, lots of art, and a new-and-improved Moon City display that has some really fun new surprises. We hope to see you there!
We’ll be at Table #75 at the Millennium Youth Entertainment Complex in Austin, Texas on Saturday (11am-6pm) and Sunday (12-6pm).
See the full list of exhibitors and the panel schedule here > http://bit.ly/2KJ6j6k
We did it! Whew – what a ride!! THANK YOU to the wonderful 111 Kickstarter Backers who supported our 2017 Kickstarter campaign! We can’t express our thanks enough for your pledges, your encouragement, your social “shares” and blog posts, your positive thinking, and your faith in indie artists and female comic book creators! Thank you, our rock stars! You did it!
Please stay tuned, especially in the next few days, as we will reach out to you via Kickstarter for the information we need to get you your comicbooks and stickers!!
Thank you again! You are the super heroes in this story, and we are over the moon!
Best regards ever,
Leah and Vanessa
For those who have not attended a comic book workshop led by Leah Lovise, the Collaborative Worksheet is a fun way to learn how to create comics as part of a team.
writing, penciling, inking, lettering, and coloring.
Participants get in teams of collaborators (Writer, Penciler, Inker, Letterer and Color Artist) and pass the worksheet around the table to create a three-panel comic strip!
Once you have downloaded the worksheet, follow the steps below.
1. Fold the page inward along the dotted line so that the mad lib at the top doesn’t show.
2. Have your “writer” fill in the invisible columns with the correct number of words (and correct parts of speech, as indicated).
3. Unfold the worksheet and fill in the Mad Lib, then share the story with your collaborators!
4. Pass the worksheet to your penciler, who sketches out the story (beginning, middle, and end) in three panels.
5. Pass the worksheet along to the person(s) who will ink, then letter, and then color your collaborative comic strip!
Need a quick reminder of the different Parts of Speech?
noun: a person, place, or thing (grandma, room, chair)
adjective: a word that describes a noun (smelly, green, alive)
verb: a word that shows an action (run, jump, play)
adverb: a word that describes doing an action (quickly, gracefully, badly)
interjection: a word that expresses emotion (Hey! Oh! Wow!)
onomatopoeia: a word that imitates a sound (bang, splash, buzz)
Share this collaboration by submitting worksheets on-line via Instagram using the hashtag #courivine
Like Dorothy, Couri Vine can’t seem to catch her breath. But rather than going over the rainbow, she’s returning to an abandoned Earth.
This welcome return to Couri’s universe never loses its vivid optimism—due to the pluckiness of its courageous young hero. Dorothy may have gotten swept away by the storm, but Couri takes control of every situation she encounters.
The second issue of this exciting series boasts a strong supporting cast, and it reveals the rich history that led up to moving the human civilization to the moon.
Vanessa Shealy’s clever script captures the spirit of contemporary adolescents, while still managing to appeal to adult readers. And Leah Lovise’s gorgeous illustration and brilliant use of color all serve to enhance the storytelling of this fun, adventurous piece.
Check out Couri Vine #2 today!
- Review by Tom S. Johnson
- Freelance Editor and Writer
Anna Stewart Cleaver
Anthony Pyrofly Hamlet
Bryan R. Adams
Cathy and Don Hargrove
Emily & Calvin Phillips
Eric Damon Walters
Jocelyn Shealy McGee
John Van Lowe
John VanDeusen Edwards
Katy Van Lowe
Kevin R. Free
Kit Cloudkicker Kelly
Little Lady Vader
Merridith Tiffin Ingram
Mitch Allen & Greg Gevas
Natalie G Tucker
Paulo J. Hernandez
Rebecca De Ornelas
Robin Harris Perry
Taylor Kirby Whitmore
Wayne Alan Brenner
Zeb L. West
@LeahLovise and @VanessaShealy completed Books TWO and THREE, and are making them available through Kickstarter just in time for the holidays.
AND we will release that Book 1 one-page-per-day of this 28 day Kickstarter campaign!
Please visit the kickstarter link at the bottom of the page to read more about this project, and thank you in advance for your support!
Guess what! You can now find both Couri Vine comic books at these stores.
More locations coming soon!
Exciting news! Couri Vine Book 2: Journey to the Planet Earth made its debut at Staple! Independent Expo in March.
Leah Lovise was there with both Couri Vine comic books, stickers, cards, and and even a miniature model of the Garden Towers in Moon City!
We worked hard to get this one complete and in print just in time for the Expo, and we’re super thankful to Indigo Rael and Nathan Jensen for their outstanding work in coloring Book 2!
Get your copy of COURI VINE Book 2: Journey to the Planet Earth!!!
Good news everyone!
ComiXology is the number one digital platform for comics and Comixology Submit is their creator-owned platform for independent comic book creators (like us) to publish their work.
Getting this book on Comixology was one of our big goals when we started out on this adventure, and we’re excited to have achieved it so soon.
Leah & Vanessa