Robot 6

Zudist Colony: Talking to December’s Zuda Contestants

zudaEvery month, Zuda Comics hosts an online competition in which ten webcomics teams provide eight pages each of their comics, and readers vote on the winner. And every month we here at Robot 6 ask all ten creators the same five questions, in order to get a little more insight into both the comics and the creators.

I’m guest hosting this month, so JK can have a bit of holiday time off. So, on with the questions!

Ayanna

Ayanna

Wai Kwong Chan, Ayanna

Brigid: Please give us the premise of your comic in a single sentence, and explain where you got your inspiration for it.

KenKwong: Encapsulated, Ayanna is about an ordinary person who with the use of ancient technology is able to save herself.

One day my girlfriend was sleeping with my cat. She was awaken suddenly by a nightmare and ran out of the bedroom with my cat following her. That image of the two running together was the inspiration for a story that grew into Ayanna.

Brigid: Is this your first comic? If so, why have you chosen this medium? If not, what other comics have you done?

KenKwong: I have done other comics before Ayanna. I have chosen Zuda because I enjoy doing the art in a comic book storyboard format. My first comic at Zuda was Fallen Angel. Besides the Zuda, I have joined other comic competitions. One was Bolzano Comics, and my comic was selected for exhibition on their website.

Brigid: How did you have to change your original idea to hook the reader in only eight pages?

KenKwong: The comic as seen is basically the original idea. I have only had to do some text rewriting to try and develop an atypical type of dialogue that would reflect actual dialogue translated roughly into English. While abrupt and choppy I believe my comic portrays its cadence well. Together, its cadence, with a lot of work in working out the color palette of each frame sets the direction of the story to end at a break on the last frame where you would want to say: “Wow, what’s next!”

Brigid: How much progress have you made with the comic as a whole? Have you written or drawn anything beyond the first eight pages? Do you know how it will end?

KenKwong: I have only done the eight pages and have not worked out any further progression of the storyline. I am waiting to see whether or not the comic wins this competition before investing any more time in it.

Brigid: What have you learned from participating in Zuda so far and what do you hope to gain from the experience over the long run?

KenKwong: I have settled upon my style of drawing which is satisfying to me.  Also, I gained a friend from the previous Zuda competition. He helps me a lot on my ideas.  Zuda does open a gate for me that will let other comics fans know more about my comic art and storytelling, and it gives me a chance to meet more people in this field.

Daemon's Sphere

Daemon's Sphere

Andrew Hartmann, Daemon’s Sphere

Brigid: Please give us the premise of your comic in a single sentence, and explain where you got your inspiration for it.

Andrew: Daemon’s Sphere is about an expert in the acquisition of extraterrestrial artifacts working for the American government during the height of the cold war to keep those artifacts out of Soviet hands.

While the story has existed in many forms since its inception, the final version was, very much, inspired by the classic pulp, treasure-hunting adventure stories. I’ve always been a huge fan of cliffhanger adventures, and wanted to try my hand at one.

Brigid: Is this your first comic? If so, why have you chosen this medium? If not, what other comics have you done?

Andrew: This is my first stab at putting a full comic together, though I have been an aspiring comic artist for a while. I have been a fan of the comic medium for almost as long as I can remember, it’s so versatile and unique. Also, I love a visual medium. I was honestly mostly inspired to finally put this story on paper (so to speak) by Zuda and the format they provide. I think it’s amazing.

Brigid: How did you have to change your original idea to hook the reader in only eight pages

Andrew: Luckily for me, the cliffhanger-heavy nature of the genre of my comic made it quite easy to, in a relatively short space, create a compelling introduction to the characters and story while, hopefully, leaving the reader wanting more.

Brigid: How much progress have you made with the comic as a whole? Have you written or drawn anything beyond the first eight pages? Do you know how it will end?

Andrew: I currently have a completed draft of the script. Though I have been recently thinking of expanding it, as it is a little tight in its current form and could use some breathing room. The major beats and the ending are pretty much solidified at this point, though. On top of that I have drawn the next four pages and have been finalizing layouts on the next 12.

