Cat Garza Chats with Neal Von Flue

cat garza chatted with Neal Von Flue this past March about Neal's webcomic work to date and upcoming projects. Neal is a prolific writer and artist publishing comics on both Ape-Law and opi8.

catgarza: hey neal!
nvonflue: Hey cat!

catgarza: have you ALWAYS been into comics??
catgarza: when did it start…
nvonflue: Yeah i guess so..
catgarza: since you were a kid?
nvonflue: I was a Sgt Rock buff as a kid.
nvonflue: still am i guess.
catgarza: kewl
catgarza: i used to like those
nvonflue: not untill later did i start with X-men and all the Marvel stuff

catgarza: but when did you first start drawing comics?
nvonflue: like a year ago.
nvonflue: LOL
catgarza: wow
catgarza: right
catgarza: ok..
nvonflue: seriously, well my first real comics page was about a year ago (where I finished a whole page/story).
catgarza: but your work is a LOT different from either of those early exposures..
nvonflue: yeah I spent alot of time doing fine art.I wanted to be a painter.
catgarza: and art?
catgarza: ah
catgarza: ok
catgarza: so.. outta high school…
nvonflue: but disliked the gallery scene.
catgarza: right on
nvonflue: so i decided on comics. So i didn't have to b.s. people…
catgarza: ok
nvonflue: yeah right…!

catgarza: but was there an art education in there…
catgarza: or were you just pursuing fine art on your own?
nvonflue: i'm fairly self taught. i didn't take any art till college. And then it was mostly on my terms. I fell in a with a great crowd and set of teachers.
catgarza: did you graduate with an art degree?
nvonflue: no i never took any regular classes…
catgarza: ah
nvonflue: just about 5 years of art stuff.

catgarza: and the computer stuff, then.. when did you first [start] "painting with pixels"?
nvonflue: my mom got me my first computer. a 486…Around 94 or so
nvonflue: i did alot of stuff in Microsoft Paint
catgarza: heh
catgarza: a lot of people did
nvonflue: Haha, yeah i bet…
catgarza: so you've been kinda learning as the technology got better, like me?
nvonflue: it's a great program, very simple and easy to understand…
catgarza: intuitive
nvonflue: yeah exactly.
catgarza: right on

catgarza: and so, were your first forays into comics on the web?
nvonflue: yeah they were bad.
catgarza: why the web?
catgarza: why not print?
nvonflue: well I started by putting up a site for my wife and I, for artwork and such
nvonflue: then i started thinking about image maps.
catgarza: 😀
nvonflue: and how you could make an image and put 10 image map on it, to other images, and so on. And you could build a story like that.

catgarza: had you heard of "webcomix" by this time? when did this happen…?
nvonflue: I dont think so, but maybe.
catgarza: lol
catgarza: right on
nvonflue: i remember Argon Zark.
catgarza: it was kinda in the back of a LOT of peoples minds, i think…
nvonflue: i tried to go there but it was a pay site!
nvonflue: LOL
catgarza: ha ha
nvonflue: so i never read any Argon…
catgarza remembers reading it when it was still free…
catgarza: it was good
nvonflue: bastard…

catgarza: but the kind of temporal maps you're talking about…
catgarza: a lot like the infinite canvas stuff a lot of us were experimenting with
catgarza: and you're probably the master at this point…, well, you and merlin goodbrey.
nvonflue: yeah i thought it'd be good to combine a infinte canvas comics with an image mapped thing.

catgarza: tell me a little about your process..
nvonflue: make a narrative that isn't linear.
catgarza: you work a lot from personal musings and poetry it seems..

nvonflue: hold on a sec… heh, sorry cut that bit out…guinea pigs runnin loose…
catgarza: lol
catgarza: cool!
nvonflue: okay my process…
catgarza: yes
nvonflue: probably a lot like yours.
catgarza: it seems… 😉
nvonflue: at least i presume.
catgarza: no it seems like you do..
nvonflue: i start anywhere.
catgarza: except you actually do THUMBNAILS sometimes, i know….
catgarza: and i'm a cheat…
catgarza: 😉

nvonflue: sometimes i work under constraints, like a set number of images, and now I gotta make 'em coherent, etc
nvonflue: yeah i sketch alot of stuff out, it helps me
catgarza: right on
catgarza: but sometimes you just throw it together kind of intuitively
nvonflue: sometimes I write it out first, always differnet, I guess…
catgarza: yes, i'm kinda weird in that way
catgarza: somethings write/draw themselves..
catgarza: some take extra planning..
nvonflue: yeah a lot of The Halcyon Years are about an hours worth of work.
nvonflue: and weeks of frustration at doing nothing…Haha

