Hello once again Readers!! I am straying from the norm today and doing another author interview for a friend of mine, Elizabeth Guizzetti. She also wrote Other Systems, which I reviewed and interviewed a while back. Click on the links to find more about the awesome Sci-Fi read.
But aside from being a novelist, Elizabeth is also an artist! She is extremely talented and versatile and I am proud to feature her on my blog. Faminelands was a project she started with her friend, Maria, before she wrote, Other Systems. I have read all three comics and was thoroughly impressed (and hooked). So without further adieu, let’s meet the duo who is responsible for this awesome story.
Faminelands: Mareton’s Curse was co-written, how does the team dynamic work?
Elizabeth: I write the main script; Maria looks at it and does some developmental editing at that point.
Maria: I tend to question every character move even when I don’t think anything should change. I always want Elizabeth to be certain her story is progressing the way it should and is as strong as it can be.
Elizabeth: Then I begin to draw. We discuss any part that I am having problems with during the storyboarding/penciling stage. I ink, color, do a first round of lettering. If she sees problems with the artwork, I redraw, ink and color a page. Maria and I go back and forth discussing each line of dialogue. Sometimes we laugh, sometimes we get frustrated, but we always come to a decision.
How did Maria Masterson move from editor/accomplice in The Carp’s Eye and Living Stone to co-writer in Mareton’s Curse?
Elizabeth: It was an organic progression. With each project, she got more and more involved. We have now done 4 graphic novels and three of the six parts of Out for Souls&Cookies. The trouble has always been finding the correct and consistent title for her with each job.
Maria: We have always had trouble figuring out where exactly I fit in as I do a little bit of it all. Except the art. That is all Elizabeth. As we have published more titles I would try to help out more and more.
What are some of the reasons, the artwork changed with each graphic novel?
Elizabeth: It’s a mixture of me becoming more skilled as an artist and also having better tools. I taught myself how to draw a comic when I did The Carp’s Eye. My drawing skills become much more solid and I began to know how much detail to put in and how much not to put in. I used to use smaller tips on my inking pens. The Carp’s Eye was colored on a 17” Macbook Pro with a 8×10 tablet, Now I have a 24” IMac hooked up to a 21” Cintiq Tablet. (Any artist out there considering whether the hardware is worth the investment: it is! Not only do I have a nice big screen to look at, but I am able to work much faster.)
Maria: She works magic. And I gawk at her abilities.
How much input does Maria have in the artwork?
Elizabeth: Generally she sees the script, the storyboards and early drawings for the action scenes, she tells me things not to miss, but my storyboards are just a form of shorthand for me—half the time she doesn’t have a freaking clue what is in front of her.
Maria: So true! I have very little input other than maybe some colors changes if I can’t read the scene correctly or I get places confused because they look similar.
How does Elizabeth create the artwork? What tools do you use?
Elizabeth: I hand draw all the panels on 2 ply bristol with a .7mm mechanical pencil. My favorite is a PaperMate Titanium. I use a standard white eraser and Sakura pens in .8 mil, 1 mil, 3 mil to ink. Then we scan the artwork at 600 dpi. We do this at Kinkos because they have a large scanner and it’s an excuse to go out to lunch. Then I color digitally using Photoshop and a Wacom Cintiq Tablet. I letter using Illustrator.
Where does your inspiration stem from?
Elizabeth: I’m half embarrassed by it, but the original spark for the series came from the way my character and my friend John Gajdos’s character interacted in a DnD game. I wrote this little back story about the two characters sharing a room in an inn and hiding from someone very bad.
I began thinking why are they hiding? Who are these people? How did they meet? I began to write a story that is actually the basis for Mareton’s Curse. (They saved a young prince from being a sacrifice.)
I found the process so interesting; I changed the names, personalities, their jobs, and made them siblings. Most importantly, I discovered Malak—who is evil, but has a soft spot for Lark— and Cairn the truly evil Enchanter. I began writing Carp’s Eye and Living Stone, moving back in time to get a complete story. Yet even then, I knew this was a graphic novel project (vs a written novel.) That’s when I started talking about it with Maria. As I said earlier, I had no clue what I was doing.
