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Mara “Meg” Maguire is one of the cartoonists behind Rival Hearts, a high fantasy Web comic, for which she handles the art and part of the writing. She has another Web comic, Black as White, which has been going for a decade. She was at the Intervention con this past fall with an ashcan of her Rival Hearts comic. She answered our usual questions.

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

Meg: I write and draw two fantasy-based webcomics. One is less serious than the other.

WCP: How do you do it? Traditional pen and ink, computer or a combination?

Meg: I usually draw everything by hand: pencil, pen/ink, and pencil shading. The computer is for adding word bubbles and text…and occasionally clean up.

WCP: When and where were you born?

Meg: I was born in central New Jersey in the late 1970s.

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

Meg: I currently live in Silver Spring, Md., near Forest Glen metro station. I moved to the D.C. area after college for a change of scenery and to be near friends.

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

Meg: I never had any official training. I took art courses in high school and college, but really

starting drawing comics afterward and gained skill over many years of practice.

WCP: Who are your influences?

Meg: I take my inspirations from any where I can find it. Really I have an lot of sources that influence my writing and my art style. I’ve read a lot of comics, both Eastern and  Western styles, and watched a lot of TV, mostly cartoons. And there are a number of webcomics that have made me think “I can do this, too!”

But my best sources are friends, as they tend to be models for the characters, of not partial creative minds. And my husband for being a creative spazz.

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

Meg: I think I might have taken my interest in art more seriously while I was still in school, then it might not have taken me as long to really find my passion in it (at a time when I can’t yet focus my sole attention on these creative pursuits).

WCP: What work are you best-known for?

Meg: Most people at conventions tend to recognize my distinctive style in the character buttons that I make.

WCP: What work are you most proud of?

Meg: The progress that my main comic Rival Hearts has made over the last nine months.

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

Meg: I’m hoping to eventually be able to focus more on my comic creation in the future. My main focus comic right now has the potential to be rather huge, and I plan to push for the fullest of that potential. And hopefully, on the side, I will also do some book writing or, at least, illustration.

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

Meg: Zone out? Usually I take a break and focus on something else for a little while, and if that is too distracting, I’ll go back to my notes and try to talk about ideas until the inspiration figure up again full force.

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

Meg: Web comics are getting bigger. And it’s impressive how people are still willing to even buy in a support an artist/creator even when the mainstay of the work is available free online.

WCP: What local cons do you attend ? The Small Press Expo, Intervention, or others? Any comments about attending them?

Meg: Most of my frequently I attend Japanese animation cons: Katsucon, T-Mode, AnimeUSA. But I’ve done a few small comic-based conventions besides Intervention, as well as attending Baltimore comic con twice as an artist.

As I started out as an artist leaning towards the anime styles, this had been the best niche for me. Plus, a lot of the same fans at this conventions appreciate web-comics of all genres and styles.

WCP: Do you have a website or blog?

Meg: Rival Hearts comic and some blog-like babble can be found here: www.rivalhearts.com (which replaces http://www.blackaswhite.com/rivalhearts). I also have random art stuff at http://ani-meg.deviantart.com.