|my latest Shots|
(journal skin in progress!)
When I was a kid, both my big bro and my older cousins drew a lot, and I did along with them. Then they started making comics and I did, too. Even though until then they were strip like, and I made no “graphic novel” attempt until I turned 11 or so (1997, to be specific). Those comics were a jumbled mess that hardly had a plot, just a bunch of wild animals being friends for no reason, sometimes arguing and being basically teenagers. But I loved making them. I wanted to “look good”, visually speaking, and I guess that wouldn’t have worked in my previous strips.
It was by that time that I started drawing “realistic” animals in a realistic setting, in opposition to the heavily Looney Tunes/Hanna Barbera influenced characters that I used to have when younger.
2. What is your favorite comic that you've read?
I love Nofna’s current arc, Syconium, to death. It has a great plot and characters (even if one of them got kinda talky for my liking), great world building, imagery, and it makes me suffer like crazy. I also really like the previous stories, but this one is probably my favourite.
If we're talking about published comics/manga, The lost Canvas has a huge place in my heart that will never fade away. I also enjoyed FMA.
I currently read many online comics. Some that I like, some that I am okay with, and some I outright dislike, but still read because why not. Also wanna see where they're going.
3. Has there been a scene so far that has been particularly hard to capture in your current and/or past comics?
The red deer herd is always a big challenge because, despite it being realistically tiny with just 8 adults (real red deer herds are a lot larger), I want to show a dynamic group where, despite there being leaders (who are those leaders is hopefully clear by now!), everyone has their place, voice and importance. They all have personalities, too, some of which will be more developed than others, but none of them exists to stand silently in the background, that for sure.
Like, it’s very intentional it was Pangue and Muitú whom Chaura sent to find Arrayán. If it’s not quite clear now, it sure will be with time ^^.
My more logical side tells me it would’ve been more effective to just pick a few deer (i.e, Retama and Chaura) and prominently develop them before even moving even slightly onto the more secondary the others. But, I am happy with the direction I took in the end, because it’s been a very fun challenge. I had an alternate way to “undo” the conflict at hand, or carry it in a more streamlined way, but that one felt more boring to me. Only time will tell, I guess!
4. How long did you wait before starting your current comic and/or comics in the past? (i.e. the writing/story development process)
Years, albeit it wasn’t years of constant planning, but occasional Awka planning very far in between. Mostly because there were lots of things getting in the way.
First there was Guyra and my forestry career. Guyra started 1-2 months after I got my first tablet, and I don’t remember exactly for how long I planned it, but it ws probably about a month or even less for the first draft. Then there was LaF, to which I didn’t have much time to plan ahead, but I’d always think and take notes of ideas for future rounds, and sowed little “seeds” to be revisited later.
Then I graduated from Forestry, found my first “serious” job (it was a bad taste joke, but hey! Payment was decent), and started a second career, Biology Teaching. By that year, 2015, I took a rather long break from DA, during which I badly needed to recharge my artistic energy. During that time, I started roleplaying in a Saint Seiya themed forum, and it was a ton of fun, despite the multiple dramas that happened there (the huge bulk of which I was not involved in, but drama and abuse between members ALWAYS erodes a community).
Then I started my first “serious” attempt at a novel (as serious as Awka is, nothing professional, just an exercise of playing around with OCs and storytelling), which didn’t have much planning for, but took a little story I intended to unfound in the Lost Athens Roleplay (hint: it involves the issue with Nube’s grandma and a sort of criminal band she was involved with. And lemon as a tin foil hatter) and just… wrote. I am still doing it. It’s a big process of trying and learning and I *may* show it online at some point.
And come 2016, my hand was itching again, and I started doodling deer. The rest is history.
Deer are still hard to draw.
5. If you could have done anything differently when you were starting out, what would it be?
I guess starting out a bit earlier. And going at a slower pace at the earlier pages.
I would have loved to include more interaction between Awka and her dad at the very beggining, without making it feel like filler, before the issue with the red deer happened. I sometimes think about redoing the prologue, but probably won’t.
6. Who is your favorite character to write?
My favourite characters to write for are Awka and Retama. They’re an absolute blast. Amancay is also surprisingly fun to write for, because she doesn’t talk unless she strictly needs to, and I thought I’d get bored of her first. And, Mutisia. Because I have a soft spot for weird children.
There will be future character dynamics that I know I’ll love to write for, but I prefer to not mention them just yet. They involve meat eater and plant eater interactions.
7. Who is your least favorite character to write?
I don’t have characters I dislike writing for, but I can tell you, whoever looks at my old art, that not all the characters there were going to be, at the beginning, made it to the final draft of the story. Some had traits that got “absorbed” by the regular cast, and some were dropped because they were character that represented things I no longer feel strongly about.
They also are all fun to draw. Except for Fucsia’s antlers, which I hate drawing. I rarely do them even remotely close to right.
