Show # 45 - [ profile] drderanged - In Depth Continued

Oct. 21st, 2008 04:12 am
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penpusher: Ok then we're back with Doc, and I didn't specifically ask about that nickname.

penpusher: Is it just a play on your real name or is there some Seven Dwarfs connection or something?

drderanged: The Doc part comes straight from my name. I'm also a Junior, so my dad had that nickname too. As for the Deranged part, it really goes back to my sense of humor. And I'm sure I got the idea to combine the two based on my childhood hero -- Dr. Doom.

drderanged: The nickname goes back almost 20 years. So that era is getting grayer by the day.

penpusher: So on the billboard, you're a writer first, cartoonist second. Is that how it is?

drderanged: That's how I think of it, yes. I've always been a writer. Usually short stories and various flights of fancy that I've had for as long as I can remember.

penpusher: Cartooning is really more a method of storytelling.

drderanged: Yes, it many ways it's a natural progression. I'm stubbornly confident in my writing abilities. Now I'm just taking it into a new area with new challenges.

penpusher: Where would you like to go with this? A filmed cartoon? A comic book or syndicated strip?

drderanged: I believe that I can make this a successful enterprise one day. Successful in that I'd like to do this for a living. I enjoy it that much. The things you mentioned are lofty goals that I don't devote much run-time to. First things first, you know. But if I'm going to let myself dream, an animated series would be a dream come true.

drderanged: I'd like to avoid syndication though. Syndication is the death of creativity.

penpusher: Mm. Is it the factory-like churn out of product that ruins it?

drderanged: Yeah. The fact that mass-syndication, say for newspapers, has to be sanitized to the point where it's just boring. Half of the Every Day Is Halloween cast couldn't make it into a newspaper. I just don't see my version of the Headless Horseman flying in the local Tribune.

penpusher: It seems there is a difficult line between art and commerce and that's even more hard to handle in cases like this.

drderanged: Some of the best known syndicated strip creators will tell you that they aren't in it to tell a story or be entertaining. They're a business. And you keep it nice and fluffy and well exposed to keep the dollars coming in.

penpusher: So there is more than one type of strip creator.

drderanged: We're as diverse as the strips themselves.

penpusher: Ultimately though, the business wins out because it's a job. The compromise is taken for the sake of staying in print.

drderanged: Yes. As a "starving artist", I can certainly appreciate the business aspect. It's just not what I want to do.

penpusher: What's the most important element of a strip, do you think?

drderanged: The writing/story. It's a visual medium but some of the best web comics out there are stick figure based. But they're ingenius and people respond to that. The Order of the Stick and XKCD aren't the most visually appealing but they have legions of followers because they're genuinely entertaining.

penpusher: So story first. It goes back to writing first.

drderanged: For web comics, yes. In the world of comic books that are $3 a pop, no.

penpusher: Oh? What's the difference there? You have to have great visual art.

drderanged: The great story will get people to keep paying $3 a month for a comic book. The great art is what gets them to pick up the book in the first place. It's easy to experiment on if-y art online where it only costs you time. But if you put out a product on the comic shelf with mediocre art, no-one will ever know what a fantastic story you have inside because it's ugly.

penpusher: But at that point you have a team of artists drawing, right? Of course you're splitting your three dollars a hundred ways to make that work.

drderanged: Yeah, you have the penciller and the inker and the fluffer... and whoever else it takes. I believe the key difference is money. You won't pay money for an ugly comic book but you might actually read an ugly looking web comic for free. And in the case of xkcd, odds are you'll be hooked on the cleverness and won't care what it looks like.

penpusher: How do you develop an audience? Is it just by being outrageous or is there another element?

drderanged: I had an inspirational page-a-day calendar once that said in order to be successful, you have to do something, "first, best or different". I believe in that wisdom. As for building an audience, I'll be glad to answer that question one day when I've built an audience. haha

penpusher: So... that begs the question, what's first, best or different about your derangements?

