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Word of Tom about the comic itself.

Do you have a definite end in mind for GC? Like a countdown to how many chapters are left? Or are you adding chapters as you think of them?

I have an ending in mind, but I don't know how long the whole story will be. [1]

Is there any significance to the fact that, in the course of the webcomic, the speech balloons often come in different colors?

There is a reason for it, yes. But as to whether or not it's significant is debatable. [2] The reason for it is that each character has their own colour, usually. See how when Shadow2 talks in Kat's voice, his speech is the same colour as Kat's? And when Robot was speaking at the end of chapter 7, the colours were all wrong? That's about it. [3]

Tom please tell me, from where do you know Polish? Dictionary? Or you have friend from there?

I had help from a few people who could speak Polish to get the dialogue right. [4]

Do you make GKC on a computer or on paper?

I make it on a computer in Photoshop with a Wacom Cintiq. [5]

Here you are dragging a (presumably) large safe home for comic backups, when I thought you did the pages digitally! What gives?

I do all my pages digitally and keep backups of them on some external hard drives. Those go in the safe. It's a media safe that will make sure the harddrives aren't damaged in a fire or a flood. [6]

What character is the most difficult to write, and why?

Jones, maybe. There are a lot of things I need to keep in mind when I have her doing stuff. [7]

Why was the first print called the 'Lulu Edition'?

Because I used lulu.com to print the first 7 chapters on a Print On Demand basis. I stopped printing them that way when I became unhappy with the service. [8]

What didn't you like about Lulu.com?

The books were printed really badly, especially when they changed printers and such. There sisn't appear to be any quality control. Also I made very little money per book (which were expensive for their size), but then, given the way traditional publishing works, I don't think I can complain about that. [9]

In your comments section on [Chapter 7, Page 23] you wrote "This is where the first book ends..." But the first published book ended after Fangs of Summertime. Was this where it was supposed to end, but changed later on, or does it mean something else?

Yeah that was when I had the first seven chapters printed through lulu.com for a while. [10]

What’s your creative process? Do you sometimes pace back and forth?

Yeah I pace around and talk to myself all the time when trying to work on something. [11]

I love the surreal architecture & interiors you come up with for the comic, such as the design of Annie's 7th and 8th year dorms - it's like something you might see in a dream, or a Terry Gilliam movie like "Brazil". Where does your inspiration come from?

The current Year 8 dorms was based off a building I saw in Egypt. It was like a giant birdhouse on really tall stilts. It was pretty cool. [12]

Who is your favorite character to write? How about to draw?

Annie. [13]

What inspired you to do City Face? Do pigeons just have a really cool strut?

I just think pigeons are really neat. Birds are ace. [14]

What is your absolute favourite comic that you've drawn? Which gave you the most pleasure? Which was the biggest surprise to you?

I don't know about favourite, but I like [Chapter 26, Page 23] mainly because people seemed to understand what I was trying to convey with it. [15]

How long does it usually take for you to make a page? You use Photoshop, yes?

Yes I use Photoshop. How long it takes depends on the page. Sometimes it can take a long time, or sometimes it can take a very long time. [16]

What is the size that you use in all of your pages on photo shop, and in what resolution?

A4 size, 300 dpi [17]

Is your pen pressure sensitive on photoshop or do you just keep on changing its sizes?

It's pressure sensitive [18]

Chapter 2, with Basil, feels a bit out of place in comparison to later chapters. If you were starting over knowing what you do about the story now, would you still keep it?

Yeah it's pretty out of place. A lot of people say it's their favourite chapter though. I'm not sure if this is a good thing or not, since the tone of the comic moved away from that kind of thing over time. [19]

Do you write some kind of script (defining dialogue, number of frames, stuff like that) before drawing the comic? or do you start drawing in a more free way?

I try to script as much of the chapter I'm currently working on as I can. It helps with the pacing. [20]

Is there a chapter in the future that you will be willing to redo entire pages to get just perfect? Like the ending, maybe?

I can only do something like that if I had time. If I had time I would redraw the entire comic. [21]

Are you raising any of your characters (main or supporting) with the express intention of killing them off?

Not that I am aware of. [22]

Do you prefer writing/drawing longer chapters like 'S1', or shorter ones, like in the earlier parts?

