This interview is of Kristen Gudsnuk, whose comics are: The Optimist and Misfit Assassins!
(interview conducted by carolyn!)
1. First of all tell me a little about yourself and about your comic “The Optimist”.
Well, as anyone might have guessed, my name is Kristen Gudsnuk. I'm 22 years old. I love to paint… which is why my comic is in watercolor.
2. What inspired you to write “The Optimist”?
I was hanging out with my grandfather, and he was going on and on (and on) about Lithuania, and he told me about how in the 80s, one of my Lithuanian cousins wanted to be a fashion designer. So he sent her a clipping from the Style section of the New York Times, and he didn't hear back from them for years, until he got a terse letter that said something to the effect of ‘Please don’t send us such things anymore.' I hadn't realized that Lithuania had been so censored (a.k.a. INTERESTING!) and it sparked an idea for a setting.
Also, I was taking a creative writing class, so I had to come up with a story. After I was done writing it, I felt like continuing with it, and missed DD sorely, so…!
3. What made you decide to post it here on Drunk Duck?
DrunkDuck is my one-stop-shop for webcomics! Long live DrunkDuck! (Do I get money for saying that?)
4. Do you read a lot of comics?
Erm, not an incredible amount, and mostly manga (and of course, The People Who Melt in the Rain and The Horribles!). But some of my favorites are: Fables, Watchmen (I'm a cliche!), Umbrella Academy, and Fables. I really love Fables.
5. “The Optimist” has a very consistent style and tone. What is your technique?
Watercolor! I only use two brushes- a big brush for the yellow wash (I do a cadmium yellow wash over all the pages before I start painting- I like the effect, and it makes it look a little older) and a size 8 round brush for everything else.
I tend to use the same few colors: lots of cadmium red (for Kazimieras' coat, and everything else that's red), and cerulean blue (for shadows). Maybe that helps keep the color scheme cohesive.
I actually paint my pages smaller than they show up on the screen..!!
6. Your comic takes place in the 1980's, in Lithuania, during the Soviet occupation. What kind of research did you do?
Actually, it takes place in February 1990, but the specific date isn't that important. Well, something important that is never mentioned, but might be interesting, is that on March 11, 1990, Lithuania declared itself independent from the Soviet Union. So with all the bleakness going on in the end, at least readers can console themselves, like, “Looks like the father would have gotten laid off in a month, anyway.”
I asked my grandfather about it, but he lived in Lithuania in the 1930s I think, and he was all like, “they had horse-driven carts!” So that wasn't all that useful. I looked all over the place for some sort of book about Lithuania, but apparently none exists. I was shocked (my hometown pride was shattered!). The best I could do was find great travel guide tomes for Eastern Europe, and read the few, paltry pages dedicated to Lithuania.
Then, I read a lot of New York Times archive articles about their political situation in the late 80s/early 90s.
7. You have a very religious tone with your main character, Kazimieras. Does this reflect your own beliefs?
Actually, no, I'm an atheist (SHOCKING REVELATION!). As a writer, my first impulse is to try to stay as far away from myself as possible. If I didn't, all my stories would be too similar, or at least the characters would be Kristen-clones, which would be boring, because I'm a little bit boring.
I thought it would be a challenge to write about religion positively, in a sincere, non-tongue-in-cheek way. In fact, I didn't really want to announce it in the beginning to my readers that I'm atheist, as it might start them off with a different interpretation of my comic.
8. How long does it take for you to complete a page?
It depends- sometimes I squeeze in about 10 panels, and those can be exhaustive. Generally it doesn't take much longer than four or five hours, which sounds like a lot, but it's fun to do. But the claymation pages took much longer, because I had to mix the clay colors from primary colors.. also I'm just a slow sculptor, because I always crush the nose or smoosh the eyes, or other clumsy things.
And the spraypaint panel took so long- maybe about three hours, just for that one panel. That was because first I sketched out the design, then I drew it on a piece of bristol board, and THEN I exacto-knifed it out… AND THEN I spray-painted it!
9. Do you illustrate your pages and post them the same week or do you work a few weeks ahead?
I post them right after I finish. I hate waiting!
10. Is there anything else you'd like to add?
Uh, I'm nearing the end of my comic, and I want to say thanks to everyone who has kept up with it, and to keep an eye out for my upcoming works! THEY SHALL BE NUMEROUS
Group 9 - carolyn interviews Kristen Gudsnuk of The Optimist and Misfit Assassins
skoolmunkee at 11:26PM, Sept. 20, 2009
last edited on July 14, 2011 3:43PM
Hunchdebunch at 8:43AM, Sept. 21, 2009
last edited on July 14, 2011 12:51PM
Gillespie at 12:01PM, Sept. 21, 2009
This was awesome! I don't know very much about Lithuania and now I learned some things about that and Kristen!
last edited on July 14, 2011 12:36PM
elektro at 8:03PM, Sept. 22, 2009
Cool interview. I haven't had much of a chance to read “The Optimist”, but I have seen the art before, and it is awesome.
last edited on July 14, 2011 12:21PM
harkovast at 7:03PM, Nov. 5, 2009
Interesting stuff, especially about the date it is set. I assumed it was 80's too! But 1990 is basically only just leaving the 80's anyways so I wasn't far off!
For more Harkovast related goings on, go to the Harkovast Forum
last edited on July 14, 2011 12:44PM
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