The personal nature of the strip is positively infectious; Lenox's ability to make everyday experiences engaging and interesting is quite a gift. Had she done personal writing of this sort prior to making the jump to comics, or did her skill at cartooning come first? "I have always doodled personal moments as a way to remember them since I was in high school," Lenox said. "I was never much of a journal writer, mainly because I hated my handwriting. I think my mind tends to think more with pictures than with words when I want to capture a moment.

"The manner EmiTown is drawn—lack of panels,

etc—was something that came naturally to me. I drew the strip sort of like how I tend to think."

Lenox's manga influences are immediately evident in her work, but there's much more to her art than that. When did she begin drawing, and how long did it take for her style to develop??"I guess it was over the course of a year. I started using the brush pen in mid 2009 because I loved the dry brush effects Craig Thompson was able to execute," Lenox said. "Over time, after drawing a page every day, I guess it sort of just happens!

"Being minimal helps me manage to get all those pages done. I'm also drawing on sketchbook paper that's smaller than standard letter size so I try not to overcrowd my pages with too much information."

Rather than working in black and white or in full color, Lenox chooses to work in duotone, using a spot color to enhance her art. What inspired the addition of a second color??"In my early original sketchbooks, I used to tone with a blue Tombow marker," Lenox said. "When I decided to put it online, I decided to mimic that. Plus I feel it adds more depth to my line work and give it a more finished work. It's a constant battle for me to be satisfied with my work and adding the toning was a part of that. The duotone will appear in the print version as well."

The online strip began in blue, but shifted to a mauve in 2010; what led to the color shift, and will it be reflected in the printed version of EmiTown? "I started with the blue to match the blue marker I had used to tone in my sketchbooks. Using the same color everyday began to grow old, so when the new year rolled around I decided to change colors. It was very hard to change colors, but I felt like I needed something to keep the comic fresh and to keep me interested in toning. I actually enjoy the mauve more now myself. I plan on changing the color again for 2011. I'm thinking a seafoamy green maybe?

"However, the book will be the 2009 blue all the way through. So some of the 2010 pages will be changed to that color. I figured, if there will be a second volume, it will be the mauve color."

How has EmiTown changed as the webcomic progressed??"I think my skill level has definitely increased since the comic started,"?Lenox said. "There's a huge difference between the art from 2009 to today's. I learned a lot from drawing a page every day and hopefully will continue to learn more and improve."

Many creators will share their lives, but far fewer are willing to share their feelings, which Lenox do quite regularly. Was she ever apprehensive about opening up to this degree with your readership? "It took me a good week to finally decide to put the journal online, because I was nervous to have myself up there naked for everyone

to see," Lenox said. "I do hide a lot of super personal things with my superhero or cat army metaphors. I figure that it's vague enough that people can make their own interpretations and never really know for sure.

"I have been feeling fairly confident in who I am as a person and thought by putting myself online would be no different then putting myself forward in public. Sure, there are probably some things I wouldn't talk about in life—but if someone were to ask on a topic, I'd give the same honest answer".

EmiTown is a series of single-page self-contained observations, vignettes, and narratives; what inspired the one-page-per-day approach? "It came about

because the journal started as a project to document my day everyday," Lenox replied. "I'm not sure why I limited myself to only one page. Maybe it's because it's less intimidating to only have to fill in one page. Especially on days where nothing much had happened!"The book offers reader a look at a year in the life of Emi Lenox. "Most of the material will come from the blog. It will cover May 2009 to the end of April 2010. I decided for that range because it's when I started using the brush pen, and I like to have the consistency in line work for the book.

"EmiTown will present a year's worth of strips; I added in some monthly chapter dividers and monthly playlists which have all the songs listed that were mentioned in that month.

"I will also have an introduction by Jamie Rich, as well as my own personal introduction explaining EmiTown, a character sheet, and a guest page by Brandon Graham."

Lenox's earliest work predated EmiTown; will it be included in the collection??"I did do a 24 hour comic which was put up on Top Shelf 2.0. It won't be included in the book—but I?do have plans for those characters!"

"I have several projects in the wings, two of which are some original stories that I have been working on for some time. One, Perfecting Loneliness, involves the characters from that 24 our comic. I also want to continue making mini comics to sell at conventions so I have some short stories in mind."

EmiTown, a $19.99 two-color collection from Image Comics, is slated for October 27th release.To find a comic shop near you, try the Comic Book Locator Service.

by Cliff Biggers

 

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Emi - Winner!

?"It's the singer, not the song."

It turns out that Mick Jagger's observation applies just as much to comics as it does to music. The right talent can make any subject entertaining.

And Emi Lenox is just the right talent.

Lenox is the creator of EmiTown, a collection of observations about life, community, friendship, and more. EmiTown began as a blog/webcomic, but the entertaining slice-of-life series is making the jump from pixels to print this fall, courtesy of Image Comics.

What convinced Lenox to offer readers an illustrated window into her life? "What inspired me to do put the comic online was the work of other autobiographical cartoonists, like Jeffrey Brown or Craig Thompson. I loved reading their work because I felt it was reassuring to know someone else out there had similar thoughts and problems. Originally, EmiTown was a personal diary comic. In fact, I have a six months worth of the old strips that aren't even online!

"I still feel strange putting up personal reflections but at the same time, I feel it's who I am and I'm not scared of people seeing who I am."