Robot 6

Zudist Colony: Talking to October’s contestants

Zuda

Zuda

Every month since late 2007, Zuda Comics hosts a competition between webcomics, with the winner becoming a regular strip on the site. In Zudist Colony, I interview the contestants via email, asking each of them the same five questions, which hopefully gives you a little more insight into the strips and the creators themselves.

This time around I asked them to share which page was the most challenging to create of the eight pages they submitted to Zuda, which is the artwork you’ll see with their answers. Also, I only received answers back from eight of the 10 contestants this time around.

So here we go …

*****

ShockPopTerror!

ShockPopTerror!

JM Ringuet, ShockPopTerror!

JK: Tell me a little bit about yourself — is this your first comic-creating experience, or have you done other work in the field? What do you do when you aren’t creating comics?

JM: I’m a full-time freelance artist doing comic work, illustration, concept art and video game art, as well as some storyboarding here and there. I have been doing comics seriously for about three years, first as a colorist for a variety of indie publishers (first job was Death Comes To Dillinger for Silent Devil, and the latest to date Lords of Misrule for Radical), then as a full artist (pencils, inks, colors) on Transhuman written by Jonathan Hickman for Image Comics and on Sparks for William Katz Catastrophic Comics. I’m also self publishing a comic on the iPhone called Stolen Suns (that was featured on CBR), that I am also writing. Chapter 1 is now available on iTunes, Chapter 2 coming early November. I’m currently working on a graphic novel project.

ShockPopTerror! is my first try at Zuda.

When I’m not doing comics I’m either reading them, or creating art in a different field, writing. I work most of the time. I like to work.

JK: What’s your comic about, and where did the idea come from?

JM: ShockPopTerror! is inspired by the exploitation and grindhouse horror movies of the 70s and 80s, the era that gave rise to the modern ‘slasher’ movies. I am very interested in 70s cinema in general because of its raw power, its sociological elements and its honesty. I watched a lot of those movies, and I like a lot of them. I sprinkled quite a few references actually for movie fans. It’s a classic horror comic.

I thought a story set in that era, 1972, using the tropes of the horror genre, would be a good starting point for a thrilling comic and then to twist it a bit and sprinkle it with more modern concerns. Basically I wanted to do fun, action, thrills and add some more serious elements in there like religion, gender role, economic problems and the role of violence. And some dark humor of course!

I think the first eight pages only show bits of this, and maybe I should have make my themes stronger at the beginning. I wanted to ease out the reader in the atmosphere of the story, create a mood, present the crazy characters. It could have been a bit more forceful and have more density, but eight pages is not a lot. Hopefully readers get a fun and exciting romp in Hooper County and vote for the comic because they want to know what happens next (that would include swamp mutants, cannibal bikers, Mayan cursed treasure, masked maniacs, and a strange altar).

JK: Of the eight pages you submitted, which was the most difficult to create, and why?

JM: That would probably be page two, because it was actually the first one I created. I had to come up with the look for the two main characters, the look of the place and also find a graphic style that worked for me.

I tried something that I think is original with painted backgrounds and more traditional inked characters colored with only two values (one light, one dark). I think it gives it a kind of weird animated look, although my original inspiration was the 70s illustrations and movie posters that were rendered in gouache.

I added a lot of distressing over everything to give a patina, to a feel of something pulpy, wet, sweaty, damaged. Then I toyed a lot with the added text, to create something that is half caption boxes and half movie slogans. It took some time to get the right feel.

JK: What are you doing to market your comic this month?

JM: Mostly message boards, Facebook, Twitter and friends. I’m not the best at marketing, I’m just trying to get as many as possible to just read ShockPopTerror!, especially horror fans.

I also want to reward the best supporters of the comic with original signed sketches. There has been a lot of support already, and some tremendously good reactions to it. I’m beyond happy to see that this little comic has some real fans.

JK: If you do win the competition, what happens next in your story?