drderanged: I think I definitely have the best comic about misfit monsters trapped in the real world out there. hehe But seriously, my main template is to write what makes me laugh. And I just follow my own gut instinct.

penpusher: That's probably a good idea, because if you don't like your own strip, it becomes hard labor.

drderanged: Yes. It becomes another job. And it's felt like that sometimes. Usually during those low inspiration points I mentioned earlier.

penpusher: Do you want to talk at all about your "other" job? Or are you going Bruce Wayne on that? Or is that the "Bastard" part of the equation?

drderanged: You know, I think I'll leave that one alone. I had the well-paying hell-hole corporate job that I quit almost a year ago. And I'm still in transition. I'm not flipping burgers or anything. There's just not much there to talk about.

penpusher: Understood. So, is there a personal favorite cartoon for you, or a favorite character you feel is close to you personally?

drderanged: Of my own?

penpusher: Yes. From one of your strips.

drderanged: The very first story arc for Stellar Worlds was about how the moon landings were faked and the levity that ensued behind the scenes on the set. Quite possibly my favorite moment of all is when Neil Armstrong spiked a football on the moon and grabbed his crotch because the US beat Russia to the moon.

penpusher: Somehow, I would have guessed Buzz Aldrin would have done that...

drderanged: Haha! The director told him to reign it in a little and stick to the strip for the final cut.

penpusher: It's all about the element of surprise.

drderanged: That's a big part of it. We know how it all really went down. Now I play "imagine what it would be like if..."

drderanged: ... if you had divas on the set. Or that the whole thing was one big party.

penpusher: You could riff on that concept for weeks alone.

drderanged: "Sorry sir, we couldn't afford to get any stars for the set."

drderanged: "Ah, that's ok. Who will notice?"

penpusher: Haha. Television.

penpusher: So, do you constantly think about the things that happen to you and how they'll fit into a strip concept? I mean, the way people think about how things will fit into a blog entry!

drderanged: Oh God yes. It becomes a reflex. You start imagining how that conversation you just had with your buddy will fit into a panel. And who gets the punchline. And you're right, before the comic -- it was "would this make a good LJ post?" haha

penpusher: I can see how this could become an obsession.

drderanged: Oh yeah. And do I need to do something crazy so this post will have a good punchline? I'm sick. I need help. haha

penpusher: Your webpage is kind of an anthology of several comics, but do you have a regular schedule or just go with whatever is at the frontal lobe that day?

drderanged: Part of what keeps me from getting bored is the schedule I keep. I have a gnat-like attention span most of the time. So, I'll do a story arc for one series and then I may hop to another series to keep it fresh for me. I can understand how that is frustrating for a reader but I figure that it's better I do that and give you comics than to get bored and not give you any comics at all.

penpusher: Right so it's kind of a smorgasbord of what you'll get when you show up there.

drderanged: Yes. You never know what's coming next! That's how I like to sell it, anyway.

penpusher: But it's almost Halloween. Is that going to affect the characters in your "Every Day is Halloween" strip somehow?

drderanged: Every Day Is Halloween's second anniversary is on Halloween actually. And my timeline is different than real life. The characters in the strip are just now hitting Thanksgiving after being stuck here for a month.

drderanged: It's hard to explore the misfit angle if time passed the same as in real life.

penpusher: Oh I thought I was reading the strip archive when I saw that.

drderanged: Nope. The current story arc is about H. P. Luvnstuf's first Thanksgiving.

penpusher: I knew that character looked familiar.

drderanged: I took the best elements of H.R. Puffnstuf and H.P. Lovecraft for my unholy creation.

penpusher: Very fine.

drderanged: Kind of like playing Frankenstein.

penpusher: Well, you have the right moniker.

drderanged: I love it when a plan comes together.

penpusher: Time for a final break and we'll put the bolts in Doc, next.

drderanged: Whoo!
drderanged: I'm going to freshen my drink real quick.
penpusher: np

Continue to Segment Four


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