Jeff Rowland is a serial webcomic creator. His first work was the old school When I Grow Up, his second the popular and well-received WIGU and his most recent work includes a journal comic called Overcompensating and a new webcomic called WIGU TV.
Read on for nine questions with Jeff Rowland. Why only nine? Because The Man wouldn’t let Rowland have ten questions.
How did you know the time was right to end WIGU?–alschroeder
The same way you know it’s time to break up with your girlfriend. Wigu had been lying to me and I suspected it was stealing money from me. Also I heard it made out with my roommate.
How far in advance did you plan the Wigu strips – or did you really just make it all up as you went along?–eruditebaboon.
I have a general idea of what’s going to happen, but the details are usually only worked out when I sit down at the drawing table. Often times the opium trance will cause it to go in other directions, and sometimes I just get sick of something and change it all right then and there.
How long does it take you to create a strip from coming up with the idea to the finished thing? What media do you use?–eruditebaboon.
It usually takes a couple of hours, depending on my level of inspiration. If I am really excited about a comic, it will take no time. Sometimes I struggle with something which can drag it out for up to four hours. If it’s going to take more than four hours I just go away for a while and come back.
I do everything old-fashioned style. I used to draw each comic on grains of rice but then I went crazy and had to have someone else do the comic for a while. Now I draw on letter-sized card stock paper using a mechanical pencil, a fine-point sharpie for borders, a Micron 08 pen for lettering, and a Pentel pocket brush pen for line work. I scan it and import it as black and white line art into a hideously antiquated and obsolete photo editing program, and sometimes draw backgrounds using the old Wacom.
Do you really have torso like quincy?–eruditebaboon.
I have a torso that is pink-colored and keeps my innards from spilling out onto the sidewalk, if that’s what you’re asking.
Do you ever restrict yourself when doing a journal comic? Ever feel like something is too personal, or maybe that "people will think I’m full of myself if I put this in there?"–Airsick Moth.
I think being over-the-top full of myself is part of the charm of Overcompensating. Everything that you see in there is actually based on some real event that happened. If I were to actually be honest in Overcompensating, it would be far more unbelievable than what it is now. Every day of my life feels like I’ve taken a dangerous amount of hallucinogenic mushrooms and then suddenly been forced to be a rodeo clown; I live on the very edge of existence.
I know you own steersandqueers.com, but what other interesting and potentially offensive domain names do you own?–goonigoogoo.
I used to have a habit of buying domain names, but I’ve stopped recently because it got to be expensive. I have some domains that I feel may be of interest to Japanese pornographers, but all of these titles are not safe for work, even if you work in pornography.
Are you making your living from the webcomics now? How is that going so far?—xerexes
It is harder work than I thought it would be. It seems like nowadays I spend 70% of the time on merchandise and only 65% of the time on actual comic-making. As soon as I get to be not terrifed of being destitute, I’ll farm some of the merchandise out, but for now I am watching every penny that comes in.
How did you meet the other Dumbrella guys and how did it come together as a group? Was there a secret initiation ritual?–xerexes
All of the members of Dumbrella were born with a special birthmark which resembles the upside-down umbrella logo. One day about five years ago we all had a similar vision which led us all deep into the Amazon where we met a pygmy man who lived in a Tower of Sticks. He told us what to do from there.
Part of the fun of reading WIGU was watching everything suddenly get thrown out of balance by implication. For instance, learning that Topato and Co. existed outside the MAIS show had sudden, major repercussions on what was permitted within the strip’s reality; this seemed to pave the way for more elaborate distortions such as the Googel Maverick.
But I make it sound as if you planned it that way, and any reader of the WIGU messageboard knows you put these things together pretty much on the fly.
So I ask, is the TV-show metaphor for the new set of comics a deliberate attempt to keep your story worlds from colliding and contaminating each other? So that Science Cop doesn’t have to acknowledge a world with, say, talking animals or faster-than-light travel, and the MAIS crew can live happily in BD^4 without bothering with conventional physics at all?–betahuman.
I never really think that deeply about things, I just do things that are fun for me. I almost feel like this whole other little universe is out there and I’m some sort of intermediary who interprets it to Earthlings. One of the reasons I ended Wigu is because it became far too complicated for a new reader to even comprehend. Having a comic that is in essence a series of disconnected vignettes will help keep my focus from wandering to the point where the only way I can fix a storyline gone completely awry is to destroy the universe.