It depends on the chapter. I would like to do some more shorter chapters though. [23]

I'm sorry if this sounds like a silly question, but do your characters ever talk to you? You're writing your script, and a character comes up to you and says "that's not how my story should go, write THIS instead", or something like that?

I like this question. However, no. [24]

In "Concerning Antimony and its Ore", Biringuccio said, "It might be a material that is about to reach metallic perfection, but is hindered from doing so by being mined too soon." Does that describe your character Annie?

In a way. There were a number of reasons I chose the name Antimony. [25]

Do you ever not feel like drawing your comic?

Never. But I sometimes don't feel like doing the work. [26]

Is the afterlife (The one Surma went to, not Mort's) something that will be exposed in the comic?

Yup. [27]

I've noticed a recurring artistic element in GC- these white, swirly lines tend to appear around things and people occasionally (especially Zimmy, see pg. 466). Are these just indicators of etheric activity?

Pretty much yeah. [28]

Outside of Zimmy and co., which main character did you think up first? Did you build the story around them, or were they the impetus for coming up with the story?

Annie was first, and the reason I started the comic. [29]

Annie has changed a lot over the course of GC. Did you plan, from the begining, for her to change so much? Or did it just... happen.

I wanted her to grow up, so I knew she would look different over time. The way I drew her has also changed a lot unintentionally. [30]

If you COULD talk to your characters, who do you think would give you the best conversation?

Jones. [31]

Did you begin your comic not knowing how to use photoshop? Or you had some source that would teach you its ways.

No I already knew how to use Photoshop before I started my comic. [32]

How many layers does your final product in photoshop have?

Between 10 and 20, not including the text layers. [33]

What is your favorite chapter?

Either Coyote Stories or Skywatcher and the Angel. [34]

When everything is said and done, do you see Gunnerkrigg fitting into any particular genre?

Fantasy. [35]

Can you still draw in the style of the first chapters?

I probably could if I tried intentionally. [36]

If you meet your own characters, who is likely to punch you for what you have done to them?

Zimmy, I would guess. [37]

Does anyone in the comic have a straight-up American accent?

Not that I can think of. [38]

What kind of texture do you put on your backgrounds, or are they made with traditional media? Because they look great.

It's just a large photograph of a nice natural rocky texture blended with the background. Never use Photoshop Clouds, people. [39]

I've noticed that your comic - unlike pretty much every other enjoyable, episodic story I know of - doesn't have any contrived coincidences. How actively do you try to avoid coincidences in your plots? And how did you get so good at it?

I wanted to avoid things happening that were a little too convenient, at least without good reason. There are a few situations that fall into that category, however. [40]

Which of Gounnerkrigg Court characters you imagined first? And what was first the world or a character?

Annie came first before everything. [41]

"Annie came first before everything." Even Zimmy? When did she figure in?

I made Zimmy and Gamma a long time ago (and Jones, actually), but they came long before Gunnerkrigg. Annie was the first character I drew from the comic and I wanted to add Zimmy later.[42]

How old are the characters of Zimmy and Gamma (and Jones)? I mean how long ago did you come up with them?

Dunno really. I think maybe around 10 years ago now. [43]

You said the Annan Waters are named after a song by Kate Rusby. So, I guess Mr Eglamore is also named after one of her songs?

Yups. [44]

What's your writing process like? Like, do you move backwards from the climax of each chapter or think of it step by step? Do you feel compelled to stick to any particular story format?

Usually I have a goal in mind for each chapter and figure out the basic steps to get to it, then work my way there. Sometimes the story changes along the way, but that's fine.[45]

Some authors intend for their characters to be seen the way the author sees them, and some like to leave it up to the reader to make their own conclusions about the characters. Which would you say you are?

I like to have characters with a specific feel in my ind, even if it isn't obvious from the start. Jones is mysterious, Parley is headstrong, and stuff like that, but I also want the reader to get their own feel for the characters. [46]

Your art has progressed a lot over the course of the comic, did it happen naturally or were the changes intentional?

Both. I was hoping right from the start my art would get better if I drew the comic. I'm still hoping. [47]

In [Chapter 14, Page 47] did you write all the texts yourself? If so, was it difficult to do different handwriting styles, or was it as easy as drawing the particular cartoons is "childish" style? Mort's a good artist, btw!

Yeah I did those all myself. [48]

Do any of your characters sing well? Do YOU sing?

