• Equestria Daily Interview Series: Interview with IDW MLP Artist Agnes Garbowska

    What do you do when we have no official episodes?! You read the comics! Get on it people! These things have more canon than all the seasons combined so far!

    Guest interviewer The Illustrious Q is here with yet another one from one of the stars of the MLP Comic world, along with several others you may recognize. That's totally Samurai Jack right there.  

    In ponyland, we have two comics comic up in the not so distant future with Agnes Garbowska starring as the artist, with a whole bunch of covers for past variants. Sounds like a good time to hit her up with a whole bunch of questions! Celebrate the golden age, or Summer of Trixie as it has been termed, down below!  Have an intro piece:

    Greetings Bronies of Equestria Daily!

    The Illustrious Q here once again as a guest writer after conducting another interview with one of the artists on the IDW My Little Pony Comic staff! Yes I am a bit of a go getting at this thing.

    Now to ?borrow? a little bit of Seth?s thunder (sorry Seth!) I'll quite blabbering and ask all of you to head on down below the break for the full interview with MLP Comic Artist Agnes Garbowska!

    Now go!

    Okay, Agnes. I'm very sure you've been asked this question plenty of times already. But for everyone here at Equestria Daily, and so that a certain pink party pony will leave me alone, who's your favorite pony?

    Pinkie Pie, just because she's crazy and likes to eat! It pretty much sums me up as I'm very hyper and I like to eat!

    One would never know that from looking at you.

    Yeah, I have a very bad sweet tooth.

    How did you get interested in art?

    I?ve loved drawing my entire life. Ever since I was little kid. But I think what really got me first into art is when I was really, really young. I actually emigrated from Poland when I was about 4 or 5. When I first came to Canada, I'm Canadian, I actually couldn't speak or write the language and I wasn't allowed to go to school yet.
    My mom just sat me down in front of a TV and gave me some paper and something to draw with to entertain myself. That's actually how I learned how to speak English, just watching cartoons. But I was so fascinated by these cartoons, that I started drawing everything I saw on the TV screen and I just got hooked and continued drawing from there.

    Very cool. Which, of course, leads to the obvious question. Were you drawing My Little Pony back then?

    Actually, when I was a kid with the original My Little Pony, I did collect and I did draw the ponies! I loved ponies from an early age. I actually didn't get into the revamped one right away. People kept talking about the revamped one like, "Okay maybe I'll check it out and I might ... Hey, this is actually really, really cool." Yup, I did draw ponies. I watched the cartoons and everything.

    Very cool, very cool. I'm sure a lot of people can actually relate to that in this fandom. Was there any particular artist or particular artistic movement that influenced your artistic style?

    Well, I was always fascinated by Fine Arts and I studied Fine Arts while in school. When it comes to comic book artists, Chris Bachalo was a massive influence of mine. Michael Turner, Jim Lee. They were my earlier influences that really got me hooked on drawing comics. I remember when I was a little kid, my mom got me regular printer paper and some tracing paper and I just tried tracing and drawing the comic books. I just always tried to mimic the style. Then I started trying to draw it on my own after that. Those are some of my huge comic book influences that really got me drawing into comics. Right now, Rafael Albuquerque and Dustin Nguyen are also huge influences of mine. Oh, and Skottie Young is amazing as well!

    You started out just tracing the comics?

    Yeah. I encourage it for young kids who are trying to learn and they're just trying to get shapes. I?ve found that there's nothing wrong with tracing. It's just don't claim it as your drawing. Understand that it's just something that you're using to learn. It's a learning aid.

    My mom got me lots of drawing books for anatomy in drawing animals and I had the comic books. I drew everything and anything and that's the best way to learn is draw everything. That's what I tell parents in like encourage your kids to try different media like watercolor, just pencil, pencil crayons. Also encourage them to draw everything around them.

    That's really good advice. Now, one of the things that I noticed about your art for the comics is that it actually has a very watercolorish feel to them. Am I right or am I wrong here?

    You are quite correct! It's because I actually watercolor everything before I add the digital colors and that's why it gives out watercolor feel! It's because actual watercolors are basically the base of the painting. I do the tones or the shadows in watercolor and actually scan that into the computer then add the final colors digitally, so that way you get that watercolor feel but you also get the digital poppy colors!

    Very nice. Have you ever tried coloring the ponies in nothing but watercolor?

