Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Web Artist Wednesday: The Specialists interview


When Hitler uses super humans, the Allies recruit The Specialists! Writer Shawn Gustafson and Artist Al Fukalek team up to discuss their World War 2 action-drama. 




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

The Specialists is the story of an alternate-history WWII with super-soldiers. Using an occult artifact, the Nazis have created a team of super-powered √úbermenschen. The Americans respond by making their own team of atomic-powered super-soldiers and these are our protagonists. It’s basically an ensemble period drama with superpowers.

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

Shawn: Nothing fancy on my end. I write the scripts in Google Docs because it makes it really easy to share and collaborate on files. We run our site on WordPress with the ComicPress theme.

Al: I use a drafting pencil and 11"x17" comic boards to draw each page. Once a page is scanned in, I use Photoshop for layout, lettering, and coloring.

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

Shawn: My biggest influences are Alan Moore and George R.R. Martin. They are both able to create complex, morally ambiguous characters. I love that they can make you root for characters like Tyrion Lannister (from Martin’s Ice and Fire books) or Rorschach (from Moore’s Watchmen), neither of which is a clear-cut “good guy”. That’s something that I’m trying to emulate with our characters, many of which are quite flawed.

Also, both Watchmen and the Wildcards book series, which Martin edits, are fascinating visions of how the existence of super-powered people might impact the real world, and that’s the kind of thing we’re trying to do with The Specialists.

Al: My list of influences is a mile long. The short list would have to include: Jack Kirby, Bill Watterson, Bruce Timm, J.C. Leyendecker, Alan Davis, Norman Rockwell, and Edward Hopper. I enjoy reading Silver and Bronze Age Marvel comics whenever I can.

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

Just historical figures like Adolf Hitler and Harry Truman.

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

We actually had a two-part discussion about this in our blog (http://thespecialistscomic.com/casting-call-part-1/ and http://thespecialistscomic.com/casting-call-part-2/). My favorites were Josh Holloway (Sawyer from Lost) as Luke and Jason Schwartzman (Max Fischer from Rushmore) as Max, though he’s too old now. Also, I just thought of one that hadn’t occurred to me before: Joel McHale (From Community and The Soup) as Henry.

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

Shawn: Since The Specialists is a period piece, I’d want the kind of music that was popular in the 1940s. Songs like Bi Mir Bist Du Schoen or Sing, Sing, Sing, or other standards from that era.

Al: My one and only choice to compose the soundtrack would be Thomas Newman.

7. What is your overall goal for your comic?

We have an epic, three-act story in mind for The Specialists. At our current pace, it will take us years to complete, but if we can tell our whole story, I’ll consider the project a great success.

8. How has managing a comic impacted your life?

Shawn: It’s given me something to focus my creative energies on. I’ve puttered around with different projects over the years, most of which never got off the ground, so it’s nice to have a big, ongoing project to dedicate myself to.

Also, it’s helped Al and me keep in touch. Al is one of my oldest friends, but we’ve been separated geographically for years. Before we started working on The Specialists, we’d go weeks or even months without talking. Now, we exchange emails almost every day and speak on the phone once a week. That alone has made the whole thing worthwhile.

Al: What Shawn said. Also, since my part of the process is more time-intensive, it's important to manage the time I spend working on The Specialists. I work full-time and so have just a limited number of hours in a week to create each page. It can be a challenge to maintain my focus and energy week in and week out, but it's important to the both of us to keep a consistent update schedule and never miss a week.

9. What do you do to advertise your work?

We make use of social networking sites, like Facebook, Google+, and Twitter. We are also signed up on webcomic listings and aggregators like Top Web Comics and InkOutbreak. And we occasionally run campaigns through Project Wonderful, which is very effective.

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?

Shawn: When Al and I first started working on this project, the ideas just seemed to tumble out of us and fall into place like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. As someone who struggles with creativity, it would be a shame to squander an idea that I find so inspiring. I just love our characters and want to see their story told.

Al: I just enjoy creating--drawing especially, but also crafting the story and characters. To me, the process is the most important part, the most fun. It's important to produce the best comic that we possibly can, but the finished product is almost secondary to the experience of creation. That's not to say that isn't immensely gratifying to hear from readers who dig what we're doing and have decided to follow what we're doing because they enjoy it.

