Here’s Looking At You: Fiona Staples

FionaStaples
Fiona Staples is one of many women proving comic books are more than just a “boys club” [IMAGE CREDIT: © Luigi Novi / Wikimedia Commons]
Today is International Women’s Day, which means there’s no better time to shine the spotlight on a female pop culture creator in this month’s Here’s Looking At You profile.

Once again, we’re going to return to the world of comics, this time to highlight the brilliance of Fiona Staples, a phenomenal artist who has broken through the “boys club” culture of the industry in order to rise to the very top of her field.

MADE IN CANADA
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Staples has illustrated many of the biggest characters in comics

Hailing from Calgary, Canada, Fiona Staples has been an active part of the comics scene since the mid-2000s.

Her artwork has graced the interiors of books for virtually every major publisher, including DC, Marvel, Image, 2000AD, IDW and Archie Comics.

She’s also a prolific cover artist, with her striking and sumptuous visual style allowing titles as diverse as Superman/Batman, The Wicked + The Divine and DV8 to overshadow other books on retailers’ shelves.

Most recently, Staples’ work received prominent attention when she – along with writer Mark Waid – oversaw the successful relaunch of Archie, reimagining and revitalising the Riverdale gang for a new generation of readers.

But perhaps her most impressive achievement has been her role as co-creator and ongoing artist ofSaga, which she co-created with Brian K. Vaughan. A masterful sci-fi/fantasy mash-up for adults with a heartfelt family story at its core, Saga has consistently ranked among the very best comics on the marketfor the past five years and counting.

It’s not just me saying it, either – thanks to Saga, Staples has netted numerous accolades, including the Eisner Award, Shuster Award, Hugo Award, Harvey Award and Inkwell Award.

MORE THAN JUST PRETTY PICTURES
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Together with co-creator Brian K. Vaughan, Staples is crafted a modern classic with Saga

The huge haul of awards racked up by Staples shouldn’t really come as a shock, as she is, quite simply, one of the very best artists working in comics today. From the painterly, sweeping vistas and human drama of Saga to her ultra-hip take on the once tragically-dated Archie, Staples couples an incredibly versatile style with a total command of virtually every artistic and storytelling technique.

Her organic, sketchily-rendered characters are filled with personality and emotion, and she’s proven herself capable of convincingly bringing to life anything imaginable, including the crazy alien worlds and creatures of Saga, where a character with a TV for a head is just the tip of the iceberg!

But what really helps Staples stand out from the crowd of “pretty pictures” within the industry is the clarity of her layouts; each panel and camera angle perfectly chosen to ensure that the dramatic requirements and pace of the story work in tandem with the narrative, resulting in easy to follow pages brimming with energy and feeling.

MAKING HER MARK IN MALE-DOMINATED INDUSTRY
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Staples (along with writer Mark Waid) launched the successful refresh of the main Archie series

Perhaps more than any other pop culture industry, comic books has long been a notoriously male-dominated field. Although this has certainly improved over the last few decades, the fact remains that a high profile female creator was (and to a degree, still is) the exception, rather than the norm.

As such, whilst Fiona Staples talents and body of work would already be staggering on merits alone, when you consider the critical and commercial success she has achieved within such a guy-dominated environment, one can’t help but be even more impressed than before.

However, even more than this, perhaps Staples’ greatest non-artistic accomplishment is that she inspires women and young girls everywhere who want to follow in her footsteps, by proving that not only can a woman make it in the comics business, she can actually make it all the way to the top, too – which is a pretty damn fantastic message to be able to share this International Women’s Day.

That’s all from me! Now it’s your turn – what do you love about Fiona Staples work? What’s your favourite story/series she’s worked on? Let me know in the comments below or on Twitter or Facebook!

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Here’s Looking At You: Fiona Staples

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