Tag Archives: interview

Interview with Christopher Reineman (Feel Afraid)

19 Oct

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

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.

Interview with Ronnie Filyaw (Whomp!)

21 Sep

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

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.

Interview with Ryan Armand (Minus, Great and Others…)

7 Sep

Ryan Armand is the Eisner-nominated creator of several successful webcomics. Minus, for which he received his nomination, Great and many more found on his website, Kiwis By Beat. Though each series differs they are share the wondrous and joyful style which sets Armand’s work out as his own.

What was it like receiving the Eisner nomination for Minus?
It was interesting. I went to the ceremony and sat in the general audience with a friend. When the webcomics nominees came up someone sitting in front of me said “Yeah, Minus!” and I debated whether I should tap them on the shoulder and say “CREATED BY ME.” In the end I decided against it.

It appears that Minus, from it’s beginning, didn’t have any particular arc or end in sight. Why did you make the decision to end Minus?
An ending for Minus was actually one of the first strip ideas I came up with, and it’s why the phrase ‘It’ll be updating every Thursday until I suddenly stop!’ was included in the comic’s description, since it was designed to be inserted at any time. I had never made a series of comic strips before, so the planned length of Minus was relative to how difficult that ended up being: if it was hard to come up with ideas, then I planned on doing about 20 strips; if it was easy then I would do 100, but it was never intended to run for a very long time.

Minus appears to be the only series of yours done in colour, why did you choose not to continue this pattern with your other work?
I’ve worked on other comics in colour, it’s just that none of them ever developed into something that went public. I guess I just have a problem with the way my paintings come out, I’ll probably have to force myself through another colour comic until I’m comfortable enough with it for that to stop happening. Also: black and white is cheaper.

Many of your comics such as Modern Fried Snake feature very minimal dialogue, allowing for the images to tell the story, what is so attractive about this style of storytelling?
Hard to say. I don’t have a special interest in comics with minimal dialogue and I don’t think I’ve made many deliberately silent comics. It’s probably just a side effect of de-emphasizing plots. So rather than being the focus of most events in a story, the plot chugs along silently beneath the surface as time progresses. Along those lines I try to play most scenes evenly to let readers decide on how significant anything is, or maybe get them to stop worrying about trying to figure out how important to the story a given scene of piece of dialogue is at all. So scenes that might be edited to save space in other stories end up being focused on and the camera gets to linger around following silent scenes instead of rushing past them towards the next event.

I have read that Great begun as something to keep you busy until you came up with another idea for a comic. What are the advantages/disadvantages of allowing things to develop as you write instead of planning them out ahead?
There might be a misunderstanding about Great because of that comment: it was planned out almost completely before I started drawing it. When I said that it was something simple to do while I worked on other projects, what I meant was that I could get the pages done quickly, which would let me keep updating the site while working on other things. When I first put it up I had lost a few months work on another comic called Socks, so that’s what I was drawing for the few months of Great’s run. The mistake I made with Great was that I severely misjudged its length. For some reason I thought I could finish it in about 200 pages when it ended up taking over 600.

I don’t know how people can just allow things to develop as they write, honestly. Even if you try to, drawing an idea takes so much longer than coming up with it that after drawing for a few weeks you should already have the comic planned out for the next few months. Maybe it makes more sense with comic strips, or some people are just so focused on what they’re currently drawing that they don’t look too far ahead of themselves until they’re done.

There is a clear Japanese influence on your visual style, is it true to say it has had equal influence on your narrative style?
Absolutely. With comics, art and story go hand-in-hand so being influenced visually is already changing your narrative style. One quick example would be that Great was tremendously influence by Akatsuka Fujio’s comics. He had a way of drawing characters that made them seem like they really enjoyed being in a comic, so I tried to capture that. But influence is like a filter; if you really like Bill Watterson and want to make the next Calvin and Hobbes, rather than reproduce it, you’ll most likely end up making a comic full of what you personally liked about it, which may differ entirely from what went into actually making it or what people liked about it. In that sense, what you’re capable of taking from your influences is more important that what you’re influenced by.