JM: The girls go to town (literally) and discover that the man they are looking for (their old partner in crime) is the son of the local pastor, a man who has a lot of power over this little backward community of strangely deformed people and a weird idea about religion. They also learn that a precious ancient Mayan treasure has been hidden in the worst part of a gator infested swamp, playground of the mysterious Berryman family, and that the legitimate owners of the treasure, a biker gang with cannibalistic tendencies, are not far away. To get at they want they must face the horrors of Hooper County, and discover the real secret that lays in an antediluvian altar. But who are the real monsters: the mutants, maniacs and cannibals, or… the two girls?

It’s a good pulpy fun thrill ride with a dark side, equal part EC Comics and Texas Chainsaw Massacre. I promise 52 more pages of relentless heart-pounding horror action!

Now readers, it’s your turn, please vote for ShockPopTerror!

*****

Doc Monster

Doc Monster

Davd Flora, Doc Monster

JK: Tell me a little bit about yourself — is this your first comic-creating experience, or have you done other work in the field? What do you do when you aren’t creating comics?

David: Thanks for doing this, first of all. This is actually my second comic endeavor, though it’s my first attempt at coloring the pages. I’ve been writing and drawing my first comic, Ghost Zero, since January of 2007. The whole thing has been a very positive experience for me, and the reader response has been fantastic.

When I’m not creating comics, I occupy my time providing technology training at a university, being a church deacon, a freemason, and plotting to become a farmer!

JK: What’s your comic about, and where did the idea come from?

David: Doc Monster is really a salute to 1950’s sci-fi and horror films. It starts out with Doc and his CIA-assigned “handler” Carson Clay investigating strange lights in the sky over a rural, Kentucky town. The CIA is concerned that the lights might indicate some sort of communist activity, but it soon becomes apparent that there’s another, more shocking power behind the disturbance. It turns into an alien slugfest, with Doc doing some things that hint that he’s more than he seems.

The idea of the comic really has its genesis in my love of films from the 50’s … X the Unknown, The Thing from Another World, The Blob and so on … plus my love of the classic movie monsters such as Dracula, Frankenstein’s Monster and the Wolfman.

Doc Monster is also a tribute to my big brother, Mike. Mike is one of those larger-than-life kind of guys who got me interested in pulp action tales and weird stories from an early age. Mike has always had a fascination with UFOs, thus Doc is a larger-than-life character whose first adventure involves aliens. The first scene actually happens in a drive-in theater that was in my own hometown!

JK: Of the eight pages you submitted, which was the most difficult to create, and why?

David: Well, the toughest page involves a scene where Doc has figured out that the strange UFO is generating its own gravity field … cars from the drive-in are stuck to the surface of the craft … so he leaps up into the field and lands on the bottom of the UFO. It presented an interesting question; from whose perspective should I orient the page, Doc’s or the viewer? Doc’s view would show the page in a traditional manner, where he would appear to be standing upright on the saucer’s bottom, but I was concerned that the sudden flip in viewer orientation would confuse viewers. So, I instead chose to draw the page from the viewer’s perspective, one in which Doc is upside-down in the page! It did confuse a few viewers, but it also made for a page presentation that you don’t see often in comics. I was pretty pleased with the end result, but I’ll think long and hard before attempting it again!

JK: What are you doing to market your comic this month?

David: The same sorts of things that I’m sure have been mentioned before. I’ve been talking about developments on Facebook and Twitter, along with several of my favorite forums, and I have a development blog at www.docmonstercomic.com. I’ve also have an article posted in my hometown newspaper.

The most amazing thing to me is how many readers have published reviews, created support pages, and posted on their blogs about the comic. There’s a tremendous grass-roots kind of support that’s been surprising. I mean, when you create a story like Doc Monster, you hope that some people will enjoy it, but the response from readers has been really remarkable.

JK: If you do win the competition, what happens next in your story?

David: Well, we of course get to find out what happened to Doc! Also, there’s some interesting information gained from the corpses of the centipede-creatures, more alien attacks as the entire country comes under siege, and secrets about Doc’s history are revealed. Stay tuned!

*****

Fly Me from the Moon

Fly Me from the Moon

Gabriel Bautista, Fly Me From the Moon

JK: Tell me a little bit about yourself — is this your first comic-creating experience, or have you done other work in the field? What do you do when you aren’t creating comics?

