Friday, September 23, 2016

Backstage Pass September: Rosi Kampe

Psst! I Snagged Us A Pass!

Come On, Keep Up! Let's Go Meet

Rosi Kämpe!

Rosi Kämpe, or 'Toherrys', as you pen your art handle, it's so great to get to chat with you. So, tell us a bit about yourself?

To be honest my main comic project right now is drawing a series for Top Cow, but my main personal project is Unknown Lands or on Tapastic: or even Smackjeeves:

Other Hobbies and Obsessions

Comics rule my life so they are my work and only hobby, heh. But I am obsessed with reading up on various mythologies and pagan beliefs and practices, although most of that is for Unknown Lands so... yea, comics rule everything.So, tell me about your early experience. How did you fall in love with telling stories in pictures? What was the seed of the idea for Unknown Lands?
I've enjoyed comics ever since I could read. Donald Duck comics are a staple in Finnish homes and I also read my dad's old and faded Phantom comics. But the first time I realized it'd be fun to make them myself was when I saw a Spice Girls fancomic back in the 90s, hehe.

I started building the idea to Unknown Lands over 10 years ago when I first sketched my main character Vard in my biology notebook and wanted to create my own shounen manga, because back then I felt they were the epitome of comics. Since then the story's matured a bit.

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

Unknown Lands is made completely digitally in Photoshop.

 You've got such a lot of research and world building going on in this work; what are your favorite sources of inspiration and/or research? How much research do you put in to make sure your concepts hold up?

Reading literally anything is enough to inspire me, but since Unknown Lands is a combination of ancient Scandinavia and a modern fantasy world, I have amassed books about Scandinavian, specifically Finnish, folklore, mythology and traditions. It's near impossible to find any proper information on them online. My favorite is probably a massive book full of drawings of objects found in ancient Finnish graves.

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

Usually I first figure out the page layouts for the next update, then I refine the sketches, and then do the “inks”. I have panel border lines, character lines, background lines, and special effect lines on separate layers. Then it's the grueling task of flatting, followed by the fun of shading aaaand finally letters. It takes really long to finish a page...

What’s the most difficult part of your work?

Page layouts, definitely. It's like figuring out a puzzle, while the rest is more creative.

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 like to have the entire chapter scripted out before starting to draw it. Anything beyond that is all in my head and the farther things go the more vague they are. I keep to certain important plot points, but otherwise I like to keep the story loose so I can change and adapt details to fit how the story evolves.

How much of a buffer do you like to keep?

I have no buffer, I like to live on the edge.

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? How do you cope with negative commentary?

Oh yes, so many times. By pretty much all family members and many friends. It's also impossible to convince these people otherwise, until you actually have any success. I have wonderful parents who did all they could to support me, while waiting for me to fail and come to my senses. It's annoying when you seem to be the only one who believes in you, but when you find your thing no one can talk you out of doing it.
Support from strangers on the internet helps a lot too.

Negative comments on my comic, I usually try to ignore. If they were particularly rude I'll passionately rant about it to my friends, and then ignore them.

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

Unknown Lands has environmental, feminist, and LGBTQ+ themes, but I want those to come off less as a message and more for people to see it as the norm, something that doesn't need to be explained. I hope readers enjoy the characters and their reckless lives, and the chaos those lives bring about.

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

I'm way too deeply in love with my characters to stop. But really, I've had variations of this story in my head for so long I pretty much need to get it out there.

Rock On Rosie, And Thanks For All The Great Thrills And Chills!

Friday, September 2, 2016

Saturday Revue September 2: Lonely Skeleton

And Now, For The World Weary Reader, Presenting

 The Lonely Skeleton!

Sounds like the title of a kid's Halloween book, doesn't it? 'The Lonely Skeleton'. You can practically predict the plot. Poor Lonely Skeleton will be lonely. Then he'll make a friend. Then he'll be HAPPY!
....ahem. Not exactly. Imagine that kid's book was written by Kafka or Nietzsche. After a few shots of bad vodka. 

You get the idea....
That's 'Lonely Skeleton', a gaga gag-a-day strip created by João Duarte Silva.You were warned.

The Rating

Well played, sir. Well played.

The Raves

This offbeat comic will regularly have you bursting out in small spurts of giggling, because it states so baldly facts that we spend our entire lives dancing around that you laugh almost in self defense. Reminiscent of the Farside at its best, 'Lonely Skeleton' holds up a mirror to our lives and points out just how absurd the life we call 'real' is. Its main point is the meaning of life: that is, how desperate we all are for there TO BE ONE. Skeleton and Rock's pitifully desperate search for things to occupy their ENDLEEEEESSSSSSSSSSSS time is at once hugely amusing and darkly satisfying. 
When you've had a rotten day at work, when you've realized that the paper you spent days writing will be read by the professor in about 5 minutes and then tossed, this is the comic to soothe your savage breast with. In future I know I'll flop down after a crappy day, flip through a few pages, smirk grimly and murmur 'damn straight!' to myself. And that, ladies and gentlemen, takes some skill. It isn't easy to tell people blatant truths in an amusing way, but Silva pulls it off with aplomb.
The style is classically gag-a-day simplistic, and has what I call the 'DIY aesthetic', meaning that a skilled artist is doing something with casual ease by hand. They aren't afraid for you to KNOW it's hand drawn, with slightly wobbly lines here and there, but the very fact that clean, well rendered drawings can be created in such a casual manner shows the skill of the creator. It took me back to reading Gary Larsen, PHD, Love And Rockets and some of my favorite indie zines.

The Razzes

Just one suggestion? Work on the lettering a touch; some of the hand-drawn letters are a touch blurry and difficult to parse at a glance. No big deal, but something to keep in mind. Other than that, as a reader I'd LOVE to see updates on a more regular basis, and would love even more to buy the print book of strips. When does it come out? Granted, I already know Skeleton's answer...

The Revue

Grab a shot of grey goose and give it a read when the boss has been an ass. You'll feel oddly validated in the ultimate meaninglessness of life...oh and you'll laugh too.