Friday, November 16, 2007

It's interview time once again!

Hey everyone, I've got here one heckuva interview with Kathy Peterson of Kidnapped By Gnomes, so tape open your eyelids and read on!

1. So, in the words of Jerry Seinfeld, what's the deal with these Gnomes? Why not Gremlins?

I suppose they do kind of look like Gremlins don't they? But to me the whole point of fantasy is that it can be anything you want it to be. People forget that before J.R. Tolkien came around there was no one definition of what a dwarf or elf was. He created this fantastic new world and filled it with creatures how he personally saw them to be. Unfortunately, 99% of fantasy since then has simply followed his lead and dwarfs are always beer drinking metal workers and elves are always beautiful, tall, and wise. I'd argue that the only fantasy novels since The Lord of the Rings to have wide stream appeal outside of the core fantasy audience is J.K. Rowling and the Harry Potter books. Not surprisingly, the Harry Potter books have also created
this brand new world with house elves, quidditch, and goblin bankers that no one has ever done before. Now I don't want to compare myself to either Tolkien or Rowling (as they are both way better writers than I will ever be) or criticize all fantasy (I like beer drinking dwarfs as much as anyone), but I wanted my gnomes to be how *I* imagined them to be, not how anyone else told me they should be. What's the point
of fantasy if it can't be anything you want?

2. I noticed many comics and references to politics. Who are you pulling for in the presidential race, and will you be using this as a source of humor in your comic?

I can already tell this is going to get me in trouble :) From my comics it's probably pretty obvious I'm a liberal, but I try to keep my exact support a bit secret. I've never voted for a Republican president, but I actually kind of like McCain on the Republican side. He's one of the few candidates to stand up and say that torture is100% wrong all of the time and I really respect him for that. It's
absolutely unfathomable to me that as a country we are even debating whether or not torture is ok. I don't agree with McCain on everything, but I think he'd be a fine president. As for the rest of the Republicans, I'm seriously worried about what would happen if any of them were to win the election. On the Democratic side, none of the top three (Hillary, Barack, Edwards) have really impressed me all that
much. I kind of like Bill Richardson but he hasn't won me over yet.

As for using the race in the comic, it will definitely show up, but probably nothing specific. I try to keep the political comics somewhat vague because I want them to still be funny several years from now. The one exception to this is the "Pandora's Box of Political Lies" which is when I allow myself to blatantly make fun of the hypocrisy and absurdness of the day.

I am however debating whether or not I want to do a running set of comics where Ed runs for president, but we'll see...

3. What artistic tools do you use to create your comic?

I draw out all the comics by hand with paper and pencil. I then scan them into my computer where I ink and color them digitally using a Wacom tablet and the Gimp. For anyone just started to use a Wacom tablet the trick is to zoom in as far as possible. I then arrange everything and add the panels and text before scaling it down to the
correct size. Note: it's really important to add everything before scaling the image! If you shrink everything down before adding the text and panels, your resolution won't be high enough for printing. As my readers know, I recently had to go back and reformat my first 80+ comics to get them ready for printing. Trust me, it's not something you ever want to do.

Recently, I've also been trying to add backgrounds to every single comic, and those I'll sometimes draw out before hand on pencil and paper, but most of the time I do them purely digitally. After I have everything else positioned on the screen, I'll add a sketching layer and sketch out how I want the background to look. Then I'll add a layer on top of that and use the "Curve" tool to get really nice and smooth lines for the background. Part of the problem with doing backgrounds with say the "Pen" or "Paintbrush" tool, is that if you zoom in to get smooth lines you have to constantly pick up your pen to move the screen over. Then when you try and continue that line, it never quite lines up. Therefore I've found the Curve tool works great
for backgrounds.

4. How and where do you come up with the ideas for KBG?

I listen to NPR way too much, and every time I hear a politician or government figure say something absurd, I try and imagine how Ed and Wilson would view that topic and just let their personalites run wild with it. Other times, I just write comics about what's happening to me in my life. For example I hurt my back awhile ago and did a comic about that. More recently I did a comic about my frustrationswith self-checkout lanes at the grocery store. My third source of inspiration is my Cat. In particular the fact that Ed and Wilson are always waking me up at 3 to 5 in morning or getting into some sort of mischief at my expense.

I'd love to talk to other cartoonist about this, but in my head Ed and Wilson are completely real. Therefore I just try and let them run wild with a basic concept and hopefully it works out.

5. What's the last good movie you've seen?

V for Vendetta. I liked what it had to say about politics and being true to yourself. However, I almost died laughing at SuperBad.

6. Do you let your friends read your comic, and what do they think?

Of course! My friend Sam actually proofs reads them for me so that she can see them 3 weeks before anyone else. As for the rest of my friends, they all know I do the comic but I try not harass them about reading it because I know none of them are really "comic people". However from time to time people will mention a comic they found particularly funny so I know that most of them actually read it. Recently I was surprised when a close friend who I didn't think read the comic mentioned one he liked.

7. If you could do a crossover with any other webcomic, which would it be and why?

Scary-Go-Round. I think Ed and Wilson's lack of commonsense and propensity for mischief would make them eager participants in any of Shelly Winters misadventures.

8. Who are your main influences?

Bloom County and Count Your Sheep. Growing up I loved reading Bloom County, even though I was too young to get most of the political humor. I just liked the zaniness of it all as a kid. Having reread a lot of it, I also like how the political humor is more about the absurdness of politics then about specific events, which is something I try to capture in my strip.

Count Your Sheep, I love it for the simplistic yet beautiful artwork and the sweetness of it. When I started my strip I specifically decided to try and never come off as snarky, bitter, or mean. Politics is too divisive as is, and the last thing anyone needs is another jerk yelling about how everyone else is wrong and they have all the answers. So in the vain of CYS, I wanted it to be light hearted enough that anyone could enjoy it. I realize I may not have always achieved that goal, but that's at least what I'm trying for.

9. Pizza or lasagna?

Pizza. But no olives and no mushrooms.

10.Thanks for answering these soul-wrenching questions! One last thing, tell us why we should check out Kidnapped By Gnomes.

If for nothing else, you should check out Kidnapped by Gnomes because it's aways there and it's always on time. There's nothing worse than an erratic update schedule and I pride myself on the fact that when my readers check in on Mondays and Thursdays there will always be a new comic up.

Great interview, and as always, thanks for reading!

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