Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Web Artist Wednesday: Supermassive Black Hole A* interview

Hell hath no fury like a cloned female bounty hunter. Ben Chamberlain tackles the twelve questions about his hard sci-fi web-comic Supermassive Black Hole A*.

1. For the poor souls not already reading, please give a brief synopsis of your comic. 

Supermassive Black Hole A* tells tales of adventure set in a human civilization near the center of our galaxy. The current storyline focuses on a bounty hunter who is trying to live forever through cloning, and the various complications she encounters in her quest for this technical form of immortality.

2. What materials and/or software do you use?

Black and white ink on Canson Illustration paper, mostly applied with a Raphaël 8404 size 4 brush. I scan the resulting ink wash paintings with a Mustek Scan Express A3 1200 Pro USB Large Format Scanner and prepare them for the web with the venerable Photoshop 4.

3. Are there any books, movies, toys, artists, or authors that have inspired or continue to inspire your comic?

Aside from the bunches of science fiction I read and watched as a kid, probably the most direct inspiration was the world of The Matrix Online: I was a writer and game designer on that MMO before I moved on to A*, and I find myself exploring issues and personalities in A* that I first took up in that earlier project. I was also inspired by the comic book art of John Byrne and Frank Miller, and since starting A*, more inspiration has come from the work of other comic artists: Frank Frazetta, Sydney Jordan, Mac Raboy, Bill Sienkiewicz, and Sean Murphy, to name a few. Jordan and Raboy worked on classic pulp adventure strips--"Jeff Hawke" and "Flash Gordon"--and the spirit and style of those old serials has also had an influence on my approach.

4. Are any of your characters based on real people in your life?

Ooh! Hm. Well, certainly not directly, but I think almost everything we know about people we learn from those around us, so I'm sure various of my acquaintances are scrambled up in there somehow.

5. Are there any actors you know you would want to play or voice certain characters in a movie of your comic?

A* started out as an animated, voice-acted webcomic, but strangely enough I haven't really thought of who might play them in a real movie version--perhaps it's the trauma of having to do all the voices myself in those early days. ;) I do keep coming across various actresses or models who have some of the look I'd want for the main character, Selenis--Joan Jett and Swedish pop star September being some of the most recent. 

6. What songs would you like in a soundtrack of your comic?

I mostly listen to trip-hop, and recently I've had a vocal jazz kick, so tracks from those genres would most likely figure prominently: stuff like Freezepop's "Outer Space," De-Phazz's "Astrud Astronette," Hooverphonic's "2 Wicky," Bent's "Swollen," Sinatra's take on "Fly Me to the Moon,"  Chungking's "World of a Thousand Suns," Shirley Bassey doing "If," Dusty Springfield's rendition of "The Windmills of Your Mind," and Curtis Mayfield's "Right on for the Darkness." Hm and I'd probably try to fit Josie Cotton's "All I Can See is the Face of Bruce Lee" in there, just 'cause I like it. It might work for a fight scene, I suppose!

7. What is your overall goal for your comic?

Galactic domination! Perhaps making some sort of meager living off it, as a precursor. 

8. How has managing a comic impacted your life?

I'm working on it full time so it's pretty safe to say it is dominating my life currently; I am more impoverished but more liberated than I was previously, I suppose you could say. It's been nice particularly since I've moved into doing it in traditional media--it was all done on the computer initially--as I've got to transform my little apartment into an art studio and have been getting back into my college-era roots of painting, working with small local galleries, and that sort of thing.

9. What do you do to advertise your work?

I spend way too much money buying ad space through Project Wonderful, which has been pretty wonderful. I also cross-post stuff on various art/comic hosts, social networking, webcomic forums, and the like--but really it's been almost all PW in terms of what has gotten actual new readers, I think. 

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?

Galactic domination! And it's really fun, not only to have the kind of freedom you have in creating a webcomic, but I also just really enjoy the actual writing and drawing; it's both relaxing and exciting when I can set aside the world around me for a while and concentrate on painting a new scene or writing a new exchange of dialogue. 

11. Got any other projects we should know about?

I've done some other comic series on the side since starting A*--you'll find them linked from the A* site--but currently it's all A*, yep! 

12. What advice would you give to aspiring creators? 

I feel like I'm still an aspiring creator myself, so I'm not sure I can really call anything I'd say in this vein "advice." =o But hm... Well, I really like to see people out there who are trying something different, and really giving it their all. So...do that! :D 

Awesome thanks Ben! Best of luck with your galactic domination. :)

So what do you think? Leave us some comments below to tell us how you feel about Supemassive Black Hole A*, Ben'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 check out Supermassive Black Hole A* updates Monday through Friday!


Next Weds.- ULTI-MAN by Jeff Beckman!

If you would like to be interviewed about your web-comic send an email to evanyeti@yahoo.com titled "interview" with a link to your comic.


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  2. Thanks for reading Cristeen!