This week we interview the artist and creator of the comic Kings Club, AmeliaP! Her comic was featured and Gunwallace also gave it a theme tune that was featured in Quackcast 335. AmeliaP is a talented professional comic creator and game designer. We couldn't interview her directly because she's not confident enough in her spoken English, so what we've done instead is read out a written interview that I did with her especially for this Quackcast. Amelia has some surprising and valuable insights for comic creators. You can read the full text of her interview bellow.
Gunwallace's theme for the week was for Abejitas - This tune bounces in like a wild thing, spinning and buzzing crazily, full of black striped yellow techno sweet honey madness and rapid wingbeats of energy, this will sting you into full awareness!
Topics and shownotes
ZINC COMIX - http://www.theduckwebcomics.com/news/2017/aug/22/featured-comic-zinc-comix/
Kings Club - http://www.theduckwebcomics.com/Kings_Club/
AmeliaP - http://www.theduckwebcomics.com/user/AmeliaP/
Quackcast 335, Kings Club theme and feature - http://www.theduckwebcomics.com/quackcast/episode-335-dialoguecast
Special thanks to:
Gunwallace - http://www.virtuallycomics.com
Banes - http://www.theduckwebcomics.com/user/Banes/
Tantz Aerine - http://www.theduckwebcomics.com/user/Tantz_Aerine/
PitFace - http://www.theduckwebcomics.com/user/PIT_FACE/
Ozoneocean - http://www.theduckwebcomics.com/user/ozoneocean
Abejitas - http://www.theduckwebcomics.com/Abejitas/, by Lazarinho, rated E.
INTERVIEW WITH AMELIA.P
1.So your name is Amelia Pessoa but you go by Amelia Woo for your US work, why is that?
-Thanks to my grandmother, who changed the surname when her family was running away from Spain, I have a Portuguese surname ahahaha!
Like any kid, I started to draw comics in manga style. One of my first jobs in inside industry was “manga”, but in that time, the audience had a rage against any Western trying to do a manga, so I chose a name from a director I grew up watching his movies, John Woo. I know, it's Chinese, not Japanese, but… it was an Eastern name at least. After that, I did some important jobs under this name, so, for publishers track me, I had to keep this. Slowly, I'm trying to be ME, and erasing this surname from industry.
2. You've had a LOT of work professionally in comic publishing, how did you break into that? I'm assuming you're Brazilian, was it hard to break into the US market from outside like that?
- My Glasshouse Graphics portfolio, Comic Vine profile and ComicDB are way too outdated. I have more works on my belt than that. After a boring experience from a 9 to 5 job in my college days, I pretty decided it wasn’t my path, so I stepped into the comics industry. I believe in the momentum, so everything I should do is just to start. But before I enter into the comics word, I searched for the easiest way to enter. There were too many barriers to writers (besides the language) and their salary was horrible… AND I didn't want to tell a story about the universe and characters from other creators. It's hard for me having the same agenda. I had to enter on it one way or another. So I improved my art skill enough to be paid for it, because I really wanted to be a professional visual storyteller. (Bachelor degree in Arts at one of the best colleges in my country, doing a lot of personal projects to train myself, all those things).
-Yeah, I'm Brazilian. Believe or not, we must be around 30% of the US comic book artistic force. Brazilians are like doppelgangers, with Italian, German, Japanese and other surnames. Even a Brazilian doesn’t know if you are Brazilian by surname (pretty different from my case. But, if wasn't for my grandma, you could think I'd be Spanish or Mexican). I found many artists I didn't know they are Brazilians before, like Greg Tocchini and others. I think it's hard to break into US market no matter the country an artist comes from. Even for a North American it's a hard task unfortunately. Many factors make this a hard task, since the unstable incoming to the social contempt. You know, most parents want your kids to grow up as a doctor, or lawyer, etc. Parents encourage their children to get into Arts (or writing) as a hobby usually.
CONTINUE IN PART II
3. What was your first professional comic?
-I have a double debut, a one shot at Yaoi Press (yeah, it was my first manga experience. Yaoi… not my cup of tea, but, hey, I like to see “Bara” guys in beautiful drawings) and some pages in The Avengers (special edition to military forces).
4. How long have you been in the industry?
-About 12 years.
5. Is it hard work?
-Hell YEAH! This isn't for weaklings. You have to work under pressure (if you don't meet the deadline day, that super expensive booth from your client will suffer). Long hours working keeps you away from other people (between 10 to 16 hours daily, rare days off). Plus, the financial instability makes an artist a financial wizard… or a control freak of his/her own finances. No health insurance in the Americas (different from Germany, the Estate gives a health insurance for a certified artist). It isn’t a glamorous life people think it is. But, I prefer to endure all those things than staying in a job I don't have a slight affinity.
