Interview with Ania Mohrbacher
Changing Style and Handling Fan Mail
News for August
Changing Style and Handling Fan MailAsk an Artist
by Ursula Vernon
QUESTION: Working on long projects, do you find your style or technique changes from beginning to end? If yes, how do you resolve the discrepancies? Have you ever been tempted, for example, to re-do the first bits of Digger, or do you find that the first Dragonbreath doesn't 'match' the latest in some ways? Discuss!
Art and technique definitely changes. Usually it gets looser and less cramped, as you get comfortable drawing the characters, sometimes there's a broader character change as you get used to stylizing one thing over and over again (Wendell the iguana's glasses, for example, have probably gotten bigger over time, and I stopped feeling the need to draw every strand of Digger's fur.)
I, personally, am no more likely to go back and re-do the first bits of a comic than I am to jump off a building wearing a spandex bird-suit. I may note the difference, particularly in the collections, but I'm just not that kind of personality -- when a project is done, it is DONE, full-stop, and I am off to something else.
That's just me, though. I have friends who have gone through and re-done the first hundred pages of their webcomics in order to get a more uniform art style. There's nothing wrong with that, if you have the energy or if it'll make you crazy if you don't.
QUESTION: You've got a large and loving fanbase by this point -- what's the weirdest part of that? Do you get any actual fan-mail letters through your publisher, or has that all gone digital? Can you compile a few of the more hilarious comments/emails/fan-encounters you've gotten?
I do get a lot of fan-mail from kids still physically, some of which is hysterical. I answer as many as I can. (The single best advice I have ever gotten was a friend who told me to go to one of those post-card printing sites and have a couple hundred Dragonbreath postcards made up. She was a genius. I can write two lines on the back, sign, and mail.)
Some good ones have included snippets that you just don't expect from kids, like "Danny should have a brother who can fly, don't you agree?" and one grade-schooler who started her second page with "Now, let's get down to business!" There are lots of kids who send suggestions, which I can't legally take and shouldn't even read, (there are notes to that effect on the website) but are the sort of hilarious thing you'd expect from kids. (Danny having an older brother with superpowers is a recurring theme. Strangely, so is the Abominable Snowman.)
I still recall fondly a very nice woman at a convention who had brought her son, who was a HUGE fan, and had his own home-made Danny costume and everything. I signed all his books and complimented his costume enthusiastically, and told her it was very nice of her to bring him out.
"Oh yes," she said, with a certain glitter in her eyes, "we are Big Fans. We read your books... every... single... night..."
I started laughing. "Oh dear. I'm amazed you can stand to be in the same room with me."
She laughed too. "Well... we've read them a lot," she admitted.
"I feel like I should be giving you a bottle of gin in apology!"
"Gin is my favorite."
I doubt reading them Every Single Night is any less painful, but at least she knows that she has the author's sympathy.
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