In recent years furry artists of all types have been getting more mainstream recognition (“It’s about damn time!” we hear you shout). The world is catching up to a fact we already knew: the fandom is comprised of some of the most talented young artists, writers, and musicians around. With Comic-Con International happening this week, fandom favorite Teagan Gavet – perhaps better known as one half of Blotch – is up for the Russ Manning Most Promising Newcomer Award for her work on Nordguard. That’s called officially arriving, folks, and it’s a pretty big deal.
The Russ Manning award is a companion award to the Eisners put on every year at Comic-Con. The Eisners are The Grammys of comics, and the Russ Manning award is Best New Artist. Being nominated for a Manning award puts Gavet into the same realm as comic legends like Scott McCloud, Jeff Smith (Bone), and David Petersen (MouseGuard), all previous winners who will vote on this year’s nominees.
Gavet is technically a newcomer to professional graphic storytelling (her previous graphic novel collaboration, Dog’s Days of Summer, saw a limited release), but she’s been working on storytelling for years.
“I went to college for animation so I did a lot of storyboarding,” Gavet explained. “I think they’re pretty similar. The way I approach layouts for comics is like I’m going to be filming it. I think that keeps it smooth and easy to understand what’s going on.”
It’s a technique that’s very apparent throughout Across Thin Ice, book one in the Nordguard trilogy. The opening mining scene (Gavet’s favorite in the book) feels like a scene out of a spy thriller, and each panel distills the important details without confusion or clutter. As anyone who has tried to do comics can attest, it is an extremely hard thing to pull off well.
And it’s not as if Across Thin Ice is an easy story to tell regardless. The pacing switches from languid to frenetic repeatedly. For Gavet, the most difficult scene in the book is the climactic finale where ravens attack while the group crosses a river.
“There were a lot of elements. There were a lot of underviews and overviews, and a lot of action.”
But perhaps more importantly…
“It’s really difficult to find references to ravens attacking people!”
Apparently Alfred Hitchcock’s classic The Birds relies too heavily on dead crows on strings to be of much use.
Across Thine Ice is not a shoe-in for the award, and Gavet is up against four other talented newcomers. In fact, Nordguard may well be the least known book in the list that includes the critically acclaimed Helldorado, Night of 1,000 Wolves, and even the reboot of Voltron. But it’s a huge achievement to be nominated, one that should give her a bit of swagger at Comic-Con this year (“Hi I’m one of the five most talented new comic artists in the country. Nice to meet me.”)
Yet Gavet stays humble, and is currently working on the second book in the Nordguard trilogy, Under Dark Skies.
“All of Across Thin Ice is a complete learning experience. Going into the second book has been way easier. You pick up on the method and it becomes more streamlined.”
Regardless of the outcome, the work that Teagan Gavet and Tess Garman (whose watercolors are breathtaking and bring the story to life) is finally being recognized as not just great furry art, but great art, period.
More information on the Russ Manning award can be found on the Comic-Con website.