With a passion for story telling since childhood, Sina Grace is a lifelong Angeleno who writes and draws comic books as well as crafts web series. Partially based on his life, Self-Obsessed is Graceâ€™s web series that follows the life a cartoonist dealing with his book getting cancelled. As for his comic book work, Grace has written, drawn, or edited for Skybound Comics, Image, Marvel, BOOM!, IDW, and DC Comics. Graceâ€™s latest project is the comic book series Ghosted in L.A., which follows a new college student in L.A. figuring out her life while living with (literal and figurative) ghosts. Wanting to learn more about this series and his background, I was able to interview Grace for ScifiPulse.
Nicholas Yanes: Growing up, what were some stories you loved experiencing? Are there any you still enjoy revisiting?
Sina Grace: Gosh, when I was a kid I would totally re-read The Wizard of Oz and Pippi Longstocking. I still own the six different versions of Oz because I liked the different illustrated versions. I’d just take printer paper and re-tell those stories over and over again in my own chicken scratch. As a comics fan, I like to revisit the books I loved in middle school: Fathom, Battle Chasers…try and figure out what endeared me to them so much.
Yanes: When did you know you wanted to pursue a career as a professional creative? Was there a moment in which this goal crystalized for you?
Grace: Oh, I’ve known that comics were my calling since I was a kid. It’s in my fifth grade yearbook that my dream job is “comic book illustrator.” *nail painting emoji* I don’t know that there was ever one specific moment, I just think that every time I learned about how comics were made, I found I wanted to learn more.
Yanes: One of your current projects is Ghosted in L.A. What was the inspiration for it?
Grace: The idea for Ghosted in L.A. came from wanting to work with editor Shannon Watters, and the desire to tackle an ensemble project. We were chatting, and the idea of a “supernatural Melrose Place” popped up, and I had the skeleton of the concept within like 45 minutes. It was always about a young girl who gets dumped by her boyfriend and finds herself in front of a haunted apartment complex…
Yanes: The city of L.A. is so present that it is almost another character. What elements of the city did you really want to highlight?
Grace: When I was growing up, I didn’t realize what a privilege and luxury it was to have so much access to the entertainment industry in my backyard. Every bar is a venue for local bands. Every standup comic has some sort of monthly event you can find them at. I wanted our protagonist, Daphne, to kind of accidentally keep stumbling into art scenes and not even realize it. That’s why in one issue she goes to a concert to see Rosie Tucker, then visits LACMA for her art history class in the next issue. It doesn’t seem connected at first, but there’s a thread being needled there.
Yanes: On this note, you find out someone you hate is visiting L.A., what do you suggest for them to do while in town? In contrast, what are some places in L.A. youâ€™d recommend to people you like?
Grace: If someone I hated was visiting Los Angeles, I’d basically tell them to go places I’d never end up on my own volition! The Skirball Center (it’s super out of the way for me), the Huntington Library (again, out of the way and eats up the whole day), Venice beach. That stuff. If it was someone I adored, I’d probably have an itinerary set up of taking them to my favorite restaurants, maybe a local hike with a decent view, then finding a nice corner in one of my favorite bars to have a refreshing beverage.
Yanes: In addition to the city of L.A., the setting of Rycroft Manor is brilliant. What locations did you pull from when designing Rycroft?
Grace: Rycroft Manor is an amalgam of buildings that I see when I walk my dog, haha. I would take pictures and send them to artist Siobhan Keenan and say “like this! But with a little of that!”
Yanes: Daphne and the undead residents of Rycroft Manor are amazing characters. Are there one or two you feel closer to than the rest?
Grace: The characters I vibe with most are Shirley and Zola (who shows up in the second arc). Most all of the cast are sketches of folks I know from the various apartment complexes I’ve lived in, but Shirley helped me kind of better understand the sacrifices my mother made raising me and my sister alone… and Zola? Well, “tortured sex positive artist who lived with reckless abandon” is a vibe I knew all too well in my 20s.
Yanes: In addition to writing, you are also an artist. However, you arenâ€™t the artist for Ghosted in L.A. When developing a project when do you decide if you are a good fit for the storyâ€™s art style?
Grace: Deciding on if I’m drawing a project comes from a few pragmatic aspects: scheduling, and shit that needs to be drawn. I had too many commitments when we were concocting Ghosted to handle all of the art duties, so that’s why I just do flashback sequences. With other books, it does boil down to: “I don’t wanna draw exploding buildings and car chases… let’s let someone else do it.”
Yanes: Furthermore, was there a moment in which Siobhan Keenanâ€™s drawings and Cathy Leâ€™s colors brought Ghosted in L.A. to life in an unexpected way?
Grace: Siobhan wrecked me emotionally in issues five and eight of the series…one was a romantic scene where Zola and Daphne are bonding and Zola gets emotional about her death. The other is in issue eight after a super emotional ritual scene, Daphne kind of breaks down in front of Zola. I just love how they interact and Cathy did an amazing job in both scenes to use color to boost the mood.
Yanes: When people finish reading Ghosted in L.A. what do you hope the take away from the story?
Grace: My hope is that when people finish reading the entire series, they’ll have a little more compassion for the folks around them. Maybe they’ll feel a little more forgiving about the decisions that were or weren’t made in the past. Or, ideally, reading Ghosted will leave folks with a smile and a desire to pick up a new talent. I dunno, I just want people to be happy.
Yanes: Finally, what else are you working on that people can look forward to?
Grace: I’m currently handling art duties for the fifth issue of a new Image series I created with my friend Omar Spahi called Getting it Together. It’s pure slice-of-life. Like a modern take on friends but with lots more ethnic ambiguity and queer folks and sex scenes. That book is a lot of fun. I’m wrapping up a series at IDW called Read Only Memories, which is a spin-off from the video game. There’s a Green Lantern story I wrote for the 80th Anniversary special. Then lots of secret stuff đź™‚