Round 7! BlkKnight interviews trevoramueller of @$$hole and Temple of a Thousand Tears!
skoolmunkee at 4:24AM, May 21, 2009
posts: 7,058
joined: 1-2-2006
This interview is of trevoramueller, whose comics are @$$hole and The Temple of a Thousand Tears!
(interview conducted by BlkKnight!)

Greetings, you have been selected to participate in a small survey. Are you ready for eight hours worth of mind-destroy…er super-happy-fun questions?

Oh man, it's another one of those automated call surveys. I hate these things. At least it's not a customer service agent that doesn't speak English…. Very well, I accept your terms. But I warn you, my answers may be incredibly cynical and sarcastic. :P

1) While this survey will keep all of your personal information confidential, please tell us something about yourself. The more interesting, the better.

My head isn't the only part of my body that's bald?

…Too personal?

Alright, let's go with this then: I have been making comics since I was in 3rd grade. The first comic that I ever did was called “Stupid Man,” and was about a kid that could fly and fought the school bully - rather violently. In later issues, he ended up becoming Fireball and used firecrackers to help him run super fast. He also had red-hot candy that he could spit at people.

I ended up selling a comic in middle school to fellow students that I worked on with another friend of mine, called Moon Rise. It was basically a rip off of Batman. However, later issues started to get very original and interesting. Then I went to high school and stopped writing it.

I did comics for people instead of birthday cards. Unfortunately, I never kept copies for myself so all of that hard work is long gone. I did a series for my friend Kristin that was over 30 issues of 24 pages each.

In high school I read a comedy book about superheroes and it inspired the creation of G-Man: The Defender of Food. It was hilarious goofy goodness, and I hope to restart it again someday.

This summer, I'm going to be published in an anthology from Ronin Studios that benefits a non-profit, and I have several pitches out to some of the more indie publishers at the moment. So my professional comic writing career has officially begun!

Also, I have had athletes foot on my left pinky toe for the last decade.

…Also too personal? ;)

2) We notice you have two active comics. Would you mind telling us about these comics for those who have never heard of them prior?

If you haven't heard of my comics, then you're a loser. The only way to drop this loser status is to read them both all the way through, and then perhaps you can obtain the rank of “peon” in the mighty Horde Army. :P

Oh man, did I just make a WoW reference? I don't even play that game….

The Temple of a Thousand Tears is a sci-fi fantasy samurai story that spans millennia. There's a lot of action and themes of vengeance and justice. It's a very stylized book utilizing gray scale with red and blue mixed in for good measure. The current storyline is called Hikari (which means “light” in Japanese), and follows two women fighting to discover who was responsible for the explosion at a cathedral that killed many innocent civilians. In 2008, it was nominated for “Most Profound webcomic” in the Drunk Duck Awards.

I also have pitch videos for each of the chapters:

Original Temple
The Legend of Abraham

My other webcomic series is called @$$hole!, which follows a web comic creator (who looks a lot like myself) and his demonic roommate, the little girl from The Ring, as they go on wild and crazy adventures. Recently, Trevor has encouraged Susie to get a job, and she finally landed one as a barista - by killing her boss! There's also a photo-world in the comic where stories are told that more resemble my real life situation. For example, currently photo-Trevor has moved to Chicago (because I just moved to Chicago). The comic was nominated in 2008 for “Best Experimental” and “Best Photo Comic” in the Drunk Duck Awards.

I even made a little pitch video about the comic: @$$hole!

Does that answer your questions, ya leeches? ;)

3) Between Temple of A Thousand Tears (Temple for sort) and the comic with the title outside of this survey's vernacular (@H! for short), which comic do you consider to you be your primary comic. In other words, which one gets the most attention from you?

Man, what's a guy got to do to get a sandwich around here? Last time I was interviewed by Wizard magazine they at least offered me blow and hookers….

I spend more time thinking about Temple, but working on @$$hole!. The reason being that Temple is a much more fleshed out world with layers and layers of character relationships and a lot of history, while @$$hole! is much more fun and light hearted - and usually involves less thought. I've outsourced the artwork duties on Temple to my good friend Olivia Kasle, who has really latched onto the material and started to make it her own. I'm very proud of the work that she puts into the pages. That said, it means that my work on the comic just comes down to writing right now - which, with the process that I use, makes the scripting process pretty quick.

@$$hole! is just a fun place to go and play. Since I do the artwork (or direct the photos), it involves a lot more work. A lot more time. The process for that one hasn't been refined yet, and I just started updating it twice per week. I've actually been thinking about turning it into two comics: one illustrated and one photo. But I need to spend some more video game time pondering that one.

Anyone have a preference?

4) Temple is styled in grayscale + red and in book format, while @H! is in full color and in strips. Do you prefer one to the other? Also, will Temple have a colorful future?

Temple actually has a colorful past (both literally and figuratively), since the first prequel (The Legend of Abraham) was all done in watercolors.

