May.08.15 at 06:52 pm

Hey everyone! It's this week's letters column! This is where we round up the questions we received from Patreon backers and respond. In case you're confused, here's the deal: patrons can ask us questions by hitting this link. Please send us questions! If you'd like to become a patron, head over to our patreon!

 Time for questions!
Who do you love more, Rook or Cricket?
Ananth: HAHA. Are they reading? No? Good. No I'm kidding, I like both of them... I like cats because they mostly do their own thing, and I like to do my own thing, so it's a good human/pet relationship for me. On a bad day, I like Rook a lot because he's very forgiving, so you can kind of pick him up and make him spend time with you and he's pretty content. He's also VERY SOFT! Cricket is a lot more aloof, and also bananas. Watching her dash around and drift first thing in the morning is entertaining. Cricket is also the quietest cat I've ever met, and I appreciate that because Rook is the LOUDEST cat I've ever met. Anyway, I think we got pretty lucky in the cat department.

Yuko and Ananth,
I was just curious about what you are reading? Do you read comics mostly? 
Ananth: Comics are definitely a minority on my reading list these days... In terms of written-word books, I recently finished The Bell Jar (Sylvia Plath), and the force of her voice and her grip on language has me wishing dearly she'd written more novels. She's unbelievable. Before that I read the Earthsea series (Ursula K. Le Guin), and before that was The Panopticon (Jenni Fagan), The Golem and the Jinni (Helene Wecker), This is How You Lose Her (Junot Diaz)... I'm forgetting past that. Reading book-books is what gets me thinking about WHAT I'm writing and that's been on my mind a lot lately. 
Yuko: I most recently read Tehanu (Ursula K. Le Guin). I usually listen to audiobooks while I work. Don't ask me about the majority of audiobooks I listen to.
Ananth: Ummm we usually pick up comics together, and mostly we get them for the art... it's at the point where we're mostly picking up foreign language books. I think our top two are Freaks Squeele (Florent Maudoux) and Gray & Wonder Around Her (Aki Irie)? Besides that, I've been reading Ms. Marvel.
Yuko: Yeah. Freaks Squeele was recently picked up for localization... I really hope the Aki Irie book gets localized too! Umm, yesterday I finished reading Tesoro, a collection of early short stories by Natsume Ono. 
Previous Letters Columns:
May.01.15 at 06:52 pm

Hey everyone! It's our fourth letters column! This is where we round up the questions we received from Patreon backers and respond. In case you're confused, here's the deal: patrons can ask us questions by hitting this link. Please send us questions! If you'd like to become a patron, head over to our patreon!

Only one question this week! Please send us more! We'd love to answer a bunch next week. 
 Hi Yuko and Ananth,

Do you guys prefer to work on autobio comics or longer fiction stories?

Thank you!


The short answer is long. Longer fiction stories.

The long answer is that we enjoy doing the autobio comics, but there’s no room for us to write about conflict, or hardship, or any kind of narrative at all. There’s no way for us to translate many of our personal experiences into a palatable one-page “story”. Some stories are too complicated for that. And ironically, as we talk about investigating those more personal experiences, we have less of a desire to be the “characters” in the story.

I really like what we’ve been doing with the autobio comics-- I love when people come up to us at a show and say, “This is just like my friends!” I like when people can relate to us. We want to explore that in new ways.

That's all for us this time! Send us questions, and we'll catch you next time!
Previous Letters Columns:
Apr.27.15 at 06:51 pm

Hey everyone! It's our third letters column (Sorry it's a little late, Yuko's birthday was this weekend and we got caught up)! This is where we round up the questions we received from Patreon backers and respond. In case you're confused, here's the deal: patrons can ask us questions by hitting this link. If you'd like to become a patron, head over to our patreon!

