Monday, November 7, 2011

Interview: Ben Chamberlain of Supermassive Black Hole A*!

Hello, and welcome to another interview, this time with Supermassive Black Hole A* and The Princess and the Giant creator Ben Chamberlain! We'll be keeping any webcomic questions on Supermassive for this interview, but who knows about the future? Read on to probe this guys brain like he were an abductee, and I were the little grey alien dude jabbing him with sharp, shiny things...

1. So, tell us the gist of your comic, and why this idea appealed to you, as a writer.

The basic idea is telling stories of people living at the center of our galaxy, which is in theory an area of relatively close-together star systems and intense energies. I thought this would be a fun setting for adventure stories because a) you can have people travel to other stars without having to resort to completely made-up stuff like hyperdrive, and b) it's a harsh yet potentially highly profitable environment, and that's just the thing for gritty adventures!

2. Why go the black and white route, as opposed to full on color?

It's faster! ;) It also suits the sort of noir space theme I'd like to hit. I suppose though the real reason is that when I started the comic, it was an animated thing that was basically composed in animated .gif format, which only supports 256 colors, so you need to be black and white--or at least monotone--to be able to do that smoothly.

3. Your comic has a pretty unique approach to storytelling. What made you decide to use this

Before A*, I was the live game designer for an MMO called "The Matrix Online." Over the course of that project, the budget we had for our periodic, story-driving cinematics ran out, and to fill that void I started making the cinematics myself, as (really big) animated .GIFs. After that project, I thought I'd try something similar on my own, so A* started out as an animated webcomic; but I found it hard to reach an audience in that format, so eventually started putting out my daily animation work as still screenshots, essentially, in static webcomic format, and in the end that worked so well that doing the animated side just wasn't worth it at all by comparison. But I've stuck with the essentials of the cinematic format, ie the wide cinematic aspect ratio, and single subtitled panel, because...well because I like it, I suppose; it lets me really focus on the artwork image-by-image, and I think it has a sort of naturally dramatic quality that
lends itself to the "serious" nature of the stories.

4. If you could read only one webcomic, other than your own, for the rest of your life, what would
it be?

I was going to say that if it implied it would update regularly forever, then "Nine Planets Without Intelligent Life" ( ), but I see that one has just ended. ;_; So I suppose I'll say "Bad Machinery," ( ), since it has consistently good, intelligent writing and art, and definitely seems like it *could* go on for ages more and not bore me.

5. Tell us the artistic tools that you use to make your comic.

Until recently I was using the Lasso Tool in Photoshop, along with GIMP for some effects such as star fields. I just made a switch to traditional media though, so now it's a da Vinci "Maestro" size 3 brush, Japanese India ink, an ancient 0.5mm mechanical pencil with "H" hard leads, and Strathmore "vellum" Bristol board. I scan the ink wash paintings into the computer using an 11x17" Mustek 1200dpi scanner. Oh well I suppose I still use Photoshop for processing the scanned images and adding subtitles! And it's the super-old Photoshop 4, because I'm used to it, it does what I need, and is much less bloated than modern Photoshops.

6. Promotion-wise, what do you do to gain new readers?

I do a bunch of stuff I suppose but mostly it's advertising on Project Wonderful that seems to reach new people. Other than that, I cross-post comics to places like deviantART, ComicFury, Drunk Duck, and Smack Jeeves, post on The Webcomic List message boards, and unsuccessfully try to go viral by posting updates and news on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+.

7. About how much time per week do you think that you work on your comic, and does it ever interfere with the rest of your life?

I work on it full time, and what is this "rest of your life" thing? =o

8. Any other projects you're currently working on?

It's pretty much all comic and comic-related stuff for me at the moment. I do a Sunday comic, "The Princess and the Giant" (, I do art commissions for my readers, and I've got some displays of my artwork at little galleries in the local Seattle area.

9. Any advice for fellow webcomic creators?

I don't know if I'm in any kind of reliable position for giving advice, but ehm if I was, I suppose I'd say work hard at it, trust your instincts and don't be afraid to change what you're doing, and once you think you've got something reasonably presentable, advertise!

10.Last question: why should readers give Supermassive Black Hole A* a chance?

