Interviews

QWtD round 3 - Kohdok interviews dragonsong12 of Firefly Cross and Twisted Mirrors!
skoolmunkee at 1:08AM, Feb. 11, 2009
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Today we've got the second-to-last of the Round 3 interviews! I had to do a bit of chasing up, but here it is, and it's a good read of course! In this one, Kohdok interviews dragonsong12!

1) First, let's start with you. Anything you wanna let us know about you?
Not particularly, I am about as dull and average a person as you could possibly imagine. And perfectly happy to be so.

I've always had a fascination with art and the art of story-telling, so I think I forced myself into an art form I had no talent for, and I'm glad I did, it's been so much fun!

2) What “style” do you define your comic as and what made you choose that style?
That's an interesting question, and something I've actually struggled with a great deal. One of my biggest complaints about my own art is that I don't feel it has a “style” at all. It's technically well put together, and you can tell what you're looking at when you see it (usually) but it has no real style or life of its own as far as I can see. It's the difference between someone who can sing notes as they're written on the page accurately, and someone who can sing musically and add their own flair to a song.

My major inspirations artistically were initially western fantasy artists, which were very realistic. When I started reading comics, I worshiped the art of Humberto Ramos and the late, great Mike Wieringo, and would buy any books they drew in order to study how they composed images, but sadly this effort never really translated through into my own art. I pick up bits and pieces from many different sources, a lot of western comics and Japanese ones as well – this technique for drawing hair – this method for layouts and poses. The result is something that looks like everything and nothing.

3) What stories/people would you say influenced your storywriting and art style?
Since I mentioned most of my artistic influences in the last question, I'll just talk about the writing here.

Many of my early writing influences were fantasy novels. I was more impressed by those that had a blend of humor (Piers Anthony, Robert Asprin) than those which tried to be too serious. Many of the humorous writers were able to craft far more complete characters because they weren't caught up in thinking too much of themselves. Later, the animated series “Gargoyles” became a major influence, a fact which is painfully obvious in Firefly Cross (FFC), with a blend of science fiction and fantasy, and complex interwoven stories surrounding all the characters. After working on FFC, which was a story/plot-based comic, I came to the conclusion that what I really loved in a story was good characters. Good characters can keep my interest even when the plot fails. So when I started Twisted Mirrors (TM), it was with the idea that this would be character-based rather than story-based. For this one, I drew a lot of inspiration from Richard Adams' “Watership Down”, as well as several character-based series' from Japan.

4) What would you say is your target audience?
Anyone who wants to read it.

Haha, that's a cop-out answer, I know, but it's a hard one to answer, since I'm not really targeting anyone. (In fact, until now, I'd never thought about it.)
Firefly Cross is a fairly light-hearted adventure with moments of seriousness. It's not overly dark and not overly violent, and I try not to let the characters devolve into angst. It'd probably appeal to anyone who just wants to go along for the ride.

Twisted Mirrors is much darker and moves more slowly with a lot more emphasis on the characters and their interactions than on the plot. It's a bit more grim and asks for a bit more thought than FFC does. It's more for people who are interested in thinking over what happens and what it might mean to the characters.

5) What part of drawing is the bane of your existence? (What do you find hardest?)
Inking.

I hate inking! Dear lord, do I hate inking! My sister has to put up with my near-constant whining when I'm working on a page (which is pretty much all the time. Pity her!)

There's less creativity in inking, as you're just re-hashing lines you've already drawn, but they require more finesse and there's a certain finality to it, since ink is harder to remove once it's set to paper. It's the step that requires the most concentration, and it's sometimes difficult to maintain that concentration to the end.

6) On the other hand, what is your favorite part of making a webcomic?
Writing it and drawing it. When I write out the initial scripts, there's a real freedom. I'm creating from scratch as I go, editing and revising as needed and dividing them into panels and pages. Anything I want to happen can happen at this stage, I'm not restrained by things that have already been placed. Then, when I draw it, I get to see all those ideas from the scripts visualized. It's exciting to see it all come to life.

