Paige Braddock, Creator of Jane's World

February 9, 2007

    There is no shortage of talent in the hands of Paige Braddock. Skilled with the pen, clever at humour and practiced at producing a good storyline that captures the attention of both gay and straight fans, she holds several interesting positions in the cartooning sphere:

  • Senior Vice President and Creative Director at Charles M. Schulz Creative Associates
  • Creator of Jane's World , an extremely popular and entertaining comic strip turned comic book, featuring a funny, intelligent, unlucky-in-love young lesbian woman and her friends, both gay and straight. It's definitely not another women's dieting cartoon.

     Paige Braddock was one of those kids - art was her passion even as a child. born in California and raised in Mississippi, she just knew she wanted to be in comics. She attended the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, earning a Master of Fine Arts degree. On graduating she began working as an illustrator in the newspaper business, including the Chicago Tribune and the Atlanta Journal- Constitution. Paige's dream while at these day jobs was to create a comic strip series that would be published in newspapers. She worked steadily toward that goal, developing comics concepts while at her day job.

    After twelve years of working in visual journalism, Paige left to attend graduate studies in Theology. It wasn't long before a new path opened before her:
The great Charles Schulz hired Paige to join his team at Charles M. Schulz Creative Associates. It is the business arm of Schulz' creative work, overseeing new projects and licencing. Using her amazing drawing skills, Paige draws the Peanuts characters almost as well as Charles Schulz did himself. She puts this talent to use producing pop-up books and other Peanuts-related items.

(The Snoopy postage stamp issued by USPS in April 2001 was designed by Paige.)

     Paige took Schulz' theories on cartooning to heart, following his idea that character is the most important part. "Really good comics are about character and strength of character, instead of having these comics being one dimensional," Paige said on SequentialTart.com.*(2) Make characters that can be known and loved, that is the key to comics success. It certainly worked for Charles Schulz, and it is working for Jane's World , too.

Braddock1

Braddock4

     Jane's World was developed in 1991, and began as an on-line comic strip in 1996. The strip found a home in print in alternative newspapers because, said Braddock on afterellen.com, it wasn't gay enough for gay papers but too gay for straight papers." *(1) Building a strong fan base, United Media picked up the strip in 2001, running it on comics.com.

     Two years later, Paige dropped her dream of a newspaper-style comic strip. Jane's World was transformed from a regular strip into a serial comic book. "Jane's World Volume 1 " was published in July 2003, as a compilation of the strip. There are now many original volumes available - not compilations - up to Number 16 on bookstore websites. With Issue Number 13, Jane's World is published bi-monthly. But be prepareed; they sell out rapidly.

Braddock3

    And because Jane's World is now in comic-book form on comics.com, the usual format for a daily comic just doesn't suit the art form.

    The daily comic doesn't fit a traditional, tiny horizontal slot. It needs more space and for that privilege, it provides a longer story line and entertainment. A full page of the comic book appears on the comics site, to the delight of fans of all walks of life.

     Due to the popularity of Jane's World, Paige cut her time at Schulz Creative Associates down to three days a week. To keep up with the comic book schedule of bi-monthly publication, she draws 20 pages of her comic book a month. Her storylines are built on real life inspiration, changing the names and details to maintain privacy. She doesn't like to put the focus on herself as a lesbian cartoonist - she's "just a cartoonist and it's just a funny book and it just happens to be gay."

Braddock2

    An old-fashioned artist, Paige uses quill pen and a bottle of ink.to draw her zany comic. (She must have a really steady hand to use a quill!) She scans her finished work into the computer for coloring and gray-scaling. For her detailed backgrounds, she uses a digital camera to take reference photos for locations.*(3)

    Paige was nominated for an Eisner Award in 2006 under the Best Writer/Artist - Humour section. An abundance of Jane merchandise is now available, from t-shirts to mugs and, of course, the comic books. For a small fee, you can download early pages of the next instalment, too. Jane's World has arrived.

     Making her home in Sebastopol, California, Paige lives only 50 miles from the big city of San Francisco. She makes appearances around the world as a guest speaker at numerous comic and cartooning events, and will be appearing at Comicdom Con on March 3-4, 2007, in Athens, Greece.

     Haven't seen Jane's World yet? Give it a try. An adult-oriented comic, it has adventure, mystery quirkiness and a lot of fun. Just close your eyes and go to the next page if you don't want to see any girls kiss.

Sources:

http://comics.com/janes_world/

http://www.paigebraddock.com/

*(1) http://www.afterellen.com/archive/ellen/Print/2006/5/janesworld.html

*(2) http://www.sequentialtart.com/archive/sept04/art_0904_1.shtml

*(3) http://www.staple-austin.org/articles/braddock2005/

© Susanna McLeod 2007
TheCartoonists.ca