Interviews

QWtD: Farah interviews houseofmuses!
lucky7s76 at 11:39AM, Jan. 24, 2009
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The following interview was conducted by our own Farah in the Community Interview Project!

Username: houseofmuses

Comic(s): House of the Muses, HotM: The Quality of Hatred, HotM (Part Three)

1) Why makes you decided to start House of the Muses? :)

This series was born of a lot of research dating back from when I was studying New Testament Greek at Western Kentucky University back in the 80s. There’s no poetic license here, all I did was bring it back to life.
I enjoyed translating Greek, wanted to find some more subject matter to play with, and found a book about Sappho in the university library. Looking through the book I found that the poet Alkaios also told his version of Sappho’s exiles. It fascinated me, so I took it on as a translation project…particularly the fragments. I found a mystery in the fragments. It was like a Nancy Drew movie. I went on and on…and from that early pursuit came the premise of entwining two very different storylines and telling the story of Sappho as it actually happened, in a completely different way.

2) Who or what are your artistic and comic-making influences?

Mike Grell. George Perez. Colleen Doran. I really loved the work of Nick Cardy back in the late 60’s when he was illustrator for the Teen Titans (argh, dating myself again). I was an avid reader of Marvel and DC Comics back in the day, and it was from there I learned the art of design and putting together a comic.
And don’t think for one minute I didn’t follow Ash Witter’s tutorial on her pencils for Scorch when I created my pencil pages for HOM #3! Her penciling skills are ungodly excellent.

3) Why do you choose 3D art form to present House of the Muses?

Because the scope of the 3D medium actually matches and enhances the scope of this story! That’s not conceit, this is a big story. If I published this book in novel format, the paperback would be about five inches thick, and who really reads those anymore? I did do three pages of pencils for House of the Muses #3 after a reader from some other forum made fun of my work and insisted that I couldn’t draw. I CAN draw. I only condescended to do so because it fit into my storyline: one of my characters in #3 is a battlefield sketch artist. As the battle resumes, the artwork becomes more rushed and a bit sloppy; but that also fit in because I’ve done sketches at Society for Creative Anachronism events and I’m sorry, battlefield sketches really need to be cleaned up later.
3D is much faster. And I admit I’m a bit lazy. “) Besides, I don’t think I could accomplish the level of detail of this series with pen and pencil alone.

4) What are your main references for the story setting of House of the Muses?

The series is adapted from the writings of Sappho and Alkaios: Lyra Graeca. (Edited and translated by J. M. EDMONDS. Loeb Classical Library, three volumes. London: William Heinemann; New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1924.)

5) House of the Muses has magnificent character designs & layout, could you share with us your process of putting together a strip?

Wow. That’s one of those things I just do instinctively now, so I have to think about it. What I really do is take a sheet of Bristol board (yep, just like “real” comic artists use) to sketch my layout for the entire book. I’ll draw the little thumbnail pages across and down and scribble tiny little boxes inside the thumbnails to approximate how I think the page should look. This is not set in stone, though, because later I might figure out how to do a page in fewer panels than I’d originally planned.
I use an Illustrator comic template that I got from Ka-Blam.com and then I go about creating the scenes. All my scenes are created in DAZ 3D Studio. I set up the scene just the way I want it, then render out the panel at 1350x1147 pixels to give me the best resolution and smallest file size, save as a TIF, place it on the page behind the panel box I’ve drawn for that panel, resize as needed, create clipping mask, save my scene file and then save another .daz file for the next scene, named and numbered sequentially for easy reference, and adapt that scene to reflect the action in the next panel. For some pages I’ve used only ONE file for the entire page…all I did was change the camera angles!
Naturally, three books later you know I have a 200gb storage drive to keep all my files safe. And if I ever need to do a flashback scene, I go to the folder for the previous book, open the scene that I want, and voila.

6) Do you take writing classes? B)

Not presently. I took a couple of Writer’s Digest writing courses about ten years ago, using this story as my project. It frustrated me because of its enormous scope, but the writers I worked with gave me invaluable insight on how to present my story, which planted the seeds for its current presentation. Asking me if I take writing classes is a huge compliment to my writing. Thank you.

