Aug 28, 2017
This week we interview the artist and creator of the comic Kings Club, AmeliaP! Her comic was featured and Gunwallace also gave it a theme tune that was featured in Quackcast 335. AmeliaP is a talented professional comic creator and game designer. We couldn't interview her directly because she's not confident enough in her spoken English, so what we've done instead is read out a written interview that I did with her especially for this Quackcast. Amelia has some surprising and valuable insights for comic creators. You can read the full text of her interview bellow. Gunwallace's theme for the week was for Abejitas - This tune bounces in like a wild thing, spinning and buzzing crazily, full of black striped yellow techno sweet honey madness and rapid wingbeats of energy, this will sting you into full awareness!
Topics and Show Notes
Topics and shownotes
ZINC COMIX - http://www.theduckwebcomics.com/news/2017/aug/22/featured-comic-zinc-comix/
Kings Club - http://www.theduckwebcomics.com/Kings_Club/
AmeliaP - http://www.theduckwebcomics.com/user/AmeliaP/
Quackcast 335, Kings Club theme and feature - http://www.theduckwebcomics.com/quackcast/episode-335-dialoguecast
Special thanks to:
Gunwallace - http://www.virtuallycomics.com
Banes - http://www.theduckwebcomics.com/user/Banes/
Tantz Aerine - http://www.theduckwebcomics.com/user/Tantz_Aerine/
PitFace - http://www.theduckwebcomics.com/user/PIT_FACE/
Ozoneocean - http://www.theduckwebcomics.com/user/ozoneocean
Abejitas - http://www.theduckwebcomics.com/Abejitas/, by Lazarinho, rated E.
INTERVIEW WITH AMELIA.P
1.So your name is Amelia Pessoa but you go by Amelia Woo for your US work, why is that?
-Thanks to my grandmother, who changed the surname when her family was running away from Spain, I have a Portuguese surname ahahaha!
Like any kid, I started to draw comics in manga style. One of my first jobs in inside industry was “manga”, but in that time, the audience had a rage against any Western trying to do a manga, so I chose a name from a director I grew up watching his movies, John Woo. I know, it's Chinese, not Japanese, but… it was an Eastern name at least. After that, I did some important jobs under this name, so, for publishers track me, I had to keep this. Slowly, I'm trying to be ME, and erasing this surname from industry.
2. You've had a LOT of work professionally in comic publishing, how did you break into that? I'm assuming you're Brazilian, was it hard to break into the US market from outside like that?
- My Glasshouse Graphics portfolio, Comic Vine profile and ComicDB are way too outdated. I have more works on my belt than that. After a boring experience from a 9 to 5 job in my college days, I pretty decided it wasn’t my path, so I stepped into the comics industry. I believe in the momentum, so everything I should do is just to start. But before I enter into the comics word, I searched for the easiest way to enter. There were too many barriers to writers (besides the language) and their salary was horrible… AND I didn't want to tell a story about the universe and characters from other creators. It's hard for me having the same agenda. I had to enter on it one way or another. So I improved my art skill enough to be paid for it, because I really wanted to be a professional visual storyteller. (Bachelor degree in Arts at one of the best colleges in my country, doing a lot of personal projects to train myself, all those things).
-Yeah, I'm Brazilian. Believe or not, we must be around 30% of the US comic book artistic force. Brazilians are like doppelgangers, with Italian, German, Japanese and other surnames. Even a Brazilian doesn’t know if you are Brazilian by surname (pretty different from my case. But, if wasn't for my grandma, you could think I'd be Spanish or Mexican). I found many artists I didn't know they are Brazilians before, like Greg Tocchini and others. I think it's hard to break into US market no matter the country an artist comes from. Even for a North American it's a hard task unfortunately. Many factors make this a hard task, since the unstable incoming to the social contempt. You know, most parents want your kids to grow up as a doctor, or lawyer, etc. Parents encourage their children to get into Arts (or writing) as a hobby usually.
CONTINUE IN PART II
3. What was your first professional comic?
-I have a double debut, a one shot at Yaoi Press (yeah, it was my first manga experience. Yaoi… not my cup of tea, but, hey, I like to see “Bara” guys in beautiful drawings) and some pages in The Avengers (special edition to military forces).
4. How long have you been in the industry?
-About 12 years.
