Rambling On

Anthony R. Cardno's Fiction and Commentary

Archive for the ‘webcomics’ Category

Just a sample of Isa’s gorgeous NAMESAKE art.

It’s a week for welcoming back previous interviewees! Today, I’m catching up with Megan Lavey-Heaton and Isabelle Melancon, creators of the webcomic NAMESAKE. It’s been a while since my last interview with them; we’d meant to do one during their second Kickstarter project, but that sort of fell through. So here they are to talk to us about how that went and what’s upcoming:

ANTHONY: You successfully funded the print version of Namesake Book Two not so long ago. How is the production process coming, and when will the book be available to the general public?

ISA: Production is pretty much over. I re-colored a couple of the pages, polished it up, added an extra story… and then Megan did all the book putting-together part. The toughest part for me is always to design the covers. And I had to design 3 this time. Whew! Since we had the hardcover version coming out with this Kickstarter too. But they turned out great too. The books should be available in August/September if all goes well, but we might open pre-orders before then.

ANTHONY: Are there plans already afoot for collecting book three in print form?

ISA: Book three is almost fully posted online, so as soon as that’s done, plans for the next Kickstarter will probably start.

ANTHONY: What’s your process been like for transferring from web content to the printed page? Did it change at all between books one and two?

ISA: Well, the pages have a pretty standard format, so making the jump from digital to print wasn’t that hard. I perfected my drawing techniques and scanning techniques, and Megan started doing allt he lettering in indesign to make the whole process go more smoothly. Our processes kinda changed about half-way into book one, so book 2 went considerably better.

ANTHONY: Where do we find the characters at the start of book two?

MEG: Emma is still entrenched in Oz at the beginning of book 2. We take a slight detour to check in on Alice and Lewis in the 1800s, then Ben, Elaine, Fred and the Calliope staff in the modern era, along with the introduction of some new cast members who will be very important in the future. For now though, most of this book tells the bulk of Emma’s adventure in Oz.

ISA: And Warrick’s backstory is revealed in book 2. Everyone loves a good tragic backstory.

ANTHONY: How much material will be in the print edition of book two versus the online edition? Any new special extras?

MEG: Book 2 contains Intermission 1 and chapters 6-10. We are about to start chapter 13 in the online edition. We have a book bonus story with Warrick and a Kickstarter-only story with Chiseri and Adora.

 

Co-creator and artist Isabelle Melancon

ANTHONY: Has your collaborative process changed at all since you started Namesake?

MEG: Not off the top of our head. The machine isn’t broken!

ISA: Nope, if anything, we just have MORE fun. Because the story is gradually becoming more engaging and creative.

ANTHONY: How about your individual creative processes?

MEG: I know for me, I have switched to doing the lettering of the pages in InDesign. Makes it vastly easier when it comes to creating the books!

ISA: I started doing more storyboarding and I have a notebook listing important visual details for all characters… to make sure I don’t forget anything! I plan to make character turnarounds too. It’s more of a process used in animation, but it helps not to draw someone off-model.

ANTHONY: Has the story continued to play out according to your original master plan, or has it taken any interesting side turns?

MEG: It’s definitely taking interesting side turns. For example, Selva has become one of the main cast when originally she wasn’t supposed to have much of a role beyond chapter 1. Nose is another unexpected developed character. We still have the master plan, but we’re letting the different stories develop organically and adjust as needed.

ISA: Characters change a lot, but the main plot stays stable. I think it’s nice that characters are kinda “telling” us who they want to be.

 

co-creator and writer Meghan Lavey-Heaton

ANTHONY: What other projects are you both working on?

MEG: I’ll let Isa answer that one!

ISA: We have a couple of things we wish to start. I have a few ideas for graphic novels for kids and pre-teens, because it’s an age group I love to write for. Mostly fantasy stuff. Megan has a few ideas that are really exciting too, but she tends to write more for adults, with police mysteries and diabolical curses. I guess we’ll flip a coin and see who gets to choose first. On the short term, we plan to do a couple of short comics to try different things as a team.

ANTHONY: A slight tweak on my usual closing question: If you could only recommend one of the books your characters are based on/connected to, which one would it be?

ISA: Probably a complete book of Andersen’s works. I love his fairy tales. They are my favorites.

 

 

 

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Concluding Canada Week here, today we ramble on with Gibson Twist, the creator of one of my favorite webcomics, PICTURES OF YOU. POI is part coming-of-age story, part relationship drama, part college comedy, and the whole is more than the sum of its parts.

The Mysterious Gibson Twist

Gibson Twist claims to be a fictional entity. In reality, he writes several other webcomics in addition to PICTURES OF YOU, and yet somehow manages to find time for his wife and his cat.

 

ANTHONY: Welcome to Rambling On, Gibson. How’s things?

GIBSON: Things are ridiculously good. It’s a bit shocking how good. I know it’s de rigueur for people to be unappreciated as they roll a rock uphill, but honestly, I’m riding one of those life-highs lately, and I’m not so much of a selfish asshole not to appreciate that. People love and support what I do, solid home life with someone who challenges and excites me. If it were cool to be happy, I’d be the Fonz over here.

ANTHONY: So tell me a little bit about the genesis of PICTURES OF YOU. Why this story, and these characters?

GIBSON: The first inklings of what would become Pictures of You began during a hangover. It was an earned hangover, I’ll say that. It came after a couple days spent with some old friends, most of us hadn’t seen or spent any time together in years, and we hadn’t all parted on the greatest terms, but all the water was under the bridge and we were enjoying each other and remembering good times, remembering why we liked each other in the first place. Someone tried to climb over the table and ended up in someone’s lap, then we were asked to leave. It was that kind of night.

While I was nursing my hangover with wine, white zinfandel to be exact, I started writing down a bunch of the more memorable times I’d spent with that group, and the others who couldn’t make it. It turned into sort of a project, to document it all. The more I wrote down, the more I realized how much I couldn’t remember, why people had done certain things, who was where when what was destroyed. There were also things that, out of context, made some of us look like bigger assholes than we were, and things where the context took too much time to explain.

I still wanted to tell the story, so I decided to fictionalize the whole thing, from the ground up. I threw everyone into a blender and started building characters, and shaped those characters to the story that began emerging, and as I grew to understand the characters, the story changed as well. They are compossible, as any good story/character realization should be, I suppose.

No one character is a depiction of a real person, but of the collection of them is meant to depict the spirit of the group of people that inspired the story. The story too is just a reflection of what happened in those years, fictionalized to make for a good soap opera.

ANTHONY: I get so caught up in the story that I occasionally forget you started this with a framing device, Peter looking back on the past. So do you have a planned end-point, and an idea of when you’re going to get to that point? Or is the series more open-ended?

GIBSON: The series has a definite end-point, and it’s where everything is going. I spent years drafting the plot, and despite a few variations here and there, the storyline is fairly well set. At the risk of a spoiler, the scene in the Prologue does get reached and even surpassed in the regular story.

ANTHONY: PICTURES is clearly your baby — you write it and you draw the majority of it. What’s your creative process like? Do you fully script before you start the art?

GIBSON: I like to have stories plotted quite deeply before I begin crafting the final product, but the length of Pictures of You didn’t really allow that as much as I’d like. The basic skeleton of the story is there, and I plot more deeply on each book before I sit down to script.

I script each book in full before I begin, with the exception of Book Three for which I’d done a large amount of art before scripting the entire volume. Oh, and Book Four’s final chapter is unfinished, but I know how it wraps up. I do rewrite a lot as I go, most chapters get at least a quick retouch before I begin penciling. Sometimes I’m revising pages as I’m drawing them, and it’s not uncommon for me to rework dialogue during the lettering process. If I have a process, and I might not, it’s to start with the big picture and refine details on an increasingly smaller level as I come to them.

I’m already working on the script to Book Five in my head.

ANTHONY: Once you start a page, what is that process like, from drafting through final art?

GIBSON: Well, the first thing I do when I start a page is to ignore it. I’m no good with blank pages, they are my enemy. Almost invariably, the next step is draw a lot of terrible things that I erase. That is followed by me putting on some music or video for background, and I pencil in probably finer detail than most. This is largely due to the fact that I’m not strong as an artist, and it’s still a struggle for me to produce lines I like. And of course the inks, which are strangely my favourite part of the art.

The pencils and finishes are done on actual paper with actual pencils and actual ink, which seems to be a dying process, especially among webcomickers. I will say I notice people of a certain age are more likely to use paper and ink while people under that certain age are more likely to use pixels. I’ll be honest, while I enjoy paper, I don’t work digitally because computers scare me, and I can’t figure out how make smooth lines with them.

I do colour and letter digitally, which is a fairly painless process, and I’m able to clean up ink blunders there as well, much more easily than with correction fluid or the like. More recently, I’ve been able to go back digitally and clean up let’s just call it bad art from earlier pages, and make them look nicer.

I think the only really interesting or unique thing that I do is that I flip the page around in circles as I draw, to get angles and curves and so on. And I only know this is unique because my wife looks at me weird whenever she sees me do it, and then she pretends it’s not weird. And what I’ve noticed since then is that I flip it clockwise. I couldn’t even begin to tell you why, and I’m pretty sure it’s better for me not to know.

The very complex Michelle Cutter

ANTHONY: What tools do you favor for drawing, coloring, etc.?

GIBSON: I draw on large board, specifically Strathmore 11×17 Comic Pages and I scream myself blue in the face begging people more talented than I to do the same. It allows me to draw bigger, with more space to work, and then reduce later. I have yet to meet the artist whose work doesn’t look better reduced. It pulls all the lines together and makes a lot of mistakes disappear. But yes, 11×17 paper.

I work with non-photo blue pencil leads. Currently, I’m using Uniball’s new “soft blue” mechanical 0.5 leads, which are a dream even if they break more easily and I go through them faster. Before that, I used Pentel’s blue leads, which worked but were not technically non-photo, and I had to scan lighter, which did no favours for the line quality. Before that, for years, I used Prismacolor Col-Erase NPB pencils. I got a great line from them, but was forever sharpening, sharpening, sharpening.

My inking has been done since day one with Koh-i-nor rapidographs and Black India ink (which is not india ink) for paper and film, which I adore. I’ve never been able to ink particularly well with anything else. Before Pictures of You, I tried working with disposable pens, which dried out too quickly or just didn’t give a nice line. I’m useless with brushes or brush pens.

Colours and letters are all done with GiMP, which is a free imaging program. I just can’t afford the big stuff, and I won’t use pirated software.

Would it be strange to admit I’m picky about my rulers? I use the clear plastic ones with the beveled edge. They let me see the page while I use them, and the bevel lets me ink straight lines. I hope someone out there finds that information useful because I feel like an amazing nerd talking about it.

ANTHONY: When PICTURES started out, it was black and white. What brought on the shift to full color, and how did that change your creative process if at all?

GIBSON: Colour came about after doing a little thank you/incentive thing, and I found I was a little better at it than I thought, and I was happy with how it turned out, so I tried colouring some older pages just for kicks, and I was pretty happy with that too. I knew comics with colour did better at drawing audiences, too, so there was also a bit of marketing involved in the decision.

My inking has become cleaner since switching to colour, which is a result of having to colour in all sorts of sloppy hatch marks and broken lines, and I think that’s also moved me into refining the lines that I make, and grow the quality of my pencils as well.

Truthfully, colour made me like the visuals of Pictures of You a lot more. I thought, and still think, it brought a new kind of life to it. I got a lot of static from people, purists, I guess, when I switched to colour, but the simple fact is that my numbers tripled within a few months after. So what are you gonna do about that?

ANTHONY: Between books you run “Snapshot” segments with other artists. How does that process work?

GIBSON: Pretty simply, I ask friends of mine who are fans of the comic, whose work I enjoy, if they want to do some pages for fun. I ask them what characters they’d like to draw and if they have any preference for subject or theme, then I write them a script based on that. I try to find a range of styles, from cartoony to manga, and in one case a photo comic from one of the few people I’ve seen do photo comics really well. It was serendipitous that he bore a striking resemblance to the main character.

It’s fun for me, because I really enjoy working with other artists and don’t get to do it enough. I hope they have fun too. It seems like they do, most of them. Maybe they’re too polite to tell me I’m horrible to work with.

We’re reducing the number of guest strips for next time to three or maybe four shorter pieces. Two artists have already signed on and I’m in love with both of their work. Number three is still a toss-up, mostly on whomever is first to say yes.

ANTHONY: PICTURES is divided into books, with the books divided into smaller arcs. Have you ever started an arc, or a book, and realized it was going someplace different from where you intended? I guess what I’m asking is the classic “have the characters ever taken over and moved the story in a different direction?”