Two questions this week!
Hi Ananth and Yuko! I'm going to be tabling TCAF this year, and it's my first time tabling in general. Any tips for surviving the hours of sitting, chatting, and promoting yourself?
Yuko and I have been doing shows for almost 10 years now, and it wasn't until this year that I think we finally found our comfort zone. I think it's really difficult to give general advice because a lot of this depends on what kind of person you are, what kind of work you do, etc. Rather than make generalizations, I'll tell you what works for us:
  • Breakfast: We eat the breakfast we need to have our best day (for me that means a light breakfast, for Yuko it means a greasy breakfast sandwich). We both wake up with black coffee - that kick in the teeth always gets us going.
  • Lunch: DON'T SKIP LUNCH. DON'T SKIP LUNCH. Reminding myself one more time: DON'T SKIP LUNCH. 
  • Dinner: When I first started doing shows, I was all about hanging with friends, eating whatever and staying out super late. I think this is a great idea and these meals can become the cornerstones of long friendships. No regrets! I'm a little different now and am more focused on my health. At ECCC, we made a point of breaking off to eat somewhere healthy, and meeting up w/ friends later. We went to bed relatively early. I woke up feeling great and energetic, and that's important to me because I'm there to meet our readers. That's where my priorities are at right now.
  • Snacks: We pack (healthy) snacks & drink water until we need a little more coffee to get us through the end of the day. For me personally, I do my best to avoid eating anything sugary during shows-- I love sweets but it's hard to recover when I crash. Our readers are amazing and bring us lots of great stuff, and we make a point of enjoying these things at home.
  • Sitting vs. standing: As a general rule, I don't sit! I think standing makes me more open and approachable, and it helps keep me active and awake. I wear comfortable shoes behind the table.
  • Exercise: This is more general advice, but as working artists we try to take care of bodies. Yuko and I try to keep a morning exercise routine, and at shows we'll try to get up early and do a half hour at the hotel gym. (That being said, if you don't already have a regimen, I wouldn't recommend starting at a show. But certainly start after!)
  • Walking around: We try to set aside some time to walk around and check out other peoples' tables. If there are some things we know we want, we'll make a list and try to pick it up before doors open. It also lets you have a more normal conversation. 
  • Bad interactions: These shows can be a lot of fun and they can also be high stress. If I have an interaction that seems awkward, curt or rude, I try to make a point of not judging the person too harshly. If someone I've met forgets who I am, I try to take it in stride, and I hope other people forgive me for the same. I tend to think of show realities as completely separate from real-reality. 
  • Promos: We give away business cards and stickers, and that has worked for us.
  • Place: If the show is taking place in a city, maybe plan an extra day to walk around. Toronto in particular is very walkable, the subway system is easy, and there's a lot to check out. 
  • Generally: Enjoy yourself! TCAF is a great and unique experience, soak it up. 

Hope that was a good answer! On to the next one:

Hi guys! I'm a big fan of you both and I have every book of yours I can find and love your style. I got one question for the both of you.

Ananth, what are your influences? What do you like more about writing, character or story?
And Yuko, I love the sense of style your characters have. Where do you get the reference for clothes and poses?
That's it, love your work guys, I hope your Patreon keeps getting supporters!

- Glenn L.

Ananth: "I think my influences must be in flux because I'm having difficulty identifying them right now. I've been trying to find things that explore the (complicated) relationship between first-gen chidren of immigrants and America. But more generally and consistently, I'm a fan of things based in reality but with a fantastic element. I've been reading magical realism (Allende, Márquez, Murakami, etc.) for a long time. More recently I was very enamored with the Golem & the Djinni, by Helene Wecker. In terms of comics, my favorite authors are probably Aki Irie & Florent Maudoux. As far as writing, it's changed over time. I was always more drawn to characters over story, but I've come to appreciate that characters need to live in a story with a satisfying payoff (BUZZ! was an exercise in trying to get a grip on escalating a story). I don't know if I manage that, but it's something I think about a lot."
Yuko: "Everything I learned about fashion I learned from Ananth. A lot of our reference comes from tumblr (we reblog a lot of it at our fashion blog Attract Attack-- we plan to do a fashion-related project called Attract Attack at some point). Often times we'll settle on a rough idea of a character's style, and then Ananth and I will browse various clothing sites to build reference folders. For poses, if I'm stuck on a body in space, I'll tend to browse around or take a photo of myself."
Thanks for writing! Catch you next time! 
Previous Letters Columns:
Apr.21.15 at 06:48 pm

Hey guys! 
Comments have been off for a while now because the time we spent managing the comments was cutting into the time we were getting work done. We were having difficulty keeping up, and frankly there's no defeating spam bots. Some of the old issues recurred on older posts recently (spam, NSFW links, etc.) and while we were trying to clean them up, a few benign comments got caught in the net. The situation is unfortunately at a point where we want to delete all comments and lock the old posts down. If you have any old comments or conversations you'd like to preserve, you should definitely back them up. We'll lock posts down by the end of the week so that should give you enough time. Thanks for your understanding! It's not my favorite thing, but given the choice between monitoring comments and making more comics, comics wins out (and is a win for everyone, I think). As always, if you have comments or thoughts you'd like to share with us, hit up on twitter or email! Thanks!

