JoeL_CQB interviews threeeyeswurm and anise shaw of Anatta!
skoolmunkee at 12:31AM, March 18, 2009
posts: 7,058
joined: 1-2-2006
This interview is of threeeyeswurm, whose comic is Anatta (and assisted by anise shaw, who is also in here)!
(interview conducted by JoeL_CQB!)

First off, tell us more about yourself.

Well, both Anise and I are recent university graduates. She majored in Visual Arts and I, Business Administration (which I have determined to be completely useless as I am going to be a comic artist). We are both currently underemployed (part-time jobs) by choice so we have time for projects like Anatta. We like to think of ourselves as students of sociology and narrative. We both reside in Vancouver.

That sounds like a tough lifestyle. Besides Anatta, arts stuff, writing and comics, do you have any other hobbies?

Sometimes it's tough because going for a job in the business world would have ensure a much more financially secure and stable future. It would not be as uncertain as to trying to make create a living off of comics. Sometimes I do ask myself why I am doing all this. But then it's like Philippe Petit (The man from Man on Wire) when he was asked on the Colbert Report what reason does he have to walk on a wire from one sky scraper to another. He said something along the lines of If I needed a reason to justify to myself why I am doing it, then perhaps I don't feel passionate enough to do it.

I am pretty simple when it comes to hobbies. Good friends, good conversation and good FOOD (this is a big one) makes the best evenings. Oh and Karaoke.

Anise Shaw, on the other hand, while she shares many of the same hobbies as me, she has another enormous list, ranging from penny whistle, cooking and knitting.

What made you decide to go into comics, instead of doing what business majors do after they graduate?

Haha. It's a funny story actually. I've always loved comics, but for whatever reason, I didn't draw much in high school. Not only was I interested in business but I also thought I was pretty good at drawing and didn't need to practice. Yeah, I was totally full of myself. Until one day my friend (who was awesome at drawing) and I found out this annual international comic competition in Japan and the grand prize was $500,000! That is like a crapload of money for something I enjoy doing! Again, I was full of myself and I thought “For $500,000, I can totally come up with the greatest story for existence!” So I drew and wrote like CRAZY. In the end, the competition didn't happen that year. But by then, it became an obsession with me. I realized how shitty I was at both drawing and writing that I practiced like a madman in university. I couldn't stop. I didn't need a reason to draw comics anymore.

As for why not business, well through my major I realize that what I am really interested is entrepreneurship but university teaches one how to succeed in the corporate world. And although I studied in business, the courses that really interested me were economics, humanities, sociology and history; courses about the narratives of people. And through out the four years, my passion was always burnt in my drawing.

What brought you to choose drunkduck over the other free comic hosting sites?

There are other free comic hosting sites?… The only one I know of is webcomic nation I think. I guess there are a lot of mechanisms that DD has that I really like. For starters when you update your comic, your picture shows up. Other sites only have a name. Webcomic nation allows reviews but not single comments. I think in the end, it's because DD has more webcomic readers than just webcomic creators (Or, a lot of its creators also read). Other sites don't seem to have an active readership.

Speaking about comics, what are you and anise-shaw hoping to accomplish with Anatta? And on DD?

Well, we are trying to do something unique and original with Anatta and we hope it will be recognized for it.

In terms of promoting the comic, Anatta is still quite young right now, with only 23 pages. However, I have started placing ads on project wonderful for it just yesterday and when we have around 2 chapters (around 45 pages), we will be making prints through When that happens, we hope to gather some attention with comic blogs online and I want to look at some way to attract local media. One of our main goals is to have around 3 issues come this summer for the San Diego comicon and 5 or 6 issues in print in November for the APE comicon. We will also submit to publishers and see how that goes.

DD has done quite a bit for Anatta. It has brought it a small core group of supporters who I absolutely appreciate for commenting on Anatta. The moral support really helps. We hope to continue building a strong fan base on DD. It is the launch base for our online audience and even if we get our own domain, we won't abandon DD. We aim for something similar to Megan Rose's success with her comics. I really respect the way she's promoted her comics.

