Aaron Diaz’s Dresden Codak is an inventive swirl of science and supposition. The writing is fantastic speculative fiction all on its own but it’s complemented by Diaz’s damn impressive artwork. ComixTalk had a review of the comic earlier this year, I caught up with the creator for an interview by email for this month’s issue.
Can you tell us a little about yourself and what a typical day is for you right now?
My day usually consists of getting up as early as I can, biking around the city and then spending most of my waking hours working on the comic.
I also go through these kind of academic manias every four months or so where I read as much as I can about a narrow subject until I burn out. Right now it’s Pre-Impressionist engravings and the works of Samuel Butler. The previous mania involved the Triassic extinction event and Nordic folklore.
You announced you were going to quit your day job towards the end of 2007. Are you still working full-time on the webcomic and how are you making money from it so far? Do you have a rough sense of the breakdown between things like ads, t-shirts and other items?
I’ve been officially full-time since the end of November of last year. Merchandising, specifically t-shirts, makes up at least 70-80% of my income with the rest being mostly ad revenue and donations. Actually recently I’ve noticed a lot of the paypal donations have become larger and more frequent. There are some people who donate the same amount every month, sort of mimicking the old patronage approach to art. It’s pretty interesting.
Are you making any plans for print editions of Dresden Codak?
A lot of the larger, older comics can’t fit into any practical book, but I am planning on releasing "Hob" in an oversized edition. I’ve talked to some publishers who have shown interest, but I won’t make any concrete decisions until the story’s finished.
On Wikipedia it says you describe Dresden Codak as a "celebration of science, death and human folly,". How does the creative process work for you generally? Do you start with an idea, a topic, the characters or the plot?
It varies a little, but generally speaking I start out with one central concept, one or two "cool things" I’ve been itching to draw and usually a phrase or joke that I think is funny. My process mostly involves mixing a bunch of unrelated elements together until they form some kind of recognizable comic. It’s very messy.
Dresden Codak is now well into a story called "Hob" — how far into that are we and does it encompass the rest of the life of this comic or will there be other stories in Dresden Codak’s future?
If "Hob" encompassed the rest of this comic I would set my head on fire. No, I’ve loved working on it for this past year but there’s only a few pages left and I couldn’t be happier. I’m ready to return to being able to write or draw whatever I want, and to experiment again with different techniques.
What are your influences from comics and from art generally?
In the fine arts I’m very fascinated with Impressionism, especially Claude Monet. Anything that manages color in an intuitive way catches my eye, really.
As far as comics go my hero is definitely Jean Giraud (aka Moebius). There are such a small number of comic creators that are truly capable of taking the reader somewhere else, which is a real shame since I’ve always felt comics are a perfect medium for that sort of thing. More recently I’ve been reading a lot of Mike Mignola’s work. I think he, above most of his contemporaries, really understands how to exploit the medium of graphic storytelling, making it immersive and fun.
Who is your favorite character in your comic?
Kimiko is the one I enjoy writing for the most, as she’s really the only developed character I have. My most favorite character, however, is Oldman-Man. He is just the pinnacle of the sheer stupidity of superhero comics.
In a Digital Strips interview from last year you mentioned being influenced by A Lesson Is Learned and Copper among other webcomics. What if any are you reading these days?
I’ve fallen behind a good bit, but there are a few I remember to check like Maakies, Achewood, Scary Go Round and Dinosaur Comics. I know it’s a generic list, but there’s a good reason most everyone reads them.
You’re a member of the webcomics collective Koala Wallop. What kinds of things does the collective do and how does it benefit everyone in it?
Koala Wallop is mainly a place to point people to similar "art house" style webcomics, which are especially rare. I’m the only member who does this for a living, so most of the other guys aren’t able to go to conventions as is the main purpose of a lot of other collectives. The central function of the collective is its message board, which my readers appreciate extensively.