Scanning, coloring, and adding text are fairly dull, monotonous activities, but I also have to admit that the moment that I have the page finished is a great one too. I saw it build up from some notes on a page into a fully finished image that helps to advance a story. It's a great feeling.

7) I notice that only one of your comics is in color while the other is just ink. Was there a reason for this?
Yes, actually. FFC was started several years before TM and was always full color. There was a good deal of color symbolism sprinkled throughout the story, so it was important to me that it have color and be about color. The inking, however, suffered for it. As mentioned above, I don't enjoy inking at all, so with FFC, I would use color as a crutch and more or less ignored the inking. As long as it was done, it was good. I wasn't worried about the quality, but after a while I became dissatisfied with that.

When I began kicking around ideas for TM, I briefly considered making it full color as well, but changed my mind before I'd even started fleshing out the characters. Partially because black and white suited the feel of TM much better, but the main reason was that if the comic was entirely black and white, it would force me to learn how to ink better, since the inking is all anyone would see of the art.

This plan actually worked out pretty well. When I first started TM, I inked it the same way I inked FFC, but in current pages, that's switched, I ink FFC the same way I ink TM. New things I learned through TM unconsciously worked their way into my inking in both comics.

8) Why is servitude a theme in your works, particularly the awkward type?


…that's a really good question, I hadn't even realized I'd done that until just now…

It's not really about the servitude for me, I suppose it came about because I really like torturing my characters, and that's one of the worst things you can do to them. I like to see them brought physically, mentally, and emotionally to their lowest point so that whatever they accomplish in the story feels like it's truly been earned (I hate stories in which the hero gets through unscathed).
It's also about bigotry, not because I'm getting on my comic soapbox and preaching to the masses, but because it's something that simply makes me furious, and I'm so passionate about it that it works its way into everything I write, whether intentionally or not.

Firefly Cross:

9) So we both do stories involving a girl in modern times finding a powerful ancient relic. What was the inspiration for the Ra'grathon?

Actually, I'm not really sure. It's the one thing in the evolution of FFC that I can't really pinpoint where it came from. I think I drew it first when I designed Ry, and at that point it was simply his sword. Once I'd designed all the characters and had a vague idea of what I wanted to do, I needed something to anchor everything together. I ended up using the sword, I imagine as a matter of convenience. It's been 7 years at this point, I've forgotten some of the formative stuff, but I remember that early on the sword belonged to Ry, and had no real significance beyond him.

….which is probably why I ended up giving him the sword in his back story now that I think about it. That never quite did leave my mind…

10) I noticed an emphasis on the status of women early on in this comic. Was there a reason to highlight this?
You may be surprised to know this, but no, not really. I've had people mention the comic's “girl power” attitude before, and while I like that that's a result, it was never an intent.

Before I started the comic – or even thought about it – I designed Chaerius in a notebook. In that same notebook, I designed Ry. I really liked the way they looked and was interested in possibly forming a story around the two of them. But as I began to develop Ry's character I realized that he was a “hero”. He was brave and noble and always wanted to do what was “right”, and if I made him the actual hero of the story, it would be utterly boring. So I decided to make him the sidekick instead.

With Ry as the sidekick, I decided that I should make the actual hero as different from him as I could – just to mess with him! The thought process went something like this: “Well, he's morally upright, so the main character should be someone who's somehow morally corrupt. I know! A thief! It's bad enough to make the typical ‘good guy’ uncomfortable, but tame enough that the hero can still be heroic. Let's see, what else? Well, he's a fantasy-type character and comes from that sort of culture, so why don't I make my hero from present day? (Ended up being slight futuristic and AU, but you get the point). Okay, now my hero is a thief from the future, what else can I do to make him different from Ry? Wait, I can make ”him“ a ”her“! Excellent.”