6. Why did you embark on a videogame version of your work? Please tell us about the game.
- Games are my passion, since my childhood. I think it's one of the greatest media you can tell a story, because the player has a feedback in real time, in a deep layer.
Also, I'm a hardcore gamer, but being a player and being a developer are two different things. After testing the waters, I discovered I like it much more than playing a game. My preferred genre is the third person shooter, and I was pretty unsatisfied about the games with the same gameplay being reproduced over and over again. So I had a vision. After I established the main gameplay, I thought about using one of my ready-to-use stories, and Kings Club fits well. So I polished the gameplay from the idea and I finished with something like that:
PC Third Person Adventure Shooter with 4 general skills and a cover system in a Non-Linear Open Level, facing the enemies on your own terms and pace. This first mission takes on Mexico. The player has to discover where the narcos are, taking them off the hideouts, picking a fight or provoking them until they lead to their leader. Exploration and combat mixed into an experimental hybrid game genre.
The player skills are based on playing card suits
Hearts = Stealth/Infiltration
Spades = Assault
Club = Escape/Extraction
Diamonds = Protection/ Scout
The player character will be announced in the last chapter of the comic book (that’s why I’m rushing to finish the Graphic Novel and go back to the game. I’m dealing with a limited time; I'm still a comic book artist as my day job).
Before focusing on the Graphic Novel, I was building the levels to send to testers before exposing it to the public. (The internet is a goddamn viral thing. If you put an ugly video from your game any place online, it can be spread and your first time to impress will be compromised. I saw it happen to some game dev buddies of mine, with people downloading their WIP videos and posting online. It isn’t fair…).
7. What kind of work are you doing on the game? Did you have to learn any new skills to be able to do it?
-Other than music/soundtrack/voices, everything. From programming to animation. I'm still in solo production; it's a small, indie and a short introductory game in the series, no big shot here. This first game is a practice to understand the players, the marketing (and how to deal with big operations in the future) and test my skills as game designer and level designer. I just want to know where areas I’m a failure and in what areas I have to hire new members for the next game. I can finish the first game in solo mode, but I'm not sure if I want to. Slowly, I'm changing my mind and considering bringing investors to build a small team after I finish the demo. After the demo game launching, I’ll be sure of what path I have to take.
-I did. A LOT of them. I still think one of the HARDEST things a person can do is a video game. So many hats to use…
I past 5 years studying HOW to do a game before thinking about doing one. And, the basic skills. Now I'm putting the things together, I have to bring testers to adjust the gameplay rhythm. Game devs say you must have a tester for the day one usually. But I had to learn how to make a functional game before someone test it.
8. Why did you choose Drunk Duck to host the Kings Club on? And what did you think if the theme music that Gunwallce did for it? What's the story behind your potato avatar? :)
- When I decided Kings Club would be digital-first, I started to search for cool webcomics hosting. I was shocked I didn't find a place where a non-manga esque title could find its audience. The internet is totally dominated by its visual style (I like manga too, but guys, c'mon! It's like a zombie attack!). I was desolated… Ironic, isn't it? My agent oriented me I had to adapt myself or I wouldn't survive in the early days. He was right! In the “printed realm”, if I hadn't adapted myself from manga to something more naturalist/stylized realist, my career would have sunk. And online, we have this. I was unmotivated to release Kings Club online and almost contacting publishers and some buddy editors to a printed edition, forgetting going digital-first… When I remembered Drunk Duck. A decade ago, or so, before being a comic book professional, I was a DD member. No bullshit, but this was the place which motivated me to follow a professional path. Here was the place I exercised my art (I did a fanzine at that time, that's about Warcraft, ugh). I mirror Kings Club to other hosting, but Drunk Duck is one of my favorites, considering a house for Kings Club. One of the reasons I like Drunk Duck is because there are readers and creators with a wide taste here (well, I read ALL comics, Eastern and Western, so I don't understand limited preferences to visual style. For me, the story comes first).
-The theme he did was PERFECT! With an urban and gritty touch, love it!I found it so amazing that I asked his permission to add this theme in the game. He was so nice he only didn't ask for payment or royalties and gave me the permission, as he offered me a rearrange in the theme if is necessary.
