Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Rosetta Phoning Part 3

Read part one here 

Factional: I wanted to move on to, I guess a good place to start would be how long have you guys been planning this? First I was aware was when Mary mentioned it at last year's Armageddon.

Bethany: Think I have first drawings and concept art from early 2013, and we were talking about a full on comic and story sometime in late 2013 before sitting down and planning in 2014, and trying to get a blog set up and get some people interested.

Fac: How important was the setting? Did that come first or were you both interested in the time travel part of the story and then settled on Ancient Eygpt?

Bethany started with a bunch of nameless characters.
Bethany: I can't remember what came first. I just had a bunch of characters that had no names, including some vague Egypt related thing and some silly thought I blogged about one day like "haha wouldn't it be funny to travel back in time and just predict the future with Wikipedia?" I was honestly just really into making silly jokes and far out situations out of a genre and idea that's already pretty popular and well known.

Mary was the one who really wanted to do the Ancient Egypt setting and obviously the New Zealand one was well, since the comic does, briefly, unfold in NZ. But both of us I think had a big interest in Ancient Egypt!

Mary: Fools [Bethany] already had the characters, in very primitive, non-fleshed out forms. And, we've both always been interested in history, but my favourite was always Ancient Egypt. Since I'm the writer, Fools suggested that we do that since we both have a lot of prior interest-led research about it. Having the modern teen character and the pharaoh one, time travel was an inevitable in the story - annnnnd, yeah setting it in Egypt of the past just strengthens the need for our research we've been passively doing our whole lives. So they sort of all happened at the same time? I love time travel/stories about the characters being displaced from their original setting. I've never really experienced that feeling myself, and reading/writing about that feeling is like living that by proxy. All the problems and internal conflicts that happen as a result of being taken completely out of your comfort zone - out of place or out of time. Mum once suggested I read Cross-stitch because that's basically what that series is about. It was terrible.

Fac: She meant well Mary, she really did.

The art looks real slick Bethany. Did that influence the way Mary approached the story? (When I first saw the concept art it was like looking at something produced by Disney or Pixar.)

Bethany: Haha wow thank you! What a comparison! Uh, well I don't know! I kept it all bright and colourful to suit the light hearted nature of the story!

Fac: It does seem light hearted but it has an edge to it. The real cosmic opening took me by surprise (also I think the guy in the back of the bus stop should of been a dead dude!)*

Bethany: He was totally dead no matter what Mary said. Cover up all your artistic failings by just saying the character is dead.

Fac: So, has there been in surprises in the development and execution of RP?

Bethany: Kind of? I was mostly surprised that people enjoyed and liked the sound of the idea because it's not new or even revolutionary, there's been plenty of "the liar revealed" type stories and time travel stories, but people seemed to really respond to our initial posts and planning stages. I'm surprised that so many people are invested in it when it's only just started.
Slick, researched artwork.

Mary: The only real surprise is that it was intended to be silly and humorous and I am struggling to do that as I keen thinking about it so seriously!! The Nu is a very important concept and entity to me so I find it very hard to not want it to have serious elements? However the Egyptian pantheon is filled with myths that are very silly and humorous, the gods do ridiculous things. Horus tricks Set to eat his semen on a salad. The Nu doesn't really have many silly stories to go with it though, very little compared to the main pantheon of gods, I think that The Nu wasn't really worshiped, but just sort of an ever present thing. So I'm finding this weird internal dilemma between wanting it to be serious and respectful to the cosmic egg I love, but also kinda causal. A being that is everything ever would be pretty casual to hang out with, because you are them. I don't know. I'm surprised.

Fac: Were there similar tensions in Nothing Fits? I found while it was funny, and the style Alex used leant itself to humour, there was a real angry energy to events (I really liked that about it).

Mary: Not really. I think maybe it's the research element that makes my brain think: research = serious. Nothing Fits had very very minimal research/none at all.

Fac: You guys seem to have a lot of projects on the go. Is it difficult to juggle all of those different worlds?