11. Got any other projects we should know about?

We are part of two webcomic collectives. The Webcomic Pioneers (http://www.facebook.com/webcomic.pioneers) is a group of Colorado-based creators whose aim is to promote the creation of webcomics and provide guidance to fledgling creators. The Collective of Heroes (http://www.collectiveofheroes.net/) is devoted to superhero comics.

We are also contributing to an anthology called Untold Stories from Iraq and Afghanistan, volume 2, which is produced by Heroes Fallen Studios (http://www.heroesfallenstudiosinc.org/). Proceeds from that book will go toward veterans’ aid organizations.

12. What advice would you give to aspiring creators? 

Shawn: Don’t start a webcomic hoping to make big bucks. If you’re going to do it, you have to enjoy the work itself.

Establish a regular release schedule, whatever that may be, and stick to it. It’s better to start slow and speed up than to over-commit and end up having to cut back on your frequency. Build and maintain a buffer to avoid unexpected delays.

Take advantage of all the free methods the Internet provides to get your name out there. Use social networking sites, message boards, whatever it takes. You can’t wait for traffic to come to you. You have to go get it. If you’re willing and able to spend a little money, give Project Wonderful a try, but use those free resources first.

Al: Be committed to what you’re doing. Don't half-ass it. Put all the effort and passion that you can muster into the creation. Readers won't care about the story that you just slap together.

And most importantly: don't suck. The Internet is full of lousy webcomics. Whatever your part is--writing, drawing, lettering, coloring--take the time to learn your craft and polish your work. Doing something well requires time and effort and practice. No one's going to pay attention to crap. Not for very long anyway.
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Thanks Guys. Great answers and great comic!

How do you feel about The Specialists, Shawn and Al'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. 

As always thanks for reading. Now do your duty and read The Specialists updates Mondays!

-Mat

Next Weds.- Masked Manor by Ruben Moreno!
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.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

This Weds. The Specialists interview!


Tune in tomorrow for an interview with writer Shawn Gustafson and artist Al Fukalek as they team up to answer the twelve about their webcomic The Specialists!



-Mat
evanyeti.com

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Web Artist Wednesday: Next Town Over interview


A little steampunk, a little fantasy, and a whole lotta' western! Eisner-nominated creator Erin Mehlos invites us to take a closer look into Next Town Over.



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

Sure. NTO’s a steampunk weird western about apparent bounty hunter Vane Black and wanted magician John Henry Hunter. They’re basically locked in ongoing combat and totally (or at least mostly) blind to the collateral damage they’re causing. The particulars of why they’re fighting is sort of the central mystery of the series.

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

I pencil the comic traditionally, scan it, and clean up and color in Photoshop. NTO has no inks because I’m an iconoclast. Okay, actually it’s because I’m lazy and I think it looks nice and fittingly rustic without inks.

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

Well I really got into comics initially because of Jhonen Vasquez, Chris Ware and Mike Mignola so I guess I’m forever indebted to them. More broadly, though, I’ve always liked westerns in every medium, and Next Town Over is loaded with homages to the big movie westerns.

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

Ha. Well. This seems like it’d be a definite “no” but when I actually think about it … No, I think explaining that would qualify as a spoiler.

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

Not really. I always hear Hunter’s lines read by a young Johnny Cash but unfortunately he’s no longer with us.

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

Oh, anything evocative of the old Ennio Morricone and Luis Bacalov scores. And some songs by Neko Case, Calexico and maybe De Votchka.

7. What is your overall goal for your comic?

I guess I’m just trying to tell a fun Western with a lot of explosions in a way that hopefully keeps people engaged and guessing. Both of my protagonists are mostly unlikeable in their own ways and its fun seeing people react to a story where they really aren’t sure who -- if either of them -- they want to win.

8. How has managing a comic impacted your life?

Well it takes up a huge chunk, that’s for sure.  For every hour spent drawing the thing I spend another hour working on prepress, or the site, or managing advertising or what have you.

But apart from the massive outlay of time I guess it really hasn’t. Well I mean. I was in the local paper and I periodically get to do interviews with folks like you. Those things are pretty cool.

9. What do you do to advertise your work?

I advertise a fair bit through Project Wonderful campaigns; it’s a good, inexpensive way to start drawing a pretty focused audience. I did mess with Google AdWords for awhile but they’ve recently become more hostile to webcomics in a number of ways.