7)Your welcome. ^^ So, which is the most challenging part while working on House of the Muses? The story, model/props development, creating comic layout or something else? :spin:

Because it all takes place inside my head, getting the imagery down in physical form is all intuitive. I’ve got a huge library of props, I’ve created my own settings and saved them all into presets. The challenge is presenting the scene in as few words as possible. I’ve been told that House of the Muses #1 was especially wordy, so I’ve tried to learn from that and let my images do the talking for me. I’m a combination puppetmaster, posing characters and creating correct facial expressions; and director, putting everything together with the correct lighting and camera angle and making it all come out right.

8) Did your audience ever cause a controversy? (Eg: Controversial fanart, immature & close minded flamer etc) If yes, how do you deal with them? huh!?

The most controversy seems to be caused by people who haven’t bothered to read the series. I was Googling a little while back and found a book review I wasn’t even aware of, and when I read it I understood why. Someone reviewed House of the Muses #1 on AfterEllen.com http://www.afterellen.com/blog/thelinster/sappho-gets-graphic-in-house-of-muses and it immediately got flamed. The review itself was great, but the comments below it were not. A group of snobby, snarky broads gathered to make fun of my work and compared it to the artwork of the Sims video game: “CG art isn't that bad at all, I enhance hand-drawn things nicely since I don't draw very well. But this one is kinda weird. It just exaclty like Sims. While reading those, I was kinda waiting for them to move or say something gibberish like "tataloo!”
No, I don’t bother to correct the spelling on those comments. If you read the article, you’ll all notice that I dropped in to give my own comment, and after that happened, ALL COMMENTS STOPPED. I was courageous and unapologetic, informed them that I know what I am doing, and I moved on. There is no point in allowing criticism to make you give up on your series. You really have to stick to your vision.

9) In what ways do you think your audience relate to the story?

I think everyone finds something different to relate to in this story! The top thing I hear is that people love the dialogue, character interaction, and the action scenes.
What surprises me is that it’s not just a lesbian story anymore. Guys read the series, too! Straight guys, gay guys, transgender folks…straight women, gay and lesbian teenagers. It really amazes me that I’ve opened up the Sappho story to such a wide, diverse audience. I probably won’t realize the implications of what I’ve done until the series is over and done with, but there’s something interesting happening here. A lot of my readers are interested in reading again.

10) You have a very unique cast of characters. Which of them are your personal favorite & why do you pick him/her? :kitty:

Dika is my baby. I can’t really describe why she stood out to me and became the central figure, the narrator, of this story. Her one and only surviving poem preserved by Sappho has such aching desolation in it. But I’m saving that story for my readers. The whole revelation behind that poem comes out in House of the Muses #9. You’ll all just have to stay tuned.

11) House of the Muses has excellent writing. Any special quote or lines in the story you like best?

The tagline. “When Destiny fails you, make your own path.” It tells the reader that no matter what obstacles life may throw in your path, you have to pick up and move on. You may miss out on the adventure of a lifetime if you cave in and give up.

12) If you ever conducted a character popularity poll, who is your fans' favorite character? How do they relate to him/her?

I’m not sure! I’m going to have to take a poll!! I do know that several people were pretty upset when it looked like I’d killed off Niobe in HOM #2.

12) Which of House of the Muses girls most fit to participate in Miss Universe pageant? :evil:

All of ‘em except Gyrinno, I guess. Dika might be disqualified due to scarring. :P Megan Gedris (Lesbian Pirates From Outer Space!) says they’re all TOO pretty, perhaps, but this series is set in the pre-dyke /Feminist days before butchness and lesbian gender roles. XD
I do have some characters coming up who were created a bit plain from the onset, and some others who are downright ugly to the bone.

13) What kinds of things do you experiment with in House of the Muses?

Lighting. Lighting, lighting, lighting. I have a library of professionally created lights but some of them take ages to render! I don’t have time to stare at my screen for five hours watching a scene render. So yes, I do experiment on how to get the best, most detailed lighting possible with the fastest possible rendering time.

14) Has your comic ever been compared with existing movie/books/comic/fictions by your audience? If yes, could you tell us a bit about it?

