Heyy, I do the webcomic "Subnormality," as well as artwork for Cracked.com. Ask me whatever!
Hey, here's my site for anyone unfamiliar. I started my comic in 2007 and started working with Cracked in 2009, and have built a pretty amazing and wonderful audience since then.
Ask me whatever you want about my work, or about webcomics in general. I'm happy to offer whatever advice i can about this rather mercurial art form i've dedicated myself to. Let's talk!
Oh, and here's my proof of identity!
EDIT, 5PM eastern: Phew! I'm flagging a bit, so i'm gonna take a break, get some dinner, maybe a nap, and i'll be back in a little bit to try and get the rest of your questions answered. Thank you VERY much for all the questions and kind words, it's definitely more than i was expecting, i'll say that. Y'all are awesome!
EDIT EDIT, 7pm eastern: Okay, i'm back.
EDIT EDIT EDIT, 10:50pm: Okay, i'm gonna have to call it a night, i'm like typing letters in the wrong order at this point... I just wanna say Thanks so much again for all the questions and nice remarks, this's really been just an honor. Knowing y'all are out there is just huge, so cheers. And apologies to everyone wayy at the bottom whose questions i couldn't get to! I promise to have another quick look around tomorrow and throw out a few more answers, but you're definitely free to ask me anything at any time via email so contact me there.
Thanks again, it's been wall of text-tastic!
Well cheers, that really means a lot to me.
Hey, thanks. I'm always especially happy about the comments from people who don't agree with everything i say but like the work regardless, there're a surprising amount of those actually.
Will Cracked ever run out of lists?
7 REASONS CRACKED WILL NEVER RUN OUT OF LISTS
What is your favorite Subnormality strip? Which one are you most proud of?
Also: It's such a treat when a new comic pops up in the feed. It makes me happy and I want to say that I don't even care about waiting between comics if it means they are all such treats <3
Thanks! That means a lot me. Which comix am i most proud of? Honestly, just the ones that were the most work i think, and that the most people enjoyed. I'm proud of The Line because it was the culmination of a few years of pondering such issues and because of the research involved. And i'm proud of the one christmas comic because it was basically a graphic novel that i'd been mulling for a couple years but was never going to have the opportunity to draw, so i tried to kind of pour it into one installment of a weekly comic strip and i'm proud of myself that i was willing to try something like that, if i may say so. (and the mousover text for that one is completely true by the way-- i was literally inking the words "the power went off" and in real life the power went off, and it was the fucking Creepiest Thing Ever)
Gah, even your answers are "too many words"
and I mean that in the most loving way
Yeah, anyone expecting succinct answers should probably just back out of the room right now...
I know, there've been a few complaints about the hard-to-readness lately, and i'm gonna work on that for future comix...
And thanks for the very kind words!
Never heard of you, never seen your work, but FFS I would pay to see a movie based from your Christmas comic. Thanks for sharing that with me.
Ha, glad you liked it!
Will Sphynx and sometime-PinkHairedGirl ever bridge that uncomfortable interspecies lurrve blind-spot they've skirted around these many years?
Will Sphinx eat her?
Woohoo, you replied!
Your comices (that is the correct plural for comix, right?) often sit unread for a long time in my feed. I put off reading mostly because I dread not having time to fully enjoy it (I usually have time, but you know, procrastination).
I read them eventually, and enjoy them tremendously. I guess what I want to say is, thanks for the inspirations and keep being awesome!
Hey, thank you for the kind words!
I have a shameful several months of exactly the same situation, but didn't know how to word the apology. "Not in the right frame of mind for having it expanded" was the best I could manage, but totally. Time for a catch-up.
Don't worry, it's common.
You must get thousands of email telling you your comix are life-changingly, thought-provokingly awesome. How do you 'keep it real'? (and deal with the volume?) Hell, I emailed you once saying I bought a sphynx t-shirt, and you actually replied!
If I were you, I'm pretty sure my ego would rocket out of control, and I'd become unbearable, but from your blog posts and stuff you seem to have a handle on things.
Thanks for buying a shirt! That kind of support means a lot to me.