-“Even when something is considered low quality, this thing can produce cool results” or “Never, ever, underestimate someone”. It's a letter of love to indie production ^^ (And it's a real photo I took from a potato with a toy military helmet, because it had to be a real thing!).
CONTINUE IN PART III
9. What are the materials and or programs that you use to make your art?
-My Wacom Intuos Pro, Photoshop CS2 (old stuff), Sculptris, Blender and an old version of 3DS MAX. I'm goddamn fast 3D modeler and I take advantage of it, doing some background with 3D (and sometimes, I do “freehand”, it depends how many times a background will be present in the story. I modeled N.Y. Central Park Belvedere castle in some hours when it was present in an entire issue of Gates of Midnight. It saved me days and days of work). But, my “analogical” arsenal is: pen, pencil, paper, brush and ink (my favorite technique). If I have to color on paper, I like acrylic, gouache and watercolor. I love Prismacolor markers too.
10. Do you prefer analogue or digital methods of comic creation? .e. pen and ink VS a Wacom tablet and a computer.
- Despite being faster on paper and ink, I prefer a digital way to save paper and storage space.
11. How long does it take you to make a comic page?
-It depends on the genre and audience my client is aiming for. When it demands a crazy detailed artwork, it took me around 2 days to finish a page. For my simplified and neo noir Kings Club comic, it took around 1 to 3 hours (but much more time to think how the page will look like).
12. What is your comic making process like? i.e. coming up with a script, plots, characters etc,. How does creation a comic for yourself differ for your professional jobs.
-Like a bull in a China shop hahaha! For publishers, I read the script and start to walk around my house, thinking and evoking images in my mind before going to paper. I try to remember all references the audience is used to the thing I'm working and extract something they can be related to, but done on my way. After that, I start the thumbnails, defining the composition and keeping the author's storytelling in mind. Then, I do the layout, when it's a new client, or I go to the inking part if it's a client who already knows me and my modus operandi. I do the thing and wait for the editor follow-up. If I have the greenlight, I send the high resolution to the editor, if not; I fix what have to be fixed. Usually I don't have to change a drawing more than 2 times, with the most of part doing no changing in the drawing. It sounds methodical, but as I said, it's like a bull in a china shop, with all those steps happening at once, in high speed in my mind. Sometimes I stop everything and study another technique to improve the results, simply.
When I’m creating my own comic, it's an entirely different story. That's the moment I AM the storyteller. My steps to create this Graphic Novel were:
-World creation, followed by characters creation, polishing the background first. Everything had to be connected, for me. Establishment of the visual part.
-Some research from real to fictional events to thicken the story. Book time! (Blackwater and Rainbow Six were two different examples used as documentary and fiction work I'm referring to).
-Breaking plot to arcs
-Check the consistency
-Breaking arcs to scenes
-Check the pace, overhauling the ideas
-Breaking scenes to micro points, dealing with dialogues
-Come back again and adjust the pace, having the whole picture in mind.
- Thumbnails associated with the script, checking the scenes rhythm while I'm doing the whole chapter. Sometimes I have to change something in a previous chapter or in the next chapter to create a solid link.
-Draw! Directly to the digital paper, with minimum sketching.
- Lettering (sometimes I check again the dialogue here, changing it. I like to see how it looks like after everything was set up).
-Wrap it and happy time to publish online (a sort of. Because I have to slice the pages and dialogues to make a mobile version).
YEAH! Game development had a great impact in the way I organize a story. I became an organized bastard.
13. What's in the future for the Kings Club? Will you publish it as is, do a film treatment and sell the rights, release it though a publisher or self publish and sell it that way?
- This first Graphic Novel will establish Kings Club series future. I don't like the way I’m doing it now, as a print format and digital format at the same time. An online comic and printed comics can't be treated in the same way. At least, I can't! I saw two different beasts here. It can work for other creators, but not for me. Digital and printed-version, I’m testing test both. I don't want to kill the online version after the first Graphic Novel, even with a printed version, but testing the two versions will give me the necessary feedback to check what the most well received version is.
I have some tricks up my sleeve (and an agent) and I'll use it to find a good publishing house for Kings Club. I don't want to do it by myself. I prefer someone helping me with the promotion. I have a game to finish, and a comic publisher will save me some time. I'll bring on board an (famous) editor buddy, who I worked with before, to edit this first Graphic Novel (surprise, surprise. it'll be revealed later).
It's interesting a movie being mentioned because I have more contact with this kind of thing than many artists could have, but, I never been thought about a movie. Well, if a contract comes to me; fine! But when I created Kings Club, I had only the comic in mind; the game is being a nice bonus for this IP.