Brigid: What have you learned from participating in Zuda so far, and what do you hope to gain from the experience over the long run?

Andrew: I love the communal nature of what Zuda is offering. It’s fascinating to hear what people think of your work, positive or negative, and it’s great information as the people on that site are the real fans of the medium, and most of them are illustrators and writers like myself. Those are the people I most want to hear from while trying to work my way into the industry and improve myself as an artist. I think what I hope to gain is an honest understand of what I am currently capable of and good, stern criticism in order to know better what I can do to improve.

Goop Jr.

Goop Jr.

Mike Robinson, Goop Jr.

Brigid: Please give us the premise of your comic in a single sentence, and explain where you got your inspiration for it.

Mike: Hello, my name is Mike Robinson. I’m an illustrator currently living in Grand Rapids, MI. Goop Jr. is the story of two wisecracking boogers that emerge from an ancient creature carrying a very deadly virus. My inspiration came from the recent H1N1 scare combined with a desire to do a fun comic with some unconventional main characters.

Brigid: Is this your first comic? If so, why have you chosen this medium? If not, what other comics have you done?

Mike: This is my first published comic, I’ve done a bunch on my own that have never seen the light of day. This is the first one I’ve felt is worth sharing. When I first stumbled upon Zuda, I got really excited about the opportunity to try and get my work out there and viewed by a large audience.

Brigid: How did you have to change your original idea to hook the reader in only eight pages

Mike: I found the eight page format reasonable but challenging. It’s definitely enough room to establish your main characters, and the main plot that will drive the rest of the story. The hard part is finding a clever way to do all that. I really wanted to do things that the reader wouldn’t expect, and to make them laugh the whole way through. I know this comic isn’t for everyone, but it’s nice to see some people enjoying it and that’s what it’s all about for me.

Brigid: How much progress have you made with the comic as a whole? Have you written or drawn anything beyond the first eight pages? Do you know how it will end?

Mike: I have the whole story outlined, it would be very hard to establish the first eight pages without having something else written. The first thing I did before drawing a single page was making sure I knew where this was all going. I definitely have an ending in mind, getting there may change though.

Brigid: What have you learned from participating in Zuda so far, and what do you hope to gain from the experience over the long run?

Mike: I’ve learned that having your comic out there for everyone to see is very nerve racking. You really have no idea how it will be accepted when you’re creating it. It’s definitely been very rewarding so far though. I love getting feedback, finding out why people like or dislike it. Every criticism has value, and I hope to take those criticisms and improve my craft. If Goop Jr. falls short this month, depending on if people enjoyed it enough, I may continue it. If not, I’ll be back with something new and improved. Thanks for reading!

The House Always Wins

The House Always Wins

Josh Hechinger and John Bivens, The House Always Wins

Brigid: Please give us the premise of your comic in a single sentence, and explain where you got your inspiration for it.

John: In this case Josh is the pitchman, and I’m here to draw pretty (or violent and disturbing) pictures, so I’ll leave the premise to him.

As for inspiration… Josh and I have been walking down the same path to get into comics, independently, but aware of each other. We were mentored, first through Warren Ellis’s Engine and then at the spin off forum, Panel and Pixel. This was our chance to do some work together.

Josh: Okay, in short: A detective team investigates a house that murders people, in a dark-humored satire of J-Horror and US crime dramas.

Inspiration wise, I’ve wanted to write something for John for a while now; I’ve been referring to him as “future art superstar John Bivens” since we were on The Engine, and it’s one of the few instances where I’m being completely serious.

John being John, I knew it had to have a horror element, and his solo work’s got a great, twisted sense of humor that I wanted to play to. And me being me, I made it a kind of team book so characters can bounce off each other, and a satire of sorts because I’m basically incapable of not writing something with at least some jokes.