GIBSON: This happened a number of times in Book Three, which might have been inevitable considering its length. Everything ends up more or less the way I intended. The important things, at least, but things happened in different orders, some things had to be scrapped. The relationship between Peter and Kara, for one, was supposed to play out differently, in different chronology, but as I wrote other things and other characters’ storylines, it made more sense to happen the way it has. There was supposed to be more with Devon and Melanie as well, but had to be truncated, and the Devon storyline was changed as a result.

I wouldn’t say it’s ever happened that a character speaks to me, but sometimes the plotted story doesn’t mesh with a character’s personality, and the writing changes to be more true to them. I’m not someone who believes characters speak, but act and react the way they should to what’s happening, and that’s not always the way I planned it. It’s the balance of telling the story you want to tell and representing fully realized characters in their own realistic fashion.

ANTHONY: Peter is clearly the narrator and focal point of the series. Other than him, I think my favorite characters are Andy, Melanie and Wylie (who I wish would get a “front burner” storyline, honestly). Overall, which characters have garnered the biggest response from readers? Who gets the most “fan mail?”

The adorable Wiley Ryan is really excited about the PICTURES Kickstarter

GIBSON: Michelle is clearly the fan favourite. She seems to resonate with both the female readers for being strong yet vulnerable, and with male readers for being good looking and kicking ass. Kara gets a lot of love too, far more so now than in the first couple books when no one seemed to like her much. The most curious and divided reaction is to Mulligan, of course. Lots of hate, a fair amount of love, no one seems to be luke warm about him.

Patrick and Wiley are also up there, at least for the cooing that happens in the comments section. Wiley definitely comes to the forefront in the upcoming books. I get a lot of messages asking what happens to Wiley, there seems to be a consensus that something bad happens to him, but I try to tell people, something bad happens to all of them. Well, except one, but I’m not telling who.

I suspect reactions will change as the books go forward and different characters are brought to the front of the story. Sam and Lauren, for instance, will certainly be given more of their due in the next few books.

ANTHONY: PICTURES isn’t your only webcomic. Tell us about some of the other projects you’ve got going on.

GIBSON: Well, there’s Our Time in Eden with artist Ben Steeves that we’ve been working on for years. I started writing the novel on which it’s based in 1996, I adapted the comic script in 2004, and we started working on the art for the comic in 2006. It’s been incredibly rewarding working with Ben on it, he’s brought a vision to it I never could.

The only other project that’s in development with an artist attached at the moment is Little Earthquakes with Rori making the pictures. This is one we’ve been working on for a while as well, the first version of the plot hit paper in late 2008. I can’t say a lot about it, but it’s going to rival, perhaps surpass Our Time in Eden for darkness. We don’t have any kind of release date for this, as we’re going to shop it around before we post it as a webcomic.

I have a wide range of projects sitting on my Future Projects list, and I’ve been itching to do some more prose work in the near future. It’s hard to say which ones will get worked on first, depends on what artists want to work with me and take a shine to which projects.

There’ve been a couple false starts in the last couple years, projects I began working on with artists who, for one reason or another, had to bail. Which is cool. Finding a collaborator is never easy. They have other priorities, they lose interest in the story, they find other stories, life steps up and demands time. I keep at it, though, there are too many artists with whom I want to work to stop, and too many stories untold.

ANTHONY: And my usual final question: What is your favorite book, and what would you say to someone who hasn’t read it to convince them that they should?

GIBSON: Favourite book of all time? Comic or prose?

Prose, I’d have to say High Fidelity by Nick Hornby. Fantastic read, no one shouldn’t read this. It’s the purest insight I’ve read into the mind of men of a certain age, which is good for men because it’s a mirror into which they can nod, and for women because we’re not as simple as sitcoms would have you believe. The movie was very well done and I watch it often, but the book goes deeper and tells more story than a movie ever could. The irony is that every time I’m asked what my favourite book/comic/movie/album is, I reenact a scene from this book.

Comic, that’s a tough one. If I can include a whole series, Jaime Hernandez’s Love and Rockets would win the prize. Hugely influential on my work, and just enjoyable no matter how many times I read it. If I have to pick a single volume, though, I’d probably go with Jeff Smith’s Bone. It’s hard to choose, since there are so many fantastic books out there that don’t get enough time in the spotlight. Joe Sacco, Evan Dorkin, Eddie Campbell, Chris Thompson, Marjane Satrapi…they all make brilliant comics that I love every time I read them.

 

You can find Gibson on Twitter as @GibsonTwist.  In addition to PICTURES OF YOU, you can also find OUR TIME IN EDEN on the net. Gibson also has a Kickstarter running at the moment to get PICTURES into print form finally. Take a look at it, and consider helping bring one of my favorite webcomics to bookstores.

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YEAR ONE cover

It’s no secret that I absolutely love the time-traveling, multiversal twists-and-turns of the webcomic CURA TE IPSUM, written by Neal Bailey and drawn by Dexter Wee. When the guys released the first print volume of CTI, I interviewed Neal. When they released the second print volume, I interviewed Neal and Dexter together. Book Three is about to be released, as well as a YEAR ONE compendium with a ton of extras, and so I thought this time instead of interviewing the guys, I’d give them the opportunity to just take over the blog for a day and speak in their own words.

For those who don’t know: CTI is the story of Charlie Everett – or, rather, a multiverse of Charlie Everetts. Charlie Prime, as we’ve come to call him, is prevented from committing suicide by a visit from another version of himself. Charlie Prime discovers that he’s got a bit more natural ability for time\space travel than his other selves, and together with Leo (who saved him), The Nerd, Billy, Charlene and Squirt (all divergent versions of Charlie), they seek to stop The Dark Everett and his partners from killing every Charlie in existence.

Neal, of course, one-upped my thought. I’m proud to be able to post here a small sneak peek at INRICTI, the prose short story that is one of the special features of the YEAR ONE Compendium.  I’ll let Neal introduce the story segment, and then I’ll be back with the links you can click on to order the books!

* * * * *

Hello, folks! First off, thank you, Anthony, for the place to debut a preview for Cura’s first short story.

INRICTI (a play on words for INRI and CTI, for Cura Te Ipsum) tells the story of what might happen if a bad man, namely the Dark Everett, decided to show a preacher what REALLY happened on Golgotha. It’s a long story, and it’ll be featured in YEAR ONE, the collected edition of our first year of stories, which you can find at http://www.curateipsum.com/, along with our third volume. Both are available for pre-order now.

It’s a dark story, and a fairly bleak one, but I had really good time writing it and I hope you all enjoy it.

Here’s the preview!

Neal Bailey

 

INRICTI
For Michael Moorcock


“Death.”

The preacher takes a long pause to examine the faces of his congregation.

“It has power over us, with good reason. There is such terror in the concept of a person we know and love, a person, become a body that rots in the ground. Your grandmother. Your father. A son or daughter.”

Pacing, always pacing when he speaks.

“I often imagine the fear an atheist must have examining death. Consider, even with knowledge of an afterlife, the concept of yourself no longer existing.”

Awkward silence. It drags.

“There’s no sense of continuity without God when flesh goes to dust.” He grabs his arm and pinches through the cloth. “For a non-believer, all we have is a life that can be hard, unfair, and very cruel in the face of the infinite. For us, for me, anyway, I take great solace from the thought of a loving creator. There’s nothing quite like it to quell the horrors of our short lives.”

The pacing stops.

“There is a plan for our lives. Things may spin around and fall apart, but somewhere out there, out between our potential dimensions, the spirit and the flesh come back together. There’s a pattern that flows through all real and imagined worlds born of our minds. Succumbing to the hunger for things you might otherwise have ignored but for cold, hard, logic, that, my friends, is faith.”

The preacher smiles. It is a sincere smile. The congregation smiles with him.

“Let us pray.”

* * *

Now the preacher sits in the front pew looking up at the statue of Jesus to consider. The congregation has been gone for some time. He does this a lot now, like he did on the bed with the pistol. This leaves him more comforted.

Footsteps echo in the empty church. A man sits down next to him. The preacher keeps his head bowed. He doesn’t turn. He keeps his eyes closed. He does smile.

“I presume you wish to speak about something.”

“What gave you that impression, padre?”

“You came across the entire empty church and sat down right next to me. Unless you’re looking for a date, that’s often followed by questions, or solicitations of advice.”

“I may have a few things to confess.”

“We don’t do confessions. You’re thinking of the Catholics.”

“I’ve got more sins than you could listen to in a lifetime.” Something in the man’s voice. Odd. A nasal plastic echo.

The preacher looks. The preacher clears his throat, looking for words. “Are – are we by chance related?”

Sitting next to him is a mirror image. A man very much like himself, so close in manner and proportion they could be twins, but for a few key differences. The other man is ropey with muscles. Older, certainly. Harder. The nose. There’s something strange and artificial about his nose.

“In a sense we’re related, but not really. Do I call you preacher? Or Reverend? Or Father? What?”

Gooseflesh breaks out across the preacher’s arms. “I realize something.”

“Do tell.”

“The front door isn’t open. It’s locked.”

“Let’s just say that I snuck into the bathroom and waited for you to lock the front door. That makes more sense than the supernatural, that I just opened a portal and dropped in here from nowhere, right? I mean, that would require you to believe in something certifiably crazy without any evidence to do so, right?” A derisive snort.

“I checked the bathrooms. Bums like to sleep in there.”

“Perhaps Jesus let me in.” The voice is sarcastic. Mocking. Slow. Deliberate. A nursery rhyme cadence.

“I don’t find that funny.”

“I liked your sermon. You have a way with words.”

“Thank you.”

“I am the wrong person to thank. I appreciate beauty, but in this equation, you’re the cross—” Click. “—and I’m the switchblade.” The blade is dull by the candle light. Well-used. Chipped from too many impacts with bone. Blade side up in a fist that shakes with anger.

“You’d kill a man of God?”

“I’d never kill a man of God.”

“What’s the blade for?”

“For you.”

“I’m a man of God.”

“No!” The fist slams into the top of the pew in front of them hard enough to rock them both. The other hand reaches for his face, gripping the nose. The nose comes off. A scarred cavity. A skull face. The face of death. “There is no God, and I’m your proof.”

The gooseflesh returns, up and down the preacher’s arms. “Are you a demon?”

“Always looking for the supernatural where there is none.” The man stabs the knife down into the pew and begins carving a long C next to his right leg. “I’m not a fucking demon. I’m you. Another you.”

“Your nose.”

“I cut it off to prove a point. Seemed like a good idea at the time. It’s not all fun and games, but it’s great for appearances. As you well know, people like a little smoke and mirrors.”

“Appearances?”

“They call me the Dark Everett, though my Christian name is Charles, like yours. That’s what they do to people who tell the truth. They call them demons, give them sinister sounding nicknames. I’m guessing, given that you’re above ground, you’ve already met with another version of yourself. That’s almost always how it happens. That’s how it’s been happening for quite a long time.”

“I have, at times, been visited by an angel.”

A waved hand. “Oh, go on. Keep trying to explain reality with a superstition. Makes me think of, what’s the expression? That one about suitably advanced technology and magic?” The Dark Everett carves a circle in the middle of his C. “Tell me more about this angel of yours.”

“He is me. Us. Only with a beard. Long flowing hair. He dresses in robes. He comes to my apartment once a week and makes sure I stay alive. For the longest time, I thought it was Jesus.”

“That’s a new one.”

“I thought – it occurred to me that perhaps when we see Jesus, we see an embodiment of whoever we are.”

“Arrogant. Did he tell you that he was Jesus?”

“He doesn’t say much.”

“I’ve heard of about this evangelist before. He’s visited many of us. He’s a slippery little missionary, the fuck.”

“He claimed knowledge of the future.”

“Did he give any specific examples?”

“A few. A baseball score. He told me that God wanted me to be a preacher, and that if I didn’t kill myself, all would be well.”
The Dark Everett scowls. “The Evangelist likes to prey on people in weak states of mind. That’s how he gets his kicks. I get mine solving that kind of problem.” The Dark Everett flips the knife in the air and catches it. Flip. Catch. Flip. Catch. There’s now a rough approximation of the world in the seat next to him, inside the C.

“You sit in judgment of others while you threaten another man with a knife?”

“I’m no prize myself.” That dry rasp in the nose again. It’s chilling. “But I am honest in what I do. If anything, sir, I am honest.”

“Most devils claim they are.”

“In fiction. There are no devils. Or angels. I’m a man, Chuck. Flesh and blood. I always have been. If you cut me, I’ll bleed. There’s nothing special about me beyond a commitment to be better than I am. Even if I were a demon, there’s nothing special enough about your pathetic life that would inspire one to visit you. You got tricked by religion. That’s how it works. It plays off our self-importance. If there were a God, and trust me, there’s not, he wants us both dead.” The Dark Everett makes a pistol with his finger and blows his fake brains out.