It's easy to read! And anyway where else are ya gonna get a cinematic daily noir hard sci-fi webcomic adventure these days? (But if you find another one please let me know, I want to read it!)

Many thanks to Ben for taking the time to answer a few questions for us, and hey, why not give his comic a chance? He gave us one? Thanks for reading!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Buffers: The good, the bad, and the....good.

Ah, buffers. If you don't know what they are, then you probably don't have a webcomic. Buffers are the pages or strips we have already completed and ready to go. I think it's safe to say that most of us, if not all, would love to have a large comic buffer at all times. But hey, it's not that easy, is it? Nope. There are those of us that are incredibly prolific when it comes to our page output, whipping them out at nearly freefall speed(Liz of Adrastus, I'm lookin' at you!). And then there are those who work at a snails pace, barely finishing a page a few minutes before it's update time is reached. Right now I'm proud to say that I'm one of the former, churning them out at around a page every day or two, with an entire month's worth of pages ready to be unleashed at a three day a week pace. Let's take a minute to ponder the positives and negatives(ha, rrrrright) to having a comic buffer.

The positives here are many. To say that they outnumber the negatives is stating the obvious. First, you can breathe a sigh of relief in knowing that you don't have to rush out a half-hearted attempt at an update just to appease the fans. Stress can be a killer, but with a buffer, you can worry about other things. Second, as I said, you can focus some of your attention on other things, such as promoting your comic, or prettying up your website. Updates aren't the only part of having a webcomic. Investing some of this extra time getting your "product" more in the public eye is just as important, if a goal of yours is to make this comic successful. Other positives....ah, a good one here. We all, at some point, get burnt out to some degree. Having a buffer gives you a chance to take a short break and assess where you're at, and where you're going, if you ever get to that point. I've been there, with no buffer, and it nearly broke me, because I had nothing to put up, so I would just sketch out a bad drawing of my characters holding a sign saying, "sorry, no update". LAME. Fans don't want to see that, and newcomers will most likely not come back. Like I said, buffers are awesome. Negatives? Lemme see...

I suppose there are negatives to everything. Even a delicious plate of bourbon chicken(I love that stuff), if eaten every day for a month, will become a negative.
Where webcomics are concerned, I've been extremely happy with a page here and there, but then I would think, "Oh crap. I can't share this with the readers for another three weeks? AAAGH!!" Yep, people have to wait to see the newest work you've produced for quite a while, depending on the size of your buffer. You might be well into the next story or chapter, but everyone else is still way behind you! Sometimes that can be frustrating(I've been feeling it lately), but it's one of those slight negatives. One other sorta-negative is that if you don't maintain a drawing schedule, that buffer will slip away faster than Jessica Simpson's bikini body. To be honest, those are about the only two negatives that I can think of.

In closing, buffers are, in a word, great. It shows that you are dedicated to maintaining that schedule that you set for yourself, and your fans, and that you enjoy what you do so much, that you just can't NOT create your comic. And hey, if you can think of any positives OR negatives that I missed, cuz I'm sure there are some, comment below. Now, forgive me, but I'm going to go work on some pages now.....

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Captain Ahole officially has it's very own domain!

Yep, that's right, Captain Ahole can now be found at! I'm very happy about this, as, and no offense to the fine folks over at Comicdish, who I'm still sticking by to the bitter end, but I've wanted to move to that next level for awhile now, and it's finally here. Well, that's all I wanted to say about that. Wheee!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Interview: Devin "Ghost" Minter!

Well, here we are, with a brand new interview with Devin "Ghost" Minter, the creator of the brand new webcomic, Monster Soup, which debuted yesterday! Sink your teeth into her brain with these ten mind-numbing questions I just HAD to ask....

1. So why monsters? What is it about them that just gets your creative juices splashing all over the page?

My love for monsters began with Dracula. I remember when I was a child, sitting with my mother on the couch and watching the 1979 Dracula film. It then snowballed from there. My interest with other monsters and the supernatural soon followed. Whether it is comics or novels, I can’t imagine writing about anything else. I think it’s the idea of the unusual. There’s also the element of fear of the unknown. When I was a child, anything was possible, and vampires and other monsters existed in my world. One would think that growing up would kill that imagination, but I believe it had the opposite effect. Through writing and art, the worlds and characters I create are limited only by my imagination. So that’s me--a big kid who loves to be frightened and hates being told to grow up.