In the end, I looked to shows like CSI, which can be pretty goofy if you squint at it right, for something familiar to audiences that I could riff on. And I’d just come off reading Go Nagai’s absolutely berserk DEVILMAN and Junji Ito’s funny-in-a-just-horrifically-wrong-way GYO, so I wanted to do something with the sincere insanity the Japanese bring to their horror comics.

Brigid: Is this your first comic? If so, why have you chosen this medium? If not, what other comics have you done?

John: My first couple of comics were in Sam Costello’s SPLIT LIP horror anthology. After that I wrote and illustrated the story “Leather” for COMIC BOOK TATTOO where Josh also had his work featured. This is my third ZUDA entry, after RUMORS OF WAR with Justin Jordan and THE ADVENTURES OF MR. SIMIAN done on my own. I’ve illustrated a story written by Elizabeth Genco for POPGUN volume 4 (out in February), working on a short comic for the READING WITH PICTURES anthology, and have a pretty big web-comic project coming up next year with Elizabeth Genco. There are a few other writers I’m supposed to work with in the future, but I need to clear my plate a bit first.

Josh: I wrote a five-page story in the COMIC BOOK TATTOO anthology with gorgeous art by Matthew Humphreys; me and artist Jorge F. Muñoz are just finishing a bear-wrestling digital comic called YON KUMA (“Four Bears”, and a pun on yon koma, “4-panels”) that Robot Comics has out on the iPhone and Android; and my first book with mpMann, THE GRAVE DOUG FRESHLEY, is waiting to be printed by Archaia.

Brigid: How did you have to change your original idea to hook the reader in only eight pages

John: I really didn’t change anything… I struggled with one page, but Josh and I worked back and forth on that for about a day and we came to a solution.  The story stayed the same, I just ended up throwing in a couple more panels.

Josh: Well, I wrote this specifically for John and I to do in Zuda (that title’s not an accident), so not much changing went on.

What I tried to do was offer a sample of the series’ tone (ghost comes out of a TV ala THE RING, only the victim flips his wig and tries to kill it with a wrench before it fully emerges) and introduce the core cast in such a way that I could pick it right up if we got, er, picked up.

Brigid: How much progress have you made with the comic as a whole? Have you written or drawn anything beyond the first eight pages? Do you know how it will end?

John: Waiting to see what comes of the competition really.  If it’s not continued here, the direction we’re thinking of taking it would require a bit of redrawing from me.  Having enough on my plate to not want to do anything unecessary, I’m in a holding pattern right now.

Josh: Just these 8 pages are finished; I have what happens on page 9 and up roughed out in a little notebook, and I know the overall big beats of the story. Part of the fun with this thing is going to be just making up horrific set pieces as we go along, but it’s enough of an actual mystery story that I needed to know where we’re going with it.

As for the ending…the biggest reason I’m so pumped to do this as a series is that I know how it ends, and that ending is one of my favorite things I’ve come up with in a story, period.

Brigid: What have you learned from participating in Zuda so far, and what do you hope to gain from the experience over the long run?

John: Different ideas for promotion and marketing, really.  When it comes down to it, promoting your work is just as important as the writing and the art.  To someone who wants to keep a part of themselves in independant publishing, this kind of experience is invaluable.

Josh: One of the best things to come out of the experience so far is getting feedback on the pacing from the readers. I think that what we’ve got up there works fine as the first eight pages of story, but as an eight page hook, people have been a little disappointed that they need to read the synopsis to understand what the deal is. Which is completely understandable, and on my head as a fumble.

But what’s been really humbling is the people who like the story to the point that they seem especially disappointed that I didn’t write MORE of a hook. That kind of “I want this to win, why’d you screw up the hook?” (not a direct quote) reaction has caught me completely by surprise.

In the long run, I don’t want to let those people down.

Jason and the Argonauts Redux

Barry Keegan, Jason and the Argonauts Redux

Brigid: Please give us the premise of your comic in a single sentence, and explain where you got your inspiration for it.