“Why?”

“Because every time a Charlie survives, bad things happen.”

“Every time?”

The knife stabs into the makeshift Earth. “There isn’t a one of us across the entire multiverse that’s at peace. Not a one. When we gain the ability to jump between worlds, we end up fucking them up, fucking ourselves up, stealing, fighting, corrupting. It’s in our blood.”

“Our souls?”

“Don’t get cute, Preach.”

“What’s my crime? I help the poor. I give my services for free. I like to think I live an honest life.”

“I just watched you bear false witness. And anyway, you’d change if you got a stone. We all do.”

“And you, casting the first stone?”

“I’m not immune. I deserve to die more than almost any other Charlie, and I will. There’s just some work to do before I go.”
The preacher looks up at the cross. “Did you ever consider that the relentless pursuit of perfection is a defect of humanity, not of our selves? I mean, provided you really are another me. We all make a mess of our lives. That doesn’t mean they need to end. If we learn to forgive ourselves, there can be peace. Does anyone live a life that isn’t, in some way, flawed?”

“Don’t pollute the issue. This isn’t a debate. You’re already dead. I like nuance, and that’s why I’m engaging you, but we’re not talking about spitting out kids we can’t take care of, all whoopsie-daisy. That’s a debatable character flaw. We’re talking about changing the entire course of otherwise normal societies. Genocide and annihilation. I came here today from a place where there’s a man handing out night vision to the highest bidding country in nineteen sixty.”

“Nineteen sixty?”

“Cheap gas is nice and all, but this long hair doesn’t go over very well.”

“I don’t imagine it would.”

“To the point, the man handing out the night vision is me. You. Speak to me of the lightness of our flaws when it doesn’t start wars to the tune of millions of lives.” The Dark Everett wiggles the knife free and draws an X over the world. “That planet is going to spiral into chaos in less than ten years because of one greedy, cheating capitalist who will end the conflict in Vietnam with drones. He’s done it one one world already, and he doesn’t care. And here’s the real trick – he’s one of the good ones. A Charlie Everett is a higher devil. A pox on the surface of infinite earths. Every time he kills a Hitler for a lark, he condemns millions of people to suffering over time, times that he will never have to live through because he can just step away. And we do. I have.”

The preacher stares down at the Dark Everett’s blade. “You can kill me in malice, and I won’t be able to stop you, but you won’t do it without knowing that I believe I’ve made this world a better place. I’m an exception to your rule.”

“You take the stupid and make them believe in magical men who prognosticate and punish. I can’t think of a much greater crime for a man’s soul beyond reality television.” A long, slow sigh.

A fist. An unmade fist. A hand to his mouth. “Can I possibly be so cynical? Can any of me be in you?”

The Dark Everett puts a finger up to where his nose would otherwise be. Flip. Catch. Flip. Catch. “I caught a little anger there, preacher. We can’t skip right to acceptance, can we?”

“I’m past acceptance. You forget.”

“Ah, good. Shall we get on with it, then?” Catch. Brandish.

The preacher looks toward the door. “May I choose where I die?”

“Bargaining. See? You’re on step three. Acceptance is a long way off. No. I don’t allow people to choose the methodology of death. There’s too much room for malarkey and escape. Appreciate the leeway I’m granting engaging in this conversation. It’s more than most get.”

“What made you talk to me, then?”

“I’m trying to decide if your silver tongue is worth a god damn, pun intended, or if you’re just wet meat to add to the pile. Needs must when the devil drives. So far it isn’t looking good for you. You’re not very convincing. You don’t fight with much salt.”

“That’s because I’m trying to listen to you and understand, not fight. It’s my job.”

“Now I’m just bored.” The knife into the pew again. A pistol from the back waistband, held casually in his palm. “But I’ll be kind. Bullet in the head, or slit throat?”

The preacher pales. “I know that weapon.”

“I fucking well know you know that weapon. You were supposed to use it.” Up comes the hand with the pistol, and then the hand with the knife. Pistol. Knife. Pistol. Knife. “Time to choose. Make it quick.” Toying.

“And if I have a better idea?”

“There is no better idea.” The Dark Everett lifts the pistol to the preacher’s temple. The steel is cold. “But look at the bright side. At least you’ll know for sure if you’re full of sh—”

“Crucify me.”

The pistol lowers. Laughter. “Say that again.”

“Why don’t you crucify me?”

More laughter. “Shit. You know, I like that. You mean it?”

“I do.”

The pistol retreats to the small of the back. “You might not be a total loss after all, depending on one crucial piece of information.”

“What’s that?”

“How often does this son of a bitch with the beard and the long flowing hair visit you?”

“I won’t give him up.”

“I know where you live. I’m going to go there and wait for him anyway. The man is already dead, like you. Tell me when your appointment is, I’ll give you your crucifixion, and maybe something more. If not, you make a mess here that some poor janitor is gonna have to pick up. He’ll tell the congregation what your brains look like, because he believes he’s forgiven for it in advance.”

“There’s no way I can persuade you not to kill my visitor?”

“None at all. Philosophically speaking, you’ve already killed him.”

A long silence. “He is supposed to visit this afternoon. What’s the something more?”

“Total, real resolution for your faith. Such as it is.”

* * *

And there you have it, folks. Intrigued? I hope so.

You can follow CURA TE IPSUM as it regularly updates right HERE.

VOLUME THREE collects the first half of the second year of the comic, and makes a nice companion to VOLUMES ONE and TWO if you already have them. The YEAR ONE book collects material previously available in VOLUMES ONE and TWO, with bonus stuff like the complete text of the story you just sneak-peeked. There are a good number of difference combo packages you  can purchase as well, including the chance to get original sketches done by Mr. Wee himself.  So click on this link, check it out. Tell them Anthony sent you!

VOLUME THREE cover

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It’s Webcomics Wednesday, featuring the return of Luke Herr! Yaaaaayyyyy! (In my best “Hi Ho, Kermit The Frog here” Muppet Show introductory voice).

Muppet Luke as envisioned by Daniel Butler

Luke Herr is “a Bachelor of Web Design-holding person who isn’t as thrilled about doing web work as he used to be. Former comic shop jockey and comic reviewer. He now does work on various nonpaying projects while looking for work that can pay the bills while living in Ohio. Favorite Comic Character: Moon Knight (the idea more the character)/ Jack Knight

 

ANTHONY: Welcome back to Rambling On, Luke. What have you been up to since the last time we chatted?

 

LUKE: Hey Anthony. Thanks for having me back on! Since we last talked a few months back life has changed a pretty good deal. I’ve graduated college and entered the job market since then. Of course I’ve yet to find a job that actually pays but I am still keeping myself busy by doing a bunch of side projects and comics.

 

I ended up starting a new project called Prison Spaceship which is an action pixel comic set in space. It is like Star Wars meets Con Air. A bunch of aliens in a spaceship who’ve been in prison and suddenly chaos breaks loose and it is up to Kat, the main character, to try and get off the ship and back to Earth.

 

Additionally I am working on a space series for an anthology with Allan Wood called The Future Universe and I have a story in that called The Last Confessions of a Living Bomb which is a diplomacy/religious/political piece with aliens. Two races are fighting over an asteroid and one of them leaves one person with a bomb capable of destroying the asteroid and the surrounding ships if they don’t get their way. It is up to a reporter to get the last thoughts of this living bomb. It is a lot more serious in tone but with some cool ideas.

 

ANTHONY: What’s the publication status of your webcomics SOCIALFIST and CHANGELING?

 

LUKE: Socialfist has entered a sort of publication limbo. Remus, the artist, ended up getting a deal to draw a book for James Asmus called The Life And End Times of Bram And Ben and since James is a professional comic writer who can pay money, Remus is working on that and some other jobs that can pay much better.

 

On the other hand though, I am working on getting the word about Socialfist out there so for a few weeks, I’ll be distributing a free CBZ file of the current Socialfist pages. After the free period though, I’ll be selling that for $2 and I’ll also be premiering the Special $5 edition. It comes with all of the pages of the series – including the two 9 page predecessor series back when it was still SFCRTSN (Super Feudal Communist Russia Team Squad Now). The money will be going to support the artist on those books and with some hopefully going towards the next version of the series.

 

I’ll be working with Max Y of Cracked on a new version. The plan is to do a series of shorter pieces before compiling them into a larger trade – that way if we lose an artist, the tonal shift will not be as intense. As to when that will begin, it will all be posted on the Socialfist blog and twitter.

 

As for Changeling we are working on finishing up Chapter 3, the Case of the Sound Demons which is our Doctor Who homage chapter. After that, if things work out, we will be having a fill in artist for a sort of crazy out there action chapter but I still need to nail down those details. Additionally we will be releasing the Changeling Volume 2 book soon in both print and digital formats which will include Chapter 2 and 3 along with a special book-only chapter and that should premiere at Heroes Con in June.

 

Whetting your appetite for CHANGELING

ANTHONY: Sounds like a lot on your plate! You’re also publishing a book online. What’s it about?

 

LUKE: I wrote and am currently reediting a book called Pharaoh and Ibis which is an all-ages adventure novel that takes a lot from mythology and comics and turns them into something fresh and fun.

 

The story is about Chris Cushing, an archaeologist, and Kevin Canyon, a young kid, getting thrown into this massive battle between the gods as they try to find an escaped deity who is out for revenge. There’s a lot of twists and turns and some really fun stuff.

 

That is located over at the Pharaoh and Ibis tumblr. I’ll be starting the second round of edits soon and additionally, if all goes well, I’ll be having an artist provide illustrations for it.

 

 

ANTHONY: Where did you draw your inspiration from for this particular story?

 

LUKE: I’ve always been a big fan of mythology and heroes and this was my chance to combine those two things together. I think we miss out on a lot of Egyptian mythology compared to Graeco-Roman partially due to the art and vandalism of the tombs but also the difficulty of translations but there are some interesting characters there and I do my best to round them out.

I’ve also been a big fan of pulpy superhero characters. When DC recently did their relaunch they did a lot of stuff that I didn’t care for. They turned Shazam into a gritty hero – and this is a book about a kid with superpowers. It shouldn’t be dark and gritty – if I were a kid like that I’d go into R rated movies and drive cars. I’d have fun. It wouldn’t necessarily be smart fun but there is no reason that a kid with all of that power should be so moody. That weird darkening was part of the impetus and the story partially stemmed from the stories I’d like to tell with these archetypal characters.

 

ANTHONY: I haven’t seen the new Shazam revamp but it sounds like I wouldn’t really like it at all. How does your creative process for your novel differ from your process for the webcomics?

 

LUKE: I’ve recently been changing how I write webcomics, especially after learning how to not tell shorter stories and luckily my brother had given me some books on novel writing. I ended up using those to go about the story more intelligently. The pacing is a lot better because I thought of the story as a trip with stops along the way instead of being a straight shot, so to speak. I like to think it shows up and I’m using that line of thinking to make even better comics now.

 

ANTHONY: What challenges have you noticed while writing the novel that you weren’t expecting to encounter?

 

LUKE: The biggest challenge is creating the world. One of the weaknesses I am still working with is understanding how to describe the world that the characters are in and figuring out how long to keep things going. Comics are a very visual medium and I’ll admit that most of the time I write the comics, unless I am telling something very actiony I think more about the dialogue than the setting. To sort of counteract this I’ve been reading more narrative fiction which after my kick of fake information books and histories of comics and galactic comic writing saviors, it is a valuable thing to do.

 

ANTHONY: Many writers have a group of first readers, or “beta readers,” to help vet the story, notice plot holes, catch typos, etc. I think this is especially important for self-published authors who don’t have an editor assigned to us by a publishing house. Have you worked with anyone before posting? If so, what has that process been like?

 

LUKE: I’ve had a few friends look at the book and part of my reason for posting the book to tumblr is to help people get a first crack at it. Most of the people like what I’ve written but my grammar can be a little funky at parts and because I normally worked on the book before going to bed, I commonly got sidetracked and delirious while writing.

I am also going back through the book myself though part of my reason for bringing on an artist is to reward myself for getting editing done – if I finish editing a chapter, I get to share some awesome art.

 

ANTHONY: Where do you going with the novel when it’s done? Any plans to publish in e-book format or seek other avenues to share the story?

 

LUKE: I really don’t know what my plan for the book is. I have the sequel planned out and the basic ideas for a third but I think it will all come down to whatever happens. I mean, I am not entirely sure about hunting for a publisher but I am happy sharing the book for free now. If a publisher were to come by offering me money or if someone wanted to do an e-book version, I’d not be opposed.

 

ANTHONY: You’ve already answered my usual closing question about favorite books. So: favorite comics, and what would you say to convince someone to read it who hasn’t already?

