Hello magical internet people! Today I have a fantastic (and recently launched) webcomic by Mildred Louis, Agents of the Realm! Mildred hails from Boston and in between her work hours she puts together this adventurous webcomic featuring college students facing the challenges of life and evil powers from beyond out world.
Read ahead to learn more about Mildred and her work!
All-Comic: How were you first exposed to comics?
Mildred Louis: I have two older brothers who have been reading comics for … basically the entirety of my existing memory. It started off with X-Men (since that was the main thing they were sucked into) and eventually stumbled into other western comics and Mangas on my own.
AC: What is your favorite comic?
ML: To this day it’s probably the original Young Justice series that first ran in the 90s.
AC: What would you say is the most influential story arc you’ve ever read?
ML: Probably a World without Young Justice. It provided all of the characters with these new opportunities to deal with their own vices, revealing a lot of the complexities in their relationship with not just each other but themselves as well. Basically any story line that kind of puts characters in really intense situations that reveal more of their inner workings is a huge weakness of mine.
AC: When did you decide you wanted to make comics?
ML: I’ve pretty much always wanted to make a comic. I’ve tried making a comic before but unfortunately it fell through because I just wasn’t disciplined enough and wasn’t taking myself very seriously. It also didn’t help that I was nearing the end of my time in college, so there was just so much going on that it was pretty impossible to keep up with. I spent a long time beating myself up over not following through with that first one, so I made a ton of promises to myself when I decided to sit and work on Agents of the Realm. THIS idea ended up happening because I was just super impatient over the new Sailor Moon reboot and really wanted to have a Mahou Shoujo series to get engrossed in. It technically started as a joke idea but I got… very… very sucked into it and got to the point where I couldn’t not do something with it hahaha
AC: How long have you been drawing/illustrating?
ML: Ever since I could pick up a pencil. There’s actually still drawings throughout my childhood home on the walls that my mom missed while trying to clean them ahahah
AC: Did you study illustration or are you self-taught?
ML: Both. Up until college, I was entirely self-taught. Then I went and studied traditional animation.
AC: Did you get a lot of support from parents and/or (art?) teachers?
ML: Kind of? There were a lot of attempts to get me to study something else that would be more lucrative but I was not necessarily deterred from pursuing art. My experience with teachers have been mixed. Some were super supportive, some were seemingly indifferent but I think that’s pretty common with a lot of experiences.
AC: What was the first comic you remember working on?
ML: The first comic I really seriously worked on was that failed attempt in college. I’m definitely not going to reveal the name cause I’m sure it can be dug up on the internet ahahahahah. It was about a guy who had to try and stop a parallel universe version of him from taking over his life and trying to find ways to fix all of the messes he made. It’s a concept that I still really like and is one that I plan on revisiting but in a slightly different format. I’m actually considering making it an interactive type of story but that’s something I’m going to have to wait until I have some serious free time to start working on.
AC: How do you describe Agents of The Realm to those just starting to read it?
ML: You know, I’m still really working on the whole elevator pitch thing! It’s so tricky and hard to try to boil things down to really simple terms that are interesting for others. I usually just say it’s a Sailor Moon inspired story about five girls trying to save the world. It’s going to have a huge character development and relationship focus. Also magic! Lots and lots of magic.
AC: What inspired you to start putting up your comic online for free?
ML: The thing that I like about webcomics is that they make it way easier for all kinds of people to access different kinds of stories. I do hope to put this to print one day but I wanted to really make sure that this had availability to those who may be interested but may not be able to afford spending money on comics.
AC: What has been the most surprising aspect of running this webcomic?
ML: The entire thing is pretty new to me so I feel like every day I find something to be pretty “whoa” over. I think one of the more surprising things about this is just… discovering how much I’m capable of. I think that it can be really easy to get frustrated and give up when working on something like this because you have to keep working at it, and you’re constantly being exposed to your work which means you’re also constantly being exposed to what mistakes you make. It’s really taught me to change my attitude and just learn to embrace the areas I fall short in because it means that’s something I can work on in the next page, which makes each page more enjoyable to me because it’s a visible record of how much I’ve improved and developed.
AC: Would you ever consider Kickstarter or some type of crowd funding to publish this book in a collection?
ML: Yeah! I am planning on launching my first Kickstarter at the end of next year for Volume 1 which will be the first 6 chapters (well, technically 8 including the mini in between chapters). I’ve already started trying to do some planning for it and it’s a little nerve-wracking! It’s so expensive to get something done in print and there’s that anxiety of it potentially failing and all that jazz.
AC: How do you get this drawn out? Physically or digitally?
ML: It’s all done digitally
AC: What are your preferred tools of the trade?
ML: I managed to get my hands on a Cintiq a year or so ago (thank you tax returns~!), and pretty much exclusively work in Photoshop.
AC: How much time does it take to go from a script to a completed strip?
ML: To be honest, I don’t really know? Ha! I try to get my scripts written out at least two chapters in advance of what’s being published. From there I sit and sketch out the entire chapter and clean up/color each page as I update.
AC: Did you set up your own website or pay some one to design it for you?
ML: I designed the site myself but had the awesome help of the tech team over at Hiveworks to get it up and running.
AC: Follow up: How do you maintain your website?
ML: Right now it’s being hosted by Hiveworks so the major stuff is being handled by them.
AC: We’ve had a few webcomics involved with HiveWorks studio. How did you go about joining?
ML: I sent in a proposal I think at the beginning of this year? I did a mini pitch and had all of the character designs and everything completed to send to them. I’m pretty grateful that they accepted me since this was my first serious comic series and I know a lot of people usually have comic pages actually done when doing something like this but I only had concept art and an idea that they luckily liked.
AC: Do you have any advice for people who want to run a webcomic?
ML: Stick with it! If this is something you want to do then you’ve got to just learn to roll with the punches. There’s a lot of mental readjusting for something like this because it is a huge commitment, but if you start taking yourself and your craft seriously, you can totally get it done.
AC: If you have time, what comics, manga or web comics are you reading?
ML: Man, I have fallen SO behind on everything I used to read. But I’ve actually been getting back to all of the mangas I used to read as a kid. I just recently bought Magic Knight Rayearth so that’s next on my reading list!
AC: Do you have an all time favorite creator? Be it music, comics or movies.
ML: My absolute biggest influence is probably Janelle Monae. I love everything she does and she just embodies this wonderful energy that I really hope to reflect in my own work.
AC: What’s next for you?
ML: Right now I’m currently working on two other comic projects. The first which is slated to premiere early summer next year is called Bound Blades. If you like Vampires, Elves, Werewolves and lady mercenaries then it’s definitely something to keep an eye out! And the second is my huge graphic novel project which will probably be done in 2016 called Catalyst. It’s about a woman who’s essentially forced to have her super powers come out in the open and getting stuck between secret organizations that have been looking for her.
AC: How can readers best support you and your work?
ML: Helping get the word out about my comic if you really like it is definitely a huge way to support me! I also recently set up a patreon so that people who want to help me out can also gain access to way more of my development work from all of my comic projects! They can check it out here!
AC: Good luck with your projects Mildred and thank you for your time, and happy early birthday!
Ok gang! You can catch Mildred on her twitter where she is post in progress art, you can catch up with Agents of the Realm anytime and if you feel so inclined you can head over to her patreon page and pitch in a few bucks.