Interviews

Group 12 - Air Raid Robertson interviews Hari of Micah (and others)!
skoolmunkee at 8:19AM, May 11, 2010
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This interview is of hari, whose comics are: Micah, Tales of the WHAT and The Manipulator!
(interview conducted by Air Raid Robertson!)


The following is an interview I conducted with Hari, a London-based artist who writes and draws three ongoing comics on drunkduck. The first one we talk about is “Micah”, which is a black and white comic following the life stories of the eponymous title character.
Following that we discuss “Tales of the WHAT”, which is a color comic detailing a teenaged boy named TJ and his girl troubles. We finish the interview by chatting about “The Manipulator”, a colored fantasy comic about a runaway who lives in a bizarre world.
This interview was conducted through instant messaging. After the session was over I edited our talk into a format more palatable for the casual reader.

Introductory Questions and “Micah”

I'm going to start off with some generic, standard issue questions. These are the kinds of questions you could ask just about anyone who creates a comic book.



Superduper.


What was your first exposure to comics? Did you read newspaper funnies growing up? Did you break your leg as a kid and end up with a stack of Spider-Man books while you recovered?



Hmm, well I actually don't read that many comics, I just think mixing pictures and words is a brilliant way to tell a story… but I do remember reading a strip in the kids section of the newspaper called “Space Raoul” and thinking it was hilarious when I was about nine. It was the first thing I'd read that wasn't like the beano or about superheroes and I'd never realised people used comics for other things too


There are quite a few people on drunkduck with similar back-stories.
Some of them actually think that it's an advantage that they don't have much exposure to comics. They aren't aware of the standards, clichés, and typical structures of most comic books. They can think outside of the box because they don't even know what the box is.
Is this a frame of mind you would agree with?



Yeah, I know what you mean. Well, in some ways I guess it's an advantage, but I think it's also true that people just work in different ways. Often when I do go and look at other artists' work it really inspires me to keep on going and creating though even when our ideas are totally different…


Who would you consider to be prime influences in your comics work? This can include comic book creators, artists who don't do comics, and movies or TV shows that you really liked. Also, feel free to mention any people in your life or personal experiences that might've colored your work. I think that last one may be pertinent since a lot of your stuff appears to be drawn from day-to-day life.



Well I don't consciously draw from influences, but obviously everything I've ever read or watched etc has probably had an effect. When I was little I used to read loads and loads of books, especially fantasy stories, and ended up doing pages and pages of lord of the rings-style epic quests full of elves and magic and armour. Videogames probably influenced me quite a bit, too…
One of the comics I have up on Drunk Duck is a real-life style one, “Micah” - one of the only real world stories I've ever done. When I started out, I thought it was going to be totally unconnected from me, and lots of it is trying to be very ambiguous, never explicitly stating events, places or much about popular culture. (But, reading it back it became painfully obvious the whole thing was set in London and the characters are all slightly similar to me etc.)


Yeah, I'm a firm believer in the notion that an author puts more of themselves into their work than they usually intend.
Your comics use a lot of eclectic coloring techniques. And, there are sudden shifts in form. A character's face will suddenly become more detailed when you're attempting to emphasize a narrative point. Sometimes it gives off a collage effect when you do this.
Artists who leapt to my mind while reading your comics included Dave McKean, David Mack, and Bill Sienkiewicz. Your work also reminds me of illustrations from children's books.



Wow, I have no idea who any of those people are… I shall go look them up later.
Eclectic colouring is probably because I haven't made my mind up… or suddenly decide that one panel needs more emotion or emphasis…


The lighting in your story seems to be an integral aspect of your storytelling. You have a habit of subtly shifting the lighting to reinforce the emotions of the characters. It takes such a physical role in depicting the emotions of the characters. I thought it was a very neat trick.



Hooray! Well a lot of that comic is supposed to be about emotions and state of mind - it's not very far through yet, but that's the plan anyway…


“Micah” starts off as this cute boy-meets-girl story. However, it then takes a left turn and shifts gears into this cautionary take about drug culture in dance clubs.
Did you intend to sort of lull the reader into a false sense of security with this comic ? To give off this “teen romance” vibe and then surprise the reader with what happened after Micah finally summoned the courage to talk to the pretty lady?
It's an effective narrative technique, either way.



Well, again, I haven't done much of it yet, but I have the whole story planned out, and it follows Micah across quite a long period of time. The storytelling is supposed to shift as the character ages - starting off more simplistic and naive and then (hopefully) developing as the comic goes along.


So “Micah” is going to flow from theme to theme as time passes? It isn't just a parable about drug abuse?



No, it changes as the character goes through different phases. Actually, the part uploaded so far is an introduction of sorts, and the majority of the story is written when he's a few years older.
I've written it in sketchbooks in the real, you see, and know how it's all going to progress. Sadly, the drawings in the real were so poor quality that I wanted to redo it all digitally…



How long do you intend to chronicle Micah's life? Are you going to be like Cerberus and follow him until his death?



I'm afraid telling you that would give away a vital element of the plot…


Ah, well we can't have that…
Why did you choose to do Micah in black and white? Was there a storytelling reason? Was it relevant to the cost of a print run? Or, do you intend on shifting to color when you get to another period of Micah's life? The last options seems within your idiom.



You're right! One of the very final sections may be in colour, but it was partly supposed to be indicative of his state of mind… a little later there are dream sequences where particular objects appear in red.

“Tales of the WHAT”


One of your other comics is “Tales of the WHAT”. There are some parallels between this comic and Micah, at least in the initial pages. Both open with a teenage boy pining away for a girl. There's also a platonic female friend for each main protagonist.
At the same time, however, “Tales of the WHAT” is a bit less dark. There's a fun, absurdist quality that isn't seen in the more street-level “Micah”. Was this contrast an intentional one? Did you create a lighter narrative in this comic in order to give off an impression of storytelling range in your work?