5. Is it hard work?
-Hell YEAH! This isn't for weaklings. You have to work under pressure (if you don't meet the deadline day, that super expensive booth from your client will suffer). Long hours working keeps you away from other people (between 10 to 16 hours daily, rare days off). Plus, the financial instability makes an artist a financial wizard… or a control freak of his/her own finances. No health insurance in the Americas (different from Germany, the Estate gives a health insurance for a certified artist). It isn’t a glamorous life people think it is. But, I prefer to endure all those things than staying in a job I don't have a slight affinity.
6. Why did you embark on a videogame version of your work? Please tell us about the game.
- Games are my passion, since my childhood. I think it's one of the greatest media you can tell a story, because the player has a feedback in real time, in a deep layer.
Also, I'm a hardcore gamer, but being a player and being a developer are two different things. After testing the waters, I discovered I like it much more than playing a game. My preferred genre is the third person shooter, and I was pretty unsatisfied about the games with the same gameplay being reproduced over and over again. So I had a vision. After I established the main gameplay, I thought about using one of my ready-to-use stories, and Kings Club fits well. So I polished the gameplay from the idea and I finished with something like that:
PC Third Person Adventure Shooter with 4 general skills and a cover system in a Non-Linear Open Level, facing the enemies on your own terms and pace. This first mission takes on Mexico. The player has to discover where the narcos are, taking them off the hideouts, picking a fight or provoking them until they lead to their leader. Exploration and combat mixed into an experimental hybrid game genre.
The player skills are based on playing card suits
Hearts = Stealth/Infiltration
Spades = Assault
Club = Escape/Extraction
Diamonds = Protection/ Scout
The player character will be announced in the last chapter of the comic book (that’s why I’m rushing to finish the Graphic Novel and go back to the game. I’m dealing with a limited time; I'm still a comic book artist as my day job).
Before focusing on the Graphic Novel, I was building the levels to send to testers before exposing it to the public. (The internet is a goddamn viral thing. If you put an ugly video from your game any place online, it can be spread and your first time to impress will be compromised. I saw it happen to some game dev buddies of mine, with people downloading their WIP videos and posting online. It isn’t fair…).
7. What kind of work are you doing on the game? Did you have to learn any new skills to be able to do it?
-Other than music/soundtrack/voices, everything. From programming to animation. I'm still in solo production; it's a small, indie and a short introductory game in the series, no big shot here. This first game is a practice to understand the players, the marketing (and how to deal with big operations in the future) and test my skills as game designer and level designer. I just want to know where areas I’m a failure and in what areas I have to hire new members for the next game. I can finish the first game in solo mode, but I'm not sure if I want to. Slowly, I'm changing my mind and considering bringing investors to build a small team after I finish the demo. After the demo game launching, I’ll be sure of what path I have to take.
-I did. A LOT of them. I still think one of the HARDEST things a person can do is a video game. So many hats to use…
I past 5 years studying HOW to do a game before thinking about doing one. And, the basic skills. Now I'm putting the things together, I have to bring testers to adjust the gameplay rhythm. Game devs say you must have a tester for the day one usually. But I had to learn how to make a functional game before someone test it.
8. Why did you choose Drunk Duck to host the Kings Club on? And what did you think if the theme music that Gunwallce did for it? What's the story behind your potato avatar? :)
- When I decided Kings Club would be digital-first, I started to search for cool webcomics hosting. I was shocked I didn't find a place where a non-manga esque title could find its audience. The internet is totally dominated by its visual style (I like manga too, but guys, c'mon! It's like a zombie attack!). I was desolated… Ironic, isn't it? My agent oriented me I had to adapt myself or I wouldn't survive in the early days. He was right! In the “printed realm”, if I hadn't adapted myself from manga to something more naturalist/stylized realist, my career would have sunk. And online, we have this. I was unmotivated to release Kings Club online and almost contacting publishers and some buddy editors to a printed edition, forgetting going digital-first… When I remembered Drunk Duck. A decade ago, or so, before being a comic book professional, I was a DD member. No bullshit, but this was the place which motivated me to follow a professional path. Here was the place I exercised my art (I did a fanzine at that time, that's about Warcraft, ugh). I mirror Kings Club to other hosting, but Drunk Duck is one of my favorites, considering a house for Kings Club. One of the reasons I like Drunk Duck is because there are readers and creators with a wide taste here (well, I read ALL comics, Eastern and Western, so I don't understand limited preferences to visual style. For me, the story comes first).