Cheaper than ad networks, though, is just sharing the comic via Twitter, Reddit, StumbleUpon, etc.. That can get a lot of eyes on your comic, for free, who’d probably never see it otherwise, and all those types of communities are built around the ability to further share & recommend content so sometimes you can really hit the jackpot with a given update. Make it to the front page of Reddit (something I’ve yet to manage) and you’re rolling in readers for a few days: all you have to do is hang onto them.

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?

Well fortunately modest sales and ad revenue cover all my costs, like the server and my materials and whatnot, but they don’t, obviously, cover my time at a decent living wage and that’s really where the real expense is. I guess I do it because I’ve always been deeply compelled to do something with visual storytelling and I’m not a filmmaker or an animator or a programmer ... and I really really like interacting with people who are into what I’m doing.

11. Got any other projects we should know about?

Right at the moment Next Town Over’s about all I’ve got time for, but I’m semi-involved with DRAWMORE INC (I was in the first Nobodies Anthology) and although it’s sort of stalled out now I was doing a kind of improv collaboration with Jon Cairns of Alpha Flag. Oh, and I guess I’m working on a prose-only novelization of NTO, mostly for fun and to keep me motivated working on the comic, but that’s barely anything yet.

12. What advice would you give to aspiring creators? 

Assuming you want to do comics (or whatever) for the right reasons (that is to say, because you want to tell stories and make stuff and not because you want to impress people and make a million dollars -- those are unlikely outcomes), then just jump in and get started. Not everything will be successful and nothing will be perfect or even as good as you intended, but everything is a learning experience; everything levels you up, so to speak, as a writer or an artist. And never let yourself stagnate. Don’t ever assume you’re done learning your craft. You can always get better and you will if you keep challenging yourself. I know personally I have a really long way to go.
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Thanks so much for taking the time Erin!

Leave us a comment to let us know how you feel about Next Town Over, Erin'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 dropping by! Now mozy on to the Next Town Over which updates Saturdays!

-Mat

Next Weds.- The Specialists writer Shawn Gustafson and artist Al Fukalek!

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.

Monday, June 18, 2012

This Weds Next Town Over interview!

Check out Next Town Over now then check in with us as we interview creator Erin Mehlos!



-Mat
evanyeti.com

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Web Artist Wednesday: Buzzboy interview


Burgers, baddies, beat-downs, welcome to the Buzzboy interview! Let's see what creator John Gallagher has to say about bringing Buzzboy to life...




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

Buzzboy is the tale of the world's coolest super sidekick-- instead of having a secret hideout, Buzzboy has made his home a diner, due to his unending addiction to cheeseburgers and milkshakes. He is helped in his battle for justice by Becca, a sarcastic sorceress, Zoomer, a super speedster, and Doc Cyber, a former super villain who gave up evil to become a baker, Together they fight for truth, justice, and all you can eat at the Buzzboy Diner.

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

When I first began Buzzboy, it was pencils and inks on bristol, with paste up computer lettering (anyone remember WhizBang?). Nowadays I still layout my comic in pencil on vellum, then scan to the compuiter, where I ink with a combination of Manga Studio, Photoshop, and just about every Adobe product out there.

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

I try to write Buzzboy for that 10 year kid I was who loved the escape the fun comics of the 70's gave him. Captain Marvel (Shazam!) was the first comic I ever read, and Batman and Robin soon became my favorites. Later years became more about the creators who influenced me, from animation great Alex Toth, to Jack Kirby, and later Kyle Baker, Bruce Timm, and Darwyn Cooke. But really, a great deal of thanks goes out to Scott McLoud-- his "Undersanding Comics" was like the graduate course I needed to really start creating comics. Also, Chuck Jones and Bob McKimson of Looney Toons fame.

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

Buzzboy is hoplessly immature, overly optimistic, and obsessed with junk food-- so that would be me. Becca, the brains of trhe outfit, is based on this cute little redhead girl I had a crush on in middle school-- no really! Charles Schulz doesn't have a Monopoly on this sort of thing.

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

When i first started Buzzboy, the stories were actually about him as a 19-20 year old, and the big influence was Nicolas Cage from this old movie called "Valley Girl." Nowadays, Nic would play Buzzboy's former mentor who goes a little crazy and starts talking like Elvis. 

I'm not really sure who I wuld want to star in it, but I would want it directed by my friend Chris Bailey, animated or live action. Aside from being the original diector of Kim Possible, he has handled the animation on the Garfield movies, Chipmunks 1 and 2, and Hop. He even has his own character, Major Damage. (www.majordamage.net)

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

"I get knocked down" by Chumba Wumba, because Buzzboy is literally always getting knocked down. His powers are derived from the Buzz Belt which gives him strength, the ability to leap tall-ish buildings, and also a force field. but the force field is only strong enough to keep him from dying. He gets pretty bruised up, but never gives up.

