Today’s Webcomic Wednesday is one from the FUEL archives – we’re going back in time for an interview with E.K. Weaver of The Less Than Epic Adventures of TJ and Amal fame, a (more than epic & NSFW) comic about two guys who throw caution to the wind, and take off on a cross-country road trip. As the author puts it, “”This is the story of two dudes who drive from Berkeley to Providence, take multiple detours, smoke too much weed, eat terrible Chinese food, sleep in seedy motels, get kicked out of a Goodwill, contemplate fate versus chance, piss into the sunset, start a brawl in a Waffle House, and fall in love.”

On with the Interview!

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What started you down the road of comics?

I wouldn’t really say I’m “on the road of comics”… maybe on a smaller frontage road, or in the bike lane. I’ve always liked drawing quick sequentials, but never really identified as a Comic Book Artist – partly because it’s not how I make a living; partly because I’m still a very green amateur. Honestly, what got me started working on a comic book was realizing the story I had in mind was best told in that medium. That’s it. I’ve come to love it, though – the craft of comics, I mean. Scripting, pacing, timing, layout. It still blows me away that when you make a comic, you manipulate time with art. How cool is that?

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Who was your biggest inspiration in the field of comics or cartoons?

Oh gosh, um. There are so many amazing artists (many my age and younger) who are continually evolving inspirations, but if we’re going with the past tense, I’d have to say Al Hirschfeld and Kyle Baker.

I’ve always admired Hirschfeld’s knack for distilling a person’s likeness down to its essential forms – not just facial resemblance but style of motion and posture as well. He depicts someone’s essence clearly even while rendering it in impossible ways – placing the eyes below the mouth, say, or drawing tight spirals for eyes. Not only that, but watching the documentary The Line King and seeing how instead of just flinging out these effortless curves and perfectly placed lines (as I’d previously thought), that he took each drawing through a painstaking sketching and refining process… it was like a beam of light out of the blue. I saw that pouring effort and time into artwork showed dedication, not inability to “get it right the first time”. That artists aren’t gods but people who work really damn hard.

As for Kyle Baker: His comics showed me the importance of acting. Characters don’t just move through a scene, they live it – they act it. Just read the first 10 or 15 pages of I Die At Midnight and you’ll see what I mean. His work is incredibly cinematic. Also, Baker’s books Why I Hate Saturn and Undercover Genie – and more recently, How to Draw Stupid – have been huge inspirations. There’s a LOT of Saturn influence in TJ and Amal – building characters through conversation and facial expression, setting the story in its place and period rather than trying to make it ‘timeless’, telling the story in ordered vignettes rather than one continuous arc…

What were some early creations – and what do you think of them now?

Comics-wise? I don’t really have much to speak of. Most of my creative projects before TJ and Amal were commercial illustration and design, or fandom stuff I did just for fun. Nothing I could call a truly original creation.

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What is your favorite medium to work with?

Plain old mechanical pencil.

Regarding your process of creating a finished panel, what is your favorite part? Sketching, lineart, or the color?

Probably the first passes in pencil and ink. That’s when things really start to solidify, and when the emotion starts to show clearly. It gets me pretty pumped to see everything finally taking shape.

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How long does it take you to create a final, fully-detailed comic?

We’ll find out. Three years, at least. *haha* A single page takes between 6 and 15 hours, and a 10-page segment usually will take between 3 and 6 weeks. (I have a day job, so comicking happens on weekends and at night. )

Who is your favorite – TJ or Amal?

I can honestly say I do not favor one over the other. Amal’s easier for me to relate to, but TJ’s dialogue is much easier to write.

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If TJ and Amal were stranded in a rainforest, do you think they’d survive? (And who would crack first?)

Probably. TJ’s appetite might have him end up eating some nasty mushroom, though. (Amal would crack first, just because of all the bugs.)

Annnndddd…. What is your favorite webcomic?

Oh man, that’s like setting me loose in a cheesemonger’s and telling me I can only pick one! Erm, so I won’t.
For strips, probably either Nedroid, Hark! A Vagrant, Girls With Slingshots, or Something Positive. I’ve been following those last two for a long time. Long-form webcomics I like include Hanna is not a Boy’s Name, Templar, AZ, The Meek, Octopus Pie… I don’t think I can go on without leaving someone important out, but there are way more than this! There’s so much love, enthusiasm, and talent out there in the webcomics world. It’s really exciting.

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You can find more about E.K. Weaver and her art here:

Originally posted at Fuel Your Illustration on May 12, 2010.

Musical Monday

I spent the weekend at the Body Mind Spirit Expo so be patient with me if I seem a little loopy and hokey (though I prefer spiritually enlightened, thank you very much). I made a playlist filled with music that inspires me but really all I’m doing is playing these two songs on repeat over and over again. Feel good music. Good for the soul. I’m not religious, but I’m spiritual and I find a lot of spirituality in music, so there you are. Have a listen.

