TOM DAVISON – INTERVIEW

I’d like to introduce you to Tom Davison, a lovely chap who has jumped on board of Soapbox Press. The first form of his writing has come in an interview he has completed with Run Freak Run… Well I needn’t say more really, over to Tom.

Run Freak Run is a relatively new web-comic I’m really excited about. Written by Silver Saaremaeel and illustrated by Kaija Rudkiewicz; who work as professional concept artists at Crytek Frankfurt in Germany. RFR is a beautiful, traditionally inked comic, following a mysterious nun named Inquisitor Two. RFR is revealing itself to be very cleverly written and very intriguing. The comic seems to have a very well thought out lore involving: Spanish girls, witches, queens, beasts, reindeer ‘Fur-fur’ and other strange fiends. I’m sure we can expect good things from RFR in the future!

Q: Why did you start Run Freak Run?

A: We started Run Freak Run because we wanted to do a project together; something we’d have the total creative control and no dependencies to anyone else but us. Since we decided that we want to do a web comic, we didn’t even have to worry about publishers. I guess you could say we wanted a personal sandbox where we could experiment, learn and express ourselves freely. We liked the idea of having a new way to expand our skill set in other ways than digital concept art; Kaija had always wanted to do more traditional art and Silver had always wanted to take a crack at writing. A comic was kind of an obvious choice since both of us loved reading comics and it conveniently combines those two skills together. After the initial decision we just decided to start pushing ourselves to the right direction to learn the necessary steps.

02silverkaija
Silver Kaija

Q: In terms of creative control; the internet offers a lot of it.
It also allows you to be more direct, when delivering content to your audience in a way you couldn’t do through publishing.
What sort of impact has talking to your fans had?

A: Talking directly with our fans has been great; first of all it’s just nice to hear that someone out there likes and responds to the work we’ve put so much time and effort into. But that’s the light stuff; the most gratifying experience with a fan was when we were told how we directly managed to inspire them to put more effort into their own work to so they themselves can become better at their craft. Being artists, we know how meaningful that is when you’re still learning and growing up. We sure as hell appreciate it when we get inspired. 🙂

Seeing fan reaction has also affected our blogging and facebook strategies. We observe closely which blog and facebook-posts get the most attention and try to break down the ingredients so we can deliver more consistent quality content. Even while we approach our social media content with a strategy, we never want to invent content just so it’s shareable, but only take hints on how to give a better presentation to the work we already do. We’ll never do any cookie cutter posts like: “7 pens you must own” or “3 reasons not to use the color red.” Those kind of posts, even while they might reach a bigger audience, lack a certain kind of honesty and personality that we adore in our role models, and it just seems kind of short-sighted. Most of all, we want to represent ourselves and our personalities with the comic.

01abundanceoftwo
Abundance of Two

Q: Would you ever like to have a comic published and printed, or have Run Freak Run printed?
How relevant do you think print is in an age of free web-comics?

A: We’d love to get RFR printed or published in print as an additional way to reach out to more people. Even while we are web comic creators, there’s something great about actually holding a physical copy in your hands, and we’re sure a lot of people appreciate reading away from their computers. That being said, iPad and the likes are a good alternative to it, but we don’t think there’s anything wrong with print besides how limited the market place is for comics is at the moment.

There’s a lot of discussion about the relevancy of print nowadays and loads of people are preaching that the print industry will die. We think it’s still a strong market with a lot of money and great products in it and even if one big publishing house would die, another would just take its place because there’s enough customers there.

Print publishers with their budgets have the advantage of making higher quality products because there’s additional help for editing, graphic design and marketing, while web comics are pretty much running as one man shows, doing everything from marketing to creating the product. Then again, that is slowly changing as well and there’s few web comic publishers out there now who handle the marketing and the advertisement monetization for the artist. I suspect more web comics will group together this way, find themselves a common business person and save time to actually making the product.

Where the web comics have an advantage, from a branding standpoint is that it’s easier – far more easier to reach out to a large amount of people over the net than through the comic book stores. The difficult part is getting them to buy things 🙂

We don’t see web comics as a thread to the print market though, they have totally different customers in our opinion and if anything, web comics educate more people about comics in general and they might want to venture further into comics stores for additional material, for stories that area already finished.

Drawing Board
Drawing Board

Q: I wanted to ask about RFR’s art style, it’s quite different from your other work. A lot more traditional than your concept art.
Although it is eventually inked digitally it still has a very hand drawn feel to it, that I really admire.
What were your ideas behind the art style?

A: Everything in RFR is actually inked by hand, no digital means involved up until the very end, when the finished page is scanned and the black and white levels are tweaked a little in photoshop to ensure the inks are smooth and properly black.

The concept art we do at work serves a purpose in the game’s pipeline of communicating as much information as possible for the people who are going to be working on it next. That already restricts how we approach the rendering of the concepts. The designs and subject matter are also always geared towards what games industry would deem appropriate and interesting. We also work under multiple directors and with constrictions of the game technology. We both love concept art; it is an interesting and challenging job, but as you can see, there’s a limited amount of creative control.

RFR is a project where we can channel our own artistic visions, expand our skill sets (writing, drawing and inking by hand) and most of all just have fun and experiment, working in a style that feels comfortable and natural 🙂

Sleepwip
Sleepwip

Q: What are your thoughts on where RFR is going next?

A: Run Freak Run is only going to get better as we go on! We will be experimenting with the episodic format; with different chapter lengths and styles and some one-shot stories of Two. Most importantly: we will explore why Two does what she does – We really want to show off different sides of her and the world and how they interact with each other. The lore and the mythology we have is getting only bigger and we want to show off some of our favorite ideas. 🙂 There will be multiple new characters but we won’t forget the old one’s either. We still have to resolve the storyline involving the Queen and her relationship to the Echos and what they are in the first place.

We just started recording Kaija’s progress of inking the comic, so readers can expect to get a lot more transparency on how the comic is progressing and how the art is improving. We will try to avoid spoilers as much as possible! 🙂

Our goal is to avoid stretching the story too much, but deliver a satisfying reading experience to all our supporters. It will take some time for us to get there, but we do have an ending planned.

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