It’s Thursday morning and there is an ever-shifting cluster of Homestuck trollgirls in the vicinity of the TopatoCo booth; I had the opportunity to meet a pair of them walking into the con this morning (their costumes really were very good; they were stopped for photos approximately every 60 seconds on the approach to the convention center), and was pleased to find out that while they enjoy dressing like trolls, neither of them thinks that they actually are trolls. This led to a later discussion at the Dumbrella booth where it was posited that the collective noun for trolls should be a Tumblr.
Stray thought — they may not allow strollers in the panel rooms any longer, but that hasn’t stopped people bringing small dogs with them. A man just walked by with a small Corgi in his arms that seemed bemused but mostly bored with all the outlandishly dressed two-legs around him. Adorable dog.
There was a disappointingly small crowd for Karl Kerschl’s spotlight panel, but the right people were there — lots of cameras, lots of photos, there to watch a livedrawing of next week’s Charles Christopher.
Kerschl laid out a few rough ideas that he had (a process that often takes half of Wednesday day, with a two-row strip requiring two to three hours work to pencil and ink, then to coloring), with the thought of doing something con-related. His first idea (which he wound up using) involved his cockroach therapist character, dealing with another animal (to be determined) on the topic of “agoraphobia”. The unused, second idea (which may form the basis of the following week’s strip) involved the porcupine character and LARPing. I won’t spoil the gag of the strip Kerschl drew, but it involves a grumpy ferret.
While roughing out the strip and working up the placement, Kerschl answered questions from the floor; in no particular order, he shared:
Of the ancillary characters that have really grown on, the owls are the most prominent; all of the relationships in the strip became parental relationships, which largely was from before he became a parent.
The time setting of the strip is intentionally loose — Gilgamesh, 18th century elements, bolt-action rifles, contemporary language, the practice of psychology all mix together. In a lot of ways, the color palette he uses reflects that ambiguity a lot, makes it very hazy.
On the topic of panel composition Kerschl noted that since almost starting it was most informed by film pacing. He attributed the film influence to the fact that he does a lot of silent storytelling, setting up a scene and showing reactions to it. Any success to humanity or sincerity in the story is from those reactions.
Kerschl was always interested in drawing animals. Looking back at the oldest art he has, from the age of 8 or so, it was all cougars and bears and things; as a teenager his interests switched to action-adventure and superheroes until his mid-20s. He doesn’t draw much outside of work, but when he does it’s usually a bird or some form of wildlife. Even trees, trees are very relaxing, you can’t screw them up.
Charles Christopher is the only work Kerschl still does with pencil and paper ; in the last two years, everything else has been digital. Working digitally is a lot less stressful, since I have so much freedom to undo and experiment. But it’s nice to have a finished piece of work when you’re done, and I haven’t found a way to replicate this brushpen, which gets used a lot for things like fur and texture. You get a lot of happy accidents.
Kerschl doesn’t find it difficult to get emotions from animals (which he may have just researched via a Google Image Search). The weird thing is, I don’t go out of my way to put human expressions. If you give them a bit of a googly eye, that works. It’s all body language. Along those lines, the last panel of the strip wasn’t completed, as Kerschl felt the ferret’s body language needed more careful development than he had time for.
Almost all of the storylines came from one-off gags, and pretty much all of the recurring characters. Like Sissi Skunk at first was just [he gives a dual thumbs up gesture and wide grin], and now it’s become this story of intrigue. When I first drew that skunk it was Sissi, and now I’m not sure there is a Sissi. It’s like Wal-Mart, or Aunt Jemima, this corporate thing protecting the sales force.
Most interestingly, Kerschl is working on a bunch of other webcomics. They don’t have names yet, but there are four different concepts right now. All are in the early stages of development as he works up ‘tone pieces’ to get the feel of what they could be. Probably going to pick one to work on primarily, but all will come out eventually for web/mobile/ electronic distribution..
Kerschl laid out a few rough ideas that he had (a process that often takes half of Wednesday day, with a two-row strip requiring two to three hours work to pencil and ink, then to coloring), with the thought of doing something con-related. His first idea (which he wound up using) involved his cockroach therapist character, dealing with another animal (to be determined) on the topic of