Smash Pages Q&A: Audrey Mok on ‘Archie’ and more

The ‘Heroine Chic’ artist discusses her work on ‘Josie and the Pussycats,’ the latest issue of ‘Archie,’ how she works and more.

Audrey Mok made a big impression when Josie and the Pussycats #1 came out in late 2016. Some of us knew her for her work on the comic Heroine Chic, but her work on Josie managed to straddle the original work of Dan DeCarlo and put her own spin on the characters and their designs. She found a way to visually balance the madcap humor with honest emotion, and find interesting ways to draw both battle scenes and concert scenes with equal ease.

Since Josie wrapped, Mok has been drawing Archie beginning with issue #23. Issue #31 of the series is out this week, and I asked Mok a few questions about her career and how she works.

How did you come to comics?

Drawing has always been a part of me since I could remember.

I watched a lot of cartoons and animated movies when I was a kid, I didn’t discover comics until elementary school. At that time, one of my favorite shows was CardCaptor Sakura. I later found out it was originally a manga series created by CLAMP. I was completely hooked with the medium ever since.

Now the first comic I saw that you drew was Heroine Chic. Was that actually your first comic?

Yes! Heroine Chic was my first published online comic book. I made a lot of fan books and zines before then, I still feel very lucky and honored that David liked my work enough to ask me to be the interior artist for Heroine Chic.

How did you end up working with David Tischman?

David stumbled upon my work on Twitter, and approached me about his project on Heroine Chic.

How did you end up working on Josie and Pussycats?

I was approached by Archie Comics about the upcoming Josie and the Pussycats series when I was still working on Heroine Chic.

Were you familiar with Archie and Josie?

Honestly, I was more familiar with Josie than the main Archie characters. When I was little, I watched the Josie and the Pussycats Hanna-Barbera cartoon quite a lot, so I already knew the characters back then. I had vague impression of the main four characters, especially Jughead with his signature crown beanie. It was later in 2015 when the Archie main title relaunched, I started reading it and quickly became a fan of the series.

When you were drawing Josie were you working off model sheets? How much freedom did you have as far as drawing them?

I was asked to work on some modernised designs for the new series based on the original character designs by Dan DeCarlo before starting on the book.

I ask because one of the things that jumped out at a lot of us reading the series was how you were able to incorporate a lot of small artistic touches into the book.

I was very lucky to be given full freedom on designing the costumes throughout the series, both from the writers and the editors.

I’ve always enjoy dressing up characters based on their style and personality. I believe what a character wears says a lot about him/her, it is a part of storytelling and a way to let audiences learn more about certain character. Small touches make huge differences, it also makes the story more convincing and real.

So how did you end up drawing Archie?

When I was still drawing Josie and the Pussycats, the editors asked if I’m interested in being the new artist for the Archie series, and I said yes.

How have you found the series and what has been the biggest challenge for you in drawing the book?

It’s been an honor to be able to work on the series with this incredible team. I have worked on two story arcs for the Archie main title. The “Heart of Riverdale” tells a more intense story full of emotions, I still remember tearing up when reading the first script for this arc.

The biggest challenge when drawing Archie would be finding the balance between drama and humor, especially sometimes both could be found happening in the same page. But I love challenging myself to new things, so that quickly becomes something I enjoy very much when working on this series.

Walk us through how you work. Once you get a script, what happens?

After reading the script, I begin working on thumbnails. I like doing thumbnails and sketches in coffee shops, it actually helps me relax and focus. After that, I’ll get back to my desk and work on a more refined digital layout according to my thumbnails, have them printed, and start inking. After completing the inks, I’ll scan in the pages, do some fixing, once I’m happy with the pages, I’ll send them out to the team.

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