8. How drastically did the story change since you started?
Very. The first draft was “ruined” when I found a very old book, named “Renancó y los últimos huemules” (Renancó and the last Huemuls), which had several points in common with my initial ideas for Awka, and almost made me drop the project al together. Then I re-wrote the story on its entirety.
I have like 90 pages of that I did from 2010 to… 2012 or so? And yeah, the current story did change since that. I am a walking mess.
BTW, Renancó has some inaccuracies (for example, it portrays huemuls living in hierarchically organized groups, led by a male. Huemuls do not form hierarchized groups at all, and their closest relatives, the Taruca, are always led by females), but it’s still a super lovely tale.
9. What are the major influences/inspiration for your comic and/or previous comics?
Funnily enough, the (very rough) idea for Awka came from when I was reading about how red deer (introduced in South America back in the 30’s) displace huemul away from their habitat, forcing them to the shittier ones and how this affects the species as a whole. And I thought it would be a neat scenery for a story. Back then I was having a few new adult conceptions, and a lot of fears, and the characters started forming themselves together with the skeleton of a plot.
But my major inspirations, are what I see when I go to nature. From climbing a mountain to merely going to the city lake with a pair of binoculars, it’s the ecosystem as a whole, and not the animals alone, what inspires me. Geology is a very beautiful thing, too.
So basically, I am not in any way, shape or form an expert in the writing field. I am mostly a field person who happens to enjoy stories and drawing.
BTW, If you ever read Horacio Quiroga’s tales, you will sure be reminded of That’s Freedom Guyra ^^
10. What does your process look like?
My process has a lot in common with the productions of a child while throwing a tantrum. I do not have firmly established schedules or procedures. I just do whatever I can, or works best for me. And sometimes, this varies.
But, as for things I find myself more or less always doing: sketch the pages, including dialogue (or general lines for it), as well as character positions/expressions, and dialogue bubble placement. They’re super rough, just meant to more or less establish the overall look of it, without any care for anatomy and what not. Other times it’s dialogue alone, or just drawings of key poses or faces.
The plot is written in what I’ve nicknamed a “fish bone”: I establish the beginning, some key events on the middle, and the end. You “fill it” as the story progresses, but also end up changing some things. I take note of scenes and dialogues I want to incorporate all the time, have an entire sketchbook dedicated to that. But a LOT of it changes for the final version, and many ideas that I loved when I wrote them down, no longer sound neat by the time I make it to certain parts of the story.
I try my best to do a good visual narration, including details like a proper dialogue placement, the distance between bubbles to a degree indicating the time between them, and using dynamic camera angles and color palettes to enhance mood and show the best possible angles for an action.
I struggle with dialogue at times, and often I am extremely embarrassed of the English version. If I mess up in Spanish, I can think of multiple alternative ways to say or imply the same thing, and I know the minor subtleties we use. In English not only sometimes I have no idea how to say something, but also have no clue if it sounds weird, too formal, grammatically wrong, I am using too many words and making it feel redundant, or on the contrary by trying to keep it short I am being unclear. This is the kind of subtleties I spoke about, above. I also often use pretty literal translations from Spanish, when I’m very aware we speak very differently.
But yeah, translating is hard. In any case, know that as much as I royally mess up at times, I try my best. I mostly read the words I typed, and I have to like how it sounds. Which is not the best way to do it, but ultimately what I do, haha.
Words need to be tied to the images, as well. A rule of thumb for me is, if were to you remove all the dialogues from a page, you should still have a rough idea of what’s going on by the visuals alone. If all you have is detached heads talking, or blank expressions, you may need to look closer and play, play, play! Try as many times and you need, and there’s nothing to be embarrassed about if one fails ^^
That being said, I am an anxious, scared mess more often than I care to admit. Aaaaand, I know it does me no good, so I’m trying my best to get over it and relax.
Like, a part of me inevitably wants to make a “good” or “proper” story, and more often than I care to admit I feel my story is ´not good enough’ and that sometimes does affect my mood. But I also am very much driven by what I *like* to do, and despite often ending up flat out exhausted after I make the pages (and often half assing anatomy or BGs), I have a lot of fun making each page. I cannot draw if I am in a bad mood or feel under pressure, and since I am overall a very stressed person, I have to draw a line somewhere, else I’d end up messing myself out of stress alone. This does affect how often I post, but it’s ultimately what works best for me. I have pages I’m happy about, and pages I am very bleh about. But, the overall process is one of love.
Awka is, in the end, a shameless celebration of a bunch of things I like and I am interested in. And hopefully, every reader can find this little, silly story about deer and some animals no one heard about, a fun one to read, and get hooked to. I know I get happy when some stories I follow, get new pages, and I can only try to offer my readers with the same ^^
Not sure if you were tagged or not alread? But wanna read about your comics so tagging just in case ^^
Becasue of course
respondélas en Español, si te queda más cómodo! ^^ amaría leer sobre tu progreso en Simbol c:
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