I don't get thousands of emails, but there have been quite a few over the years, and quite a few just Amazing ones where, yeah, people are like "you made things suck less today." Obviously it's a lot to take in, and you're absolutely right that it could mess with one's head in certain ways. I actually do have a specific answer to that question, and it's that as long as the feedback i get is text on a screen then i can sort of pretend it's not real to the extent that it doesn't mess with my head. Like, the couple times i've met people in real life that were fans of my work it TOTALLY got to my head-- not an ego trip, but it does affect you not matter who you are and how small the audience, and it took a couple months to get over to be honest. You suddenly feel like you have to live up to more than you have been because they're REAL! The audience is real!! AAAHH!!
So as long as it's just text on a screen, it's enough distance to remain kind of level-headed. As long as i can maintain that 10% distance then i don't get a big head about it or whatever. I know this all sounds just Weird, but feedback is definitely hard to get used to, particularly after however many years of toiling in obscurity and being convinced that i'd never succeed.
This AMA got me reading your comic, and almost an hour suddenly disappeared into nothingness. I'm going to chalk that up to "maybe" on the list of anomalies.
With all seriousness though, I think your style and content do so well at kindling the quiet thinker in all people, so you probably had many more fans than you ever thought you did - it's just that they all took it inward!
I'm really kind of excited I have your works to shuffle through now that I know about them. And, you probably have many other people that do this exact same thing, but they never tell you.. incidentally why I had to write this :)
I most certainly have more readers than i think i do, i mean this AMA is about 200 times bigger than i thought it would be for one thing. So thanks for commenting, it means a lot!
I've been reading your comics for a couple of years now.
How are you not female?
Men and women just aren't as different as we've been led to believe.
Could you draw us a sketch of what you think the average reddit user looks like?
(PS, love your comics. Awesome, awesome stuff)
I dunno, i'd hate to offend the non-average reddit user. Thanks for the kind words though!
Who are the three artists you look up to that first come up to your mind (and why) ? Awesome work, thanks so much. I adore your "Weird" print I bought some time ago.
Thanks for the kind words, and for buying a print! Three artists:
Bill Watterson is Why I Make Comics. He was able to transcend the idiotic constraints of newspapers (and in fact fight for more room on the sunday pages) and produce something amazing and near-timeless just by sheer talent and love for the medium. Basically everything i do derives from idolizing Watterson. I make damn sure to use the infinite canvas now available to me thanks to the internet.
Kurt Cobain! Huge influence, artistically and as a person. I was obsessed with that dude for a great many years. His hatred of Macho Bullshit i happily absorbed. "Heavier Than Heaven" by Charles R. Cross is the only book i've read more than once.
Noel Gallagher! Because of songs like this and this and because he's said numerous times he's doing what he's doing because he can't do anything else, and i'm in the same boat. I can't do a real job, so here i am. Fookin' 'ell.
Big fan of your work! Read most of your stuff, even the old ones :-)
Some of your work is about the holocaust and people living in this time period (for example The Line and the shortstory/comic about the woman and man walking down the road (can't find the link anymore, I think you know which one I mean)). Why did you start to write/draw about this subject? Did you studied it?
Wenn did you start to use more text in your comics and why?
I like it, but to be true, it was hard for me to get used to, especially because my motherlanguage is not english ;-)
Thanks! I'm always honored by the amount of comments i get from people whose first language isn't english but enjoy the walls of text regardless (all the TOO MANY WORDS comments are from english-speakers). To answer your questions:
-I've addressed the holocaust etc because that time period's just always something i've been interested in. I was obsessed with the second world war as a kid, and that's never really faded as something i find interesting. Living in a modern, industrialized western nation, i feel like nazi germany is THE example of how far a modern, industrialized western nation can fall, and that example should be studied for all time because it could happen to any nation given the right combination of circumstances. Maybe not literally, but what i mean is every nation has the potential to go completely fucking off the rails, and the third reich is the most extreme example of that and thus perpetually important. Learning about that time period is just part of my identity at this point, thus it's definitely shown up in my work.
Sorry, i forgot the second question:
The text thing was just gradual i think. The more comix i made the less i held myself back, and what i like to do is Write and Draw, so i've let myself do as much as i want in an increasing fashion.
