Interview with Sylvan Migdal (Curvy)

9 Nov Curvy2

Erotic webcomics have a very poor reputation. In many cases they are little more poorly illustrated fetishism with little to no narrative. However, Curvy is one of the few that demonstrate why we shouldn’t completely dismiss the genre. Fun, character-driven, imaginative, liberal and wholly original are just a few of the words to describe the comic. We interview the creator, Sylvan Migdal, about female reader’s, generating money and the state of erotic webcomics.

You have a particularly distinct style. What are your influences?
It’s hard to describe your own influences. Any artist has to be a sponge for all manner of cultural crud. You aren’t going to be conscious of all the ways it affects you. I don’t draw like Bill Watterson or Matt Groening or Moebius, but they’re some of the artists I read as a kid who helped form my whole image of what these ‘comic’ things are.

To zoom in a little closer, I’d like to give props to Jess Fink, Colleen Coover and Molly Kiely, whose work specifically started me on the road to drawing porn. One thing those three artists have in common is that they know how to make sex look fun and frivolous and comfortable. I’m sure my brain stole bits from all of them as I was developing Curvy.

As your webcomic has a narrative, do you prefer to write out stories as you go or plan them out ahead?
I need to have a good idea of where I’m going, but I don’t write a complete script first. Before I start drawing any graphic novel, I’ll write dozens of pages of notes and a rough outline of the story. It gradually turns into a script as I go, but I try to leave plenty of room for improvisation.

What do you feel the right balance of erotic elements in the script is?
I don’t think there’s a right balance. It’s simply whatever amount of sexy stuff the story calls for…plus maybe a little extra.

Do you feel criticism of erotic webcomics is too harsh?
I can’t remember ever being personally criticized for making an erotic webcomic. Unless you count my partner’s awkward SPX encounter with a couple of representatives from the consulate of Uzbekistan.

I hope it shows that we’re starting to become less uptight as a society, but it probably just means the uptight people haven’t found me yet.

What has been your favourite plot-line to write so far?
Maybe this is cheating, but I’ll say the grand finale of Curvy. I won’t even start drawing it for a while yet, but the elements are all in place and I think it’s going to be a good time.

What has the response been like from female readers?
There’s sometimes an assumption in the comics world that you have to do something special to appeal to women. But women like fun stories and pretty pictures (and smut!) just like men do. It’s only if you go off the rails and start doing really weird things to all the female characters that it gets complicated.

If anything, I get the impression men have a little tougher time dealing with Curvy than women do. Men have spent decades being fed industrially produced porn that’s designed to home in on our sleaziest impulses. It’s not hard to feel a little confused and guilty about the whole genre. I hope Curvy can be a small part of the process by which porn eventually becomes associated in people’s minds with fun rather than creepiness.

You once helped form a now defunct webcomic collective called Turbocool. Why do you feel it didn’t last?
I was a teenager who didn’t know the first thing about how to run a webcomic collective. I probably still don’t, but I’m no longer currently in the midst of failing at it, so chalk on up for experience.

How successful has Curvy Scouts been in generating a revenue?
It was a little scary to commit to drawing a whole comic for what might be just a tiny club of subscribers. Thankfully, readers have been very supportive of the project. I haven’t quit my day job, but the Curvy Scouts stories certainly pay better than the comics I publish for free. And I’ve enjoyed having an excuse to draw goofy little side stories in the Curvy multiverse.

What advice would you offer to budding webcomic artists?
I don’t think I have a one-size-fits-all advice, other than: make good comics, and have fun doing it

Interview with Rebecca Clements (KinokoFry, Ruffle Hall)

27 Oct Ruffle Hall

Certain words are often thrown about to describe the style of a webcomic – colourful, vibrant, energetic – to the point where they lose meaning; but the work of Rebecca Clements is one of the few times where such descriptions are spot on. From the Seussian environments and kaleidoscopic characters to the childlike humour of adult topics – her work is nothing short of a joy to read.

You have a unique, vibrant artistic style where every drawing seems to be bursting with life, where did you develop this style?
That’s a difficult thing to answer, outside of saying that it happened and continues to happen over many many years and many many comics. Like anything, it’s a lot of subtle influences working on you bit by bit, some more subconscious than others. I guess it reflects both the typical kinds things that I enjoy in others’ art, as well as a very conscious desire to create expressive comics and illustration. Whether simple or complex, that’s just more fun/interesting/meaningful to look at. Expressive lines, expressive colours, expressive concepts…. I learned more and more what a wonderful tool for storytelling these are.

