David Petersen: Katie, while I figure most people already know about you and your work, talk about the work you do and are best known for.
Katie: Well, I guess I'm most known in the Star Wars fandom for doing things like "how to draw" activities for starwars.com and and their live drawing classes at the San Diego Comic Con, as well as the online comic for Star Wars: the Clone Wars and countless pieces of art for Star Wars trading card sets! i've also done trading card art for DC, Marvel and Lord of the Rings. Currently, i'm very happily working on the Fraggle Rock comic. (oh! and I guess I'm also known for putting cats into everything. It's not a gimmick.... I just like cats.... a lot.)
David: How was working on a Mouse Guard story different than working on a Fraggle or Clone Wars story?
Katie: Mouse Guard stories have more clone troopers. Wait, I think that's the other way around... But really, I love Star Wars. I really do, but with that, I'm working with characters that are already established and have a history that I am in no place to mess around with. Creating this story for Mouse Guard was more freeing because I was coming up with a small group of characters of my own and making them fit into the world of MG. Also, mice are WAY more fun to draw then clone troopers.
David: I know with the Fraggle stories you have worked on, you have worked in a square format before. How do you like it? Do you find it strange to switch back to traditional format for other projects?
Katie: I actually really love the square format. I hate to put it this way but I think squares are cute. (That probably came off sounding as stupid as I think it sounded when i typed it) But really, they are. And I think that you get to have a lot more fun composing a page in a square format. I also really like that, since i'm drawing on a 12"x12" sheet of board, it will fit on a drawing board that i can position on my lap so i can draw while i sit on the couch and watch a movie!
David: So with you being the Queen of Cute, I knew we were going to get an adorable Mouse Guard story from you. But even within your body of work, there is a range of cute-ness, sometimes you aim for a more serious look, other times a so-cute-it-hurts approach. Where does your Mouse Guard artwork fall in there and why?
Katie: I am the Picasso of cute! But, like every artist tortured by visions of cute kittens and fuzzy otters, I have a much deeper, darker side hiding within. The approach I'll be taking with my MG story isn't going to be Bambie-eyed, chubby-cheeked adorable mice with singing songbirds whirling about their heads as they skip merrily through a meadow, it'll be story appropriate (because my story is a little serious!) but, since it is ME we're talking about, I don't think I can get around it being cute at it's core.
David: Mark Smylie had given me a few suggestions for his story. One of them felt like a pure Katie Cook tale, so after asking Mark, we offered it to you as a springboard for your story. However, you offered up a story of your own that I loved even more. Where did that story come from?
Katie: First, I have to say that i did LOVE Mark's idea. I was totally sold on it for a while after you told me about it. But, I also wanted to you see the other story idea that I'd had. Back in college, I took a 300 level English class that was the study of fairy tales and folk lore from around the world... since then, I've really loved reading tales from all over the place. I wanted to write a classic folk tale for the MG universe. So, after i sat and thought about what "lesson" I wanted my story to have, I wrote a story around that. (actually, I wrote a story, hated it, deleted it, then wrote a different one. THAT'S the one I showed to you)
David: I was really impressed by how nicely it all fit together, I wondered if it was based on a real fairy tale. It felt that Authentic. I think it's so great that was intentional.
Katie: Like i said before, I love to read fairy tales, so I've done my research! It's not really based on any one tale in particular, it's more like pulling from a little of column a, a little from column b, a dash from column c and tossing it together with a nice vinaigrette. One of the things that class taught me was how to structure a fairy tale, so I really just followed that so it would have a really classic feeling to it. (Though I did sit down for a while and REALLY think about how i could adapt "The Soldier and Death" into a MG tale, I thought about it for days... but it just wouldn't have worked. boo)
David: Let’s talk about process. How do you take your script to a drawn & inked page? Feel free to talk about materials and supplies.
Katie: As much as I love my Cintiq, I still hand draw all my pages before taking them onto the compute to color them. I draw everything out on Strathmore Smooth Bristol Board using a plain ol' .5 mechanical pencil, then ink using an 01 micron pigma pen. after that, I scan everything into Adobe Photoshop CS4 and color! Although, I do sometimes now do all my roughs on the computer. I just pull up my script in one window, photoshop in another and doodle away on the screen.
David: Since you know you will be coloring the work, does that affect the way you ink? How do you decide when to let the ink or when to let the color do the work?
Katie: My inking style is pretty basic. I like my line work to be clean and meticulous. so, mostly, i just go crazy coloring it later on. I'd much rather have the "undo" button on my side instead of going crazy inking the page and going... "oops, wish i hadn't just put that there..."
David: Speaking of color, What kind of process did you use to color your Legends story?
Katie: After I scan in the black and white art, I flat out all my colors. Then I build shadows, highlights and textures on separate layers from there. My files always have a million layers, it's crazy. i seriously have layers named things like "shadow 2 for rock #4", "flesh highlight 3 nose" and ""wemb trop patn lft shldr". *I* know what it means though, so it's all good.
David: Where can people find out more about Katie Cook and all she’s up to?
Katie: Why they can just visit http://www.katiecandraw.com/! there are also link to my twitter, facebook fanpage, deviantart and more on my site :)
Katie's Story 'A Mouse called Fox' appears in Legends of the Guard issue 3.