Friday, October 2, 2015

Backstage Pass October: Lukas Draxl

Somebody's Waiting To Meet You Backstage!

Once He's Had His Coffee, Meet Lukas  Draxl!

So, What Do You Work On?

That'd be

If you'd like to take a look, check it:

Other Hobbies and Obsessions

Gaming and attending conventions whenever possible. And of course,

So, tell me about your early experience. How did you fall in love with telling stories in pictures?

Well, as a kid I already scribbled on and over everything I could find, but that applies to almost every artist I suppose. Once I got wind of the mere existence of comics, I decided to give it a shot myself. I would actually draw entire comic books, mostly about video games I used to play back then and mash 'em up with some other stuff I was into at the time, which included a Worms/Bionicles crossover at some point. No joke. I wish I'd still have those, come to think of it. I like looking back at older works and see my progression in action so to speak.
So anyway, I started creating comics when I got my first job at a local museum as a guard. Needless to say it was boring as all nobs, so I began bringing a sketchbook with me, paying attention to visitors and sketching them. It dawned on me that everyday life can be pretty damn funny when you look at it through the lens of a bored dude, so I started scribbling strips and actively developing a style that would be easy to draw, yet pleasant to look at. I used the (admittedly limited) programming skills I acquired in my education as a graphic designer to build a small website and started drawing comics, one strip a week every Tuesday. I kept updating the website when and wherever I could, got better at both drawing and programming, got a better job as a graphic designer and just last year I managed to increase my output to two strips a week. So …. yeah. What started as a means to carry me over a boring day of guarding paintings soon developed into a rather successful strip. Nothing massive like PvP, but with a very dedicated core fanbase nonetheless, of which I'm rather proud :)

Can you tell me about your typical day or drawing session? How does your working process flow?

A typical drawing session usually takes place after a long day at work (and a few hours of dicking around on social media and catching up with my favourite webcomics. I usually start drawing every Monday and Thursday around 7 or 8 pm. Late, I know. But my work (and, admittedly, my laziness) doesn't allow me to start any sooner. Oh well.
Anyway, from scribbling to finishing the shading, I usually draw for two to three, sometimes even four hours straight and follow very specific steps, which I'll elaborate on in your next question, which iiiiiiis ...

Does your production process for a finished piece follow specific steps?

Yes, yes it does. Very specific steps in fact. Honestly, I only settled on my current workflow about a year ago.
So anyway, I always start by laying out my speech bubbles, so I won't use up too much space or have to cover my artwork with dialogue, an incredibly useful trick I only figured out after reading How to make Webcomics (I could still punch myself for not thinking of that sooner), a book that I wholeheartedly recommend to every webcomic artist, beginner or not.
Either way, after that's done, I knock down the visibility of the dialogue layer to see what I'm drawing underneath. Then I start scribbling panel by panel, followed by inks, then flats, then shading and last but not least, by translating the English dialogue into German on a duplicate text layer. I save each version as a jpg, upload it to my cloud storage in order to upload it to my website from work over my morning coffee the next day.
 Every single strip I draw follows this workflow. Since I've got multiple subseries of strips (Actual Conversations with my Girlfriend, Fun with Hitler, Mave, whathaveyou) that all start with a different opening panel, I've set up panel templates to help me save some time. That's also the reason why almost every strip follows the same panel layout. This also helps me automate many processes like automatically creating thumbnails for my archive and restructuring the strip for Tapastic via auto actions in Manga Studio. I streamlined my workflow as much as possible as you can see.

What media do you work in to produce your project?

I work exclusively with digital media these days – to be more specific, I use Manga Studio 5 on a Yiynova MSP19u+ on my PC and on a Surface Pro 3 on travels. I've grown very fond of those tools, to the point where working in physical media feels rather awkward to me these days.

Can you tell me about your storytelling process? Do you prefer to script your stories, fly by the seat of your pants, or somewhere in between?