2. If you had to choose, which famous movie monster is your favorite, and why?

It would have to be Dracula, of course, since he started it all for me. He has been re-imagined, reinvented, and refuses to leave the entertainment world no matter how many times he’s been killed. Stoker had no idea what he was releasing onto the world, and throughout everything that has followed, Dracula has truly become immortal.

3. Is art something that you have a chance to use at work?

Sadly, no. For the longest time I considered art only as a hobby. But like most who love art, it would be a dream to make it a career. At the moment I don’t have a typical 9 to 5 job, so I can focus most of my time on art.

4. You're told that you have thirty minutes to live, and the only way to survive is to draw your
"perfect life". What would you draw, and why?

A circle. Circles are endless.

5. Do you plan on promoting Monster Soup, and if so, what types of advertising do you plan on

At the moment, I don’t have any plans for advertising in the works. I’ve mainly been focusing on the comic itself. Word of mouth seems like the only advertisement I’ll have for the time being. I’m hoping that once I find a solid footing, and build up a nice archive, I can start focusing on the advertising element.

6. What do you like better in your webcomics, black and white or color?

I have no personal preference for either. Whether color or B&W, I think it’s another part of a comic’s overall style or personality. I guess I can say that I’m a fan of both.

7. Walk us through a day in your comic-creating life.

I wake up at 6:30 in the morning, grab my coffee, a simple breakfast, make my internet rounds, then turn on my iTunes and begin working on that day’s pages. Aside from the many 10-15 minute breaks, I tend to work all day. Nothing too thrilling or spectacular.

8. What are your artistic tools of the trade?

I work all digital when it comes to my comic, aided with an old Wacom Intuos 2. I do have sketchbooks I’ve made; three inch binders filled with simple copy paper. I prefer to use red and black Bic ballpoints, and sometimes a light blue Prisma or Copic marker when sketching. The digital programs of my choice are Easy Paint Tool SAI (roughs, inks, flats, shading, backgrounds) and Adobe Photoshop (text/dialog, panels, touchups, and the final Save). I did attempt to work with Manga Studio, but I kept finding myself fumbling around. I would love to be comfortable with it as I am with Photoshop and SAI, but decided not to rock the boat right now. Perhaps one day I’ll take a longer stroll through Manga Studio.

9. Any favorite webcomics that you have bookmarked?

I just recently entered the world of webcomics, so my list is a small one. The ones that I currently keep coming back for more are “Captain Ahole” (of course *wink*), “Adrastus” (, “Titanzer” (, “Oglaf” (*NSFW*, “Well This Is Awkward” (*NSFW*, “Next Town Over” (, Incubus Tales (*NSFW* and... I can’t think of anymore off the top of my head. I need to get a proper reading list together, but like I said, I’m a new to the scene.

10.And, finally, why should people give Monster Soup a shot?

It has humor, bloodshed, classic monsters, and a passionate writer/artist who will try her darnedest to finish the story. I also tend to describe the comic as an animated series that would air on the heels of HBO’s True Blood. I really need to find a good pitch. That will be on my list of things to do. *jots it down*

Many thanks to Devin for taking the time out of her busy schedule to answer these questions for us, and be sure to give her comic a chance, because it looks like it's going to a be a good one! Thanks for reading!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

New contest over at my comic, Captain Ahole!

Hey people, if you like entering contests, and you like to draw, well, this is for you. Captain Ahole is having a contest! All you have to do is draw Cap and Scoot doing some everyday, boring activity. Whether it be mowing the lawn, going to the grocery store, or mopping the kitchen floor, whichever is most original and funniest will win. There will be prizes for first, second, and third place, too! Head on over to Captain Ahole to find out more, and to enter! It's going to be fun, trust me!

Comic Dish reviews Slaughter Lake!

Hey people, if you haven't been listening in to The Dish podcast over at Comic Dish, then you're missing out. Shane(or Draxenn) and company do a great job of being informative, without being annoying, about what's going on in webcomics, along with reviews and general chatter. They even review Slaughter Lake, which I recently reviewed, on the newest edition. Do yourself a big favor and head over to give it a listen. You'll be mildly glad you did!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Review: Mr. Stickman.