Perhaps the other reason is that I am an EASILY bored person I have to keep the drawing fun for myself.

How much time would you normally spend on a typical KinokoFry strip?
It varies from a few hours to a few days, but typically around 10 hours on average, I guess.

Many of your strips are experimental, whether in formatting or style, did you intentionally experiment when drawing?
Yes, I am always playing around and learning more. I just cannot stick to the one thing for long, but I think this is the common experience that keeps us all challenging ourselves and excited about getting through life (when we have the chance).

Are there any characters of yours that have been particularly fun to write?
It changes, of course. I definitely really enjoyed writing stories for Nathan (the blue cookie guy), and I really love doing Me and G stories. I like writing my own character, and I guess there are all kinds of factors behind anyone liking writing themselves.

There is sometimes a strange juxtaposition in your work of a childlike and innocent visual style with quite adult themes, such as your guide to drawing ‘you-know-whats’. Is there any reason why this is so common in your work?
Well, I am an adult and these things that are part of my experience in life. And, like most adults, I’m still and will always be a kid too. Or rather, what we associated with being childlike is still very much present in our adult experience. I think only very, very serious people would try to deny that. I think one of the truly wonderful aspects of adulthood is the ability to be all of these things.

What was the inspiration behind Ruffle Hall?
Ah, well… I started writing Ruffle Hall so many years ago now, some of my ideas have morphed a bit, but I wanted to write the kind of story for both kids and adults that I myself wanted to read and thought should exist; with fun and mysteries and imagination for the hell of it, and good humour and charm etc., but also something I wouldn’t get tired of writing (or reading). Something that could always be any story I wanted. And that is still true.

Are there any webcomics you currently enjoy reading?
Right now I don’t read any, my life has been busy with work, study and many many other kinds of life experiences that I wanted to sink into, I just found myself out of the habit, and enjoying the break immensely. I have been mostly reading about urban design and things like that. Now, I look forward to finding some old favourites and exciting new things.

You have previously said that fellow artists such as Patrick Alexander encouraged you and helped you establish yourself. How important would you say having a network of fellow artists is?
Imperative, I think, for at least certain aspects. That said, there’s no reason anyone can’t just create what they want without artistic peers or influence. People make art and always have. People who make things building off of the work of others like most of us will go in certain directions and excel in certain ways, and people who make art in varying degrees of a vacuum are going to make an entirely different, and totally fascinating, kind of art.

You have taken a sabbatical off webcomics recently, can you elaborate on your reasons for doing so?
Will soon, in comic form.

Do you think you will return to making regular webcomics any time soon?
See above. Most definitely.

Interview with Christopher Reineman (Feel Afraid)

19 Oct feelafraid2

If the title alone doesn’t tell you, Feel Afraid is a comic series in a world which is often despairing, supernatural and unsettling. Yet here the demons are lovelorn and the ghosts are weighed down under the pressures of haunting houses. This is where the strip’s success lies, in creating a disturbing world with characters who are strangely loveable.

The title ‘Feel Afraid’ immediately establishes the darkly comic nature of your series. Can you tell us a bit about how you came up with the title?
The title seems to have caught on well, I didn’t really think much of it when I started making the comic but I’ve never heard anything negative about it so I guess I did well.

Your comic can be very unsettling, often focusing on the supernatural and horrific as well as issues of existence and mortality. What attracts you to these themes?
I’m really into the sort of theme of the realism of being alive and how it can be interesting or boring, and adding an aspect of supernatural stuff to it? Sorry if that might be a boring answer but it’s something that just comes naturally so I’ve never thought about it much.

Many of the typically supernatural characters are portrayed as having everyday problems and anxieties. Why is this such a good source of comedy?
I suppose because there’s something really relatable about everyday anxieties and fears, and when you put those issues into some sort of of creature that’s normally seen as being very removed from real life – there’s a humour to it. Or something.

Are there any characters in your strip that stand out as favourites to write? Any that fans particularly love?
I could honestly write Tiny Ghost comics every day but I don’t really want to overdo that. People seem to be pretty into Tiny Ghost, which is understandable – he/she is pretty cute.