I script my storylines with the help of a good friend of mine (Spike aka Ezekiel Rage, who writes his comics over at, but I single-shot gag comics I usually come up with a day or so before. Whenever I can think of something funny, I usually write it down on my memo app on my phone or somewhere else; I usually end up throwing away half my notes and rewrite the other half. Either way, it usually works out fine.

As a gag-a-day writer, do you worry about having enough jokes to get you through your weekly quota?

Yeah, that's definitely something I worry about a lot. Working a 9 to 5 in a creative business certainly taxes ones motivation and tends to burn one out a little bit. That's why I write down every brainfart I possibly can, no matter whether or not it makes it into a comic – if one doesn't work out that well, I can still possibly rewrite it.

How much of a buffer do you like to keep?

Aaaaaaaahahahahahahahahaa, that's a good one.

Oh, wait, you're serious.

Damn. I'd like to keep a buffer, really, but my job doesn't really leave me much room to draw buffer comics. Oh well. My current process works pretty well so far.

There’s been a lot of discussion about where the line should be drawn in terms of good taste and the cartooning world lately. As a writer, do you ever self edit your humor for fear of alienating or annoying readers? How do you cope with the people who don’t agree with a particular joke?

I try to avoid overtly political topis and needlessly offensive stuff as good as possible, but if a joke doesn't work at all otherwise, I usually don't care all too much, honestly. Someone's bound to get offended by something, it's the bloody internet, social media drama is almost impossible to avoid, simply because it's easier to boil complex issues down to the most basic aspects and taking quotes out of context, stripping the discussion of all nuance. I think that's where most of the outrage culture lately comes from. Either way, I'm not fond of drawing clear lines (except with my inks, naturally). If I happen to piss off someone, I'm sorry, but I won't change a strip just because someone doesn't agree with it. Unless it's illegal of course. I'm open to constructive criticism (always was) and will consider well made points going forward, but if someone's so pissed off to the point that they can't calmly and clearly state their issue, I usually just move on without thinking too much of it.

Your friends and loved ones are the main characters of your strip; out of curiosity, how do they feel about that? How did they react when you first started ‘Piece Of Me’?

I usually ask everyone for their consent before including them in the strip – no need to start beef with family members out of a silly oversight like that. The only one I didn't ask was Hitler, for rather obvious reasons.

Has anyone told you that you'll never be a successful artist and you'd be better off studying a real field and/or getting a real job?

Yep. I had a troll when I started out. Turns out it was a forum member that nobody liked to begin with.
 Y'know, every forum has that one user that's the equivalent of a village idiot, but nobody bothers to ban the moron because his ramblings and shenanigans are kinda funny in a rather deranged way.

Either way, back then I used a comment system that I coded myself, so he tried his best to piss me off, telling me I should quit because he didn't like my drawings, even telling me I should fuck off and kill myself at one point. He did a really poor job of trying to hide his identity, but his mannerisms and choice of words were a dead giveaway. I confronted him at one point. Fruitlessly, of course. There's a reason why people keep saying 'Don't feed the trolls'
What helped was changing my own comment system with another one – facebook comments back in the day (which I replaced with Disqus to allow more people to comment without requiring a social media account). Seems like he didn't want a face attached to his slurs.

And yeah, some people told me I should get a real job. Which is hilarious, because I've already got one – a job that I love, even. So yeah … joke's on them. :P

What keeps you devoted to telling the story you’re telling?

I know this sounds cliché, but that'd be my fans, hands down. I'm not in it for the money, I intentionally don't use advertisements on my site (nobody likes ads), I only sell books on local conventions – and I rarely even break even with those sales to begin with. As I already mentioned, my comic isn't hugely popular. Which is fine by me. I'd rather have a small, civil, devoted fanbase rather than a large one. Makes it statistically easier to attract unpleasant folks. Anyway, my fans keep me motivated. My great fans who check in as soon as I upload, who share and retweet everything I post, who pick me up whenever I hit a slump. I've got incredible fans, that's for sure. And my girlfriend, too. Without her and her silly antics, the strip wouldn't be able to update nearly as often.

Thanks Lukas, for doing your work and keeping us laughing!

No comments :

Post a Comment

Drop us a line!