Barry: For my first Zuda pitch I liked the idea of using something recognisable, and then throwing it on its head by making everything robotic—the question as to “why is everything robotic?” is the mystery yet to be revealed. So if everyone wants to find out then please vote for me! As far as inspiration goes I loved the old movie of Jason and the Argonauts from the 60’s, and Greek mythology in general is a pretty awesome genre!

Brigid: Is this your first comic? If so, why have you chosen this medium? If not, what other comics have you done?

Barry: Yes this is my first Zuda comic. I chose the medium because I love it and it can easily be a vision created by one or more people. Also a whole world of robotic Greeks running around adds nothing extra to the budget of making the comic!

Brigid: How did you have to change your original idea to hook the reader in only eight pages?

Barry: When I heard about Zuda I wrote this concept specifically for the website. I decided to fit in a small portion of Jason’s upbringing into the first eight pages, which I think is a great way of putting the reader at ease until page six—After that page the story they once knew has a new dimension which will make them want to read on!

Brigid: How much progress have you made with the comic as a whole? Have you written or drawn anything beyond the first eight pages? Do you know how it will end?

Barry: When I initially read about the submission requirements I misread the synopsis section and thought it said 2000 words rather than 2000 characters! So right now I have a fairly meaty synopsis from start to finish, and I’ve carefully planned out how this story will differ from the original. It has been a lot of fun researching the classic story and figuring out how robotic Greeks will send the tale in a new direction! Also if people want to learn more about the different elements of Jason and the Argonauts they can go to my blog. I am releasing content every Monday to Friday for the month of December. The content is artwork portraying some of the characters from the classic tale, and a little information on their backgrounds. So please go check it out!

Brigid: What have you learned from participating in Zuda so far and what do you hope to gain from the experience over the long run?

Barry: I’ve learned to really sell your first eight pages, and to give the reader a lot of information on your overall story. I think they need to know what they are investing their time into, and if it is something for them. I’m learning a lot from the readers’ comments—it’s great that Zuda provide the option for feedback and in my opinion the perfect forum to flourish in.

One Hit Knock OutMaximo V. Lorenzo, One Hit Knock Out

Brigid: Please give us the premise of your comic in a single sentence, and explain where you got your inspiration for it.

Maximo: OHKO Is about a young boy named Serge who wants to be a grand hero, gets his chance only to find out he has no idea what it means to be a hero.  Basically thinking about viewtiful joe and dodgeball, I did a story where it was dodgeball, scrapped it and now I’m concentrating on the Sentai hero aspect of the story.

Brigid: Is this your first comic? If so, why have you chosen this medium? If not, what other comics have you done?

Maximo: No I have done work with IC Entertainment, Bombos Vs. Everything, Ghostbusters, and Domokun with Tokyopop, a story in Popgun 3 and Popgun 4 with IMAGE.

Brigid: How did you have to change your original idea to hook the reader in only eight pages?

Maximo: I concentrated on making the characters come to life, giving them full back stories (that no one knows yet ) to help me craft their personalities. Second I ended the 8 pages on an inciting incident.

Brigid: How much progress have you made with the comic as a whole? Have you written or drawn anything beyond the first eight pages? Do you know how it will end?

Maximo: I have about 4 different arcs in mind, how it ends depends on how long Zuda would let me continue the run.

Brigid: What have you learned from participating in Zuda so far, and what do you hope to gain from the experience over the long run?

Maximo: So far I have learned a few things, I’m still stewing them over so I’m not willing to share quite yet. I hope to gain the opportunity to tell my first long running story, and improve with the experience that will bring.

Shipeng Lee, Mark Wolfchild

Mark Wolfchild

Mark Wolfchild

Brigid: Please give us the premise of your comic in a single sentence, and explain where you got your inspiration for it.

Shipeng: Actually, my inspiration comes from a fact I found, it is everybody has his own problem  in this world. For example: a soldier must face the fact he lost his spermary in the war, a 7-year-old boy has to face the fact he has killed his little brother just 5 minutes ago in a danger game, so I created a guy who has a lots of trouble he needs to face. He is a normal man just like you and me, not a super hero with super powers, he is the reflection in the mirror when you are naked, a reflection of this world.