Margo can sing, and also John. I can't. [49]

How come you got rid of the little summaries on the cast page?

Because I would have had to update them all the time as the story progressed. [50]

One of the thing I like most about GC is that there doesn't seem to be an antagonist to the protagonist (Annie), which is the standard in fantasy stories. Was that a conscious decision you made?

Yeah it was. [51]

What's your process for coming up with the backgrounds, particularly the ones involving buildings? Also, what's the process of converting these ideas to ink?

I have a few reference pictures that I took of Birmingham that I look at when I want some ideas for buildings and stuff. I sketch them and them ink them. [52]

When new updates are posted, do you update them manually or is there some sort of timer that posts them automatically?

There is an auto updater script that does it for me. [53]

I love the way you've drawn Reynardine [in wolf form] in today's strip! Do you prefer drawing him in this form, or do you find the plush form more fun to draw?

The plush form is more fun and easier to draw, but I do like it when he is a big ol' wolf. [54]

Is you using Birmingham as Zimmy’s hallucinogenic nightmare your creative way of comparing Birmingham to a Hellhole?

Yes. Not very subtle, I know. [55]

Which character's hair do you like drawing the most?

Kat's. [56]

Are any of the symbols used in GC taken from Masonic symbolism as well as alchemy?

Unintentionally, perhaps. There seems to be a bit of overlap. [57]

Werer the "time for music" sketches a last-minute addition? I remember some complaints about the original stand-alone page. Then the sketches show up and the concept goes phenomenally.

I drew and added them throughout the day (it might have been a weekend), so it was kind of last minute, yeah. [58]

Was Annie (And its long form) your first and only choice for the protagonist's name? Are there any characters that came close to having different names?

It is the only name I can remember. I'm sure I had other options, but I forgot them. [59]

What made you think of naming her "Antimony?"

I thought it was a nice name and it tied in with the story. [60]

Is the computer in the ether station based on your own?

Yeah. [61]

If you had to choose, would you be on court's or forest's side? In other words, technology or magic?

The Court, I suspect. [62]

About making the comic- why did you decide to do the line work in photoshop? It is it just a matter of preference, or do you think you wouldn't be able to add as much detail by working traditionally?

I did the first 16 chapters on paper with ink and switched to all digital later. Working right in Photoshop helps save a lot of time and messing around. [63]

At the beginning of the comic, the Court is only referred to as a school, whereas now the Court is essentially portrayed as an entire city with the school only making up a small part of it. Has your concept of the Court changed over time?

Not really. I knew it was more than a school. [64]

What's the music on http://gunnerkrigg.com/junk/?

The savegame music from Ico. [65]

When you talk about the pages in canon are you only referring to the pages you made or are the guest pages included as well?

Guest pages are not canon. [66]

Is your comment on page 132 a hint at Annie's backstory?

Kinda. [67]

Do you have a favorite psychopomp among the ones you've included in your comic?

I like Ketrak. [68]

When you sent the pages off (or whatever the process is) to be published for book two, were they sent when you had finished drawing them, or when they had been put on the internet however many weeks later?

They were sent when they were ready offline. [69]

Why do you refuse to pin down even general time-periods for past Gunnerkrigg events like Surma's time as a student or the founding of the Court? Is it to avoid accidentally creating continuity errors that nerds would not ever shut up about?

I suppose so, yeah. Also it just isn't that important. [70]

Will the odd glowing paintings in the old library seen early in the comic ever be explained or were they just there to add mystique?

I cut out that sub plot. [71]

Who do you think would be the best person to voice Reynardine, if the question was ever to arise?

Have you ever seen A.I., the Steven Spielberg movie? You know the supertoy teddybear the main character has? That's how I imagine Reynardine's voice. [72]

Are any characters in your comic gay?

Yes. [73]

how long were you planning gunnerkrigg before you began publishing it

It had been going for a few years I think. [74]

Do you use a tool to make your panels or do you draw them yourself?

m[yself] [75]

Did you start Gunnerkrigg with a view to getting it published one day, or did you want/expect it to be a strictly online affair?

I just wanted to put a comic online. [76]

Have you read Uzumaki before of after starting your comic?

Before. Annie was influenced a little by Kirie Goshima. [77]

Did you make up Boxbot's terribleness yourself, or did people on the forum start making a joke about how terrible he was after the "proper robots" comic, and then you adopted it in the "the worst robot" comic?

