Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Web Artist Wednesday: Ellie on Planet X interview

Receiving transmission from Mission Control. --Commence broadcast of Ellie on Planet X interview with creator James Anderson--

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

Oh, those poor souls.

Decades ago a tiny robot named Ellie was sent to explore a newly discovered distant planet. After traveling light years she arrives not only to find it teeming with life, but intelligent life to boot. Some of it is friendly, some of it not so much. But she makes friends with the former and sets out to document everything she can about this alien world and its inhabitants. She then transmits her findings back to Mission Control here on Earth where they are uploaded to the internet for all to follow.

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

Ellie is completely digital. I pencil and ink in Autodesk Sketchbook Pro either on my tablet PC or my Cintiq. The larger, painterly looking areas of color are done with Corel Painter. Then it's back to Sketchbook Pro for highlights and other details, text, and balloons. All of the brushes I use are pretty much stock, although they may have been tweaked a little here and there.

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

I'm always being inspired by something new, but I'd say my three big inspirations growing up were Star Wars, The Hobbit, and the comic strip Bloom County. Star Wars was such a huge thing - it was everywhere, and I devoured the comics and made up adventures with the toys...it was the first thing I saw that really showed me what an imagination could make. 

I had seen the Rankin/Bass animated tv special of the Hobbit and was immediately taken with the seemingly simple character of Bilbo who goes on a journey and comes back changed. Both Star Wars and The Hobbit also took place in super detailed worlds where you could look at a map or hear another planet's name and wonder what stories might take place there. I really enjoy the world building aspect of my strip. There's a lot going on behind the scenes.

Bloom County was the comic I read in high school. I loved how the strips were more about the characters than just set-ups for gags. Berke Breathed really made them endearing and unforgettable and I try to do that with the characters in my strip.

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

There are aspects of myself in all of them, but they aren't purposely based on anything about me. Friends say that Jeff is me and even looks like me, and I can be quite naive and dim at times. And yet every morning when I get up I'm feeling crotchety like Muffin. I wish I had Ellie's boundless energy, although I share her sense of curiosity. I suppose she's an amalgam of several spunky young kids I know...

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

I've only recently given this some thought and only because I thought it might be fun to animate one of the strips. I don't have actors in mind, but there are cartoon characters that sound like what my characters might. Ellie might talk like Buttercup from the Powerpuff Girls, but with a slight computery sound to her voice. Jeff is maybe Piglet from Winnie the Pooh without the stutter. And Muffin. . . Moe from the Simpsons.

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

There's a song by the B52s called Roam. It has a line in it that goes "Rock it through the wilderness." I thought it said "Rocket through the wilderness," so that's the official unofficial theme song to Ellie On Planet X.

7. What is your overall goal for your comic?

I don't know. It doesn't really have a goal. Much like the comic itself I think it just needs to go off in whatever direction it needs to and lead me wherever it goes. It might open up other doors for different projects or, if I'm very very lucky, I think I would be happy drawing Ellie for a living. We'll see.

8. How has managing a comic impacted your life?

I know that It takes up a lot of time. It's also given me a framework around which I can do different kinds of projects. If I happen to feel like working on something else I ask myself how I might tie that back in to Ellie's world, whether it be about the planet she's exploring, or the people working back at Mission Control. Even my graphic art background gets exercised when I need a mission logo or do up a fake magazine spread.

I've also been lucky to meet a ton of really talented artists, great people, most just in the past few years I've been doing the strip. Plus, there's nothing like going to another city and meeting up with someone you've only met online and already knowing you've got tons in common.

9. What do you do to advertise your work?

Almost nothing. So far it's been word of mouth. Maybe I'll do something in the future. I haven't gotten around to figuring that whole thing out yet. 

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?

I have to. I have stuff inside that has to get out. I've had the basic idea for this comic in my head and in sketchbooks for over ten years. If I hadn't decided to turn those ideas into a comic strip I'd continue to draw them in my sketchbooks anyway just like before. And I'm liking what I'm doing (even though I hate everything I do). I've grown really attached to these characters. I can't imagine them not being around in some way, even if I had to give up doing the strip.

11. Got any other projects we should know about?

I'm slowly putting together a printed collection, though I'm planning something more than just a book full of strips. Hopefully that will be ready by the end of the year. I have other things in the works, but it's still too soon to tell.

12. What advice would you give to aspiring creators? 

All the cliches you've ever heard about following your dreams, or doing what you love...follow those. Even if they sound corny. Yeah, you might fail. Spectacularly. But you'll end up somewhere cooler than you would if you never try. That goes for doing a comic and everything else in life too.

Thanks for asking me to be a part of Web Artist Wednesday, Mat!


Thank you Jim! I'll be keeping my eyes peeled for that printed collection :) 

For anyone interested in printing your comic I recommend KA-BLAM. I printed a test comic of Evan Yeti #1 through both KA-BLAM and Comixpress and found KA-BLAM far superior (although slightly more expensive) in turn around time and keeping true to the colors of my files.

Also here's a link to the Reddit webcomic page. You can find a link to this interview there. So if you dig the interview please up-vote the submission. Up-voting it will keep it on the front page of the webcomic category and expose it to more readers! So share your love of Ellie on Planet X and vote it up :D

Thanks for reading folks! Drop us a comment to let us know how you feel about the interview. Then follow Ellie as she explores Planet X!


next week: Reptilis Rex!

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.


  1. Terrific interview. I'm lucky enough to be friends with Jim, yet I still learned new stuff about him while reading this.

  2. Jim is lucky to have such supportive friends :) Thanks for stopping by John!

  3. Loving the interview & the comic. You do a great job wioth these, Mat.

  4. Thanks Jazyl. It's fun getting to know these talented creators!