This interview is of JillyFoo , whose comic are Demon Eater, The Planet Closest to Heaven, and others!
(interview conducted by smkinoshita!)
I'm pleased as punch to interview JillyFoo, who was my pick for best experimental comic for the Drunk Duck awards – which took a hair-splitt'n tie-breaker I might add. At any rate, let's get this show on the road, shall we?
Objectional Artwork Requests
1. One thing I would get on occasion (although never on the Duck) would be a… well, in the interest of avoiding questionable googles, let's call it an “objectional artwork request”. Kind of curious if you've ever had to deal with one of those requests, given your wide experience in comics, publishing and conventions?
I normally donâ€™t get a lot of commissions at cons. The most sales I get are through pre-made paintings, comics and crafts. I have gotten a couple requests from one fan to do a commission comic with my character Pepe (from TPCTH) with P-Chan (from Ranma Â½)(see my deviant art). And then the commissioner gave some fanfiction ideas of how Ranma Â½ could be in the TPCTH world which struck me as odd at the time. At least I can say I have never gotten Yaoi/Yuri/adult commission requests.
I'm gonna say that fanfiction requests are just one-rung down from an adult commission request. So I'm changing your answer to “Almost”.
2. Anyone ever dress up like Saturno the Demon Eater?
Haha no. Iâ€™ve only started to sell the comic at cons since Aug 2008. It hasnâ€™t gotten much exposure yet at cons. Surprising as it may seem webcomics arenâ€™t that popular in cosplay at conventions. (Except for 8 Bit Theater characters and Cardboard Tube Samurai).
Pity, Saturno would be a much better costume.
3. What is the #1 creepeist thing you've seen or experienced at a convention?
Everyone usually says itâ€™s the old guy that dresses up like a chick, but I will say it becomes very ordinary when you keep going to cons. What is really creepy are those darn ball-joint-dolls. The girls I traveled with to cons last year had those things. At Youma Con 2008 they bought a Kelly-Barbie doll so that one of their ball-joint dolls can wear its clothes. Then they took the nude Kelly doll, covered it in fake blood, and had the creepiest of the dolls with mean eyes hold lil bloody Kelly to its month as if it were eating the Kelly doll! Now that is creepy!
I bet doll cannibalism is more common than people think. Coming this summer, the crossover blockbuster you can't miss, featuring the cinema debut of Saturno: it's Demons Vs. Dolls in “MY DINNER WITH CHUCKY”! Walk away full… or you don't walk away at all!
It doesn't taste like chicken.
4. What do demons taste like? Oh, and by decree of creativity, you can't say “like chicken”. Besides, demons are obviously not white meat.
I had a little segment of the 1st print of Demon Eater that had what they tasted likeâ€¦,but lets see.. let me describe it.
The demon meat is still slightly alive so when it is in your mouth it wriggles a bit like those cockroaches in Fear Factor. The flesh is cold like ice because demons are cold blooded. Since some demons are shape shifters the outside layers would be like rubber and the insides would taste like clay. If the demon is of the humanoid variety the flesh would taste more like a vampireâ€™s: cold and that salty taste of blood. Once swallowed the meat squiggles in your stomach for a bit.
Chucky: Ummm… guys? I'm gonna have to bow out of the movie. Tell a secret, I never could make it through Fear Factor, no way I'd clear this one.
Demon Eater, according to its wiki, was supposed to be a challenge for you to create a comic in a style that is not anime or manga. Before I ask how well you think you've succeeded, I'm going to want to clarify your position:
What is Anime?
5. What do you consider to be manga/anime style?
Thereâ€™s many things to consider, this is not accurate just my opinion. I was basing it after my previous comic The Planet Closest to Heaven.
The main character has to be beautiful, sexy or cute in manga. The eyes are larger than normal, have large light reflection in the iris and pupil and doesn't show the detail of a lacrimal carungle(those red things in-between your eyes. I didnâ€™t know it off the top of my head I looked it up). Also the nose sometimes lacks the detail of nostrils.
I think I should explain this better as to why I wanted DE to steer away from manga/anime style. Years ago in college I went to a critique, I brought my best pages of TPCTH(my comic I made before DE started) I took the ones that I thought were the most realistic non anime and hoped for an interesting critique. It didnâ€™t work out that way. What they said wasnâ€™t bad, but they pretty much thought of it as manga and manga only. I made DE as a reaction to that. I took what I thought was manga from TPCTH (big eyes, black and white, attractive and cute characters) and made DE different from TPCTH in that way. It is not that I donâ€™t like the anime/manga style or think I can magically get rid of it. I just wanted DE to be different from TPCTH in that way so I can try something new.
