Saturday, October 31, 2015

Halloween Revue: After Daylight

You Wanna See A Show?
Come See Something Fangtastic!

"For this I rose from the dead?!" That's the refrain of Cat, a seventy five year dead vampire who found out that being a master of the night isn't all it's cracked up to be. Not only does he have to mooch around goth bars in order to get a quick bite to drink, deal with girls who are Tweeting instead of falling under his spell and read completely inaccurate literature on his species at his day job, now someone's dumped definitive proof that there are vampires onto the Web. This is just not Cat's decade...
The creation of Sarah Roark, 'After Daylight' can be found here
If you're sick of sparkly and annoying/pompous, monologing and annoying/ impossibly perfect and annoying/devilishly hard to kill and annoying/MAUDLIN and self pitying and ANNOYING vampires, 'After Daylight' is the answer! It explores the ins and outs of being a modern vampire with more wit and candor than I've ever seen before.

The Rating


The Raves

From page 1, I was laughing and loving 'After Daylight.' It, out of all the vamp lit out there, really gets to grips with the central feature of vampire existence: the precarious nature of their power. Vampires alternate to extremes: extremely strong at one moment, totally helpless at another. And they've got the intelligence to be completely aware of  it too. No wonder so many of them are twitchy!
And then you add in ethics. Being an ethical vampire is NOT a fun life. Being an ethical modern vampire is...well...
'After Daylight' explores this to its fullest and most hilarious logical ends, with sharp, snarky social commentary, hilarious moments of 'old world meets new' and gorgeously sarcastic wit.

'After Daylight' is one of the most common sense and direct takes on the vampire genre that I've ever seen. Beyond exploring the issues of getting a bite (heh heh heh) the creator gets down to brass tacks and modern tech. It's awfully hard for vamps to stay hidden in a world full of cheap hand held laser thermometers. It's a lot harder to hide anything in the Age Of Internet, when people across the world are nattering at one another non stop. So what are vamps to do? Come out of the casket of course.

There's an element of delightful genre-mocking that I've only seen the sainted Terry Pratchett pull off as well when handling the vampire mythos, balanced with great exploration of political maneuvering and posturing, herd mentality and societal shifts,all wrapped up in a wryly funny slice-of-life package. The writing has a flare for giving characters the chance to say just enough to realize how foolish they sound, whether it be people realizing that they're more bigoted than they think, ancients realizing that for all their supernatural abilities they can't figure out their Smartphones, or daily working stiffs dealing with every day issues and finding that they need a lot of ketchup for that foot in their mouths...
but that's not the only place the writing shines. There is some really moving exploration of rhetoric and the power of public speaking as the vampires take to modernity, go on TV and speak to the people, drawing fascinating parallels with present and prior civil rights movements in America; taking the idea of 'vampires among us' out of spoof territory and into the realm of powerful social change fable, before it lets we readers back in on the joke with snarkily spot on portrayals of how the news and the social media world would go about handling this.

The art gives the smudgy, off-the-cuff impression of an underground 'zine without jeopardizing the artistic grasp of pose, anatomy and scene framing, underlining the wry noir nature of the work.

The Razzes

So, about the 'zine's cool, but that smudgy aesthetic can be carried too far. While the line work of the comic is gorgeous, I often got the feeling that it was dragged down by the shading style, which isn't nearly as sharp or professional. Compare the two images below:
 I have to say, I actually prefer the uncolored version. If the shading style used in the promotional picture that headlines this blog were used throughout the comic, the work would look a LOT sharper. It'd also help if the work was loaded a bit larger; a lot of scenes seem a touch diminished and shrunken. This comic has grown a lot since its inception, and I look forward to seeing its artistic style continue to grow and improve on its weaknesses.

The Revue

This is one you definitely want to sink your teeth into. Yum!

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Sunday Revue October 25th: Brave Resistance

Hang On To Your Helmets

Brave Resistance Is Going To Be A Bumpy Ride!

