Fiona Staples

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Fiona Staples
Staples at a signing at Midtown Comics in Manhattan.
Nationality Canadian
Area(s) Penciller, Inker, Letterer, Colorist

2011 Joe Shuster Award[1]
2013 Eisner Award[2]
2013 Hugo Award[3]
2013 Harvey Award[4]

2015 Inkwell Awards

Fiona Staples is a Canadian comic book artist known for her work on books such as North 40, DV8: Gods and Monsters, T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents and Saga. She has been cited as one of the best artists working in the industry today.[5]

Early life[edit]

Books that have had a seminal impact upon Staples include The Princess and the Goblin by George MacDonald, Dragon of the Lost Sea series by Laurence Yep, the Redwall series by Brian Jacques, and The Chronicles of Narnia books by C. S. Lewis.[6]


Staples's first published work was "Amphibious Nightmare", a 24-hour comic included in the About Comics anthology 24 Hour Comics Day Highlights 2005.[7] Her first series assignment was 2006's Done to Death, working with writer Andrew Foley for Markosia. She was one of the illustrators of WildStorm's Trick 'r Treat graphic novel, an adaptation of the Michael Dougherty film. She was the penciller and inker of The Secret History of the Authority: Hawksmoor, written by Mike Costa. She also coloured Frazer Irving's art for the 2000 AD story Button Man.

Staples and Brian K. Vaughan at the Midtown Comics booth at the 2012 New York Comic Con.

In March 2012 Image Comics published the first issue of Saga, an ongoing series conceived by writer Brian K. Vaughan.[8] Staples was introduced to Vaughan by their mutual friend, writer Steve Niles, with whom Staples worked on Mystery Society.[6] Vaughan, who had not met Staples in person until just before their panel at the 2011 San Diego Comic-Con, explained his selection of Staples by describing his reaction upon first seeing her work, saying, "Her artwork is incredible. [It] doesn't look like anyone else. She is very unique. When I opened up this file I was like, 'This is going to work!'" Staples is co-owner of Saga,[9] who designed the cast[10] and all the ships and alien races in the story. She also provides painted covers, and hand-letters the narration (using her own handwriting), which is the final work she does after finishing the artwork on a page.[6][11][12]

In 2015, Staples and writer Mark Waid became the creative team for the opening three-issue story arc of Archie Comics' relaunched Archie, in celebration of the character's 75th anniversary. Staples, who had previously provided variant covers for the publisher, contributed her distinctive drawing style, rather than Archie's house style, and designed "a new look and an edgier tone" for the Archie comicbook, whose storylines will portray the character in darker, more complicated situations, though not necessarily for a strictly adult audience.[13][14]

Technique and materials[edit]

Staples at Another Dimension Comics in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

Staples began creating her artwork entirely digitally several years before she began work on Saga, though her process for that series is different from previous ones, for which she characterizes it as "one intense, ongoing experiment." She begins with thumbnails, roughly drawn on printed paper templates. During this stage Staples gives copious thought to the layouts and staging, making it, in her words, the most important part of the process. After scanning the thumbnails, she enlarges them and uses them as rudimentary pencils, and "inks" over them in Manga Studio.

One of the advantages Staples sees in working digitally is the ability to dispense with tight pencils in favor of making corrections in an ad hoc manner, as she finds that penciling in great detail, and re-drawing such artwork a second time in ink, to be boring. In Saga, Staples inks only the figures in pen-and-ink, using a lot of self-shot photo references to finalize the poses, which she does not use in the thumbnail stage. She then imports the art into Photoshop, which she uses to paint the backgrounds entirely in colour,[15] to achieve a look inspired by video games and Japanese animation.[10] At the 2012 Image Expo, Staples described the process by which she produces the art as harkening back to animation cels, in which emphasis is placed on figures and backgrounds.[16] The process, according to Staples, can be time-consuming, depending on the complexity of the environment.

For outdoor environments, she begins by selecting a colour palette and initially blocking in the shapes roughly. She subsequently colours the figures, using flat colours both to make the process quicker and because she feels that painted figures in comics can often look "stiff" and difficult for the reader to "read" quickly. For pages that feature narration by the character Hazel, Staples writes the text using her own handwriting.[15] Vaughan has stated that Staples's style has influenced the direction of the story.[9] The organic forms of most of the series' technology, for example, such as the main characters' wooden rocket ship, is derived from Staples's dislike of drawing mechanical objects.[10] To design the series' various planetary settings, Staples looks to the real world for inspiration and then exaggerates some elements of them. Some rooms on the planet Cleave, for example, were inspired by Cambodian architecture.[12]

Critical reception[edit]

