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Lauren Affe works in a part of cartooning we don’t talk about much—-she’s a comic book colorist. A colorist is usually the last person to work on the art after it’s drawn (in pencil or digitally) and then inked to darken the lines of the drawing. Most cartoonists don’t color their own work, although Richard Thompson used to watercolor Cul de Sac when it just appeared weekly in the Post. With comic books, thanks now to the infinite choices that come with computer coloring and higher-quality paper, colorists have become increasingly important and autonomous. Meanwhile in comic strips, the colorist role is usually filled by someone hired by the syndicate to do a basic, competent job.  Lauren’s just beginning her career, so this interview will undoubtedly be a collector’s item, which you should save and get autographed.  Or you could just buy her first book.

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

Lauren Affe: I color and tone comic book pages as well as draw my own novels.

WCP: When and where were you born?

LA: I was born in 1987 in Washington, D.C., and have lived in and around the D.C. metro area for most of my life, up until the time came for art school.

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

LA: I’m between living situations at the moment. My family remains in Loudoun County, Va., and I’ve just finished my Sequential Art degree at Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD).

WCP: Who are your influences?

LA: Too many to count. I am heavily influenced by many of my peers that I got to know during my time at SCAD. Their hard work makes me more passionate about my own. Out of the list of artists that have influenced me—Jamie Hewlett, Cyril Pedrosa, Enrique Fernández, Rafael Albuquerque, Alina Urusov, Claire Wendling— many have done work in different fields other than comics and I think their art is great because of it. So I try and keep my eyes and mind open.

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

LA: My career is just starting so I hope there isn’t much I’d do over again at this stage in the game. But I have potentially missed out on opportunities early in school and after just because I thought I my skills were not up to par. I know now that it is better to put yourself out there despite that small nagging self doubt in the back of your mind.

WCP: What work are you best-known for?

LA: My most recent (and first published work) toning of the book A Friendly Game published by SLG Publishing.

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

LA: I ended up devoting most of my time during school and now post grad working on coloring and making other people’s pieces look polished and ready for print. Because of this expanding on my own artwork and stories is becoming very appealing.

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

LA: First and foremost I take a break. I try and visit my original sources of inspiration for the project. If I’m still unable to move on it, I put it away and pull out something else to work on. It’s always good to have something on the back burner. It’s hard not to fixate on getting things exactly right, but it’s important to learn to let go, especially if you’re working on a graphic novel and have another 80 pages ahead of you.

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

LA: The future is often hard to see when you’re just beginning or in the middle of things, but there are great things happening because of this thing called “the Internet.” Many artists are able to do great cross collaboration via the web.  A Friendly Game was done as I talked to its creators who were living in California and Kentucky.
The Internet has also been providing a platform for many independent artists and self publishers out there that would otherwise not be as able to reach their audiences. A comic published online that has gathered some kind of a fan base is far more likely to catch the attention of publisher than a work that hasn’t gotten any exposure at all.

WCP: What’s your favorite thing about D.C.?

LA: When I was little my parents use to take my brother and I to the Smithsonian a lot. As result I remain somewhat of a museum geek. Given the opportunity I’d stay until the Natural History Museum closed.

WCP: Least favorite?

LA: Cars and the hectic commute they cause.

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

LA: I take most to the Corcoran Gallery. Or to an IMAX movie. Lunch at the American Indian Museum is a must. The food there is fantastic.

Lauren Affe’s blog is here.