It was my idea, if that's what you mean [78]


What would it take for you to consider releasing more pages per week?

The ability to quit my job and make a living from my comic. [79]

Is Zimmingham a metaphor/representation of the Internet? Lots of faceless people who aren't real, scary creatures, decaying structures (sites)?

Nope. [80]

Was Jack's characterization something you had worked out in advance, or did he end up being crazier than you had originally intended?

It's pretty much what I planned. [81]

What advice would you give someone wanting to start their own online comic or other publication?

Start it right now. Don't wait around. [82]

Do you script out all your pages each chapter before you start?

I try to yes [83]

Roughly how far in advance are you plotting? Or, roughly how much of the mysteries for *us* are still mysteries for *you*?

None of them [84]

What did you expect your reader's reaction to be after seeing Jack fly?

I hope they thought "Wha, Jack can fly?" [85]

What did the "That big guy there is Eggers" joke stem from?

I'm very bad at drawing Eglamore, so people don't know who he is when he shows up. [86]

Since there's an insect death guide/god, do the insects have a religion to go with it?

Nope [87]

Do you get any satisfaction out of the way your style has evolved during the course of your Gunnerkrigg comic? Has turning out pages become easier for you now that you've had so much practice?

It seems to be getting harder. And things still don't look as good as I want them to. [88]

Which part of the creative process of Gunnerkrigg Court gives you the most joy? i.e. completing a page, seeing fans gush over a new posted page, etc.

Completing a page, really. Especially if it is one I am looking forward to people seeing. [89]

What sparked your interest in alchemy?

I thought it was an interesting subject to base the comic on. It is basically a mixture of science and "magic", which is where Annie is right now. [90]

What were you going for with Sky Watcher's design? Having him with several eyes for exaple, instead of two compound ones as in a regular praying mantis? (praying matises are rad!)

I was going for a robot praying mantis. [91]

What are the photos in [Chapter 14, Page 46] about?

Just pictures from some parts of my life. [92]

In [Chapter 14, Page 39], [Chapter 14, Page 44], [Chapter 14, Page 45] did you hand-write those letters yourself, or did you find an actual twelve-year-old girl to do it for you, for extra authenticity? Also for [Chapter 14, Page 47], did you draw those yourself?

Yeah I did all those myself. [93]

What's your favorite thing about doing the webcomic?

I enjoy working on a story and taking it in new directions that I didn't originally intend. I've always wanted to do a story. [94]

do you include some aspects from your personality to that of your characters?

some of them [95]

when you were a kid, did you ever draw comics? Did you want to be a comic artist then?

I drew very poor comics, yes. [96]

Which character is the hardest for you to draw? Which is the easiest?

Annie is the hardest. Mort is the easiest [97]

Did you ever consider making the comic in black and white?

nope [98]

what was your inspiration for starting Gunnerkrigg? were you just bored? or maybe just started drawing Annie or some other character and gave them a story?

Yup that's pretty much it. [99]

If everything you drew became a reality, would you stop drawing?

Heck no [100]

Why did you remove the "Hmm..." that Anja thinks on [Chapter 2, Page 3] for the printed version?

It was not needed [101]

Will we ever find out what Annie's science fair proposal was?

No. Let it go. [102]

On the last panel of page [Chapter 11, Page 11], is that Zimmy's hand reaching out?

No it's Annie's. Zimmy has long sleeves. [103]

When you first started writing GC, did the idea of people you know reading the comic bother you or effect what you included in the story?

No [104]

Has there been any sort of creature or thing you've really wanted to put in the comic, but just haven't had a place to?

Sometimes, yeah [105]

Any particular reason you chose the name "Carver"?

I thought it was a good name for a surgeon. [106]

have you got any specific character that works as a comic relief to the comic?

Not specifically. It would be too easy for Renard to become the comic relief but I don't want to do that. [107]

How do you manage to create such an epic comic and not end up creating plot holes or getting "out of character"? Remembering all these amount of details is hard even for me.

I just keep things in mind and only make the characters do what I think they would normally do. [108]

Of all the fan art you've received, which pieces are your favorites?

I like all of them [109]

How much of the mythological concepts found in GC did you know about before you started GC?

