The comic officially starts today, and in honor of the event, I asked Kineko if she'd be willing to participate in my feature. And yay, she said yes! Keep reading for the basic plot info as well as a Q&A with the creator:
Bob: Basic plot description?
Kineko: Sunday, a little witch living in the Bayou, seek revenge against the Witcher, an evil sorcerer, who killed her parents. For that purpose, she create Mojo, a voodoo doll.
But they are separated, and Mojo start a journey to find his 'mom', and save her from the Witcher, wreaking havoc in the Bayou if needed.
Bob: Update Schedule?
Kineko: Every monday for the moment. It will be subject to change for special pages, announcement, cover art, or just me forgetting to upload the page (it WILL happen, I know what I'm like)
Website URL: http://valeriane.org/herebevoodoo
Bob: How did you first come up with the idea of Here be Voodoo?
Kineko: It all started when I was employed in a casual game company in... 2007. It wasn't that bad as a job, but the art style was very simple, the characters childish and I feel frustrated with these limitations and stressed out because of the insane schedule.
I was doodling a lot of monsters to cope and one day, between two meeting, I drew a little voodoo doll with a ponytail and a big butcher knife. I liked this scribble so much I start doing more and more voodoo doll, some were caricature of my coworkers, other being inspired by everyday item. I had a spidery doll inspired by a broken umbrella for example. The story start developing a month later, with Sunday's first appearance as a little girl with a top hat and the basic synopsis didn't change from there.
I wrote the synopsis for the nanowrimo 2008, and tried a few times to start the comic version, without finding the time or motivation, until last june.
Bob: During Nanomango, we saw you do a full set of pencils, plenty of revisions, and a few versions of finished pages. Can you talk a little bit about your process? For example, do you start with a script, or thumbnails, or just jump right in? How do you get from initial drawing to finished page?
Kineko: Well, my process is chaotic, even if I'm trying to be a little more organized.
I start with my nano-synopsis from 2008, which is already divided in chapter. First I read it, then cringe a lot and start correcting the narrative mistake, dialogue, and other error.
Once I have a clear idea of what's going to happen in a chapter, I doodle the pivot scene of the story. I tend to decide of a panel for the mere reason of 'it will look cool that way”, but I'm trying to change that and work on my paneling.
I generally do a few different thumbnails, to make sure the storytelling is coherent, and I start the pencils. I work with a blue pencil, and make correction and note with a red one. At this point, I submit my pages to a friend who is a lot better than me with story telling and layout and she help me correcting the bad cut and continuity mistake. I do generally one to three revisions of the pencil before I'm happy with it.
Then I scan the pages, enlarge every panel and print them each on a page in light blue. I ink them with my trusty pentel brush pen, then scanned them again at very big definition (600 dpi, my computer hate me), I erase the blue line and rebuilt the pages.
Then I texture with photoshop and my old cintiq and letter the dialogues.
I also send the finished pages to my English beta reader, Richard Roberts, who kindly check if the slang and grammar is correct, and to my friends for their advice. There is often a few last minutes corrections before I can label the page finished. From start to finish, I can work on a page 8 to 12 hours, but I make a lot of break so I can always have a fresh look on my work.
Bob: What media do you use to create your pages?
Kineko: It's a mix of traditional (for the sketch and inking) and photoshop (for the panel enlargement and the texturing). I sketch a lot faster with a pencil than a tablet and I recently discovered the joy of the pentel brush.
Bob: Tell us a little bit about Sunday.
Kineko: Sunday used to be a very happy little girl, always smiling and laughing, until her parents death. After this, she will grow up into a surly silent pre-teen. In the first draft of the synopsis, she was meant to be mute, but I decided against it.
She is intelligent and a powerful witch for her age. She rely a lot on relic and magical component to use magic. For example, she use her skills in sewing for her spells, that one of the reason she created Mojo. Upon meeting her, people find her cold and undemonstrative, and she is able to do some immoral thing to get what she want. She is fearless, if not foolhardy, and does not always evaluate the trouble she can get into before rushing head first.
But she still act like a kid in certain situation. She hate being mocked and will throw a temper when teased. She is repulsed by bugs and worms while Mojo LOVE them.
Oh, and she will never admit it, but she love pretty dress. Especially the pink one.