There are hints of other dark writers and cartoonists on your work, a few strips that wouldn’t be out of place in a Lovecraft novel. What are your influences?
As far as dark writing I don’t think I can pick out any solid influences. It’s all about notions really, a bunch of novels and pop culture mixing around in my skull.

The artistic style of Feel Afraid has strengthened as the series progressed, something quite common with webcomics. Is this because you became more confident about your skills and the nature of the strip, or are there other reasons why the style has developed?
Really what I’ve tried to make sure of is that I ALWAYS have fun making the comic, and one thing I don’t find fun is sticking to just one style or not changing for the sake of keeping an aesthetic or something. I’ve also become a lot more comfortable with drawing.

You used Kickstarter to help establish the strip and get it going. Could you tell us a little more about that?
Well, the strip started out on a forum with a pretty limited number of readers and I was strapped for cash so I just made a Kickstarter to get money for a site. It worked out well! Was funded within 24hrs, I’m pretty sure with enough to get hosting for a year or so.

Facebook is not as commonly used by webcomic creators to market their work as other sites. You use it for Feel Afraid however. Are there any advantages Facebook provides that other sites are unable to when it comes to marketing your comic?
Honestly that’s a bit of a mystery to me but people seem to like it. I use rss feeds to follow comics myself, but I just try to make Feel Afraid as available as possible to however people prefer keeping up.

Finally, what is the future for you and Feel Afraid?
We’re going to drive this comic car off a cliff and explode in a million pieces.

Interview with David Malki! (Wondermark)

5 Oct Wondermark1

Wondermark is one of those comics that could only really exist thanks to the Internet. Creator David Malki ! builds up strips from 19th Century illustrations to create it’s complete its unique style of, as the strip’s tagline states, an illustrated jocularity. Though while the style of the strip is what distinguishes it from many other webcomics, the absurdity and comedy that arises from it is what makes the comic such an enjoyable read. Additionally, David Malki ! is head of Publicity and Promotions for the online webcomic publishing site, TopatoCo.

Why did you decide to make a webcomic out of 19th Century source materials?
I wanted to make a comic in a different way! It’s visually interesting and it’s not like most other comics, so I think it captures people’s attention. And I’m a huge admirer of the craft involved. I hope some of my love for the art itself comes through in the strip.

There are hints of steampunk in your work, is this intentional?
I’d never heard the term ‘steampunk’ until after I’d been doing the comic for several years! I think it’s easy to label anything neo-Victorian as ‘steampunk’ but I don’t think that’s always accurate.

Basing your work off material so close to steampunk, do you think you could explain the appeal of it to many people?
There are surely some steampunk fans that might be drawn to the Victorianism of Wondermark, but if that’s all they stay for they must be frequently disappointed, since the point of view of the comic isn’t Victorian at all. Wondermark is set in the modern day, it’s just that everyone has a really good fashion sense.

What are the qualities of a great Wondermark comic?
My favorite strips are when I can marry a good joke or observation to a clever piece of collage. Since I work with collage, I have a different challenge in crafting visuals of the strip than a traditional cartoonist has, and I have the most fun when I can craft visual elements that weren’t in the original, or use the original art as building blocks to create something new. It’s not always possible (or appropriate) to completely tear down and rebuild every piece of art in every strip, but my favorite strips are usually the ones where I’ve had a funny idea and then used pieces of Victorian illustrations like LEGOs to build something unique to illustrate the joke.

Unlike a lot of other webcomic artists you refuse to accept donations from readers, why is this?
I don’t think there’s anything wrong with accepting donations, but I personally prefer to be on the ‘giver’ side of the giver/receiver paradigm. If someone donates, there is a danger they can feel entitled to something or other. It’s only half of a transaction. Through a store, I can accept money, give a product in return, and the psychological balance is settled. I want myself, with my own ambitions and interests, to be the only voice I feel obligated to answer to. I don’t want to take someone’s money and then feel guilty that I did a clunker comic the next day, as if I’m ripping that person off.