 

LUKE: Actually speaking of books I recently finished Mogworld by Yahtzee Croshaw and that was a fantastic read. It is a sort of Douglas Adams take on conscious non-player characters in an MMO and it deals with a lot of big ideas while also being incredibly funny and well written.

 

For comics I haven’t been read too many recently but I’ll give my big throw of support to Thor: The Mighty Avenger by Roger Langridge with Chris Samnee doing the art. The book is a fantastic re-imagining of the origin of Thor in a more all ages setting but it is more than that. The series redefines a lot of the characters and makes them actually live and makes them human, so to speak. It’s not as much of an action piece and instead focuses on relationships and characters. Unfortunately the book sold poorly so it was cancelled quickly but it is collected in two trade paperbacks that are well worth buying or most of it is on the Marvel Digital Comics.

 

ANTHONY: Thanks again, Luke!

 

Luke can be found all over the internet. His novel PHARAOH AND IBIS is on Tumblr. He is the chief editor and blogger on Nerdcenaries. His webcomics are Socialfist and Changeling. And of course he’s on Twitter as @koltreg.

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Today I welcome Gordon McAlpin back. It’s been a week of returning favorites. You’d think there was an anniversary coming up or something.

Gordon McAlpin

Gordon McAlpin lives in Minneapolis with his cat Punk. In his twenties, he watched over a dozen movies a week. Gordon has written movie reviews, co-hosted a movie podcast, and edited a movie news blog, but now he just writes and draws Multiplex. While he has never worked at a movie theater, he has had several equally terrible jobs.

From 2004–2006, Gordon created Stripped Books, a series of non-fiction strips covering book- and comics-related events in comics form. Multiplex began in July, 2005, and is Gordon’s first on-going comic strip.

Gordon draws Multiplex in Adobe Illustrator CS5 on a Mac and happily endorses the Astute Graphics’s Phantasm CS and VectorScribe plug-ins. He uses Coda to update and maintain the Multiplex website and hosts the site on Rackspace Cloud Hosting.

 

 

ANTHONY: Welcome back, Gordon! Thanks for agreeing to chat again.

GORDON: No problem. Thanks for asking!

ANTHONY: You used Kickstarter to successfully fund the publication of MULTIPLEX BOOK ONE: ENJOY YOUR SHOW. It’s time to get Book Two: THERE AND BACK AGAIN. How long is this campaign running for, and what are some of the rewards you’re offering to those who contribute?

GORDON: This campaign is running for 23 days total. This is a bit shorter than most, and much, much shorter than my first project, which went for the maximum of 90 days. When I ran the Kickstarter project for Multiplex: Enjoy Your Show, I was literally the first webcartoonist to do it — not the first cartoonist, jus the first webcartoonist. So I assumed more time = more money. What I didn’t realize was that it would be more stress and more work, because I had to promote the project for three months. That got old kind of fast. So I decided to do a much shorter one this time: three weeks, which I rounded up to 23 days so that I could end it on midnight before an update day. This way I get the initial flurry of interest and the last-minute drive much closer together. That might have been a mistake, but it’s been doing well so far. We’ll see how it plays out, won’t we?

As for the rewards, you can get artist’s editions of the book (or both books, even), a T-shirt with some as-yet-undecided movie parody image (like the Breakfast Club one I did for Book 1), a print, sketches, an original hand-drawn Multiplex comic on the subject of your choice — on up to some kind of jokey ones like a print of a Multiplex comic with yourself “George Lucased” into it or me flying/driving to your home to watch the movie trilogy of your choice on Blu-ray.

Gordon McAlpin, photo by Charlene Epple

ANTHONY: You’ll really watch any trilogy of the person’s choice if they donate at the highest level? This makes me hope I hit the lottery before your Kickstarter ends, just so I can make you sit through The Never-Ending Story movies. Seriously, what trilogy would you most and least like to sit through if someone did donate at that level?

GORDON: Absolutely! I mean, it was really mostly a joke, but yes, I would absolutely do it. It’d be great if the staff of a movie theater were to make that pledge collectively. I can’t imagine any single person wanted to give me THAT much money. I was shocked that someone went for the “Leet Pack,” which gets them a portable hard drive with every Multiplex file (strip, reference file, background, etc.) in its original Illustrator format, signed by me. And some other stuff, of course.

The trilogy I would most like to see… I think the Mad Max movies. They’re pretty awesome, and I’ve only seen each of them once or twice ever, so they’ll feel pretty fresh.

Least like… probably the Matrix. The first one is awesome, of course, but I can’t even look at it anymore because the sequels were so bad, especially the third one.

ANTHONY: Book One got some really good reviews, and I remember how excited I was to find a copy randomly on the shelf at my local Borders (alas, poor Borders, we knew it well, Horatio…). What lessons did you learn from the production of Book One that you’ll apply to producing Book Two?

GORDON: I was mostly very happy with how the book turned out, physically. There were some mistakes that slipped past me and the freelance proofreaders I brought in, so there’s stuff I’ll be able to keep my eye out for now.

Johanna Draper Carlson gave a review of the book that pointed out a few things I hadn’t thought of, like a table of contents or providing a better introduction to the strip in the front matter than I did. I’ll be taking some of those comments to heart with Book 2’s design.

But I’ve produced books and other printed stuff as part of my “day job” as a freelance print production artist for over a decade, so there wasn’t much I was going to learn from doing yet another book. The only big difference was that this was MY book, you know?

ANTHONY: There are those who say “why bother buying a print edition of one storyline when I can see the entire series archives online for free.”  So what can we expect in the print edition of book two that we didn’t see online?

GORDON: About 236 dpi? (Mathematically not accurate, I know.) Aside from much better reproduction, there will be something like 25 bonus comics. Those will also be in the Chapter eBooks that I’ll be releasing as I get the material done, just like with Book 1. Chapter 6 is already out.

There isn’t a new story in this book, like the “Prequel” story in Book 1, because I felt like there was already a pretty strong main thrust to the volume and that any new, longer story I added would just feel like filler. But the bonus comics here will serve the same purpose as in Multiplex: Enjoy Your Show — fleshing out the narrative and characters in a way that I couldn’t (or failed to do) the first time around.

ANTHONY: For those who don’t follow Multiplex on line, give us a summary of who the main characters are, and where we find them as THERE AND BACK AGAIN starts.

LtoR: Kurt, Melissa, Becky, Franklin & Jason. Your friendly neighborhood Multiplex 10 staff

GORDON: Jason is a movie snob, a bit of a jerkass, but always honest (some might say to a fault), so… that’s his one redeeming quality, I guess. Oh, girls think he’s cute, too, but his mouth gets in the way.

Kurt is a horror movie buff and just in general muuuuch easier to please. He’s goofy, but not stupid, and has a cruder sense of humor than Jason (although it’s slowly rubbing off on Jason).

Becky is a quiet, bookish science nerd with a romantic streak, who was kind of in love with Jason for a bit (see Book 1), but might just be getting over it…

Melissa, Kurt’s girlfriend, is a bit more worldly than Kurt. She’s pretty protective of Becky (her roommate and best friend), so she can be a bit of a scold when Jason is a jerk to her, but otherwise she’s sort of aimless and just likes to enjoy the moment. Which is how she can handle with Kurt’s abysmal taste in movies.

Franklin hasn’t done a whole lot at this point, but he’s a ladies’ man and computer nerd rolled into one.

Jason’s girlfriend at this point is Devi, who worked at the theater over the previous summer but is now attending the SVA in New York, so there’s going through some long-distance drama (still). Devi is a lot like Melissa: worldly but also a little boring. (I hate to say that about her, because I love her, but that was always the idea.)

Book 2 picks up where Book 1 left off, but there’s not a long going on with them yet. Multiplex didn’t really have a whole lot of continuity at this point, and it’s not really a plot-driven comic. It’s the 2006 Christmas season. Devi is back home from school for the winter break, and that pretty much sums it up, really. It’s a pretty good jumping-on point.

ANTHONY: Your art and story pacing clearly improved over the course of the strips collected in book one. What noticeable differences are there over the course of book two?

GORDON: I think my writing — in terms of character — is what improves the most throughout this book. The art evolves less noticeably in Book 2 than Book 1. You have to keep in mind that I was basically relearning how to draw in the material you see in Book 1, so it was bound to start off VERY roughly.

Mostly, I think, I just get a little better at the actual drawing/posing/whatever of the characters in Book 2.

ANTHONY: The estimated delivery date for the rewards is November 2012, which I guess rules out Book Two making its’ debut at NYC Comic-Con this year. I don’t suppose you’ll be getting a table anyway?

GORDON: If things pan out with financial aid, I’ll be a poor grad student when NYCC rolls around, so I don’t think so.

The November thing is definitely an estimate, though, for the ebooks. The print books will be out in March of 2013.  If I end up going with a Chinese printer, it could be later than that. We’ll see.

ANTHONY: You know I have to close with a question. Last time we talked your favorite movies and favorite books, so this time, tell me what each of the Multiplex main cast’s favorite movies are, and what they would say to convince someone who hasn’t seen that movie that they should go watch it immediately.

GORDON:

Jason: The Apartment. “It’s the perfect blend of comedy and drama, with just a bit of schmaltz-free romance.” And then he would blather away for another few minutes.

Becky: Sense & Sensibility. “It’s so wonderful. Emma Thompson makes me start bawling every single time.”

Melissa: The Princess Bride. “Cary Elwes. yummm Oh, it’s inconceivably funny, too.”

Franklin: Die Hard. “It’s the best American action movie ever, man!”

Kurt: Night of the Living Dead. I wrote a whole storyline leading up to Kurt introducing this flick, so I’m just going to give you the URL of the strip where he explains it… http://www.multiplexcomic.com/strip/606

ANTHONY: I loved Kurt’s intro for Night. Thanks again, Gordon!

GORDON: No problem!

You can follow Gordon on Twitter as @gmcalpin and be updated about the webcomic by following @multiplex10.  You can join in the current action at Multiplex, where Jason, Kurt and the gang are filming a zombie flick (yes, a zombie flick). And of course you can (and I hope you  will) donate to Gordon’s Lightning Round Kickstarter for MULTIPLEX BOOK TWO: THERE AND BACK AGAIN. Oh, and Multiplex has a Facebook page as well.

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This week, we catch up with webcomics creator Allan Wood.

Allan Wood

Allan Wood writes and draws webcomics. He’s also a college student, a musician and an all-around nice guy I’ve had the pleasure of knowing through social media for quite a few years now.

ANTHONY: Allan, thanks for joining us this week.

ALLAN: Nice place you’ve got, here, Anthony!

ANTHONY: You started out in the webcomics world with an autobiographical eponymous daily comic on Drunk Duck, when you were in your mid-teens. What inspired you to start chronicling your daily life?

ALLAN: It was probably The Office. When I think back on it, now, I was drawing quite a few parallels between the Jim and Pam relationship, which lead me to want to write about my own life. Couple that with some research and I realized that the Journal Comic was way underdone (at least in my opinion). To me, reading about peoples’ lives in detail is fascinating (both for the included and the excluded information), and I made Allan as a means of exploring that fascination.

ANTHONY: Yours was one of the first comics, web or print, I’ve encountered where the panels run vertically instead of horizontal. The only other comic I can think of that used that format consistently was the classic “Little Nemo in Slumberland” over 50 years ago. Why did you choose that format, and have you ever considered switching Allan to a more traditional form?

ALLAN: Little pieces to my comics, such as layout, composition, writing styles, etc., are usually products of my own preferences and experimentation. Personally, I prefer scrolling to read things. Not sure why—it’s possible that it’s in the same vein as newspaper articles reading “faster” when they are wrapped into tight confines.

As for changing the layout, I have considered it. In fact, I’ve made some unpublished Allan strips recently that have branched out of my vertical layout.

ANTHONY: Being a chronicle of your life, Allan isn’t always “work-safe” but it is always truthful. You’ve opened up about relationship problems, losing your virginity, even the car vs. bike accident you had. Is there anything you regret making public? Or anything you’ve left out or glossed over that you wish you had taken the time to draw and include?

ALLAN: I don’t regret a single thing I’ve drawn. I’ve tried to make it all as accurate and honest as I could. Do I regret letting some of it happen?—sure, but creating a timeline that in 20 years I can look back on and laugh at how stupid I was is surely nothing to apologize for!

ANTHONY: Allan isn’t a daily comic anymore … adulthood has brought more constraints on your time, but you’ve also branched out a bit with other webcomics projects. Before we talk about those projects, one last Allan question. Do you foresee a time when you’ll discontinue Allan in favor of other creative endeavors?