Gabriel: I’m a 29 year old animation student, living in the burbs of Chicago. I’ve actually been doing comics for many years, and it all really started when I created EnterVOID.com, an epic comic battle website that has been home to several professional comic artists, and many artists you see on Zuda these days, including Sheldon Vella (Supertron), Aluísio C. Santos (Rockstar). Professionally, I’ve had work published by Image Comics (Elephantmen, Tori Amos’ Comicbook Tattoo, Popgun Vol 2), SLG (Fat Chunk Vol 1 & 2), as well DC (JLA 80-Page Giant) and Heavy Metal.

When I’m not working on comics, I’m typically animating, or sketching … I don’t really watch TV or play games, so it leaves me with a lot of time to create.

JK: What’s your comic about, and where did the idea come from?

Gabriel: Fly Me From the Moon is a sci-fi adventure piece that takes place in the mid 22nd century. It revolves around a middle-aged acquisitions office manager, Titus Simirica and his quest to rescue his wife from a lunar civil war.

The idea came from a random lyric from a song by Cafe Tacvba (epic Spanish rock band!), where the singer says, “I met a man, and I sold him my piece of lunar property.” That whole line got my mind spinning as i walked home from work one afternoon, and I started thinking about space realty, and how people actually buy stars. So, from that spawned this ‘lil nugget of story that is Fly Me From the Moon.

JK: Of the eight pages you submitted, which was the most difficult to create, and why?

Gabriel: I’ll be honest, cause I know a lot of people have called me out on it, but the drawings themselves weren’t so hard to put down on paper. I was almost pushing the limit on how crappy my artwork can get, so really the only difficult part of my story was the panel layouts. The thing I love about Zuda is their page template. I know a lot of other people complain about it, but for me it boils my creativity juice. Also the actual dialogue is always a tough, as I try to make something that people actually want to read, and feel connected to. I think page five was the toughest for me to write … I wanted to come up with something really awesome and quotable.

JK: What are you doing to market your comic this month?

Gabriel: I could probably lie and say that I’ve been doing a lot, but really as of now (10.13.09) I haven’t done much. One of the problems with having a full time job, being a full time student and having freelance work in my lap means you don’t get much time to surf around on forums and drop your link to people. So honestly the best thing I’m trying to do now is get as many popular people as possible to pimp my comic. I hope this following week I can get some free time to run around in forums, chat rooms and what not … maybe even do some fan art for some dudes who have big followings. It’s almost a shame that people have to try to win by being the most popular, but that’s life, right?

JK: If you do win the competition, what happens next in your story?

Gabriel: Honestly I haven’t thought too far into that. I know for a fact that the protagonist’s wife gets kidnapped, and Titus lands safely on the moon. From there I’d really like there to be some real action, some fights, some gunfire, chases scenes… everything that makes a good sci-fi adventure flick great. I really want to show off what the moon people look like, I want them to be a bit uglier than earth humans, and definitely stronger. The addition of a new hot girl would be very likely as well, as we all know hot babes sell. A bit chauvinistic i know, but it works.

*****

A Polar Nightmare

A Polar Nightmare

Amancay Nahuelpan, A Polar Nightmare

JK: Tell me a little bit about yourself — is this your first comic-creating experience, or have you done other work in the field? What do you do when you aren’t creating comics?

Amancay: This is actually my third comic submitted to Zuda. I started in November 2008 with Hijos de P, followed by Clandestino in May 2009, and now this one.

Also in the comic field I published an ongoing series titled Hijos de P (what I published in Zuda was a parallel story to the printed arc). And right now I’m working with the guys at Com.x on Duppy’78, a graphic novel written by Casey Seijas, due in 2010. You can check out my blog at http://annbonline.blogspot.com/ for more info.

JK: What’s your comic about, and where did the idea come from?

Amancay: It’s basically the story of two kids that go to the North Pole looking for Santa, and, well, as it’s seen in the comic, they don’t find exactly what they were expecting.

And the idea came years ago, from a crazy conversation with some friends.