I really like the TOO MANY WORDS aspect to your comics. Very few comics (perhaps I am reading the wrong ones?) represent what a lot of communication between people is, which is long conversations without anyone time travelling or having psychic mind battles or getting bombed. I have no idea if that's what you are going for, but that's why I like all the words.
Yeah man, that's totally what i'm going for actually! People, the last time i checked, definitely talk to each other using a lot of words as opposed to concise little quips, so that's one reason i refuse to feel bad about having walls of text in there.
Thank you for your answer! Follow-up question: Are you still gonna make comix with less words? I really liked stuff like Weird?, Halloween Costumes and the race - it brings out your fine artwork a little more :)
Yeah, always! The newest comic has like five words, so i'm always willing to go zero-text when the mood strikes.
Where does your inspiration come from?
There are a lot of factors, to be honest. Comix-wise, i'm inspired by the potential of the medium, and to maybe possibly hopefully try and help drag it forward or at least back to where it was a hundred years ago. For the last few decades the medium's been (re)defined by newspaper editors who've shrunk and shrunk the space on the comix page because they all want to be the New York Times, and it's frustrating and it's bullshit and thank fucking god we now have the internet so the medium can get back to what it's supposed to be doing-- namely not being constrained by format/content restrictions, and showing that it can be just as vital and important and exciting as any other medium. If i end up helping that cause in any way, if i can show that comix don't have to be just a light entertainment on page D46 then i shall die happy. I believe in this medium, i really, really do. It has everything. And if it had more respect in the media then it would have more exposure and in turn more potential in the future for comix artists to make a living, so that's what inspires me-- that goal. Reading an online comic and being able to relax because i know that person's earning a living and not just cranking out what they can between split-shifts at Burger King. We comix people try just as hard as any other artist, but we don't have the rewards yet so that struggle is primarily what inspires me.
And beyond that, more content-wise, definitely a desire to express certain ideas in my work, which would hopefully be of some use to others. Just to try and view the world and express truths about it (as opposed to opinions, like in my earlier work), because frankly a lot of media is really not that good at describing what it's like to be a human being. You can go 20 years thinking you're insane only to randomly read an article one day and find that whatever issues you have are totally common and you're in no way alone. But it shouldn't take 20 years. There's no reason at all for people to feel as alone as they do in the ways that they do, and art can definitely help with that, so that's another inspiration. It's fucking tricky to express truth obviously, but i aim high. Having said that though, i'm not morphing into Professor Humorless here. I most certainly want to actually entertain people at the same time, as opposed to illustrating a series of dour lectures. And i wanna challenge myself as an artist too, and part of that is the attempt to create characters that are convincing and that people like and then see where they go as opposed to forcing them to go places.
Beyond that, there's just the Big Stuff. Being horribly aware of one's mortality and striving to get my ideas out and hopefully leave something semi-decent behind once i'm gone. There's no use pretending that death isn't hideously, loomingly inevitable, so i've always had a strong desire to at least try to make some ripples in the pond, as it were. Take the crazily great opportunity of being born the current age in a great country to ultra-great parents and use it to hopefully make something nice.
Sorry, i know i talk pretty big sometimes, lofty ideals and pretensions etc, but you gotta aim high.
I have so much respect for you for pushing the boundaries of your medium. Do you ever feel limited by the expectation that comics should be humorous? Do you feel pressured to do a light-hearted comic after one of the serious ones?
I definitely used to, but after enough readers saying SHUT UP WE LIKE THE SERIOUS ONES TOO i grew out of that pretty quick. I still WANT to do humorous stuff, if every comic was just stone-faced philosophizing with no sense of humor then that would be a bit lame.
Just in general, like as an artist, or did you have anything more specific in mind? Wall of text poised to drop...
Both. Give me your wall of text.
I second this.
Done! See above... edit: now it's below. CURSE YOU INTERNET
And now it's back to above :D
Remember your 7 part space opera? Ever going to return to those zine-y roots?
Six parts! I have zero plans to return to doing zines, but i most certainly have plans to do such graphic novels again. I won't be for a while though. I'd absolutely, positively love to redo all of Captain Estar, among other ideas.
Ever considered hard copy other than prints? Would totally buy Captain Estar...
No, not currently. I did make a zine edition of Estar, but there are only 9 copies in existence and i have no plans to make more because i have done enough photocopying/stapling for three lifetimes.