“Demon Eater Ain't Kawaii”
6. What about Demon Eater do you feel is not done in this style?
The main character can be ugly looking at times. The art can be dirty and unrefined. There arenâ€™t any pretty demons with bat wings on their back or angels, but that is not anime/manga only.
7. What about Demon Eater do you feel is still heavily influenced or otherwise done in an Asian style?
Hard to say artwise. Despite my intentions the monsters still look cute in a way. Saturno in these last few chapters is looking very cute.
If I may, there are two reasons for this. Saturno has few lines on his face, and large, attractive brown eyes. This gives him an appealing, child-like design. Secondly, relativity also comes into play. He's not competing with some catgirl, he's hanging around with the likes of skinless humanoids and headless cadavers.
Storywise thereâ€™s lots of Anime/manga influences. The monsters are inspired by the demons in Yu Yu Hakusho and Inu Yasha. There was this part in Inu Yasha where one of the Thunder brothers eats his dead brotherâ€™s heart, then gets his dead brotherâ€™s lightning powers yeah thatâ€™s influence there. Thereâ€™s also a part in Inu Yasha where these demons fight each other in a pit then when one is killed, it merges with the winner. I also came up with the land creature from Angel Sanctuary having Satanâ€™s true form being the actual land in Hell. Much of the demon world influences are more from the Japanese animeâ€™s versions of Hell compared to the Christian one. Thereâ€™s no Satan or souls of the damned.
Satisfaction Vs. Success
8. Overall, how well do you feel you have succeeded your challenge?
I donâ€™t really know anymore if I succeeded or not. It is a slightly different style than TPCTH which I find satisfying. Even if it is still heavily influenced by anime/manga itâ€™s cool with me.
Demon Eater Concept Questions
To sleep perchance…
9. OK, this is probably a common question, but can you describe in more detail the dream that inspired Demon Eater?
Sometime after I had the TPCTH critique, I felt I was ready to start a 2nd webcomic. I was planning on starting All Rodents Must Die. Later I went to sleep and had that dream. The dream was very vague really. It had a little lizard demon eating other demons. I woke up too soon. It was a very interesting dream. I tried to fall back asleep again so I would find out what happened next. It didnâ€™t work so I begin simply telling myself the story. I went through the first chapters, Eyes of the Man Eater story, the Human Club arc then the end of the Human Club arc. By the end of the Human Club arc I was like Oh my gosh what an awesome story! In the end I decided that Monster Eater (renamed Demon Eater) would be a more fun story to draw than All Rodents Must Die.
“All Rodents Must Die” wouldn't have anything to do with the extermination of Pikachu, would it? Just checking.
It was a tragic love story. I couldn't figure out a great way to draw it and the writting wasn't complete so I put it away for another day.
10. How far in advance do you tend to script Demon Eater?
Iâ€™m somewhere in the middle to end of the 2nd story arc. If I script too far I tend to change my mind about scenes. Iâ€™ll probably end up rewriting some of the upcoming chapters. I do have most of the story planned out. I know how it ends.
And I'm sure anyone who appreciates a good, creative story with a good tolerance for darkness will be there!
The World of Demon Eater
11. How much planning went into the world of Demon Eater? Did you create the world concept first, and then the characters, the other way 'round, or were they created synchronously?
The inspiration for writing the story was from the main character Saturno, Goyaâ€™s painting Saturno devorando a un hijo, the Greek mythology of the titans and the concept of demons evolving after they eat other demons. Much of the story fell into place once I had a layout of the main events in the story. When readers ask questions about the world in the commentary itâ€™s not rare for me to come up with the answer right on the spot. The questions help me think about aspects of the world that otherwise would slip my mind.
I think having a set motivation for the main character helped the story progress too. Saturno wanted to become the strongest in his/her world so I had to come up with many conflicts that would get in his/her way and opportunities that would help Saturno.
Sudden Nerd Attack! “So, is he gonna fight Ryu?”
Sorry, bad nerd!
Promotional Questions (Self Publication, Conventions)
12. How well has Self Publication worked out for you? What are your goals? How well have you achieved them, and what are your greatest obstacles?
Having a print version of your comic is a great way to get your comic to readers that donâ€™t go online. Many of my IRL friends never took a look at my comics until I had them in print.
