Webcomic Spotlight: Witchy
Hello All-Comic loyals! Today I have the most exquisite comic for you to enjoy. Ariel Ries hailing from Melbourne, Australia is a superstar at the age of 19. She currently works part-time at an art supply store (how fitting!), all while completing her first year of an animation degree last recently. At the moment she is deferring to work on Witchy and to de-stress. Her de-stressing time has led to the beautiful, beautiful work found in Witchy. Read ahead to learn more about Ariel and the wonderful work found in Witchy.
All-Comic: Ariel, thanks for taking the time to chat with us. How were you first exposed to comics?
Ariel Ries: We owned an edition of collected Calvin and Hobbes comics and the school library had a lot of Garfield, so those were really my first exposure to comics. What really made me interested in comics though were some bad sprite webcomics that I stumbled across on the internet when I was about seven. I ate up every comic I found on the web way before I ever got into manga or anything indie.
AC: When did you decide you wanted to make comics?
AR: It wasn’t really a conscious decision. I realized early last year that drawing comics combined what I loved doing – drawing sequential art and story telling – better and faster than animation, which I had been pursuing up to that point. Then I looked back on what I’d been doing for the past 11 – 12 years of my life and realized that I had been drawing and reading comics the whole time! I still plan on getting a degree in animation, mostly because I think it’ll teach me a lot of self-management lessons and push me to develop my art, but knowing that my end goal is something like comics or story boarding rather than straight up animation has definitely changed how I’ll approach my education.
AC: How long have you been drawing/illustrating?
AR: I knew when I was eight that drawing in some form was definitely what I wanted to pursue for the rest of my life, but I’ve been drawing non-stop since I was about six. I started getting serious when I found oekaki at about age eight or nine, and all the people on those sites would correct each other on their anatomy and colouring. It was the first time I saw art being taken so seriously, which is ironic considering a lot of those people were just 13 year olds clumsily drawing anime. (and I mean that in the fondest way possible)
AC: After all the online learning did you study illustration or keep up with the self-taught method?
AR: I would say I’m primarily self-taught. Even though I studied animation for a year the program’s focus is really more on story telling and self teaching than on developing your own art. That’s something you had to work on while doing homework tasks and in your own time.
AC: Did you get a lot of support from your parents?
AR: My parents have always been willing to support me in any endeavour and I’m super grateful for that. I know a lot of artists have parents that want them to follow other paths but I’m lucky that mine have been behind me 100% of the way. They might not always like the work I produce or understand why I’m doing what I’m doing, but they’ll cheer me on because they know it makes me happy.
AC: What was the first comic you remember working on?
AR: It was this little comic strip called “Leon and Meepit” about an idiot prince and his intelligent lion and it was not funny because I was like six years old.
AC: How would you describe Witchy to those just starting to read it?
AR: This is a tricky question but I guess I would say that it’s an inclusive fantasy/adventure comic with the passionate fury of a shōnen manga, and the love, friendship and magic of the magical girl genre(??)
AC: What inspired you to create and start putting up your comic online for free?
AR: There’s a lot of advantages for me in creating a webcomic vs a print comic. Being a beginner I think that having a webcomic is good for finding my audience, and letting people know what I’m good at creating. Witchy is going to be a pretty experimental and inconsistent comic and having it in webcomic format enables me to have that creative freedom. I don’t think I could learn at the rate that I have been if I had limitations set for me.
AC: What has been the most surprising aspect of running this webcomic?
AR: Mostly the reception I’ve been receiving! Not only are a lot of people sharing it and giving me nice feedback, but a lot of artists that I really respect have noticed me. Some of my childhood idols, even!
AC: Wow, that has to feel amazing! How do you get this drawn out? Physically or digitally?
AR: The first 18 or so of the pages were inked traditionally but the last few pages have been entirely digital to save time. I do plan on experimenting with some traditional methods in the upcoming months because I’m not as busy at the moment. I colour entirely in Photoshop but I would like to try using watercolours and inks in the future.