I've never used it, but have you considered selling through Amazon's print-on-demand service?
You'd forfeit the incidental color for a black+white print process; I'm sure the quality is a little less than you'd get from a professional publisher - but it would still be better than a photocopy! And once you've got everything set up, readers can order as many copies as they want with zero work on your part.
(Playing with their website, it looks like if you were to sell a 200 page 8x10" b&w book through their distribution channels for $30 list price (which I'd easily pay for this) - after printing, stocking and their cut - you'd get $15 per copy.)
Yeah, my mom's selling a book right now with Amazon print on demand, so it definitely has me thinking. It's definitely an option. There's a pretty heavy setup cost, but it could still work.
To kickstarter! But seriously if you ever redo Captain Estar would you consider kickstarting it?
I'd approach publishers before i did anything (plus we canadians can't use kickstarter as far as i know). I wouldn't be for a while though, so who knows how i'll feel in december of 2055 or whenever it is i get around to redoing that comic. I'm sure kickstarter will in fact be available to canada by the time i think about using it, now that i think about it.
[actual question paragraphs numbered for visual convenience]
1. Are you planning on introducing any more words into the common vernacular? My friends and I have been non-ironically using 'particulus' for a while now, and 'the befores' and 'the afters' are now the canon terms in my head for that phenomenon. I'd love more installments of that one.
I'd also like to mention that the befores/afters bit stands out as provoking some of the hardest, most uncontrollable laughing I've been privy to in the last few years. I was literally in spasms of laughter while reading it over and over for weeks, especially the newspaper headline in the "afters" panel. Ditto with the entire "Corporate Logos" comic. Can't tell you how satisfying that one was. I don't understand how society has allowed terrible, clueless logo updates to become such a widespread menace.
2. Are you ever frustrated with the confines of the average computer/tablet screen as your audience's only window to your works? I'm definitely always itching to somehow stretch my monitor out to poster-sized while reading your comics, and worried about it alienating people when I send them around. At the same time, not knowing how long any given strip is going to be until you're well into it can be fun and interesting and I get the feeling you might enjoy inflicting that.
3. Have you seen the 2009 film Mr. Nobody? One of the most under-rated, under-seen recent movies out there, in my opinion, and an excellent, surreal exploration of the concept in your "Consequences" strip, one of my favourite concepts overall and one I inexplicably have the most trouble getting people to believe in/understand. Seriously.... agh.
4. As a fellow Torontonian, how much of it do you put into your strips? Do you think of Toronto as the setting of any/all of your very urban-centric strips, or just the usual generic New York/Toronto/Chicago/Boston metropolis that pops up anywhere?
Anyway, you're consistently one of the very small list of current artists I'm actually intellectually intimidated by(you, Aaron Diaz, Eliezer Yudkowsky), way more than enjoyable but forced stuff like xkcd, and your stuff is frequently on my mind. "A Christmas Eve In The Future" is one of the better sci-fi short stories I've read and I nearly went nuts trying to re-find it last December to share with a friend(I've it bookmarked now). The sitcom character progression chart should be tacked up on the wall of every TV writers-room in America as a fierce and unavoidable warning. Anyway, this new "Anomalies" comic looks like an instant classic. Off to read it. I'm so glad I saw this AMA because I would've sorely regretted the missed opportunity if I hadn't. Thanks for doing this!
Have you really?? That's hilarious, i'm definitely happy about that. Seriously, the Befores is a necessary term, and i'm always mentally referring to particulus as well. I haven't thought about doing more actually, but i probably should give it another go at some point. Really glad you like the logo comic as well, glad i'm not the only one horrified by logo design!
I will say i'm concerned that tablets will take over as the dominant form of computing, which is then gonna affect the size of comic strips once again (ugh). I'm not gonna run through the streets crying DON'T BUY TABLETS!! YOU BLIND FOOLS CAN'T YOU SEE THE TABLETS WILL DESTROY US ALL!! but i do secretly fear that the dominant form of media will again define the format of comic strips just as i was getting used to this infinite canvas deal i got right here.
No, i haven't heard of it, but i'll google it right after i'm done writing this.
