I love webcomics. I have six or seven I keep up with regularly. I’ve even been lucky enough to get to interview the creator of one of them, Misfile, on my website.
Today, I’m feel just as awesome, since I get to interview Chris Rusche, creator of the webcomic Shotgun Shuffle. I’ve enjoyed the comic so far. The artwork is unique, the story is believable with just enough insanity for readers to be checking back regularly.
So, without further ado, here’s Chris Rusche:
So, you’ve had your webcomic, Shotgun Shuffle, going on since 2009. What made you say “I don’t have enough awesome things going, I should make a webcomic?”
The webcomic was really a creative outlet that best suits the needs of anyone like me, that isn’t sure how much content they can produce within a certain amount of time. At least for now. Many webcomic artists stick to a typical format with strip duration. A set number of panels, one or two sets high for their posts. Shotgun Shuffle always varies in length depending on how much material I produce.
The comic was originally something I planned to produce via print-on-demand. The issue came when I realized the cost for the customer using these sites was around $6 to $8 per 32 page comic. And this was 5 years ago. Who knows what it would cost now. Not really the easiest sell to people able to buy a similar product at a comic book store for three bucks or so.
I have to give you props for what you’re doing. In a webcomic you have to be both an artist and an author. Which one came more naturally? Which one was harder to learn?
Writing for sure. We’ve all suffered through bad art, animation, or special effects if the media we were watching told a good story. Like the term “all style but no substance.” It’s really what ideas the media is trying to convey or what it’s trying to tell you, that matters. Luckily for anyone drawing their characters repetitively, natural art progression will take its course and improve over time. My art has progressed a lot in the less than 200 strips I’ve done so far. I can barely stand to look at anything from the first year without cringing.
The story behind Shotgun Shuffle seems kind of out there, but very real. What brought this story to life?
I’m sure everyone sees the humor in their own life and circumstance. This is just mine. I want people to see it.
All of the characters so far have experience things I have, either in the reverse, or with a slight spin on it to fit into the story. All the characters are loose composites of people I know as well. Just exaggerated to different degrees. Ellie’s spherical overweight cat was important to insert into the strip as early as possible. I needed people to subconsciously accept there were going to be elements of the strip that weren’t exactly grounded in reality.
If you had to attribute one thing to Shotgun Shuffle’s success, what would it be?
Sleepless nights. If it weren’t for those, I wouldn’t have half the content on the site that I do. I’ll catch up when I’m dead. Or the site will just kill me. Either way it’s a win-win.
Another thing would be writing way in advance. I already know the ending. I already know every character we’re meeting. Fortune favors the prepared. And with writing the strip, it also prevents ret-conning events or explanations. It’s always good to know what’s waiting 6 or 7 story arcs down the line so you don’t end up on some unforeseen tangent.
What do you enjoy about working on this project? Where do you see it taking you in the future?
The aspect I enjoy most is my fans. I couldn’t ask for better participation, and we’re still in the first year of readership really taking off. In August of 2012 I had about 42 regular readers a week. By the end of May 2013 I should be close to 2800 or more. I love reading the comments from readers, and their take on the characters and the story. Whether they’re suggesting something, or questioning a item I put in the background of a panel, the days I post are always days I look forward to. Anyone would get excited about someone else appreciating their work, and I appreciate my readers.
I think in terms of where I want this to take me, it’s important to expect a lot. I was just discussing this the other day with a friend. Any artistic person dreams of the day their talent produces enough revenue they can do it full time. So I hope for the same, but more than that. Hell, I hope it’s an animated show someday. The Simpson’s can’t be on forever. Webcomics are also a medium that hasn’t even had 1% of its surface scratched when it comes to television or movies. The day I can walk into a Wal-Mart and see a Quinn action figure no one wants to buy, is the day I’ll be satisfied.