ALLAN: Allan’s always been my “time-killer” comic. If I have an idea, I can draw a strip in under an hour. Because of this, Allan’s toughed out all the slumps I’ve come across with my other comic endeavors. It’s easy to pick up, accessible, and just plain ol’ fun (from an artist’s perspective). Having said that, I could see Allan “ending” around Day 1000. I’m not saying I’ll ever stop drawing journal comics, but with trends in comics I’ve noticed lately, the Formatted Comic isn’t necessary for success. Expanding on that, people seem less interested in comics and more interested in the people who create comics they read. It’s an interesting phenomenon, but creating a bond between your readers and yourself is probably one of the best things any webcomic artist can do, and having that bond with my readers, I couldn’t just see myself leaving them without any kind of continuation, regardless as to whether it’s on a site called Allan or not.

ANTHONY: Your other currently-running webcomic is Blue Circus. Definitely NSFW! Tell us what it’s about, who the target audience is, and where it can be found.

ALLAN: I grew up drawing a lot of men. Dragon Ball Z was a big influence when I young. Akira Toriyama’s understanding of the male physique sprouted my own appreciation for the muscles that make up our bodies. However, I never really “got into” drawing girls. They’ve always been a difficult enigma for me to craft accurately, stylistically, and femininely.

Blue Circus began as just an art project. I wanted to draw girls. The problem was, I was having a hard time thinking up girls to draw and at the moment I had no reference photos or anything like that (I was home for a weekend visiting family). As I struggled to draw the female figure in different positions I realized that I wasn’t attached to these drawings. So I began thinking up a backstory, and as I did, I found myself becoming more and more attached to this girl I was drawing. Her name was Amy (Amy is now one of the main protagonists in Blue Circus).

So once I decided on one character, the rest kind of all fell into place. It’s definitely not a comic I expect commercial success with or anything, so I never planned on an audience. Rather, it’s a means for me to stretch my artistic wings when it comes to cartoony females and to practice my story plots on the side.

ANTHONY: You’ve never been shy about sexual topics, but you’re a bit more …. detailed, shall we say, in BC than you’ve been in any other project. So what made you decide to really “work blue,” as the Vegas comedians used to call it?

ALLAN: Blue, indeed. I think it’s a well-established fact that I like sex. A lot of people do. I can understand why, too. Sex is fun, funny, and fascinating. It’s intricate and detailed, and it reveals a lot about people. Consider the explicity of it to be an experimental character device (you can learn a lot about a character through their dreams). Blue Circus is not about sex, but rather the people who do sex, and I’m working trying to find a good balance. It should be noted that the nudity in Blue Circus is not gratuitous. I draw boobs and penises for reasons. I don’t just shove them into the panels so people can beat off to them.

ANTHONY: I definitely wouldn’t describe BC as “pornography.” Now, let’s talk creative process for a minute. There are plenty of differences between Allan and BC: real life vs. fiction, vertical vs. horizontal page layouts, etc. For BC, how do you decide the composition of each page, the length of each story arc, etc.?

ALLAN: Blue Circus story arcs begin with an idea. How well-thought out that idea is varies, but that’s its beginning point. Earlier in production, I would think up the dialogue in my head, draw the characters, and try to match the events together. Now, I kind of create one strip at a time, writing the dialogue (which usually has changed by the time I’m done drawing) to strips and then drawing them. It seems to be working better.

Other comics I’ve done, such as Red Future, I’ve written in their entirety. The problem was, the comics themselves took too long to make and I got bored with it, trying to rush to the “good parts.” Personally, I find myself more entertained with my works when I surprise myself with each update.

ANTHONY: Since we’re both LOST fans, you know I have to ask: Does BC have an intended end point, or are you just making it up as you go along?

ALLAN: Right now, the latter. The final moment hasn’t been decided upon. The girls are all in college, so the easy end would be graduation. However, that’s boring, and personally, I’d want to go out with more of a bang.

ANTHONY: One more blue question: Whatever happened to the Blue Squire?

ALLAN: That’s like asking Star Trek what happened with Tribbles. The Blue Squire was an in-joke pertaining to a Medieval Times experience I had when I was younger. Later he became a bit of a mascot for Allan, and at one point I was in the process of creating a storyline for The Squire, himself. Things fell through, though, and time got away from me. I don’t know if you’ve figured this out, yet, but I stop a lot of projects before fully completing them!

ANTHONY: See what I did there? And since I mentioned the Squire, you know I’m going to bring up two other unfinished projects of yours: whatever happened to DandE and Red Planet? Any thoughts about going back to either one?

ALLAN: DandE was a comic I created in the midst of making The 600. I drew it at school during math classes because apparently I didn’t already have enough comic projects going on (even though I very much did). I stopped it early after publishing it online because of time restraints. Unfortunately, I didn’t feel attached to the project enough to pick it back up. I still may include some of those old strips in an Allan anthology or something, but for now, it’s done.

As for Red Future, I became bored with its process. Personally, I do more than just draw. I have to write, produce, create, and once I had finished writing RF, all I was doing was copying down the info.

ANTHONY: Are your comics hand-drawn and then scanned, or done completely on the computer? In either case, what are the tools you prefer to use to create the art?

ALLAN: Usually my strips are hand-drawn with some kind of fancy pen (no pencil sketching) then scanned into the computer and cleaned up just a tidbit. Occasionally I will make a digital strip (that is, a strip drawn into my computer through the means of my Intuous 3 Wacom Tablet), but this is usually for convenience (or lack of materials). An Allan page looks best to me when it visually represents a journal comic, and you just don’t get the same feel with digital processes that you get with pen on paper.

ANTHONY: And for my usual final question: What is your favorite book, and what would you say to recommend it to someone who hasn’t read it yet?

ALLAN: I’m not much of a book person. I should be, because I like learning, thinking, and imagining, but currently I find investing the time impossible (I like getting things done fast). However, Fahrenheit 451 is my favorite book. The world Bradbury weaves of his own volition frighteningly predicts what the world could become (and even stranger—what it already has),

ANTHONY: Thanks again for agreeing to be interviewed, Allan!

ALLAN: Thanks for having me! And thanks for being so patient.

You can follow Allan Wood on Twitter, find his page on Facebook, and read Allan and Blue Circus on the web.

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This weekend, instead of blogging about my inexorably slow NaNoWriMo progress (and aren’t you all glad I’m skipping that topic!), I’m welcoming back my buddy Neal Bailey to talk more about the wonderful webcomic Cura Te Ipsum. This time, he’s brought along artist Dexter Wee, too!

Neal Bailey

CURA TE IPSUM is the story of Charlie Everett. Well, several Charlies, as it turns out. In most universes, Charlie Everett gets sick of his life (where he’s most often a guidance counselor who tells other people how to live their lives, while not knowing how to live his own). After a certain point, he’s fired, and he goes home and sticks a pistol in his mouth and blows his brains out. Charlie Prime, our hero, is stopped by another character, Leo, who introduces him to the concept of the multiverse, and tells him that there’s a whole team of Charlies, Cura Te Ipsum, fighting to stop him from committing suicide across multiple universes. The story has grown and deepened, new Charlies (both good and evil) have been introduced, and a world has been destroyed. Let’s see if Neal and Dexter will tell us what’s in store for Volume Two and beyond….

Cover to Cura Te Ipsum Volume 1

ANTHONY: I know there’s a synopsis of Cura Te Ipsum as a whole leading off this interview, but give us an idea of what Volume 2 is all about, and how it is different from volume one.

DEXTER: Volume two opens with a bang, introduces new characters to the team and ends with a killer cliffhanger.

NEAL: Volume one was definitely much more about laying the ground rules for the story, and volume two is all about running with that world, now that it’s established. Charlie tries to come to terms with the first (of many) things that drove him toward suicide in the first place, and the Dark Everett moves to take the advantage by kidnapping Hank, Charlie’s childhood best friend. Charlie’s role as a leader starts to come into more prominence, and the Dark Everett solidifies his place as Charlie’s nemesis, where before he was more of a mystery to the team.

ANTHONY: Last time I interviewed Neal, we talked a little about the collaborative process between the two of you. Several months later, has that process changed at all? Have you guys settled into a comfortable rhythm or are there still surprises that pop up in the partnership?

DEXTER: The process is still the same. I read the script then send Neal the draft layouts for approval. Then once it is approved I tighten the pencils, scan, then email the pages to Neal for lettering. It’s been a smooth partnership. Neal is very easy to work with and the communication is great. It’s been a fun and enjoyable ride so far and will continue to do so.

NEAL: I would say the process itself hasn’t changed too much, but I do see a definite comfortable rhythm that has developed, at least with me. Dex has become very much a friend over the months that we’ve grinded away at this thing, and there’s a kind of sixth sense I feel now, where he’ll see something missing in the script or something that’s too much, and he’ll add a panel, remove a panel, or give something a little touch that it was missing in a way that makes me feel like I haven’t before… like I have a back up editor for one of my own stories. With a novel, it’s very much EVERYTHING I screw up, I see later and regret (even if it’s small). In a collaboration, I’ve learned that Dex has my back, that two minds are better than one, and it just keeps getting better and better for me.

ANTHONY: Neal, has your scripting style changed as you’ve developed a better feel for Dexter’s strengths as an artist?

NEAL: Absolutely. As I got to know Dex and learn what he liked to draw, and where his strengths lie, I started tailoring the broader script toward his work. Now, to be fair, I had the first year in the can before we got through the first trade, so much of that adaptation occurs in year two, which is an even higher compliment to Dex, because the first year is not directly tailored, and yet he’s still, consistently, CONSTANTLY knocking it out of the park.

ANTHONY: Dexter, what is your process like once you receive a script from Neal? Do you charge right in, or do you read it over and let it soak in for a while?

DEXTER: I read it over then soak it for a while. Just visualizing the story and getting the feel of it. But sometimes I just draw right in, read one or two pages then draw, but most of the time it’s reading a chapter first, and then I get one printed page and place it on the drawing table and read it again while drawing the page.

ANTHONY: Have you ever read over a script, started to draw, and then thought there might be a better camera angle or page layout for what Neal’s words are trying to convey? And if it happens, how do you guys work through disagreements like that?

DEXTER: Yeah. Sometimes scenes sounds good or easy in the script but looks different visually. So If I encounter something like that I usually draw a sample first then send it to Neal. Glad to say there isn’t much of a disagreement. Sometimes I just miss the point and once Neal explains it to me, I’m all good. There are times also when I completely mess up by forgetting to draw some characters in certain scenes. Good thing I don’t ink the pencil pages, so it’s much easier to correct once Neal will inform me about it.

NEAL: I should pop in and, in Dex’s defense, say that most miscommunications are mine. Like when I put Squirt in a bar! Duh! But yeah, usually the thumbnails catch anything that might be funky… and Dex is always, ALWAYS improving my pacing with his awesome layouts.

ANTHONY: Dexter has an interesting challenge with this series: even though each main character has an overall unique visual, they are still all variations on Charlie Everett. So what do you do to make sure they look like the same person while making sure they stand apart?

DEXTER: I have a picture of my head of what Charlie looks like from the eyes to the chin so that when I draw the Charlies they will look the same but still have those unique look.

ANTHONY: Cura has a distinct look. How do you create it? What tools do you use as you move from initial roughs to the final uploaded pages?

DEXTER: My tools are just pencils 3H, 2B and 4B. After scanning the pencilled page I just adjust the contrast in Photoshop. I don’t ink my work due to time constrain but hopefully in the future we’ll do one.

NEAL: I use an ancient version of Adobe Illustrator to letter. I take Dex’s final pages, place them, do my layers and all, and then I save a version for the site, which is typically much less detailed so it doesn’t take forever to load, but it’s still clear on the screen. Illustrator seems to leave less blur on a file than Photoshop, so I use Illustrator for most everything I can.

ANTHONY: Are there pages you are particularly proud of?

DEXTER: Ah, let met me think. I like the recent pages of volume three. The first page of Cura is also memorable to me. I also like the first time I drew Dark Everett in page 35 splash and Undertaker Charlie in page 49. The massacre splash of page 47. The doomsday scenes from page 76 to 78 as well as pages 89-91 where Hank slide down from the exterior of the building. I also like the Titanic scenes, it might look easy but it took me time to check the Titanic ship design and copy it. I also like the cameo scenes of pages 118, 119 and 149.

NEAL: I echo Dex for favorite pages. I remember seeing that first page and going “Holy crap, this is actually going to work.” I realized in Dex I was working with real talent, someone who could make this comic soar. My personal favorite page is when Charlie throws the gun into the water, the no copy page. I also like little things, mainly. Panels really make me smile on their own, as part of a whole. When Hank is being called Lucky in caption in the middle of the falling ash from the nuclear weaponry. There’s a page coming up that has the pyramids again (I won’t spoil it), and that page really makes me smile in a ghoulish, moribund kinda way.

I really, really love the pages with Henry V. Dex really killed those pages.