JK: Of the eight pages you submitted, which was the most difficult to create, and why?

Amancay: Page five was definitely the most difficult page to create, because originally there was a longer story happening when the kids got into the house, they were going to go through different labyrinths and secret tunnels, like to make them know who they were going to end up meeting with. But it was impossible to go with all that in just eight pages, so I condensed everything in just one single page.

JK: What are you doing to market your comic this month?

Amancay: Basically going through the internet possibilities, trying to get interest from local newspapers, and leaving some flyers at local comic shops.

JK: If you do win the competition, what happens next in your story?

Amancay: Well, the main idea is trying to show up bizarre versions of well-known holiday characters, the Easter Bunny, the Thanksgiving turkey, etc… and there will appear more “normal” characters, humans who also went to the North Pole years ago looking for Santa.

*****

Impure Blood

Impure Blood

Nathan Lueth and Nadja Baer, Impure Blood

JK: Tell me a little bit about yourself — is this your first comic-creating experience, or have you done other work in the field? What do you do when you aren’t creating comics?

NL: My name is Nathan Lueth and I’m responsible for the art of Impure Blood. I’ve been drawing since birth, a lover of comics since eight, and a freelance illustrator since 2000. I’ve drawn a few comics professionally, a few for competitions (I was a finalist in Tokyopop’s 2008 Rising Stars of Manga) and a lot of comics for personal projects, but I’ve never had the opportunity to draw them regularly. I hope to change that in the near future (one way or another… XD). When I’m not drawing I enjoy reading, martial arts, gaming (tabletop and console), movies, long walks on the beach, and sharing my feelings.

NB: Nadja Baer, author of Impure Blood, which was originally scripted as an epic fantasy novel. It’s my first foray into the world of comic creation, but I’ve got several more story lines that might translate well into the visual medium. When I’m not creating comics, I’m at my desk, 9-5’ing in a corporate cube farm, working on one of my other novels, reading, doing other equally exciting things, or trying to figure out ways to get Nathan to stop sharing his feelings. XD

JK: What’s your comic about, and where did the idea come from?

NB: That’s a tough one…it’s about a lot of things. As stated above, the idea came from an epic fantasy series I’ve been working on (off and on) for the last seven years, so there are a lot of themes and plot lines. At the very heart of the story is the question of identity–in one way or another, all the main characters have to decide who they are and what they stand for, and to see how their choices affect the people around them.

JK: Of the eight pages you submitted, which was the most difficult to create, and why?

NL: Page eight has a lot of perspective on it. Not just the buildings, but the figures in the last panel were rather tricky to draw from that angle. But, it all turned out, and now you all have a great view of our character’s butts.

JK: What are you doing to market your comic this month?

NL: Emailing everyone I know and their dogs. We have some fliers that we’re passing out and whatnot. Pretty mundane compared to the tremendous marketing war last month.

NB: Emails, posting throughout the writing forums I frequently haunt–I’ve brought quite a few comic newbies to the site–writing to friends across seas in hopes of going international, getting the corporate drones I work with the vote for me over lunch breaks … y’know, the usual.

JK: If you do win the competition, what happens next in your story?

NL: Well, as it turns out, Roan is actually an alien from beyond the moon. Sent to Earth as an infant to conquer mankind, he hits his head, loses his memory, and is raised by a kindly old martial arts master. He will soon discover his origins and his ability to power up to Super Roan… wait… I may be thinking of something else. You really think we’re going to give it away?

NB: Ninjas. Zombie ninjas. Seriously. With kites. I wouldn’t give away trade secrets. Nathan doesn’t even know yet.

NL: It’s true…I don’t. But I’m holding out for Roan-Ball Z.

*****

Evil Ain't Easy

Evil Ain't Easy

Seth Wolfshorndl, Evil Ain’t Easy

JK: Tell me a little bit about yourself — is this your first comic-creating experience, or have you done other work in the field? What do you do when you aren’t creating comics?

