Tag Archives: webcomic sessions

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

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.