    Yes I have. But, it takes a lot longer and deadlines are really, really tight usually. I would love to maybe one day do a whole book in watercolors, but I would need more time. Unfortunately, it's not usually possible when you're in a deadline situation. But a lot of my personal pieces are done in full watercolor.

    Wow, that's incredible.

    Thank you.

    How did you get into comics? The earliest piece that I could find was the 2009 A Tribute to Michael Turner published by Aspen Comics. How did you get that job?

    Yeah, that might have been my first major press. I did a lot of small press before that. They're harder to find issues like I worked for a company called Storm Bringers doing some of their poster art for them.
    I soft publish my own stuff as well which I've been self-publishing since about 2009. All of those are in my website, agnesgarbowska.com. Unfortunately, my site?s not really updated right now because of my deadlines. I'm keeping focused on keeping the deadlines and I love work coming in and I hope it keeps coming in. But I think my first major, more mainstream work was published in 2009 with the Michael Turner special. I did the Spider-Ham 25th Anniversary for Marvel Comics and I also did Girl Comics for Marvel. In that 2009, 2010 time frame.

    Did any of those projects during that time period stick out particularly well as memorable or interesting or fun?

    Oh, they all did! I've been really lucky. I've had a chance to work on so many amazing projects. Like, I got to draw Spider-Ham! He turns into a spider human in the story and that's quite amazing. Just having a chance to draw Spider-Ham!

    Girl Comics was my very first Marvel gig, so that will always stand out in my mind. Just that opportunity and Robin Furth was such an amazing writer to work with. I just felt so blessed and lucky. I'm like, "This is too cool."

    I guess you had a lot of fun doing work for Marvel.

    Oh, I did. The editors were great. The writers were great and the experience itself was just great.

    Which of course, leads me to a semi-silly question. While you were working on Spider-Ham, did you end up humming to yourself Spider-Pig?

    Oh, all the time. Even now when I do personal commissions where other people request Spier-Ham, I'm like, "Spider-Ham, Spider-Ham." Sorry, that's my ... I like the song but, "Spider-Pig, Spider-Pig." Sorry.

    *laughs* That is too cool. That is too cool.

    It was also during that time that you did a lot of work for the Hero Initiative. Those who don't know about this charitable organization, what can you tell us by doing work for them?

    I love working for them and I love doing work for charity! I do lot of charity work because I like helping. I know if I ever need a helping hand, I hope someone will be there to help me out. If you're able to contribute, why not? If I'm able to contribute my art, that's just the beautiful thing. I make someone really happy with my art and the money goes to charity and the Hero Initiative is a great charity because it helps comic creators.

    I still do work for them to this day. I'm almost always part of their 100 charities. My Walking Dead Book for them did phenomenally well, and I was so lucky to meet the purchaser! She was just the most sweetest woman ever and she got a Walking Dead commission from me as well. But I like working for them and as long as they like the art I'm bringing in, I'll be happy to contribute to them and other charities as well.

    Excellent. Now, I noticed when I was going through what I could find to your professional work that there was a one year gap between 2011 and 2013. Did you just take a break during 2012 or was something else going on?

    Just I just wasn't able to get work. *laughs* That's an honest answer.

    That's what comics is. You can get your foot in through the door, but sometimes you just can't keep it there. I had a lot of trouble getting work. But I tell people if you can't get work, you make work!

    During that time, I actually was pretty heavy on my self-publishing and attending conventions, selling my own books. It was "You, Me and Zombie, The Prelude" and My Misiu Gazette Volume 1 which you can get My Misiu Gazette Volume 1 online through Amazon. I believe, I think it's still there. But I think you can't get the online version anymore because the company got sold to another company.

    Yeah, I just made work for myself and it's that self-publishing work that actually helped me get into IDW and start working on ponies. Because I had a very strong portfolio which was because all I did that year was draw every single day and put my web comics online for people to see.

    Which actually leads straight into my next question: How you got involved with the My Little Pony series with IDW?

    Well, I showed my portfolio to one of their editors and he really, really liked my work. He liked my work and he thought my story telling was really strong. He was impressed. He's like "Well, let's see if we can get you anything here. Maybe I'll introduce you to the My Little Pony editor." I didn't hear from them for a while. Then about ... This was San Diego that I met them and I was introduced to the My Little Pony editor till maybe sometime in the late fall when Bobby [Curnow] contacted me saying, "Hey, all your works were really cool. We'll see if there's anything that comes our way that maybe we can get you to work on."