Also, if I make a product and someone buys it, I can think “Cool, they like the product.” If nobody buys it, I can think “Okay, this wasn’t a good product, or maybe there wasn’t enough demand for it.” If I have an open door for donations, the ebb and flow of donations is a referendum on my work as a whole, and I don’t need that kind of pressure for the few bucks it might earn me. I like transactions to be compartmentalised and two-sided so they don’t affect how I feel about my work in general!

In your article ‘Comics is Killing Webcomics‘ you criticise how webcomics are often compared to traditional comics as it also associates them with a separate culture many dislike. While there is a webcomic community do you feel a separate webcomic culture has developed?
I hope there isn’t. I think that every year there are more people who pay attention to webcomics, but in large part they are probably people for whom webcomics, or certain webcomics in particular, are simply items on a large list of general things which they enjoy on the internet. Webcomics are broad enough in style and subject matter that it’s very easy for someone to follow one or two or a small handful of comics without knowing anything about other comics. I think that’s okay. Webcomics will be better off if, as a medium, it comes to be perceived like TV – nobody’s a ‘TV fan’ or part of the ‘TV community’. They have favorite shows, or types of shows. The medium itself becomes so unremarkable as to disappear.

I think cross-promotion (“If you like X, you’ll like Y”) is a big part of what helps webcomics grow, for sure, but that is by no means limited to webcomics. That’s how the Internet works in general, and webcomics are part of it! Webcomics are a Member State of the Greater Internet.

What was the impetus behind TopatoCo?
TopatoCo was started by Jeffrey Rowland as a way to help out some of his friends and fellow creators, who wanted to sell merchandise but weren’t able to do it themselves (usually due to living in a different country from the majority of their readers). Jeffrey began offering a shipping service just as a favor to them. Over time, he found that by putting all the items from multiple creators on a single website, everyone benefited from the cross-promotion and the ability to bundle multiple items together in a single order. And as it continued to grow, he began publishing books as well, in many cases helping creators who otherwise wouldn’t be able to have a book collection. I work with TopatoCo, primarily these days editing and art-directing the line of books.

How do feel TopatoCo has benefited webcomic artists?
The cross-promotion is a huge deal. Someone coming to see a product of mine might see something of another artist’s, or vice versa. So sales go up across the board.

Also, TopatoCo frees artists from having to handle merch production, shipping etc. which can eat up a lot of time (and capital!). That means more time to make comics!

On sites such as TopatoCo one can see the same comics and authors appearing again and again. Do you feel there is a possibility of the webcomic community becoming insular and excluding new artists?
I don’t know if it seems like TopatoCo is some kind of gatekeeper. TopatoCo isn’t a publisher in the traditional sense, where a property can be pushed out to people and an audience created that doesn’t already exist. It’s actually the other way around – TopatoCo won’t take someone on as a client unless they’ve already got a fanbase behind them. Even better if they’ve been creating merch independently and it’s just getting too big for the artist to handle! That is where TopatoCo can step in and streamline the process.

So if you see the same artists again and again, that’s probably because they’re popular. Their affiliation with TopatoCo is a consequence of their popularity, not the cause.

And the internet is a meritocracy! Every year I see one or two new artists really break out and seem to be everywhere. Nobody is holding anybody down. Everybody I know who does or loves webcomics LOVES seeing exciting new voices doing amazing work. We love seeing it and we talk about it when we do!

I hope that makes sense. I have seen this in book publishing as well. People tend to think they are being excluded from some sort of club, not realizing that what the people IN the so-called ‘club’ want more than anything is to find new people doing incredible work that can’t be ignored. Also, there is no club, just a bunch of people with their noses to the grindstone doing the best work they know how. Sometimes it works out well, sometimes the stars align (or don’t), sometimes people get lucky (or don’t), sometimes the work strikes a chord in an audience (or doesn’t). All you can control is the work, and putting in the time, and doing your best.

No interview this week

25 Sep

Will be out of town this week so there will be no interview this week

Interview with Ronnie Filyaw (Whomp!)

21 Sep Whomp10

The key to making a good autobiographical webcomic is honesty. Few, however, are quite as honest as Ronnie Filyaw’s Whomp! While some other authors may be willing to depict their faults and anxieties, Filyaw seems to relish characterising himself as short, round and paralysed by self-doubt. But this honesty is the key to the strip’s success: reading about Ronnie’s daily suffering is strangely relatable and, of course, incredibly funny.

