|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!|
Hello there Caytlin, what propelled you into making comics and storytelling in the first place?
C: Hey there!
When I was a kid, I had a fantastic babysitter who was one of my parents’ art school students. I spent a lot of time with her while my parents were working. I remember she would sit down with me and go through comics with me, breaking apart why the artist did this or that -- I remember a Wuthering Heights comic most clearly. She also introduced me to Scott McCloud’s amazing books and let me have her copies.
Aside from comics specifically, my parents have been animation and storytelling buffs my whole life. My dad’s a writer, and so was his dad; my mom taught animation and sculpting and she’s written a few (non-fiction) books herself. I think being utterly surrounded by the process fascinated me from the get-go! I tried to make a “full length animated feature” with my friends in fifth grade. (We didn’t get very far, but we sure tried!)
Anecdote time: when I was 4, we went to go see The Little Mermaid in theaters. Apparently Ursula scared the little kid next to me, and I wrapped an arm around them and said, “It’s okay, it’s just movie magic.”
What influences inspired you as a child?
C: Oh, boy. EVERYTHING. Disney, of course; Pokemon and Sailor Moon were humongous influences on my life. Pokemon brought me to a roleplay on a newsgroup when I was 11 and I proceeded to spend 3 years posting daily and writing stories with people. I drew 90+ pages of comics in fifth grade off of the stories we told there.
I made Tamberlane in part by cobbling together a bunch of my favorite influences: Beatrix Potter, Redwall, Pogo, Bone. I loved books like the Wheel of Time, and amazing non-caped comics like Blankets, by Craig Thompson. (I ate up everything he drew.) In high school, I was introduced to Ghibli, which is of course a huge influence, as well.
As a kid I read tons of webcomics. Old works such as Yuko Ota’s Fallen, Faith Erin Hicks’ Demonology 101, and Jen Wang’s String of Fate were my favorite. The idea that someone could just create something and share it on the internet was an amazing idea.
Why did you eventually lean towards making anthropomorphic, “furry”, characters and what do you feel about the furry community in regards towards its treatment of passionate artists such as yourself?
C: I’ve loved anthro characters since I was a wee bab, be it through Redwall, Looney Toons, or (once upon a time) Yerf. Around college, I started to get a lot of flak for liking furries or being associated with the fandom so I tried to divorce myself from it, but over recent years I got to reconnect with the things I love and the idea that, fuck it, I can like and create whatever I want and folks who don’t like it can just not read it.
As far as how the furry community treats artists, I’ll admit that I’ve never been very deep into the community. In general I’ve had nothing but good experiences with furries; I think most would consider me a “fringe” supporter rather than someone chest-deep in the fandom. For the most part, I’ve seen furries be very generous with their money and support of artists. As with any group, there’s going to be some bad eggs, some entitled jerks, and some people who don’t understand how things work, but I don’t think that’s uniquely furry.
In short, I think furries are cool and I’m happy to draw for them.
Regarding your own style, you have such a keen grasp of conveying emotions for your characters, where did you get your inspiration for your beautifully crafted expressions for your array of characters?
C: Expressions have always been my strong suit. I’ve always been a pretty empathetic person so I feel like I have a pretty decent handle on the nuance of emotion. In that respect, my inspiration really just comes from lived experiences and a lot of practice.
One of my goals with Tamberlane has been to make a comic where I can go hog-wild with the expressions and really let myself be goofy and have fun. So far I think it’s working!
Right now Tamberlane is very much your focus and what a breakout hit it has been, but before visiting it some more what have you gathered from your career as a professional illustrator and your prior “Walking on Broken Glass” comic? Who have some of your clientele included? I saw that you drew some covers for the MLP:FiM series by IDW!
C: So far, I’ve only done the one cover for IDW -- the retailer incentive cover for MLP #46 -- but I hope to do more in the future! Those are a lot of fun!
As far as what I’ve learned from my experience on Walking on Broken Glass:
* When it comes to a personal project, love what you do. If you don’t love it, don’t do it.
* You’re allowed to call the shots, even if your fans disagree.
* Working with a companion who is as passionate about the project as you are is AWESOME and I highly recommend it.
* Those awful comments you get will later become funny stories. … Sometimes.
* When you’re making a big project like a long-running webcomic, don’t talk the talk: just walk the walk. Don’t jinx it, basically. I know how hard it is to be SO EXCITED about your project that you want to tell everyone exactly how many billion pages it’s going to be, but I find that as soon as I tell people, the incentive flies out the door. Keep it close to your chest instead and you’ll have a creative fire driving you to share.
* Make your comic for you. Not for them. For you. Make what makes you happy.
From being a professional illustrator:
* Always communicate with your clients. ALWAYS. Even if the email you send is ‘I can’t get to this right now but I’ve read your email and will reply tomorrow morning.’ Accountability is vital.
