Episode 337 - Interview with AmeliaP of Kings Club

Aug 28, 2017

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!

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Topics and Show Notes

Topics and shownotes

Featured comic:
ZINC COMIX - http://www.theduckwebcomics.com/news/2017/aug/22/featured-comic-zinc-comix/

Links:
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

Featured music:
Abejitas - http://www.theduckwebcomics.com/Abejitas/, by Lazarinho, rated E.


INTERVIEW WITH AMELIA.P

PART I


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!
Woo…
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


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


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.
-Plot Overview
-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.
-Color Time!
- 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.

Episode 336 - Side romance

Aug 21, 2017

3 likes, 0 comments

Romances don't always have to be the main focus of a story, infact you can have richer, more interesting romances if they occur in support of a bigger plot issue. It can lend them and the story more weight if they're in a secondary position. Characters can form natural, less forced relationships with each other, and this can give the wider plot of the story more urgency or meaning because it has a direct bearing on the health of their union. You can reward fans with a wished for or unexpected blossoming of love between two favourite characters without having the same inevitability that a straight out romance has. Really, there are so many things you can do! This was inspired by Tantz's Saturday newspost. Gunwallace's theme for the week was for Mindfold: A tune that fits very well with its title! You can feel your mind folding with this gorgeous, echoing, evocative multicultural influenced sound, featuring all manner of crystalline ringing synths, soaring violins, drums and so much more. This would fit well with a high concept cyberpunk anime.

Episode 335 - Dialoguecast

Aug 14, 2017

5 likes, 4 comments

Dialogue is one of the most important elements for storytelling in most webcomics (there are exceptions). But dialogue is often hard for beginners, writing out imaginary conversations to push stories forward, show characterisation, or expositions are skills that don't come naturally! Banes has given us a helpful newspost on the subject and many DDer's offered their own experiences. In this Quackcast we expand on all of that. Our music theme for the week by Gunwallace was for our featured comic: Kings Club. This is a modern mafia movie soundtrack, starting off eerie and atmospheric and then ramping up the cool and bombastic. There’s traditional theme bolstered by a hard gritty rock techno edge.

Episode 334 - body technique!

Aug 7, 2017

3 likes, 2 comments

Let's get physical! let me hear your body technique! As a follow up to my newspost on Friday about figure drawing, we all got together to do a Quackcast about it, along with contributions in the form of comments from DDers on my newspost. Figure drawing is hard, it takes a lot of practise, but there are a lot of approaches you can take to improve like wire frame drawing, gestural sketches, geometric shapes, drawing shapes and silhouettes, using mirrors, photos, and copying what others have done to try and understand and improve your technique. We add our own insights and use silly accents to read out the contributions :) Gunwallace's theme for the week was for Cerintha: Classical, careful, creepy, The clarinet plods along methodically while the violin skips, leaps and dances, pure piano tones ring out like tinkling bells, sparkling with light and joy.

Episode 333 - Retcon the retcon

Jul 24, 2017

4 likes, 0 comments

The thing with retcons is that the author tends to get an idea which makes them want to go back over their story and redo or tweak the whole thing again, that's what's happened here… well sort off. Banes had some more ideas on the subject that he wanted to share, so we dove into the whole thing again! We were helped by a Websnark article on the subject linked to us by Kam in a comment on the last retcon Quackcast. It's a useful guide, breaking down the different kinds of retcon into five types: Category One: Now Revealed! A Lost Tale of the Hero! Category Two: The Story You Thought You Knew! Category Three: The Real Story You Thought You Knew! Category Four: The Story You Thought You Knew Was Right, But Now There's Been A Change! Category Five: Meet the New Hero, Not The Same As The Old Hero Because That Never Happened! In this Quackcast we expand upon those concepts. Gunwallace's theme for the week was for Lego Space - It’s Block time! The sound here brings to mind the techno-mechanistic world of Lego, and especially the bright and glittering transparent blocky world of SPACE lego, vectors, angles, and joins!

Episode 332 - The trouble with immortality

Jul 17, 2017

3 likes, 2 comments

In this Quast we talk about immortality, which is a common trope in literature. Who seeks immortality in stories? It's usually bad guys, and it usually has some sort of extreme price,catch or dark side, so much so that people actually believe that if immortality WAS real that it would somehow be an evil thing. The fact is that most of the possible downsides are cultural constructions or justifications for our own mortality, if immortality WAS a real thing we don't really know what the down sides would be… But this means that the trope of immortality is not as limited as we've come to believe; it's wide open to be re-written and redefined. And a not, the story mentioned in the Quackcast was The Trouble With Lichen and it was by John Wyndham, not Roald Dahl. Gunwallace's theme for the week was for The Beard. This one is creepy and magical, just the type of music you’d associate with alien hair follicles, it brings to mind strange activity on a microscopic level inside the skin… unsettling!

Episode 331 - Retconning your work

Jul 10, 2017

4 likes, 0 comments

Starwars, Ender's game, Captain America… All these are great examples (or bad ones) of “retcons”. But what IS a “retcon”? What it means is that you go back and change an established work by adding new information that has the effect of changing it in a small or significant way. You might do it in your comic, or a director might do it to a movie series, like George Lucas did famously with Star Wars: introducing concepts like “midi-chlorians” as an explanation for the force, having Han shooting Greedo second, sticking Hayden Christiensen in Return of the Jedi, among other things. A lot of the time this has the effect of pissing off audiences who've consumed the story and enjoyed it because it alters or even destroys the understanding they've built up based on it and the relationship they have wit the work. Retcons happen frequently in the comic world because publishers have to keep their franchises interesting and saleable to audiences, so origin stories get updated all the time for example. A huge recent retcon was Captain America revealing he'd been a long time sleeper agent for Hydra, which has the effect of messing up stories going back over 50 years… The writer Orson Scott Card had a great deal of success with his novel “Ender's Game”, but for some reason he can't stop retconning it, going back and adding and editing new bits and re-publishing it every few years, and most egregiously penning prequels from another character's perspective that retcon the original story entirely. As web comic creators we have the role of god-author so we all have the temptation to retcon at one stage or another. Can it ever be a good thing? Is it worth pissing off readers who have an emotional investment? Gunwallace's theme for the week was for Optimum: the future is here and it’s in space! This tune is so upbeat, positive, fun and futuristic, it really exemplifies the cute colourful graphics of Skreem’s comic.

Episode 330 - A feature on features!

Jul 3, 2017

2 likes, 0 comments

Following on from my newspost about features last week, now we have a whole Quackcast on the subject, tell you what features are and how we do them at DD. Refer to the links bellow to learn about how to get a feature. In this Quackcast Banes and Pitface join me! Pitface, who has been absent for weeks and weeks! No Tantz though, since she was off giving speeches at universities in the UK. Poor Pit was afflicted by a severe case of poison Ivy but joined in with the feature-cast anyway. What a trooper! And in other news Pitface has agreed to be a featurer! But she'll need training… Features are tricky things to do, first you have to find a great comic with good art, or writing or both, it has to have at least 15 pages, be updating regularly, it can't feature already copyrighted art (sprite comics, fan comics etc.), be A rated or have been featured before. That's sometimes harder than you'd think. Anyway, listen on and learn about features. Gunwallace's theme for the week was Motivational Housecat. It's Motivational, energetic, this music makes you want to move and gyrate to the driving rhythm and feel the sound with your body. This sound is going places!


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