Brigid: Is this your first comic? If so, why have you chosen this medium? If not,
what other comics have you done?

Shipeng: No, it is my last comic“““in this year, Ha!
Why, just for fun.
A lots, actually I’m famous in Chinese comic industry. I have published a big 3D comic art book (Dr Forlen) in 2008, it is a French version for Europe market.

Brigid: How did you have to change your original idea to hook the reader in only eight pages?

Shipeng: It is a very hard work for me, actually I spend a whole minutes to squeeze my idea into 8 pages, about how, I don’t know, just trying to do.

Brigid: How much progress have you made with the comic as a whole? Have you written
or drawn anything beyond the first eight pages? Do you know how it will end?

Shipeng: 8 pages only. It will end after the contest.

Brigid: What have you learned from participating in Zuda so far, and what do you
hope to gain from the experience over the long run?

Shipeng: Never join the contest in Zuda, it is not funny game for you, if you are professional.

SubSueloAlfredo Rodriguez, SubSuelo

Brigid: Please give us the premise of your comic in a single sentence, and explain where you got your inspiration for it.

Alfredo: Subsuelo is an action and fantasy comic about Roman and his adventures trying to rescue his sister in an unknown world full of dangers and strange creatures.
The main idea was born while chatting with my brother Gabriel. We both wanted to do a fantasy story, with magic and sci-fi touches. But most important, Subsuelo responds to our desire of doing simple stories focusing on the interaction between characters, because Subsuelo, in spite of being staring by robots and fantasy creatures, is mainly a story about brotherhood and friendship.

Brigid: Is this your first comic? If so, why have you chosen this medium? If not, what other comics have you done?

Alfredo: This is my first comic for the USA. Originally it was drawn in comic book format for a Chilean project that wasn’t finished. This year we decided to adapt it for Zuda because we thought it’s an excellent opportunity to relaunch this story and have feedback on our work. I’ve only published some short stories in Chile. However, my brother Gabriel has been working for IDW Publishing for years, he has worked on Clive Barker’s novel adaptation The Great and Secret Show and the Locke and Key series, with Joe Hill as scriptwriter.

Brigid: How did you have to change your original idea to hook the reader in only eight pages?

Alfredo: Usually, when I write a story, I try to show the story’s main idea from the beginning without including an excess of information, just focusing on the essence. That’s why in Subsuelo we tried to use graphic details to get ahead the tone of the story that, as you can suspect, has a lot of fantasy and Sci-Fi. At this point Gabriel’s graphic work is a key factor, ‘cause he has an exceptional ability to transmit the story tone and show the characters’ personality through his outstanding work.

Brigid: How much progress have you made with the comic as a whole? Have you written or drawn anything beyond the first eight pages? Do you know how it will end?

Alfredo: Subsuelo’s script is already finished and we know perfectly how it ends. Gabriel has drawn 34 pages and I’m working on these pages’ color. However, we always make some changes at the drawing time ‘cause Gabriel likes to give a new point of view for enriching the story, as I said before.

Brigid: What have you learned from participating in Zuda so far, and what do you hope to gain from the experience over the long run?

Alfredo: Taking part in Zuda has been a very satisfying experience. This is the first time one of my scripts has been read by so many people, although it’s just the beginning of the story. This experience is helping me to realize what’s important to the readers when they start reading a story, and what elements are necessary to captivate their attention.

Unseen TribeLuciano Vecchio, Unseen Tribe

Brigid: Please give us the premise of your comic in a single sentence, and explain where you got your inspiration for it.

Luciano: Unseen Tribe is about a team of superhero kids with self-generated superabilities, living strange adventures around the world while human conciousness is about to collectively jump into the next Aeon.

Inspiration came from everywhere in pop culture, magic, and my own practices with kundalini meditation, third eye chakra, reiki and lucid dreams. It´s all there exagerated to the extreme, in a fun way.