Not yet, but Dragonrider has suggested that DreamWorks could make a fantastic animated film out of it. One of my young readers recently mentioned that some of my latest pages did recently enhance her reading of “The Other Sappho” by Ellen Frye—the visuals I’ve created for this series have brought the era to vivid life for her, and I think that made her enjoy the reading of it all the more! If my series makes people want to read more, then I say go for it!

15) When it comes to your own strips, which of them get the most comments from your readers? What is special about the strip?

Believe it or not…I get hundreds of pageviews, but only get comments from a handful of devoted readers. I wasn’t aware until recently—I got an email from GERMANY the other day complimenting me on the series and asking me if they could review my first three books—that so many readers thought so highly of it. So stop staring and send me some comments!!! XD

16)Have you created 3D animation of House Of The Muses before? If yes, mind showing it to us?

*Smile* No, I haven't created any animation for House of the Muses yet. I really need to further study the animation/frames portion of the DAZ 3D Studio interface because I'm not that familiar with it.
The ONLY animation I've ever done was about three years ago using Flash, Premier Pro and After Effects for a Louisville Tech final class project when I got my Associates Degree in graphic design. It was a music video for Wide Awake in Dreamland by Pat Benatar. It's at http://houseofthemuses.com/Portfolio/ or http://houseofthemuses.com/WideAwakeInDreamland.mov. Brace yourself. I'm not that good.

17) Is there a particular genre you haven't tried before that you think you'd like to get into?

Sci-fi. I have a series that I started on back in high school (a much longer time ago than I care to admit) that is still on the backburner of my mind. I think working on a sci-fi series would definitely stretch the limits of my abilities.

18) Could you list down your top 3 favorite webcomics, either on Drunk Duck or elsewhere? Tell us briefly why do you recommend them?

Scorch – Killer pencils. Ash Witter’s skills are top notch animation quality. I would not be shocked to find she is secretly working with Disney, DreamWorks or some other professional animation project even as we speak.
My number two is tied between Lesbian Pirates, Simply Sarah, and The Dreamer—all excellent projects in their own right, and all for different reasons.
And I love Villain Next Door. Roy is simply too #$&@! funny. XD

19) Besides webcomics, do you have other creative works(written novel/blog/tutorials/etc) published online?

Nooooo…this series has pretty much taken over my life. XD Based on some of your questions, I guess I do need to put up a tutorial or two on Drunk Duck.

20) One of the main challenges for webcomic artist is keeping constant updates for their comic. How do you find self motivation to continue your comic?

Well, House of the Muses is a nine-issue graphic novel miniseries. I’m underway, I can’t quit now! My big advantage is to have one book finished before I post it on Drunk Duck. The exception to this was House of the Muses #3: I had a lot going on in my life back in the fall, and it kept me from getting any work done. I fell several months behind deadline. I was posting pages a day or two late because I had fallen so far behind. When I finally got caught up it was cake again. House of the Muses #3 is only halfway through its current serialization on DD and I’m working on HOM #4 with a lot of plot direction from the esteemed Laura Seabrook. If not for her suggestions I couldn’t do HOM #4 any justice.

21) What is the worst mistake a webcomic author would make? Any inspiring advice to budding artists out there? lol!

Regardless of one’s skill level, not promoting one’s work is the one thing that will make their work all in vain. No matter how good you are, you will always draw criticism from your readers, and that’s the best learning experience you will ever have. They’ll always challenge you to grow, to improve, to write and draw better, so I’d have to say if you don’t promote, if you don’t have readers, then you might as well be scribbling in the solitude of your room.
By the time you finish this, you'll have read it. :3

deviantART
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:48PM
harkovast at 2:15PM, Jan. 24, 2009
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That was an awesome interview, really good questions.
I want you to know I am not just saying that as bland platitudes. The questions were relevant and showed a genuine knowledge of the comic is question, great stuff.

For more Harkovast related goings on, go to the Harkovast Forum
last edited on July 14, 2011 12:42PM
skoolmunkee at 2:19PM, Jan. 25, 2009
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I dunno how I missed this earlier, it will definitely be in the next newspost! :]

Another amazing interview, people have been asking really thoughtful questions so far that help reveal a lot about the creator and their comic.

