The Real Queen of
Queen of Wands
(first in a series on webcomics)
perusing the funny pages today will find relatively few
comics with any kind of edge to them. Syndicated cartoonists
have learned that when they try to push the envelope, such
as when Lynn Johnston’s For Better or For Worse revealed
a gay character, newspapers across the nation will drop
their strip for the duration of the storyline or permanently.
This has led to a sanitized-for-your-protection comics page
with anything with bite getting relegated to the opinion
where can you go for bite? Webcomics.
not a new phenomenon, they’ve been around since the
mid 90’s. Now webcomics seem to be entering something
of a golden age. Since 2001, they’ve even had their
own awards ceremony, The
Cartoonists Choice Awards, which acknowledges the standouts
in the genre.
have no censors, no rules, and nobody telling them what
they can or cannot publish. The artists have complete control,
and unless they sell merchandise or receive donations, they
do not get paid for what they do. This allows for an amazing
range of independent expression, and if you go out to look,
you’ll probably find a few that seem to speak directly
the The Cartoonists Choice Awards recently publishing their
nomininees, I thought I’d try to score a few interviews
with the artists.
is the woman behind Queen
of Wands, a nominee for best romantic comic, about a
young woman named Kestrel and her friends. Nothing fantastic
or unbelievable happens in Kestrel’s life, but her
day-to-day reality and the way she sees the world make Queen
of Wands an engrossing story. Aeire’s ever-evolving
art and luminous use of color also add to the over-all addictiveness
of the comic.
was kind enough to speak with me over instant messenger
about her comic.
Planet: So... What got you started in webcomics?
I actually started out by doing fan art for other comics -
I got started on reading Sluggy (Freelance)
waaaaay back what, four or five years ago I think, and from
there jumped into College
Roomies from Hell!!! - people were doing fan art
on the forums, so I thought I'd give it a shot. And then I
had a bunch of people tell me to start a webcomic.
Planet: Natural progression. Your FAQ says it's
about 70% based on your real life. Does the comic sometimes
venture into such personal territory that it's emotionally
The percentage actually varies as I go along, really. But
yeah, it sometimes goes places that are hard to write, and
hard to convey. I used to joke that I started a webcomic
because it was cheaper than therapy - well it is, and there
is something therapeutic about putting it all out on the
line like that. Sometimes it's draining, but the feedback
makes it worth the effort put into it.
Planet: While your comics have an overall storyline
and your characters definitely grow over time, you also
do strips that are more punchline-y. Is there one you prefer
over the other? Also, is one harder to put together than
the other in terms of planning/writing etc...
It's a matter of balancing the two. The punchline ones generally
come at a point where I'm either a little burnt out on doing
plot, or I've just got some weird idea in my head, like
the Batman one. They're usually a little easier to write
because it's just a one-off. The serious strips are fun
to do but they're a little more difficult, because you really
have to pay attention to what expressions you're trying
to draw and convey, and you also have to pay careful attention
to the text that you write, to make sure that the point
you're trying to make comes off as easily as possible.
Planet: Okay (not begging for spoilers) you've
said that QoW is slated to end in 2005. Do you
have a definite ending in mind, or are you gonna plan it
out when the time comes?
I've had a definite ending in mind ever since I started
Planet: Tantalizing... You update three times a
week. About how much of your life do you devote to the comic?
And in terms of percentage, how much is spent actually doing
it and not answering email and shooting the s*** with internet
I spend about 3-5 hours doing one comic - sometimes longer.
It depends on the strip. And then I've got other things
that I do as well - t-shirt designs, posters, prints, and
the like. I'd say rough figure I spend about 30 hours a
week or so on the comic at the moment.
as far as percentage - I'd say about...phoo. A lot. When
I'm not actually working on the comic or art or whatever,
I'm usually running story ideas over in my head or going
over where things are supposed to be or working on the next
comic that's coming out. I spend a lot of time on comics
in general, not just QoW.
Planet: What do you find most rewarding/satisfying
about publishing a webcomic?
The emails I get back. There's...well there's a really good
sense of community, and I've made a lot of really good friends
through the community, but beyond all of that, it's the
little emails that I get here and there that say 'Thank
you, I didn't realize that before' or 'Your comic is one
of the few things that makes me laugh' or 'That storyline
really hit home for me and made me realize some things'
- it's that.
at numbers, you don't see the people that are reading -
through email, you get a sense of precisely what you've
done, and that in some case you've ended up changing people's
lives, just a little. It's a really odd feeling, and it's
not really something I had taken into consideration when
I started this thing.
Planet: Where do you see the art of webcomics heading
in the future? And where would you like to see it go?
I'm really not sure where it's going to go. It's a relatively
new industry, as far as industries go - and there are a
lot of different elements to it. Using the internet as a
medium rather than a piece of paper leaves you open to endless
possibilities as far as layout goes, possibilities that
you wouldn't see on paper.
like to see webcomics as a whole gel into something that's
more than just a playground for hobbyists to get their feet
wet in. There's nothing WRONG with it being a hobby, and
I'm glad there are so many people out there getting the
opportunity to learn and hone their skills, but at the same
time I'd like to see more people making a success out of
it and making it their job.
Planet: Amen to that!
Every one of us that does this does it because they love
what they do. There's no other reason to do it. That's it.
Fanboy Planet: So name a couple of comics
that people should be reading.
Wow. You're asking me for a list. I'm really awful at making
Planet: Eh, just whatever pops into your mind
Because I'm always afraid I'm gonna leave someone out.
Planet: Okay...lemme make it easier. Name some
that influenced you early on. You mentioned Sluggy Freelance.
Sluggy didn't really influence me so much as entertain me
and introduce me to the concept. But College Roomies
From Hell!!! definitely, It's
and Millie… Penny
Arcade and PvP
along with Sluggy have all been standards for so
Positive, obviously (Something Positive and
Queen of Wands recently did a crossover) - Mac
Hall was another one that I looked at and went
'Wow, I could be doing more with coloring.' I think that's
about it in terms of influences for QoW.
forth and read webcomics, email the artists, and enjoy!
Thanks again to Aeire!