Hey guys! This is our first interview of the year! We’re starting a new segment called “Interview Fridays” where we interview creatives in the print and webcomics fields as well as concept artists, writers and more!
Today’s interview is with the amazing Wesley K. Hall of the “NamelessPC” webcomic! I’ve known Wesley for about a year now, and he’s one pretty awesome dude. We’ll include links to his work and social sites at the bottom of the interview, so you can get to know him too!
Hey Wesley, thanks for joining us!
Hello Michael! Thanks for having me, it’s a real honor to be here.
So tell us a little bit about yourself!
My name is Wesley K. Hall, I was born and raised (and still live) in Nashville, TN. I’m an illustrator and graphic designer in my spare time and an “email specialist” in my working hours. I have a slight red/green color deficiency, I have a tiny adorable dog, and a slightly taller than normal incredibly beautiful wife.
Great! So tell us about your webcomic!
In it’s current incarnation, my comic focuses on an easily frazzled, constantly awkward, square nosed, and slightly exaggerated version of myself and my life. It’s a mix of jokes about life, video games, relationships, art, and general geekery. Also, it’s got a puppy…what more could you need?
What was the origin of the webcomic? Was there any specific event that happened that made you want to create the comic?
My comic is a bit like a superhero in that it actually has two “origins”.
In the beginning, there was a twitter contest for a set of dice on a now defunct gaming site. After winning the dice, I saw that the same site had posted some openings for a designer/artist and thought “might as well give it a try, whats the worse that could happen”. Flash forward a couple of days, and the guy looks at my stuff and says “Why don’t you do a webcomic for us”. I had thought about doing a webcomic, but at the time I wasn’t confident in writing skills (a doubt that still lingers, btw) and asked my friend Matt would be interested in writing for it and he said “YEAH” (seeing how he actually sent me a script for a comic strip a few weeks prior, I figured it be an easy sale, plus he’s still one of the funniest guys I know).
Flash forward to January 01, 2013, the comic now has a standalone site, and it’s been a few months since Matt has stopped writing the strip due to time constraints. I’m up late at night working on some backend stuff and I crash the site (whoops!). I setup a tumblr to redirect the site to until I can get it up and running again and figure I’ll just do some filler strips until I can get it working again, and thats when I draw him…or well me. I tell the story of an old nickname I had in grade school. I’m thinking I’ll just delete this strip when the site come back and move on with my other characters, but I really like it and decide to draw another comic, and another comic, and well here we are now. I setup a new site and have been writing adventures for my square nosed guy for the last year or so now.
Your style is very unique, how did it come about? Are there any direct styles or inspirations you draw from?
First off thanks for saying that! I guess my style developed because of two things really. 1) My love of the blob brush in Adobe Illustrator and 2) being bored with drawing normal noses.
When I started drawing comics, I did the line art in Adobe Illustrator because I couldn’t get the lines I wanted with Photoshop, and being a bit indecisive having vector shapes for everything allowed me to move pieces around and resize them. Afterwards, I would then color the comic in photoshop. When I rolled out the newer version of my comic I wanted to see if I can could streamline my process and make my comic completely in Illustrator, this lead to more bright color backgrounds and the breaking of the standard comic frames.
At the same time I was looking at how I drew noses. I felt like I was wasting precious face space to just a line or three that wasn’t doing anything to help the character stand out, so I messed around with making something more interesting for me. It started as an attempt to work with noses the way I had seen folks like Penny Arcade, PvP, Great Showdowns, and Deep Dark Fears work with them. I just kinda fiddled around until I ended up with something I like.
I feel like the style draws from all over really. From the early Saturday morning cartoons I watched as a kid, to artists such as Doug TenNapel and Scottie Young, to the art stylings of folks like Keith Haring (I know, I’m such an art snob, I apologize). Every time I see a new piece of art or a comic I look at and see if I can’t find something to take from it, something to try out, sometimes this leads to garbage, other times it adds another tool and my style handbook.
How do you come up with ideas for your comic? Since it’s a mix between contuing story and gag-a-day, is there any special way you approach the creative process of the comic?
I really love telling stories, but I tend to embellish when I tell them. I take the puzzle of these stories and try to trim the rework them, to make them lean mean comics. I typically start a comic from a story or an event that happened to me and then I try to cut all of the fat: superfluous wording, needless exposition, etc, and then I try to figure out how to show it in as few images as possible, that still conveys the concept and moves the strip forward. Hopefully, at the end of that I’ve come up with a functioning, engaging comic. If not I try reworking it. I still tend to be a bit more verbose than I would like to be, but I think I’m getting better.
For larger story strips, I do the same process but using the over arching theme. Where does my story start and stop and then how many comics do I need to tell it in and then I dissect from there. Is this funny, could this be funnier, what if we take this idea and push it this way, and move this idea, this way, what if we play this gag like this, etc. It can be a long process, but it’s a fun process, and one that can be done while walking to work or during a work meeting…not that I’ve ever done that.
How do you juggle your daily life with the webcomic? Are there ever any challenges?
The way I juggle making webcomics is by setting myself a fairly loose schedule. It’s starts on Sundays, depending on my plans I usually get on the computer and start drawing out concepts and ideas for Tuesday’s comic. I try to get the concept and rough that night. Then on Monday around 7 or 8pm after work, time with the wife, and dinner, I go in and finish up the comic with the inks, the colors, the wording, and the posting. Tuesday night I start on Thursday’s comic, trying to reach a good stopping point until I can come back to it on Wednesday. Thursday, Friday, and Saturday is generally my time off/processing new ideas/working on other projects/becoming overly worry that I’m doing everything wrong and that nobody likes me.
There are a lot of challenges when producing a webcomic, first and foremost is simply finding the time. It’s a lot easier to sit on the couch and enjoy the company of my lovely wife, or to play on reddit, or twitter, or just watch Netflix than it is to work on a comic. This is especially true when you feel like nobody is really reading or enjoying your comic. The only thing I can say when this feeling strike is to keep going. I usually spend a great deal on Tuesday looking at my comic and pulling it apart, thinking about what didn’t work and why, and then going back that night and trying again. I think it ends up for every two steps forward I take, I take one and half steps back. It’s a slow burn for me, but I can look at my earlier strips and see how far I’ve come and I can start to see where I’m going.
Where do you see your webcomic in a year, in five?
I try not to lie to myself. Unfortunately, I don’t think I’ll ever be able to do this webcomic thing as a full time gig. Don’t get me wrong, I WOULD LOVE TO, I just don’t think it’s in the cards, and in a way that is very freeing, as it means I can do the comic just for me and my enjoyment. With that said, by the end of the year I do want to have something for sale online, and I have plans to produce more long story comics and expand the Nameless PCs cast of characters. I also see my comic with slightly better art as I continue to push my style (and learn Manga Studio 5 more).
In five years, I honestly don’t know. In my wildest dreams, I will have expanded the cast of the comic quite a bit, and will spend time switching between a variety of story types and one-a-day gags, all with a trademark amount of awkwardness and strange noses.
What are your future plans for your webcomic?
I’m honestly not thinking this whole thing out, I don’t really have an endgame planned (Pro Tip: Don’t be like me). My only hope with my comic is as it goes on that it gets funnier, gets better drawn, and becomes so popular that people will travel from world’s away to let me gently pat their baby’s head and say “Now that’s a good baby”. If I can get two out of three of those, I’ll be happy.
So there you have it! The rundown on Wesley’s comic and creative process! Please follow his comic and make sure you connect with him, to see what great things he has in store for 2014!