-The theme he did was PERFECT! With an urban and gritty touch, love it!I found it so amazing that I asked his permission to add this theme in the game. He was so nice he only didn't ask for payment or royalties and gave me the permission, as he offered me a rearrange in the theme if is necessary.
-“Even when something is considered low quality, this thing can produce cool results” or “Never, ever, underestimate someone”. It's a letter of love to indie production ^^ (And it's a real photo I took from a potato with a toy military helmet, because it had to be a real thing!).
CONTINUE IN PART III
9. What are the materials and or programs that you use to make your art?
-My Wacom Intuos Pro, Photoshop CS2 (old stuff), Sculptris, Blender and an old version of 3DS MAX. I'm goddamn fast 3D modeler and I take advantage of it, doing some background with 3D (and sometimes, I do “freehand”, it depends how many times a background will be present in the story. I modeled N.Y. Central Park Belvedere castle in some hours when it was present in an entire issue of Gates of Midnight. It saved me days and days of work). But, my “analogical” arsenal is: pen, pencil, paper, brush and ink (my favorite technique). If I have to color on paper, I like acrylic, gouache and watercolor. I love Prismacolor markers too.
10. Do you prefer analogue or digital methods of comic creation? .e. pen and ink VS a Wacom tablet and a computer.
- Despite being faster on paper and ink, I prefer a digital way to save paper and storage space.
11. How long does it take you to make a comic page?
-It depends on the genre and audience my client is aiming for. When it demands a crazy detailed artwork, it took me around 2 days to finish a page. For my simplified and neo noir Kings Club comic, it took around 1 to 3 hours (but much more time to think how the page will look like).
12. What is your comic making process like? i.e. coming up with a script, plots, characters etc,. How does creation a comic for yourself differ for your professional jobs.
-Like a bull in a China shop hahaha! For publishers, I read the script and start to walk around my house, thinking and evoking images in my mind before going to paper. I try to remember all references the audience is used to the thing I'm working and extract something they can be related to, but done on my way. After that, I start the thumbnails, defining the composition and keeping the author's storytelling in mind. Then, I do the layout, when it's a new client, or I go to the inking part if it's a client who already knows me and my modus operandi. I do the thing and wait for the editor follow-up. If I have the greenlight, I send the high resolution to the editor, if not; I fix what have to be fixed. Usually I don't have to change a drawing more than 2 times, with the most of part doing no changing in the drawing. It sounds methodical, but as I said, it's like a bull in a china shop, with all those steps happening at once, in high speed in my mind. Sometimes I stop everything and study another technique to improve the results, simply.
When I’m creating my own comic, it's an entirely different story. That's the moment I AM the storyteller. My steps to create this Graphic Novel were:
-World creation, followed by characters creation, polishing the background first. Everything had to be connected, for me. Establishment of the visual part.
-Some research from real to fictional events to thicken the story. Book time! (Blackwater and Rainbow Six were two different examples used as documentary and fiction work I'm referring to).
-Breaking plot to arcs
-Check the consistency
-Breaking arcs to scenes
-Check the pace, overhauling the ideas
-Breaking scenes to micro points, dealing with dialogues
-Come back again and adjust the pace, having the whole picture in mind.
- Thumbnails associated with the script, checking the scenes rhythm while I'm doing the whole chapter. Sometimes I have to change something in a previous chapter or in the next chapter to create a solid link.
-Draw! Directly to the digital paper, with minimum sketching.
- Lettering (sometimes I check again the dialogue here, changing it. I like to see how it looks like after everything was set up).
-Wrap it and happy time to publish online (a sort of. Because I have to slice the pages and dialogues to make a mobile version).
YEAH! Game development had a great impact in the way I organize a story. I became an organized bastard.
13. What's in the future for the Kings Club? Will you publish it as is, do a film treatment and sell the rights, release it though a publisher or self publish and sell it that way?
- This first Graphic Novel will establish Kings Club series future. I don't like the way I’m doing it now, as a print format and digital format at the same time. An online comic and printed comics can't be treated in the same way. At least, I can't! I saw two different beasts here. It can work for other creators, but not for me. Digital and printed-version, I’m testing test both. I don't want to kill the online version after the first Graphic Novel, even with a printed version, but testing the two versions will give me the necessary feedback to check what the most well received version is.