Minus was part of the webcomic collective, Koala Wallop. How important is having a strong community of fellow artists for the success of developing webcomics?
We didn’t really do anything in Koala Wallop, or at least I didn’t. I liked it because I thought it was a set of good comics that were distinct from each other which is what I hope I can eventually do with my own work, but it was also a warning against forming superficial groups. If you’re going to do something with other artists it’s best to have a specific goal or project in mind rather than just a banner.

Interview with Rampaige (Busty Girl Comics)

31 Aug

Busty Girl Comics is a series depicting the problems and perks that come with being a woman with a larger chest by Rampaige (aka, Paige Halsey Warren). The series has grown popular due to it highlighting an otherwise little-known set of issues but mostly because it is consistently funny. In addition to comics, Rampaige’s website also provides a lot of information for busty readers as well as promoting body acceptance and tolerance.

Why did you decide to make Busty Girl Comics?
I made the first comic one night after realizing that none of the cute t-shirts I was looking at online would look even remotely the same once I had them on. I posted it on my personal Tumblr and, after getting a warm reception for it, I kept getting ideas for more. By the next day I started a Tumblr specifically for BGC

It sounds as if it began as a small project but grew into something much larger. Are you surprised by the success it had?
Ooh yes. It started as a way to vent my frustrations and as more people came to me with stories or looking for advice it grew into a community. It’s overwhelming sometimes but it’s been wonderful!

What is your creation process?
I have little scraps of paper and notes everywhere with ideas to get me started. Then I draw the title and start sketching. I use Paint Tool Sai and a Wacom Bamboo from start to finish. Actually, I’ve Livestreamed a few comics if you’d like to check them out here.

The comic is very light-hearted, treating the problems and perks of being busty in good humour. Have you had the idea of body acceptance in your comic and do you feel your comic has contributed towards body acceptance?
Absolutely. Everyone has the right to feel comfortable in their own skin. I like to think (and I’ve received countless messages confirming this) that my comics and the compilation of resources on BGC have helped a lot of people either learn to love the bodies they have or become better informed on how to find their ideal body.

What has the response from readers been like?
Overwhelmingly wonderful. I get lots of messages from people either thanking me, telling me their stories, or looking for some friendly advice. I just wish I could answer them all.

You interact a lot with your readers: listening to suggestions, answering questions, sharing links. How important is it for webcomics to allow for interaction between creator and readers?
Well, my webcomic is anecdotal and references an underrepresented topic so building a network of discussion and resources seemed natural and necessary. I don’t think it’s necessary for all webcomics, though. For most comics, especially long format fictional ones, there’s a special kind of novelty and thrill with finally getting to know the person behind the magic when you do encounter them at conventions and signings.

As a guy, I imagine I am not the intended audience, but I still have found the comic to be accessible and funny despite this. Why do you think the comic has found success outside it’s demographic of busty girls?
Who told you you aren’t the intended audience? Sure, you might not be able personally but you can still appreciate comics and appreciate the situations that the characters get into. Some of my favourite messages are from people who are either small or non-breasted who tell me how much happier they are with their size now or how they finally have an idea of what their larger breasted friends and relatives go through. I love that!

Any comics that have been favourites of yours?
Probably the smelly underwire one and the hands-free towel one. One is painfully true and the other is just plain awesome.

The comic has been running for quite some time now, do you feel you are going to run out of busty girl problems any time soon?
I’d like to at least make it to comic #364 (I’m at #192 today) but I know that I won’t be able to keep this going forever. I’ve been brainstorming ways to at least keep the site alive though, even if I have to post less frequently, so new readers can find the resources and support they never knew they were looking for.

Interview with KC Green (Gunshow, Horribleville and Others…)

24 Aug

I thought the site needed something big to kick off it off and in the world of webcomics there are few bigger than KC Green. Creator of several hugely popular webcomic series, most famously Horribleville – a semi-autobiographical series – and Gunshow – his current project – as well as countless others. As if that wasn’t enough in his time as a webcomic artist he has spawned memes, done guest work for many other strips and inspired budding artists to make webcomics of their own. With the ability to effortlessly draw the crass, the poignant, the grotesque and the funny we decided to ask this master of webcomics a few questions.

You have to be among the most prolific webcomic artists out there. How have you managed to stay so productive after so many years?

I managed to stay productive due to the desire to draw. It’s what I liked doing as a kid and doing growing up and it just became second nature. If I take breaks from drawing, I start to feel bad and useless. So I do it because it makes me happy and worth…full? Full of worth.