World War 2. Bombers and bombshells and nazis. Yeah yeah, heard it all before....but have we?
As Americans, we get a very one sided and narrow view of the war; good guys and bad guys, fighting the good fight. We still share an emotional concept of it as the last 'honorable war'.
But we forget that it was a world war. And 'Brave Resistance' makes us remember. The creation of Grecian Tantz Aerine and American Diedre Rae Crouch, 'Brave Resistance' can be found here. Set in a tiny Greek village, this is the story from the Greek perspective: a more stoic, pragmatic approach of a people who didn't go 'over there' because the war was all around them, sweeping over their homeland. Death or glory didn't come into it. In Greece, this was a desperate fight for the soul of their nation.
The story focuses around Hunter, an American pilot downed over Greece, the village who protects him and the soldiers who hunt him. It is an intimate vignette of a tale, and the gut wrenching terror and the algebra of survival are all the more powerful for being compressed into a small space.

The Rating

a complex, understated and fascinating look at a war we thought we knew

The Raves

Some of the most adroit examples of emotional interplay I've ever seen in a comic show up in 'Brave Resistance'. In this comic, the psychology of threat, guilt, honor and the wartime mentality are deeply plumbed, creating a powerful tension both inter-character and between characters and their environment. War isn't honorable, and 'Brave Resistance' doesn't try to trick us into thinking it is. But people have honor, and that we're shown time and time again in subtle ways that stay with you long after the page is off your browser.
There's a lot of reliance on facial expression and body language to manage this feat, and 'Brave Resistance' pulls it off wonderfully, displaying at least a quarter of its storytelling in scenic rather than expository ways. The color palette paints a tired, gaunt world and the art style lends a gritty roughness to the work in keeping with a life lived day by day, a life and a world on a knife's edge. This comic may feel so real because of the depth of research that has gone into it. And when I say deep, I mean deep. There are unobtrusive tabs on the page for cultural facts, historical information, and no end of beautifully done touches that put you there and then in the artwork itself. This creators really did their homework! Even their sites were well researched.  Let me quote the author's notation of a page here: 'The church is based on an actual one in one of the villages from which this village is inspired. It’s supposed to be great in size, at the very center of the square of the village and behind it is the cemetery. The church in those types of villages is the centre of social life and also stands in for other functions if necessary such as school, gatherings and large meetings.

The church it’s based off is St. George in Negades, at Zagori in Epirus.'
Now that, dear readers, is some serious devotion to your craft!
Speaking of devotion, 'Brave Resistance' has a strong point in its devotion to honest emotional interplay between its characters. Cynical sometimes, sometimes harsh, but always genuine. There's very little of the war-movie band of brothers bravado here, but there is the quiet camaraderie of people against great odds. And the creators point out deftly that not everybody was 'on the good side' even if they were allies. Most people in the villages just wanted EVERYBODY to leave them ALONE already, and this is nicely explored in the attitudes displayed throughout the comic. The annoyed wariness with which the American pilot is treated is refreshing; it's nice to see Americans portrayed as something other than the beloved saviors in work related to World War 2 for a change. The chance to explore real emotions in a wartime setting is a novel and interesting take.

The Razzes

I only wish that novel, complex exploration had extended to the Nazi soldiers as well. With one or two notable exceptions, they're your classic Indiana Jones Nazis: either handsome, brainless automatons or slavering (in one case quite literally slavering) evil beasts. Honestly, when I see this

is 'Whoa, man, you over did the ugly! Dial it back!' These were people. Some of them were good and some of them were evil, but they were people. Don't make them Hollywood monsters.

I'd also like to see the color style improved. The gritty line work is great. Seeing brushstrokes is fine, but not when they give an untidy, unfinished impression and remov much of the contrast on darker surfaces. A cleaner, more nuanced color palette would really help give the work a professional appearance. As a last, tiny detail, if I were the creator I'd do a little spell checking. English is a HARD language to spell as someone not native to it, but it really helps give a professional look to the work. (that being said, the creators' grasps of my language is better than some of my countrymen, so that's only a very small complaint!)

The Revue

Reminiscent of MASH 4077 and pulling no emotional punches, 'Brave Resistance' puts on a brave and powerful showing.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Monthly Mattinee October: A Recipe For Magic

Time To Mix Up A Brew! 

This October, Let's Cook Up Some Laws Of Magic!

Fillet of a fenny snake,
In the caldron boil and bake;
Eye of newt, and toe of frog,
Wool of bat, and tongue of dog,
Adder's fork, and blind-worm's sting,
Lizard's leg, and owlet's wing,
..............hmmm, still needs salt.....
You know, if you think about it, the laws of magic and the rules of cookery actually have a lot in common. Do it wrong, and you get a nasty mess either way. Follow the recipe, and you get what you want. It looks impressive and difficult to those who can't do it.  And, of course, you very rarely do either one just for the sake of it. 