I have some tricks up my sleeve (and an agent) and I'll use it to find a good publishing house for Kings Club. I don't want to do it by myself. I prefer someone helping me with the promotion. I have a game to finish, and a comic publisher will save me some time. I'll bring on board an (famous) editor buddy, who I worked with before, to edit this first Graphic Novel (surprise, surprise. it'll be revealed later).
It's interesting a movie being mentioned because I have more contact with this kind of thing than many artists could have, but, I never been thought about a movie. Well, if a contract comes to me; fine! But when I created Kings Club, I had only the comic in mind; the game is being a nice bonus for this IP.
Apr 17, 2017
Photocomics don't get nearly enough love. A while ago Banes did a great newspost on the subject where he did some great little promotional reviews of some prominent photocomics on DD. I thought that was a cool idea and I've been meaning to return to the subject for a while. In this Quackcast Pitface and I use funny voices to talk about photocomics. But what ARE photocomics? Well the artist sets up models, toys, artwork, or themselves, and shoots photos of them in certain scenes in order to create a narrative. Later on they'll edit those together in something like Photoshop, adding captions and word bubbles and basically turning them into a conventional comic. People like Bravo1102 go the extra mile to construct elaborate sets and shoot the entire comic as you would a film, taking photos out of sequence because sets have to be broken up and new ones constructed. He even does greenscreen! Gunwallace and and Kdog buy special sets of Playmobile or Space Lego in order to expand and continue their elaborate stories. Trevor Mueller used himself and his friends as models. VinoMas creates really cool artworks out of collage. Rawdale uses stock photos to create his political commentary comics. Sameth uses Superhero figurines… there are so many approaches to the concept. Bellow I've linked a few examples to check out! The music for this week by Gunwallace is for Neander Chan, it's the primal beat of life! This is an utterly danceable sound, driving syncopated rhythm travels up your nerves and down deep into your bones, spiky, distorted electric guitar adds a touch of lyricism.
Jan 23, 2017
Jerky, jerk, jerks! Let's talk about this type of character… This topic is based on Banes' newspost from Thursday, he based it on characters like Reggie from the Archie comics. Jerks can be pretty good characters in their own right. They can be villains, heroes, antagonists or protagonists, they can even be unintentional jerks like Scrappy do from Scooby Do, Alf from Alf, or Jar Jar Binks from that horrible movie he was in. My favourite jerks are Flashman from the Flashman novels by George MacDonald (you should read them!), Blackadder (particularly the second season), and Zaphod Beeblebrox who I'm cosplaying in the cover pic. Who are your fave and least fave jerks? Gunwallace's musical theme was for The Epic of Blitzov. It's Riff based hard rock, driving beat, heavy, distorted guitars layered over and over with a thunderous yet lyrical lead floating over the top. Orange and black sound.
Jan 16, 2017
Patriotism, flags, nationalism, religion, politics, national symbols hijacked by racists! These are some of the unique aspects of our cultural identity and national differences we chat about on this quackcast. I was inspired by HippieVan's newspost on Friday (about Cultural identity and how it defines our writing), to dive further into the subject of cultural differences. We all share the illusion of a single, global culture, but there are regional differences for all of us that mean we don't see things the same way, and often some of the stuff we mean in our comics is influenced by where we come from in a way that people from elsewhere would never quite get in the same way. We chatted about how the use and wearing of national flags is very different depending on what country you're in. For example, in the USA proudly displaying the national flag is seen as normal and mundane, while elsewhere displaying the national flag can be seen as a sign of extreme conservatism or militant nationalism. Wearing the US flag in most countries is seen as something of a fashion statement, a very commercial one; wearing the flag of the USSR is seen as a statement of ironic rebellion; wearing the Union Jack is punk; but wearing the flag of your own country in Australia, Greece, Canada, Cambodia etc (and many other places) is seen as a gauche statement of too-overt patriotism, even though wearing the flags of the USA, USSR or UK is perfectly acceptable. These and other interesting facets of culture are what we chatted about. Gunwallace's musical theme was for Ayla Speaker For The Dead, it's a sad, sepulchral, grieving dirge-like requiem, with an uncomfortable sting of evil jazzy trumpet.
