Interview with Beautiful Creatures Manga Artist Cassandra Jean Part 2
This is Part 2 of my in-depth interview with Cassandra Jean, the talented and prolific artist of MangaMagazine’s Land of Lions and the artist adapting Beautiful Creatures for Yen Press. Part 1 can be read here.
What’s a typical day in your week like?
Well, I roll out of bed around 6 am (I don’t use an alarm clock, that just seems to be about when my body is ready to go.) After stumbling downstairs, I walk my precious pup and then check my email. Then by 7 or 7:30 I’m sitting at my desk working. I’m a morning person, so I like to launch straight into work as soon as I can, I usually skip breakfast. After that, I draw straight through to lunch time (around 11:30) and take a quick half hour lunch break. Then it’s back to drawing again. I have daily quotas set for myself, and it differs from project to project. But usually I manage to finish my work load by 4 or 5 pm. Then after that I scarf down a dinner and spend the rest of the night relaxing so that my brain doesn’t impload from thinking about work too much. Usually I relax by reading or playing video games. I crawl into bed pretty early, so usually I’m asleep by 10. Rinse, repeat.
This is how my whole week goes. I don’t take weekends off specifically so sometimes I work for weeks at a time without a break. Usually I reserve my designated time off for whenever I finish a chapter, because those are the only times I feel like I can relax. I work from home, so I set my own schedule.
That sounds actually pretty similar to my schedule right now! Which is crazy because there are just no weekends. Comics IS our life right now. But I’m sure you love it, otherwise you wouldn’t be doing it for weeks on end, right? ^_~
I have to ask this because I’ve had recent scares with my fingers on my right hand getting inflamed from time to time since I started my project. How do you protect yourself from injuries while working so many long hours for days at a time? What are some of your strategies to handle all this work?
I should be more careful than I am. One time I was working for so many hours in a row that my finger started to bleed. A week later I had a callus right in that spot, and now I don’t have to worry. I guess the worse injury I tend to face is soreness in my knees because of the way I sit while I draw, and a sore neck. I try to combat this by taking regular breaks and doing stretches. Or taking walks with my dog. But to be honest I get so absorbed in drawing that sometimes I forget to stop and stretch… Another big problem I face is dehydration and hunger. Which sounds stupid considering I work from home, food and water is always available to me. But I just don’t think about my stomach while I’m drawing, and I don’t like food in my workspace so I tend not to eat and draw at the same time. Since this kept becoming a problem for me, I finally had to find ways to force myself to be more watchful over my health. Each time I finish a page, I stop and do my stretches. And I never skip my lunch break anymore. And I try to eat a decently large meal with plenty of liquids.
I guess the best advice I can think of is to stay vigilant and watch your health. No work is so important that it’s worth getting injured or sick over. That being said, you’re right and I wouldn’t give up this lifestyle for the world. I love art and I’ll bend over backwards for this dream career.
Can you tell me how you got started with MangaMagazine.net and what your experience has been like getting published through them?
Well Land of Lions used to run on Smackjeeves. I’d update it when I could, which wasn’t often since admittedly my non-paying work takes a pretty far back seat to the projects that can put food on my table. But MangaMagazine.net contacted me early on, before the website was public and they asked me about publishing my comic with them. The people who run the company are all incredibly supportive, I’m glad I accepted their offer. They genuinely want to help the webcomic industry grow so it’s been a great experience.
They seem like a great company. I love their logo and I’m very picky about logos so they scored instant points for that. From what I’ve read on their site, they seem very supportive of creator rights which is great! The layout for Land of Lions graphic novels look incredibly well-done and I saw the books are available digitally on Amazon for Kindle.
Do you know if you’re having more success with the book in print or in digital? The publishing industry is undergoing major shifts right now and there’s a lot of experimentation going on which is pretty cool but also pretty scary. I was just wondering if you knew something about how your fans are discovering your work and what avenues they’re coming from more often.
Personally, I will always prefer print over digital, but I know a lot of people feel differently. I think that, considering a lot of my readers are overseas, it’s easier for them to purchase my work digitally for their kindle or ipads or whatever. Printed books are available to them, but with shipping costs, digital is a big plus for them. However, I also get a lot of emails from people who have bought copies of the book in print. And I think that’s wonderful too. I think it’s just a matter of preference. A lot of people are like me, and will cling to the old ways of printed media. But a lot of people prefer the simplicity and speed of the digital book.
Honestly I don’t know too much of how the books are selling, MangaMagazine.net handles that and I haven’t asked them much about the successes of one versus the other. But digital really is the way of the future so I think that’s probably the more popular medium.
Part 3 will be up Tuesday, May 22! Stay tuned! Part 3 is now up here!