The Face Behind the Comics- Karl Kerschl
For this weeks The Face Behind the Comics, I interviewed Karl Kerschl. As many of you must already know, Karl is the genius behind The Abominable Charles Christopher, but before you head over to the strip, read our little Q&A here!
1. With an already impressive resume of works for publishers such as DC, working on characters such as the flash, what sparked you to create your own self published webcomic?
It wasn’t my idea, actually. Several of my studiomates in Toronto had already begun creating webcomic concepts and were banding together to release them as a collective. I was invited to join and we had enough content to publish one new comic every day of the week. My contribution was The Abominable Charles Christopher.
It was never my intention to start down the road of self-publishing; the webcomic I was drawing each week was intended for the web and I had no designs on print publishing at all. But as the years rolled on I became increasingly interested in focusing my attention on my own creations and when I finally decided to release a book collection I was determined to do it all myself. I’m glad I did.
2. What was the inspiration behind the abominable Charles Christopher and what made you chose to use animal characters instead of human ones?
I guess I was just tired of drawing people. Most comics work, in the superhero genre, at least, is about exaggerated human anatomy and grim ‘real world’ problems. The idea of the Charles Christopher character occurred to me quite spontaneously and because he lived in the forest he would necessarily be surrounded by animals.
3. With their strong personalities, each character reminds me a little of someone in my life, was it meant to be that way, or is that completely accidental?
In many ways, the animals in the strip are more human than any other characters I’ve worked on in the past. They represent different facets of humanity through their insecurities and personal dramas. I’m not specifically taking traits from people I know or have met, but all of my experiences seep into the work and hopefully creates characters that are familiar and, most importantly, sincere.
4. Being nominated for an Eisner Award twice and having won a Shuster Award for “outstanding Canadian webcomic” are all huge acomplishments,do you find that this has effected your productivity or has it just raised the number of readers?
It has done neither, in fact! My productivity is the same as it’s been since I began the comic: one strip each Wednesday, usually drawn on the day that it’s posted. And having finally won the Eisner Award last year, while wonderful, hasn’t had any noticeable effect on my readership. Compared to more financially successful comics on the web, my readership numbers are very low. They ebb and flow depending on seasons, etc, but there was no spike in traffic due to the awards.
5. Creating a weekly webcomic means deadlines, do you ever find yourself falling behind on deadlines because life just gets in the way?
I definitely fall behind on my other deadlines to make room for The Abominable Charles Christopher. Ultimately, it’s the most important thing I work on and other jobs occasionally suffer for it. But I’ve posted a new episode every Wednesday since it started in 2007 even when it’s been problematic to do so.
6. If you could give one piece of advice to someone trying to break into the world of webcomics, what would it be?
There’s nothing to break in to. There’s no publisher; no gatekeepers. If you want to make a comic then all you have to do is make it and put it on the web. No one is stopping you.
7. Does it surprise you that you have such an international readership, having had the abominable Charles Christopher translated into so many different languages? Is there a readership in particular that surprises you?
Very surprising! A few years ago I started hearing from readers in different countries who enjoyed the comic but wished that others could read it in their own language, and I’m thrilled when people take it upon themselves to build a site and do all their own translations. It’s fun for me to see and I’m happy that it’s reaching people who wouldn’t otherwise have access to it.
8. If you could have any guest artist (dead or alive) come do one page for you, who would it be, and why?
Oh, man. I don’t know. There are so many. Chuck Jones, Walt Kelly, Bill Watterson, James Jean, Jeff Smith, Mary Blair, etc etc. The list goes on and on and on…
9. The world of comics and the internet is ever moving and changing, where do you see your comic being in five years?
This particular comic will probably be complete and available in its entirety on the web, as well as in print, in a massive hardcover collection. And hopefully I’ll be working on something even better.
10. If you had to pick one word to describe your experience in webcomics so far, what would it be?
A huge thanks to Karl for the answers, and I hope to see you all next time!