Sunday, April 21, 2019

Backstage Pass April 2019: Suzana Harcum-White and Owen White of Tripping Over You

Today, Today Dear Readers, Backstage We Have For You
The Redoutable Suzana Harcum-White and Owen White!

Sometime ago I reviewed the lovely comic Tripping Over You, and today, I'll sit down with the creators to hear all about the work. Come on backstage!

Main Project:

Tripping Over You (, The Death of Caleb Perkins (

Other Hobbies, Guilty Pleasures and Obsessions:

Video games, music, coding, drawing and writing outside of comics, cooking

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

Suzana and I had feelings for each other a long time before we starting making the comic; we made countless characters who also had feelings for each other, and I feel like we were always hoping that the other person would take the hint about it! Milo and Liam were some of those characters we made for each other— I would draw her character, and she would draw mine, we'd send writing snippets back and forth, and we fell in love with the chance to gift each other little things from the heart that way. When we did eventually start dating and moved in together, we realized how much we missed that aspect of our relationship— we wanted to find a new hobby that we could enjoy together that also gave our characters a place to continue existing, that we could write and draw for each other through. Comics ended up being what we dove into full-time and eventually became something we could (very, very fortunately) build a career out of, but we really love the process in quite a few mediums.

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

We've switched full-time to Clip Studio Paint for our current chapter, and so far it's been an absolute pleasure to work with. Huge, huge relief— infinitely easier to create in. Prior to that we were using SAI and Photoshop, which we enjoyed until Clip blew everything out of the water.

Can you tell me about your typical day or strip-creation session? How does your work process flow from idea to finished page?

Ideas usually start with Suzana and I talking about things we'd love to include in the comic - sometimes out loud in conversation, sometimes as sketches in our sketchbooks. The overall plot points have already been mapped out in outline, but we'll occasionally discuss minor jokes or secondary plot ideas as we go. I'll sit down and write the entirety of a chapter at once, over the course of several days— first in script, then in thumbnails. I bring the thumbnails to Suzana, and she drafts sketched pages from the thumbnails - shifting things as necessary, re-ordering scenes, changing the visualization, etc. I then put word bubbles on so she knows where her art needs to move to for readability, and she then inks the sketch. I flat and do some shading, Suzana puts finishing touches on, and that's a typical day for us. Each page takes anywhere from 6-12 hours depending on a lot of factors.

What’s the most difficult part of your work?

It's very time consuming to finish, and takes up most of our free-time. Each page takes a long time, and each chapter then takes exponentially longer, so the story never quite moves as quickly as we'd like! The frustration of always wishing we could work faster/have infinite more time to work with is I'd say the most difficult part for us.

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?

We prefer to script. Sometimes we'll improv-slide a joke or two in here or there, but planning stuff out is the most fun part of the process, so we do a lot of it just for fun! (You can always plan so much faster than you can make!)

How much of a buffer do you like to keep?

We like to keep way more of a buffer than we actually do lmao. If we don't have a buffer we stream the page live the day before it goes up, though, which is also really fun.

What’s a question you’d like to answer once and for all about your art and/or that question you’re sick of getting asked?

I have no idea! We don't mind questions at all, even repeat questions we just understand come from that person never having seen us answer it before. The internet is so cool for how easily you can find stuff on it, but it's also true that there's SO much stuff on it that it's just impossible for anyone to have read everything you've ever said or that someone has said about you, so I don't think there'll ever be a "once and for all" when you really enjoy interacting with others online— and we're totally cool with that! It's fun!

If you could send a note back to yourself when you began working on your skillset, what would you say?

Look into Clip Studio literally the second it's made, don't put off switching to it. Also don't lift anything heavy over your tablet.

I know it's the dread question, but how many of the issues you explore on family dynamics and acceptance were drawn from personal experience and/or what you watched friends go through? Any of it?

Oh, nearly all of it. Most of it is exaggerated for comedy, and very occasionally it's stuff that friends of ours have gone through, but for sure like 95% of it is anecdotal. None of the characters are meant to be a 1:1 for us, though, or for our family members, but it's pretty impossible to leave yourself entirely out of anything you make, and there are very many snippets of things that have been said to us (or at us) embedded in this particular story.

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

Sometimes you're just gonna suck at something, whether it's a career, a hobby, or even just expressing yourself clearly to someone you love. It's okay, as long as it's not the end of you trying.

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

Pure, unadulterated self-indulgence. ♥ We are addicts.

Thanks ladies, and keep up the gorgeous work!

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