|Just a few of my newest deviations!Feel free to check around my gallery and thanks for dropping by my page!|
|Just a few of my newest deviations!Feel free to check around my gallery and thanks for dropping by my page!|
I'm interviewing behind www.westerndeep.net/ this time around!
Hello Alex! How are you doing and what would you like to say to your fans? To start things off what are your primary inspirations for your story and what comics do you really like?
Alex: Hi Garrett! The pleasure’s mine and Rachel's! I’d like to thank you and all our readers for their incredible support over the years as the comic’s grown from small idea to published book -- the comments on each new released page have been a high point of my week, every week, without fail, for the last four years.
Alex: In terms of inspiration, I don’t think anybody will be surprised when I say the Redwall series by Brian Jacques is the biggest wedge in that pie chart. Rachel and I are both huge fans of the series, and a lot of our inspiration for Western Deep came from our desire to tell those kinds of stories for a more contemporary “all-ages” audience. When it comes to comics I like, I’m a Patreon supporter for Tracy Butler’s Lackadaisy, and I’ve been a big fan of David Petersen’s Mouse Guard books since college (and actually contributed a story to his Legends of the Guard series). I’ve also been trying to keep up to speed on IDW’s new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles stuff, mostly so Rachel and I can nerd out about it.
How did you establish yourself in the game industry as a writer Alex and how fun is it working in the game industry at Venan?
Alex: I started out as an associate game designer back in 2007 with Venan, and my first big job was to rewrite the story for a mobile phone version of Road Rash that was close to submission. After that, any writing assignments generally went through me. I wrote the script for our 2008 DS game, Ninjatown, and then in 2010 I was the writer on Venan’s first indie iPhone game, Space Miner: Space Ore Bust. That was the game that helped get me on Dean Dodrill’s radar, so when I approached him about helping out on Dust: An Elysian Tail in 2011, he was familiar with my work already. Nowadays, Dust is the game most people know me from.
I actually just had to leave Venan -- but it was on good terms! Now I’m focusing on freelance writing work, so hopefully you’ll see my writing appear in a lot more places going forward.
How did you come across Dean Dodrill to collaborate with him on the story aspect of the game and how did you like the heroic Disney-esque vibe?
Alex: I saw the Dream.Build.Play trailer for Dust: An Elysian Tail back when it was still an Xbox Indie game, before it was promoted up to Xbox Live Arcade status. There was a little snippet of dialog in the trailer, but I remember thinking “Hm, this guy could probably use a writer.” So I pinged him on Twitter and he recognized my work from Space Miner, which he’d played recently. We went back and forth a bit, and I later realized he didn’t want to bring me on board because he’d been working solo on Dust for so many years he just wasn’t feeling ready to have somebody else come in and help. Ultimately, I just ended up rewriting the first half hour of the game on my own, and Dean was impressed enough to let me help him with the rest of the script.
After that how did you come to work with League of Geeks on their game Armello?
Alex: I’d loved the aesthetic of Armello ever since I saw the first trailer. There’s a lot of overlap between it and Western Deep, so I was quick to get in touch with Trent Kusters over at League of Geeks, who indicated that they would need some help on the quests in the game. We met briefly at PAX East, and a few months later I was writing quests for them!
Now onto the main attraction, Beyond the Western Deep! Why start a comic? They're notoriously arduous to make and even despite the commensurate payoff of such a potentially vibrant storytelling medium they're quite time consuming.
Alex: We tried to pitch the story as a full graphic novel series for the first couple years. I even have some of the old pitch books here -- but nobody picked it up. They had every reason to reject it, really; the story wasn’t really in a good spot, the art style hadn’t been nailed down quite yet, all sorts of things like that. It was actually David Petersen, creator of the Mouse Guard series, who recommended we take a closer look at the webcomic route. I’d been a fan of Lackadaisy of course, but long-form webcomics were really starting to hit their stride around that time, and something as epic as Western Deep really felt like it fit that medium well.
After the heart-wrenching finale of the second chapter what are you aiming to accomplish with your new side story "Song of the Eastern Sands" and how did you initially come across the new alternating series artist, Jerome Jacinto?
Alex: With Song of the Eastern Sands, I wanted to focus on the lighter side of the world of Western Deep. While the main storyline has these Game of Thrones-style undertones with war and death and backstabbing and loss, I wanted to remind readers that not everyone in the comic’s world is having the worst day of their lives. So I wrote the story as a kind of heist/comedy, with a few connections back to the main story that help lead into chapter 3.
The first stuff I saw of Jerome’s was his Redwall work on DeviantArt. His style just grabs you and doesn’t let go -- and I was immediately inspired to commission him for a Western Deep piece, which ultimately went on to grace the guest pin-ups section of the first Western Deep hardcover collection. We started chatting about our mutual love of video games, and have kept in touch ever since.
Speaking of Jerome, you've known Rachel for quite some time by now, but what made his excellent art style with the smooth lines and painted textures really appeal to you and would he like to add anything in here to say to your readers?
Alex: His renditions of Redwall characters was unlike anything I’d seen -- he really captured a lot of how I envisioned them myself, which was one of the reasons I felt compelled to get in touch with him in the first place. He has a style all his own, and I knew that readers would love it just as much as Rachel and I did.