The comix i would say are increasingly set in kind of a fictional version of toronto (with elements of a couple other cities). It was just inevitable from living here, and i'm definitely happy to represent the city even in some weird, abstract way.
Thanks very much for the Ultra kind words! And don't be intimidated, i'm just Some Internet Person.
Thanks! I'm pretty inspired by such kind words in return.
Your webcomic is the only comic my girlfriend will read. She's quite fond of the depth and wordiness of the stories but, generally, comics are a no-go for her. Just thought you'd like to know that you're bringing in fans from outside the usual webcomic nerds to appreciate the medium.
Now a question, what is your favorite breakfast cereal?
That's wicked man, i get a few comments like that and i'm really proud of that kind of thing. Kudos to your girlfriend, and to you!
Favorite cereal? I forget what it's called, it's got like blue or green boxes with a window in it, natural ingredients etc /NOT A HIPSTER JUST LIKE THE CEREAL
Well this is a bit of a banal and uninspired question, but I can't think of anything else. What kind of music do you find yourself listening to, and what are some of your favorite album releases of the last couple of years?
I love your webcomic, by the way. Great work, and thank you for making art as you do.
Thanks! Right now i'm listening to Rush, because Rush are awesome and if they're not gonna get into the rock n' roll hall of fame because they're Weird and have Too Many Lyrics then that's the fucking band for me.
As for favorite albums from the last few years, windows media player informs me that i have enjoyed such things as the new Hives album, the Jack White solo album, House of Bees vol. 2 by B. Dolan, Live in France from Rodrigo y Gabriela, numerous releases by welsh rapper Akira The Don, and last and the opposite of least the first album from my sister's band, Ladies of the Canyon. Music!!
the new Hives album
So I guess now they're worth listening to for more than just an afternoon?
edit: Oh, I should also mention I absolutely love your Radiohead drawing from that comic!
Also, does #11 refer to any specific band, or just the general concept that everyone has a band like that?
Oh god yeah, i've changed a lot of the opinions that are in that comic, i'll say that (QOTSA are like in my top 5 of bands right now, for instance). Definitely still like Radiohead, and i'm glad you liked the drawing! And no, #11 is not any specific band, it's just That Band that you like that you don't want to be ruined by popularity (if popularity ruins stuff. Sometimes, sometimes not, separate argument. I'll shut up now).
Hey i love your comics whenever a new one is put out it really makes my day at work fly by. My question is, what is your schedule for putting new comics out and what can we (reddit and users) do to see new comics more frequently?
Hey, cheers. My schedule's informally every two weeks, but the nature of doing freelance work means that a strict schedule isn't really possible. I have to take the opportunities that come my way when they come my way because that's what pays the rent. My non-subnormality work isn't some burden that holding me back though, i don't wanna give that impression in the least. I really Love being commissioned to draw stuff, it's a necessary diversion from the usual drawing+writing, and working with Cracked.com is pretty much a dream job to me and i'm perpetually mega-grateful for that opportunity.
I could probably pay the rent via ads on my site or whatever, but i have no desire to go down that road, so there's always gonna be a balance between the comic and the Everything Else. As to what you can do to see new comix more frequently, there's really nothing beyond just supporting the site, posting links to my work or leaving comments or whathaveyou. Just let me know you're out there! Unless you have some sort of cloning machine? I'd need more than one clone though, i'd need like a couple.
Unless you have some sort of cloning machine?
Ha, yeah, there it is.
would that be so you could make out with yourself?
Almost inevitably... But no, when we weren't making out i'd put one to work on inking and one on coloring probably.
I was incredibly moved by one of your earlier comics, the one about the Babi Yar massacre. Do you have any plans to do any more "serious" or political comic strips? (Please do!)
Honestly i don't, nothing so specifically historical anyway, and certainly not political. There are other comic strips to tackle that stuff, so i'm trying to focus more on The Personal i guess. I'll definitely do more Serious stuff, i should clarify that, but probably not political. Everyone who's gonna hate stephen harper probably already does, and if the shit he's done in the last few years isn't enough to turn people off him then certainly nothing i can say is gonna work.
where do all the stories go? will the brown haired girl ever go crazy from stewardess-ing, and take Sphynx on some sort of BJ and the Bear inspired killing spree? What about the Sand Witch? Does the homeless woman who sells band names ever show up at the same street corner as the guy who said condoms are manufactured to break, and start a turf war? what do the other monsters from the "monsters playing cards" comic do?
