Friday, May 20, 2016

Backstage Pass May: Kory Bing

Here's Your Pass!
Let's Go Backstage And Meet

Kory Bing!

Kory Bing was born three days before Halloween in 1984 and she’s always held a small grudge against her mother for not holding out until Halloween because that would have been just so cool. She was named after a Harry Chapin song but her parents made up the spelling because they liked the letter “K” more than the letter “C”. After growing up in a river valley outside of a small town populated with 600 people, she moved two hours south and lived in the Ozarks for a few years, and now she lives in Portland, Oregon with all the other cool kids.

She lives with her husband Ben, a wonderful cook with an awesome Czech surname, and their stupid black cat Eisenhower, who isn’t very bright, but we’ll forgive him.

Main Project: Skin Deep, a comic based on the ideas that the idea that things are often more than they seem, and that it is easy to hide secrets when nobody is expecting them.

Other Hobbies and Obsessions

Weird history, paleoart, practical movie special effects, Disneyland

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

I come from a very art-focused family so wanting to be an artist was never seen as strange, like a lot of my other cartoonist friends have experienced. My grandfather was a portrait artist and my grandmother illustrated children’s books, my uncle is painter, and two other uncles are graphic artists, my parents were professional weavers for many years, and my sister is a graphic designer, too! So if anything, it’s actually kind of intimidating being another artist in this family, there’s a lot to live up to!

I was never much into comics as a kid, but I was (and still am) obsessed with animation, and I feel like a lot of my style and storytelling voice comes from that. I came to comics mostly because animation is a huge group effort and I generally prefer to work alone. Comics are a great way to tell a visual story and also something you can make on your own, if you so wish.

What media and programs do you work in to produce your project?

I work almost exclusively digital these days! I’ve been trying to learn new programs, but I’m most comfortable with Photoshop.

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

A comic page usually takes me around three days to make. I pencil on one day, ink on the second day, and color on the third. Sometimes if I am going quickly I can ink and color or pencil and ink on one day, but I generally spread it out over three days. Inking is my favorite part, I can just kind of turn my brain off and get a lot of work done, it’s very soothing!

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 try to have a script done before I start drawing the comic, but it’s never set in stone, and if I feel like something would work better while I’m drawing it I can change it pretty easily. I don’t generally thumbnail, although sometimes I do if it’s a particularly tricky scene and I need to thumbnail out several pages at once. So I guess you could say it’s kind of a combination between scripting and flying by the seat of my pants. I’d like to have more scripted out in advance, though, but that’s not usually how things work out for me.

You use an amazing of mythology and history in your work and I've yet to see you misstep on it. You take concepts that are usually handled horribly and get them exactly right. So my question is this: how do you go about researching ideas you'd like to use in your work? Do your ideas grow from your reading, or do you get ideas and then research them? What are some of your most reliable research sources?

Gosh thank you! I’ve tried very hard to do my research on various mythical creatures, cultures, customs, and history before it makes it into a comic. Luckily, I enjoy reading up on mythology and folklore, and it’s a lot of fun sharing what I’ve learned with others! Mythology is difficult sometimes, especially mythology from cultures that aren’t yours. You have to be very careful when dipping into folklore you’re not very familiar with, as a lot of it tends to have religious and spiritual links that you might not be aware of until you’ve already made a big, offensive mistake. Skin Deep tends to stick to European/Western mythology primarily because it is what I am most familiar with, and I can be reasonably comfortable knowing that I won’t be offending anyone’s beliefs if I make a character a gryphon or a satyr. I have been trying harder lately to include other cultures and myths, but I want to make sure I do it right!
It is very easy to misstep. Luckily I have great friends who are able to take a second look at my work and let me know if I’m making any mistakes before the script makes it to a finished comic. And there are several examples of older comics that I’ve done that if I were writing them today I would have definitely done differently, and I make no claims that I’ve handled everything perfectly so far. But my only hope is that I can continue to learn from mistakes and improve as time goes on.

Your work is also some of the most consistent and continuous on the net. What has kept you drawing during the hard times? What advice do you have for other artists on keeping at it?

Wow, thank you again! That’s really reassuring to hear, especially right now since the comic is on the longest hiatus it’s ever been on in it’s nearly 10 year lifespan. Honestly, having to get a page a week done every week has been the main driving force in keeping up with the comic. If I could I’d love to do MORE! I want to tell this story very badly! Knowing I have an audience that can’t wait to read the comic helps me push through the hard or bad pages for the sake of keeping the story flowing. If I have a bad day or draw a bad page, I know that I can do better with the next page and keep pushing forward.

What’s the most difficult part of your work?

Making money, I guess. Not knowing where your next paycheck will be coming from is really stressful, and it’s hard to work through that stress on bad days. When working with such a long-form story it’s difficult to see the finish line and it’s easy to fall into anxious “what am I even doing” spirals.

You're one of the biggest successes on the indie webcomic markets, and you have some really great merch. What advice do you have for newbies learning to merch their work and/or self publish? Where did you misstep when you started?

I don’t really think you can misstep too badly when you start out, unless you start out thinking you’re going to be mega successful right off the bat, because that rarely ever happens! Skin Deep has been going for almost ten years now, and it was only a couple years ago that I was able to go full-time with it. I’ve seen a lot of people start a comic and have a huge shop full of merch before they even have 5 pages of comics! Focus on the comic first, then the merch ideas will come!

How much of a buffer did you like to keep?

Hahahahahaha. Gosh I’ve tried to keep a buffer since I started my comic. I’ve never been good at it. If I’m lucky I might get a week or two ahead, but that buffer never lasts very long.

What message do you hope readers take away from your work?

It’s never too late to learn new things!

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

I really don’t know what else to do at this point! I’ve been working on this story for so long I can’t imagine stopping before it’s over! I gotta finish it!

Rock on Kory Bing, it was great chatting with you!

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