A lot of people including yourself use the "Game of Thrones" comparison to help describe Beyond the Western Deep to prospective readers,but even then you manage to keep it from becoming too oppressive all of the time while still giving plenty of tense moments. How important is it to you to try and maintain a fair degree of levity in a story?
Alex: It’s very important -- that’s one of the things Rachel and I enjoyed from the Redwall series, was Brian Jacques’ incredible ability to inject humor and levity into serious predicaments. The latter two-thirds of chapter 2 is a very dark, very grim sequence that really kicks off the main storyline and drops a number of pieces into play. We tried to inject some moments of levity here and there, but as I mentioned before, Song of the Eastern Sands, was designed almost expressly to serve as a kind of palate-cleanser after the violent and moody chapter 2.
Speaking of not being so dark and grim Quinlan and Dakkan are not at all the brooding antiheroes of seemingly most mainstream stories these days what with Quinlan being timid and Dak not at all taking to blood and gore; Granted Quinlan has killed by now and they are thrust into precarious situations and would not quite want to die,but why'd you write them that way and why have a squirrel and otter duo? (They are a little underrepresented in animal stories sadly,hehe!)
Alex: Quinlan and Dakkan were written to be as normal as possible, really -- we wanted to have a believable pair who had a natural-feeling friendship that wasn’t forced in any way. When they’re thrust into dangerous situations we wanted their reactions to feel believable, and get a kind of innate vulnerability across. I know in the rooftop fight, Rachel spent a long time making sure Quin’s expressions and movements looked and felt right, for example, to help get all that across.
Alex: As for the squirrel/otter duo, I think it’s just a naturally interesting pairing that leads to interesting storytelling opportunities because the two species are so different. Squirrels have this hesitant, nervous air to them and live high in the trees, whereas otters seem generally boisterous and live in the water.
Speaking of main characters Hardin's a very interesting villain to run amok and follow in the story! He has a special brand of sympathetic elements while still retaining the elements of a megalomaniac to be a great villain. What challenges did he pose in the concept and design stage?
Alex: One of our goals with Western Deep was to tell a story of gray moralities. The Redwall books always focused on the good guys, and the ‘vermin’ characters were, with rare exception, either one-note villains or incompetent henchmen. With Hardin, we saw a great opportunity to subvert a lot of tropes by simply telling his side of the story and letting readers decide for themselves if his grand quest is worth all the horror and violence. We’ve had a lot of readers siding with Hardin, and it’s made the finale of chapter 2 very interesting, to say the least!
Also in the hardcover version of Volume 1 there was a myriad of awesome Rachel sketches for the characters and world and inside his own page there were three sketches of Hardin for a potential adventure game;What ideas did you have in mind for that?
Alex: I’d just played Limbo, a great 2D platforming puzzle game, and was inspired to put together some initial designs for a similar kind of game that told Hardin’s origin story. It was a fun little exercise, and Rachel drew up a few concept sketches, but working on a Western Deep video game would be incredibly time-consuming for the both of us, and would have pretty much entirely prevented us from working on the comic. So we shelved it. That’s not to say there won’t be a Western Deep video game someday -- but there’s a lot of work we have left to do before we get there.
Are there any other characters that posed a unique challenge or developed their own wholly unique characteristics beyond what you originally intended? Ashtor,Kenosh, or maybe Janik?
Alex: Janik went through the biggest change from initial draft to final script. She started off as a healer-type character, more of a supporting foil for Quinlan than anything else. But Rachel and I started to deep-dive into her character a bit more and found some great opportunities for her throughout the tale. We ditched the healer trope and realized she was way cooler as this kind of brilliant politician who didn’t put up with Quin’s mopiness and was capable of going toe-to-toe with the most shrewd of Vulpin statesmen. She’ll be a point-of-view character starting in chapter 3, and help flesh out the political situation elsewhere in the world of the Western Deep as we get further into the story.
Lastly just how pleased are you with your comic as it is and where would you like to see it go?
Alex: Rachel and I are very happy with how far the comic has come! Just this past year we were picked up for publication by Action Lab Entertainment, and we’ve been visiting a bunch of conventions to promote the comic and sell the hardcover special edition. As for where we’d like the comic to go… well, we’re just hoping the readership continues to grow and our upcoming release of the chapter 2 paperback through Action Lab brings even more readers into the fold. We’d love to do more Western Deep-themed projects in other media, but right now we’re just focused on the main stories being told in the comic itself.
Thank you so very much for the interview! I wish you the best of luck in rocking on with your comic alongside Rachel and Jerome!
I am a gamer artist dude in Oklahoma!<A 3F"><img border="0" |
Links to a few comics I really like and heartily endorse!
Get a FREE visitor map for your site!
Just most of my friends on here in a random order:
to name just about all of the of the people I consider to be considered my friends on here.
Starcraft 2 profile:us.battle.net/sc2/en/profile/4…
One of my favorite commission sets I've ever done with two spunky characters as though they were in a good old fighting game from the talented STJ.If I ever make one of them into my own avatars don't be surprised!Be sure to check out her art and Dreamkeepers in general if you haven't!