Despite a lack of continuity in your comics you have a large cast of characters you like to return to. What characters are your favourites to write?

Favorites come and go. I can never settle on a set of them and I also like to dip back into some old ones sometimes. I am writing a strip called ‘Literally All I Do All Day‘ or LAIDAD for short. Currently, I like writing the two characters in there because they are parts of me that I try to explore and figure out myself. I go back and forth.

You have quite a few finished series of webcomics. How do you know when it is time to end a series?

A lot of old ones aren’t really finished. A handful or less I would say are finished. A lot of them are abandoned but I keep them up anyway to show people that I didn’t start out great and I messed up a lot too. Anyway, I know something is done just by a feeling I get in my gut. It’s nothing I can calculate. Unless it is a story with a predetermined ending, then you can calculate that.

Your work can be found posted on many different sites as well as being used for meme templates. What do you think of people using your comics to create memes? Does it bother you when people post your work without giving you credit?

I think it used to bother me when it first happened with my Dickbutt comic and Dickbutt drawing, but now, like 4 or 5 years later when a number of of other little drawings of mine have become memes, I just can’t care about it. It’s neat I guess, but I am always making new things that interest me so I try not to dwell on the old stuff. I learned that the people on the Internet communities like 4chan and whatnot do what they like and it evolves naturally through them playing with stuff and that’s just how it is.

Unlike most webcomic artists, you are more well-known than your various series. Why do you think this is?

Most likely because I never had one series that I stuck with that people just knew of. Or maybe doing autobiographical things made people know me more than the comic I was in. I definitely believe it has to do with doing autobiographical comics and being put out there for people to get to know through those. Which is fine, but not always the whole picture.

Horribleville has to be the definitive ‘autobiographical webcomic’, a genre that traditionally isn’t too well-received. What do you think separated it from other comics in the same genre?

I’m not sure. A lot of my favourite autobiographical comics are ones where the artist is shown – flaws and all. Maybe people saw that in HV. It is not for me to say because I am on the wrong side of it all. But I know I tried to make it funny too. Slice of life stuff is fine, but I always have a predisposition to make a little joke out of something or myself.

Was Horribleville therapeutic in any way? Have you since resolved any of the anxieties mentioned during that series?

HV may have been a step in the right direction but I don’t think it was that therapeutic in ways some comics I do now are. I think I was just treating the band-aid and not the cut. Then telling people to look at how funny my Hello Kitty band-aid was. But I’ve got better since.

Gunshow was a return to the style of writing you did before Horribleville – less continuity, gag-based – was there a strong urge to return to that particular type of webcomic?

Yes, there definitely was. Before Gunshow became what it was I had a comic called Droop that was essentially what Gunshow is now and what HV morphed out of. But it was also filled with years of old comics from high school that might be a little daunting for new readers to trek through. Gunshow started at the same time I was still doing Droop (later renamed to Bee Power for no good reason). But when I stopped Droop and kept with Gunshow, which at the time was just a three-panel gag comic, I knew I couldn’t just stick with that forever because it was boring. So I made Gunshow become what it has become and made new characters to mess with, stories to tell, and jokes and weird things to draw.

Gunshow has changed quite a lot over the course of its history, has it developed in the way you expected it to?

I don’t think I expected Gunshow to become what it has, but I knew it had to when I was growing bored with the original three panel premise. I don’t have much of a plan when I start things, which is why a lot of the old comics were just abandoned and I moved onto something else. Luckily, Gunshow became something that can definitely thrive for a while.

You often do guest comics for other series. What do you think the advantages of doing guest comics are?

Exploring other people’s characters can be fun, especially if you’re a fan and had ideas yourself for different stuff. It might also be fun to mess with the format or just to help out your friend with a guest comic spot.

Finally, could you tell us a bit more about your recent Kickstarter project, Benign Kingdom?

Benign Kingdom is a publishing house where we print high quality art books from young and talented artists. I was actually dragged into the first one as a fourth member to round out the first art books, but I am technically a founder of the company and have helped on pre-press, layout and such for this next set of books with new artists. It’s an interesting thing that we never would have been able to do without Kickstarter’s platform and all our fans and everyone being so down for the idea of what we’re doing.