A cat sits sunning himself on a cushion in front of a window while a variety of otherworldy creatures look on. No, this isn’t the opening scene of a new fantasy novel. Rather, it is the sight that one beholds as they enter the inner sanctum of comic book artist, Colleen Doran.

Having recently suffered a nasty flood that forced her out of her old studio, Colleen relocated to room in her home that was originally a guest suite. “I was saving to create a purpose-built studio in an outbuilding,” she says, “but the flood put a stop to that. I no longer felt secure there. I’m just grateful that the flood didn’t happen after I’d spent thousands — that would have been terrible.”

Colleen's Studio

In the middle of the studio is Colleen’s main drawing table, its dark wood finish gleaming in the glow of a full-spectrum lamp. It is bedecked with a drawing board and a blank sheet of paper waiting to be filled with whatever flight of fantasy Colleen imagines next. Alongside is a taboret that houses a collection of pens and brushes. The workspace is completed by a black padded chair.

“The big improvement is that the new place has so much more room to spread out. I have never had so much designated work space, so I now have shelves and files and room to spread out papers. Previously, I had to cram everything into boxes, and sort of shuffle and yadda yadda. I lost crap every day. Now there’s more than enough work, table and file space. Thank goodness!”

Colleen's Drawing Table

Directly in front of the drawing table is Colleen’s old tv set, good for viewing inspirational video tapes when the work day drags long into the night. The outline of Sean Bean is burned into the phosphor tube. Behind is a bookcase filled to overflowing with books on art. Atop that, stand several detailed sculptures of various Lord of the Rings characters. The Lord of the Rings has been a favourite of Colleen’s since she was a little girl.

Colleen's Easel

A second drawing table stands by the opposite wall, currently home to a light box. In one corner, an easel holds an original drawing by fantasy artist, Donato Giancola. A Donato oil painting, “Sir Percival on the Quest for the Holy Grail,” holds pride of place above Colleen’s drawing table. Signed photos, too, adorn the artist’s walls. Book cases and shelving are crammed into every available space. Wooden map chests and flat files keep Colleen’s art safe.

Colleen's Light Box

The second room of the suite, accessed through a pair of French doors, doubles as an office. It is here that Colleen’s computer is set up, complete with a large format scanner. With today’s high-tech production methods for comics the scanner is a must as it allows Colleen to send her art directly to the editor’s office electronically. Before the wonders of the internet were commonplace, artists had to rely on the postal service to deliver their art. The new medium is much faster and the danger of losing art is a thing of the past.

Colleen's Computer

Re-organising her studio and office space has allowed Colleen to finally get caught up on a lot of outstanding business matters. “My shiny new office enables me to be shiny new organized,” she says. “Organizing is so much easier. I was able to get a huge load of papers down to two boxes, and I’ve now sorted the vital papers down to just an inch high stack.”

Here, then, is the workspace of a comics artist. It’s warm, cosy and inviting.

It’s a place where dreams are made reality.

Colleen's Cat