We reached out to River for a small interview, about himself and about his current and ongoing Kickstarter: The Curse of Clan Blackwood (available now!)
Take A Look!
Hey River, the Press knows a bit about you, but the world doesn’t! Tell us about yourself!
I am a queer Canadian artist who lives on the west coast and just graduated from art school a year ago. I mostly write and draw. I currently live with my younger brother, his dog, and my cat. I have a boyfriend who is also an artist. My main hobbies are reading, biking, and cooking. A pretty simple life, I think!
What’s your favorite thing about being an artist/comic creator? How did you get into comics and art as a career path?
Oh man, I have wanted to do comics ever since I was a kid. I used to love writing stories when I was 12, and I just never really stopped! It’s super corny to say “I always wanted to do this”, but I grew up around art and artists so it’s always been a big part of my life.
What’s your inspirations? Do you have a certain genre/trope/story you like to tell? (Are you really into found family stories, cyberpunk, slice of life, etc etc)
I am very inspired by the media I consume. I love to put a fun twist on things to make them mine. For this project with WildStar, I thought it would be fun to take the Lovecraftian genre of cosmic horror (which unfortunately has racist roots), and turn it into a story about dismantling privilege.
I am very partial to queer stories, because those are the ones I relate to most. I am also a huge sap for romance, and I love science fiction, fantasy and horror. All over the place!
This brings us to the "main event", but your Kickstarter is out! How’s it feel to have a kickstarter out?
A little nerve wracking and also exciting! It’s amazing to see all our hard work coming to a head. I definitely find myself refreshing the Kickstarter page a lot! I napped a lot after the third day the Kickstarter was out because I was very tired from making the comic!
Can you tell us a bit about the current book coming out, The Curse of Clan Blackwood? Anything you want to mention about the series and what’s coming?
Goodness, it’s really hard to say!
Hah okay how about: Is there anything you want the readers to take away from The Curse of Clan Blackwood?
I tried to be clever with my themes in a few different ways, namely with the message of being critical about your own privilege. I thought it would be funny to take a genre that was spearheaded by Lovecraft (aka: a super racist ass) and make it a story that was gay and about examining white privilege.
I also made the trials that Harland went through intentionally representative of the Greek cardinal virtues (prudence, justice, fortitude, and temperance) and that was how I structured the story (as well as the hero’s journey). A lot of thought and structure went into this very short little story!
I also tried to capitalize on my own personal fears (dark, drowning, body horror etc.) to make it feel more real. The end message of how the curse was resolved was also very intentional and an allegory for maintaining permanent change in your character.
Most of all, I just really hope people enjoy it!
Anything you’d want to do differently with your graphic novel process? Any tips to others who are thinking about starting their first graphic novel?
Ugh, next time I’m just going to draw my sketches straight on my tablet. I wasted so much time and paper. I wasn’t initially confident doing this, which is why I didn’t.
One thing I really discovered about my process during the comic was that the pages that gave me THE most trouble and were SO hard to do ended up being my favourite pages in the whole comic! Including the ones I had to totally scrap and start over on. Almost all of the ones that gave me tons of trouble ended up being really good.
My advice for anyone thinking about starting their own graphic novel is to start small! I know it’s tempting for your first big project to be 100+ pages, but it’s much easier to make a three page comic, then later a five page comic, et cetera. There are lots of different techniques for making comics, and you’ll fall into step with what YOU like to do if you make lots of small projects and start out with an experimental and exploratory mindset.
If you can finish small projects and share them with your friends (I definitely recommend making little zines and selling them for a buck or giving them away), that’s a super great way to start. Over time, your work will get bigger and better!
Do you have any other projects (current or future) you're excited about?
Hm, I have a few things that I am working on currently, but nothing that’s in a late stage of development especially! I wrote a novel during Nanowrimo last spring that I want to polish up, and I am also working on a bunch of short horror stories. Other than that, I am still drawing and making short comics regularly!
Where can we find you and your other works?
Thank you for your time and we can't wait to see what else you come up with!
Reminder! The Curse of Clan Blackwood is on kickstarter right now at 38% and 15 days to go! Support and share! WildStar Press is a new indie publisher and while we are small, we plan to make sure all under represented voices are heard-- but we need your help and support as well!