Hernandez's great rendition of some
of our favorite American
As comic readers, we see a lot of magic systems cooked up in a lot of ways, everything from the classic superheroes to the difficult and involved systems of something like Quantum Vibe, to the strange and wondrous madness that is Sandman or the vastness of Saga (note, I include sci-fi in this discussion; a wise man once said sufficiently advanced science is indistinguishable from magic, and the same rules of world design apply!) They have very different techniques, but all of them strive to mix their elements up in just the right way to give a powerful story that leaves you feeling something and wanting more. 

So what are the ingredients for a powerful magical system?
Let's see, what have we got in our creative cupboard....

One Part Concept

That first spark of an idea can flare into a creative inferno...but sometimes all you do is sit there trying to light creative matches that keep going out. What to do?
For inspiration, RESEARCH! I find particularly fertile ground in science news headlines and historical anecdotes. Try this: take a short title of an article, and let your mind mull it over. See if you can get a story out of it.  'Scientists get cells to kill each other' could lead in a thousand directions: what if an army was trained to somehow make the enemy's body literally tear itself apart? What would such a power do to society? Take that idea, and RUN LIKE HELL with it. Go crazy when conceptualizing. Then, when you have a concept that makes your blood fizz, start researching. And don't stop. A concept that isn't really understood  by its author is not a concept that can support a story. Research until you dream about your subject matter. Make it a part of you; only then can you tell a tale fully immersed in it. The creators of 'Fables' did this; Bill Willingham, according to legend, read nothing but folktales for a year.

Three Parts Reality

Now hang on, I hear you cry, what's reality doing in my magical brew? It'll spoil the whole thing!
Well, no, it'll make it relatable and much more readable. Your characters live in a world, and that world should feel REAL.  I could go on and on about  reality, but there are five key concepts to a real world with magical elements


Too often, creators take their magical concepts, plop them into some vaguely appropriate world (sword and sorcery, anyone?) and have done with it. 'Hey, it's here, it works.' But that's not how cultures or people work. People, cultures and concepts interact, clash, blend and flow. Make your cultures and concepts interact. Remember how cultures and people think when you're world building.So, you want a race that's not human? How hard is it for them to get a job? Are they restricted to menial labor, treated with respect? What cultural traits allow them to do well in society? What traits cause them them problems?
If you want a powerful example of doing this right, read 'Doomsday, My Dear,' a terrible and beautiful exploration of what happens when humanity comes up against something they have trouble coping with in their midst. I'll warn you though, human psychology under pressure isn't pretty.

A lot of writers duck this issue by going the 'magic is a secret we all have to keep' route, but that's a bit of a cop-out (sorry J.K Rowling, I still love your books, but it's true) because people don't keep secrets that well, and they don't keep secrets on the basis of the usual defense: 'if people knew it'd be too terrible'. Groups of people don't keep secrets that are hypothetically dangerous, because we're not good at hypotheticals as a species. Groups of keep secrets that are imminently dangerous or all together forgotten, and not well even then. Things come out. Look at the crypto-Jews of Isebella's Spain for a really powerful example of the point. (see, historical research again!)
'X-Men' is probably the popular comic that has best explored this, and as often as it's failed to make the point well, it's also triumphed in making the fact of humans who aren't quite normal a part of the social and political conversation in their world. 'Saga' explored this beautifully as well in its discussion of war mentality and propaganda; the pragmatic willful blindness that living in a war situation brings on in the mind.

One last note on psychology and sociology:  you'll notice that all the good stories I've named have characters interacting with a living world, not a text book lesson followed by some characters doing things. The best writers build their worlds organically around their characters. THE AUTHORS know what's going on, but they don't need to tell the readers EVERYTHING in gigantic info dumps. And comic readers, to be blunt, skip text walls. Be the writer of a world, not of a lecture. 