The setting of Anatta reminds me of the Surrogates, not a webcomic. Did that inspire you for the whole getup with the mind flowing thing in Anatta? If not what inspired you?

I've actually never read the Surrogates or heard of it. I will definitely give it a read now. I would also like to say that yes, initially, people may associate our comic with Ghost in the Shell or even the DollHouse (Awesome show, but it actually came out after we started the comic. So no inspiration drawn from the show). However, it will be a completely different species. It's like comparing Go and Chess. Yes there are basic fundamentals that the two share in common, but their similarities do not make them lesser as a creation. In fact it is how the games are played that one can truly see their beauty. Same thing with these sci-fi concepts. It is how they are dealt with that makes a work stand out.

What actually led me to the whole idea behind Anatta were sociology classes that I took in university, classes that dealt with gender issues. The idea that our gender dualism is more of a social conception than anything got my thinking about body identity. And I always liked science fiction. To me good science fiction is like experimental sociology that reflects and challenges the state of our reality and our actions within it.

At first the whole mind switching thing was way more complicated and convoluted. The concept only took on a simpler and clearer form with Anise's contribution. Then I extrapolated and hypothesized until it became what you read now. In the end, Anatta embodied much more inspirations than just that.

Is Alex, the main character based off anybody in particlar?

Alex isn't based off of anyone in particular, although I should do that. Would have made writing her character a lot easier. Character development is probably what I have the least confidence in but also what I strive to make the best of. Because of my limited ability to write character development, naturally some of Alex's reactions to things are probably based on myself. Sometimes it works, sometimes, thanks to Anise, I realize its bad. I am still learning and studying how to deal with character development through works that I admire the most, such as Battlestar Galactica, the Dark Knight and the Wrestler.

What do you think is the most important part about writing? Like in writing a good story in general.

It really depends on what you are writing. I guess I will only talk about writing comic stories that have a at least somewhat serious story. I guess if I am to sum it up, writing is about follow up. Whether it is character development, plot, storyline, world build or narrative, it is about showing the readers something, whether it be original or conventional, and then following it up with something clever, wise, dramatic or unexpected. Always try to have good and smart follow up and build upon previous scenes or events and you can make anything good. In the end, it's still about sequential right?

Out of curiosity, what would be the hardest part about writing, and writing/developing a character?

Usually when I write, I have a general direction I am aiming for and then a bunch of fragmented concepts and ideas - some large, some small, some are small specific details, some are changeable - that I want to include in the comic. So for me, the hardest part about writing is orchestrating together all these parts into a coherent piece of sequential work. One thing I love to exploit and is trying to get better at exploiting is juxtaposition of concepts to create another meaning, or to deepen the original meaning. To find appropriate juxtapositions that work is difficult but challenging and exciting. Being able to string all of these ideas together into a story that is multi-dimensioned and has depth in its elements is the hardest part but most rewarding.

I see that your assisting The Thin Dead Line with richlovatt, are you writing for that too? And how is that coming along?

The Thin Dead Line is a commission work that I did for richlovatt, who entered it into Zuda. I made lots of suggestions but he was the one who wrote it. It has been discontinued since it was not accepted. I feel kind of bad about it because it now looks very sloppy to me.

Do you have any favorite sci-fi shows, movies, or comics?

As I mentioned before, Battlestar Galactica is definitely, without a doubt my favorite sci-fi show. Dollhouse is showing a lot of promise. Firefly was cool but it doesn't compare to BSG.

As for sci-fi movies, I most admire Contact, for how awesomely it handled the topic of faith and perceptions of reality. It is one of few movies where it truly, sincerely and realistically examine the premise of encountering extraterrestrial intelligence. And the most amazing thing is how imaginative it had to be in order to achieve its realism. I must also mention Children of Men, for its clever, detail-oriented and multi-dimensional narrative through the use of backgrounds and subtle actions. Its cinematography is also astonishing. Sunshine, Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind, for its brilliance in visualizing such abstract concept so beautifully. A Clockwork Orange and Dr. Strangelove, for their mind-blowing and traumatizingly impactful satire. And probably Terminator Salvation, even though it hasn't come out yet. :P

