During the day, Stephanie Haigney assumes the role of a mild-mannered shop clerk, helping the patrons of Nevada Fine Arts find the materials to bring their artistic visions to life. In her private life, however, she consults with superheroes, battles mysterious beasts, and breathes life into worlds invisible to rest of us. The 22-year-old Haigney is a comic book artist who released her longest project to date in August, and will soon be releasing her own original web comic series.
“I decided in high school that there was nothing else that seemed more perfect than doing [art] as a career,” Haigney said. “So, I was like, ’fuck it.’ I’m going to basically say screw what everyone else says and just do what I want. Because if I don’t, I’m going to be very unhappy and very unsatisfied with my life.”
Haigney’s newest full-length comic, Divine Intervention, was written by local author Spencer Stoner and is the first installment in his Ophelia Legacy graphic novel series. The story, according to Haigney, is essentially a fantasy-world murder mystery. After approaching Stoner about illustrating his work, Haigney began the collaborative process of designing characters—a specialty of hers, she said—drafting individual pages and adapting Stoner’s script into the dialogue box format with which comic book fans are familiar.
“He did draft a lot of these characters’ designs and had very specific elements that they had to have in the big designs,” Haigney said. “I want to say it’s usually the case for comics and, like, scripts and stuff is that these characters are already planned out as far as what they should look like. It’s just how they actually look like is up to the artist’s style.”
While attending Reed High School, Haigney discovered both traditional Western comic books and Japanese manga, and grew to love the storytelling capacity of the medium. She dedicated her free time to improving her self-taught style, which incorporates elements of both.
Haigney is currently working on the second installation of Stoner’s series, but also plans to release her own original comic on the free digital platform Web Toons on Halloween night—at midnight, specifically. The comic, Fears, takes place in a fictional world where her characters’ real-world phobias manifest as invisible spirits that hunt their victims—and consume them whole.
“So, like, if you’re afraid of being buried alive, they’ll have, like, big claws for digging stuff, or be more mole-like, or whatever,” Haigney said. “You just can’t get rid of them. Basically, they haunt you until they’re able to kill you with that specific fear that they embody.”
One of Haigney’s other specialties is a part of the illustration process called storyboarding, wherein she lays out a rough sequence of how a visual story might progress through rough sketches and dialogue—an integral part of the animation and feature film making process. After taking courses on animation both online and in-person, including a Truckee Meadows Community College course taught by former Simpsons animator Brian Wells, Haigney decided to move to Austin, Texas, at the end of the year to find work in an animation studio.
“I’ll be leaving at the end of this December, so really soon,” Haigney said. “It’d be really rare to find that kind of work here. But there, you could get on Craigslist and see postings for animation and games studios all the time.”