Christian Comic Creator Interview #58: Alison Varela 2


Hello everyone,

I pray all is well. I’m super-excited to have another female interviewee! It’s been a while, but I’ve recently came into contact with a few who have agreed to be interviewed, which is a blessing.

 

 

 

 

Today we have Alison (or Dove, as she’s called by her internet friends). She’s a creator of a web comic called The Sparrow Café. She’s been working on the comic for about five years now, and it has been an awesome ride! Now for the interview…

When did you first get into comics as a reader/fan? As a writer/artist/creator?

I grew up in Mexico as a missionary kid and getting to know the language, culture, and everything else was pretty difficult for me. So I pretty much clung on to the only “American” thing I could, which back then consisted of Archie and Sonic the Hedgehog comics. I also lived off coloring books and that only made things worse….Comics were pretty much what I lived off when I was just a little.

 Why comics? What do you like most about this medium?

I love how there are no specific rules about comics. On one page you can be in a forest and in the next you’re in space. For me, comics are where creativity and imagination flow like a river and create an impact like a storm!

Say a little about the project(s) you have worked on in the past (if any), and what they were about?

I have worked on political comics in newspapers and in some magazines. I had an ongoing series about a superhero girl called Kinetica. It was short-lived and while it did receive a strong readership, I was never truly happy with it.

During the years I had worked on commissions, drawing fan art of cartoon characters for people, and doing murals in arcades and other buildings. I never had a series as long as the one I am currently working on.

What project(s) are you currently working on?

Right now my main project is The Sparrow Café. I have the other projects lined up and I work on them from time to time.

What format(s) do you prefer for telling your stories (e.g., on-going series, mini-series, one-shot, graphic novel, etc.) and why?

 

A little bit of everything. I don’t really have a preferred format. If something works as a one-shot, then I use that. If I can figure out a story as a mini-series, then of course I’ll go with it. Its just a matter of how I want to present a story and the first format I think is usually the best.

What sources of information and inspiration have helped you along the way?

The Bible, mostly. Before I started The Sparrow Café I was in a pretty bad place and it was when I took a look in my Bible I found an ongoing source of inspiration.

Secondly, my friends and family. The comic is based on real events that happened in my life and most of the characters are based on real people I know. The story may be fiction, but it’s based on real life experiences.

Say a little about how you’ve been able to communicate your faith through your project(s)? What has that process been like? How has it evolved over the years?

Writing a Christian comic is incredibly different from what I was used to when I did other comics and stories. Expressing my faith through my work has been a unique challenge! One thing that I have done before was to change the language and mannerisms of my characters and situations. This was a change that some of my older fans have noticed.

When I started to thoroughly express my faith I did a bunch of one-shot comics for Christian Manga and independently. Just like testifying in real life, I tend to get a little nervous but courage is something that I have gained through the years, and with God by my side I don’t think I could have gotten anywhere.

What advice would you give to other Christians who are considering making comics?

PUT GOD FIRST.

In everything you do, whether it be a poster, a mini-series or an ongoing series; make sure you put God first in everything. Artists tend to be pretty prideful when it comes to art so having a humble perspective is a good practice.

 

NEVER STOP DRAWING.

I can’t stress this enough. Just like an athlete would practice their sport or a musician their instrument…you can’t improve if you don’t practice.

BE YOUR BIGGEST FAN

This is a something I’ve told many of the young artists that tend to lose motivation. Like anyone else who would say “I’m your number one fan!”, they would wait and wait for updates or a new picture. Why can’t you be excited for that too? When I write down a comic outline or a storyline for a new chapter I get excited for what’s happening and that just makes me more motivated.

WORK WITH WHAT YOU GOT & BE A SPONGE.

I’ve been in situations where I don’t even have a sheet of paper or a pencil. But I DID have a broken crayon and paper used to wrap tortillas. You don’t need the latest gadgets or programs to be an artist. If there is a will, there is a way. And trust that God will provide what you need.

The sponge part means to learn everything you can whenever you can! I never went to art school and the only art class I ever had was art history and even then I dropped out. Everything I learned was thanks to Google, deviantArt and friends. We live in a day and age where we can search for tutorials and hints. So take in as much information as you can!

Are there any future projects you are working on, or would like to work on?

At the moment my baby is The Sparrow Café but there are a LOT of projects I want to get my hands on! One of them is to start my own graphic design company. I would like to start a new comic but one that’s geared for preteen girls. Because one thing I’ve learned is that there are a lot of girls who read manga and I think it would be wonderful for them to learn about God. Perhaps by the end of this year I’ll get started on that. I still have a lot of preparation to do.

What is your take on the current state of Christian or Christian-themed comics? What, if anything, would you like to see more of in the future? What, if anything, would you like to see done differently?

I’m starting to see a good amount of both Christian and Christian-themed comics (one of my favorites being an adaptation of Pilgrims Progress). What I don’t see is a huge variety of different types of stories being published.

Not saying that comic adaptations of Bible Stories or parables is bad, but I don’t see a lot of fiction stories that children, teens or adults can relate to. I would love to see more of that!

What is the best way for people to contact you, and to read/purchase your work?

My main website, and that’s where you can read what I’ve done so far. There are also links to my other websites that I’m a member of and that includes my deviantart site, tumblr and CCAS profile! Feel free to leave a message, I LOVE getting those!!!

Any last thoughts?

Keep drawing, dreaming, and stay motivated. When God is on your side there is nothing you can’t do!

But most of all…let your imagination run wild, and continue being fantastic!!!

And there you have it. I hope you enjoyed the interview as much as I did, and stay tuned for the next one!


About R-Squared Comicz

I'm a Christian, husband, student, & comic writer. I like comics, hip-hop, basketball, & learning, and at the end of the day, I pray that my life meant something.

  • Florecita Pulido

    This is so interesting! I really like Sparrow Cafe n___n I like drawing too, but I dont know how to make good histories .___. but God has helped me with lots of examples of people who makes their best to praise him even in drawings or manga. Sorry for bad English, I´m Mexican xD and thanks for the advices ;)

    • RsquaredComicz

      Thanks for taking time to read it, and I’m glad it was helpful!