I would consider The Watchmen a work of scifi and it is definitely my favorite. I draw a lot of inspiration especially in terms of narrative and plot development from it. Battle Angel is one of the most beautiful comic I've read. What's more is that it integrates its scifi world so wonderfully into its characters. How it develops its world so slowly through scenes of the world and through its characters takes so much patience but it pays off. A lot of the drawing also echoes Moebius's style, who is one of my favorite sci-fi artist. The ending however, was lacking. Another sci-fi comic I really enjoy is 20th Century Boys. For me, it has been the best comic at guiding the reader in the changes the world is going through. it is also amazing at building suspense. Y: The Last Man is worth mentioning. It develops its characters and relationships beautifully but I felt it was a bit conservative and didn't take much risks.

Any recommendations for webcomics? On and off Drunkduck.

To be honest, I don't read much webcomics. >< There are three webcomics that I do recommend. Your CQB_Epics is actually one of them (and I am not just saying this because you are interviewing me). In a lot of ways yours is more science fiction than fantasy and I think you have handled the building your comic's work quite well. Another is Broken Things for how it handles moods. However, it is moving a bit too slow for my taste now. Finally, I would recommend The Hub from my good friend Hyena.

When reading other comics, what draws your attention the most?

The depth and dimensions of story, character and/or art. I enjoy comics that engage me and trigger my curiosity and imagination. One that puts me right in the story, character or world and makes me feel it. If it has enough depth and dimensions for my imagination to play with, then it has my attention.

Talk about coincidence, Anatta just got featured, how do you and anise_shaw feel? “Disneyland?”

I will let Anise answer this one for both of us.

I am pleasantly surprised. It has been a goal of ours to make a comic that would be worthy of a feature and I am happy to have the honour on DrunkDuck. This site has a wonderful community that is so supporting and our feature is a wonderful addition to all the support we've already received.

I am grateful to Skoolmunkee and all of our DrunkDuck readers. They have made Anatta such a wonderful experience.

How's working with anise? And maybe your past experiences working with other people?

Working with Anise is creatively awesome and exhilarating and made me truly realize how two people together can create something so much greater than what two people can create separately. Yes, I understood it logically but working with her made me feel it. Anise also provides honest and necessary critique to my writing. I ask myself a lot of questions regarding the story so that there are no holes but she asks what I miss. She continues to challenge me and push me. However, sometimes it can get annoying.

So you can imagine that it can also be stressful and frustrating. Remember, she's my girlfriend and I am a control freak when it comes to making comics. We used to fight a lot at the beginning of the comic because I can be super nitpicky. I also tend to over-render the images with cross-hatching because I am scared to relinquish control. However, I am trying to be less nitpicky. I am also placing more faith in her in creating mood and depth so I am cross-hatching less. In terms of style Anatta will change gradually throughout Chapter 2 and probably in future Chapters.

We are a lot better now in terms of not fighting. Also, a little spoiler in terms of the future of Anatta, Anise and I will each be writing some short stories that take place in the world of Anatta. I will be drawing some but we will also be asking some other artists/friends to see if they are interested.

In terms of working with other people, I have done commission comics in the past (i.e. Thin Dead Line) and I am the process of doing two comic commissions currently. I find working with writers a lot of fun and not stressful at all. I usually make A LOT of suggestions in regards to the writing and the story seeing as how I am a writer myself… I just hope they don't get annoyed. :P

Do you have any other plans planned besides Anatta?

Aside from Anatta, I am working on my commission work and hope to get more commission work and at a higher page rate. :P At the same time, I want to practice and learn coloring. This is to both expand my abilities at design and concept art as well as to be able to paint a comic straight up, I think it will make the process a lot faster. It will help me build my portfolio as well. I am also looking to start a B&W comic by myself without writing out script. Purely experimenting with drawing and paneling. So look out for that in the future.

My mind is shot, anything else to say? I really enjoyed talking to you about Anatta.