Jacob Harding and Daniel Blythe, or Team Stick, have rained down upon us Mr. Stickman, the comedy webcomic that updates every Wednesday. I'm going to keep this one short, because there isn't a lot for me to really get into detail about, and I have a couple of Hot Pockets cooling down in the microwave. Okay, so the creators decided to ask for constructive criticism on a webcomic forum that I frequent, and I couldn't help but take a gander myself, and what I witnessed, we go.

The title itself will most likely make the majority of people cringe, but stick figures don't necessarily mean that you're going to get a crappy comic. Cyanide and Happiness is a great example of a funny comic, with bare bones art. There are plenty of others out there. The point being that you can have simplistic art, but great writing and funny jokes can move mountains. Mr. Stickman MIGHT be able to topple an anthill. With the help of a strong gust of wind. The characters seem to know that they are in a comic, and that's about as original as this comic gets. I will give them credit for the fact that the writing is decent enough in that I can understand it, it's just that the situations the characters find themselves in aren't funny. Funny is pretty much up to individual taste, but I really don't think you're going to find a lot of people who find this comic to be a hoot.

The art here is really, really bad. I'm not one to be a harsh critic, but I wonder how old these two chaps are. In my head, they are maybe twelve and thirteen, trying really hard to get their comic off the ground, and thinking all the while that it's so awesome. Well, sorry dudes, but this is pretty bad stuff. Try much? Put some effort into it, instead of making a terrible strip and then apologizing for how bad it is. How can you do a stick figure comic, and then have trouble drawing a decent stick figure? be honest, I was extremely frustrated when first reading these strips, because they could easily be much, much better. Small things, such as Separating the panels, erasing messy lines from the background, creating something akin to a word bubble, instead of the sloppy blobs encompassing the dialogue....simple things. Please, try em sometime. It will only make the comic better.

In closing, try the comic if you want to have a lesson in what not to do. Or, better yet, give them some constructive criticism in the comments box under each comic. Maybe they will take some of this to heart and try to improve. We can all use improvement. Only Mr. Stickman needs major surgery, or it's going to die a slow, painful death.
I generously give Mr. Stickman...

Friday, October 21, 2011

Review: Last Resort!

Last Resort is the webcomic brainchild of one Rachel Keslensky(who also happens to have volume one available here in book form). The comic is a web-14 rated, cyberpunk-furry-fantasy, all rolled into one(here's a short primer on furries, if you don't know what that term means). It's basically about a galactic reality show where convicts and criminals try to survive being killed. I hope that description does it justice. If not, well, blame Rachel, as that's straight from the "about" page. Resort updates every Sunday, which it tells us all nice and boldly, right up at the top right of the home page. Now, with such a nice website welcoming us to give the comic a shot, is it worth all the effort she put in? Continue, faithful (hopefully) readers....
First off, I really liked the premise for this one. While we have seen the same type of idea in movies such as Death Race, from 1973, and The Running Man, featuring the Governator, from 1987, none have featured furries, or various alien species like Last Resort does. So that added layer made for a more enjoyable take on the idea. I also thought the writing was very well done. This is a more long form story, and those types of webcomics tend to lose my interest faster than a goth-lite chick attempting to describe the cultural importance of the movie, "Twilight". But, much to my relief, Rachel has a nice handle on the written word, keeping the story entertaining, and the characters personality-stuffed. Artwise, I saw a vast improvement no more than five pages in, with the coloring especially moving up the ladder by leaps and bounds in the current strips. Interesting character designs and page layouts abound, although the character movements seemed to be a bit stiff. Action and fight scenes could have been given a much better flow, to make the pages more exciting to all four of my eyes.
To make a long story short, this is a good webcomic. Plenty of pages to keep you busy, and plenty of story to sink your furry teeth into. With a little tweaking in the action scene art, this one could go places. Well, maybe a few more places than it's already been. P.S. I know I said I don't count the website design into the rating, but it's a doozy. NICELY put together site, with plenty to look at. Okay, enough about that. I give Last Resort....

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Don't forget Captain Ahole....

Hey, did you forget that I have my very own webcomic, about the misadventures of the spiffiest superhero there is? With updates every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, without fail, you'll always get your fix of flying doofus with super strength. Lemme know what you think! Captain Ahole!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Review: Bipolar Billy.