It's always really fascinating to hear how someone goes about making their comic, the ideas behind it, etc. I have to say houseofmuses has done a great job ‘selling’ the comic here, I bet a lot of people who read this interview are now going to check out the comic too.
  IT'S OLD BATMAN
last edited on July 14, 2011 3:42PM
houseofmuses at 3:47PM, Jan. 25, 2009
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I hope so, too…especially now that House of the Muses #3 just went on sale today! :)

http://www.indyplanet.com/catalog/product_info.php?products_id=1654
last edited on July 14, 2011 12:50PM
dragonrider at 6:04PM, Jan. 25, 2009
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Something this WebComic does that very few others do, the Authoress answers your posts, any questions you ask, and makes you feel like you are important. It's like sitting in a class where the Instructor loves and has devoted their life to learning their subject and to passing on that knowledge to the world.

Should she do a Sci-Fi graphic novel after this one, I will be first in line to Fav it.
Do NOT meddle in the affairs of Dragons. Because, YOU are crunchy and taste good with ketchup!
last edited on July 14, 2011 12:16PM
houseofmuses at 8:14PM, Jan. 25, 2009
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You ARE important. I have to nurture my readers.

dragonrider
Should she do a Sci-Fi graphic novel after this one, I will be first in line to Fav it.

Good, because I'm going to have to start outdoing myself. Based on that comment you left at HOM 4, page 2, it sounds like you've got my main character all figured out!!!

HotM…I kind of enjoy the sound of that. XD
last edited on July 14, 2011 12:50PM
houseofmuses at 8:17PM, Jan. 25, 2009
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To answer Harkovast, yes, Farah did a really great job. We played 20 questions (correction, she very sweetly slipped the question about the animation under the door, sending me smilies all the while :) :) :) ), all of them thoughtful and thought-provoking. I enjoyed it immensely and am getting to know her and her comic series better.
last edited on July 14, 2011 12:50PM
houseofmuses at 6:01PM, Jan. 31, 2009
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Alrighty…I've set up a poll for Favorite HOM Character. Since this interview posted I have had an ungodly amount of visitors, so please drop a dime in my cup and take the poll!

I've installed the online poll at ALL my DD comic pages, but for convenience's sake you can take it at http://www.drunkduck.com/House_of_the_Muses_3/.

If you have any problems with the poll, the original is at http://www.99polls.com/poll_43299. There, you can also leave comments or heavy thoughts.

Thanks, everyone for the overwhelming support. See you there!
last edited on July 14, 2011 12:50PM
DAJB at 2:40AM, Feb. 1, 2009
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Nice interview. I've never understood the blinkered view some people take towards 3D-rendered comics. Perhaps it's because I'm a writer rather than an artist but, to me, the whole issue of traditional vs computer-generated art seems like a non-issue. As long as the medium suits the story and the characters are strong enough to keep the reader interested, how the comic is made should be irrelevant.

There are examples of poor 3D comics out there in web-land but then there are poor examples in every other format too. DD-ers are lucky that, in Purgatory and House of the Muses, we have two of the best examples of 3D comics anywhere!
last edited on July 14, 2011 12:03PM
houseofmuses at 5:53AM, Feb. 14, 2009
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I had a great time with Robert Shelley and Roy Duncan last night at The Villain's Corner web comic chat http://www.talkshoe.com/talkshoe/web/talkCast.jsp?masterId=31632&cmd=tc

I think we had a pretty good time all around. Some of the highlights: Robert read off some of the reviews I've had on the series, and added, “Sleek, beautiful renderings, with ladies so gorgeous, you could lick 'em like a spoon!” – Roy Duncan, The Villain Next Door

If you missed the interview live, now is your chance to go have a listen. I'm going to take this time once again to thank them for being so gracious as to have me in for an interview. Stay tuned to The Villain's Corner web comic chat http://www.talkshoe.com/talkshoe/web/talkCast.jsp?masterId=31632&cmd=tc for more interviews on up-and-coming webcomic artists!
last edited on July 14, 2011 12:50PM

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