Interview with Rebecca Clements (KinokoFry, Ruffle Hall)

27 Oct

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.

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