So, last week I was featured in The Huffington Post’s Entertainment section:
That is where the above comic (Luigi) was premiered first, as a continuing part of the Retro Video Game Edition of Dear Inner Demons. You can see the actual article HERE. In the article only a few quotes from the interview were used, so if you are interested you can scroll below to read the full interview.
Here are the original questions as asked by Sara Roncero-Menendez from The Huffington Post, and my long-winded answers!
What was your inspiration for Dear Inner Demons?
Hmm. That is a surprisingly tough question, actually! I’m not sure the birth of this particular comic came as much from inspiration as it was more of a slow evolution. I think there are three main ingredients that led to the creation of Dear Inner Demons: 1) A particular love of single-panel gag strip comics, 2) a dark sense of humour, and 3) finally stumbling into an emotionally expressive personal art style. Or, more succinctly: Format, Tone, and Style.
To elaborate: I have always loved single-panel gag strips, whether it was Family Circus when I was a kid, Far Side comics when I was a teen, or New Yorker comics as an adult. To me, single panel comics are like a photograph in a way, capturing that one moment in time. I have always dabbling with single-panel comic ideas, for years.
Also, I had the benefit of having a witty and sarcastic family, which probably shaped my sense of humour. I always remember being drawn to creepy, weird, darker imagery as well, throughout my entire life. I have been told repeatedly through the years that I have a unique ability to marry “sweet" and “brutal," or “cute" and “sad", and in recent years I have tried to embrace and nurture that, and you can definitely see the result within Dear Inner Demons.
As I said, I started drawing one-panel gag strips years ago before my drawing ability evolved and I finally found my style. Through those early years I was never really happy with the art, but was still compelled to just get ideas out and express weird and off-beat jokes and sentiments. As years went by and I delved deeper into graphic design, I would often play around with different styles and approaches, which resulted in a style I was finally happy with for a short-lived comic I did with a partner, which was called “Last Words." The style in that comic was definitely the precursor to Dear Inner Demons. But it wasn’t until having a conversation with a local artist (Anna Stowe) that I was encouraged to embrace my loose/rough pencil-sketch style as final ink work, rather than work against it, striving for clean, controlled lines. When she suggested that, it was like something clicked. I started exploring it more, and it became very clear that this approach was the perfect match to the vibe and brand of the comic.
Why use video games as part of the series?
The first Dear Inner Demons sketches I ever really did actually started last year as a Hallowe’en series, in which I had this idea of trying to dig into the minds of classic monsters. At that time I didn’t even have a name for the comic, or really even think it would turn into a weekly strip. I wasn’t able to finish the series in time for Hallowe’en last year, so they will be released later this year. So after those sketches last year, I then started to think of tapping into other pre-existing pop-culture characters, with a particular interest in super heroes, but also thought of video game characters too, and Star Wars, etc.
Then, I got a sort of “kick in the pants" to finish some of the video game comics when there was a call for submissions at a local gallery here (The Dart Gallery) for which the theme of the show was to be “Retro Video Games." So of course it was a perfect fit and timing, not to mention very close to my heart, because being a child of the 80s-90s I played basically all the classic retro video games for the original gaming systems. In talking with the organizers, instead of wall pieces it was decided to have the format be postcards and three (Mario 1, Mario 3, and Sonic) were printed up and sold at the show. They proved to be quite popular, and are still selling there. Jane, the owner of the gallery told me they are always a conversation piece and attention getter even if the visitor doesn’t actually purchase one.
Just to clarify, is Tanuki!Mario inner demon because of the PETA controversy over the costume where people were only concerned with the costume, or because of the costume's powers?
I actually had no idea about the PETA controversy, to be honest. I live in a bit of a bubble sometimes. But that comic’s sentiment is meant more so to be about some deeper level of Mario that transcends even that particular suit. I could have used any suit, and even considered the frog suit, but chose the Raccoon suit because it was cuter. To me, that deeper level is about how Mario is always pressing on, being upbeat, the hero, unflappable (mostly) etc etc, but the surface level is the sort of play on words because he’s in a costume.
Do you have a favorite, or one you're especially proud of?
There are a few that are very personal to me, and reflect personal hardships and heartache. I sometimes think of them in two lights, like, the sentiment, and the art, so sentiment-wise, I would say “The Abyss" is my favourite: “I like you more than the empty abyss of loneliness." Which originally I had written as “I LOVE you more than…" but I changed it, because I wanted to use “love" in another comic.
Art-wise I am kind of proud of the Donkey Kong one. It very minimal and sparse, which I am always a fan of. Every comic exists in two formats: widescreen (for viewing on desktop/laptop), and square, which most people have seen shared on the internet (for viewing on mobile/tablet). Usually when I draw the widescreen format version I just add more background of whatever the scene is. However, when I did the art for the Donkey Kong comic I thought “Hmm, you never ever seen more than just past the edges of the platform…. what would be beyond that?" Originally I was going to do a “barrel delivery system" towards the left, but then had this idea of him actually being trapped in some kind of “Hell." “All I want is to be left alone" …. “to burn in Hell." I actually even had an additional detail of the skeletal remains of the Princess laying on the top platform but decided to axe it. However, people that sign up for the newsletter will get a chance to see it. Anyways, I just like the way the Donkey Kong one came out in the end.
What do you want fans to take away from the work?
My sincere hope is that any one person might see a comic and completely identify with the sentiment. I am amazed to hear how different people relate to different comics. It really makes creating them worthwhile. It starts as a personal expression, for sure, but it’s just incredible to realize that other people identify and relate to these things you are expressing.
Beyond that though, my overall message with the comic is that I think it’s important for us to find humour in some of the things that haunt us, or the battles we are faced with in life, and also be able to laugh at ourselves, or our inner battles. Life can be brutal, so we might as well have a few laughs in the face of it all, before we die.