Hello All-Comic readers! This week on Webcomic Spotlight we have Jordan Witt from Washington, DC. Jordan has been running 52nd Door for over a year. 52nd Door is a short series of interconnected comics about a couple of FBI Agents and one weird secret. Recently Jordan expanded to a second website focusing on Ghost hunting comics to have more creative room to play in. Jordan is an amazing illustrator with an unmeasurable love of Batman Beyond ad happens to share the same birthday as me and those kooky Morning Glories kids. Read one to get a behind the scenes look to her experience as a webcomic creator.
All-Comic: How were you first exposed to comics? Was it through traditional print or webcomics?
Jordan Witt: I read a bunch of webcomics starting in Middle School (Strings of Fate by Jen Wang, Demonology 101 by Faith Erin Hicks, and Return to Sender by Vera Brosgol were some of my favorites), and late in High School I started buying print comics.
AC: When did you decide you wanted to make comics?
JW: 2010. Even though I had been drawing my entire life, and was at that point reading a bunch of comics, I hadn’t ever attempted to create a comic longer than a few pages. Well, I gave it a shot and now I can’t stop.
AC: How long have you been drawing/illustrating?
JW: Basically my whole life. I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t drawing.
AC: Did you study illustration or are you self-taught?
JW: Both? I went to school for Graphic Design, which I loved, and thanks to the internet, I can have amazing art shoved in my face 24/7, so I’m pretty much constantly studying other artists’ work. I’m floored every day by a new comic or illustration and it’s so motivating to me. “I need to get better! I can be that good too!”
AC: Did you get a lot of support from your parents and art teachers?
JW: Yes! I’m so thankful for both my parents and art teachers. No one ever told me not to pursue art because I’d never make any money or something like that (Not that comics are my current career, but you get the idea.). My mom especially. She reads all my comic updates.
AC: You currently run 52nd Door and The Organization of Ghost Hunters as two separate collections of short interconnected comics.
AC: What inspired you to make 52nd Door?
JW: I bought the domain in college for a project but ended up not needing it at the time. 52nd Door is the name of a story I hope to make into a comic a few years down the road (though at the time I wasn’t drawing comics, I was just like, “Welp here’s this story, I guess.”), and I decided to use it as a hub for my various comics when I started doing that.
Scarred for Life is my current project there. It’s basically a bunch of mini comics all based around the same group of FBI agents and their intern, and one of the Agents has a monster mouth on his stomach. It causes some issues.
AC: What has been the most surprising aspect of running these webcomics?
JW: How addicting it is! I schedule things around making comics. Getting home from work is awesome not just because I can, you know, not be at work, but so can make more comics! Originally I didn’t think I’d have enough time to put into making a lot of comics, but it turned out that that’s the thing I loved doing most so I made time for it.
AC: I believe you co create The Organization of Ghost Hunters with Ken Lowery. How did that come about?
JW: I created The Organization of Ghost Hunters (OGH) as a world building project (again, before I started doing comics), mixing together a few of my favorite things (mainly ghosts). Last year I started coming up with a big epic story idea for a comic set in the OGH world, but I wasn’t quite up to the task of making that a reality yet. It was a little beyond my creative reach. So instead I made a couple mini comics focusing on different characters. Ken and I share a love of ghost stories, and I was telling him about my plans for OGH and he asked if he could write a story set in that world. What, I’m gonna say no to that? He wrote Haint Hasslers, which is about real ghost hunters with a fake reality show about ghost hunting and also there’s BBQ, so the whole thing is amazing. If Ken ever wants to write another, the answer is yes.
I’m writing the first chapter of the main OGH story right now. Scarred for Life is coming to a close shortly (maybe for good, but maybe not?) and I feel much more confidant in tackling something bigger. I’m really excited about it. The heart of the story is about a boy and his dog, except in this case the dog is dead. When I realized how much time this project was going to take, and that I would definitely be drawing more mini comics set in the same world, I decided that it needed its own space, so ghosthunterorg.com was created for that.
