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Catch You On The Flipside: An Interview with Brion Foulke

Brion Foulke is the creator of Flipside, a webcomic he describes as, "[A] story about relationships, sex, and compromise. It's a romantic fantasy adventure with a lot of action, and a small dose of horror."  I got a chance to interview Brion via email this month.

What's a typical day for you like recently?

Hanging around the apartment, drawing and staying close to my computer.

 

Where are you located these days?

In a small apartment in Chicago.

 

Do you have another job besides working on comics?

Nope!  I scrape buy with the meager amount of money I make from the comic, and conventions.

 

Do you read other comics?  What are you reading online or in print?

I do read quite a bit of manga.  Currently, some of my favorites are: Berserk, Hunter x Hunter, Eyeshield 21, Gunnm, and One Piece.

 

Give me the 30 second "convention pitch" for your comic.

It's a comic about Maytag, a nymphomaniac jester girl with split personalities, and her female bodyguard who tries to keep her out of
trouble.

 

How has the strip evolved over time?

When I first conceived of the idea, it was just a jokey fantasy comic like slayers.  Over time I've developed the theme and plot to be more realistic, serious and off-beat.

 

Do you have a favorite strip or storyline from the comic?  Which ones do fans seem to bring up the most?

The current one about "Bloody Mary" is probably my favorite so far.  The fans seem to like it a lot too, although a few still prefer the Book 0 storyline.

 

Are there any of your characters you're really fond of?  Any that are particularly difficult to use?

Well, of course I'm fond of both the main characters.  Kindred was a little hard to use just because I got sick of drawing his hair.  Not that that's why I killed him off.

 

Do you have any long term goals or ambition for the future of the comic?

Yes, I hope that one day this comic will be at the same level of quality as the average professional manga!

 

Any plans for a print collection?

There are already 3 volumes available at my online store, please feel free to check them out.

 

How do you go about promoting your work?  What seems to be most effective at pulling in new readers?

Getting links from more established comics is a great start for new comics. The topwebcomics list and buzzcomix have been a very good source of new readers for me.  Other than that, the only thing you can really do is make your comic as good as possible, and if it's good enough the people will come.  But it has to be really damn good.  Or you can just get lucky.

 

What conventions are your favorites to exhibit at?  What advice do you have for others just starting to show their work at conventions?

Well... if you want to sell things, a rudimentary knowledge of salesmenship helps, no matter how good your stuff is.  I follow 3 basic steps:

  1. Get people's attention.
  2. Make them comfortable with humor.
  3. Always ask for the sale.

 

When you create a comic, how do you appproach 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?

I feel that the best way to approach it is how you would write a script for a movie.  I visualize the scenes in my head, then script them out in roughs. I used to write the script in text first, but now I tend to think that is a bad idea for writing comics.

 

What tools do you use to make comics?  Can you give us a brief walkthrough of your process?

I draw the comic on 14x17 drawing paper, use a light-box to transfer it onto 11x17 bristol board with ink (I use microns), scan the inked page onto the computer, shade and letter in photoshop.

 

Did you do your own website?  What software are you using on it?

Yes, I originally programmed the entire website in HTML, and a friend helped me integrate some php into the site.  I used no software, I prefer to just program the HTML from scratch.

 

How would you describe your relationship with your fans?  Do you engage in a lot of online interaction with your readers?

Yeah, I do a fair amount.  I chat with them sometimes on Trillian.  I try to stay attentive to my forum.  I try to respond to 99% of the emails I get, even if often it is only a brief one sentence answer.

I very very rarely get any sort of hate mail, or even critisism mail.  Most of the criticism I get is in the forum, it's not too overwhelming and tends to be the sort of nit-picking that people who read the comic day to day page by page will do.  Some of the criticism is constructive and helpful.  There is a lot of positive feedback too.  Overall most of the feedback I get from fans is overwhelmingly positive, but whether it's negative or positive I try not to let it influence me too much.  You have to realize that someone's negative comment doesn't mean you suck, and someone's praise doesn't mean you are amazing.

 

Did you read comics as a kid?  Which ones?  What are your influences from comics today?

Yes, I started out reading superhero comics for a couple of years, got bored of them, and then transitioned to manga which I am still today reading. Flipside is highly influenced by manga in it's storytelling style, but also American pop culture and movies in it's characterization and themes.

 

Other non-comic influences on your art and/or writing?

I'm a big film lover, movies have a lot of influence on me.

 

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?

Probably because I just love reading manga.  I also wanted to be a film maker when I was a kid, but I didn't end up going down that path.

Re: Catch You On The Flipside: An Interview with Brion Foulke

Great to hear about the creator of Maytag. She is one of the most special heroines I´ve read about in a comic. I think Brian Foulkes already have the originality and life of a great comic.