ANTHONY: Certain pages still jump immediately to mind for me with very little bidding. For instance, the buildings collapsing during the nuclear attack, where we first meet Hank. Did you intentionally draw on September 11th imagery for those pages? It resonated that way for me.

DEXTER: No. Neal wrote the script clearly for me to visualize it. Actually the picture that I think went into my mind while doing the page is the apocalyptic scene in Terminator two movie.

NEAL: I actually overloaded Dex with references for those pages, doing the math, seeing how high and how far you’d have to be to survive a nuke placed right behind the Eiffel Tower, seeing what you’d have to do to survive. That building is actually the Tour Gan, which I believe is a government building, across the water, but at just the right height and distance to survive that kind of nuclear explosion. And for all that reference, all that thinking, Dex still outdid me in that page. It was so awesome. I think the only thing we changed, if I recall, was added that waterfall in the building. Oh! I also (like a dunce) added a redundant panel at the top, so we deleted that, because that page on its own… oh man. Can you imagine it with a small panel at the top? I have learned to let Dex do his thing, because he does it so well, and stop cluttering.

ANTHONY: Neal’s starting to feel left out by now, I’m sure. So, a plot question: As you know, I’ve really come to like the character of Billy, the version of Charlie who has cancer and has obviously been through chemo. Was he a planned part of the story all along? He seems to really be merging well with the main crew, although I notice he hasn’t been added to the cast page or the team picture…

NEAL: I would feel left out if I didn’t keep jumping in on Dex’s questions! Heh. Apologies, Dex.

Billie is an interesting story, actually. He’ll be added to the cast page and team picture shortly, actually, and he’s around for the long haul. He was planned to be around, but the cancer element I added as I was writing. When I’m creating a story, there are fixed things which can change, but often don’t. For example, the destruction of the Anchor Universe was ALWAYS the end of issue four, back when this was planned out as a monthly. The intro of Headquarters was the end of the first issue. The destruction the end of the second. Charlie’s second survival was the end of three, and then the death of the world. Explosion, implosion, life, death.

Once that settled into the regular story, the longform tale, Charlie would have to explore who he was in the past, and he’s not done with that at all. We still have to meet Cindy, we still have to learn about what happened in Paris, and on and on… I won’t spoil, but Charlie has a lot of life to unpack. The first thing, however, the thing which ate him up and spat him back out, was the fact that he believed if he had just had the courage of his convictions to go to New York, he’d not have been sad. He would have succeeded. He was weak, and selfish (in his head, not to me), and so he had to go and talk to his younger self and see if he actually was these things he believed he was.

And so the scene where Billie is brought in (it shall be explained how, toward the middle of year two you’ll understand) was important as hell, because of his naivety in comparison to Prime. I was writing this scene I’d had in my head forever, where Billie says something about having no future that sets Charlie off, and instead of realizing it’s a teenager being a teenager, he shakes the kid. The initial construction was that Charlie would think about what his dad did to him, then we’d meet Billie, and then Charlie would shake Billie and realize he was like his father. A real Luke looking at the glove moment. But then I realized that if Charlie thought he was like his father, like, ever, he’d blow his own brains out right after doing such a thing. I couldn’t shake the scene, though, I knew it had to play like that no matter what (fixed point), and so I wrote it anyway thinking I’d delete it or take a break if I had to, but then, as Charlie’s shaking Billie, the wig came off, and I realized… ah. Billie has cancer. That’s what my mind was trying to tell me.

Charlie is trying to confront death, and it’s VOLUNTARY death. My subconscious was telling me that I needed a character to help him confront inevitable death, because he’s looking at all the facets of why he should live or die, and the inevitability (or avoidance) of death, too.

That’s not to say Billie is doomed to fail with his chemo, or that he’s going to survive, note. Just that his character is an important part of the larger picture, and is, beautifully, not a fixed point. I will let Billie’s story tell itself to me, and given what’s coming, I think he’ll have a great potentiality in several worlds.

ANTHONY: By the time the print version of volume 2 hits, the webcomic will have moved on. So what teasers can you share with us about where the story is headed in the next few months?

DEXTER: Oh, it will be big year. Lots of exciting stuff happening. I already did some visual teasers for the next chapter. It will be posted soon so I hope you’ll dig it. I’ll give the floor to Neal to share his thoughts on whats coming next.

N: Well, like Dex said, we have some teasers. We’re going to release them in our first week after the trade (in five straight days of pics!), and here’s two of the six:

Teaser #1

Teaser #2

The Charlene pic is a hint at a little bit of what’s going to happen in the first few months. The peril of Central Park is… well, I can’t spoil it, but it’s pretty damned crazy. It’s a scene I’ve had since early in year one, and it’ll shake out over a few months.

Then there are other promos you’ll see, starting on the 11th of November, celebrating our one year anniversary. For a hint, you’ll get a look at the terror lightning, a familiar face will return, an origin will be hinted at, and a new Charlie will debut.

Year two is going to be CRAZY. Flat out nuts. There’s all kinds of great stuff going on now that the core team is in place. They have to rebuild Cura. They have to find a new source of cash. They have to cope with Billie’s health. We learn more about the Dark Everett and his creepy buddies. We see what happens when you open a portal to a place you shouldn’t, really. Plus, as promised, a return to the dystopian Anchor Universe! Stick with us! I promise a great time.

ANTHONY: Thanks for the hints and teases! I’m honored to be debuting some of Dex’s artwork here for the first time. Neal, any final words to add?

NEAL: On a more nuts and bolts level, buy a trade if you can, folks. It’ll help keep the lights on, and they flicker sometimes around here. I’ll gladly operate at a loss until my brain explodes (that’s one of the great curses of being a writer, you love what you do even if it’s eating at your pocketbook), and it’s totally worth it even if we never turn a profit. However, if you can, we’d love any help you can provide in this down economy to help alleviate production costs. And if you have already bought one, MANY THANKS! You’re a saint, and you give us the faith we need to do this thing.

More important than any of that, however, is if you can tell a friend. I may be being shameless here, but I want this comic to succeed, and if you can get one more reader for us, that’s one more person who can tell one more person, and we won’t need the apparatus to make this book work, we’ll just have a great, DIY, dedicated crowd of folks supporting independent art.

Either way, you all rock and have made Cura the best artistic experience of my life so far. Thank you. Thanks, Anthony, as ever, for this place to yak about what we love to do!

ANTHONY: You’re welcome, guys. I plan on inviting you back as long as there’s new CURA to talk about!

Don’t forget, folks, you can follow Neal on Twitter as NealBailey, and of course you can find the comic by clicking this link: CURA TE IPSUM.

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This week, we welcome Megan L. Heaton and Isabelle Melancon, the creators of the webcomic NAMESAKE.

The Namesakes

Namesake is the story of Emma Crewe, a woman who discovers she can visit other worlds. She finds out that these are places she already knows – fantasy and fairy lands made famous through the spoken word, literature and cinema. Her power as a Namesake forces her to act as a protagonist in these familiar stories as she figures out how to get home.

Isabelle is a French-Canadian comic artist currently living in Montréal. She has currently 2 graphic novels published and a webcomic running and is planning to write many, many more. She is fascinated by fairy tales, mythology, gore and the macabre. She currently works in a french comic book store.

Meg

Megan is an American comic book writer, tech blogger and newspaper designer best known for co-creating the webcomic Namesake with Isabelle Melançon. She’s originally from Montgomery, Ala., and currently lives outside Harrisburg, Pa. In addition to writing comics, she is a designer and copy editor for The Patriot-News and app review editor for TUAW (The Unofficial Apple Weblog).

ANTHONY: Hello, Ladies! First question: What’s the creative process like? Do you work with Megan giving Isabelle a fully-detailed script including dialogue? Or is there more creative give-and-take behind each individual page?

ISABELLE: Well, since both of us work on the story, it’s very much a back-and-forth. Megan and I discuss what happens in the next couple of pages and then she scripts it out. Once it’s scripted, I create the weekly pages from it, usually in sets of three, adapting her text to the comic format. She approves the visuals, I ink them, color them and then send the files to her for her to add the text in and make some last minute changes. So as you can see, it’s pretty much pure teamwork all steps of the way.

MEGAN: Exactly what Isa said. It’s teamwork all the way. Before Namesake began, we sat down starting in mid-2009 and hashed out a detailed story arc we dubbed the retcon. We broke the entire story into individual arcs, then from there we began breaking the first arc into chapters. The story’s evolved from that first retcon in a good way. We’ll now look at what we want to accomplish in a chapter as a whole, then I script it out. Originally, almost was computer-scripted from first to last, but then I realized I was getting my best results by handwriting the script first. So, I’ll take a Moleskine and fountain pen and script out a scene. Then, I’ll type it in Scrivener where I have the master Namesake file, then send the scene to Isa. She’ll create the weekly pages, adding in her own suggested dialogue and either expanding or contracting some of the suggested scenes/lines. I’ll approve the visuals, Isa then inks and colors, then I do the lettering for any last-minute text tweaks and because I am an acknowledged font snob. I hear there’s support groups for that.

ANTHONY: The idea of fairy tale and literary characters existing in our real world has been done before, in a number of different formats. You’ve tweaked that concept in an original and interesting way. How did you hit on the idea of Namesakes (Wendy, Dorothy, Alice, Jack) fulfilling specific literary roles in new adventures?

ISABELLE: I guess it’s always the way I saw adaptations as a kid. All the characters felt like different persons born of the same original concept. The first Alice was long gone and the one in the Disney movie I was watching was the “new” one. I don’t even remember the concept ever really hitting me like Newton’s apple. It just naturally evolved into Namesake, thanks to Meg’s encouragements and motivation to help me get my ideas into place. The whole idea really started solidifying in a silly parody of the “Wizard of Oz” I was doing. She saw a lot of potential in it, and that’s how it started off.

MEGAN: I came into Namesake after Isa’d already come up with the idea, encouraging her to do more with the idea.

ANTHONY: Your main character, Emma, seems to be the first new Namesake in a number of years — so much so that Alice and Wendy aren’t even really sure what literary role she’s meant to fulfill, although a Jane Austen connection is mentioned. Emma ends up in Oz, is greeted as the new Dorothy, and is read “The Dorothy Protocols.” Does every literary dimension have such Protocols (“The Alice Protocols,” “The Jack Protocols,” etc)?

ISABELLE: Yes and no. It depends how the world greets the Namesakes and keeps up with their history. For instance, Wonderland doesn’t have an Alice protocol because they really can’t manage to write down a logical one. In most worlds, the visits of Namesakes are recorded in the form of folktales, much like the other worlds are folktales in our world. Oz has a pretty specific protocol mostly due to the fact that Dorothies usually ended up staying as residents and most Ozites are immortal, thus allowing the memory of what a Dorothy is to stay alive and fresh.

MEGAN: There’s even rare cases where the Namesake has shifted from a guy to a girl or vice versa depending on the circumstances. We’ll eventually meet one of these Namesakes.

ANTHONY: Feel free to order me to be silent, but my theory is that Emma is not named for/empowered by the Jane Austen character because all of your recognizable Namesakes so far are named for child characters (Alice, Wendy, Dorothy, even Jack). Of course, that makes Emma even more mysterious. You, as the creators, do have a plan all worked out I assume. This isn’t going to be like so many genre TV shows that claim they know what the end-game is but really don’t at all, right? Feel like giving us any hints as to where the story is going?

ISABELLE: Rest assured, Emma’s story is pretty much all written out. Which allows us to laughs evilly when people make theories. Mwa-hah-hah. I guess the two only hints I feel comfortable giving is that not all Namesakes are kids and that Emma’s world is quite close to the ones of the rest of the Calliope cast. It is an existing literature world. And it’s not by Austen.

MEGAN: The vast majority of the Namesake cast is actually in their mid-20s to early-30s. As Isa said, not all Namesakes are kids or take their journeys when they’re children. Among the main cast, we have some who did their journeys as teens and some when they were younger, and there’s some who do their journeys as adults. But, yes, we definitely know the end game. It’s all documented in that aforementioned retcon/Scrivener file and in Gmail conversations. It’s like J.K. Rowling already having the epilogue to the Harry Potter series, but I promise we will not name a character Albus Severus!

ANTHONY: That poor kid will be scarred forever. (Couldn’t resist the pun.) Right now the focus is clearly on Emma in Oz and on Alice/Wendy/Jack’s efforts to figure out where she’s gone. But there are other mysteries running in the background: why did Vanessa kill Karen? Whose ghost was possessing Karen? What happened to Emma’s missing mother? And what connection do Charles Dodson and Alice Liddell have to the modern cast of characters? Will any of these mysteries come to the front burner in the future? Or are they all long-term sub-plots?

