Powell at a signing for March Book One at Midtown Comics in Manhattan.
Little Rock, Arkansas
|Area(s)||Cartoonist, Writer, Penciller, Inker, Publisher, Letterer, Colourist|
Swallow Me Whole
The Silence Of Our Friends
|Awards||Ignatz Award, 2008 & 2009
Eisner Award, 2009
My sense of politics and justice was deeply shaped in adolescence by my involvement with the underground punk – rock scene, and though lots of social and political issues had come forth in my comics, it wasn't until my late 20s that I felt properly equipped to address certain issues of race, power, and violence in my work.
The comics I made from 1990 to 1997 were largely based in vaguely urban, vaguely dystopic settings because that was my reference point for comics storytelling in general.
The truth is, I don't sketch much at all. I have a very visual/spatial brain that retains a lot of information about maps, directions, positioning, and details, so I usually prefer working out those issues on the page itself.
Comics creators are generally screwed in life: Most of us who are fortunate enough to do comics full time – which is very few of us – will literally draw until we die because we have no employment structures intact for retirement, much less insurance!
I love trying to forge a contract between creator and audience in which we are able to meet halfway, each injecting a part of our own experiences into a story that's being told.
My narrative style centers around intimate, highly subjective depictions of personal experience and internal landscapes. In 'March,' everything fell into place as soon as I began identifying strongly with John Lewis as a young boy and saw how we shared the same kind of gravity and intensity as youngsters.
Doing representations of real people is not my strongpoint as a visual artist, and I know that.
I am filled with uncertainty and fear when thinking about how my two daughters will grow into this world as Hoosiers, as Americans, as women and free thinkers.
We all accept the visual shorthand used throughout comics: if something's farther away, it'll be drawn with a thinner, simpler line, eventually leaving out most visual information and becoming a gesture, a skeletal representation of a thing.
Power, privilege, and violence are not, and never were, strictly Southern issues in America.
'Swallow Me Whole' is still the creation that's closest to my heart.
There are constant challenges in the drawing process, especially in a period piece, and therein lay the fun.
I did grow up in a military family but lacked the perspective to grasp the cognitive dissonance carried by most people who serve in the armed forces or the circumstances that push lots of folks into the military. I don't blame G.I. Joe or Rambo for that atmosphere, but they certainly reflected the final stage of a two generation cultural myth.
As a visual storyteller, a lot is learning what to include so you're not being redundant between images and text.
Kids have always play-fought, but I think my generation had a particularly privileged cultural fantasy surrounding military violence.
The books that stuck with me most as a child were 'A Wrinkle In Time', 'Dracula', 'Hatchet', 'Bunnicula', 'White Fang', and this YA/kids' book called 'Nobody's Fault' where a kid drowns one weekend as friends play around a flooded ditch.
There's nothing that compares with the time spent all by myself on a creation that is all my own. I still think of my solo work as my 'home planet' in comics, though I've learned to listen much more to editors and trusted friends for feedback.