First of all, why the title Whomp!?
Well, the term comes from the Mario games, as well as Recess, a Saturday morning cartoon in the nineties. I like the word because it depicts a very active, interesting world where things just… HAPPEN. It’s an active and sudden thing. That’s what I want from my comics, and I think Whomp! says that well.

Whomp is in many ways autobiographical. Part of the reason why Ronnie is such a likeable character is because of the brutally honest way he is depicted. How important is honesty when making comics of an autobiographical nature?
I am always willing to make myself seem worse for the ‘camera’ but I don’t like making myself look better. Comedy comes first. Pretty much anything that isn’t too personal in my life can get put on the page. I’m a pretty open person in how I’ll talk about my life and habits, so it’s easy to put that on paper without worrying how it’ll portray me.

Ronnie has become more characterised as the series has developed. So how autobiographical would you say Whomp! is?
While some of my comics are dead on the nose straight occurrences from life, others are obviously twisted a bit to fit the narrative. But mostly, I try to make sure it’s something that’s always in character for Ronnie. The other characters often depict those around me who I don’t want to write directly into the comic. Everyone on Earth does silly, funny things, and it’s easy to make a character that isn’t them so you can pick at life’s silliness without embarrassing anyone.

Is writing Whomp! therapeutic at all?
When I’m not banging my head against a wall trying to write a comic, or worrying about whether the most recent comic was funny at all, yeah it can help. Being open about the dumb things in my brain makes them easier to deal with, especially when other people chime in with their similar feelings. ‘Whomp!’ brings us together. Misery loves company, you know.

There are hints of other works such as Horribleville in your comic. What are your influences?
When I first started, yeah I had read every Gunshow and Horribleville twice. I’d made webcomics in the past, but they were all generic crap that wasn’t worth the bandwith it took to upload them. When I read KC Green’s work I realized this was a guy who was weird like me, and I wanted to tap into that part of myself. I aped on his style in the beginning, but I quickly tried to move away from it, and I can safely say that after the first few months I was going completely on my own awful brain juice.

That embarrassing fact out of the way, I was also really into Spongebob. Love me some Spongebob. (KC wrote a Spongebob comic for Nickelodeon magazine, but that’s just a coincidence, promise!)

The comic was less clearly defined during it’s early stages with Ronnie becoming the main focus later. What advice would you offer to budding artists/writers for finding a series’ focus?
Draw 30 comics. Don’t put them on the internet. You have no idea what you want to do yet, unless you’re a creative type who has written a lot of complete stories. You also don’t know if this is what you want to do. If you can stick to a strict schedule for 30 comics you may be able to keep it, and you’ll have found your voice before putting a single thing out there for people to see. I know it’s hard to tell someone to not display their hard work right away, but you’ll feel better when you know what you want to do. Ever see the first two seasons of… any show ever? They often change and evolve into something more polished and interesting by the third seasons, and that’s where you want to start watching. (Mostly I’m thinking of Star Trek: TNG and Seinfeld here, but I’m sure something else works)

It’s quite interesting that ‘Motivation Dude’ is portrayed as being violent, angry and evil at times. Is his characterisation based on your own attitude towards motivation?
Pretty much. He’s a simple portrayal of my own self-loathing that drives me to be less of a crap. He is an ascetic figure, beating me with the proverbial cat o’nine tails, driving me forward. If I don’t want to work, or a comic I wrote is just poor, I can almost hear him saying “You’re stupid, you know that? You can do better.” He always thinks I can do better. It surprises me every time, and that’s why I keep going.

Are there any comics that stand out of favourites?
The dark ones. The one where M Dude says Anime/Manga sucks, and Ronnie is trying to kill himself; that’s a favourite. Also the one where M Dude is holding a gun to Ronnie’s head; that’s a favourite. I fear things like death/dismemberment, so when I make fun of them they don’t seem too bad. I don’t know why those are my favourite comics, but they definitely stick out at me. (Oh, and the one where he jumps in the wood chipper)

What’s the response been like from readers?
Outpouringly positive with very little negative. 4chan’s /co/ and /v/ have had some very kind threads about my work, and the official Whomp! Facebook page rarely has anything negative on it. Lots of nice tweets, too. I got a lot of “me too” responses. I like when it connects with people.

