It's Only Chronillogical: Talking to Greg Poulos and John Chouinard
When you create a comic, how do you approach it? Do you start with the words and then think about the scene that should go with it or do you start with more of purely visual approach or none of the above?
Greg: Before writing anything I'll generate a handful of general ideas, run these by John to see what he likes best, and use that as the basis for a first draft. Sometimes the draft is good and only requires a few small changes -- more usually we go back and forth on it at least few times. Occasionally the final script looks very different from the draft that got us there.
John: Also, I'd say we've taken more of a words-first approach so far -- any direction for images that are supposed to look a certain way are usually vague ("Milo should look funny here") and don't coalesce until I get down to drawing.
What tools do you use to make comics? Can you give us a brief walkthrough of your process?
John: Greg uses TextEdit, I believe, or something similar, and probably bangs his head on the wall a lot. On my end, once I have a script, I usually go straight into Photoshop -- lay out the panels, the dialogue, and sketch out some thumbnails before "penciling," "inking," and coloring. I've been using an Intuos, if that's of interest, and I usually pace each comic out over three days -- one for each step of the comicking process.
Greg: Actually, since I got my Windows machine I've been using Notepad++ a lot more than TextEdit. BIG DIFFERENCE, JOHN.
John: WHAT HAVE I DONE
Did you do your own website? What software are you using on it?
Greg: Right now I've got us set up using the ComicPress theme for WordPress. It's a lovely, intuitive, flexible system, for which I give the developers a lot of credit. Still, one of these days I'd like to code up my own comics manager. There's nothing quite like rolling your own, y'know?
How would you describe your relationship with your fans? Do you engage in a lot of online interaction with your readers?
John: I haven't heard a whole lot from fans except through the occasional comments on the site, myself, but we interact when we can.
Greg: I would describe it as "familial". Not so much because we're so close to our readers that they're like family to us, but because so many of our readers are literally our family members.
Did you read comics as a kid? Which ones? What are your influences from comics today?
John: Big, big Bill Watterson fan from the days of yore, and how I wish I could stumble over some fresh work of his these days. We had our fair share of Warner Bros. VHS tapes back home, also, and a couple of How to Draw tapes hosted by Bruce Blitz. More recently, I ran into John K's blog, and since then have been slowly dipping into other animators' sketchblogs because they are all delightful and amazing.
Other non-comic influences on your art and/or writing?
John: The two of us were pretty big Monty Python fans back in the day, and I'm sure we'll never be rid of them. Steve Martin's Let's Get Small was a household installation as far back as I can remember paying attention to comedy, and I've recently been giggling like an idiot at Louis C.K.'s routines. Also, I think I had some sort of fascination with Picasso when I was in kindergarten.
Greg: I remember constantly trying to emulate Douglas Adams during middle school and junior high. Between the influences of that and Monty Python I would have all these half-understood Britishisms strewn throughout my writing. It was to the point where I was using spellings like "colour" and "humour" in my essays; my teachers would circle all the extra "u"s and scribble little crimson question marks next to them.
John: Weren't you still doing that in high school? Self-consciously, by that time, but still.
Greg: Actually, yeah, I guess you're right. I MEAN NO OF COURSE NOT STOP LYING
What is it about comics that leads you to pour your creative impulses into that form as opposed to writing or some other art form?
John: A lot of it has to do with the comic's immediacy, I think. I dunno, there's something about prose that prompts me to obsessively scrutinize my words and therefore never produce anything or improve my writing skills at all. It's much easier for me to approach drawing as a learning process somehow.
Greg: Well, I've never thought myself terribly good at writing dialogue, and I certainly have no drawing talent, so... wait, why AM I doing this? John?
John: I mean, the comic was your idea, wasn't it? I can't say whether I would have taken it upon myself to start my own, honestly. You're the ambitious one! Yeah! MOTIVATION, INSPIRATION
Anything else you wished I'd asked you about?
John: You said not a word about my gorgeous, gorgeous facial hair. I am appalled, sir, simply appalled!
Greg: Yes, but it looks like we're OUT OF TIME. If only we had some sort of TIME MACHINE that we could use to TRAVEL THROUGH TIME. Then we could GO BACK IN TIME to answer more questions!