Staples's work on Saga received wide acclaim from numerous reviewers,[17] with Ain't it Cool News characterizing it as "glorious",[18] and P.S. Hayes of Geeks of Doom praising her art as "amazing", saying, "From the gorgeous painted cover all the way through the last page, she delivers in every way that’s artistically possible. It’s got to be tough to be handed a script like this one and try and figure out what to do, but she handles it beautifully. Everything looks like it belongs in the universe. Her backgrounds are elaborate, yet never distracting or too busy and they never take focus off the main characters."[19]

Alex Zalben of MTV Geek predicted readers would "fall head over heels in love" with it,[20] and Greg McElhatton of Comic Book Resources positively compared it to that of Leinil Francis Yu, specifically her use of delicate lines to frame characters with large, bold figures, and her mixture of the familiar and the foreign together in her character designs to create a visually cohesive universe.[21] AICN singled out Staples's handling of grand, sweeping space shots and other genre trappings, as well as her mastery of facial expressions, which AICN felt was perfectly suited to Vaughan's subtle dialogue.[18]

Awards and nominations[edit]


  • 2011 Joe Shuster Award for Outstanding Comic Book Cover Artist for Mystery Society #1-5 (IDW), DV8: Gods and Monsters #1-8 (DC/Wildstorm), Superman/Batman #79 (DC Comics), Acts of Violence: An Anthology of Crime Comics (New Reliable Press), Magus #1 (12 Gauge Comics)[22]
  • 2013 Eisner Award for Best New Series for Saga (Image Comics) (with Brian K. Vaughan)[2]
  • 2013 Eisner Award for Best Continuing Series for Saga (Image Comics) (with Brian K. Vaughan)[2]
  • 2013 Hugo Award for Best Graphic Story for Saga, Vol. 1 (Image Comics) (with Brian K. Vaughan)[3]
  • 2013 Harvey Award for Best Artist for Saga (Image Comics)[4]
  • 2013 Harvey Award for Best Colourist for Saga (Image Comics)[4]
  • 2013 Harvey Award for Best New Series for Saga (Image Comics) (with Brian K. Vaughan)[4]
  • 2013 Harvey Award for Best Continuing/Limited Series for Saga (Image Comics) (with Brian K. Vaughan)[4]
  • 2013 Harvey Award for Best Issue/Story for Saga (Image Comics) (with Brian K. Vaughan)[4]
  • 2013 British Fantasy Award for Best Comic/Graphic Novel for Saga (Image Comics) (with Brian K. Vaughan)[23]
  • 2014 Eisner Award for Best Continuing Series for Saga (Image Comics) (with Brian K. Vaughan)[24]
  • 2014 Eisner Award for Best Painter/Multimedia Artist (interior art) for Saga (Image Comics)[24]
  • 2014 Harvey Award for Best Artist for Saga (Image Comics)[25]
  • 2014 Harvey Award for Best Cover Artist for Saga (Image Comics)[25]
  • 2014 Harvey Award for Best Continuing or Limited Series for Saga (Image Comics) (with Brian K. Vaughan) [25]
  • 2014 Joe Shuster Award for Artist for Saga (Image Comics)[26]
  • 2015 Eisner Award for Best Continuing Series for Saga (Image Comics) (with Brian K. Vaughan)[27]
  • 2015 Eisner Award for Best Penciller/Inker for Saga (Image Comics)[27]
  • 2015 Inkwell Awards for The All-in-One Award for Saga (Image Comics)
  • 2015 Harvey Award for Best Cover Artist for Saga (Image Comics)[28]
  • 2015 Harvey Award for Best Artist for Saga (Image Comics)[28]
  • 2015 Harvey Award for Best Continuing or Limited Series for Saga (Image Comics) (with Brian K. Vaughan) [28]


  • 2010 Eisner Award for Best Penciller/Inker or Penciller/Inker Team for North 40 (WildStorm)[29]
  • 2011 Joe Shuster Award for Outstanding Comic Book Artist for Mystery Society #1-5 (IDW), Northlanders #29 (DC/Vertigo), Fringe: Tales from the Fringe #4 (DC/Wildstorm)[22]
  • 2013 Joe Shuster Award for Cover Artist for Life with Archie #24B (Archie), Dark Horse Presents #10 (Dark Horse), Action Comics #15B, National Comics Madame X #1 (DC Comics), Smoke and Mirrors #1B (IDW), Saga #1-8 (Image Comics)[30]
  • 2013 Joe Shuster Award for Artist for Saga #1-8 (Image Comics)[30]
  • 2013 Harvey Award for Best Cover Artist for Saga (Image Comics)[31]
  • 2014 Eisner Award for Best Cover Artist for Saga (Image Comics)[32]
  • 2014 Hugo Award for Best Graphic Story for Saga, Vol. 2 (Image Comics) (with Brian K. Vaughan)[33]
  • 2014 Hugo Award for Best Professional Artist[33]
  • 2014 Inkwell Awards, All-in-One Award


Interior art[edit]

Cover work[edit]