    My art rep Bob [Shaw] saw an opportunity with the Boston Comic Con cover because he was like, "Well, I know you could draw ponies and the editor already knows who you are, so let's see if we catch you on the Boston cover." Bob really, really kicked it off the ground for me because he gave me an opportunity that I could prove to Bobby [Curnow] that, "Yes, I can draw ponies."

    That cover just led to another cover and lead to another cover and it just spiraled out of hand. It spiraled in a very good way. Then I started getting interiors which was what I wanted! I love doing interiors. I just love story telling. It took like over half a year to actually get in contact and get talking to Bobby. But it took almost a year to actually get something published with My Little Pony.

    Usually, it's the other way around with the comic illustrator. Usually, they started with interiors and then work with covers.

    Yeah, I thought that was really funny, too. I started with covers and worked my way to interiors. I tell everyone this is a little backwards, but it's really where it happened. But it was my sequentials that got me my cover work. That's what started it. Without my sequentials, I won't even have the cover works. I tell everyone even you have to have sequentials. It's essential for your portfolio to get work in the comic book industry.

    Actually, it gives me a little story about the Boston Comic Con exclusive cover that you did for My Little Pony number 6. That was the cover where you and I actually first met face-to-face, believe it or not.

    Oh really! Oh my gosh! I'm so sorry. I don't even remember. I feel horrible.

    Well, I'm going to start relating the story because this was actually a very, very memorable day for me.

    Oh, wow! Please do tell.

    For me, it was the weekend of April 20th, 2013: the original weekend for Boston Comic Con's 2103.


    Which unfortunately was canceled owing to the events of the weekend prior with the Boston Marathon bombings and the?


    --subsequent manhunt for the Tsarnaev brothers.

    Yeah, that was horrible.

    I remember that the ... I was looking forward to going to the convention despite the manhunt that was going on at the time. I know that a lot of comic artists, the vendors, and everyone else who was going to attend the con were already showing up. So I kind up held out hope that the con would be held right up until the it was announced that it wasn?t going to be ... Well, I was pretty bummed and I know a lot of people who had made plans for that weekend were also bummed.

    But I remember looking into this, trying to see if there was anything else that I could possibly do that weekend when I saw a couple of articles saying that a bunch of the artists and the vendors who were going to be at Boston Comic Con that weekend had decided to hell with it.

    They're not going to let terror rule their lives and dictate what they're going to do to have fun. I remember reading that and seeing that were a lot of comic book shops in the Greater Boston area were taking in the artists and the vendors from Comicazi in Somerville all the way to Larry's Comics in Lowell. When I saw that you were going to be at Comicazi, I went.

    I waited outside for a couple of hours and met you, picked up My Little Pony number 6 cover that you had there. I said, "Thank you." Asked you to sign it for me and went on to talk to Don Rosa since the line was out the door and heading down the block.

    Yeah. That's like a crazy line. I was so surprised by all the support and all the fans that came out that day.

    Oh, yeah.

    Wow! That's an amazing story. I'm glad you're able to come out and get a book signed. I'm very happy.

    I'm never going to forget that weekend.

    No, neither will I. It was quite an interesting weekend. We had an impromptu con at the bar that night just and for whichever fans came out, we drew for them. The next day was a store signing. I'm glad it still worked out that I was able to still contribute to the show ... Even though, there was no show! It was cool to still do something before I had to fly home.

    There was no show, but you managed to prove that the show must go on.


    You and every single comic artist who did that proved that day, before this was even coined as a term, what it means to be Boston Strong.


    For that, I thank you.

    You're welcome. Thank you so much. I'm just going to say thank you to everyone who came out that day. They really made it really a memorable trip even with the horrible events that took place.

    It really did end up being a great weekend.

    Yes, I agree.

    To moving on, you've essentially been a regular on the series since that cover. Having done covers for almost each and every single issue of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic.

    Almost, almost.

    Except two issues, 10 and 20 by my last count.

    Oh my gosh, really? WoW! I totally lost track because it's just nonstop ponies. I didn't realize I've done so many covers now!

    Yep! You've done them for every issue except issues 10 and 20 which surprised the heck out of me! Then after thinking about every cover I?ve bought, I was like, "Yep, that makes sense."