Do you plan on continuing the series? What is in store for us?
Elizabeth: I enjoy working on a variety of projects so after Mareton’s Curse, we will take a break from Faminelands for a while. Our next project will be the sequencilzation (not sure if that’s a word, but don’t really care either) of my short story: Unintentional Colonists. UC has been published by Perihelion SF on October 12, 2012. (http://www.perihelionsf.com/fiction_4.htm) The graphic novel will be coming out sometime in 2014.
I’ve also three novels in the works. Two science fiction novels in the Other Systems universe and another fantasy story with the working title: The Martlet so it might be a while before there is another Faminelands title. Of course, if the Kickstarter Campaign goes extremely well, it might be sooner than I just said. I will do anything for the love of my fans. ;)
Maria: Elizabeth will always have something in the works for you. But we both try to keep her focused on one project at a time from start to finish and note other ideas in a special Faminelands folder.
Elizabeth: One of Maria’s main responsibilities has always to keep me focused on the current project. Her presence is stabilizing. She is the one who thought up the Queue System to keep me on task.
How much time goes into the drawings? Is it hard or easy?
Elizabeth: Every page takes 12-18 hours and 9 to 15 hours of that is artwork related. The second part of the question is a bit more difficult to answer because the penciling and inking are actually my favorite parts of sequential storytelling. So while it is a challenge, I have lots of fun creating it. It is no less or more hard than writing a novel!
Roan tagged along in this story. How was it including him on Lark & Orin’s already entertaining duo? The bantering between Roan and Orin seemed effortless.
Elizabeth: Though I had a few lines that I thought of easily, not a page of dialogue was effortless. I went back in time and wrote out everything in detail that happened to Lark as a child. I basically made the decision since they both were Brogan’s wards, Roan loved Nonia the Healer and Lark as younger sisters. (Yes there was sibling rivalry between all of them.) Once that decision was made it was a little easier to decide that Roan might not agree with what she has done by bringing her elder brother back, he will do what he can for her. Some of their banter works, because while Orin and Roan are uneasy with each other, they both love their little sister.
Maria: I think it was easy deciding to include him. It was hard trying to fit him in perfectly. We talked a lot about his role and she worked really hard at not making him the super annoying goodie-two-shoes who thinks he can control his two younger siblings. Since Roan and Orin are complete opposites their dialogue brings out more of the moral ambiguity we like.
(SPOILER ALERT) How hard was it to marry Lark to Oakum knowing the age difference? Their relationship seems to have potential.
Elizabeth laughing manically: You should have seen who I first considered who was going to be her husband.
Maria: That was a fun discussion! We talked a lot about the whole idea and when/where it should be included in the grand scheme of Faminelands.
Elizabeth: Though Oakum is quite a bit older than Lark, he really doesn’t have so much life experience to that the relationship is doomed to be paternal or lack passion. Their lifespans are so long, in a century, the age difference will completely disappear. When I went back in time, Oakum came up time and again as someone who was nice to Lark and able to accept the low-born noblewoman.
Will we see more of Lark’s abilities in the next one?
Elizabeth: We have discussed what we might do with the series, but we have not made any decisions at this time. Since this is a two plot storyline. (action story and family dynamic) We need to see how the “Coming of Age” storyline, (Lark’s marriage, Orin’s kids) will be received. I do have plenty of ideas. We also have to see how the Kickstarter Campaign goes.
Maria: Since Elizabeth is ready to work on other projects for a while, we are not sure when Lark will reappear. Sometimes it’s hard to keep her muse on track! I think more importantly we are both happy with how much Lark has grown throughout the series.
LINKS TO STALK AND HELP:
Kickstarter campaign for Mareton’s Curse
Thank you so much, Elizabeth and Maria. I wish you all the best!!