Seth: My partners and I have been self-publishing comics as Three Trees Studios since 2005. We publish four series (Random Ink, Rook City, and others) both in print and online at threetreesstudios.com. Random Ink is our anthology of stories that features everything from humor to science-fiction to biography. Rook City is a comic about a town full of oddball characters, including aging vigilantes, delusional vampires, and superficial superheroes. When I’m not creating comics, I stay busy teaching art to high schoolers, running an after-school cartoon studio, organizing our area sketch nights, and picking up some freelance illustration work.

JK: What’s your comic about, and where did the idea come from?

Seth: Evil Ain’t Easy tells the story of Dr. Nimbus, a maniacal and diminutive scientist who just wants to conquer the world. Unfortunately, the annoyances of everyday life keep getting in his way. Joining Nimbus is his loyal henchman, Lothar, who may be more hindrance than help. Together they will launch their master plan… right after they figure out how to pay rent!

I’ve always enjoyed humor that pokes fun at the stereotypical, over-dramatic evil genius, and so I created a strip where I could do that. I also enjoy having two very different characters play off each other, and Dr. Nimbus and the very mellow Lothar are definitely polar opposites in personality. The combination of these elements leads to a lot of fun situations, and the strip practically writes itself.

JK: Of the eight pages you submitted, which was the most difficult to create, and why?

Seth: The first page was probably the most challenging because it had to do several things. It had to catch the reader’s eye, give the basic setup for the strip, and make the reader want to read more. I’m proud of how it turned out, but it definitely took a bit of tinkering to get it there.

JK: What are you doing to market your comic this month?

Seth: I have started a production blog at evilainteasy.com that serves as the hub for all of the promotion for the comic, complete with sketches, fan art, and downloads. I’m also relying heavily on social networking sites, such as Facebook, Twitter, and deviantArt, to help get the word out there. I am running various contests on each of these that are stirring up a lot of interest in Evil Ain’t Easy. Our Facebook group, in particular, has really taken off with a few hundred members already signed up. In addition, the local media is helping to spread the word about the comic, and I’m advertising online.

JK: If you do win the competition, what happens next in your story?

Seth: Dr. Nimbus comes to realize that world-conquering just ain’t paying the bills yet. So to make ends meet he will start to take a series of part-time jobs. But we’ll see how long he can tolerate working at positions that are so obviously beneath someone of his intelligence!

*****

Old Cthulhu's On The Rise

Old Cthulhu's On The Rise

Daniel Tollin, Old Cthulhu’s On The Rise

JK: Tell me a little bit about yourself — is this your first comic-creating experience, or have you done other work in the field? What do you do when you aren’t creating comics?

Daniel: Hey! I’m a crazy northlander from Sweden who tries to make a living in comics, when I’m not working a mental asylum as a licensed nurse! This is not my first comic-experience. Exactly a year ago I was in a Zuda contest with a comic called Skullgoyle. But I think I’m mostly related to as the artist on Stephen Lindsay’s crazy thrill-ride that is the comic Jesus Hates Zombies. I’ve so far illustrated two volumes on the Jesus Hates Zombies story called “Yea, though I walk…” and I’m working on the final volume as I write this. Prior to Jesus Hates Zombies I did a really fucked up comic with Stephen called Happy Panda Funtime Show. Oh, I’ve also got a newly started web comic, yet again with Lindsay, called Vaempir Testament, it’s about this slacker who’s into metal and comics, and one day he finds that his band has been slaughtered by some kind of monster. The story involves vaempirs, heavy metal, Norse mythology and the legendary sack of Thor. Check it out at www.captionsandballoons.com/vaempir. Shameless self promotion, I know. :)

JK: What’s your comic about, and where did the idea come from?

Daniel: The idea for Old Cthulhu’s on the Rise came to me one night, while watching An American Werewolf in London ( I don’t think anyone has failed to notice my tribute to said movie in my comic). I just really love the whole movie and especially the beginning with the two guys just aimlessly roaming the English hillside. So I thought what could make this even creepier and right away Lovecraft’s slimey creatures filled my mind.

JK: Of the eight pages you submitted, which was the most difficult to create, and why?

Daniel: Hard question, I think I’ll have to say page four. Trying to build visual tension while the guys are running away from something that I don’t show at all was really hard.