    I think for 10 Bobby didn't allow me because it was my first sequential gig with the micro series. He wanted to make sure I hit that deadline because he didn't know how fast I was yet and it was like my first project. He basically went, "Oh, focus on this," which was very good. Then I knew what kind of work load I could handle, and I've learned I can handle a very heavy work load.

    Yes, you've also did three covers for last year's My Little Pony annual issue. Nine covers for the My Little Pony micro series and so far, five covers for the My Little Pony Friends Forever comic book series. Which doesn't even--

    Holy Moly!

    --include the five comic books you've done interior work for.

    Yeah, it's been amazing. I probably can say it's just been an amazing year.

    It's been crazy the last couple of years.

    I agree in a very good way!

    Yet, none of that includes the other work that you did for IDW with IDW Limited.

    Yeah, I did that as well. I got to watercolor all the pieces, so that was really fun. Because I'm like, "Yes, I'm in my element! I can just watercolor!"

    Now, I know Sara Richard did all of the original paintings for the Blue Label editions and God knows how many art cards.

    I have no idea. That girl is on fire!

    But I have to ask, how many full sized watercolor pieces and art cards did you do for The Return of Queen Chrysalis, IDW Limited Edition?

    In all honesty, I can't fully remember. I'm pretty sure it was ... Basically, I have to draw the main six. Each one I had to draw at least six times for the bigger sketch ... The bigger sketch things, I don't remember what they called them. Then I have to redo the same thing for the sketch cards or whatever that equals. It was a lot of drawing.

    Six times six? *whistles*

    Just started doing our math, but it was a lot of drawing. I had to draw the same image over and over and over again, so I got pretty good at drawing the ponies at that point.

    I'll bet. Now, while you've been working for IDW on My Little Pony, you've also worked on a couple of other comic projects for Dynamite Comics and Aspen Comics.

    Actually, the first time I saw your work on something other than My Little Pony was for the Phantom Variant for Red Sonja Number 1.

    Oh, yeah. My dogs are ... Here's a little snippet for you. Those are my dogs on that cover! My two little Shih Tzus made the cover of the Red Sonja!

    That is cool!

    I know! They're lucky dogs! They actually appear in Li?l Vampi in the background in a store window as toys as well.

    How did you go from working at IDW to doing some work at Dynamite?

    I?ve been showing my portfolio to Dynamite for a while. One of the editors saw my work at another show. She really liked it. She was hoping that a project would one day come out that I could assist her with. And Li?l Dynamite came along and she thought I was perfect for the project. I did all the covers, the subscription variants. I also did the full issue of Li?l Vampi. I actually appear in Li?l Vampi! There?s this little blonde girl that appears in the Pantha strip and also in the main story on one page that?s me! That was really fun, because I drew it in my style which was really cool because it's all cutesie! Like a horror monster story with Vampirella for kids. Those amazing to work on that.

    Now, what can you tell us about Li'l Vampi and her struggle to discover why her home town of Stoker Maine is under attack in that story?

    Well, Vampirella is a very curious girl who likes to ready books and she knew something was going wrong in her town. She was determined to figure out what was happening. Let's just say, it wasn't very easy because even her mom got turned into one of these creatures. She had to fight all these creatures off, tried to figure out what's happening, and she's just a little girl! But she could do it all, so it's a really huge story! It's like a horror adventure story for kids. I think anyone who picks up is going to like it. It's super cute. It's super fun. It has lots of monsters. How can you go wrong?

    I can't think of how.

    I don't know.

    Now, in addition to that you?re continuing your interior comic work for My Little Pony on what has been dubbed by the fans, and Equestria Daily?s Sethisto, as The Summer of Trixie.

    Yes, it is The Summer of Trixie!

    (Seth ninja edit: The best summer)

    With My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic Issues 21 and 22. What can you tell us about Trixie and the trouble she gets into?

    Well, I can't tell you much about it yet rather than what was already announced that it's basically a mystery story. I'd probably call it a detective mystery story because diamonds go missing and you have to figure out if it's Trixie who did it or not. Because you know Trixie, she's always doing all these bad things. But has she really turned her life around? Is Trixie really trying to be good? You got to pick up the book to find out.

    It should be interesting when it go on sale next month.

    Oh, I'm excited.

