Interview with Sylvan Migdal (Curvy)

9 Nov

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


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