7. What is your overall goal for your comic?

Buzzboy is a true all-ages comic, and that has always been the goal. Most of my fans are adults, and they love the Chuck Jones, Looney Toons type humor, and sly remarks. Kids like it because its FUN! It's weird, that used to be the norm for comics.

8. How has managing a comic impacted your life?

What life? :)

The best part of comics has been the friendships I've made. When I was a kid, there wasn't a single other person I kenw who read, drew, and loved comics like me. Because of Buzzboy, at conventions, and on the web, I have made some great friendships, with folks who not only get my lame pop culture references, but are good, decent folks I can really connect with.

9. What do you do to advertise your work?

Project Wonderful is great, Facebook is a must, posting every update on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. That connects to Twitter. But the biggest plus for Buzzboy webcomics right now is the fact that I am working with Keenspot.Com-- my pal Benny Powell (waywardsons.net) introduced me to them, and really pushed for Buzzboy to be a part of their growing all ages comics. With all the linkage and attention that has gotten me, I can really say that Buzzboy had more readers in the first six months, than all the Buzzboy book readers combined over the last 10 years-- it's amazing.

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 don't do comics because i want to do comics. I do comics because I NEED to do comics, tell stories, draw new faces, and make readers smile hopefully. Comics are how I learned to read. As a kid, they were my escape from what could be a pretty rotten family life at times. In many ways they saved me, and worked as a compass about doing what's right. But that doesn't mean I want to starve. 

Well, I can say that I have never made a fortune off of Buzzboy, but I have made money BECAUSE I do Buzzboy. I have a wife and three kids, a house, a dog-- so I must make a living. I have my own company doing web and print design, as well as custom corporate comics (www.skydogcomics.com). 

Everyone should try to make money at this, and approach it as a business as well as a love.

11. Got any other projects we should know about?

I am constantly trying to find ways to speed up the process, so I can tell even more stories. In fact, my friend Rich Faber (who has inked Buzzboy) has teamed with me on Roboy Red, a story of a runaway theme park robot (roboyred.com)

And later this year, I'll be launching a new comic I am writing with my ten-year old daughter, "Zoey & Ketchup", about a girl and her dog.

12. What advice would you give to aspiring creators? 

Do your own thing, and do it for you. Too many great characters have been given away to the corporations, and the internet, ebooks and other avenues have helped to level the playing field. Don't be afraid to make your dollars with a day job, but if you can, make it related to the art you love.
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Thanks John great answers! 

Here's where we ask how you feel about Buzzboy, John'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. 

As always thanks for reading! Buzzboy updates Mon. Weds. and Fri. so there's a new page waiting for you there now!

-Mat

Next Weds.- Next Town Over by Erin Mehlos

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.

Monday, June 11, 2012

This Weds. Buzzboy interview!

Join us this Wednesday as we welcome John Galagher to talk about his web-comic Buzzboy!


See ya' then!

-Mat
evanyeti.com

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Web Artist Wednesday: The Beast Legion interview


Today we welcome Jazyl Homavazir creator of the award winning web-manga The Beast Legion and all around great guy. I usually leave my opinions out of the interviews and let the artist's words be their own sales pitch, and give the reader room to make their own opinions without me shoving mine down their throats. But I always have to give props to Jazyl as we started our web-comics at roughly the same time and he has been a great ally with advice, encouragement, advertising, the works! 

Let's learn more about The Beast Legion and what it takes to create it...



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

The Beast Legion is my solo webcomic venture. The comic revolves around the tale of a young prince, Xeus who is forced to leave his homeland after it falls into the clutches of the tyrant Lord Dragos & his band of Shadow Nexus Warriors. After 7 years of training by one of the last Wizards of Lithopia Xeus sets out on his quest to reclaim his homeland, but before that he must master the secrets to tame The Guardian Beasts.

Lithopia is filled with pieces of mystic armor that when bound to humans transforms them into Beasts with Epic powers. As the comic moves ahead, more will be revealed.