    You also have a cover ready to go for upcoming series from Aspen Comics that is launching next month.

    Yeah. Damsels. Yeah, I got a chance to do a cover for them. Hopefully, I'll have a chance to do more and it's a really fun story. It's a fantasy story that take place in a far away land with all these women. I recommend anyone pick it up because just from like the synopsis I got, it sounds like it's going to be a really fun story. But in addition to that, it was announced that I'm doing the Aspen Free Comic Book Day Book. It's super cute, lots of fun. It's not only a comic, but it's going to be an activity book as well!

    You're doing the Aspen's Free Comic Book Day Book?!

    Yes, I'm so excited!

    Is there anything, any details you can give us about that book? Like what the series could be or-

    Not really. All I could say is that it's a comic and an activity book in one. It's going to be really cute.

    Well then, I have to look forward to it when I see it on the first Saturday in May in 2015.

    It's actually going to be for Halloween?s Free Comic Book Day.


    Yeah, so it comes up later this year.

    This year's Halloween ComicFest?! Nice!


    Well, I know what I'm getting this year on October 25th! *laughs*

    Now, I know you've also done a little bit of work outside of comics. For instance, in 2011 there was a children's book series that came out called Yogurt the Ogre. What can you tell us about that?

    Yes, Yogurt the Ogre was ... I don't even know how many issues. I know it's over six issues that I worked on. It's a children's book about a little ... I was about to say a little yogurt named Ogre! But that?s not right! *laughs*

    It's about a little ogre named Yogurt and his friends. It's him learning the rights and wrongs. Him learning about morals with his friends and he learns by doing stuff wrong just like kids do. When you did something wrong, you need to learn from it. That's how you grow. That's what those books are about. They're really fun, sweet stories where he always gets into a little bit of mischief. You can get a few issues on Amazon and I think iTunes as well. Check them out if you can especially if you have kids because they're really cute.

    And, it's a Canadian publisher, too.

    Which is really good to support the Canadian economy up north.

    Yes. Go Canadians ... And Americans, Americans are cool, too. Everyone's cool, everyone!

    Now, I know from looking at your Twitter feed for the last couple of days that you're a little bit of an anime fan ... Or kind of?

    Kind of. It's funny because I'm not actually. I used to be a big anime fan in grade school. Like I love Sailor Moon and all sorts of animes. I kind of fell out of it in high school in my last few years, but I started watching Attack on Titan recently because everyone kept talking about it. They're like, "You have to check it out. You have to check it out." Then I met one of the voice actors for the show and he was like, "I'm one of the voice actors. You totally have to check it out."

    I finally decide, "Okay, fine. I'll check it out. Holy Moly! It is such a good anime. The story is brilliant. It keeps you on the edge of your seat. Has a very Game of Thrones feel to it where you never know what's going to happen next. I love Game of Thrones, so I got hooked on Attack on Titan and I am looking forward to the new Sailor Moon anime as well. But other than that, I don't watch too many animes. Not recently anyway.

    You just mentioned Game of Thrones, and that brings up another question. If there were to ever be a Game of Thrones comic adaptation, would you try to draw for it?

    I don't know if they would want a cutesie version, which would be quite funny and awesome at the same time! I would totally go for it. But most likely, my style would not even be in their radar. But if they ever want to have a little fun and make it cute and funny and maybe a little violent at the same time, why not. I'm all over for it. I love the series!

    Well, you managed to do that with Li'l Vampi.


    Is there anything else you wanted to cover that I didn't mention?

    Not really. You pretty much covered everything which is really great. I can't think of anything.

    Well then, in that case: Is there anything you want to say to the readers at Equestria Daily before we end this?

    Thank you so much for your ongoing support of Ponies. I'm glad that it really brings people together and it makes us all friends! Everyone has been so wonderful who reads the My Little Pony books and watches the series. I am so honored to be part of such a great fan base. Everyone has been amazing!

    That is awesome to hear! Well, thank you for your time, Agnes. It's been a true pleasure.

    Thank you so, so much! I'm excited to see this online!

    You're very welcome, Agnes. It's been a true pleasure.

    It was a pleasure indeed. Thank you. Have a great day.

    Website: agnesgarbowska.com
    Tumblr: agnesgarbowska.tumblr.com
    Twitter: @AgnesGarbowska
    Deviant Art: agnesgarbowska.deviantart.com