Mary: A little? I imagine it's harder for Fools, because she's actually actively working on her other projects.
Juggling projects can be a struggle.
Bethany: It's hard for me, I've got my own things going in and at the moment I'm working on publishing some of my stuff and having to deal with editors and the whole publishing process while also doing art for Rosetta Phone and other personal projects. It's a bit of a struggle but I'm managing it.

Fac: Anything you want to add in closing?

Bethany: Nah I don't think I have anything to add? Except probably that the creepy cat was my fault if anyone is looking for someone to blame for that idea.

Read part one 
Read part two

Follow the progress of Rosetta Phone here

*Eagle eyed readers can follow the controversial ‘Case of the Disappearing Commuter’ on pages 4 and 5 of Rosetta Phone. The smart money says he’s dead.

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Rosetta Phoning Part 2

Factional: Do you guys think of that time, doing your first webcomics, as an apprenticeship? Are you applying any particular  lessons you learnt to the production of  Rosetta  Phone?

Mary: I'm not sure what you mean by apprenticeship? 

Apprenticeship seems more like a time where you are mentored, and our previous experiences with webcomics were just more... I don't know. We put our all into our past works, I don't see them as practice runs or experiments. Just us wanting to tell good/enjoyable stories. We definitely learnt things by those experiences, my number one lesson being to plan the whole story out before starting production. Which we have done! I would like to get the majority of it written before we get too far through Rosetta Phone, but we have planned it out pretty thoroughly, so we won't run into some of the problems Nothing Fits did... which was not knowing how it was going to end!

Also having experience with Kickstarter campaigns, I know that next time it is vital to have a good video. And I would probably plan out expenses more thoroughly next time, I did have a dilemma with the change in postage prices last time and having plans and back up plans in place for stuff like that is something I will definitely have next time. 

Nothing Fits
There are some things I can't cross over from Nothing Fits, and some times Bethany can't cross over from her previous works - as she hasn't worked with someone like this before and working with her is very different than working with Alex McCrone. Alex took more of a backseat, as she doesn't have much of an online presence, whereas Bethany does. I'm feeling like I'm taking more of a backseat promotion wise. I've released more control, as Rosetta Phone is more equally mine and Bethany's, while Nothing Fits was really more mine. 

Fac: I guess by apprenticeship I mean a period of learning and development but I see where you're coming from in terms of mentorship being part of that process. Though from both what you and Bethany have said perhaps your peers acted in that capacity to some extent.

Moving on, Bethany can you remember what you liked about Nothing Fits?

Bethany: I really liked both the art and the fun, quirky twisted story book nature of it, I liked it because it reminded me a lot of Roald Dahl  and Terry Pratchett. It was just really fun with these bright children's book-esque  illustrations and then a dark underbelly of murder and chaos.

Fac: That 'quirky twisted storybook' nature of Nothing Fits, I saw that too. I can also see it in Tempus by Bethany. I wondered if you were influenced by writers like Diana Wynne Jones or Margaret Mahy or Joan Aiken? You guys seems to have the same kind of energy and sense of play that I associate with them. 

Character sheet from Tempus
Bethany: God, Tempus, that's a blast from the past! I wrote and drew that while I was still at school!

Well I said it before, that Mary's storytelling reminded me a lot of the late Terry Pratchett, who is among my favourite authors and story tellers, so I was immediately drawn to it for that reason. I could see his hand and influence in a lot of her stuff, and you can see it in Tempus and my other projects as well. It later turned out Mary was also a fan of Pratchett's Discworld series, and apparently  both Mary and I always came up with similar  kinds  of  chaotic,  quirky worlds and that we also had the same sort of humour. Most of the time our planning days are really just us cracking awful jokes at each other!

I can't really think of any other influences we both share, I was influenced a lot creatively, especially in story telling by writers like Jonathon Stroud, Garth Nix and Isobelle Carmody.

Mary: Yes! Terry Pratchett is a big big influence on my writing, as well as Neil Gaiman's work. Darren Shan's  Saga of Darren Shan  and Derek Landy's  Skulduggery Pleasant  series were also big influences. A lot of dark humor and fantasy settings. 

Yu-Gi-Oh as well.  Always Yu-Gi-Oh.  Very important influence. 

Read part three here

Follow the progress of Rosetta Phone here