I think that the presentation for each comic represents the story itself, so I don't really have a personal preference - but both are fitting and fun to do. Temple originally started in gray scale because it was easier to do, but it was also a reflection of the world that these characters lived in. The color had been drained from their world, as everything they know gets turned around and up-side down. The red and blue colors used in the comic were a stylized choice to emphasize the graphic nature of the violence or technology and how significant it's appearance was in the story.

For @$$hole!, I wanted to play with color more in Photoshop and have an outlet to play and experiment with story and effects. So some of the stories are in black and white, and some are done with photos…and some are done with both illustrations and photos!

But mostly, I did @$$hole! as a break from the seriousness and structure of Temple. The comic was draining me emotionally and physically, and I needed an outlet for some funny jokes and a way to poke fun at things going on in the world. My favorite reoccurring characters are Big Oil guys, because they're just so clueless about the world and have next to no moral barometer. They're tons of fun to write.

Both Temple and @$$hole! will be seeing print, just an FYI. I'm planning the prequels to Temple to be individual (and possibly collected, if the demand is there), and @$$hole! will come out in (I'm currently thinking) a digest-sized collection. No date on that just yet, though. Probably late this year / early next year.

5) Temple appears to have a religious backbone. Particularly, religion altering the truth. What inspired you to write a story with such a basis? Do you think people will make such connections between this and real-world religions?

Temple certainly has a background in religion, which strikes people as very odd since I myself am the furthest thing from religious. But the point of the theocracy that exists in Temple isn't about altering the truth so much as it is about control and interpretation. Like any form of government, the Holy Order of Abraham wants to control it's citizens and keep them safe while making them productive members of society. But there's a hidden agenda going on that we find out about in Hikari (the second prequel series and current storyline).

Temple was inspired by a lot of different factors. First, the events of 9-11. There was a lot of talk about religions and the various factions that would disagree and fight against each other - even though they basically believed the same thing. There has always been religious persecution throughout history - in fact, the United States was built from it. The Protestants trying to flee the UK and have the freedom to worship what they wanted as they wanted. So even within the religion of Christianity, there has been persecution and misinterpretation. The Holy Order of Abraham is no different from that. Their actions just tend to be more blunt and violent and apparent to the reader.

The second thing that inspired Temple was the classic films of Akira Kurosawa - one of the greatest film directors of all time. His samurai movies are absolutely excellent, and have themselves inspired such great films as Star Wars and countless westerns.

The third thing that inspired Temple was a song from the trailer for Xenosaga 2. The story for the original Temple was going to be about a group of people searching for 7 mystical Dragon Hearts on these different planets, and the swordsman was going to be a giant robot pilot. But then I realized that I couldn't draw space ships, and I decided to tone down that plot….

So the religious implications of 9-11 came into play. I've never been a fan of organized religion because of how militant people get about it, and my numerous interactions with people who don't even follow their own belief system but will chastise anyone who doesn't believe what they do. It's the whole “do as I say, not as I do” bit. It's hypocrisy. And I'm not saying that everyone does it or even that most people do it, just the bulk of the people that I've met in my life. And I've just never understood that mentality. So part of the inclusion of the militant theocracy in this story is my brain trying to understand that mentality and try to put it out there how it appears to someone like me.

…I'm sure that probably pissed a few people off. Feel free to berate me, though, as everyone's entitled to their own opinions. I'll move on now before digging myself any deeper into this hole. ;)

last edited on July 14, 2011 3:42PM
skoolmunkee at 4:24AM, May 21, 2009
posts: 7,058
joined: 1-2-2006
6) Were there anything in particular that inspired the characters in Temple?

Absolutely. As I stated above, Temple was first and foremost inspired by the events of 9-11. And I had many different conflicting emotions about the event, the way the media handled it, and the stories that I heard from people who were actually affected by the event (versus the people who, like me, weren't directly involved or affected). So the characters are each a distinct emotion from my experience at that time.

The Swordsman: The swordsman is the reflection of me that was numb and angry. But the anger comes in fits and spurts. Mostly he just doesn't know what he's feeling. He just does what he has to do, but keeps trying to go about his business.

Julian: Was the optimist. He wanted to create the new out of the ashes and always could find a way to put a smile on people's faces, despite this horrible tragedy. Of course, in the context of the story, he had to be the first to die (hope I didn't spoil it for anyone). Because the first thing that you lose is hope and your ability to laugh, especially when the media keeps cramming down your throat how much danger you're in and the government keeps promoting these messages of fear. He's the contradiction to what “they” want you to be feeling.

Marielle: She's the other side, the side that sympathizes with the people who did the wronging. There were a lot of innocent people who were brutalized in the wake of 9-11 by ignorant bigots feeding off the fear machine that the media and government had been cramming down their throats, and it was very reactionary and emotional. We didn't get to learn much about Marielle in the original story arc, but we'll be returning to her in a prequel series.

Shiri: Shiri is the silent, innocent version that isn't even completely aware of everything that's happened. She can't wrap her head around it because she doesn't have the experience to do so. At the same time, she doesn't exactly have free-will. She does as she's told. I've never been to war. I've never killed another person. And I can't imagine ever doing it. I have great respect for the people in our armed forces, but since I don't have that experience myself I can't relate to it - and Shiri can't either. Until she's forced to. Through her I ask myself the question, “If pushed beyond my limit, could I do the unthinkable and take another's life?” Through her, we're able to ask the classic question: “Do robots dream of electric sheep?” And “Can a person be more than they were made to be?” Shiri will be the main character in the sequel series, Holy War.