Some of them [110]

Are you more pleased at how your art has progressed since the first chapters, or more embarrassed at the art quality of those first chapters?

Embarassed at how my art has progressed and devastated by those first pages. [111]

Do you sometimes have to come up with the answers to the questions about the characters or story asked on this Formspring, or is everything already fleshed out completely in your head?

Sometimes I'll have to think up something regarding the little details that would never appear in the comic [112]

How do you decide what to name people (other than those with alchemical names like Antimony has)?

I pick a name and then if I like it, and it fits, I use it. [113]

Is there another webcomic artist or team whose financial success you would like to emulate?

I think it would be ace to make a living from working on a comic, or other projects that are your own. [114]

You've mentioned the court lacking a system of financial exchange (presumably because of limitless resources and machines for labor). Do you plan to examine unique but perhaps anecdotal aspects of the world like this later in the story?

I would like to, but I doubt I have the time [115]

What made you decide to shift to an alternate art style for the ether scenes?

I wanted those scenes to be visually different, so it was clear something was going on [116]

Do you listen to music as you work on your comic?

sometimes, but only during non-planning stages [117]

As a Homestuck reader and a webcomic creator, what's your opinion on using animation and music in webcomics?

If done well it can be used to great effect. There is no reason NOT to use other capabilities that a computer allows. With computers becoming even more portable (I hear they can fit one in a single room now) it might not even be a limitation to do stuff that you can't do in print. Maybe Tom Hanks was onto a winner with his computer comics idea in BIG. [118]

Do you ever wish you'd told the story of GC in a different way to that which you have, or are you happy with it?

There are some parts I wish I could change, yeah [119]

Have you ever considered doing a crossover with another webcomic?

no [120]

Do you find it challenging to realistically write a story from a female's point of view?

Not really, but then what do I know? There's got to be a reason why some people find it hard. [121]

Is the comic something you like to do entirely on your own? If you could have assistants sketching the backgrounds, would you?

No, I don't think I could ever have anyone else work on it [122]

The plot. Do you keep it entirely in your head? Is there no notebook full of character stories and how they all connect?

I have a few text files with ideas, but the plot outline is in my head [123]

What do you personally call Zimmy's world?

That Place [124]

Do you prefer to let readers figure out most of what's going on themselves, rather than resort to infodumping/ exposition? Or do you know that you'll have to explain most of it?

I let them figure it out themselves [125]

Is there any character whose name you've had second thoughts about?

Sometimes. [126]

What's your favorite location to draw? The otherworldy and natural woods or the labyrinthine and looming Court?

It depends. They can both be a bitch to draw [127]

Would you say Annie is a Reliable or an Unreliable Narrator?

Reliable to a point [128]

If Annie is a reliable narrator, is she reliably the narrator?

Not always [129]

When you first started, how long did you think the comic would be, in terms of time? How long do you think its total run will be now?

I originally wanted it to be seven books, one for each school year, but that ain't gonna happen. Not sure how long it will be now. [130]

Which robot do you enjoy drawing the most?

Robot Mark 3 [131]

Which page of Gunnerkrigg Court is your favourite?

Probably one of the Coyote pages. If not then the one with Jones putting her hand through the wall. [132]

When you first started Gunnerkrigg, did you already more or less have the story planned out, or was it something that evolved later on?

The story evolved as it went on, but after the first chapter I had a general idea. [133]

Are you proud of making something that directly contradicts the nature of the internet (sex, violence, language, etc.) this successful?

Actually, yes. [134]

Would it be accurate to say that you make the comic for yourself, and your readers/fans just help drive you on?

Yes [135]

Since Zimmy and Gamma were originally created for a different project, did you have to change a lot about them to make them fit in Gunnerkrigg?

A little. They changed a lot frmo their initial conception anyway [136]

You've talked about your process for individual pages a few times, what do you do when you're starting a new chapter?

I try and get as much of the chapter as I can written and split into pages in a script and then start drawing it. Sometimes I have to start drawing the pages when the chapter is only an outline. [137]

Do you do the chapter title page after the scripting or is it something that can inspire the chapter?

I do them quite late into the chapter [138]

Do you have to research a lot of stuff (like mythology, weapons or alchemy) for the comic, or did you know most of it before and just try to work it in?

No I have to do research on stuff before I put it in the comic. [139]

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