Let Your Faith Guide Your Faith

I think most people know The Mowgli’s because of their song San Fransisco, but this one, Carry Your Will, is my favorite of their music. It’s uplifting – I find myself turning it up as loud as I can and closing my eyes just to feel it.

Then it was dark and we could see no more / But somehow we found each other / Somehow we found hope / If you carry your will, I will carry my will…

Take a Blue Canoe Around the World

AGH. This song. It hits me where it hurts but it’s such a good wake-up call when I need it. Plus it’s Grace Potter and Willie Nelson so of course it’s gonna be an awesome song. We’re all our own Ragged Company sometimes and I love this song.

O’ lord I think I’m falling, to my disbelief / I’m cursing like a sailor and lying like a thief / It’s hard to heed the calling from the better side of me / When I’m blaming everybody else, and no one’s coming clean…

What are you listening to today?

alice-bioOne of my favorite aspects of Twitter is just how many amazing illustrations I stumble upon there. It’s how I discovered the lovely and colorful work of Alice Rebecca Potter, a designer and illustrator from London, England. Her simple lines and bold shapes make for a unique style all her own. Alice says of her work, “Big colours, strong shapes, and unforgiving lines continuously creep into my work. Lately that includes people, maps, and architecture, but I like to draw the natural world just as much.”

Alice was sweet enough to take some time and answer a few questions about her style and process. Thanks for the great interview, Alice!

Hi Alice! For those who aren’t familiar with your work, describe your style of illustration in one word.

Colourful!

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You went to school for Textile Design. What came first? Textile Design or Illustration?

Textiles came first, I suppose, because my mum was a textile designer in the 70s, so I was very aware of it. To be honest I didn’t really know much at all about illustration until a tutor suggested in my second year that maybe I should have done an illustration degree.

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You’ve had a chance to work on some fun projects. What was your favorite?

Yes, 2012 has definitely been kind to me. If I had to pick a favourite then it would be the recent Ted Baker project. I liked the freedom of the project, and also getting the chance to meet some of the other illustrators involved on a mass print signing day.

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Tell us a little about your process. Where do you get your ideas and how do translate them into a beautiful finished product?

When I am working on a project I tend to a little bit of collage or sketch in a sketchbook, which I then translate onto either Illustrator or Photoshop. I tend to build shapes and layers up, and then I play around a lot with colour until I am happy. Lastly, I consider texture and whether it is needed or not.

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I love the colors you use in your artwork. What is your favorite color or color scheme?

Thank you! I love colour too, and it has taken a long time for me to learn how to use it. I love using similar groups of colours in my work, for example, red on pink, and blues and greens. I think you will see a lot of these shades in my work.

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And finally, what fuels your illustration?

Eating well, and being healthy and full of energy. It’s the only way I get anything done!

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Find more of Alice Potter and her work here:

Originally posted at Fuel Your Illustration on November 12, 2012.

One of my absolute favorite books of all time is The Last Unicorn by one of my absolute favorite authors of all time (and good friend), Peter S. Beagle, and like many kids my age, I can quote the animated movie like no one’s business. Back in November, The Last Unicorn movie celebrated its 30th birthday: in 1982, the animated movie premiered at over 600 movie theaters across the country.

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“That wasn’t a lot, even back then (‘big’ releases showed on two or three times as many screens) and the promotional budget was next to nonexistent — only $150,000 nationwide for press kits and newspaper advertising. (Television ads? Billboards? Forget it. Way too expensive.) Despite these limitations, however, something miraculous happened. When the box office reports came in for the weekend, The Last Unicorn was the #6 film in America.” (The Raven, Peter Beagle’s eNewsletter, 11.19.12)

If you aren’t familiar with the book or the movie, here’s a quick summary. It was written in 1968 by Peter S. Beagle, and is about a unicorn, the very last of her kind, and her journey to find out what happened to all the others. It features a wonderful collection of characters that help (or hinder) the unicorn on the way. There are wizards, illusions, princes, dragons, and of course, magic. The perfect mixture for a perfect fantasy epic. The movie is a beautiful adaptation of the book – as it should be since Peter also wrote the screenplay. A list of amazing actors appears in the movie – Christopher Lee, Angela Lansbury, Jeff Bridges, and Mia Farrow, just to name a few.

So in celebration of 30 years of The Last Unicorn movie (and of the recent successful TLU tour which I was honored to be a part of – I’ll be writing more about THAT soon – I promise!), I’m doing a showcase of some of my favorite fanart illustrations. Because I think there are few things that really show how much and how many people love something than fans making their own art for it. So without further ado.

Click here to continue reading this article.