At one of the many churro charts at C2E2, I chatted with Liana Kangas (they/her), an artist and writer with work under their belt which includes Star Wars, Star Trek, TRVE CVLT (IDW), Know Your Station (BOOM Studios), among other titles and a myriad of iconic covers. We talked about sandwiches, color palettes, variant covers and more on the C2E2 floor.
Nikki: What is your favorite sandwich?
Liana: So, I am from the south. It’s a Pub sub. It’s an Italian sandwich with Boar’s head, white bread, just doused in oil and vinegar. And salt and pepper. You can’t forget the salt and pepper. And banana peppers! Have to have the banana peppers. They are a requirement.
Nikki: I get that. I love banana peppers. If I want or crave banana peppers on something, it just isn’t the same.
Liana: I think we would be good to get lunch together because we would choose the same things.
Nikki: Absolutely. We would get exactly what we want.
Your art always has such a wonderful poppy color palette, how do you build a color palette for a book like Know Your Station?
Liana: Well for that book specifically, because it’s sci-fi, I wanted it a little fantastical, but was also trying to be realistic in terms of what I picked for the uniforms for the workers…they wouldn’t have fabrics that the rich billionaires would have. So there was a lot of thought process that went into that. In terms of colors for something like TRVE KVLT, we leaned heavily on Gab Contreras, our colorist. We went back and forth on a whole bunch of color palettes, specifically on the uniforms because it’s so iconic. You can’t do McDonald’s colors because we didn’t want to get sued. It’s very much playing with neon colors, like 90s and 80s, and working and trusting collaborators to entrust that they will not hate me the entire time while they’re coloring it.
Nikki: I want to add that you have the best eye makeup – absolutely iconic use of colors. When putting on my makeup today, I considered the fact that I was going to interview you.
Liana: Your makeup looks great!
Nikki: (I think I died a bit at this point, based on my memory of the event. How does one recover?) Wow. That made my day. I’m sure nobody cares about my eye makeup, but that means a lot. (I remember blushing. Truly, a highlight to have an eye makeup complement from Liana and if they ever created a palette, I would be the first to purchase.)
Your covers are amazing. When working on a cover, how do you approach what the cover looks like versus what is inside of that, especially since buyers may not know what is inside?
Liana: My main job is to reflect somewhat or mostly what’s in the book while attracting somebody from the shelves to buy it while using my color palettes that I’m known for now, which is important. So I am looking at it from the lens of putting my “filter” on it and being like “what would this world look like in my style?” But it makes sense when you open the page and it is completely different artwork. Variant covers are very much an interesting marketing concept, especially with single issues. I really try to collaborate with the creators of the book while keeping in mind that they are cool with my style and having a fun time with it, honestly.
Nikki: You did covers for each issue of End After End. Which was your favorite character to draw?
Liana: Catha. 100%. I think a lot of people didn’t expect me to – when they saw it they said “wait, you drew that?” because a reek is not what I would normally, typically draw. Like horror, fantastical monsters – I think specifically monsters – people were like “whoa.” So when Tim (Daniel) and DB (Andry) saw the drawing they were like “Liana! This is your best work. This is so amazing!” And still be able to keep my style with bright orange colors and yellows and stuff.
I don’t know if a lot of people know this but the entire team let me pick Catha’s colors. So the first cover was the decision for making her entire color palette. Which is such an honor to me because Kurt (Michael Russel) is a phenomenal colorist and I love his work so much. It was really cool to get to work with the entire team and also Kurt to see through his lens. He is one of my favorite colorists.
Nikki: My first con was C2E2 in 2022. I had no idea what I was doing. What is your advice for somebody going to a con for the first time?
Pack a backpack with tons of water, a first aid kit, bandaids, snacks. Save up a ton of money because you’re definitely going to spend money. Maybe don’t bring a credit card your first time. Dress up! Have fun! Get excited about being fun in this very fun and supportive environment. And have a great time.
Thank you, Liana! It was great hanging out by the churro cart!
Liana: It was great hanging out and talking to you. This was awesome.
Nikki: Thank you! And yay for churros!
Liana and I attempted a selfie just as a tribute to awesome eye makeup and churros, but I suck at selfies. Still, it warmed my heart and as we wandered through the floors of McCormick Center at C2E2, we chatted about other things that were gender-affirming for me. I cannot express how important that moment was for my non-binary self.
Thank you, Liana. Truly.
Check your local comic shops for TRVE KVLT and Know Your Station.
You don’t need to go to C2E2 to find Liana, you can find her on Twitter at: lianakangas