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

I work purely on a digital medium using the Wacom Intuos 3. I’ll be very honest on saying that I haven’t used a pencil for at least the last 2 years now. As for the softwares what I normally do is draw rough panel sketches in Photosop CS 4 & then add the finalized Lineart with Paint Tool Sai. Once that’s over I bring the files back tp Pshop for shading.

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

Tons & tons. I’ve always beena fan of He-man & Thundercats & I’m sure it will reflect in this comic in some way or another. Apart from that, I’m now full into Anime & manga these days & I have to say I draw a lot of inspiration from Naruto, Bleach etc as well in terms of story.

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

Nope. I try not to mix real word characters with fictional ones.

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

Wish I did but no. XD

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

That is very interesting. To be honest I’m really not much into music except for anime themes & such. You’ve done the opening theme for the Beast Legion so I definitely want that to stay.

7. What is your overall goal for your comic?

My first goal is to make sure I pass on the story to as many people as possible across the globe & hope that they enjoy the series as much as I do creating it. Another important goal of mine is to see the series professionally animated by one of the leading Animation studios in Japan. I know it’s wishful thinking at this point but you can never lose hope.

8. How has managing a comic impacted your life?

It really hasn’t. When I started the comic I made sure I had a decent buffer stock of pages. So at present even if I do one page week it really doesn’t put any load on my schedule. And I can’t actually affect my schedule anyway as I am a freelance animator & when I get a job time is always against me.

As of late however, after winning the award for the Best webcomic at the comic con India wards things have only been looking up. There is still a lot of room for growth but I’m sure that will be filled as the comic advances further.

9. What do you do to advertise your work?

Well I think promotion is one of the most important factors in our webcomic field. I’m no genius at it & I’ve taken a lot of falls along the way to come to the point where I realize how these things kinda work now.

Firstly, Project Wonderful. I think it’s one of the best ways to advertise webcomics online as it provides a a highly categorized selection & at the most reasonable rate. Plus you have full control of which ads need to be displayed on which site along with a statistical approach of what works & what doesn’t.

Secondly, Social media. This is a tool that has really helped Beast Legion big time. In fact Beast Legion gets 30% of it’s traffic daily from Facebook, especially on days when the comic updates. Creating a Facebook page really acts as platform to draw friends fans & fellow readers to your site. I use twitter as well but I still haven’t really hit the nail of how things work there.

Facebook Ads: in my opinion it is one of the most powerful & affordable mediums if used right. Rather than directly linking the ad to the Beast Legion site, what I do is link people to the facebook page. The moment they like the page they automatically get updates from the page which in turn link to my site. It’s an excellent way to build a decent fan base though I assure you that not every person who likes the page becomes a fan instantly.

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?

As I mentioned earlier, my main goal is to share my stories with people across the world & hope that they enjoy it.  I’ll be honest I haven’t reached a phase where I can earn a living off the comic but recently things have been looking up. It’s still an expensive hobby to maintain, especially from the advertising perspective but I’m sure if it goes on long enough it will develop a decent fanbase. And I’ll be making a very important announcement
regarding it’s current status on the 1st of June.

11. Got any other projects we should know about?

Well I work on several animation projects in on a weekly basis. I can’t really reveal a lot of them as they are not my personal properties. But as regards to webcomics, at present I’m only focusing on Beast Legion though I have a few other ideas in my mind which I’d love to see transcend into a comic medium at some point if I can partner with the right artist.

12. What advice would you give to aspiring creators? 

Haha I’m an aspiring creator myself so I’m not sure. All I can say is if you are making a comic, forget about gaining instant success or wealth. Do it because you love creating art & sharing it with people who appreciate it. Critics are something that you shouldn’t allow to hold yourself back , but instead overcome them & achieve what you must.

Remember there’s tons of competition out there & to make a name for yourself you will need to have both good art & a great story on your side. If you have that you are good to go!
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Thanks for taking the time Jazyl! I was surprised to learn you draw digitally as I thought your pages were hand inked. Learn something new every Wednesday...

So to tell us how you feel about The Beast Legion, Jazyl'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 visit Lithopia for yourself at www.thebeastlegion.com! You can also check out more of Jazyl's work here.

-Mat

Next Weds.- Buzzboy by John Gallagher!

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.





Monday, June 4, 2012

This Weds. The Beast Legion interview!

Tune in this Weds. when we interview Jazyl Homavazir about his award winning  web-manga The Beast Legion! Get caught up on The Beast Legion now and join us Wednesday to learn about Jazyl's process! 




-Mat
evanyeti.com