So Katyn being female was actually something of an afterthought. The hero of the story was male right up until just before I started working on it. All the mentions of a woman's role from Ry were mostly because I imagined he came from a different culture where women lived very different lives, and he was trying to understand something that seemed utterly alien to him. He also made a lot of comments about her being a thief, because that bothered him too. So it was less an emphasis on the status of women and more a commentary on the different cultures and how what was acceptable in one place at one time was not acceptable across the board.

11) Out of curiosity, are you a fan of the “Firefly” tv series?
No, but it's not because I'm avoiding it. I missed it when it was on TV (or rather, missed the first few episodes and hate coming in on the middle of things) and haven't seen the DVD's yet. I've been told by everyone that I NEED to see it, but I haven't yet.

The title similarities are, of course, a coincidence.

12) I see you're guilty of the “Villain with the long, white(ish) hair” stereotype. Was this intentional, subconcious, or coincidence?
I choose (d) all of the above. Well, not quite, but his design was for story reasons and when I realize he followed the trope, I was initially annoyed with myself, then decided to go with it as I approach FFC as “embracing the cliché.”

Elrek, much like Katyn, was designed the way he was because of Ry. (Ry really was the center of the universe when I started this…) Ry is based on very warm colors, so I decided that Elrek would be based on cool colors. The trouble with this was his hair. With Ry, he had red hair and red eyes, because I wanted him to not look normal (because the pointed ears and giant wings wouldn't tip anyone off) but despite the fact that his hair is a fire-engine red rather than an orange color that “red” hair actually is, one could argue that his color was actually possible. My gut reaction with Elrek was to associate him with blue, and I did make his wings that color, but finding blue hair outside of anime and bad dye jobs isn't easy. I didn't want to go with black because it's too heavy, and brown and yellow are “warm” colors, so they were out too. I ended up giving him light grey hair because – like Ry – it was odd but not impossible.

Then I gave him purple eyes because it was on par with Ry's weird red eyes.

13)Finally, any parting words for your readers?
When I first started creating FFC seven years ago, I made a promise to myself that this was a project I wouldn't abandon in the middle, that I was going to see it all the way through to the end. I set myself an update schedule of once a week and despite working two jobs and the fact that each page takes several hours to complete, I've kept to that schedule, no matter how hard it was, and some weeks it was very difficult.

So what kept me going all this time? All the support I get from my readers. Plain and simple. I may not respond to every individual comment, but I read them all and appreciate them all. It really gets me fired up to work on the next page when I see that. So thank you, for your support and helping me to keep my promise. You guys are amazing!
  IT'S OLD BATMAN
last edited on July 14, 2011 3:42PM
houseofmuses at 7:14AM, Feb. 12, 2009
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Twisted Mirrors is a good fantasy series, with some really fun scenes. Go check it out. I command you. XD
last edited on July 14, 2011 12:50PM
dragonsong12 at 8:54AM, Feb. 12, 2009
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Whoa! Thanks for the comment! It really means something when someone of your talent approves! :D
last edited on July 14, 2011 12:16PM
ipokino at 2:04AM, Feb. 13, 2009
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Nice. Well thought out interview. I am continually amazed at the scope of the talent I find here on DrunkDuck, and how often I can miss a really good comic series until it pops up and smacks me hard between the eyes! Keep up the great work, all of you!
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:02PM
dragonsong12 at 11:29AM, Feb. 13, 2009
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Yeah, it was fun to get to talk about myself, but it's been a lot of fun to read other's interviews too, especially those with a different lean from me. Kind of get in their heads and see how they think.

…I think I may lurk in this forum a bit mroe from here on out! :D
last edited on July 14, 2011 12:16PM
drkfire1 at 10:48AM, Feb. 18, 2009
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Good to see a great artist and storyteller get recognized.

Great Work.
last edited on July 14, 2011 12:17PM

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