Our very own Ashley Lanni is a freelance illustrator who recently had the opportunity to collaborate on an upcoming graphic novel! “27” is a comic anthology that chronicles the lives (and tragic ends) of famous musicians who left us far too soon: Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, Kurt Cobain, etc. Ashley wrote AND illustrated a chapter about Amy Winehouse, entitled “Love is a Losing Game”.
- What’s your origin story?
I’ve been drawing since I could hold a crayon. In High School I had an amazing art teacher that helped me realize I could do this for a living. I got into Ringling College of Art & Design and it opened up more doors for me and grew my abilities further than I could have ever imagined. I met a local writer named Rachel Pandich at one of my art gallery openings and she was the one that got me into drawing comics. I always had an interest in sequential art and I probably would have ended up heading down that road eventually but she definitely sped up the process.
2. So I hear you recently took part in collaborating on this graphic novel anthology on Kickstarter, tell us more about that process!
I’ve worked with Red Stylo Media before on their Shakespeare Shaken and Unfashioned Creatures anthologies. I was contacted about pitches for the upcoming book and wanted to work with them again. The editor, Enrica Jang, always gave me a lot of creative leeway while also giving great feedback.
3. How did this Kickstarter project first come about?
This is the first kickstarter they’ve done, if I remember correctly. Red Stylo Media always prints a softcover trade version and wanted to print a really neat hardcover version this time as well.
4. Did you get to choose your subject matter? – If so, why Amy Winehouse?
She has such a great soulful voice and it’s upsetting that there are such a limited amount of recordings from her. I wanted to do an Amy Winehouse story that took place in a speakeasy, and had a full page dream sequence so that’s the pitch I sent. If Enrica would have rejected it I would have probably been paired up with a writer that wrote an Amy Winehouse story, but as you can tell I wanted to draw some really specific things.
5. What was it like collaborating on a project of this scale?
The only person I really talked to through the process was the editor. It was fun to see the updates and know that there were a lot of creators sharing the news with me. When the book got picked up by Action Lab it was a big deal and I got to share that excitement with everyone working on it.
6. How challenging is it balancing both duties as a writer and an artist?
It was an amazing process but a little repetitive. I went over the story a million times between the writing and editing part, then again in the rough layouts, pencils, inks, colors, and lettering.
7. What other works are you most proud of?
That’s a good question. I have no idea. Every time I finish up a project I immediately see things I want to change or what I should have done differently.
8. Who inspires you and why?
Tula Lotay is a new favorite. She builds and complicates her art and then goes back and removes pieces of it so there are big simplistic areas with tiny little areas of inane detail. Also Dustin Nguyen is fantastic. When I finish reading a new issue of Descender I always have to draw.
9. What are your future goals and aspirations?
I’m ready to breakthrough into bigger publishing companies. Action Lab is a great start but I would love to do an Image book some day.
10. Is there anything you’d like to say to any aspiring artists out there?
Draw all the time. Don’t stop.
“27” will be available this October at Superhero Beach and Superhero Hive.
We’ll be offering 8 copies of a limited hardcover special edition, so be sure to pre-order yours today!