As part of the continuing Star Wars Edition of Dear Inner Demons, the C-3PO comic above was debuted last week exclusively in WIRED, and I also did up a special version of the Chewbacca comic from last week for WIRED as well, which you can see again here:
If you’re into full-meal-deals, you can scroll down to read the full interview with my verbose answers.
Interview for Wired Magazine by Angela Watercutter
First your bio info: age, occupation, current city of residence, anything else you think is relevant for identifying you.
Name: Christopher Hemsworth
Occupation: Graphic / Web designer & Illustrator
Current City of Residence: Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
Websites: dearinnerdemons.com, christopherhemsworth.com
Twitter: @dearinnerdemons, @audiovisualboy
What initially inspired the concept behind Dear Inner Demons?
Being possessed by the devil for two years was the main inspiration, I’d say. Ahem. I kid.
It was sort of a chain of events, really. It actually started last Halloween (2013) when i was making some sketches of famous movie monsters and had this idea that they were struggling with problems too. I didn’t get those finished in time to release them last Halloween, but I’m going to release them this coming Halloween 2014. So when I sketched those, I didn’t have it in my head that it would be a new comic strip or anything, and there was no name, I just thought they would be a one-off series. Then as Christmas approached I had more ideas in the same “tone," that this time revolved around what average people are really thinking during the Holidays, and just generally brutal statements and sentiments with a Christmas theme. But again, I didn’t have time to pull it all together before Christmas. Then, after the new year, heading towards Valentines day, I had been mulling all this over and toying with the idea of doing “brutal" Valentines, and it was during that time that I decided on a name, and dialed in the art-style, etc etc, and it all came together and I launched “Dear Inner Demons" and released the Valentines cards in some local shops here.
What's your process for creating one? Are they drawn by hand or illustrated digitally? How long does it typically take to create one of these images?
Like a lot of artists I know, I am always fascinated to know about other artistic processes (in various disciplines too - writing, painting, even wood working, etc), and I think that what happens over the years is that we end up taking inspiration and what we’ve learned about process and siphoning it down into our own specific process. So here’s how I work….
Dear Inner Demons comics are almost entirely done digitally with a Wacom tablet and Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator. So, they are done digitally, but still drawn by hand, via the tablet. I’ve always been more of a digital artist than traditional artist, and the influence of graphic design is probably part of the reason.
I do a lot of the initial sketches in an actual sketchbook in real life, and then maybe snap a photo of the sketch on my phone and drop it into Photoshop. That’s mostly for general ideas I have, or if I get a pose or body position sketch I’m happy with. Other times I just start from scratch in Photoshop, beginning with sketching. I finally found some nice pencil brushes I love, and I use a Wacom tablet to do all my drawing, inking, and painting right in photoshop. I draw some stylized background elements in Adobe Illustrator, and then drop those in as smart objects.
I’ve been working on trying to learn watercolour, and sometimes I work actual watercolour backgrounds into the final digital product (as well as abstract texture photos I’ve taken), but eventually I’d like to try doing some of the comics on traditional media entirely, with ink and watercolour.
Having said all that, even if I work digitally from sketch to final product, it all feels very natural in the flow of process, starting with pencils, then inks, then colouring/painting, and ending with shading/texturing and details. The digital process for me has always been partly to easily facilitate experimentation, trial and error, and trying different things, without a huge loss of time or having to start over again.
Despite trying to streamline workflow with a digital process, each comic (assuming I have the idea worked out already which takes time in and of itself) takes about 2-4hrs to complete depending on how complex the backgrounds are. That also doesn’t account for research time, when needed. So 2-4hrs for just the art, basically.
You can actually see a sped-up process video on the page for the “Darth Vader" comic here: http://dearinnerdemons.com/comic/10, if you scroll down the page. You’ll see basically what I describe above, in action.
For Dear Inner Demons, particularly the video game and 'Star Wars' ones, it seems like you're making a deliberate choice to mix these images from childhood with these moments of pathos – what was your thinking behind that?
That’s a very interesting question and perspective I hadn’t given a lot of specific thought to before. The truth is, whether it’s a famous pre-existing character, or my own random “characters" that I create for non-themed strips, the process is basically the same: It’s just about trying to get inside that characters head, and figure out what they might be struggling with or haunted by, or faced with.
Having said that, I am sure that there is an underlying current of my own feelings to some degree. Anything I use as the subject for one of my comics, whether it's a video game, Star Wars, a particular sentiment, or some combination of both, is something I have a deep connection too.
"Loss of innocence" is something that resonates very strongly with me, and always has, so it's no surprise to me that I would end up juxtaposing images and iconic figures from my childhood against brutal sentiments. However, it never consciously starts from that perspective for me.
What's the future of the series? How long do you want to continue it? How frequently would you like to add to it?
I have no plans of stopping the comic. I would like to add to it once a week, at the least. But ideally more, if time allows. I have pages and pages of ideas, it’s just a matter of having the time to make them! My Tupperware collection isn’t going to organize itself, you know.
Is there an endgame, per se? Would you ultimately like to see this turned into a book or some other compilation?
My endgame is all about getting my King in front of my last remaining pawn. Haha, sorry, that was a chess joke! Cue the crickets. But seriously, yes, I will definitely be looking to release a book of collected comics as soon as there are enough to warrant that. Also, it will be nice to be able to have sections in the book organizing the various editions (video game, Hallowe’en, Star Wars, etc). Beyond that, I have some other ideas for some “special" books, that would be part of the “Dear Inner Demons world," but not a collection. Lots of fun stuff planned! Including Dear Inner Demons themed antacid pills!