Conservation Of Mass. Euclidean Geometry. Quantum Physics. All these are names and complicated ways of saying one, very simple thing:  The Material World Has Rules. You can't break them just because you want to. You can circumvent them, you can bend them, or maybe do something clever with them,  but some things can't be broken. Period.
Long before we had science, we as human beings already had a strong understanding of the fact that the world was made of rules. It's an inherent pact we have with the universe as homo sapiens: I will learn your rules, I will understand them, and then I'll learn to use them to my advantage. A lot of ancient magical systems were based around this basic, instinctive tenant, and a lot of our first sciences too. Wise people then and now treat the world as an interconnected set of rules and variables that could be adjusted if you had the knack, but not without affecting the rest of the system. 'The Dresden Files' is a classic example of magic done right: no matter how much crazy crap is thrown at you, no matter how weird it gets, the story stays cohesive because Butcher plays his characters by the rules.
Make your magical systems with this as your guide, and keep three things in mind:

Constitutional Rule

The rules of your magical system are like the constitution of your story, a pact of trust between the creator, the created, and the consumer. When a government breaks the constitution, it is unconstitutional, aka illegitimate. When an author breaks their constitution, the same thing happens: they lose the trust of the people they made the pact with, and then they lose readers. This happens a lot of ways: the moth eaten comic-book revolving door deaths (I'm looking at you again X-Men, and not in a good way...), rabbit out of the hat abilities that arrive just when they're required (Yeah, not cute) conveniently ignored contradictions or 'retcon' of something for convenience's sake, or plain deus ex machina contrived endings. This is probably the greatest sin against narrative in my book: breaking the rules of the world indiscriminately.  Once you've made your rules, THEY ARE MADE. Revise sure, expand on their intricacies and find loopholes, but DO NOT BREAK THE RULES. Don't break your rules because they're inconvenient, find a clever work around. Don't break your rules for shock effect: it's demeaning to you and your readers. Don't break the rules for the sake of drama: 'hey Bob look the new kid can break all the rules we just painstakingly introduced, he must be special!' is deus ex machina and damaging to your story. Because once your rules lose legitimacy, your story loses authenticity and tension. If readers have seen you pull dirty tricks before, they will not believe you when you set up a problem. They'll simply wait skeptically to see what you're going to pull this time.


As a person raised with magic, this one hits home for me. I'm a Pagan, and I grew up with magic. I was doing charms to keep the house safe with my mom at the kitchen table at the age of nine.
From right to left, a protection against bad influences, a house protection charm and a protection against violent humans.

And about the first thing you learn is that the law of conservation of mass isn't just for science. In real magic, the results you get are directly proportional to the trouble you take. My grandma told me time and again, 'you get what you put in.' which is pretty much the law of conservation of mass in plain language.  And she was right. So when writing magic in your comics, think about how much energy goes into what your characters are doing. Got a character who flies without wings? What's doing it? And please, please don't just say magic.  Nothing makes me roll my eyes more than stories where stuff just 'magically!' happens. This is lazy writing. Not magic. You don't have to know physics or get technical, but if your character  is throwing giant boulders around, somebody's going to ask where that power comes from. Have an answer and a price. This can go all the way from the magically gentle systems of 'Avatar', Tamora Pierce's The Circle books or Diane Duane's The Young Wizard Series (by far my favorite example of a magic system out there!)  that rely on channeling the dynamic powers of nature and natural law through yourself to make something happen, to the terrible price magic makes the users pay in stories like Simon R. Green's The Nightside Series and Garth Nix's spine chilling Abhorsen books. But remember that there's a price; years of study, tons of energy, even life. Energy comes from somewhere. It doesn't just appear.
In old fashioned terms, to each thing its price


Magic is a trait, a force, a gift and a responsibility. It is not a get-out-of-jail-free card. When it's used as one, the story isn't fun any more. When everything is fixed with supernatural ease, your characters are impossible to relate to and your story devolves into a series of pretty pictures instead of a gripping narrative. If magic fixes everything, there's nothing left to say. End of story.

Two parts Respect

To balance out all the ingredients of your magical world, add respect. When you respect your source material, you don't pull a Supernatural and screw over every mythological concept you get your dirty mitts on. When you respect your audience, you don't write in contradictions, conveniently 'forget' or 'find' new abilities for your characters at the drop of a hat with the thought 'eh, nobody will notice'. When you respect their intelligence, you don't create contrived situations or poor explanations. When you respect the magic you create, it will work for you.