JK: What are you doing to market your comic this month?

Daniel: Not much actually, a bit of Twittering and Facebooking. I’ve put some links on different comic related forums also. But I believe that a comic, if it should win, should be so good that you don’t really need to promote your ass off. People who randomly check it out, while going through the other contestants, should just think that this is good enough to win without me having to nag them. So, no, not much promotion at all.

JK: If you do win the competition, what happens next in your story?

Daniel: Next up is introducing the town of Old Insmouth and its inhabitants, who are gonna be a big part of the story. In my mind the whole town is one of the main characters along with the two guys. I want to build up a creepy atmosphere where everyone has a nasty secret and no one is safe. And there will of course be lots of monsters, it is after all a Lovecraftian story!

*****

Pluck

Pluck

Gabe White & John Amor, Pluck

JK: Tell me a little bit about yourself — is this your first comic-creating experience, or have you done other work in the field? What do you do when you aren’t creating comics?

John Amor: My name’s John Amor, and I’m an artist from the Philippines. I’ve done a handful of other projects, including an appearance in C.B. Cebulski’s Wonderlost from Image and The Mask of Manolo from Patchwork Comics. I also dabble in concept art and graphic design, but when I’m not at the drawing board I co-host a comic review podcast called Tres Komikeros.

Gabe White: I’ve worked on a few webcomics in the past, and I have a comic called Gulch currently running on Zuda. When not writing comics I like to watch obscure movies.

JK: What’s your comic about, and where did the idea come from?

John Amor: I’m just the draw-art guy, so I’ll let Gabe go into detail about it. What I personally take away from it is it’s Lord of the Rings meets Huckleberry Finn… and that’s about as sophisticated as my references go.

Gabe White: Pluck is about a young man trying desperately to rise above his station, find an angle, make something of himself…and the many misfortunes which follow when he finally does. In some ways it’s a critique of class, the privilege of high birth, and the Great Man theory. But it’s mainly just a good old fashioned fantasy epic, full of adventure and monsters and fun.

JK: Of the eight pages you submitted, which was the most difficult to create, and why?

John Amor: Each of the pages had its own little challenge, I should say… but I guess the one thing I spent the most time on was the last panel of the last page. In it, the king (offpanel) is speaking to Pluck in a rather commanding manner, and we don’t exactly know what sort of person/thing/sandwich he is… but Gabe’s script called for an intimidated, shocked, and sheepish expression on Pluck’s face, and I had no dialogue from Pluck to help me out. I like to think it worked on the most part, but there are still areas that I now see could have used a bit more love.

Gabe White: I would agree that the last page was the most difficult. It’s always tricky deciding how to wrap things up in eight pages, how much of a cliffhanger you want to leave things on. Like John said, the script originally called for the king to be speaking off panel at the end, and there was a bit more narration, but I decided the look on Pluck’s face was perfect as is. The other elements just seemed to distract from the moment.

JK: What are you doing to market your comic this month?

John Amor: I’m plugging it on Twitter and Facebook of course, where a group seems to be gaining fellowship. I’ve mentioned it on my website a couple of times before, but I definitely plan to show a bit more of how the pages were put together soon enough — a sort of DVD commentary for all three people who visit the site. (www.johnamorartist.com plug plug)

Gabe White: I’m also marketing on social networks, as well as a few other odds and ends.

JK: If you do win the competition, what happens next in your story?

John Amor: I don’t know if I can divulge anything too revealing but I WILL say that Wolverine shows up. Twice. And then Bruce Wayne comes back and is super pissed that he’s in a webcomic. Yeah but no, Gabe drew me into the project when he said that it’s going to have a healthy amount of creatures and races in it. Anyone who’s seen some of my art knows that I’m a huge creature buff, so I can honestly say that I’m looking forward to designing me some beasts and such.

Gabe White: Damn. Now everybody knows about Wolverine.

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Comments

2 Comments

Great interview, guys! Hang in there and keep on keeping on!

Hey guys, sorry I didn’t manage to get the answers to you in time – blame this weekend’s convention and my imminent NYC visit… Sorry!

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