Killing spree not scheduled. As for the other stories, they're ongoing... And the ones that aren't, hopefully there's enough there to be worth pondering about, imagination-wise. There are some i've meant to return to but haven't yet, Atomic Cowgirl being top of that list.
You are definitely my favorite creator of web comics- I'm amazed at how you can switch from great insights into behavior and people's thoughts like in Down at The Supermarket to the more... crazy stories like Appetite for Destruction. I think a great part of your appeal is that you express what many people feel about so many things. How did you decide that you wanted to express yourself in the web comic medium? Was there an evolution from creating artwork, or did you think from the start, "If I combine what I'm thinking with some awesome drawings i could make a great little comic."?
I luckily failed at trying to do newspaper comics (too much dialogue), and decided on a whim to try a webcomic. I've actually always wanted to do comics, so it didn't have to evolve from anything else.
Haha "try to use less dialog"... What a chump! Living in South Africa I'm selfishly glad that this guy rejected your comic- if you were just publishing in a paper I'd never have seen your stuff. Thanks for the reply!
Trust me, i'm quite glad too! And knowing that people anywhere in the world can check out my work is the best part of what i do, i reckon.
This AMA caught me by surprise. I can't think of any good questions but just wanted to say that I really enjoy Subnormality. Thank you for it.
Cheers man, glad you've enjoyed it!
1.) Who do you think you are?
2.) Where do you get the nerve?
3.) How dare you?
1). I think i'm captain lou albano. 2). I don't, i'm just pretending to have the nerve to be honest. No, really. 3). 42
Why can't we know her name? She's my favorite character!
(I don't have any real questions, I'm just excited that you're posting here. It's always such a treat seeing a new comic put up, as well as rereading them to catch all the little details you include that I missed the first time.)
It's a secret! For no real reason!!
Thanks though, i really appreciate the kind words.
Do you still work out of Toronto? or did you move when you started working with cracked? I used to love how the residue of the city would show up in the comics all the time, It made it feel like living in Toronto had a cool connection to your work. Did you ever attend the Toronto Comic Arts Festival? what was it like?
Still in Toronto, no plans to leave! I like it here, and it's definitely seeped into the comix in an increasing fashion.
Never been to TCAF. Oh no wait, that's not actually true-- i did go once when it was out in tents behind Honest Ed's back in 2004 or something, but i don't remember much. Something something chester brown something tents. I'm not big on shows anymore, though from what i hear the current TCAF is quite Great as far as shows go so i'm fully on board with the local pride there.
How do you not get bored? In the context of what I imagine is a dark room with a large desk and a large expanse of distraction - how do you focus?
I'm pretty bad at focusing, i mean i'll draw for 30 minutes and then INTERNET and then draw for 45 minutes and then INTERNET and then it's 1 am. You get the idea... Doing any creative endeavor is a lot of work, and yeah it's not always gonna be FUN, so you have to be motivated on a fundamental level to push through the drudgery. By the time i'm 2/3rds of the way through a comic i'm sick of drawing and i don't understand the comic any more and my head hurts and there's a Steam sale, but you gotta push through it for the feeling you get once it's done and people are reading and (hopefully) enjoying it. Do it for how it feels when it's done, because the work won't always be TOTAL FUN no matter how much you love your job.
I heart your comics AND your walls of text. If I asked REALLY nicely, would you come to APE in SF this year? I would bring you beer.
Cheers! I appreciate you asking nicely, but i'm not real big on doing shows. I used to do them back in my zine days, but as an introvert i just found them exhausting (as much as it was cool to meet people and be in a Large Room full of people who were into comix). My merch is all online anyway, so it'd just be me at an empty table with a false moustache pretending to be asleep.
You're easily one of my favorite parts of Cracked and I always look forward to more of your submissions. One thing that's always stood out to me as especially giving me an brain boner is '8 Things you can do with a cover song' (http://www.cracked.com/article_18898_the-8-things-you-can-do-with-cover-song-5Bcomic5D.html) My question is: What are some of your favorite 'whole new level' covers? Some that come to mind, for me, are Johnny Cash doing 'hurt' and 'rusty cage' and also the White Stripes doing 'Jolene'
Thanks! Whole new level covers... any cover Nirvana did really, they were just that kind of band. For me personally, emm gryner's version of pour some sugar on me is a whole new level.
