Today at 2 pm EST, I’m chatting in today’s live stream with Ben Wright-Heuman and Ian Klesch. We’re discussing their new short story, Gnome Man’s Land, made for What the Gnomes Know: A Comics Anthology.
What the Gnomes Know is currently on KickStarter! Be sure to back the campaign if you want to get a copy of this book’s first printing.
This anthology collects a variety of gnome-themed short comics, all drawn by up-and-coming indie cartoonists, comic artists, and writers.
Plus, not only am I interviewing creators – I edited the anthology! So it was my job to look at submissions and give feedback to make each story shine. (If you’re looking for a comics editor, here are more details on what I do).
So be sure to tune in today on my YouTube or Twitch channels. 2 pm EST. We’ll also have a Q&A section at the end if you want to ask Ben and Ian questions live.
That’s all for now. Thank you for reading and watching!
Falconhyrste is a young adult, coming-of-age story set in a world with magic, mystery, and a rainbow of characters. It’s also charming as heck.
Today I got one of the creators of the story, Melissa Capriglione, to answer some questions for me about the inspiration and process behind making this webcomic.
Not only is this a return of an old segment on my blog called Featured Artist Friday – it’s also the launch date of Falconhyrste on KickStarter! Let’s celebrate by taking a peek into Melissa’s creative process:
What inspired you to make this comic in particular?
Initially, I wanted to make a comic because I needed experience in making comics! I was in my sophomore year of college at the time and, wanting to be a comic artist when I graduated, I realized I had little to no experience at making comics. So I went with the most accessible option- a webcomic! Anyone can make one, and you can host it on a variety of platforms.
The story itself was inspired by love for everything supernatural, and I brought in a lot of inspiration from various anime and comics.
You make this comic with another artist. What prompted the collaboration?
In December of 2015, I went on social media and asked if anyone wanted to collaborate on a webcomic. Clara (now my co-author) responded out of the blue and then we began brainstorming the story and swapping sketches. Both of us were beginner comic artists and didn’t have set styles at the time, so it was tumultuous.
I wanted to collaborate on the comic because we planned for it to be a larger project and I couldn’t see myself taking it on my own. We also act as each other’s beta readers, so the collaboration helps us figure out the plot and make sure our writing sounds good. It also just helps to have an extra set of eyes around for general feedback!
How was the collaboration process when you started out? What kinks in the system have you had to work through?
It was pretty rough in the beginning! We had no idea how long it would take us to make a page, so we were scrambling to finish our first handful of pages. It took us about an entire two weeks to make just one page, but now it takes us about a day or two.
Since then, we learned a lot about formatting pages, setting them up so we’re not using 50 layers, and general streamlining of the process.
This comic has been online for 4 issues now. How long do you intend for Falconhyrste to last?
Since we’re printing issue four, we plan on printing issue five sometime mid 2019. The pages for issue five (and half of issue six) are all done and on the website (falconhyrste.com), so we hope to have those in physical form soon!
As for the story itself, we’ve been doing this for about three and a half years now, and we’re not even a third of the way through our story! But the reason why it took us all these years to do barely 200 pages was because of our busy schedules. We were both in school when we were beginning, so we had to skip a lot of updates and take mini hiatuses due to exams and work schedules.
But now I’m full-time freelance so I can dedicate more time to the story, and hopefully Falconhyrste won’t take another ten years to finish!
Do you consider yourself a plotter or a pantser? (A plotter outlines the story in advance, a pantser makes up the story as they go along. It’s ok if you’re somewhere in between!)
Definitely somewhere in between! The entire script is written out in its entirety, but it’s mostly still the first draft from early 2016, so it’s not that great! We’ve kept a few parts but we’ve added and edited stuff since then. We usually try to plan a chapter ahead, though.
Dang near everybody in this comic is somewhere in the LGBTQ+ rainbow – which I’m not complaining about! I also saw in your portfolio website that you call yourself a “queer artist.” Now, there are (I have discovered) LOTS of LGBTQ+ comics and creators out there. What is it about Falconhyrste that makes it special to you?
Both of us are LGBTQ+, so we wanted to make a story that included people like us, as well as many other people in the community. It’s important to have queer stories available to younger audiences (Falconhyrste is classified as young adult) so that it can be more normalized.
