Last But Not the Least We Could Do: An Interview with Sohmer and Porter
Least I Could Do is about the obsessively and yet endearingly ever-horny Rayne and his cast of supporting characters has been drawing in hordes of laughing readers over the past two years. They've just published their first collection of strips, and are in negotiation for a possible animated series. Ryan Sohmer and Chad Porter, who write and draw the comic respectively, were kind enough to give us an interview.
This is loosely based on your life and friends, Ryan? Very loosely, I would hope...or else if Rayne's you, I hope you're taking your vitamins...*Grin* He does make a good Everyman's Libido, though...what's your background, Ryan? I know you're a 26 year-old who used to write for an online show. What else? Who are your writing influences?
Ryan: Rayne is based on me, or better yet the ‘me’ that I envisioned myself to be when intoxicated. Yeah, that sounds about right.
My professional background is mostly business related, consulting. I really got into a writing a good 6 years ago. I’ve had a few columns over the years in newspapers, and the odd published feature, even trying city council reporting for a few months. I enjoyed the experiences, but couldn’t really see myself trying to make a career out of any of it. Until Least I Could Do. It’s what I want to do, no hesitations, no doubt.
As far as influences goes, I’d have to list Darby Conley of Get Fuzzy fame as the largest, with hints of Calvin & Hobbes, Family Guy, Simpsons and Futurama thrown in there too. When it comes to a syndicated strip though, no one can touch Conley.
You were extremely fortunate in finding Chad Porter, after the first artist quit. He draws some of the most beautiful females in webcomics. What's your background, Chad? And what are your artistic influences?
Ryan: Unbelievably fortunate, and there’s not a day that goes by where I don’t know that.
Chad: Well thank you first off...as for my influences? Hmmm, I'd honestly have to say cartoons, both classic and modern. Just seeing how artists come up with the designs of characters and giving them life by using just a few simple lines :) That's what I try to do.
Since this is loosely based on your life, has anyone objected to being portrayed on LICD? Or---has anyone insisted on being included, or an incident being included?
Chad: We're still trying to get me in there as a regular ;p
Ryan: A few months ago I did a storyline focused on John’s girlfriend Hannah. Not sure if this is widely known or not, but John is based on my roommate Stuart. Stuart just happens to be dating a girl with very similar to Hannah. Surprisingly enough, neither of them took it well. Yelling and screaming ensued. For the most part though, my friends and family realize they’re fodder for the strip, and take it in good humor.
Obviously Rayne's your main character. If we disqualify him, who's your favorite character?
Chad: I'd have to say Cyndi - mostly because she was my first character creation after Trevor left. She's my baby :)
Ryan: If we’re talking main cast, I’d go with Mick. He’s a good sport, but still has his limits. On the support side, Little Vader all the way. I adore that little bastard.
What's your favorite storyline?
Chad: The glasses girl story...favourite individual strip would have to be Rayne walking on all fours after Baby.
Ryan: Rayne & Cyndi. It was my first attempt at a long running arc.
What's the best thing and the worst thing about doing this as a webcomic?
Chad: Best thing? Having a lot of creative freedom of how I draw everything - I'm not just drawing what Ryan tells me to draw - I'm contributing my input via the art.
The worst thing? Not having enough time to work on it sometimes and the strip sometimes suffers for it. Luckily, it doesn't happen that often. We're all entitled to an off day now and then, no? :)
Ryan: Best thing would have to be the instant feedback and support. The LICD community has done more for us than I’ll ever be able to express. On the negative side, nothing is more frustrating than when there’s a problem with the site or server.
The "Ask Rayne" feature actually gives fairly good, mature, advice. How many emails do you get on that feature a week?
Ryan: It’s been infrequent updates lately due to the amount of work that the book is taking, but we will be re-launching it in January. Before than though, we’d get amount 500 e-mails a week to ‘Ask Rayne’.
What's your work routine? (Both writer and artist.) Are there problems in maintaining such a partnership?
Ryan: I spend an hour or two each day working on a script, then send it off to Chad. I’ve on the easy side of things.
Chad: I usually get the strip early in the evening and then I work on that after I get home from work. Because I do the strip the night before it goes up, the only 'problems' would be technical. Either his computer is down or mine is. Or if one of us deathly sick. We're trying to get ahead on the strips just in case stuff like this happens.
How did you spread the word about LICD initially? It's become very popular in a relatively short amount of time. Any advice for webcomics creators starting out?
Chad: Like any news, it just spreads by word of mouth - I know I've told a couple of friends about it and in turn they tell their friends and so on. As for advice? Most of all have fun with it. It's your toy - play with it.
Ryan: I’m still not sure how we got the audience we’ve got, but I’m grateful for it. My advice would be similar to Chad’s. Try new things, experiment. It’s the only way you’ll improve, and risks tend to pay off.
What is the future of LICD? I know you're doing a book of the first strips, and you have hopes of an animated series. Do you think there's a serious chance of the latter happening? What are your other plans? And do you have any plans for any other projects besides LICD?
Ryan: The book just shipped this week, and we’re incredibly proud of how they came out. The animated series will become a reality, and we’ve already spoken to several networks and production executives. The interest is there, but the trick is to do the show we want, not the one they do. It’ll be a while, but it’ll happen. I’m just that crazy. There will be plenty of upcoming announcements on Rayne.TV, so stay tuned. That will also be the place where we’ll be starting our weekly flash animated shorts. Non-LICD projects include bringing back ‘In Other News’, a syndicated comic strip with Lar deSouza, and a dark, dramatic graphic novel.
It’s going to be a big year.