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Sandbox Spotlight: MARISSA POPE, Comic Artist

THE CONVENTION COLLECTIVE: Thank you for joining us in the Spotlight, Marissa! How did you get into art and why did you want to become an artist?

Marissa Pope: I have always been interested in art ever since I was little. I remember watching this show on public access tv called Pappyland and he would always have his sketch pad and draw. It always caught my interest. I also like a lot of cartoons and for the longest time I wanted to be an animator, but that just wasn’t the path that was presented to me, so I became a comic artist instead. I apprentice with Mike DeBalfo, he’s helped so much and really has pushed me to be the artist I am today. I wouldn’t be where I am with out him. I owe him so many thanks and a lot of sandwiches!! 

TCC: What was the first work you completed, where you stepped back and thought, “Yes, y’know what, I can do this for a living!”?

Marissa: I’d say that once I saw myself grow as an artist is when I figured I could do this for a living. You’ll always have those piece that mean more to you than others, and the ones that you feel fall short on are the ones that make you push and be better. You can do this for a living if you are willing to go through growing pains and cry at your table. *insert cry laugh emoji here*

TCC: Which artists inspire you? And they don’t have to be in the medium you work in, either…

Marissa: Honestly, a lot of animators inspire me. There is a podcast that I listen to called “The Bandcroft Brothers Animation Podcast” and there are people on there that they interview like Pete Doctor, for example, that just created and directed the movie SOUL, super good btw, and had a huge part in making UP and MONSTERS, INC. Listening to him talk about his struggles and creative process really inspires me and keeps me going. That’s just one example. But you have to grind to keep up with animation and it’s very similar to comics. Their want and desire to be the most creative they can be is really inspiring to me. There are so many great people that I could go on about, but I’m not going to make you read a book about it haha. 

TCC: Can you tell us your greatest fan moment, interacting with a personal hero of yours where you may have gone a little weak at the knees?

Marissa: In Tucson Comic Con in 2016 (?) I met Ryan Kincaid for the first time and that was an amazing experience. He was really nice and I fell in love with his work. 

Then there was Elias Chatzoudis that I met in Boston Fan Expo in 2019. I was so nervous to even be at his table. I love his work so much. I was completely submerged in his OA portfolio and I was just Ooooo-ing and Ahhhh-ing at his work! But I could hardly talk to him because I was afraid that I was going to say something stupid and then he would remember me as the girl that just word vomited all over the place haha. I tried to keep my fan girl thoughts to myself, and a part of me wished I would have said more about how much I love his work to him personally. 

I looooveee Todd Nauck. He’s one of the very first artist that really set me on course to do comics. I was all, “I wanna be that guy!!” A similar feeling of nervousness and not wanting to sound dumb because words are hard came over me like Elias’ encounter. Todd Nauck signed one of my Deadpool shirts and that was enough for me that day! It is really scary for me to meet the people I look up to. For me it’s very much like having a crush on someone. You want to sound cool and be semi interesting yourself but its hard when you easily get tongue tied. 

TCC: What is your favorite fandom? Who is your favorite comic book character/movie/tv character?

Marissa: I personally like a lot more cartoons than comics. I never really got into comics until I was like 22 maybe. But I’ve always been a fan of the cartoons the Butch Hartman directs such as Danny Phantom and The Fairly OddParents. They are really fun shows and the characters have so much personality. Kim Possible is up there on my list too. Avatar: The Last Airbender is probably my top favorite cartoon. The character/world building and the creativity that went in to making that show just blows me away. The thoughtfulness that went into all the episodes is just spectacular to me. Watching A:TLA really getting me in the mood to draw! 

TCC: Outside of the ones you create for a living, what characters/stories do you like drawing the most in your spare time?

Marissa: Right now I like to draw a lot of Harley Quinn. She is such a fun character and she has so many cute outfits. You can have her do almost anything. For me that makes her an almost overwhelming character because her character knows no bounds. I also enjoy drawing fantasy characters such as elves and especially mermaid. They are my number one favorite. There is so much you can do with a mermaid, but I also really love the ocean and all the animals in it so I am biased towards that fantasy creature.

TCC: What’s your working routine? Do you work regular set hours and days, keeping certain days free for personal time, or do you find you create any time the muse takes you?

Marissa: I really like structure and a schedule. During the week, because I have a 9-5 day job at the moment, I like to set my drawing hours for at least 3-4 hours a week-night. I like to unwind after work either catching up with my boyfriend or doing yoga after a stressful day. I also like to sleep because I’m a nightmare if I don’t! So I try no to push myself to the breaking point if that makes sense. The weekends are fair game for whatever. On average I will be at my table on and off throughout the day from 6-8 hours or more depending on what’s going on. I take days off when I feel I need them. I just listen to what my body needs and what my mind is telling me. 