Brigid: Is this your first comic? If so, why have you chosen this medium? If not, what other comics have you done?

Luciano: I´ve been working as comic book artist and illustrator for many years now. My first gig was Sentinels, a series of four graphic novels about a superhero team for the independent Drumfish Productions in the US (www.sentinelsonline.com), and I just finished Cruel Thing, a beautiful gothic saga in three hardcover books that was published in Spain by Norma Editorial, France by Emmanuel Proust, and started being serialized in Heavy Metal magazine. I´ve also worked on the OGN Real Clohe and anthology Abreme, both released in Argentina and Spain, among other stuff. Unseen Tribe is my first comic as integral artist.

Brigid: How did you have to change your original idea to hook the reader in only
eight pages?

Luciano: Choosing what to use in the first eight pages was the hardest part. This is a character-driven adventure story, so I did want to start with a bang and introduce the characters in action, and then slow down to show their background and the fundations of their universe. Since there´s no way to fit all that, I took my chances and went with what I felt would give the reader a clear idea of what to expect from Unseen Tribe, as a read and aesthetic-wise.

Brigid: How much progress have you made with the comic as a whole? Have you written or drawn anything beyond the first eight pages? Do you know how it will end?

Luciano: I know how this first episode ends, and I have a bible of concepts, villains and storylines worked out, though I like to keep it fluid at this stage. Unseen Tribe is a project that I know will take flight one way or the other, and I would love to do so at Zuda, but working this way allows me to be ready to adapt to different formats, just in case.

Brigid: What have you learned from participating in Zuda so far, and what do you hope to gain from the experience over the long run?

Luciano: What surprised me the most is how much social networking and self promotion plays a role in the competition, something I hadn´t noticed as a regular Zuda reader. My hopes are to continue doing my art and finish this story, but I´m sure the whole experience will pay off in ways I can´t imagine yet.

VillainGregory Smallwood, Villain

Brigid: Please give us the premise of your comic in a single sentence, and explain where you got your inspiration for it.

Greg: Villain is about a super villain, Shockwave, who is sent away to a prison planet for all of the crimes he’s committed.  The most obvious inspiration is Escape From New York but I was also heavily influenced by other films and books like, No Escape, Lord of the Flies, and Planet Hulk.  I live in Leavenworth, Kansas and the first spark for Villain occured as I was driving by the federal penitentiary and began thinking about what a prison for super villains would look like.

Brigid: Is this your first comic? If so, why have you chosen this medium? If not, what other comics have you done?

Greg: This is indeed my first comic.  As for why I chose this medium, Will Eisner once talked about his frustrations as an artist and a writer, not being great at either, and how comics allowed him to merge those two “ineptitudes” into an ”eptitude”.

Brigid: How did you have to change your original idea to hook the reader in only eight pages?

Greg: Zuda was always the intended platform for the comic so how I was going to handle the first eight pages was at the forefront of my mind.  My goal was to first let readers into the mind of Shockwave and expose them to his psuedo nihilistic/existentialist attitude, show him clash with the heroes, and then plunge them into the world of the prison planet, Atticus.  I toyed around a little with the order but I always had a pretty clear idea of what the eight pages were going to look like.

Brigid: How much progress have you made with the comic as a whole? Have you written or drawn anything beyond the first eight pages? Do you know how it will end?

Greg: I’ve got a pretty detailed outline of the story and pages upon pages of concept sketches and character art.  I see Villain as having two major arcs and I’ve got a really clear idea of how I want to end both of them.

Brigid: What have you learned from participating in Zuda so far, and what do you hope to gain from the experience over the long run?

Greg: I’ve learned a lot about my work and how it connects with readers.  The opportunity to receive direct feedback from the audience, negative or positive, is invaluable.  The comic has actually developed a fan base and I’m hoping to take these new fans with me, wherever Villain ends up.

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Nice…i always like reading these.

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