Apr.17.15 at 06:44 pm

Hey everyone! It's our second letters column! This is where we round up the questions we received from Patreon backers and respond. In case you're confused, here's the deal: patrons can ask us questions by hitting this link. If you'd like to become a patron, head over to our patreon!

This time we're only answering one question because we give a reaaaaally thorough answer:

Oh geez. Oh man. Hello. I've been reading since Johnny Wander started back when Applegeeks was still updating and Yuko did some guest strips and god I must have been in the middle of high school then and I had never seen anything as lovely and genuine and fun as Johnny Wander before. It was a bright spot in the teenagery gloom and continues to be an upshot in my day. Thank you.


How come Death turned Ceclia's hand all neat and supernatural, but since they've been together, none of the rest of Cecilia has turned supernatural?

Could you maybe talk a little more about the non-Johnny-Wander stuff in Cuttings? There are notes in the back of the book explaining a lot of the unfamiliar content, but I sort of want to hear more about these scrapped (if they were in fact scrapped) projects. What's Walking Gods? Who's the lone girl with dark hair and neat clothes? (I want to ask more about Cuttings, but left my copy at home and won't be back for a few weeks. D: Maybe next time?) <3
- K

Wow-- you've been with us for a long time, thanks for sticking around. I'm gonna try to run through all your questions:

DEATH & CECILIA: In the moment, Death wasn't entirely careful and accidentally gave her the kiss of death. Now he knows to keep his wits about him! This is something we plan to revisit, actually... 
Haha, this is tricky since we didn't put page numbers in CUTTINGS... I'll try to be as clear as possible. 
JOANNAH WITH THE HEART OF STONE: This was about a dryad living among humans, who does her best to fit in but can't quite. At the end we see her cut through a cemetery, up a hill towards two trees that have intertwined-- her parents.
THE TWO LITTLE MAIDENS - THE CASE OF THE WAYWARD WIFE: This was going to be a follow-up installment to the first Maidens two-pager we posted online. It was 10 pages long, and followed their investigation for a man's missing wife. 
P1-4: Open on the elder Maiden brother, Matthew, consulting with their dad (a retired cop and private eye). The dad just lectures him to quit being a private eye. He bumps into his dad's second wife, Daphne. 
P5-7: Meanwhile, the younger brother William was supposed to be staking out a lead, but ditches to get a burger at Hamburger Hamlet. He bumps into their mark in line. The brothers chase him down and interrogate him. Yeah, he knew their client's wife. He thought he was stealing her husband's valuables so they could going to run away together. But all she wanted was some filthy old fur coat. 
P8-9: They confront their client. They know the truth: his wife was a selkie, and she found a patsy on OKCupid and strung him along until she could convince him to (unwittingly) steal back her seal-skin. The client refuses to pay them - they didn't find his wife! Matthew gets irritated and throws him off the pier. 
P10: William talks to his Dad and stepmother about Matthew. Matthew is taking the case pretty hard-- he's estranged from his wife, he still wears his ring around, he still thinks about her all the time. 
The story was meant to shine a light on Matthew's failed marriage. There was also a running joke that culminated in the story's punchline-- Daphne (their Dad's second wife) is the same age as Matthew and he's SUPER awkward about it. She keeps asking him to call her Mom "just once!" and he won't do it. At the end, William (who's younger and much more easygoing) calls her Mom when she gives him a bag lunch, and it weirds Matthew out. 
It's not as funny when you have to explain it, but it still makes ME laugh. Mission accomplished!!
WALKING GODS: Walking Gods is NOT the project we're starting in 2016, but it's the one we'll be tackling right after. It's based on a fantasy world that Yuko's been working in for a long time now, but there's a lot of organizing and pruning that needs to be done before we can really put our minds to it. It's probably the only sweeping epic we'll ever do. It's coming for sure!
The lone dark-haired girl with neat clothes is a character from a story we planned and outlined in 2008. We did a ton of world-building and there are hundreds of drawings and pages of notes. I don't think we'll ever do this one, but we learned a lot of good lessons. Keeping mum about some of the details just in case... 
I hope I got everything! These are great questions, keep them coming!
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• ECCC - Seattle, WA - March 1-4
• More TBA!