Arts Desk

Meet a Local Cartoonist: A Chat With Carla Speed McNeil

Carla Speed McNeil has been writing and drawing Finder, a science-fiction story, since 1996. McNeil began self-publishing the title as a comic book via her Lightspeed Press, then collected it as graphic novels, then started doing it as a webcomic, and most recently produced a new graphic novel and separate chapters for Dark Horse Comics. Over the years, she's garnered several awards, including the Small Press Expo's Ignatz brick, and she won the Eisner Award for best webcomic in 2009. Finder's complexity is reminiscent of Dune; you can brush up on the main plot and characters at Wikipedia. In between her creator-owned work, she illustrated a story arc of Greg Rucka's successful Queen and Country series as well as D. J. MacHale's first Pendragon book, The Merchant of Death. Finder now appears regularly in the Dark Horse Presents anthology. Finder: Voice was just announced as a finalist for the LA Times Book Prize.

Washington City Paper: What type of comic work or cartooning do you do?

Carla Speed McNeil: I write and draw longform comics, analogous to short novels. Occasionally I draw what I've written, on other occasions I draw what other people have written.

WCP: When and where were you born?

CSM: Summer of luv.

WCP: Why are you in Washington now?  What neighborhood or area do you live in?

CSM: I live in Bowie, sort of. While he was in the Navy, my husband was stationed here, and we stayed.

WCP: What is your training and/or education in cartooning?

CSM: Self-educated, mainly. I do have a B.FA, but most of what I needed to know to do comics has been by my own efforts.

WCP: Who are your influences?

CSM: Cerebus, the Hernandez brothers, the Twilight Zone, and National Geographic.

WCP: If you could, what in your career would you do-over or change?

CSM: Learn to write before I started, not after.

WCP: What work are you best-known for? 

CSM: I hope it's my self-published book Finder, which has recently found a home at Dark Horse. Might be for my run in spy procedural Queen & Country.

WCP: What work are you most proud of?

CSM: Whatever I'm working on at any given time.

WCP: What would you like to do  or work on in the future?

CSM: Go back in time and draw a story arc of Neil Gaiman's Sandman?

WCP: What do you do when you're in a rut or have writer's block?

CSM: Read. Pace. Joggle things around in my mind. Writer's block only means there's a piece missing.

WCP: What do you think will be the future of your field?

CSM: As long as there's a copy machine and a bamboo bicycle to power it, there will be comics.

WCP: What's your favorite thing about DC? 

CSM: The Edison/Tesla war is highly overrated.

WCP: What monument or museum do you take most out-of-town guests to?

CSM: All of 'em. I prize stamina.

WCP: Do you have a website or blog?

CSM: www.findercomics.com

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