Some readers have been asking some questions in regards to the world of Anatta. I imagine while the story progress, some questions will be answered and more questions will be raised. I just want to say that these questions are awesome. It lets us know what the readers are thinking in their head. However, we ask you to be patient. Anatta is meant to be read as a whole. Each individual page is just part of the bigger picture. Within the next few months, we will be setting up forums for readers to discuss the questions they have about the world and the speculations and hypothesis they come up with. Moreover, additional web pages (not on DD but linked to it) will be set up to post personal journals, newspaper articles and other written materials that will flush out the world of Anatta in an interesting and non-explicit way. The short stories I mentioned above will also help. We hope our readers will be able to immerse themselves into the world of Anatta and enjoy it!
last edited on July 14, 2011 3:42PM
the2ndredbaron at 2:08AM, March 18, 2009
posts: 706
joined: 11-19-2008
Although I am jealous of all the praise they get, Anatta is one of the best comics on Drunk Duck. You guys put out one of the best comics here and every page shines. Visually and editorially you guys have created an amazing product. I wish you guys the best and hope more and more people tune into reading it. Oh and good interview to.

P.S. your movie choices make me want to hug you!
last edited on July 14, 2011 4:16PM
smkinoshita at 6:49AM, March 18, 2009
posts: 240
joined: 8-20-2007
That's quite the amazing interview! Excellent questions by JoeL_CQB, and equally excellent answers by Threeeyeswurm and Anise Shaw!

I totally agree with the comments about the Duck community. Strongest I've ever seen. I do disagree with not using your business studies – you will want to have some of those skills, especially any marketing you have – for your comics.

If people ignore this interview I will mentally or psychically attempt to punch them.
last edited on July 14, 2011 3:49PM
houseofmuses at 3:49PM, March 18, 2009
posts: 156
joined: 4-4-2008
I've checked out your series, and I think it's very well done! Great job!
last edited on July 14, 2011 12:50PM
anise shaw at 12:19AM, March 19, 2009
posts: 50
joined: 10-28-2007
I wish I had of been there to answer the webcomics question! I read a great deal more of them than Wei does, and webcomics definitely need more props than they get.

It was some great questions, I'm almost jealous that I handed most of it over to Wei :(
last edited on July 14, 2011 10:53AM
skoolmunkee at 1:59AM, March 19, 2009
posts: 7,058
joined: 1-2-2006
anise shaw
I wish I had of been there to answer the webcomics question! I read a great deal more of them than Wei does, and webcomics definitely need more props than they get.

Well why don't you answer it now?
last edited on July 14, 2011 3:42PM
anise shaw at 1:59PM, March 19, 2009
posts: 50
joined: 10-28-2007
Perhaps that would be pertinent :P

I've been reading webcomics a long time, and even had a short stint in webcomic authorship in 2001. I was but a teenager, and my stuff was not that well done. I used to read “the classics”, I guess you could call them. I read Megatokyo back when Rodney was still writing and it was still interesting, I had to call it quits when it got too otaku fanboy, I like some good humour, but when Rodney left all we had was Fred and his cartoon women that all look the same. I used to read Exploitation Now and eventually Errant Story. Errant Story is one of the best intentioned webcomics I've ever read, and the characters are really well written. Now that Poe has several years of archives, it doesn't feel as slow to read as it did in the beginning.

Now a days I have a good number of comics in my google reader. I started reading Allan after the 600 completed and I've fallen in love with it. It gives me nostalgia for my teenage years, when everything seemed so important yet so meaningless at the same time. The gestural way in which its drawn bring a great deal of emotion and hilarity to the mundane stories it tells.

I read some pretty regular stuff, usually webcomics that update on a regular schedule and are more character based. Like Wei, I read CQB and the Hub. I also read Bear Nuts, Flipside, Questionable Content, SMBC, The Dreamer and the Phoenix Requiem. I tend not to get writing techniques from webcomics, that comes from television and books. I do look to webcomics for how to build communities and relationships with fans, as well as different methods of interaction and discourse.
last edited on July 14, 2011 10:53AM
JoeL_CQB at 1:05AM, March 20, 2009
posts: 531
joined: 4-17-2007

anise shaw
I wish I had of been there to answer the webcomics question! I read a great deal more of them than Wei does, and webcomics definitely need more props than they get.

sorry i left you out.
my bad. :S

now i have questions brewing for you…
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:10PM

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