This Weds. we start the first of a two part interview for The Other Sun web-comic. Today, we interview the artist for The Other Sun Mike Leckrone. Later down the road we'll also talk with the writer Richie Pages but for now, let's get the artist's perspective on drawing the comic...
1. For the poor souls not already reading, please give a brief synopsis of your comic.
The Other Sun is a strip about two similar, yet very different, nine year old kids growing up on a planet very similar to Earth. Cory, the only human kid on the planet, is adopted by Tweezle's family and raised as one of their own. How he got there and why he's stuck there is yet to be explained. Tweezle's family also adopted an older girl, Tamsin, who is considered royalty on another planet.
2. What materials and/or software do you use?
I work digital mostly on a pc that I built. When I get the scripts from Richie I will scribble little thumbnails in my sketchbook to figure out the panels I will need and the content of each one, then use a variety of programs to get to the finished piece. The main program I use is Corel Painter 12 but I will usually do the panels and layouts in Illustrator CS5 or Manga Studio 4 EX. I would like to settle with just one program to make my life easier but none of the programs handle everything equally so I end up jumping around. I also have a 9X12 Wacom Intuos 3 pen and tablet.
3. Are there any books, movies, toys, artists, or authors that have inspired or continue to inspire your comic?
I grew up reading the daily comics. I think the most influential comic I read was Calvin and Hobbes. It was a very intelligent, yet funny, comic strip with probably the best characters ever created. Watterson knew how to bring out subtleties in his drawings that really gave the characters personalities. He also didn't sell out and knew when to call it quits. I admire him for doing that. To me, that says he cared more about the characters and story than just trying to make as much money as possible, running the characters into the ground until everyone no longer wanted to see them. I also like Fox Trot by Bill Amend.
4. Are any of your characters based on real people in your life?
As the artist, I think I put more of myself into each of the characters than just using someone I know. Tweezle would be the side of me that seeks adventure and attention while Cory would be the quiet, innocent, cautious side of me. I think Sid might be my older, wiser, more traditional self too.
I also like to fill in the backgrounds with familiar things. In some of the strips you will see Tweezle with a can of Astro-cola nearby. In one I had a box of snacks on his desk. My favorite snack is Coke and Cheez-Its so I had to put those in there. Some of the toys will look similar to those that I worked on while in the toy industry too.
5. Are there any actors you know you would want to play or voice certain characters in a movie of your comic?
I always seem to have a voice in my head for Cory but I don't know anyone who would sound like it.
6. What songs would you like in a soundtrack of your comic?
I can't think of any specific songs but if the strip was ever animated I could see a fun intro similar to the Simpsons with Cory and Tweezle racing through their neighborhood on their way home to dinner. And everyone from the family arriving at the dinner table at the exact same time.
7. What is your overall goal for your comic?
With The Other Sun, I want to have fun with it and get my name out there as an artist. I would really like to see this strip take off because it has a good story and characters to back it up. I think once you get to know the characters it can be very entertaining. Also, not too many people can say they ever did a comic strip any time in their life. Now I can.
8. How has managing a comic impacted your life?
Drawing for a comic strip is a tremendous amount of work, depending on what kind of art you are doing for it. It certainly takes up a lot of time and energy. And it's very difficult to stay in creative mode 24/7. Even though I'm not managing any right now, I realize how much energy it takes and looking at some of the popular strips that I grew up with and how long they lasted, I appreciate them much more.
9. What do you do to advertise your work?
I have my own personal website that I built at www.leckroniumstudios.com. It contains not just cartoons but illustrations, concepts, life drawing, sculpture, and model building/painting. I like to try new things all the time so I have a wide variety of stuff on there. I also post stuff on my facebook page for Leckronium Studios and on Deviant Art.
10. Web comics can be very time consuming and sometimes expensive to keep up. Often there is little reward in regards to money and sometimes public attention. Why do you do it?
It's fun. It's even worth it if you can make at least one reader smile or laugh. It's also about creating, being constructive with your time. If you spend two hours watching a movie or two hours writing or drawing a comic strip, which one is more worth your time? The movie might be more entertaining and the comic might seem like hard work but in the end, you can look back and say " I created this" with the comic strip. And it will always be something you created. Each time a new reader reads it then you get to enjoy creating it all over again. If you sat on the couch and didn't move a muscle for the two hours of a movie, that's two hours you're never going to see again. I'm not saying movies are bad though, sometimes you do need to sit on the couch and do nothing for two hours. I just think creative people like to challenge their brain for entertainment.
11. Got any other projects we should know about?
I'm trying to get started as a freelance artist after being in the toy industry for seven years so I always have something I'm working on. Drawing for The Other Sun has convinced me to dust the cobwebs off my idea I had for a strip in 2005. I created two devilish identities called Samsin and Itch that follow me around through technology and are assigned to make my life miserable. I created a section on my website devoted to them in hopes to finally get started on it. I just haven't found the time to write for it yet.
I think my other bigger priority is a theme I've been working on called Galactigraphics that's also on my website. The goal with that is to teach young kids about our solar system and all things involving space through fun graphics created in Illustrator. I turned the Sun, planets, moons, and dwarf planets into characters in hopes of getting kids interested in astronomy. I'm working on a book idea that I would like to see published but also want to turn the art into informative posters, t-shirts, and maybe museum gift shop items if all goes well. There's still a lot of work to be done.
12. What advice would you give to aspiring creators?
Creating isn't easy so try to find out how to have fun with it and don't stop. There will always be barricades and things to block your path but as long as you can enjoy what you are doing you shouldn't have a problem. Something good will come of it eventually.
The other thing is to be original the best you can. It's easy to be caught up in other people's styles and ideas and want to do what they are doing but let them do it. Create what comes from inside you and not just what you see others doing. You can find inspiration anywhere you look. You just need to be able to know what to do with it. That's what being creative is all about.
Those are the words of a passionate artist! Thanks so much Mike!
Drop us a comment below to tell us how you feel about The Other Sun, Mike's answers, the questions or additional questions you'd like to see in the future. If you don't have anything clever to say, please check the funny, interesting, or cool boxes at the bottom to let us know you were here.
Thanks for reading! Now dive into some alien antics at http://theothersun.com/!
If you would like to be interviewed about your web-comic send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org titled "interview" with a link to your comic.