Friday, August 22, 2008

Webcomic Interview #13: Katya and Louisa of "Best Band in the Universe"

(Above) Panels from Best Band in the Universe.
(Below) Katya (left) and Lou.

I do my webcomics with my wife, and I have been dying to interview another creative partnership. I kept bumping into Katya Borovikov around the internet, and because we have a Russian background in common it led to some interesting 
discussions and some consulting on Russian aspects of Li'l Nyet. She and co-creator Louisa Dahmani -- "Lou" -- were kind enough to be this blog's first double interview.

Q: What web comic (not by a friend) do you think deserves wider attention, and why? 

Kat: Well I stumbled upon this once a couple of months ago: I Was Kidnapped by Lesbian Pirates From Outer Space. I think it's pretty awesome! I love the retro sci-fi look and the humor. It's not currently updated but there will be a second issue to the comic. Really worth checking out!

Lou: I'm gonna have to go with my favorites: Buttersafe and Girly. I find both really funny and
silly at the same time, just my kind of humor. And also the art in Girly is awesome, I love the drawing style.

Q: Is there a web comic you are always excited to read, the minute it updates?

Kat: Like Lou I'm a fan of Girly and I'm always eager to see the latest strips. I also discovered Ménage à 3 when it just started. I love that it's set in Montreal. Love the art and the humor as well… It updates when Girly doesn't, so every day I have a comic to look forward to!

Except on Sundays. Sundays suck.

Lou: Definitely Buttersafe (again)! I like short comics that don't require a lot of brain juice to read.

Q: What web comic by someone you know would you recommend?

Kat: Well I would recommend all of the comics from Comic of The Month community. They're not by someone I know in real life, but aren't online friends just as good?

Q: What blogs do you read?

Kat: None. Ever. Blogs are evil. Seriously though, I'm not big on reading stuff from the computer screen and comics are as much as my brain can take.

Lou: Well we both read Gaijin Smash. It's about an American ex-teacher who lives in Japan and he talks about how weird Japanese culture is from the point of view of a Westerner. Not sure if it's considered a blog though because it only gets updated about once a month.

Q: Where do you get your comics news?

Kat: Is there such a thing? I stumble across new comics either by clicking on ads or through webcomic forums. I wouldn't know about "comic news"…

Q: Introduce your work to new readers in a few sentences.

Kat: "Guitars, robots, flying vans… it's a long way to the top if you wanna rock 'n roll!" That's one sentence.
I could add that we do a very bright and colorful comic. If you don't like bright colors, you may not enjoy it.

If you don't like music, you may not enjoy it either. But then who in the world doesn't like music and bright colors???

Lou: More precisely the comic's about a rock band trying to make it big. Of course it's a huge challenge since they want to conquer the entire galaxy with their music.

Q: What is the most appealing aspect of doing a comic to you?

Kat: I laugh a lot. Sometimes I think of a funny gag in the bus and I just start laughing by myself while I write it down. People must think I'm crazy quite often.

Lou: It's just fun to create your own little world. It's also a lot of wishful thinking. I think both me and Kat wish we were in our characters' shoes.

Q: How does your partnership work?

Kat: Well… we write the storyline and dialogs together. Sometimes it's hard to tell who came up with what idea. We have the same sense of humor since we've known each other for over 13 years.

We both draw, only Lou draws a little better so she gets the awesome job of correcting my drawings all the time. So Zep and Oort are drawn by me, while Riff and Dash are drawn by Lou. The rest of the cast is drawn by whoever wants to draw them. I color, Lou shades.

Lou: It's really a lot of work. You would be surprised how much time we spend on single page.

Q: What are your web sites, and what do they offer?

Kat: We have one website: Best Band in the Universe. It has our comic on it. And a forum.

Lou: We're thinking of making an extra website with just art on it. Also we each would like to work on our own comic but that'll probably never happen because we just don't have the time.

Q: What web sites have proven especially helpful to your comic's development?

Kat: Forums… I'm thinking The Web Comic List and Comic of the Month. Both for providing critique and encouragement!

Q: What promotional tools have helped you find new readers?

Kat: Project Wonderful… totally worth it!

Lou: Putting ads on other people's webcomics really does help a lot.

Q: What's the best thing you've recently heard from a fan?

Kat: I don't even know… I hear a lot of good things about the comic but I can't recall anything in particular. I love getting positive feedback… makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

Lou: A guy described the characters as being loveable idiots, which they absolutely are. I'm happy people find them endearing even though they're idiots.

Q: What's the worst thing about the state of web comics today?

Kat: Hummm… I guess the fact that it's so easy to put anything online. That makes it very hard for someone to get their comic known. You have to spend some money advertising.

Lou: Yeah there's definitely too many of them! It's impossible to know them all and I'm sure we're missing out on some great comics.

Q: What tip would you offer someone launching their first web comic?

Kat: Buffer!!! Have one. We wanted to. We never did. We cry ourselves to sleep every night because of it.

Lou: I would say: Think before you draw.

Q: What merchandise item would you love to offer if the economics allow?

Kat: Everything!!! T-shirts, mugs, posters… you name it. One day…

Lou: Definitely custom guitar pickguards, picks, all sorts of guitar-related stuff. I'm a guitar junkie.

Q: Where are you, geographically?

Kat: Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Earth.

Lou: Solar System, Milky Way, Local Group, Universe.

Q: What's new in your life that has nothing to do with comics?

Kat: Funny you ask. Tons of things are new in my life. I got a new job (boom operator for a TV station), I'm moving into a new apartment in a few weeks. I started learning bass guitar a few months ago. Life is full of excitement…!

Lou: I just got a job and am working as a research assistant in a neuroscience research lab. I plan on buying lots of guitar gear (if it's not obvious already I play guitar) and I also want to get a band together and start playing gigs in about a year.

Q: Would you tell a talented newcomer to build their own web site, or use a comics hosting site?

Kat: If you can build it yourself, do it. If you can't, don't start up learning HTML just for the sake of having a comic site. It takes years to learn how to make really good sites and some comic hosting sites out there aren't bad at all.

Q: Do you think Photoshop and Illustrator are giving web comics a particular look, and is that a bad thing?

Kat: Yes, any media you use will give your comic a certain look… ink gives you a particular look over pencils. Photoshop, Illustrator and Flash all have different looks. It's not a bad thing or a good thing, they're all different media, that's all.

Q: What is motivating all these people who are bringing new comics to the web every day?

Kat: People want to be heard, I guess. I know that when we started our comic, it was because we had an idea (OK OK, Lou had an idea...) that we didn't see anywhere else. If someone could have magically created a webcomic about a rock 'n roll band in space I would have been reading it, not making it.

Q: Are you a fan of any web comics that are not drawn, but rather composed entirely with software, photos, props and the like?

Kat: I am not, but only because I never stumbled across a comic like that that I enjoyed. I'm not closed to the possibility.

Q: Which do we need more: more good artists, or more good writers?

Kat: I think it's easier to learn how to draw if you have something to tell then "learning" how to have something to tell if you can draw. In any case, if you're missing one of the two I think that partnership is the way to go!

Q: Are you in a comics collective? What does it do for you?

Kat: We're part of Comic of the Month collective. I love it! It gives me a friendly place to discuss our comic and comics by other people. It also gives us extra traffic. Traffic is good!