TCC: When you’re creating, what do you use for background noise? Some artists use music or podcasts, some use a TV show that they just can listen to in the background. What do you use?

Marissa: I like music and podcast. I don’t always need it but I use them more often than not. It’s nice to drown out the outside distractions. I listen to a lot of metal, early 2000’s emo, pop-punk and punk music the most. Then I’ll play some other stuff like Justin Timberlake, Halsey, Slightly Stoopid, Atmosphere, etc. The list could go on. As for podcasts Wondery has some really good ones. They kind of jump all over the place as far as content, which I like because I like to learn new things about crazy events that have happened. As mentioned before, The Bandcroft Brothers Animation Podcast is a great one! I love listening to all the people they interview and all the stories they tell about themselves, their creative and life experiences as well as their experiences with Disney. If I don’t know what to listen to anything or not in the mood for anything in particular, I will turn on the Dateline podcast. There are so many episodes and it makes great background noise if you’re not really listening.

TCC: What was the first comic con that you remember attending? And, indeed, what was the last?

Marissa: The first was Phoenix Comicon before it became Phoenix Fan Fest. It was a pretty good show. I would always help out at the Hero Initiative’s table and then wander around Artist Alley for a bit. The last show was Boston Fan Expo 2019. That was a really fun show. I did not have my own table, I piggy backed off of Mike DeBalfo’s table but I got to sit next to Ryan Kincaid and Sorah Suhng and have drinks after. It was a really fun time. I always enjoy going to cons to see friends. We are such a close community but we all live far away from each other. It’s really refreshing to see everyone. 

TCC: What’s your favourite element of a comic convention? And which bits could you easily leave behind?

Marissa: My favorite part is seeing all my friends. I haven’t got to meet a lot of my fans yet, you know… covid…. So I’m really excited to meet all the cool people I’ve come to know over the last year. I also love seeing all the attendees at a con in their cosplay. Some cosplays just blow my mind. Like people really take their time to put an extraordinary costume together. I do not enjoy dressing up myself, but I love it when others can pull a piece together. My least favorite part is prolly handshakes and hugs with strangers. I’m reserved until you get to know me and that part kind of follows suit. 

TCC: At a convention, when you’re not behind your table or doing the things you have to do at a con, which corner of the show would we find you in? 

Marissa: All over the place. I like to go and see what a show has to offer. What kind of vendors and publishers they have at the show. But mostly I stay in Artists Alley and geek out.

TCC: With the lack of conventions, a lot of artists are taking commissions online and mailing them out to people – is this something you’re doing? 

Marissa: Yes. I do have a short list of commissions that I tackle when I am not working on other things. 

TCC: A lot of creatives are also taking to crowdfunding – such as Kickstarter and Indiegogo – to generate income from their work. What’re your thoughts on that?

Marissa: I think that it is a great way to make money and get you projects going. 

TCC: What projects have you recently finished? What are you working on at the moment, what projects are coming up that you can talk about? 

Marissa: I have recently finished a jam piece with Mike Debalfo for Ryan Kincaid’s Persuasion 3 and a few pieces for Source Point Press called CULT OF DRACULA. I have a few covers coming out for Marat Mychaels now until the end of May, hopefully some more after that though and covers for Totally Rad Comics as well. 

TCC: How do you stay connected with fans? Do you use a mailing list or newsletters, are you active on social media?

Marissa: Im pretty active on social media. I am trying to get a website up and going but I am a designer by day so its tough to put a site up that I don’t like haha. I am easy to reach and usually respond with in the day on social media depending on how the day is going.  

TCC: Where can people see an example of your art online and find out about your rates?

Marissa: You can find examples of my work on Facebook (Marissa Pope) or my Instagram @mac_debarfo

I don’t have my rates posted, so if you are interested in working with me or looking for a commission just reach out to me directly and we can discuss the details. 

TCC: Thanks, Marissa, for your time! 

Marissa: Thanks for having me!!

We at The Convention Collective want to showcase the very best in creative talent. Are you a creator who would like to be featured in our weekly Sandbox Spotlight? Leave a comment here, or reach out to us at admin@TheConventionCollective.com

Dan Berry
Dan Berry
Dan Berry is a man of mystery, an enigma that flits from convention to convention like a spectre, like a spirit. His interests range far and wide: he cannot be determined, he cannot be defined, he cannot be contained. He's like the wind. He also is a Sagittarius and enjoys a nice Italian.

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