ISABELLE: All the current plot points will get resolved. Most of them will be closed when the big villain walks in, which is fairly soon. More flashbacks featuring Alice and Dodson will gradually show what their connection to the present is. Every member of the cast has a planned flashback sequence within the story, with some extra material that will be included as downloadable content in the future. In the long-term sub-plot part of the story, Emma’s mother is going to be a very important character in the future and the ghost too. So they have planned flashbacks as well. But be warned – every explained mystery pretty much opens another. Again : evil laughter. Mwa-hah-hah.

MEGAN: Speaking of the big villain, I am really looking forward to introducing that character and showing some of the research that went into said villain. As you can see with some of the current pages, we’re finally answering some of the questions from chapter 1, but raising others at the same time.

ANTHONY: Isabelle, this one is for you: what medium do you work in, and what tools do you use, to create the art for Namesake? How do you decide which pages, or sometimes just panels, get to appear in color versus which pages stay in black and white?

ISABELLE: I work with liquid china ink, Sakura micron pens and pilot fineliners on bristol board. I usually sketch out the art with a red pencil, then ink directly on top, scan the art and remove the red sketch lines with Adobe Photoshop. The shading and coloring is done with that program as well. The color highlights that are chosen usually come quite naturally. They either match the conversation or underline the use of magic. For instance, the current pages show that Jack feels guilty over Vanessa. So the blood-splatter-shaped marking on his hand is the element in color.

ANTHONY: There seems to be a stylistic difference between the Dodson/Alice Intermissions and Emma’s story. Am I imagining it, or are you purposefully using a slightly different art style for those flashbacks?

ISABELLE: The art style is mostly the same, the framing is a bit different. The sequences with Alice always have a striped wall in the back. Makes everything looks tight and caged. Emma’s story breathes a whole lot more.

ANTHONY: Who are your creative influences, respectively?

ISABELLE: …Oh boy. So many I don’t even know where to start. I guess the main ones would be 19e century illustration (as a whole), Terry Moore, Jeff Smith, Yukito Kishiro, Kerascoet, Fabien Vehlmann and many. many of my webcomic artist friends.

MEGAN: For me, the first was J. Michael Straczynski, the creator of Babylon 5. His televised novel made a huge impression on me as a teenager. Writing-wise, feel free to laugh, but I draw a lot of inspiration from Nora Roberts. She’s a romance/mystery writer (as J.D. Robb), and her characters are well-rounded and the stories filled with emotion. Other writing influences include J.K. Rowling, Rumiko Takahashi and Nobuhiro Watsuki’s Rurouni Kenshin. I’m starting to study the work of Stephen Moffat more and love what he’s done with Doctor Who.

ANTHONY: What is the typical turn-around time from the beginning of script-writing to the completed pages being posted on the site? How far in advance are you working?

ISABELLE: So far, we seem to get stuff done about a week or two in advance. It’s not ideal, but it seems to work well for us.

MEGAN: Yes. Knock on wood, we’ve never missed an update. Some times I am doing the pages by remotely connecting to my desktop to get the lettering done, but the latest we’ve ever been was 30 minutes and that’s because I was driving home from the airport.

ANTHONY: Is there a plan for getting Namesake into print form?

ISABELLE: Since both Meg and me are fascinated by books, yes, absolutely. We are currently looking for printers we can use.

MEGAN: Yes, with a story like this, Namesake needs books. If you know of any good printers, please send them our way.

ANTHONY: When you’re not working on Namesake, are there other projects out there readers should be looking for?

ISABELLE: I have several graphic novel ideas currently in the works. For some of them, Meg and I will be working together again. For others, I will be working alone or with other talented writers I adore. We plan on having one or 2 mini-comics available this year. Among the planned ideas we have vampires, an adaptation of Beauty and the Beast with a gender-swap, magical murder mysteries and stories about fire spirits. So it’s going to be a lot of fun for both us and our readers. I think it’s what makes our projects so likable. It’s that we really have a ton of fun making them.

MEGAN: Isa’s provided a good description of our upcoming projects. We have a ton of fun making stuff and refining ideas. We write what we would like to read. Isa’s been encouraging me to develop my own ideas more, which is where the magical murder mystery came from. We also plan to have mini-comics featuring powerful women in history that don’t always get the spotlight. We also participated in Womanthology together, and that will be out in December.

ANTHONY: And here’s my customary final question: What is your favorite book and what would you say to recommend it to someone who has never read it?

ISABELLE: My favorite book changes every five years or so. I’m a fickle thing that way. But I think one of the books that will always be in my top 10 is the Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle. Why? Because it’s a story that is really complex and really simple at the same time. It’s imaginative, beautiful and truly an example of what timeless fantasy should be like.

MEGAN: I can never answer this one! I can easily give you a list of 10 that would be my favorites. My favorite single book is T.H. White’s “The Once and Future King.” I first read it in ninth grade, and it’s such a great fantasy story. I still have my very battered copy I got for school sitting on the shelf. I love how complex he made the traditional Arthurian characters and how he weaved the current events at that time, World War II, in with the fantasy setting of the novel. My favorite book series is the “In Death” mysteries by J.D. Robb (the aforementioned Nora Roberts.) It’s a series that’s spanned more than 40 books and novella since the mid-90s, and the beauty in the story is the complex mysteries and characters that change and grow as the novels progress. These are mysteries with a romance subplot, and they go hand in hand. But, I absolutely love them and it’s a rule in my household that I am not to be disturbed when a new In Death comes out.

ANTHONY: Thanks for chatting with me, ladies!

You can find read a new page of NAMESAKE every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. You can also follow both Megan and Isa on Twitter.

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This week, we get to chat with webcomic creator Gordon McAlpin.

Gordon McAlpin

Gordon McAlpin lives in Minneapolis with his cat Punk. In his twenties, he watched over a dozen movies a week. Gordon has written movie reviews, co-hosted a movie podcast, and edited a movie news blog, but now he just writes and draws Multiplex. While he has never worked at a movie theater, he has had several equally terrible jobs. From 2004–2006, Gordon created Stripped Books, a series of non-fiction strips covering book- and comics-related events in comics form. Multiplex began in July, 2005, and is Gordon’s first on-going comic strip.

The cast of Multiplex, working hard...

ANTHONY: So let’s start out with the basics: Multiplex has been running continuously since 2005. Tell us about the comic’s origins. How did you decide on this situation and these characters?

GORDON: My buddy Kurt Bollinger first suggested that I do a comic strip about a movie theater. We both love to talk about how I basically thought it was a stupid idea at first, but the truth is, I just didn’t know how to approach the idea. I was thinking in terms of newspaper comics, the 22 (or so) page magazine comic, and long-form graphic novels, none of which I thought were really well-suited to the premise. Once I’d learned about webcomics, I started toying with the idea again, because I realized you could keep the strip extremely timely by setting the strip in real time and referring to actual movies.

In the intervening years, I did also manage to forget that Kurt first suggested I do a comic about a movie theater, but I named a character after him, and stole some aspects of his personality for the character, so it’s all good. There’s a ton of stuff with Kurt that’s totally made up, though, and a ton of stuff in the real life Kurt that I’ve used for other characters, especially Whitey. Along the same lines, Jason is sort of loosely based on me, but he isn’t just a mouthpiece for me. People assume that, especially once they realize we’re both half-Filipino and sarcastic and hate everything, but he’s more an exaggerated 21-year-old me than me now.

The supporting characters tend to arise from a theme or idea I want to play with — Gretchen, for instance, is kind of a commentary on tabloid journalism (comparing it with gossipy high school bullshit); Allen and Norma are two of many types of managers; Lydia started off as me just wanting Jason to find someone even snobbier than him and see how he reacts to it. Obviously, if I’m doing my job as a writer correctly, these aren’t completely obvious.

A: The cast has grown over the years, but the story still centers on Jason, Kurt, Melissa and Becky. How would you describe the dynamic between them? And how, if at all, has that dynamic changed over the years?

G: I don’t know that their dynamic has changed very much at the core of things. Jason and Kurt are still basically in love with each other, Kurt and Melissa are definitely in love with each other. Melissa kind of thinks “Jason is annoying but I guess if Kurt’s his friend then whatever as long as he doesn’t ever talk to my sister.” Those two, I think, have had their ups and downs, but they’re starting to get each other a little more.

And, of course, Becky and Jason are Becky and Jason.

A: Everyone grows up and moves on eventually. Do you foresee Multiplex continuing without “the core four?” Or does the story end when they leave the Multiplex 10 for other jobs? And speaking of the story’s end: is there a plan for how Multiplex wraps up, and specific character arcs that you’re following step-by-step, or are you just letting the story go where it will, throwing things at the wall and seeing what sticks?

G: Multiplex is about Jason, Kurt, Melissa, Becky, and Franklin. Mostly Jason and Kurt, though, and really mostly Jason. But those five are the Big Five to me. Becky, Melissa, and Franklin all get shafted for screen time, I know, but I try. The Big Five will always be in Multiplex, whether or not they’re still working at the Multiplex 10; I know where each of the Big Five is headed with their lives, although not necessarily exactly how it will play out. There will be a definite ending to the series, though, and I think I’ll keep any more details than that to myself for a while longer…

I’ve already laid some of the groundwork for the various ends to each character’s arc (as you would expect, being half-way through the story), so you could probably make some good guesses, anyway.

A: The Multiplex has boasted a very diverse supporting cast over the years as other employees and managers have come and gone. Is there any character you were surprised took on a larger role in the story than you’d originally intended? Or, vice versa, a character you thought would be important who ended up relegated to the background?

G: Every time I introduce a new character, I start to feel bad that they never get any screen time. The worst of these was a character named Letizia, who I never even introduced. I mentioned her in one of Gretchen’s Multiplex Examiner articles, but she never actually appeared. I finally had one of the managers mention he was about to fire her for never showing up for her shifts as a joke.

I was surprised at how much Angie kept coming back for a while. Her and Jason dating was never supposed to be more than a few dates. If I remember correctly, I planned their relationship to last from the release of Expelled, the Ben Stein Creationist screed, until the release of Religulous, the Bill Maher atheism screed. At some point, the two movies’ release dates were a few weeks apart. I started the arc, and then I noticed that Religulous got pushed forward by about six months. I ultimately decided to stick with the original plan and leave them together for a few months longer.

Mr. Harris (the security guard) should have been a little more prominent, but he kind of fell into the background more because of the logistics of doing a strip in real time. I simply couldn’t take the break to tell the story of young James at the Regal Theater without interrupting the main story for too long. I hope to add that into the Book 4 print collection as a bonus story, but how well I can do that will depend on whether or not I can convince the Chicago Blue Museum to let me see the blueprints to the theater.

A: As a writer, of course, I’m curious about your plotting and scripting method. Do you write out a full script first, and then craft the art to match? Or do you come up with a rough idea, pencil it out, and then craft the dialogue?

G: Honestly, it varies depending on the comic strip. I’ve done both. I think I’m more likely to just start writing out dialogue and breaking down panels (without any actual scribbles to go in them) than anything else. Sometimes, I sit down knowing what needs to happen and in what order and I’ll just go straight to breakdowns and write the dialogue later. In any case, I’m constantly revising dialogue until a strip is posted — and sometimes for a while after it’s posted.

I have an outline file to keep me reminded of where the various themes and arcs in the strip should be progressing in any given chapter. I work out of an InDesign file with the current chapter of the comic. In that file, I’m basically blocking out (on a strip by strip level) and breaking down the chapter in shorter 4–8 page arcs, with approximate dates for when the strip will post and what movies have just been released.

My workflow changes pretty regularly, though: it wasn’t until the beginning of Book 5 that I started even thinking about Multiplex in terms of chapters. Books 1 – 4 were broken into chapters after the fact, and that’s one of the reasons I’ve been adding new material in the collections — so I could flesh out the events in various chapters and make them feel more intentionally constructed when you read them in the collected editions.

A: What tools do you use for the art? Is it hand-drawn first and then scanned in and completed on the computer?

G: I draw Multiplex almost entirely in Adobe Illustrator, a vector illustration program. I use a graphics tablet for any rough thumbnails I need to do, but if a panel is just two people talking to each other in a room, I often don’t bother with any thumbs first and just go get any existing vector reference I need to get crackin’. When I have movie posters shown in perspective in the backgrounds, sometimes I’ll need to use Photoshop to distort the images, because Illustrator’s capabilities there are… limited, at best.

When I do hand-drawn sequences in Multiplex, I pencil digitally with Manga Studio and then print the page out onto Bristol board (in 10% cyan) to ink by hand. So those, I’ll scan in and touch up and color or tone in Photoshop with my tablet.

A: After a successful Kickstarter project in December 2009, you were able to bring Multiplex to print form with Multiplex: Enjoy Your Show. What was the most difficult part of making the change from web to print?

