This interview is of Aelwyn, who is co-creator on the comic Amya!
(interview conducted by dueeast!)
1. What's your background in writing and comics/webcomics?
A: My background in terms of education for literature only extends as far as creative writing courses; but I have considered myself a writer since I was a child. I have boxes and boxes of writing and ideas that date back to when I was five years old. Before Amya, most of my written stories were historical fictions with a sci-fi here and there. Amya is my first step into the comic genre, and adapting my style to the format of a graphic novel has been a challenge - but an extraordinarily fun process.
I received my first box of vintage comics when I was seven years old. My younger brother and I picked it up at a garage sale down the street for a dollar; which is all we had. I'm pretty sure the geek was tickled pink such young children wanted to delve into his hobby, so he took the significant price cut.
I remember being fascinated as I flipped through the forty some issues of various titles. The blend of artwork and literature amazed me - and I think that's when I knew I inevitably wanted to work on a comic some day. I think I grew quite the obsession for comics and graphic novels at that point.
2. What inspired you to write Amya?
A: As odd as this may sound, Amya was inspired by our Dungeons and Dragons campaign. We fell in love with the story we were creating and wanted to find a way to share it with others. If you are a D&D player, you will likely see a nod to a few terms from the core SRD material; we didn't want to completely strip the origin of the story from the comic.
The story itself has been in the works since mid 2006; though we didn't start developing it into a comic until 2009.
3. I see you have a co-writer and an artist. How did you find your artist, Rebecca Gunter, and co-writer, Andrew Hewitt?
A: Andrew Hewitt and I have been dating for nearly four years now. We met in high-school and became friends when he discovered I was a girl who shared his interests. D&D, comics, and so on. It took as quite a few years to start dating, but we made it there eventually!
Rebecca is another matter. I stumbled across her work a few years ago on Deviant Art, and started commissioning her right away to draw characters from my D&D games and stories. We seemed to get along extraordinarily well, so I had her start drawing characters from Amya. Eventually I let her know they were characters for a comic idea, and asked if she would join the team. Obviously she said yes which I will always be grateful for!
Although Rebecca and I have never met as we live in different countries, I can easily call us friends. We are open and honest with each other when we work on the pages; which really goes a long way to pushing out abilities.
4. Between two writers and an artist, how does your collaboration process work (generally-speaking)?
A: At this point we have a very ridged and rough manuscript of the story. If you were to read it, it would be more a novel format than a comic. Andrew and I will discuss the pages I am about to write in relation to the manuscript. Normally our train of thought is along the lines of “What has changed during the course of the story? What needs to be altered, what needs to be added, what needs to be cut entirely?” After we have had that discussion, I write the pages in a script broken down by panel. Each panel is formatted to include a description of this scene, the character actions, the dialog, and the sound effects.
I then send the pages to Rebecca over GoogleDocs, which is a fantastic tool for collaborating long distance. It allows us to leave notes for each other, converse as we read over it, and actively see the changes the other is making, or what they are looking at.
After Rebecca has had a chance to contemplate the script, she sends me preliminary sketches; which I either approve or alter and send back. Once any requested changes are made she begins penciling, inking, and toning. When the art is complete, she also does the lettering; as she has a better understanding of how to make the sound effects and bubbles compliment her style.
When the pages are complete, I then revisit them and alter any text I feel isn't flowing quite right with the page.
I think the key to collaborating on a project like this is trust and openness. No artist and writer are going to look at something exactly the same way; and you need to be willing to bend your own vision until it's something both of you can see working. For me, that's part of the thrill. I often like to give Rebecca really odd descriptions, just to see how she will interpret them. One that comes to mind is when I asked her to colour something like “Purpled pools of wine on top of a moon touched crest.”
5. Why a mute character (in Faye)? That's an interesting place to start from with a new character, especially in the opening dream sequence.
A: For the most part it was for the challenge. However, there is a little bit of myself injected into Faye in that regard. I have ‘Central Auditory Processing Disorder’, and when I was growing up everyone talked gibberish. I could not speak myself when I was little. I couldn't even say my own name until I was six years old. That being said, silence and the frustration that comes along with it is something I can relate to in a character.
As a third note; it is a key point to the plot. Though that won't make any sense at the current point in the story, it will within the next few chapters. The dream sequence as well, will be very relevant to the pending adventure.
6. As a follow up, did you always imagine she would be mute? Was there ever a version of the story where she could speak?
A: There was never a version where she could speak; but there was a version where her thoughts were overlaid in the dream sequence. I eventually decided to scrap that idea, and made the decision that her thoughts will never be portrayed in a bubble.
I've decided to leave her thoughts up to the reader, based on the scene around her and her interactions with the world. There will sometimes be ‘guides’ where she writes to other characters to contribute to a decision; but what's going through her mind will always be somewhat of a mystery.
7. Accel is the other “main” protagonist of the story. He seems like a well-intentioned, if occasionally clueless, character (in a loveable, humorous way). Was that on purpose? How did you come up with/develop the Accel character?
A: Though Accel is more traveled than Faye; he has been sheltered from the world in a very different way. This for the most part was on purpose, but it is also something that came very organic to his character. The character of Accel was heavily inspired and influenced by a friend of Andrew and I, Jake.
Having Accel as the second protagonist, we are left with two characters that have the ability to grow together and lead the viewers through the story. Accel is also very willing to speak where Faye cannot, which will help the flow of the story when they find themselves in tricky situations.
8. Is Amya completely written or is it still being developed, storywise?
A: The rough manuscript of Amya is almost fully written at this point. All that is left is the last few chapters - which are as always, the hardest to write. It's always hard to close the book with an ending that will satisfy both yourself, and the readers.
9. Do you have other projects in mind for the future, either in addition to Amya or following its conclusion?
A: Amya is going to be about 13 chapters long, so there is still a fair bit of time to pass before I work on my next project; but I do have one on mind. I sometimes dally with the idea of starting the script. Doing mini comics alongside the Amya story is something we have toyed with; but it likely won't happen for a while yet.
10. What are some things you'd like readers to know about you or the Amya webcomic that hasn't already been touched on in this interview?
A: If I could say anything to my readers; it's that you are in for some big surprises. The next two chapters are going to reveal what the heart of the adventure is; and at this point I don't expect that anyone is anticipating it.
I would also like to thank my readers for all of the support I have received; your encouragement always manages to push me onwards when things get rough.
dueeast interviews Aelwyn, of Amya!
skoolmunkee at 9:38AM, Dec. 10, 2010
last edited on July 14, 2011 3:44PM
Aelwyn at 8:51AM, Dec. 12, 2010
last edited on July 14, 2011 10:46AM
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