  1. ^ MacDonald, Heidi (June 20, 2011). "2011 Joe Shuster Award winners announced". The Beat.
  2. ^ a b c Hennon, Blake (20 July 2013). "Comic-Con: 'Building Stories,' 'Saga' top Eisners (winners list)". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 20 July 2013. 
  3. ^ a b "2013 Hugo Awards". Hugo Awards. 2013-04-30. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f Seifert, Mark. September 2013 "Saga Wins Big At 2013 Harvey Awards, Plus Complete List Of Winners" Check |url= scheme (help). 
  5. ^ Salvatore, Brian (July 20, 2012). "Review: Saga #5". Multiversity Comics.
  6. ^ a b c Uzumeri, David (March 14, 2012). "'Saga': Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples Bring a Stellar Sci-Fi Comic Into the World". Comics Alliance. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "ComicsAlliance" defined multiple times with different content (see the help page).
  7. ^ Singh, Arune (2006-02-03). "'Done To Death' Lives On At Markosia This Summer". Comic Book Resources. 
  8. ^ Armitage, Hugh (March 13, 2012). "Brian K Vaughan's 'Saga' launches". Digital Spy.
  9. ^ a b Lewis, Shane (February 26, 2012). "IMAGE EXPO: Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples' "Saga" Panel". Comic Book Resources.
  10. ^ a b c Wolk, Douglas (August 5, 2013). "Masters of the Universe. The space story Saga is the comic world's big hit". Time. p. 54.
  11. ^ Vaughan, Brian K. (w), Staples, Fiona (a). "Chapter One" Saga 1 (March 2012), Image Comics
  12. ^ a b Kepler, Adam W. (October 26, 2012). "Graphic Books Best Sellers: Fiona Staples Talks About 'Saga'". The New York Times.
  13. ^ Schmidt, Gregory (December 14, 2014). "As Archie Nears 75, Riverdale Gets a Youthful Infusion". The New York Times.
  14. ^ Ching, Albert (2014-12-14). "New "Archie" #1 on the Way In 2015 from Mark Waid & Fiona Staples". Comic Book Resources. 
  15. ^ a b Staples, Fiona (w), Staples, Fiona (a). "Fiona's Process" Saga 8: 24-25 (December 2012), Image Comics
  16. ^ Allen, Todd (March 12, 2012). "Advance Review: "Saga" By Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples". The Beat.
  17. ^ Richards, Ron (January 30, 2012). "ADVANCE REVIEW: SAGA #1 (Spoiler Free)". iFanboy.
  18. ^ a b "AICN COMICS REVIEWS: Brian K. Vaughan’s SAGA! FAIREST! UNCANNY X-MEN! AKA! & MORE!!!". Ain't it Cool News. March 14, 2012.
  19. ^ Hayes, P.S. (March 13, 2012). "Comic Review: Saga #1". Geeks of Doom.
  20. ^ Zalben, Alex (March 5, 2012). "The 'Saga' Of Brian K. Vaughan: How He Went From Runaway Kids To Epic Fantasy". MTV Geek.
  21. ^ McElhatton, Greg (March 13, 2012). "Review: Saga #1". Comic Book Resources.
  22. ^ a b Boyd, Kevin (June 2011). "2011 Nominees and Winners (winners list)". 
  23. ^ "Winners of the British Fantasy Awards 2013". British Fantasy Awards. 2013-11-03. 
  24. ^ a b July 2014 "2014 Will Eisner Comic Industry Award Winners" Check |url= scheme (help). Comic-Con International. July 2014. 
  25. ^ a b c MacDonald, Heidi. September 6, 2014 "2014 Harvey Awards unspool" Check |url= scheme (help). 
  26. ^ Boyd, Kevin. September 20, 2014 "The winners of the 2014 Joe Shuster Awards" Check |url= scheme (help). 
  27. ^ a b "Saga, Lumberjanes, Little Nemo Are Top Winners at 2015 Eisner Awards". Comic-Con International. July 2015. 
  28. ^ a b c September 27, 2015 "Baltimore Comic-Con 2015: The Harvey Awards salute Eisner & Feiffer — and celebrate ‘Saga’" Check |url= scheme (help). 
  29. ^ MacDonald, Heidi (8 April 2010). April 2010 "2010 Eisner Award nominations announced" Check |url= scheme (help). The Beat. 
  30. ^ a b Boyd, Kevin. June 2013 "The 2013 Joe Shuster Award Nominees / Les nominés pour le prix Joe Shuster 2013" Check |url= scheme (help). 
  31. ^ Cavna, Michael. July 2013 "2013 HARVEY AWARD NOMS: Chris Ware, ‘SAGA’ among top nominees" Check |url= scheme (help). 
  32. ^ April 15, 2014 "2014 Eisner Award Nominees Announced" Check |url= scheme (help). Comic Book Resources. 15 April 2014. 
  33. ^ a b "2014 Hugo Awards". Hugo Awards. 2013-04-30. 
  34. ^


External links[edit]