Hail fair web travelers! Welcome back to Webcomic Spotlight. Today we are joined by Devin Kraft from Cheshire Car Art. Devin and Logan Pack are out to take over the comic world but for today’s comic I wanted to focus on Devin’s Dragon Slayer. Last weekend at Staple! I was lucky enough to meet Devin and I fell in love with his work.
Dragon Slayer is the story of an arrogant King who’s beast hunting hobby leads to destructive repercussions for his entire kingdom. As Devin writes, Legend has it that it takes a man to kill a dragon. What does it take to kill the Dragon Slayer?
All-Comic: Devin, thanks for joining us. How were you first exposed to comics?
Devin Kraft: I read Sonic the Hedgehog comics when I was a kid, but I really got into the superhero fare through the Ultimate series. I remember thinking they were marketing it to kids to get them hooked on comics, and I was skeptical, but I fell in love with Millar and Kubert’s run on Ultimate X-Men.
AC: When did you decide you wanted to make comics?
DK: I’ve always kind of been drawing comics since I was a kid. I used to sketch my own Sonic Comics on yellow legal notepads, then staple them together. I thought about doing comics a bit more seriously around 13 or 14, and put a lot of time into illustrating pin-ups before attempting sequentials. Note that for years these were all terrible, but I kept plugging away at it.
AC: How long have you been drawing/illustrating?
DK: Technically I’ve been drawing since I was a kid, but I started aiming to improve myself at around 13 or 14.
AC: Did you study illustration or are you self taught?
DK: I’ve never taken a legitimate art class. My high school had art classes, but my friend (the super talented Logan Pack) and I were allowed to do our own thing, everything I’ve picked up has largely been from throwing a lot of time at learning new things and trying them out.
AC: Did you get a lot of support from parents and art teachers?
DK: My parents have always been supportive, buying me art supplies and just being generally supportive. My art teachers in high school were also supportive-one semester, for the final, Logan Pack and I were allowed to present our uber violent Chinese noir comic Jabberwock to the class as our final project, so that was pretty cool.
AC: What was the first comic you remember working on?
DK: Not counting Sonic fan comics as a kid? Jabberwock, I think. Logan Pack did the art duties, and I did the writing, but after the first issue I started doing both so I could keep the story going at my pace.
AC: How would you describe Dragon Slayer to those just starting to read it?
DK: My hallway pitch is that it is a revenge triangle between a king, a ronin, and a dragon, although I set out to make a comic that took the traditional knight-princess-dragon template and to turn it on its’ head completely by juxtaposing it against an eastern aesthetic. It is an Aesop’s Fables inspired homage to a Coen Bros. movie with art inspired by Otomo Katsuhiro and Hayao Miyazaki (I hope I’m not overselling it!)
AC: You’ve had various webcomics running, what inspired you to create and start putting up these comics online for free?
DK: When you start out, you think that the initial problem is going to be finishing your comic/film/novel/etc., but the real problem is getting anyone to care enough to read your work. I wasn’t and still am not in it for money, but more for conveying stories, so publishing for free seemed like the way to go. Since high school I’ve drawn something like 24-26 comics, largely without any good distribution plan and for almost no other reason than I wanted to try it out. Of these, probably a good fifteen or sixteen are available for free if you’re willing to squint through them on Facebook or hunt through my old Deviantart archives.
AC: What has been the most surprising aspect of running this webcomic?
DK: Really the Kickstarter and the support it gained. Dragon Slayer is the first time I’ve had any sort of fan response, and that has been huge. I usually work without any feedback or encouragement, so to get fanart and have people cosplaying as my characters has been tremendous!
AC: How do you get this drawn out? Physically or digitally?
DK: I do a mix-I pencil digitally, ink traditionally, then tweak the pages and tone them digitally. There are things I can’t do digitally that I can do physically and vice versa.
AC: What are your preferred tools of the trade?
DK: I use a Cintiq and Photoshop for the digital stuff, and a crazy awesome Japanese Pentel Fudepen for inking, along with 01-02 microns and Winsor & Newton Series 7 brushes.
AC: How much time does it take to go from a script to a completed strip?
DK: In the past I’ve just foregone the script and worked from my head, but for Dragon Slayer it takes about two months, but mainly because I’m writing it, penciling it, inking it, promoting it, and working on other projects on the side.
AC: What is the most time consuming step for you? Drawing? Coloring? A third thing?
DK: Oddly inking, promoting, and hand distributing copies feel like the most time consuming elements. Coloring is time consuming too, so for the colored edition of Dragon Slayer I’m having some friends help me out on that.
AC: Did you set up your own website or pay some one to design it for you?
AC: A follow up question on that subject, how do you maintain your website?
DK: Via FTP with HTML tweaks. I’m thinking of switching over to a WYSIWYG editor just to save myself the hassle
AC: If you have time, what comics, manga or web comics are you reading?
DK: I’m reading: Saga, Sex Criminals, just finished up Attack on Titan, Cerberus, Concrete, One Punch Man, Ultimate Spider Man, World Apartment Horror…tons of random old and new comics and manga. I jump around alot!
AC: Do you have an all time favorite creator? Be it music, comics or movies.
DK: Ooh! Tough question. All time favorite comic author: Neil Gaiman All time favorite comic artist: Right now, Terada Katsuya. All time favorite musician: Right now, John Darnielle of the Mountain Goats. All time favorite film: TIE! Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind or Magnolia
AC: What’s next for you?
DK: After wrapping up Dragon Slayer vol. 3 I’m going to Kickstart the printed copies of both the third volume and a completed colored trade paperback version. After that, I rest for a bit before beginning either a series of short stories or my next comic. I’m bad at taking breaks, so I doubt that will last too long!
AC: How can readers best support you and your work?
DK: The best way to support me is by either picking up a poster from my Etsy shop or digitally buying my comics from there.
I’m also on just about every social media under the sun:
Twitter: twitter.com/devinkraft twitter.com/cheshirecatart
AC: Thanks for your time Devin!
If you are interested in reading Dragon Slayer you can jump to the start or check out many of the other fine webcomics Devin is involved with. Keep an eye on his twitter for the upcoming Dragon Slayer kickstarter!