Andrew Rothery is an intrepid web comic artist. He’s been creating his comic,Tru-Life Adventures for ten years, currently running five days a week. If you’re inspired by Andrew’s work as an artist, there are classes offering related art lessons that can hone your skills.I got the chance to talk with him about the world of epublishing from the perspective of a comics artist recently.
Traci: So Andrew, what’s your comic about?
Andrew: Tru-life Adventures is about a group of people who work at a particular toy store. Retail humor is by far the biggest focus of the story, but the store has become the focal point of a struggle between factions of time travelers. It’s kind of like the TV show Chuck with time travel instead of spies, a toy store instead of electronics, and a variety of superpowers instead of the intersect. It updates every weekday, Monday-Friday
Traci: And it predates Chuck by a lot of years. TLA has been running for 10 years, right? And how long have you been drawing comics?
Andrew: As long as I can remember.
Traci: But now you are doing it on the computer. How has the internet changed the comics scene?
Andrew: It’s opened up the world of comics to anyone who wants to participate. You used to need to find a syndicate or publisher to be read. Or you could self-publish but it was much more expensive to print and distribute. Now you just draw, scan, and upload. The middle man is gone.
Traci: How have artists adapted their work for the internet?
Andrew: You want to keep your file size down for the internet, but that doesn’t mean just doing simple art. There are graphics programs that can take care of that for you. Some people use that freedom for experimental things with the format of the comics. Flash allows for interactivity that some people have embraced.
Traci: What programs do you use to create your comic?
Andrew: I use a number of open source tools like Inkscape and the Gimp.
Traci: How technically savvy do you have to be to start your own web comic?
Andrew: You just need to be able to follow a set of instructions. There are plenty of online tools and lots of help available to learn how to use them.
Traci: How have you seen web comics changes over the decade you’ve been doing Tru-Life Adventures?
Andrew: There are a lot more out there now. The focus has shifted. Big names used to be on Keenspot, but Keenspot has changed too. More people are going out on their own. There are more tools for running your own website then there used to be.
Traci: You’ve always been on your own though, right?
Traci: Where would you like to see your comic go in the next three years?
Andrew: I have about two more years of story left. I said that ten years ago and I said that last year. I may or may not draw the comic to a conclusion. I have ideas for other strips. One is Rick Crocket.
Traci: What is Rick Crocket?
Andrew: It’s like the Johnny Blastoff character from Tru-life Adventures. An homage to science fiction pulps.
Traci: When might we see this?
Andrew: In the next year.
Traci: Will there be any big differences between the two comics?
Andrew: Rick Crockett will be more tightly plotted. I’ve done TLA by the seat of my pants. Sometimes it’s been day to day and It’s never had it more than a few weeks out at a time. I’ll also use a different art style. I’ll attempt to make it look like an old sci-fi strip.
Traci: So before I let you go, what one technology would you love to see invented for web-comics?
Andrew: On the production side there are number of tools you can use already: Flash, Illustrator, Inkscape,Gimp. And there are a lot more ways to view web-comics now. People are experimenting with apps; but the perfect phone app already exists for viewing webcomics. The browser.
Traci: It sounds like things are perfect as they are. Well, thank you for your time, I appreciate it. I look forward to more adventures with TLA and for the upcoming Rick Crocket!
Traci Tyne Hilton is the author of the independently published Mitzy Neuahus Mystery series. In addition to writing mysteries, Traci is a die hard childrens ministry worker. Story telling is her favorite job in the ministry but she also rocks balloon animals and wild games. Traci has written grant proposals,blogs , essays on etymology , Bible studies, Sunday School curriculum, novels, short stories, history essays, and plays. She hopes to do many more of the above, God willing and the creek don’t rise. The Mitzy Neuhaus series is available at amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com in paperback and ebook. More of Traci’s work can be found at http://www.tracihilton.com