Monday, October 10, 2011

Go Get A Roomie! | Chloé C. talks comics, art, and digital distribution

I tend to pick up a new webcomic to follow every few months. This far outsrips the rate at which comics I am already following end or otherwise go on indefinite hiatus, but complaining of that would literally be complaining about having too much good reading material.

One of my most recent fixations is Go Get a Roomie, by Franco-hippie artist Chloé C. From what I can gleam of her personal details, Chloé was born and currently resides in France, educated in the U.S., and has many fascinating adventures sometimes involving tasing and always involving alcohol in Belgium. She is also two years my junior.

I found her work fascinating, in part for simple aesthetics but also for her philosophical vantages: New World educated, Old World raised; modern American culture, Western Europe location; art of of a creator, fervor of a fangirl.
This was the first piece by Chloé, or "Nana" as she goes by on DeviantArt that I came across:
I was looking for art of Delirium from Neil Gaiman's Sandman series. A friend had cosplayed for New York Comic Con just nearly a year ago, and with the right keywords it's easy to Google her costume, but rather difficult to find much high-quality fan art as Death here tends to take up most of the fandom.
However you can see the attention to, not quite detail, but truth of character with which Chloé imbues her art. Death has her smirk, but Delirium, the universal embodiment of broken madness, has her fishnet bodysuit, her leather jacket, single vintage sneaker, and her swarm of flower petals/butterflies/animate flying fish/rainbows.
She had my attention.
The more I browsed her page, the more I found Chloé to identify herself as a fan of many shows I too grew up watching, of at least was aware of if not directly involved with, and she shared what I guess would be the emotional impetus behind specific fandoms–somewhat derogatorily–referred to as "shippers," proponents of relationships between certain pairings of literary, cinematic or otherwise artistically created, fictitious characters.

It doesn't hurt, either, that her leanings tend towards the Sapphic pairings in 1990s/2000s media culture:
  • Xena/Gabrielle
  • Harley Quinn/Poison Ivy
  • Kim Possible/Shego
I'm sure this helps page views on a … er, basic level, but I choose to believe in a world where most readers are legitimately in it for a little confirmation that the non-heteronormative inklings and vibes they were picking up in shows like Batman and Xena and essentially anything popular made by the Disney channel that weren't their own imaginings, but subtle nods by the shows' creators and animators towards a more diverse culture of viewers.

The final product of all thise, besides some amazing fanart, is Go Get a Roomie, a strip fundamentally about taking those subtle vibes and teases, and placing them center stage for everyone who's already in on the joke to laugh at. A lot.

For the record, I'm ecstatic she agreed to talk with me about these issues. I've gotten a chance to speak with some bigger names and some new names, but this is the first time I've been able to ask these questions to someone from outside the American culture of comics making and see how the same thoughts and issues affect the rest of the world's art community.

What have your experiences been like with using Twitter to talk directly with your readers? I've noticed you even solicit them for suggestions to improve your art via Formspring. Do you think it's something like the next-step in having comic forums, or is it something separate?
I'm on several different websites that enable me to talk directly with readers, such as DeviantArt, Twitter, Formspring or Tumblr. It's a great to share your thoughts, questions, and art with everyone else, and I use it also to have feedbacks from my readers. A comic artist can easily get stuck working in their closed world and think they don't need the advice, but I will always look out for feedbacks and helpful critics to encourage me to improve in my art and story-telling. I'm positively amazed at how well the comments and feedbacks go!
Comic forums can be a great way to share your thoughts on one specific comic. But you'd need to have a strong fan-base to get them to come over to the forum exclusively for your comic. Websites like dA, Tumblr, ect, makes [sic] it easier to share your art and comics, and is a great way to start gaining popularity with.

What are your thoughts on webcomics that offer free updates but rely on or at least supplement those with "premium content" for paying subscribers?
I think it's a great way to start making money out of your webcomic. If there's enough popularity, and a general kindness with the readers, then most definitely use supplements for paying subscribers. I've just created a 'donate button' over on my website, so that people who generously give any amount to help me out, receive in exchange a few comic strips I've worked on just for them. It's a great way to boost the artist to continue making the webcomic free, and accessible for all.

You draw a lot of fanart yourself: Avatar, Kim Possible, Batman; how would you feel drawing these characters for their parent companies? Would it be the best world ever?
It would most definitely be. But if I'd have my word on the ultimate best world evah, I'd love working for them, but have time to work on my own comics. Fanarts is great, and I always have fun interpreting the characters and story in my own way, but you also need time to create your own universe and characters to share your story with.

Do you personally buy single-issues or trade comics from DC or Marvel, or any other "Big" publishing house?
Yes, when I can. Unfortunately, living in France means finding american comics translated in french, and I'm very picky about that. Original versions are always the best, and it goes for comics as well. So when I DO buy DC (and sometimes, Marvel, or Dark Horse as well), it's mostly on Why, last week I just started buying "Strangers in Paradise" by Terry Moore. Some comics are a must in my library.
*Note: AMAZING comic. Also one where Vol. 3 is about 837 times longer than Vol. 1, so be in for the long-haul.

