Winter Sunlight

December/January posting meme: Kismet

There were a couple of questions that came in after I'd already filled up the schedule of my mini-December posting meme, but they were good questions, so I wanted to go ahead and answer them!

winter_elf said: what inspired/got you going on Kismet? Did you wake up one day - 'I have a comic all laid out!' or was it a gradual thing? :)

I got started early. :D Basically I've been drawing comics all my life; it's how I taught myself to draw as a kid. I was never interested in being a comics artist for one of the big companies - that is, for me drawing comics was always akin to writing, in that I wanted to do my own "novels" that way. (I realize looking back on it that I wanted to do graphic novels before I actually realized it was a thing that people did.) This was before webcomics were a thing, and while I knew that independent comics existed -- I started finding them when I started going to the comic store -- I knew you needed money to publish them, so I figured that it was just a fantasy, not something that was likely.

In 2000, I got married and moved to Illinois, and I started spending a lot of time on comics message boards -- my main online hangout at the time -- and was introduced to the idea of minicomics (xeroxed and stapled). This was such a huge revelation to me. You could make! a comic! and sell it! You didn't need a lot of money or anything, just enough to afford making copies. I remember having a really strong feeling that I needed to stop thinking "maybe someday" and just take the plunge and do the thing now.

(On a side note, something I've realized about myself over the years is that having a practical outlet for this sort of thing is instrumental, for me, in getting from "fantasizing about doing the thing" to "actually doing the thing." Realizing that minicomics existed and were a perfectly viable small-scale self-publishing option is what got me to make more than a few pages of a comic at a time, in a similar way to how realizing that I could self-publish books on Amazon is what made the difference between spending years working on unfinished novels vs. going from idea to finished novel to published novel in a matter of months. I just needed to know that it could be done.)

Anyway, so I did that for a couple of years, working a now-defunct fantasy minicomic/graphic novel series called Raven's Children. In the meantime, I'd been working on Kismet since all the way back in 1992, but it was mainly intended to be written, not drawn. (I did have a number of sketches of people and tech from the early '90s -- I'd started out visualizing it as a comic, then switched to prose.) It was an anthology sci-fi series about a group of bounty hunters, smugglers, and other rogues in a little frontier mining-colony town. I wrote several Kismet novellas and short stories in about 1994/95, including Hunter's Moon (which became the first story arc in the Kismet webcomic). I rewrote HM again from the ground up in 1999. This turned out to be a big help in doing a webcomic version, since I already had the story down.

Once I started doing minicomics, I first of all tried self-publishing Hunter's Moon as illustrated prose (this was just the 1999 novella with illustrations, serialized as minicomics). It really didn't get off the ground, but around this time -- this was 2002 -- I'd started reading webcomics and kicking around the idea that maybe I could do Kismet that way. I tried drawing the first three chapters of a Hunter's Moon webcomic adaptation and put it on my website just to see how that'd work.

At that time I was going to comics conventions with my minicomics, doing about 5 or 6 a year. At Alternative Press Expo that year, I met a friend-of-a-friend who was putting together a paywalled webcomics archive and was looking for people who wanted to get in on it and have their comics on the site in return for getting paid. She'd seen the first few HM chapters (I did those first 3 as an experiment, but hadn't done any more) and asked me if I thought I could stick to a regular update schedule for Kismet in return for getting paid for it. I said sure (hey! money!) and, well, that is what I did. I never did get paid much, but I also retained all rights to my stuff, and when that site eventually went under, I ended up just having the comic on my own site like I do now. I finished serializing Hunter's Moon in 2006 and started working on the current Kismet arc, Sun-Cutter, in 2009.

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