You are quite the Twitterer, do you feel Twitter is a useful tool for webcomic artists?
I think I could Twitter even more than I do now. I like talking to my readers and friends, just saying stuff. Little stupid one-off jokes, or a thought I’m having. Really I’m using it for its intent, I guess. Something not worthy of a proper blog entry goes into the Twitter. Sometimes 140 characters isn’t enough, though. If only it were 141. That would solve all of the problems. As for marketing/exposure? I don’t really think about that stuff anymore. No amount of effort you’ll ever put into getting your comic noticed is going to be as powerful as the random meme that comes from it, causing it to explode in popularity. Be active somewhere with a lot of people, and eventually you’ll get noticed (for better or worse).

Finally, why does Agrias still live with Ronnie after all she has to put up with?
Agrias tried to find a better place to live in an early story arc, but didn’t like her choices. Also, the rent is cheap and it’s close to her job. On a personal level, I like to think their friendship supersedes simple annoyances and approaches a near family status, much in the same way a little brother is annoying to his sister.

Interview with Patrick Alexander (Hilarity Comics, Raymondo Person and Others…)

14 Sep patrickalexander6

Like others interviewed, Patrick Alexander has an extremely large body of work to boast of: the extremely funny adventures of a stick figure in Raymondo Person, satire of the gaming community in his work for EEGRA, the far more random and bizarre characters in Hilarity Comics as well as countless other comics. Though famous for often finding humour in the filthy and lewd what demonstrates Patrick Alexander’s skills as a cartoonist is his ability to create characters and settings that are extremely funny regardless of the tone or audience.
WARNING: interview contains some foul language.

The EEGRA Hilarity comics often focused on the gaming community and gaming webcomics instead of video-games themselves. Why did you choose these sources for comedy?
Those comics probably went down well with the many people who love video-games but were tired of being spoken for by a minority of self-identified ‘gamers’ who all too often are frothing half-wits with idiotic views. But it may be that the self-identified ‘gamers’ enjoyed those comics too! It can feel nice to be acknowledged.

Probably another reason I kept drawing strips that had nothing to do with specific video-games is that I couldn’t keep up with what everyone was playing at the time. Doesn’t mean I don’t love video-games! And I expect a big chunk of the EEGRA audience were other people in the exact same position.

Also, browsing old comics I think there was something really fun about portraying video-games as being a pastime for dorks, nerds, losers and idiots. Because most video-game webcomics are created by dorks, nerds, losers and idiots but portraying themselves as the raddest dudes on the block. If I was a dorky kid and I draw a comic about being a dorky kid other people are going to read that and think ‘Haha, oh God, Jesus, yes! That was me!’ But if I then go ‘And then that dorky kid grows up and gets REVENGE!’ I think I would lose that audience except, perhaps, the people who were dorky kids and have not grown up since. And I did a lot of strips about those guys too.

They also acknowledged and avoided cliches frequently found in gaming webcomics. Are there any topics you’d advise a potential gaming webcomic writer to avoid?
I would recommend avoiding being a gaming webcomic writer altogether! Although EEGRA raised my profile a lot and I’m really proud of those comics so perhaps I shouldn’t say that. There’s nothing wrong with having a specific topic for your webcomic – it gives you a starting point, which is nice, and an instant audience, which is nice too.

All I would say is that there’s got to be some honesty in what you do. It doesn’t have to be raw ‘I was touched as a child’ honesty; just your personality coming through. Don’t create a fantasy persona for yourself. Just express yourself, say what you want to say and the rest should come naturally.

I haven’t read gaming webcomics in forever but I always felt that Awkward Zombie was an example of what one ought to be. It’s very specifically about video-games, and yet there’s not a single strip that doesn’t feel like an expression of Katie Tiedrich’s personality. She never drew what she thought her ‘fellow gamers’ wanted to read; she drew whatever was funny to her. And what do you know? It was funny to other people as well! The point is, you should trust yourself.

What was the genesis of Raymondo Person?
I was doodling stick-figures one time and having a lot of fun and thought “this way is better than putting effort in,” and decided to give the stick-figure a name. Of course I ended up putting heaps of effort in anyway. Can’t avoid it.