My goalsâ€¦ I do want to keep working on comics as long as I can through my life even if it doesnâ€™t become a career. For short term goals I want to get a second book out for DE and TPCTH.
Iâ€™m getting there with finishing the pages for TPCTH. Just a couple more chaptersâ€¦DE book 2 might take another year. I buffered DE until May 2009,so I can work more on TPCTH.
For obstacles I am still in school (grad school), Iâ€™ve been offered to do other illustration work (friend of mine wants me to illustrate her poetry), and it is true that preparing for and going to conventions goes deeply into comic work time.
Interesting comment regarding your real-life friends, and definitely something for anyone considering expanding their audience.
The Conventional Approach (Sorry… bad, punning nerd!)
13. Do you feel that conventions have helped promote your work?
It has helped somewhat, but I think promoting online gets more measurable results. At a convention table I could hand out website business cards and the people could have thrown them away for all I know, while with PW ads I know who came to my site from what ad. Yet I have gotten some fan emails from people whom I promoted my webcomic to at the con. Itâ€™s hard to say for readers, I promote at conventions in the Midwest USA. I donâ€™t think webcomics are that popular at the cons I go to compared to other conventions that may specialize in webcomics more. I heard Megacon in Florida has more webcomic related events like The Web Cartoonists' Choice Awards and all that.
I think the key with promoting at cons is getting to know your fellow webcomic artists to make connections. Meeting people in person can be much more interesting than only conversing online. You can get tips, critiques, work on joint-projects and maybe a link exchange or a shout out link in the author rants after the con.
Conventional Wisdom (Sorry, I did it again)
14. What is the most important thing you've learned from conventions?
You canâ€™t make a living off it. You can sell a lot, have a ton of money in your pockets there, but once you come back from the con and minus how much it cost to go to the con.. you donâ€™t make much of a profit.
I think the anticipation for going to a con is whatâ€™s exciting. Trying out a new advertising scheme, making a new product, trying to improve from the last con, or telling people that you are an artist that actually sells your art; I find it fun.
I think that would be common for most people who set up shop at a convention – travel costs really eat into any profits you would have made.
That's why local cons are the ones you really gotta go to.
15. What is the most important thing you've learned from self-publishing?
Color is expensive. You canâ€™t make a good profit from long running colored comics in print. Common phrase I hear about the Demon Eater book is â€œI really want to buy it, but itâ€™s too expensive.â€ Black and white is the way to go for self publishing. I sell many more TPCTH books than DE books.
Excellent advice – there's a reason why classic underground comics like TMNT and Cerebus were black and white.
The Best Thing
16. What is the greatest thing to come out of self-publishing and conventions?
Meeting cool people. Learning to come out of my shell to talk with complete strangers.
As someone with a marketing education, I can attest – networking is key.
17. Is there any negative “just one thing” you'd like to advise others about self publishing and conventions?
If you sell at a con when a convention goer comes by your table, please donâ€™t go about saying something like â€œPlease buy my stuff. You should buy this. This is only $10!â€. It makes you look desperate and non-approachable. People get tired of making up excuses as to why they donâ€™t want to buy your stuff and will avoid your table. Let your work speak for itself. If you want to talk about your comic to a complete stranger at a con keep it simple with a short pitch (one sentence description of the comic). If they want to know more let them ask you.
Thank-you for a great interview, JillyFoo! I'll be sure to never, ever order any demon next time I'm out at a pan-dimensional restaurant. Or doll meat, now that I think about it.
Thank you for the interview! I hope to see more webcomic people at conventions!
And as a little extra “thank-you”, I thought I'd finish with a bit o' simple fan-art for your comic. On a side note, Saturno's got my cheek bones.
Oh… I also just finally realized his name is similar to Saturn – from the Roman god who swallowed his children so they couldn't depose of him. And Ironically, Saturno never swallows his prey alive, he always kills it so he never loses his identity… Durr… I'm a slow nerd! Thanks again, JillyFoo!
Round 5: smkinoshita interviews JillyFoo of Demon Eater and Planet Closest to Heaven!
skoolmunkee at 10:03AM, March 5, 2009
last edited on July 14, 2011 3:42PM
smkinoshita at 6:35AM, March 10, 2009
Little extra bit: JillyFoo is currently (as of 2009-03-10) running a contest to determine Saturno's sex! Go there and vote!
last edited on July 14, 2011 3:49PM
Jabali at 7:31PM, March 11, 2009
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:05PM
Kristen Gudsnuk at 2:53AM, May 6, 2009
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:23PM
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