The Cosmic Hellcats Interview continues with Chris Maverick, and its Artist Maximillian joins us.
Hmm, you’d need to find some very dedicated cos-players… which leads me to ask: If you were a character in a Sci-Fi show who would you be and why?
Mav: That’s a hard one. And one that I don’t really have a good answer for. The thing is, I’d change my mind every three seconds. I’ve thought of 10 shows that I’d love to be on for one reason or another since I started answering the question. I guess the great thing about being a writer is not having to decide. I like that the universe can literally be anything I want it to be. I like different kinds of stories depending on my mood. So while I would love to be piloting the Millennium Falcon one moment, two seconds from now I’ll want to be Batman.
Max: Batman is tempting. I’d sure like my superpower to be “ridiculous wealth.”But I don’t see how anyone can be asked that question and not answer Jayne Cobb.
Max: Mav’s instructions aren’t usually very precise. He’ll send me a script that’s a bulleted list of mostly one-sentence panel descriptions, and I’ll interpret and compose the page as I see fit. It used to be I would frequently ignore the exact panel breakdown, but as we’ve worked on it more i think he’s started anticipating how I’ll draw it so I don’t have to change as much from the script.
I do apply a lot of my own ideas; the scripts give me a lot of leeway so i’m free to invent stuff without contradicting or clashing with what’s written. This also gives me more input into the overall story. For example, when the script calls for a gang of nameless aliens, I try to draw each one with his own individual personality (it’s more fun for me that way) and because we’re making things up as we go along, those guys often become major characters. B’rd D’Vessa, the badass Rigellian in the current arc, is a good example of this.
When we started Hellcats, neither of us had really written a comic strip before, with the expectation of a gag on every page, and we had no idea if we could come up with funny punchlines on a consistent basis. Since we couldn’t depend on the big joke always working, I think we both try to cram in as many little jokes as possible. A lot of these are visual jokes that likely wouldn’t happen if the instructions were too precise.
What do you offer in the way of Cosmic Hellcat goodies and how can your fans get hold of ’em?
Mav: Not enough, sadly. But we’re working on it. Right now, on our website you can buy anthologies of the first two years of webcomics as well as the initial one-shot black and white comic that we did when we first got the idea.
At shows and comicons, we also sell posters and t-shirts, but we don’t sell them online yet.
Ultimately, one day we’d like to offer some other things. We’re working on some other long-form comics in the Hellcats Universe staring some of the other characters we’ve talked about earlier as well as some new ones. We’re not sure when that’s going to happen yet, but it’s in the works.
We’ve had some other ideas that we’d love to do, like toys/action figures and we’ve always wanted to produce a stuffed Swiggy doll just because we think it’d be beyond cute, but we don’t have the means to do that right now. So you know, if anyone reading this wants to get in touch with us to produce one, we’re not hard to find. 🙂
If there was one piece of advice you could give to aspiring comic creators what would it be?
Dedication. That is the key and the hardest part. There are two things to remember about making comics. One, do it because you love it. This isn’t the key to getting rich quick. Building an audience is a slow arduous process. And you’ll only get there over time, and you may not get there at all. So if you’re going to make a comic, then you need to love doing it. We’re all fans first. If you forget that it just becomes a job and that’s no good at all.
Which leads to the second part of dedication. Make your deadlines. This is rough because honestly in the pro-industry these days, making deadlines seems to be a lost art. But the difference between us and Marvel/DC/Image comics is that they already have an audience so it’s not as vital to them to make every deadline. If Spiderman is two weeks late, they’re not going to cancel it.
But on a web-comic, especially one struggling to build an audience, new content is key. If you want people to come back over and over again you have to give them a reason to, and the easiest way to do that is to let them form a habit of checking your site. So pick an update schedule that you can make and keep to it. Hellcats began as a two-day a week comic. It’s now a three day a week comic and in three years, we’ve never missed a single update. If we’re going on vacation, we make sure we get ahead of schedule so we can keep the updates coming.
If we’re between storylines, we make sure we have guest strips. If my computer breaks down and I can’t write/color for a week, Max fills in with special episodes of Hellcat Cosmos til I’m back up and running. And similarly if he’s got a deadline with some other project and he can’t work on the Hellcat Cosmos for some weekend, then I have to draw it. The point is, our readers can rely on the fact that every Monday, Thursday and Saturday there will be new content and that’s important.
Deadlines eh? I guess that’s why my comic’s Epic Fail!
Okay this is the last question and it isn’t really a question. This is open mic – Your chance to say anything else you want to say about Cosmic Hellcats.
Wow, after all that you’re not sick of us yet? Well, I think we covered most of the basics. The only thing I have left that I can really say is “please write us!” Like Max mentioned earlier, there’s a lot of little mini jokes and things like that in Cosmic Hellcat Adventures that we put in there both to amuse ourselves and because we just want to see if people are paying attention. In fact, there are times where one of us will be reading the strip a week or two later and just notice something that the other one did.
We put a lot of work into foreshadowing future events and taking passing jabs at popular culture in general and comic books/science fiction in specific. And we really want to know how that’s working out for the readers. Really, more than anything we really want to know whether people are enjoying what they’re reading or not. So if you have praise or criticism or even just an idea of something you’d like to see, please comment on the strip (you can sign up for an account, comment anonymously or use your facebook account to login) or send us email at firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know what you’re thinking.
Thank you for all the support, and thank you, Amy for taking the time to talk to us.
Thankyou for the Interview Max & Mav, and good luck with Cosmic Hellcats.