Tobias and Jube were originally children’s characters yet in Raymondo Person they are found in far more ‘adult’ situations. Why did you make this change for the characters?
The characters didn’t change at all. They express themselves more freely in Raymondo Person. I admit that it was a lot of fun taking my children’s characters and making them swear and fuck and stuff, but at the same time adults speak and behave differently when there are children present. They’re not being fake or dishonest, they’re just being appropriate.

You left Raymondo Person with the possibility you may return to it someday. Do you feel this is likely any time in the future?

Your comics can be quite adult in theme and grotesque in style. What attracts you to these traits?
It’s complicated. I will not deny that I experience a certain glee when I include taboo things in my work knowing how people might react. But at the same time, I didn’t make them taboo. There are gross and bad things in my comics, but there’s also a lot of sweetness and cuteness and joy. Some people only notice the gross and bad things probably because they are less used to such stuff compared to the sweet and cute things. But it’s all the same to me.

Artists should have standards, not limits. Some people seem to have it backwards. I don’t think there’s anything outrageous about diarrhoea or sex or the word ‘fuck’. What really shits me is cartoonists, comedians and others who mock the weak and oppressed and then have this attitude of “Yeah, my comedy’s pretty OUT THERE! Can’t censor me!” when in fact all they’re doing is reinforcing the status quo from a position of privilege It’s not only offensive, it’s boring.

I’m not going to declare that that sort of shit has never slipped into my work. It may have, especially when I was younger. And it may again despite my best efforts. But the point is that it is rarely my intention to offend people: I just do my best to be funny. And when I do try to offend people, it’s people who ought to be offended – the thin-skinned bastards at the top.

I do like the grotesque – I like gross, fat weirdos with funny faces. Even my nice or benign characters (outside of Raymondo) tend to be gross rather than cute. There’s two reasons I can think of for this: firstly, funny faces are funny. Secondly, my deepest instinct is that cartoon characters shouldn’t be cool dudes. Like those fucking Gorillaz. Fuck those laid-back, iconic rockstar bastards; fucking pretend monkeys making more money than I do and driving expensive cars and shit. What the hell is that about?

Why does Garfield appear so much in your work?
Garfield was the first comic of any kind that I was exposed to in a more-than-fleeting way, and probably one of the reasons I decided I was a cartoonist. I was a dedicated Garfield fan throughout my childhood. So Garfield is there in my head. On top of that, he’s such a popular, pervasive and benign cultural icon that he’s fun to fuck around with. I am hardly alone when it comes to playing silly buggers with Garfield.

You have worked for Dark Horse Comics, what was that experience like?
It was very nice, and will continue to be nice in the near future!

Having made comics for both physical publications and the internet do you feel there are any significant differences between the two mediums?
There could be in theory, but generally I think the differences are negligible in practice. Most webcartoonists hold a thought in the back of their heads that says “It would be nice if this were a book one day,” and that informs the way they make their comics. Books are a lot nicer but the internet is a lot more convenient. The two media ocomplement each other pretty well, if you choose to use both as vessels for the same work.

Outside of the US and Canada, Australia seems to have the largest webcomic community. Do you feel there is a strong community of Australian webcomic writers? Do you feel there is anything inherently Australian about your work?
I don’t feel qualified to comment on the existence of an Australian ‘webcomics community’ or any sort of community really. The universe I inhabit is just me and my mates, and some of my mates are cartoonists and a few of them put their stuff on the internet. That’s all I can tell you.

As for the Australian-ness of my work: since it comes out of me, I expect it’s as Australian as I am. But who knows what that means? I don’t make comics for an exclusively Australian audience, but I am an Australian and I don’t make any attempt to disguise that in order to appease some imagined international market or demographic. But then again, some might regard me as an
internationalised or somehow other-than-typical Australian. I don’t think about it too much.

I would like to imagine my comics have universal appeal, but also possess a hard-to-put-your-finger-on-something-or-other that marks them as the work of an Australian. Far more important than that though, I want them marked as the work of Patrick Alexander. Patch did these comics; Patch made them great; Patch gave them their character and appeal and the national culture can get rooted.

Finally, what are your plans for the future?
I’ve heard that if you talk too much about your plans they’ll never happen. Better to get the ideas of your head by doing rather than talking, you know?

But, fuck it: I’m going to print a Raymondo Person book. Stay tuned for the Indiegogo campaign.