Calgary comic book artist Fiona Staples has recently received international acclaim for her artwork in the comic book series Saga — a joint effort with writer Brian K. Vaughan, who has written for popular works such as the television series Lost.
Staples says that everything to do with Saga has happened on a much larger scale than what she has worked on in the past. Having never worked with a writer like Vaughan before, Staples admits that she didn’t know what to expect.
“It has been kind of intimidating, but also super, super exciting just to see the massive response that the book has gotten,” says Staples. “I’m just constantly shocked and surprised.”
Staples says that she gets a lot of creative freedom when it comes to interpreting the script and designing the fantasy and science-fiction inspired characters and scenery in Saga.
“Before we started working on the first issue, we did a whole bunch of concept designs just for the main characters and a few of the locations, so at that stage there was a bit of back and forth,” Staples says. “Once we got our main cast figured out we just jumped right into the story. Now I don’t get any notes back at all.”
For Staples, her work as a comic book artist began when she was in high school.
“I was into art my whole life. I was the kid who loved to draw,” says Staples. “I started reading comics in high school. That’s when I started getting into them and going to the comics store and buying them off the shelf. That’s when I got the idea that I might like to be a comic artist professionally.”
Following that dream, Staples attended the Alberta College of Art and Design and studied visual communications design. She completed a wide range of projects there that were geared towards commercial and narrative illustration, which included film projects, storyboard and basic animation, as well as comic books.
Staples started work on her first comic book during her last year of school, after meeting a writer named Andrew Foley on Mapleink, a website designed to let local Albertan creators meet and collaborate. Staples decided to work on a pitch for a comic with Foley, and together they created the comic book Done to Death.
“It’s sort of been one long chain of events that all started with Done to Death because even though it was a small press book and an indie book that no one bought and no one read, I managed to get other work from it,” Staples explains.
From being discovered with Done to Death, Staples was hired to work on a comic titled Trick ‘r Treat, which was how she got her first work with a major publisher. From there, her career has snowballed as more people discovered her art.
Despite being hired to work for publishers such as WildStorm Productions, Marvel, IDW Publishing and DC Comics, Staples has remained in Calgary.
“Calgary, at least as long as I’ve been working, has always had a cool little community of comics creators, mostly indie creators who are doing their own thing and self publishing, but also people who are working for publishers,” says Staples. “It’s been interesting to see the scene grow as more ACAD grads pop up and start doing their own comics.”