Seymour: The philosopher and insightful thinker. The part of me that says, “Wait a second, let's think this through.” He's a very emotional individual - a lover, not a fighter - and he quickly became my favorite character to write. And a lot of fans favorite character to read about. He has a bit of a troubled past, though, and we'll be finding out about that more in the near future.

7) For a while, every Friday you posted either fanart or a sketch on a consistent basis. Did you feel that helped or hurt the comic? Had readers ever complained that they disrupted the flow?

I think it helped the comic in terms of giving the readers some extra content to consume, allowed them to get a glimpse into the process that I go through to design stuff for my comics, and gave them the chance to show their appreciation for their favorite characters. Seymour quickly became the favorite of the masses, and there was even a campaign to keep him alive (even though the story had been written 7 years previous) when I was teasing that a character was going to die.

It also helped the traffic, obviously, because it gave people something to see more often than just the comic updating.

I don't recall ever hearing anyone complain about the fan art or sketches interrupting the flow of the comic online, and I didn't want to put the fan art on a different page for a reason: I was promoting people's comics who submitted fan art. Why deny them traffic from the main site when they were putting in all of this effort? That never seemed fair to me. So I kept it in there for the kind souls that submitted it. And I'd put up more, too, but I've been too busy to do sketches during the weeks when I don't receive any fanart.

Hey you: submit some fan art for Temple and get your comic reviewed and linked to. :D

8) All comic artists have tools and tricks of the trade. How are these comics made, and do you have any useful tips for our audience?

I can tell you that Temple used to be a process. And then I discovered the wonderful world of Photoshop, and then everything was easy. Well, faster at least. For Temple, I work from an outline that builds into a script. I then do page layouts (or go over layouts with Olivia, my artist), keeping in mind the themes and messages that are important to the story and the page. When I did the artwork, I didn't bother to ink it because I liked the rough look of pencils - but Olivia inks with a pen and brush. I'd then color in sections with different shades of gray, add text and then send it off. For text, if you're thinking about printing, I highly recommend using a vector-based program like Illustrator or Indesign. Trust me, it's worth the money.

For @$$hole!, I like to play with different items in Photoshop. I'll download free brushes, gradients, background photos, whatever. There's rarely an overall story unless I get into an arc, so I mostly just pull out my handy dandy pocket notebook (which I take with me everywhere I go) and pull from ideas that I've been writing down for weeks and weeks - or whatever strikes me as funny at the time. I then do a rough script, and work on the artwork (or take the photos) to match the dialogue. If it's a longer story arc, I'll at least outline the story and then script the pages (so I have a page count and an idea of where jokes will go). Pencils get scanned in and colored, photos get transferred and edited. I have a background in directing and producing cable TV shows, so directing and editing photos is pretty second nature to me.

The best advice that I can give to anyone working in comics is: practice, play, and keep doing it. You only get better as you try new things, and keep at it. Find friends that tell you you're stuff is no good (and why it's no good, or how to make it better), because your friends that say “I like it” aren't helping you.

I have been tapped by many people in the industry as well as on here to do that for artwork, dialogue, translation, and script doctoring and direction. I don't mind doing it for my friends, but don't take the feedback personally. Take it constructively.

9) You have two reserved comic titles. Your profile describes one, but not the other. What will Nightshade be all about?

Oh goodness, that mess. :P

Nightshade was going to be the comic that a buddy and I were going to pitch to Platinum Studios for the 2008 Comic Book Challenge. My friends DJ Coffman and Jorge Vega had won in the past, but based on conversations from them and a few other industry friends I have, I decided to not submit the comic. A few production problems also helped lead to this decision. The story is still something I would like to tell, but I'd need to find another artist for it - I just don't have the time to write and draw the thing myself.

The storyline is about a man named Doc who has no memories before 1987, who works for an organization called Nightshade. This group has been fighting the forces of evil since before evil had a name, and the responsibility is typically passed down from generation to generation.

Think “BPRD” meets “The Boys” with a twist.

The story takes place in 1998, and follows the group's various missions to try and save the world from demons and things that go bump in the night. The entire first story arc is written, but my artist and I agreed that we wanted to find a different project to collaborate on, so we're working on a few pitches for Oni and Image instead.

10) Finally, you are required by law to make up a word that accurately describes either your comic or your comicing experience. What is that word?

Absolutely + freaking + exhausting + awesome = Absofreakexhausome

It's a real word….Now. And if you ever use it, I expect 10% of your ad revenue. Because that word is now copywrite and trademarked by ME! Yo. :P

Thank you for participating. We hope you have enjoyed responding as much as we enjoyed writing the questions.

I'm still waiting on that sandwich…but I'll still accept blow and hookers, like what Wizard gave me. Go get it. I'll wait.
last edited on July 14, 2011 3:42PM

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