One Part Beauty

And now that we're over the hard and heavy stuff, let's talk about making magic in comics PRETTY!
Comics are a visual medium, and it's the artist's job to get the magic across. It doesn't have to be neon red sparkles. In fact, it can be quite subtle: just one thing out of place can do it. 'K and P' is a master of this.
Sparkles are pretty useful though, and used well they can get magic across beautifully. Color is also a really useful tool. If you remember that darker colors recede and brighter colors come to the fore, you can make a lot of use of the way the human brain works. If you put bright, hot colors denoting magic over muddier colors of the real world, you can make magic seem to pop or float just above the page. Color contrasts can denote power as well, as in this example from the comic 'West': 
if you prefer the more sigil-driven forms of magic, there's a LOT out there you can do. You can start with alchemist's symbols, which look mysterious but are frankly just shorthand for the periodic table. If you like glyphs, here are links to several great brush patterns: 

And there's a lot more hiding out there; for this purpose, Deviantart is a great resource. A character drawing or chalking arcane symbols is always exciting, and if you use an airbrush to layer such sigil brushes over an image, the sigil will have an unreal, floating look, great for magic drawn with light in the air or cast as a spell. Play with it, try it out, and you'll get some pretty great results.

A Pinch Of Wonder

As a last note now that I've railed on and on about rules and regs, remember as a creator that magic at its heart is about wonder. Have fun. Create something that delights you, that intrigues you. If you are in wonder, your readers will be too.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Saturday Revue October 3: 150 Days

From The Wastes Of The Great Desert

Comes A Tale For You...

In my part of America, the winter is beginning to creep in. The sky is grey, and drizzle weighs down browning leaves.

So it was a true delight to dive into a tale of far away deserts and true love, basking in the warmth and the evocative beauty of '150 Days'

This story is as vast and evocative as the deep desert, and as silent. That's right, silent. No words, no dialogue. Nothing between you, your own heart, and the art. Now that's comic making cut to the bone.
The work of  an artist who goes by the name of KnightJJ, 150 Days can be found here. It's the tale of a Chinese prince who loses his way in the desert and the kindness of a stranger who befriends him, a kindness that blossoms into something much more.

The Rating

Pure beauty. Start to finish.

The Raves

To begin with, I have to tip my hat to the creator: they've given us a GLBT story that is a TRUE romance. Not a series of angsty guilt trips, but A ROMANCE. A romance being the gentle falling in love of two beautiful souls, the decision to stick together through thick and thin. The sweetness of early infatuation and the deep, abiding comfort of lasting love as two people help eachother through life's daily mundane challanges. There's romance in doing the dishes together. That's a romance. And '150 Days' is a true romance. KnightJJ, THANK YOU.
Stylistically, '150 Days' follows in the footsteps of  'The Rabbi's Cat'; at first glance, the art doesn't look impressive, but the longer you look at it, the more you realize its grasp of artistic style and the skill in making such art look casually drawn. 
The creator has used  acrylic, markers and ink to create a loose, evocative style that nonetheless draws you in, giving you a tasted of another time and place. In some ways, the stylistic choice adds to the ability of the work to evoke rather than distracting from it; it is an impressionist painting that asks you to feel rather than to think. It bypasses technical details to arrow straight for the heart. And it hits it. In scene after scene, you feel that you are there, sitting with our characters. The creator has used their media to great effect;  much of the emotional strength of the piece is conveyed through organic texturing in scenes, giving us an almost tactile reading experience. Color choices really intensify the emotional content of scenes.
Add that to the fact that everything in this story must be shown through gesture, expression and body language, and you realize how talented KnightJJ really is. Without words, the reader is drawn into this tender, evocative and loving tale of two young men finding out who they truly are, and who they truly love.
Beyond the artistic skill, the cultural acumen also deserves mention. KnightJJ has done their homework!
Clothing, culture, architecture and art styles have all been well-researched before being well rendered in '150 Days'. 
Just take a look at this depiction of a painting.

Nailed. It.

The Razzes

My only complaint is that, at times, the artist throws in 'chibi moments' for comedic affect, and to me, that throws off the flow of the story and breaks the stylistic spell. You don't need chibis in a story this evocative. Stick with the good stuff.

The Revue

When this is printed, I will buy it and hug it on a regular basis. This story touches a place in my heart. I hope it will do the same for you.

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 clich̩, 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 Рand 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!