Bob: When you first posted work on this comic for Nanomango, you were like a machine! You kept the pages coming, and they all looked great. Not many people make it all the way through Nanomango without slipping. Do you have any words of wisdom on how you kept up your pace and your motivation?
Kineko: I was unemployed, I could take all the time I need to polish my pages... Not that I suggest to resign, of course!
First I think it's important to have fun. If you don't have fun while doing your pages, it's going to be harder to finish and be satisfied of your comic.
Use a technique you're at ease with. Pencil, direct inking, painting, graphic tablet, whatever you want, just be sure you won't be hindered by a technique you're not mastering very well.
It's good to have a clear idea of what you want to do for the mango. If you're in for the 30 pages, it's better to try with a short story, or to have a defined script of what's going to happen. Thumbnailling is important too, so you will not end with not enough or too much pages.
Don't feel obligated to draw if you don't want to. If you're not inspired to draw one page, draw the next one, or do something else, character design, background research, scripting.
If you feel you won't be able to do the 30 pages, it's not a problem. Give yourself another aim. 20 pages inked and 10 pages sketched for example. Of a complete script and all the pencil. You don't have to finish, you just have to feel proud of what you did.
And if you're not happy with the quality of your page, don't worry. There is always revision. Just make a note about what you need to change and December can be your own National Revising Mango Month.
Don't forget to take a breath, check the others participants comics, chat with them too! We don't bite and there is always someone ready to help with reference, advice or just to chat and unwind.
Or you can just take a scrap of paper, a pencil and go completely on impro.
This is very very fun too.
Bob: Which character from your comic is the most fun to draw? Who is the most difficult?
Kineko: The funnier: Mojo. He is very expressive with his body language and I love his ponytail and his little boots. I love drawing Sad the ghost doll too, because she is very simple and elegant.
The harder to draw is Eshu, the wood doll, because his chara design is HELL to draw. And Big Brother. His details are killing me.
Bob: As a fellow author of a b/w comic, I've often believed that full color comics have an automatic advantage when it comes to catching the eye of a reader. But at the same time, some stories are just meant to be in black and white, and I think black and white comic art can be just as beautiful as color. What made you decide to do this comic in black and white?
Kineko: In my head, Here be Voodoo has always been in black and white. The comics was supposed to be gritty, a little disturbing, borderline horror and I think color would have deserve this. That and I always color my picture as if a rainbow explode on the paper.
I was also a dire hard follower of the webcomic Digger by Ursula Vernon. I was hooked from page one and it was this comic that made me realize that black and white was a legit way to draw a comic without making it feel like a manga look alike or an unfinished color comics (for the reference, I love manga, but I think it was too much copied in western comicing and not always in a very good way).
I also admit at first I wanted the page to be made quickly, but this kinda derailed once I discovered the texture brushes of Photoshop.
Bob: Also, your comic has a very unique look, with a little bit of a scratchboard feel to it that I haven't seen anyone else doing. How did you nail down the style of your finished b/w pages?
Kineko: I used to draw in manga inspired fanzine when I was a teen, and I realized my inking... Well.. sucked. I was always disappointed how my inking looked flat next to my sketches and I wanted Here be voodoo to keep the dynamism of the pencil. I knew also I didn't want screentone, too cold for me.
I did a little reference digging in my favorite comics to find how I could improve my inking, mainly Sin City, Digger and Blade of the Immortal. All black and white comics, but very striking in their own way. I first tried a scribbly inking, à la Blade of the Immortal, but while trying to create a photoshop brush to emulate ink, I realized I could also make a scratchboard like texture. The hardest part was to find a way to render the skintone of the characters while keeping the line art readable.
Bob: What's your favorite part of working on a webcomic? Least favorite part?
Kineko: Having the idea. I love having new idea. I have wayyyy too much idea at the same time. The part I hate... Hm.. Let's say I dislike drawing background. A lot. But I'm trying to improve.
Bob: Anything else you'd like to say to your readers?
Kineko: I hope you will like reading“Here be Voodoo” and that you won't try to kill me when some unpleasant things are going to happen to the characters!
And as usual: This comics is NOT for kids!
Check out the amazing cover! (Full size available at the official website)
Now go on and check out the first page, and bookmark it for future updates! After seeing the Nanomango pages, I can say for sure that the story is exciting and unique and well worth the read. I also have the ultimate respect for people who have unique comic styles, and her art is both unique and gorgeous. Go look!