AC: What are your preferred tools of the trade?
AR: When I’m inking traditionally I like using a g-pen and deleter ink because it gives me a really loose and energetic quality, but I enjoy playing around with various technical and brush pens. (Kuretake’s ZIG pens are my favourite, they’re pretty sturdy and dependable)
I do all my digital work in Photoshop, and when it comes to inking I am definitely a convert of Kyle T. Webster’s brush sets.
AC: How much time does it take to go from a script to a completed strip?
AR: Depending on the circumstances, it can take up to 15 hours to do a single page. I really hate working with a broken workflow, so for example if I have to sketch it out, then go to work, and then come back to ink it, it takes a lot longer for me to get in the right mindset. However, if I have a couple of days off I can get a page done in around 6 hours (if it’s an easy-ish page).
AC: What is the most time consuming step for you? Writing? Drawing coloring?
AR: I always find myself underestimating the amount of time it takes for me to colour because I’m a dope and a lot of the time I forget to pre-plan a palette. It all really comes down to how well I thumbnail and sketch. If I’m loose and lazy, I have to make up for it later when I’m inking or colouring.
AC: Are you considering publishing this comic in a physical form?
AR: Whether or not I end up printing Witchy is up in the air, but it would be nice. I knew that publishing would always be on the table, so at the beginning I made sure to find a size I liked and stuck with it. It’s still in such an early stage that it’s hard to tell, but if Witchy gets really popular then it would be more likely!
AC: Did you set up your own website or pay some one to design it for you?
AR: I designed the site myself, but I’m lucky enough to have a cool friend called Huw who hosts and does all the coding for me. Bless him for being patient with me and my nitpicky ways.
AC: If you have time, what comics, manga or web comics are you reading?
AR: I recently read what’s published of Real, by Takehiko Inoue, and it was amazing. It’s a sports manga about wheelchair basketball and it’s carried by some fantastic character writing (and very beautiful art). I’ve also been reading Yowamushi Pedal by Wataru Watanabe, which is basically just a fun shonen romp. I don’t usually read this much sports manga but there’s a lot of interesting art and honest stories to be found in them.
Also as far as webcomics go, I have to give a shout out to Brainchild by my friend Suzanne Geary! We started our comics at roughly the same time and it’s been a joy to watch the story develop. Suzanne really has a knack for composition/panelling and is a great artist. The story has a really interesting set up and anyone reading this should definitely check it out if they can! you can read it at http://brainchild.suzannegeary.com/
AC: Do you have an all time favorite creator? Be it music, comics or movies.
AR: I don’t think I can pick one but Naoki Urasawa, Satoshi Kon and Hayao Miyazaki are definitely up there. Urasawa for his story and character writing, Satoshi Kon for pure goodness and interesting story structures, and Miyazaki for his sincerity and the magic he bestows on anything he touches. All are fantastic artists in their own right.
AC: What’s next for you?
AR: Ideally after I finish Witchy I’d go straight on to my next project, a comic called “Ghost Dust“, which i’ll just describe as “magical girl space opera” for now. I’ve actually written and arranged the entire story (to the point of it being more organised than Witchy) but it’s a big project and I want to polish my skills on other projects before I tackle it.
AC: How can readers best support you and your work?
AR: Hopefully I’ll be setting up a Patreon campaign in the near future, but honestly the most helpful thing for me while i’m still starting out is share! share Witchy with your family and your friends and the ghost in your attic. Share it with the guy you see on the subway every morning. I want as many people as possible to give my comic a chance!
AC: Thank you for your time Ariel!
If you haven’t read Witchy before now please do. I can stress enough how gorgeous Ariel’s lines and color look. Not only that the story is deeply touching. You can catch up on all of Witchy and thank Ariel on her twitter. If you like or even fall in love with Witchy please tell a friend!