Did you start making comics as a way to occupy yourself, or was there always the intention of putting them out in the world as a means of communication? Are your characters and plot lines ever born out of a solid plan, or do they kind of form themselves? Comics you'd recommend other than the ones on your link page (related: ever read Black Hole?)? Lastly...who is your favorite pornstar?
I've literally always wanted to make comix for a living (as obnoxious as that sounds), and though i lost sight of that goal when i was in school, once i finished school and the world was like OKAY NOW WHAT the goal came roaring back pretty quick. And yeah, communication is a Huge motivation actually-- hopefully making people feel less alone, and feeling less lone in turn by hearing from the audience.
As for the characters, they definitely were not born from a solid plan. The sphynx was just a one-shot character that instantly kind of leapt off the page with this personality that i didn't even intend, so further adventures became necessary. The pink haired girl was just an arbitrary set of characteristics with the goal of being vaguely likable, and i could either give up on her or grind it out and see what kind of personality was in there and develop her into something actually rounded. I don't plan ahead with her at all because she's making it up as she goes along in life, and thus so am i (i didn't set out to do that, that's just the situation that evolved). Characters definitely form themselves, at any rate-- that's the fun of writing, it really is. Just seeing what happens with these little people you draw.
Other comix i'd recommend: Akimbo Comics is always first on that list. Should be wayyyyyyyyyy more popular than it is, so i mention it incessantly.
The art in Stripfield is to fucking die for, but he seems to have stopped publishing in english so i have no idea what's going on unfortunately.
I like WHOMP! too-- i just derive unique amusement from its just relentless portrayal of how horrible the main character is. There's something about that that appeals to me for whatever reason. That's one strength of the medium actually, spending a whole lot of time with a character and just getting used to that.
Anything else out there that's good y'all probably know about already.
The depth and thoughtfulness of your stories reminds me a lot of Bill Watterson (albeit with more text!). In this short-attention-span internet world, what inspired you to make comics in this way?
Massive fan -- thanks for doing an AMW!
No problem! And to answer your question, I just really like writing, so i don't restrain myself at all in that regard. One must be free to do as one pleases in one's own comic strip, otherwise what's the point. I don't think people's attention spans are are short as we've been told, fortunately.
First off, love the comic. Not really a question, but can I ask, can you pump up the res on either the comic or the font size?
You do very wordy comics and I sometimes have trouble reading them both with and without my glasses.
If not, oh well. Keep up the good work anyway and I wish you much health, wealth, and happiness.
I know, it's a problem, but the bigger the jpegs are the worse the art looks. I am definitely going to try to make the lettering less cluttered though just because i'm fully aware that it's hard to read often. I promise to get on that for future comix...
I'm happy to hear you're addressing this too, as I do most of my browsing now on a tablet (android honeycomb) and the lettering is super pixalated, which makes me a sad panda. Still worth it for the art though.
edit: just realized that the pixalation only starts at comic # 167. Not sure what's different there, but there you have it.
That's odd, i should look into that...
why is it that every time i try to read your comix the sheer amount of words explodes my monitor sending dangerous monitor shards every which-a-way
Monitor shards are nice in a spinach salad, maybe with some raspberry dressing. /summerrecipeideas
No questions from me, but I just wanted to say that your webcomic has altered how I think about the world. Sometimes uplifting, sometimes depressing, but always worthwhile.
I'll probably be called stupid for asking this, but for your comic on Perspective Man, did you mean for him to be in the right, or the boys?
Honestly, i don't even know. Looking back, probably him up until the end where it's just kind of ridiculous/gory for its own sake. Pretty much everyone is right/wrong in that one.
Any advice for someone trying to start a webcomic and find an audience?
Yeah! 1) Don't be discouraged if you don't get an audience for months and months. It took me one year of utter obscurity to get any kind of feedback, and i ALMOST quit i kid you not. But didn't. So don't you either if you don't have any emails from readers after nine months. All it takes is the right link on the right site and you can get "out there" overnight.
