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Friday, January 27, 2017

Interview #34 With Electric Gecko

Last year I interviewed Electric Gecko. Hope you guys enjoy and check his stuff out.

1: What got you into comics?

Electric Gecko: Some of my earliest memories revolve around comics: reading comic strips in the newspaper, sifting through old silver age comics that I’d pick up at flea markets for a few quarters, that sort of thing.  The comic has always been a noble, inpsiring medium to me: a place where imagination ran unfettered.  I drew comics as a small child. As a teen, I devoted myself to ridiculous superhero titles now best forgotten.  And when I got to university and had some free time on my hands, I knew that I wanted to try my hand at a strip comic.  That’s where Puck began.

2: How'd you come up with the idea for Puck?

Electric Gecko: The exact (and highly complex) process of Puck’s creation is a long, odd tale that I explain in detail in Puck: Volume One. (Print and PDF editions available! Shameless plug!)  But to simplify it, let’s just say that I wanted to do a strip comic that was funny, offbeat, a little sexy, and generally unlike the bulk of what existed in strip comics at the time.  Nowadays, weird slice-of-life comics staring fantasy-type creatures are seemingly a mainstay of the internet, but back when I started, I’m proud to say that I was a bit of a pioneer.

3: How long has Puck been around?

Electric Gecko: Puck started as a student newspaper comic in the Silhouette, a weekly paper at McMaster University.  That was in 1998.  Yes, that was in the previous millennium.  That means this webcomic is old.  Like, old old.  Let’s put it this way: the first Puck website predated Google by a few years.  In internet terms, we’re talking ancient e-history here.  Puck is actually now older than I was when I started the comic.  That’s freaky to think about.

4: Would you ever want Puck to be a tv show or movie?

Electric Gecko: That would be cool – particularly a Puck TV show.  Puck is a slice-of-life comedy that I essentially made as a demented take on the television sitcoms of old.  You know, like Full House?  I could see Puck as a show like that, I think: Full House with more violence and pointy ears.  That said, I think the concept of a live action Puck show would be kind of horrifying.  Like that live action ‘The Tick’ show.  Remember that?  Nightmarish.  I’d want that thing to be animated, if at all possible.

5: How long does it normally take you to write a strip for Puck?

Electric Gecko: The writing part takes me no real quantifiable time.  The ideas for comics come to me when I’m doing other things, like eating or pooping.  What takes real time is drawing the comic (and inking the comic, and scanning the comic, and coloring the comic, and inserting word bubbles in the comic, and posting the comic).  From start to finish, I probably put in twelve to twenty hours a week on Puck. It’s not a great payoff for the time investment, really, given the fact that I only produce one comic a week.  If I were smarter, I would have chosen to draw the strip in a sloppier, quicker style that would have cut down on production time.  But I clearly wasn’t that smart.

6: Who's your favorite character and why?

Electric Gecko: Puck, the main character, would have to be my favorite.  She’s a rampaging redheaded nightmare.  She screams at bystanders and punches doctors and masterminds elaborate plans to put her sister-in-law in traction.   She’s not a good character, per se, but she is an interesting character, and I have to admit that I live somewhat vicariously through her.  I do not regularly threaten or attack those people who wrong me, but I dearly wish I could.  Puck does threaten and attack those people who wrong her.  Regularly.  And I find it somewhat cathartic.

7: How long is Puck going to be? Do you have a plot already mapped out?

Electric Gecko: Well, I started Puck in university, and it ran for three years as a student paper comic.  When my undergrad ended, I stopped the comic.  Then, ten years later, I was bored and started Puck back up again.  That was five years ago, and I’ve been going steady ever since.  I have no real plans to stop.   

Whenever I start a story arc, I already have it mapped out in my head, though I’m open to taking things in a different direction if I suddenly come up with a funnier idea.  Story arcs take a long time to finish when you only have four panels of content every week, however.  I started a basic little story arc a year ago, and fifty-two weeks later, I still haven’t finished it.  At that glacial rate of progress, I probably have enough stories in me to last me another twenty years, at least.  Though I might get bored or frustrated before then and call it quits.  Who knows?

8: What advice could you give to someone who wants to start writing their own comic series?

Electric Gecko: If you want to be a comic creator, I say that there’s really only one question that you should ask yourself: Am I having fun?  Well, are you?   Are you enjoying the process of creating and sharing your work?  Because if you are, then you’re in the right place; you’re doing the right thing.  If you aren’t having fun, then stop.  Immediately.  Find something else to do with your life, because let’s face it: comics have always been a terrible way to make money.  The market is small, the competition is fierce, and the internet’s taught everyone that entertainment is free now.  Starting up a comic is perhaps the second worst ‘get rich quick’ scheme I’ve ever heard, right behind starting up a metal band.  You need to do it for the love of it, because that’s probably the only reward you’re ever going to get.

9: What experiences have you learned from writing this series?

Electric Gecko: I’ve learned a lot about how the internet works, how to manage a website, how to advertise – boring stuff like that, which I actually find quite interesting.  Beyond the practical stuff, I’ve learned that people on the internet are actually 95% awesome.  Most people on the internet are friendly and supportive and encouraging.  You wouldn’t think that after looking at most Youtube comments, but I now realize that those hateful Youtube comments come exclusively from the tiny-minded idiot portion the population.  They’re only 5% of the total, so don’t be afraid to share your stuff out there.  Some people might hate it, sure, but lots of people will be supportive and encouraging, and that’s totally worth it.

10: What about this series makes it special to you?

Electric Gecko: Well, it’s special to me personally because of the characters.  I like my characters; I’ve been writing these characters for a long time now, and they feel sort of like family to me.  That said, if you asked the bulk of my male readers, I think that many guys who read my comic would say it’s special because of the humor and the art.  It provides the odd chuckle, and, well, there’s lots of drawings of pretty girls.  I unabashedly like drawing pretty girls.  So if you’re into that, then there’s that.

Beyond that stuff, though, I’d say that the thing which makes the comic most unique, in comparison to all the others out there, is fact that it that centers on themes and concepts that you don’t see given much attention in comics: themes like motherhood, and family dynamics.  It’s a comic with a ‘strong female lead’ who isn’t a ninja assassin or some teen warrior struggling to bring down a dystopian empire or some crap like that.  It’s a comic about an unemployed mother of two living in a sketchy neighborhood who’s just trying to get by.  There’s not a lot of that stuff out there in comics.

11: If you could date any comic book character who would you date and why?

Electric Gecko: I’ve been married for fifteen years and haven’t dated in forever, so I think I’m allowed to take a pass on this question.  And it’s a good thing I can pass on it, because it’s a hard, hard question.  All the comic characters that I find interesting, engaging and sexy would be really, really hard to live with on a daily basis.  And all the characters who would be really easy to live with are kind of boring.  Take the X-Men, for example.  Scott Summers and Jean Grey are the relatively responsible, kind, and well-adjusted types.  They would both be good to date, but damn it if they aren’t boring!  They’re like the dry toast of superheroes!  Hell, Jean Grey had to be possessed by an alien being and turned into a fiery genocidal demigod just to make her even remotely interesting.  Characters like Wolverine and Rogue, meanwhile, are damaged goods; they’d be really awful choices to date in real life.  They’d be all angsty and pained, and calling you ‘bub’ and sucking the life energy out of you.  They’d be awful people to live with, but damn it if they aren’t sexy.  I guess that’s why we don’t date comic book characters.

12: Where can people find you on the internet?

Electric Gecko: You can find my comic at www.puckcomics.com.  It’s where all the cool kids hang.

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