Falconhyrste is special, I think, in that we enjoy just having queer characters existing happily in a world without bigotry and adversity, and use magic! Lots more comics these days are going that route, and it’s certainly refreshing to see, and I’m glad to be a part of this movement.
To create my own stories from my perspective and make the queer comics world even more colorful is one of my goals.
Falconhyrste will be on KickStarter November 16 (that’s today)! Is this your first KickStarter campaign or have you run previous ones? If you’ve done it before, what have you learned from previous campaigns?
This is our first Kickstarter, yes!
Before this, we did a pre-order for issues one through three, and the response to it was far greater than expected, so managing all of that by hand was kind of overwhelming. I figured Kickstarter would be our next best bet because it’ll be easier to manage rewards and stretch goals, as well as communicate with our supporters on a better level.
Obvious question: What tools do you use to make your comic? Is it purely digital?
Yes, 100% digital! I use a Wacom Cintiq 24HD with Photoshop CC, and Clara uses a Wacom Intuos with Clip Studio Paint.
Falconhyrste is a coming of age story if I’ve ever seen one. Are there other coming-of-age stories you want to write, or do you think your next story idea will be in a different kind of genre?
I think coming-of-age stories are my main focus. Growing up, I didn’t have a lot of stories I could relate to and ended up being uninterested and bored by most stories. Nowadays it’s so inspiring to see comics reaching a much wider variety of audiences than they did just ten years ago!
Lots of comics makers (and aspiring comics makers and other artists) read my blog. Is there anything you would like to say to them?
Start where you can!
If you have a story that you just need to create, don’t wait until you’re “good enough” to create it. You’ll get better through the process. It takes time, practice, and effort, but it will all pay off eventually.
Today’s Feature is on a lovely artist I first met at Swarm Con, Lea Faske. She’s currently a student at the Savannah College of Art and Design, and she’s made quite a few comics already, including a short comic for the anthology Game Boss: The Final Form.
I got to ask her a few questions about her art and inspirations, and the answers are highlighted below.
Your portfolio is impressive, and has concept art, comics, and illustrations. Do you prefer one outlet over another? Does your work in one area, like illustration, influence you in another area, like comics? Or do you keep the practices separate?
It’s hard for me to distinguish which outlet I enjoy best, since they all satisfy different creative needs. I guess one way of putting it is I tend to look at all of them as separate components to a larger idea. Usually, in my personal work, every piece is linked to a story. The concept art establishes a firm look for the idea, then the illustrations pull out the emotions, and then the comics tell the full story. It’s like they go hand in hand. (I guess that answers if one area influences another, haha.) In all, the story is the priority, so comics might have an upper hand on the other outlets, even though I’ve only ever started making comics within the past two years.
I saw on your website you draw inspiration from fantasy. Do you find over time that you are still inspired by the genre? Has your enthusiasm for it grown, lessened, or stayed the same? Are you also inspired by other genres? How?
Fantasy is such a broad term. I would say that I’ve always been a little disenchanted with high-fantasy (dragons, medieval settings, fairies, elves, wizards, etc.); on the other hand, original fantasy, with new worlds and rules that don’t apply in real life, is where I find my niche. Nothing inspires me more than a concept that twists the rules in a way I’ve never considered before (slyly winks at Neil Gaiman’s Ocean at the End of the Lane). Final Fantasy, for instance, has its own unique voice in the genre. That’s the kind of fantasy I draw inspiration from: new, unique ideas. Usually, though, when I apply fantasy to my own work, it leans more towards low-fantasy. Aside from that, I can find myself inspired by any genre, as long as the storytelling is strong.
I also saw on your Tumblr that you’re planning a new webcomic. Is this true? What can you tell us about it?
Yes! I am planning a new webcomic. The script is already written, but I’ve recently had a few ideas, so I’ll need to revise a little before I just throw the pages to the internet wolves. It has a set ending, so if everything goes as planned, I’m looking at anywhere between 1-2 years of updates before ultimately collecting the pages into a novel.
As far as what I can tell you without spoilers, the story is called “Neauva.” It starts at the end of the universe, where the mind/soul of a 13-year-old girl clings to her last physical atom and tries everything she can to escape the black hole that seeks to devour her.