Well, not really. I tend to have about ten or twenty ideas for different stories at any one time, and the ones that have been developed on drunkduck are just the ones I've planned best, or enjoyed drawing the characters the most in. I do try and make sure I don't write things too similarly though, as the same elements have a tendency to reappear…
“Tales of the WHAT” is probably one of my silliest comics, I like the range of possibilities that it creates


Yeah, that's another thing writers don't notice about their own stuff. I never pick up on plainly reappearing leitmotifs about my own material until someone else points them out.
One of my favorite aspects of “Tales of the WHAT” is the Hana character. Most of the narrative centers on this sensitive high school boy (TJ) meekly courting a girl in his class. It's very typical adolescent angst stuff. Many of the readers on drunkduck can likely identify with this part of the comic on a direct level.
At the same time, however, his friend Hana is constantly running off on these 007 spy missions. She's answering calls on a spy watch and is fending off assassins while TJ is too self obsessed with his girl problems to even notice. It's pretty funny, especially since you keep it on the periphery and maintain focus on the teen angst material instead.
You have given Hana's spy missions a bit more prominence in some of the recent pages though. Do you intend on fleshing out her covert operations in the future?


The plan was to keep her on the periphery, really - I like the possibilities of her occasionally appearing in the background doing crazy things, and I thought it might lose some of the mystery and absurdity by explaining her missions fully…


I agree.
The line work and character design in “Tales of the WHAT” is similar to “Micah” in some ways, but your coloring palette is pretty different.
The pages have kind of a limited color scope to them. You don't really use more than one or two different colors per page. Why is that?


Only because I wanted them to be quick and sketchy… I tend to be a bit of a perfectionist and spend far too long on drawings. I thought it'd be interesting to focus on telling the story instead
Actually, the reason it's in blue in the first place is because I normally do little blue sketches before doing a page properly. I started out doing full colour TOTW pages before realising that the appearance of the scenery etc wasn't what I was most interested in.


Yes, making a comic book is a precarious balancing act. Artwork that is too heavily detailed can take emphasis away from the story. The pictures are supposed to flow in a narrative sense for the whole thing to work.
It isn't that I don't like meticulously drawn comics. Still, they have to service the plot they're supposed to depict. Otherwise they're the art version of “walls of text”.
You mentioned that “Micah” is a long term project where you'll be following the main character for years. Is “Tales of the WHAT” going to be paced in a similar fashion? Or, is this more of a short term project?


More short term. The format's supposed to be more like lots of short adventures that are stories in themselves - designed for a comic book format rather than a graphic novel (which is really what I was aiming for with “Micah” - whether I'll ever manage either in the real is a different question…)


“The Manipulator” and Wrap-Up


“The Manipulator”, like your other two comics, has a teenage boy as its key protagonist. Still, this one has several key differences from your other material. For one thing, the coloring is much more elaborate. Does this relate to the plot of the story in any way?


Well it's partly just functional - it's the story I got the idea for most recently, and I've improved a bit at digital colouring since I started using Photoshop. But I also had a few grand fantasy scenes planned where the background was very important, and it would be a great opportunity to explore weird, spectacular landscapes - and they needed to be coloured.


There does seem to be a metaphysical aspect to this series that the other two lack. Is it going to be a straight fantasy story or are there going to be spiritual themes as well?


I suppose spiritual themes come into it more directly, but the ‘spirits’ are really just another set of characters to play with, rather than being sort of idealised and conceptual


The teenage boy in this series seems to be a bit sharper than his contemporaries in “Micah” and “Tales of the WHAT”. He's actually an intelligent person misunderstood by his parents. He doesn't even seem to be pining away over a girl. Would you consider this guy to be more reflective of you personally or less?


It's funny, I hadn't noticed all the characters were so teenage. I guess I'm writing what I know.
I'm not sure any of them reflect me (purposefully, I'm sure they do unintentionally) - actually “The Narrator” in “The Manipulator” is supposed to be kind of a hopeless joke who isn't very good at dealing with the real world. I guess that won't have come across yet.


Well, you are only five pages into the thing.


In my defence, it's very time-consuming…
I've genuinely never thought about a lot of this. How interesting. Good questions


I'm just trying to cover all my bases.
To wrap things up, I'm going to ask you about your future prospects. Do you have any other comics on the way, or are you just going to focus on the three that are currently up there?


On drunkduck it will probably just be these three for a while - I have a lot of ideas for all of them.


Alright then, I think that'll be a good note to finish the interview with. Thanks for speaking with me.


That's brilliant, thank you so much!
  IT'S OLD BATMAN
last edited on July 14, 2011 3:43PM
ozoneocean at 10:24PM, May 11, 2010
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posts: 24,960
joined: 1-2-2004
Good interview of a person who has a lot of comics going! :)
I like how Hari wasn't too much into comics as a kidling. Good too know there are more of us our there! ^_^
 
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:36PM
Kroatz at 4:23AM, May 12, 2010
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posts: 2,333
joined: 8-18-2008
ozoneocean
Good interview of a person who has a lot of comics going! :)
I like how Hari wasn't too much into comics as a kidling. Good too know there are more of us our there! ^_^

Non-comic peoples are taking over da worlds!

I like the interview, it's a bit weird that the questions are so big though.
Comidion.deviantart.com
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:24PM
same at 11:29AM, June 2, 2010
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posts: 2,506
joined: 8-3-2008
Im just reading this comic so i popped in to see the interview.
Interesting.
last edited on July 14, 2011 3:20PM

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