Jan 9, 2017
Chekhov's gun is the principal (as I understand it), that if you have some item, fact or piece of information introduced into your story that you draw specific attention to, then you'd better use it some how later on in your story. The simplest example is a gun: if it appears as a prop lying around in your story AND you draw attention to it, then by the end of the tale it should have gone off. This is because you've set up the parameters for your story in the mind of your audience and they develop certain expectations, if you confound those then they'll be disappointed and think that your story was poor. Having a “gun” on stage isn't so important here, it's the fact that you drew attention to it somehow. It doesn't have to “go off” either, as long as it plays a role in the story somehow. You can trick the audience very easily with these sorts of devices, making them think one item or piece of information will be vitally important, only to make it important in a way they wouldn't expect or to use it to hide the fact that some other thing was important instead. So that's our topic of conversation today! All based off of Tantz's newspost on Saturday. Gunwallace's musical theme was for Grow Up. It's repetitive, relaxing, punk reggae instrumental, with fuzz guitar. A lazy evening on a warm summer beach.
Dec 19, 2016
Today we talk about works of pop-culture that have an obvious political agenda, so obvious that t not only gets in the way of the entertainment but also dictates to the audience without letting them have a chance to come to their own conclusions: forcing you to see things only one way. Even when we agree with the agenda being presented it can still strike a sour chord, often more-so since they're preaching to the choir and usually just throwing a badly simplified version of the philosophy at you, which can feel insulting. So that's what we chat about. Those views can come from ANY political persuasion, the right the left, communism, fascism, socialism, libertarianism whatever. No one has a monopoly on ideologues. We became overtly political towards the end… Sorry for that. HAHAHA. Do we practise what we preach? HELLS NO! I have to apologise again for the terrible sound quality of my voice recording. I thought I'd fixed the settings from last week, but I was wrong. I HAVE now though. Gunwallace's musical theme was for Grunk - cocktail bar samba played on a church organ. The music of heaven! Cheesy heaven. You can imagine fat angels in hawaiian shirts swanning about drunkenly and spilling their margaritas.
Oct 5, 2016
In this happy season of October we come to that time of year again when Banes starts to get excited by Halloween! This year his idea was for us all to do a real time DVD commentary for The Burbs, that great comedy horror film staring the famous Tom Hanks, from back in 1989 when he was still a hilarious leading man and not a super serious drama guy. We all LOVE this movie, it's very funny, with a lot of cool twists and great scenes. Along with Tom Hanks it stars Princess Leia AKA Carrie Fischer, dudeman Corey Feldman, and Bruce Dern being Dale Gribble before Dale Gribble was even a thing! Pitface, Tantz, Banes and I all talk along to and over the movie as it's playing. To enjoy the FULL effect I strongly suggest you find a copy of The Burbs on a legal streaming site, or less than legal one depending on your ethics, or maybe even a DVD or old video! Pop it on and spoil the movie by listening to us all blather away together, it'll be just like watching the movie WITH us! And wouldn't you like that? I'm sure you would, we're all very friendly people. ;) Our feature AND the music by Gunwallace this week is for the same comic, “Useless”. The theme is atmospheric and haunting, lightened with the strains of a singing, melodic electric guitar.
Aug 22, 2016
Comedy anti-heroes are a great deal of fun. My faves are characters like Tankgirl and Flashman; they can be selfish, greedy, violent, lustful, out for their own needs first but they still manage to do the “right” thing and vanquish the bad guy along the way regardless, or a character like George Costanza from Seinfeld who's jealous, pathetic, cowardly and greedy but we still love him anyway because identify with him and root for him against the unloving forces of the universe. To be a GOOD comedy anti-hero you have to keep the audience on their side though and that can be a tricky balancing act, you have to surf a number of factors (especially in a long running project), since to actually BE an anti-hero they need to have things about them that an audience would normally despise, these need to be counteracted by things like sympathy and pathos, traits we strongly identify with, intelligence, luck, charm, humour, sexiness, coolness, allowing them to win sometimes, or even redeeming some of their anti-hero behaviours occasionally. Get that balance wrong and they can so easily completely lose audience favour and sour the rest of the story/show/film. Pitface, Tantz, and Banes weigh in on this with me. And there are more opinions in the forum thread from which this evolved. Gunwallace's musical theme this week was for Pestilent. It's thoughtful, haunting, reminds me a little of a classic horror film soundtrack. Pretty scary!