* Networking is just a scary word for making friends. Seriously.
* Your goal is to find the most you can get paid for the least amount of work. Luring people in with hideously cheap prices is going to burn you out horribly and bring you some of the worst clients of your life.
Moving forth to Tamberlane…..
What kind of story are you hoping to tell us with this lush comic? What instigated you into beginning such an endeavor and why does this story resonate with you?
C: What kind of story? Well, that’s a secret! You’ll have to find out! All I can say is I hope the themes resonate with people.
To be honest, I spent a couple of years wrestling with self-doubt on my ability to write comics. I hadn’t written anything for years (outside of RP) and I didn’t think I could do it anymore. I kept trying, mind you: I have two projects in the back drawer that suffered from too much overthinking and not enough actually doing anything.
Eventually, I decided I just needed SOMETHING to work on because I was going crazy without a project. I settled into looking for a story -- any story -- to tell. Then, one D&D session I was doodling on a paper and out came Belfry, and by the time I was home I had a whole story thought out. Within a month, I started drawing the comic.
Of course, I adore this story. I adore everything about this story and I can’t wait to work on it for a long time to come! Even though it spawned more-or-less spur-of-the-moment, it’s very meaningful to me and explores a lot of themes that speak to me.
Belfry is a very cute girl and seeing as she has had the most development at this stage in the comic a lot of this segment will concern her,
Firstly, what traits do you feel Belfry (and the robust cast of her friends in Treehollow and her newly adopted child) relates back to you and beyond that what merits does Belfry have that gave her the owner of being the main speaking character/caretaker for this sweet young child?
C: Belfry’s earnestness, impulsivity, good heart, and optimistic naivete are definitely all parts of myself that I put in there. Oakewood is my good-natured skeptic, Ainsley is my superstitious pagan side. Piper and Anthony are based off of my actual cats Pepper and Tony; Henry (and his wife Nora) are based off of some RP characters my husband and I have. Of course, all of these traits are exaggerated in the comic for storytelling!
Those exact traits above for Bel make her both the best and worst caretaker for Tamberlane. Without her impulsivity, she wouldn’t be volunteering to care for it; but because of her impulsivity, she’s not prepared in the least. But she’s earnest and she means well and she has a lot of love to give. In the end, I think she’ll be an imperfect parent -- aka, a normal one.
What thoughts went into her very posh design? Why go with a Bat character specifically? What thoughts went into her white and strawberry color scheme accentuated with kind blue eyes and how much do you enjoy working with her “hair” tuft that looks very dainty ideally, but gets a tad more askew as the day goes on?
C: To be honest, I designed Belfry because I wanted to draw a Bat Pony (from My Little Pony) but as just a bat. I love drawing bat ponies (fluffy ears!! cute muzzles!!) but I love bats even more! So I just kinda doodled Bel and she existed.
As far as her color scheme, it was actually originally going to be black and pink! But I ultimately decided it didn’t suit her and hunted through Colour Lovers for a palette I liked. Then I commissioned Vespervescent to draw her and they really helped unify her color palette.
As far as her hair tuft is concerned, I really just enjoy continuing to shake things up! Things get boring if I have to draw them the same way all the time. So I don’t, haha.
What thoughts go into writing your dialogue? Overall it’s very witty and fits each character intuitively with Piper’s over-eagerness being quite a highlight!
C: Admittedly, I think most of my practice writing dialogue has come from my years of RP! I’ve spent a LOT of time inhabiting characters’ heads and communicating mostly through dialogue instead of description. This means I’m iffy at writing novels but I’m GREAT at writing comics, haha.
As I mentioned above, Piper in particular is based on my cat Pepper. Most folks who’ve met her agree that Piper is an exact characterization. I can’t take credit there; I’m only channeling my cat
Any closing thoughts? Messages for your readers?
C: Hey readers: thank you so, so much. The support I’ve received for Tamberlane is overwhelming. I would be making this with or without your support, but let me tell you: your support and enthusiasm makes it so much easier and more exciting to sit down at the drawing table every day! Without you, it wouldn’t be updating as frequently. I wouldn’t even be THINKING about a printed book, much less all the other Tamberlane merch available.
You guys are amazing. Each and every one of you. Thank you so much.
It’s been a pleasure interviewing you Caytlin! Kudos to you on your massively successful Kickstarter campaign and I wish you the very best of luck in your endeavors!
C: Thanks a million! I really enjoyed getting to throw my words at the wall like this!
David and Liz Lillie interview!
Evan Stanley interview
Tracy Butler interview
Geo interview (TWA spoilers)
Alex Kain interview
David and Liz Lillie interview 2
Elizabeth Dodrill Interview
STJ College Interview
Caytlin Vilbrandt Interview
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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!