Bipolar Billy is a three panel humor strip about Billy, a bipolar dude who spouts random, weird bits of knowledge in different emotional states every Thursday. Artwise, nothing changes from strip to strip. We always get three panels of Billy standing there, looking like something a ten year old on antidepressants would draw with crayons while waiting for his mother to come out of the therapists office. Billy has a different odd expression in each panel, to represent his changing mood, but that's it. I know it's a theme, and sometimes that can work in favor of the comic, but I got tired of seeing the same three pics every single strip. It does wear thin after awhile. And if you aren't enjoying the art, you better hope to high heaven that the jokes draw you in, right? Ooookay....The jokes are just wonky enough to make you think "ha, that's weird", but that was it for me. Personally, I tend to like the weirder, off color humor, but without the art part of the webcomic, I don't think I would keep coming back to see future updates. I did read a pretty good bit of them, just to see what crazy thing Billy would think of next, but would I bookmark it? If you read, say...this one, and like it, then I say go for it. But there isn't enough "meat" here for me to keep coming back. Now, just remember, this is based SOLELY on the comic strip itself, not on any blogs or extras on the site. I comment on the comic, not the website design or various bonus material. Well, in closing, if you like black humor, and don't mind that the art is exactly the same for every "strip", then give it a shot. There is some promise here. Otherwise, I give Bipolar Billy...

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Guest Art Extravaganza over at Adrastus!

Well, today is the start of the "Guest Art Extravaganza" over at Liz Staley's giant robot epic, Adrastus. Between each chapter of her comic is usually around 2 weeks of guest art to give her time to breath, and prepare the next chapter. Maybe after the current chapter of my comic I'll try that out. Seems like a good idea, don'tcha think? Oh, and lookit that, today's guest art is by me! Head on over and see the guest art, and while there, READ HER COMIC. It's actually very good!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Review: Slaughter Lake

Josh Rogers, of Captain Mushface fame, has decided to deviously concoct a slasher/horror comic called Slaughter Lake for all of us adults to grimace at. Grimace at in a good way, that is. This basically r-rated comic brings me back to the glory days of movies like Friday The 13th and Halloween. It has the tone down perfect, tossing in all the excessive violence, cliched young adult cast, and nudity that you always expected when you would gather together your friends, slip in the vhs tape, and break out the trusty ole bong and.....wait, maybe that was just me. Forget that part. Excellent and detailed art, quick pacing, and funny b-movie writing had me smiling while viewing each page. Heck, I even like this more than Captain Mushface(sorry, Josh!). Now, I'm pretty sure it's just a one-shot kinda project, but here's hoping that there will be a dozen sequels. The one negative, and I don't even know if I can call it that, is that the comic doesn't have any originality to it, what with everything here being a staple from different slasher flicks, but it was no doubt what Josh had in mind. Just remember before checking this one out, if you can't handle nudity and really gory violence, opt out. With that said, Slaughter Lake easily guilty-pleasured me into a...

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Review: Neutron City Comix!

Danny Limor brings us Neutron City Comix, about the usual cast of weirdos you see who hang out in a comic shop. Maybe not EXACTLY the usual cast, but all the stereotypes are there. Well, I thought it was....okay. I liked the fact that it was pretty much an all ages comic, as I do sometimes get tired of all the sex, violence, and cursing in other strips. Decent muppet style character designs, and nice coloring. The jokes relied a little too heavily on talking to the audience, which I don't really care for, but for the most part they were charming. It would have been nice to see more than just the upper torso of the characters, but oh well, whaddaya gonna do. There are only 36 strips as of this review, so there is all sorts of room for improvement, and time for it, so no worries. All comics evolve and either get better or worse, so we'll see where it goes from here. So how many chimps does Neutron City Comix get? For all around nice art, and non-offensive-ness, I'll go with a:

I've decided to start reviewing again!

Yep, I'm going to do "reviews" again, but they will be different than before. Now it will be a rating and a quick blurb about what the comic is about, and if I liked it or not. More of a "Joe the Plumber" review style, instead of attempting to sound smart and technical. If you like it, cool, if not, well, remember, it's just my opinion, and that's all that it is. Okay, later!