Sunday, September 11, 2011

Suzannah Rowntree

Most people are satisfied when they are with one title, but not Suzannah Rowntree. She's editor and graphic artist for Archie Comics, and became the character and concept designer for Jinx, a high school re-imagining of Lil' Jinx. Her creativity is matched only by her generous nature and a genuine love for what she does.

You’ve said you look up the editor when you find a book or comic you love.  Who are some of your favorites?

I really like Craig Yoe’s books. I think I’m biased, because he keeps picking topics that I’m interested in (Apart from the barf book. I will not be buying the barf book.), but the books themselves are beautifully assembled, and contain a good meaty chunk of information in them as well as being nice to look at. IDW’s entire editing team are fantastic. I’m a fan of Shelly Bond’s (Fables, Madame Xanadu, and lots more).  I look up to Carlos Antunes, a Digest Editor here at Archie Comics – he’s got great taste, a great work ethic, and is a really nice guy. 

How did your love of art progress to graphic design? 

I've always been fascinated with color and color combinations. Graphic design really gives you an opportunity to play with color combinations and shapes in a way that a lot of other aspects of the business don't. 

You do the graphic art for Archie Comics. What does that include?

I'm definitely not the only person working on graphic design at Archie Comics. In the past, I've been part of the team working on text pages ("Dear Betty," and ads and such) on the Digests and 32s. Currently, I do all of the graphic design on Life With Archie Magazine as part of my duties as Features Editor on the book. With a few exceptions, I've been the exclusive designer on the title. I've also recently been working on graphic design as it applies to graphic novels as we plan the print incarnation of my Jinx stories. It's different from magazine layouts because the needs of the reader in terms of story pacing and page turning are quite different. I love learning new things, so it's been very exciting.

How did you become an editor for Archie Comics?

I began at Archie Comics as a Production Artist in the Digest Department, and did a lot of cleanup, coloring, and graphic design.  The majority of the workload only shifted to graphic design when we began work on Life With Archie in early 2010.

I was already working at the company as a Production Artist for a year when I pitched Jinx and it was picked up. Becoming an editor on Jinx followed naturally from that, but I didn't get a full gear change until early 2010 when we began preproduction on Life With Archie Magazine, and I became the Features Editor for it.

It's been a lot of fun.  I work under the supervision of Archie Comics President Mike Pellerito and Co-President/EIC Victor Gorelick.  It’s been like an apprenticeship.  I’m very lucky to be learning from them.  

How important is humor in comics, especially for long-standing titles like Archie?

Absolutely essential. Even when dealing with very serious subject matters. If you can’t laugh, what have you got?

What was your inspiration for this "real, not ideal" high school Jinx?

Honestly, my own High School experiences.  When I was a teenager, I didn’t see anything that reflected my real-life experience in entertainment media.  Things have changed since then, but I really wanted to speak to that age bracket with honesty.  Fortunately, the “Li’l Jinx” cast of characters adapted perfectly to that kind of a setup, because they were all originally created with realistic character flaws.

Whose idea was it to have Jinx try out for her high school’s all-boy football team?

That was the idea of our excellent writer, J. Torres. I wish I could take credit for it - I was always trying to prove that I was as good as the boys in High School - but that genius is his.

Any upcoming Archie arcs or special projects you can tell us about?

There’s lots of cool stuff happening at Archie! Life With Archie is poised to become even more mind-blowing in the upcoming year. We’ve got the awesome Kiss arc coming up in the Archie comic book.  Sonic is doing something phenomenal right now with the “Genesis” arc, and Megaman, which was launched earlier this year, has been turning up great stories and artwork. Kevin Keller – who is married in Life With Archie - will be continuing in his own series next year.

How did you hear about Womanthology and what drew you to the project?

I had heard a little bit about the project when Renae approached me to invite me. I accepted not just because looked like fun (which it has been), but because the project was exciting and the charity very worthwhile.

As an editor for the project, what have your responsibilities been?

My first priority has been keeping everyone meeting their deadlines and producing their best possible work.  My second priority has been assisting the artists and writers who are new to this, so that their first industry experiences are good.

What’s been the biggest surprise while working on Womanthology?

That I’m learning as much as I am. I’m very grateful – not just to Renae and the editorial team for offering me this opportunity, but to the talent I’ve been working with, for the experience. Thanks, ladies!

Finally, what would you say to any creators wanting to join the comics industry?

If you love what you do and work hard, good things will come to you. 

Jinx artwork drawn by Rick Burchett and inked by Terry Austin
Pencil drawing drawn by Fernando Ruiz.
All Archie images and characters © Archie Comic Publications, Inc.

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