nvonflue: I think The Jerk is the only comic I spent more than a day or two on.
catgarza: and that one is definitely a masterpiece
catgarza: worthy of interviewing an artist that would produce it..
catgarza: 😉
nvonflue: LOL, dont know about that, but it was good for me.
catgarza: tell us a little about the jerk.. seems like you're really touching upon the sentiments of an artist which we all can relate to…
nvonflue: it turned out as well as I wanted it to, if that makes sense…
catgarza: it does
nvonflue: You mean Delbruck?
catgarza: yes..
catgarza: seems there's two kinds of stories going on with the jerk
catgarza: the story of delbruck and also the outside view of his life as a whole…
catgarza: from without, if that makes sense…
nvonflue: Well, dunno if you remember at last year's [San Diego Comicon] me telling you i wanted to do a futuristic story about a webcomics gallery retrospective?
catgarza: yeah, i totally remember
catgarza: it's quantifiability… if that's a real word.. but it goes a little beyond that…
catgarza: i mean, delbruck kills himself…
nvonflue: Delbruck came out of that, and he got thrown in with The Jerk, to play with multple threads of narrative.
catgarza: which the multimedia aspects of the strip help strengthen
nvonflue: Yeah Delbruck kills himself, but he had to for the story.
catgarza: for the retrospective to take place

nvonflue: well the goal was to take two seemingly unrelated stories and combine them, for an overall concept
catgarza: well, you definitely accomplished that…
catgarza: but you did more
catgarza: because to me, it seems like it tells the story of an artist in an emerging medium
catgarza: and all the pressure… and egomania
catgarza: and everything that comes with being an artist…
catgarza: and it makes him kill himself..
catgarza: but the work is that
catgarza: there..

nvonflue: Yes, it does that too. I love working on separate small parts of an overall story and throwing in as much juice as i can.
catgarza: his retrospective..
catgarza: it's a very effective story on many levels
catgarza: experimental as well as narrative
nvonflue: it make the overall thing so much stronger. I approach it like each part was its own story and worthy on being standalone

catgarza: what are you working on now?
nvonflue: heh, okay i got lost…
catgarza: ha ha
nvonflue: right now? haaha!
catgarza: and I'M the one smoking over here….
nvonflue: figuring out what happened!
catgarza: what are you working on comics-wise right now?
nvonflue: LOL, yeah put it out garza i'm getting a contact…

nvonflue: actually i was talking to Mike_M about some interesting ideas.
catgarza: can we expect another JERK… or are you concentrating on halcyon?
catgarza: the two of you gonna collab?
nvonflue: i dont know, right now i'm in a lull, i'd like to do more of both, that's where Mike comes in.
nvonflue: He's got a very "Jerk" oriented thing…
catgarza: he's an extremely talented young writer
nvonflue: well in terms of narrative.
catgarza: it'll be interesting to see what you guys can whip up
nvonflue: yeah i like his stuff alot…
nvonflue: we are in the talking about stages right now.

catgarza: well, hopefully this interview will help people realize your amazing work
nvonflue: apart from that i'm trying to do some more stuff on my own and get out some other comics i promised people i'd do.
catgarza: you're definitely someone who's poking at the edges of what we can do with temporal maps and the infinite canvas

catgarza: when's the next installment?
nvonflue: I think the real chracterisitics of webcomics have barely been touched now, y'know?
nvonflue: installment of?
catgarza: ANYTHING?!
catgarza: 😀
catgarza: i'm chomping at the bit, man

nvonflue: LOL, i've actually been doing some noncomics stuff…
catgarza: i know…
nvonflue: illos and murals etc…
catgarza: been reading [your] blog
nvonflue: [trying to] make money
nvonflue: oh yeah?
catgarza: of course!
catgarza: lol
nvonflue: cool!
catgarza: think i may have even linked it…
catgarza: not sure…
catgarza: if not, it needs to be…

nvonflue: but i'm itching to do more comics.
catgarza: this is one of my favorites.
catgarza: incredible…
catgarza: wanted to steal this idea for a strip of my own!
nvonflue: oh yeah, you heard the music for it?
catgarza: uh huh
catgarza: 😀
catgarza: good music, too
nvonflue: yeah Nick blew that one up…
catgarza: and the overcoat going down to make the strip, just really good execution and drawing
catgarza: 😀
catgarza: or painting…

catgarza: are you using a wacom?
nvonflue: yeah, that was the first one with my tablet…
nvonflue: yeah, just got it then…
catgarza: right on

catgarza: have you been reading the kids whimville?
catgarza: i'm making it as kid freindly as possible..
catgarza: 😀
nvonflue: yeah they've been reading, i think youve lost out to Zabel though…
nvonflue: they LOVE Green Skull
catgarza: damn
catgarza: zabel's a dead man 😉
nvonflue: LOL i'll get 'em back to you don't worry!
catgarza: huh!

catgarza: well thanks for letting me interview you!
nvonflue: hey no sweat, anytime!
catgarza: night neal!
nvonflue: alright, late!