AC: You are currently running a kickstarter to publish a new project entitled Scarred for Life. Can you tell us a little bet about that project and why you decided to turn to crowd funding?
JW: I mentioned above that Scarred for Life is about a couple of FBI Agents and their intern and then there’s that little bit of body horror thrown in for good measure. The comic is currently updating twice a week at 52nddoor.com. It’s on the fifth chapter and there will be six in all. Everything will be collected into a book, along with a bunch of extras that will be book-exclusive (also included in the pdf option). A couple of my friends had done Kickstarters recently, including Ken, and had great results. I knew I could make a better book with the help of KS than without, so since I didn’t have anything to lose, I gave it a shot and it turned out to be a good decision!
We’re already funded, but haven’t yet reached the first stretch goal, which is an extra comic (also book/pdf exclusive), but I’m hoping that we get a last minute push. The Kickstarter ends super early Thursday morning (East Coast early time).
AC: How do you get your work drawn out? Physically or digitally?
JW: I used to sketch it out traditionally, scan it, and then color digitally. This year though, my sketches were getting less and less detailed and I was doing more and more fixes on the computer, that I recently just started doing it all digitally. I still do thumbnails in my sketchbook, but everything else is digital.
AC: What are your preferred tools of the trade?
JW: Until just a few months ago I was using an Intuos2 that was ten years old. BUT I recently purchased a Wacom Cintiq 22HD, and that thing is cool as all get out. I am in love with it. I also use Photoshop, but I know a bunch of people using Manga Studio now that I’m going to give that a shot soon.
AC: How much time does it take to go from a script to a completed strip of either comic?
JW: I have no idea. Haha that’s so bad, I know! I script everything out, and that can take a few days or a week, depending on whether or not I’m not also in the process of drawing a different chapter. (Keep in mind the longest comic I’ve 100% completed at this point is 18 pages. The last Scarred for Life chapter is 30 pages, but I’m not done with it yet.) Then I thumbnail, which shouldn’t take me long but always seems like the longest part of the whole process. Then I sketch all the pages out, then I go back and color them. When I start the coloring process, I can get two or three pages done a week, but there’s a lot of stuff that happens before that point that I’ve never bothered to time.
AC: Did you set up your own website or pay some one to design it for you?
JW: I set it up, and it was a pain in the neck because I’d never done anything like that before (I made a site in Flash in college, but didn’t work with coding). Granted, I made it in WordPress, but I was still starting from a place of no knowledge.
AC: If you have time, what comics, manga or web comics are you reading?
JW: My current favorite webcomics are Johnny Wander by Yuko Ota and Ananath Panagariya, Gunnerkrigg Court by Tom Siddell, and Monster Pulse by Magnolia Porter. I’m way behind on manga, but Fullmetal Alchemist by Hiromu Arakawa and Kekaishi by Yellow Tanabe are my two favorites. For print comics, there’s Atomic Robo by Brain Clevinger and Scott Wegener, the new Hawkeye book by Matt Fraction and David Aja, and then anything that Chris Samnee is drawing because he’s the best guy out there right now.
AC: What’s next for you?
JW: More comics! I’m finishing up Scarred for Life, and immediately after that I’m going to really start digging into The Organization of Ghost Hunters. I’ve already got a few more mini comics lined up, and most of those are with different writers. I couldn’t be happier.
AC: How can readers best support you and your work?
JW: Well for the next few days they can do so by pledging to my Kickstarter! Other than that, I have a store where I sell my minicomics, along with some tote bags and patches, if that’s your thing. Mostly though I’m just glad that people are reading my comics! Twitter @replies or reblogs on tumblr really brighen my day, and I just want to thank everyone who’s supported me so far. Y’all are great!
AC: Thanks for your time Jordan!
Jordan’s kickstarter ends soon but her webcomics are available 24 hours a day on 52nd Door and Ghost Hunter Org. If you simply must have something to hang up on your wall or gift to a friend check out her shops for prints, patches or comics. You can reach out to Jordan on her Twitter, Tumblr and look at her awesome work on her DeviantArt.