2) Submit your stuff to Stumbleupon, or hope that other people do it for you. No-one talks about it for whatever reason, but if you're gonna get incoming links that's where you're gonna get them.
3) BE DIFFERENT!! Offer people something they can't get anywhere else. Find a niche. FIND A NICHE! Subject matter is a niche. Walls of text is a niche. There are 950 billion webcomics, and you need to stand out in some way because it's no longer the 1980s and the audience must expend effort in seeking out comics instead of having them there in the paper that they bought for the articles. Be different, be different, be different. Look at it logically: the majority of people doing webcomics will not build a huge audience, so this is not the time for fitting in or picking up on trends.
4) If you're afraid to post it, that means it's probably good. Write that down.
Does Subnormality take place in Montreal? I've noticed a lot of red squares recently.
It's more of a very fictional version of toronto. The red squares were just a nod of local solidarity with the student protests in Montreal. Montreal is awesome, just as an aside.
Squee! I found your comic through stumbleupon. It was this one. I was instantly hooked after that. I've read Captain
Esther Estar Goes to Heaven about a billion times and tell all my friends about your comic who haven't heard of it.
It seems like the cracked crowd doesn't approve of your comics. Whenever I read their comments, they are usually insulting. Have I just been noticing the negative comments? Does the negativity on there bother you? Also, because this kills me, Are you actually one of the actors for After Hours or do you just draw for them?
Yeah, the negativity definitely affects how you approach things whether you want it to or not. If you know the audience is filled with people who literally think batman is real and want you to die for making fun of him then the comix you do for that audience can't help but reflect that unfortunately. I know it's just a vocal minority, but it's human nature to listen to criticism for some reason.
And no, i'm definitely not one of the actors in after hours! I just do the art for Michael Swaim's brain, as well as other stuff like the recent batman rap video. Best gig ever, by the way! I frigging love Cracked.
it's Ask Me ANYTHING, not Whatever.
AMW!! I'm a contrarian, i can't help it...
Have you ever met Swaim or Dan O'Brien?
Just via email! All of them though.
Is your name an ode to Shaft?
No, i got it from either Rowntree's Candy or Dave Rowntree from Blur, but it was a while ago now and i can't remember which.
Favorite classical and modern artist?
Would you say that more people should give artsing a go instead of just saying they are bad at it?
Like paintings? Oh god, this is where i pretend not to be a philistine. I enjoy the paintings of ferdnand khnopff, in terms of old-timey stuff. In terms of recent-timey stuff, why not Shawn Kerri.
And goddamnit YES people should give art a go instead of saying they are bad at it!!!!(imagine like a couple hundred more exclamation marks here). You're gonna DIE one day and then that's it, so now's your chance to learn a skill and derive pleasure from improving it-- i guarantee you it's way more rewarding than not doing it. And EVERYONE is bad at it when they first start out. Ten years ago i drew like this for god's sake. In 2007 i drew this; what i MEANT to draw was this, but it took another five years. But boy am i glad i stuck with it. It's rewarding, it's a good feeling, it's a source of self-esteem. There is no downside to giving it a go.
Love your comic. As a fellow canuck, your hate of nickleback is appreciated (so is your rescinding on your dislike for QotSA), and I loved your comic introducing the world to Canada's new PM (fake) Stephen Harper. Now for some questions. Captain Estar goes to Heaven was a fantastic graphic novel. Do you have any intention on selling physical copies? It's one I'd love to add to my library. Also, what are some online comics that you enjoy? I'm always interested to know what artists check out, and whether it coincides with my faves. Thanks!
Thanks! And yeah, mega-on board with QOTSA now (it's amazing how many things i love that i started out hating).
Estar physical copies? Not currently, no. There's a zine edition, but i only made nine copies. My long-term goal is to redo it entirely and find a publisher, but that wouldn't be for a while.
Other comix i enjoy i mentioned earlier somewhere around here, but Akimbo Comics is definitely my favorite comic.
I have no questions, just wanted to say that your comics strike me in that way that true things do. You portray the complexity and simplicity of the world and people as they truly seem to be, and express the magic of that dichotomy beautifully.
View HistoryShare Link