Do you have any thoughts about DC and Marvel selling digital copies of their monthly titles? Price-points on-par with single issues, proprietary file formats, subscription fees, that sort of thing?
I wasn't even aware of this. I guess it's a predictable move. The virtual world of internet plays such a big part in our daily life now, medias are taking this to their advantage. I personally wouldn't buy digital copies. I've read a bit of scanned comics on the computer, and it's just not the same as having the real thing in your hands. Call me nostalgic.

How to you feel about "Comics Piracy" as a concept and practice? Downloading scanned issues and trades that aren't freely available online?
Well there you go. That's how I read a few scanned comics. I can tell you exactly which they were: Sandman by Neil Gaiman, and again Strangers in Paradise by Terry Moore. It goes back to what I was saying before, how I can't find the books in OV in any library or bookstore. But I was so keen on reading them, that I downloaded the pages, most illegaly. On a side note, both are comics I greatly admire, and so I can't do otherwise but save money to buy the whole series. Sandman the first in my must-have list.
So basically, piracy will always exist, but if it's to get to know a comic that you can't get in your country, then there's an excuse. Once you see how great it is though, it's a matter of respect to purchase the artwork.

With the shift from Comic Books to Webcomics, where do you see newspaper comics fitting in? Do they serve a purpose or are they something of a hold-over from 'days gone by' papers with cartoons and a crossword puzzle?
Haha, I know I couldn't read a newspaper without any comic strips in it. No, I don't think the quality has anything to do with the format. Be it comic books, webcomics or newspaper comics, each has its specific rules and a chance to make it a brilliant work of art.

Webcomics seem to have picked up a reputation for being less legitimate because the artists also sell merchandise, even though I can pull a Batman shirt out of my closet and no one says a word. Do you think this is because webcomics are generally independently run? Is monetizing the same as "selling out"?
I guess the concept of "webcomics" is the idea of total non-profit in any way. And I understand that, in fact, this is why I decided to start a webcomic of my own. I loved the whole community around webcomics, it seemed so open to everyone, a community that shares, and sometimes debate, but an overall kindness and good sport. I especially loved how the artists interacted with the readers, thanking their fans whenever they received a fanart, and so on. The webcomic community just seems more human. And it's a nice change to see artists who show they care about their readers. They want to share their skills and humor with them, and offer it to them on a golden plate. It's free, for crying out loud!
But you have to realize how much work they put in regularly updated webcomics. I update three times a week. Artists like Danielle Corsetto update every day of the week. Giz from Ma3, has three different webcomics she works on, with Dave's help on the scripts. It's alot of work! Webcomic artists spend hours of their time just for the readers' entertainment. Selling merchandise is one of the few ways they can actually gain money out of all their hard work. I think it's completely justified. On the other hand, it also depends on how they sell it. I wouldn't want an artist screaming at me to buy their tshirt because I'd live miserably otherwise. But in my experience, I've never encountered that before. It's always been done with kindness and modesty.

Finally, do you see major comic houses like DC, Marvel and Dark Horse surviving the next 20 years and if so how? Could they change or will they just cling in desperation until the last paper mill is demolished by iPad-driven bulldozers powered by cloned whale oil?
I have absolutely no idea! But it's a great question we'll just have to discover in the years to come. If they want to survive though, they'd maybe have to start with getting a closer look at their plots and character reboots. Last I heard, their last issues with Catwoman and Starfire did not bode well...

GGaR updates M-W-F and is adorable. Again, follow Chloé's DA page and Tumblr for other art. Most of it is work-safe, but you probably still wouldn't want your boss to catch you reading it over lunch. Highly recommended comes anything involving Marceline-Princess Bubblegum of Adventure Time.


  1. Well, ain't this sweet? I must admit, if not for Chloé, I wouldn't have even heard of this site. Though it seems quite nice.

    Now, lookit me here, all commenting and no idea what to write about.

    Well, the humor is quite apparent in this interview. You know both persons are talking about things they like and love. And I'm not exactly restricting myself to comics. -nudge-

    And, well, it's quite nice to hear the thoughts from an artist you respect. Quite nice to see how Chloé sees the world and everything in between. Always a worthy ride. Even without alcohol.

    Must also congratulate you on the writing, 'tis very good and engaging. Also, another thing, incredibly good taste, sir/madam/alien/entity.

    It seems I'm forgetting something quite important.


  2. Yeah, she's a doll. I'm legitimately disheartened at how hard it would be to grab a drink and crack jokes all night from the other side of the planet.

    Ah well, thank Gore for twitter!

  3. Chloe's such a joy. :) I can see from how popular she's growing along with her growth in artistic skill that she will one day become as big as Bruce Timm.


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