G: Distribution, definitely. I’ve worked in printing and publishing for over a decade, so getting the book together and to the printer was easy — time consuming, of course, but easy. I do that stuff for a living, and this book was for me — so I was happy to work on it. But once the book was printed, getting it out there was (and continues to be) a lot of work.

I’m signed up with Small Press United (a division of IPG), which specializes in distribution of new publishers like myself, and through them, I’m available through Amazon and (via Ingram and Baker & Taylor) at bookstores nationwide. It took us several months to convince Diamond to give the book a chance, unfortunately. Hopefully whenever the second book comes out, Diamond will be on board from day one, and I’ll see stronger sales to comics shops out of it.

A: You created a brand new “prequel” sequence for the print edition, revolving around the debut of Star Wars: Episode III — Revenge of the Sith. What was that process like, getting permission from LucasFilm to use the still from the movie and the poster?

G: Most of the time, I don’t feel I need permission to use film stills, because I’m commenting on the film (or satirizing them) in the strip. But that movie still was really half the punchline to the Prequel story, and I knew that it was an unusually prominent and non-critical way, so I felt it was important to ask for permission. I licensed one still from Lucasfilm, and they also gave me permission to use the theatrical poster as “set dressing” — but not as a focal point in any panels, just in the backgrounds.

It was a very smooth process; as you would expect, they have a whole team that works on this stuff for people like me, so on their end, it was all business as usual. For my part, I tracked down their licensing department’s e-mail address and explained the whole idea of the story. They responded very quickly and asked me to send the relevant pages for approval (in their incomplete state), so I did so. We signed some contracts, I paid a licensing fee, they gave me a high-res file for the still, I added legal notices per their instructions, and eventually I sent them a few copies of the book for their records. Easy peasy lemon squeezy.

A: Any idea on when we’ll get to see the next print volume? There’s still plenty of story not collected, after all. You have years to catch up on. And will future volumes feature print-edition-only material like the Prequel in Book One?

G: I’m working on it! I’m examining ways of financing a second book, but while the first book was profitable, it wasn’t profitable enough to allow me to jump straight into Book 2. I don’t make much from bookstore or comics shop sales; I just want them available in stores so I can introduce the comic to new readers, really.

Book Two will have a bunch of new material in it, as well. Nothing as big as the Prequel story, though, just shorter strips spread out throughout Chapters 6–10, like I did with Chapters 1–5. Some of that stuff will be in the eBook collections. Some may be exclusive to the print book. I’m still working on the Chapter 6 eBook, though, so the Book 2 print edition is a ways off, I’m afraid. But I’m working on it.

A: I’m going to tweak my usual final question just slightly, and split it in two: First, since Multiplex is all about the movies, what is your favorite movie and what would you say to convince someone who has never seen it that they should watch it?

G: My all-time favorite movie is The Apartment by Billy Wilder (co-written by I.A.L. Diamond), starring Jack Lemmon and Shirley MacLaine. It’s hilarious, dramatic (shockingly so, in a few parts), romantic without being schmaltzy, and sort of a coming of age for the main character — all stuff I love, all in one flick. It certainly doesn’t hurt that Shirley MacLaine was ridiculously cute in the film. I could watch it forever and never get sick of it.

A: Second, what is your favorite book, and what would you say to convince someone who has never read it that they should read it?

G: I don’t know how to begin comparing comic books against novels, so I’ll have to answer that twice:

Comics — Cages by Dave McKean. It’s a beautiful exploration of art and writing and music by one of the finest artists working today. He throws so much up in the air in the first several chapters that it’s all the more amazing when everything falls into place by the end. Or just about everything, at least. It’s a brilliant story, brilliantly told.

Novels — Cat’s Eye by Margaret Atwood. Margaret Atwood is a Canadian poet and novelist with an exquisite writing voice. She’s my favorite novelist, in part because every one of her books has a few passages that make me stop and turn them over in my head for a while. And Cat’s Eye is my favorite of hers, because it has loads of such passages. I think Cat’s Eye struck a particularly strong chord with me, being about an artist who returns to her tremendously dull (to her) hometown of Toronto for a retrospective on her work and continually flashing back to her youth, especially her rather abusive “friendship” with a girl named Cordelia.

I guess I like books about artists…?

A: Thanks again for joining us, Gordon!

G: Thank you for having me!

You can find Jason, Kurt, Becky, Melissa, Franklin and the rest of the gang hanging at the Multiplex. You can follow Gordon himself on Twitter, as well as Multiplex10. There is also a Multiplex Facebook page for you to Like! And you can still buy the print version of MULTIPLEX: ENJOY YOUR SHOW, which I highly recommend doing.

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For this, our first interview on the new Tuesday night schedule, we ramble on with Luke Herr.

Luke Herr (aka Koltreg)

Born in Ohio and currently abandoned in Pittsburgh, PA, Luke Herr alias Koltreg is a web designer, writer, and amateur impressario along with anything else that you need. He currently writes the online comics Changeling and Socialfist as well as articles for the comics blog DC Versus Marvel and occasional extra comic pieces for Socialfist.

ANTHONY: Thanks for sitting down to chat with us, Luke.

LUKE: No problem Anthony. I’m always happy to talk about myself and my work.

A: So, you’ve currently got two webcomics running, on different publication schedules and with different artists. Let’s talk about Socialfist first, since that one’s been around a bit longer. Give us a summary of what Socialfist is about and what kind of audience you’re intending to reach.

Zendorsky leaves his mark on Socialfist

L: Socialfist is about some really confused communist superheroes trying to bring communism back. In the world though, communism has been outlawed and it is seen as a form of rebellion more than actual communism. The force they (the Russians who get branded Socialfist) are fighting is the American Justice Squad (because every American team needs America, Justice and something saying they are a group in the title). The AJS isn’t much better than Socialfist but they are a lot bigger and so this struggle and the inner group struggles are the crux of the story.

A: What inspired Socialfist?

L: Way back about 5 years ago in high school I wanted to make a parody of American superhero teams with the opposites so I thought “Who is the classic stereotyped American enemy – the Russians.” Back then it was SFCRTSN or Super Feudal Communist Russia Team Squad Now! and it was a bunch of horrible characters and a good deal of scatological humor.

As time passed though I decided a guy whose power was vomiting from his butt was probably too juvenile so I removed the superfluous characters and rounded the casts down while making the story about this incredibly partisan world and people trying to cope with living in it. Those people just happen to be superheroes.

A: What kind of working relationship do you have with the Socialfist artist? Do you send a full script with detailed notes, or do you work more in the “this is what should happen on this page” mode and let the artist fill in the details?

L: I’m currently working with Remus Brezeanu who lives in Romania and is a wonderful illustrator. We mostly communicate via email or sometimes via Skype or IM if something needs more immediate notice though I am an internet addict so I am rarely away from my laptop for too long. Usually when I write I have at least loose notes on each script since we reached this understanding of how we were doing the comic. The first chapter was really heavily annotated but that was because I wanted something very cinematic and planned. I didn’t write page long notes like Neil Gaiman or Grant Morrison but enough that I could slip things in. Now for the other chapters where there is dialogue, I usually just do loose notes on the scripts.

A: Does Socialfist have a limited storyline? An “end-date,” so to speak? Is it fully plotted out or is there room for character growth to impact how the story will play out?

L: Socialfist, at least for the meantime, has an end date all planned out but this universe and the major changes and movements are planned though I’ve changed ideas before just by sitting on them. With all of that said though, the first person who I told the whole Socialfist outline to pretty much said he really wants to know what goes on after Socialfist is done. If I am up to do that will depend where I am at the time.

To answer the second question, this is one comic where I am happy to tell origins and other stories of the characters. Socialfist is sort of like only reading an event comic like Crisis on Infinite Earths. There is still so much going on in the world and books of interesting stuff that went on in the past that can change things like how you might see a character. One of the ways I am actually going about showing this backstory is that once the current chapter is finished, I’ll be having a guest artist do a background story, both to flesh out a more popular character and to get some more time for Remus to build a buffer.

A: Any creative type knows that sometimes you start a project, and you realize it’s not working, and you go back the drawing board. For writers that often is a hidden road-bump, meaning our larger public (outside of our circles of first-readers) doesn’t see the false start. But webcomics sometimes face that hurdle right in the public eye. You restarted Socialfist with a new artist and a refocused storyline. Talk a bit about how you came to the decision to relaunch, and whether you feel you’ve addressed the problems you’d identified.

L: The last version of Socialfist, when it was SFCRTSN, wasn’t working for me and so when the artist had to leave for better paying work, I was stuck. We’d signed a loose agreement where he got to keep character design privileges and I actually started to think more about the aesthetic and what wasn’t working for me.
When we rebooted, Remus and I got inspiration from the DC Animated Universe shows like Justice League that also helped to set my mind in place for how to show action. I do believe that now we have addressed a lot of the problems that I had concerning me about the original series at the time but sitting with the comic for so long, you start to think of ways you could improve it and there are some ways that are obvious now that were not before.

Chaneling's main character

A: Okay, now, on to your other comic, Changeling. Tell us what Changeling is about and what audience you’re intending to reach.

L: Changeling is my attempt to condense a lot of the comic ideas I had back in high school about these weird paranormal worlds similar to ours into one story and ultimately to make it about something bigger. Less abstractly though, it is about a paranormal detective named Jeff Seibert. The first chapter deals with him being called in for an insurance claim and the second chapter, well, that will be interesting when it happens. We are currently finishing it up early for SPX to bring some prints of the first chapter along so we can get some early opinions.

A: Changeling has a very different feel to it compared to Socialfist: very much in the style of the daily three-panel newspaper comics, with a punchline of some sort at the end of each “day” but also a building storyline. How is plotting Changeling different from plotting Socialfist?

L: With Changeling I wanted to exercise my mind a bit more as far as writing goes. Remus had commented that I wrote a lot of panels on each page of Socialfist so I wanted to make myself learn to do more with less (though I wouldn’t be surprised if some people thing I am worse at that based on Changeling’s pacing). Changeling was also a test to see if I could make jokes easier or at least anti-jokes in some weird attempt to try and create the biggest unfunny thing I could (nut tots) and see if people would start saying it. I’ve heard it purposefully said it twice but luckily the phrase wont show up for another two years of story at least.
Really though Changeling isn’t all that different in plotting though from Socialfist minus the fact that most stories will be able to stand on their own chapter to chapter. For both of the comics I follow this pattern of writing out the dialogue and notes with an idea in my mind. When I reach the end or when I need a break I end up counting pages to see how many I got and then adding in additional notes. Currently I have about 9 or so chapters of Changeling dialogued out and at least 20 other story ideas.

A: Your artist on Changeling, Joe Hunter, has other webcomics running as well. Did his schedule have any influence on the way you’re plotting/telling the story?

L: Haha. Ironically it was my perception of his lack of a schedule on his journal comic Ghostbucket that got me to say “Hey, we should do a biweekly comic.” Keeping him on a schedule and all while fueling my ego with another comic.

A: Does Changeling have a finite storyline?

L: Oooh, that is an interesting question. Last week I couldn’t sleep and so I wrote the end point for the first arc of Changeling that could be the end of the series. It ends with something set up and hinted at and reading through I got shivers which I take as a good sign. Luckily the whole story is in flux but I figure when the characters reach that point I’ll see how Joe and I feel about continuing or not. If we do continue, it will, well… it will be fun.

A: Is Changeling a more collaborative effort than Socialfist, or vice-versa?

L: Socialfist is the more collaborative of the two comics I am currently doing, Remus frequently checks in on his ideas and substitutions. With Changeling it is more of Joe and I sending work to each other and only meeting up after everything is done for the commentary. We do frequently chat about other things though, more so that I talk to Remus, partially due to the time difference.

A: Now for my usual last question: What is your favorite book, and what would you say to recommend it to someone who hasn’t read it yet?

L: Oh, well my favorite book of all time is How To Become King by Jan Terlouw though it is really hard to find, at least online, since it is out of print. I remember reading that book at least 7 times in elementary school, if not more. It is this story about a teenager trying to become king but he has to deal with these codgery old politicians who give him these impossible tasks like stopping a dragon and a wizard, figuring out why houses are moving. There are these great political twists though like the dragon has polluted the countryside which causes all of the people in the town to become the most efficient workers and the wizard is actually a good guy at heart. He ultimately succeeds but it is done in such a creative and fun way it stuck in my mind over all of these years.

I’d recommend you pick up How To Become King if not for the fact that the only copy on Amazon is ridiculously expensive. As that is the case, read Grant Morrison’s Supergods which is what I blame if I come off as pretentious in the interview because that book is literary wizard drugs and comic history rolled into one.

A: Thanks, Luke!

L: No problem Anthony. Pax.

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In addition to the links in his bio, you can also find Luke Tweeting away as Koltreg and occasionally on the official Socialfist Twitter as well.

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