First, lets talk about your artistic origins. When and how did you learn to draw? Did anyones style influence you along the way?
Mostly, I'm self taught. I've liked to draw for as long as I can remember. I took your general art classes in middle and high school and have a two year degree in digital animation but I think I've learned more from practice and observation than anything else.
I can't say there's any one artist who influenced me especially. I started getting into anime and manga when I when in middle school and first starting to think of art as a possible career path. That probably shows in my style at least to some extent, though recently I've been trying to move away from anime and define my own style more.
Now, about Team Fortress 2. When and how did you find that?
I'd heard of it before it came out, though I never really played FPS games until relatively recently. My family always had Apple computers so we mostly played console games when I was a kid. Anyway I was introduced to the game by my brother at a LAN party and immediately fell in love with it. At the time we were still playing the demo so it was a much simpler game than it is now.
Where, exactly, did the idea for Cuanta Vida come from?
*laughs* Its kind of hard to pinpoint exactly. I started working on the concept several months before I actually started drawing the comic itself. I guess I kind of wanted to make something that could give the game a story, so I tried to think of a scenario where a war like that could be possible. Its still fairly absurd, but TF2 is an absurd game so I guess it fits.
About the story: By my observations, it seems that youve had the core of the story pretty well-planned early on -- is that correct? In contrast, how much of the story or detail is done on the spot? Have any of the more important concepts (i.e. a characterization or results of an event) evolved in a different direction than originally intended as the story continued?
Yeah, Ive had the basic framework for the story planned from the start. I knew all the major plot points before I started posting pages. The specifics such as the dialogue and the exact progression of the scenes are generally written on the spot though.
Some of the characterizations did change. For example, I didnt expect Scouts crush on Spy to become as obvious as it has, and the entirety of BLU Pyros personality evolved out of him being in the story. All the characters have changed somewhat over the course of the story, just as a virtue of my getting to know them better. For example, I didnt know at the beginning that Bleu knew how to pick locks. He also looks a little different; his hair is floofier and his nose is bigger and more hooked.
How did you go about coming up with distinct personalities for each character? Were you influenced by characters in other works? By any people you know? How so?
I was fairly influenced by the Tripfag Joness Naïve Spy fanfic and the NotTim chatlogs, which were written by a number of people. I really liked the idea of a sort of noobish or confidence lacking Spy, since its rather the opposite of how the in-game Spy behaves and yet somehow seems to fit.
The characters personalities were originally combination of things found in game and popular fanon but mostly I wanted to make sure they contrasted. Red, for example is a complete bastard, albeit a charming one and is in many ways the complete opposite of Bleu. The Pyros are a good example too, the BLU Pyro is very shy and kind of cuddly whereas the RED one is bold and relatively scary.
Now, a quick tangent. Im sure quite a few fans want to know: Just where did RED Scouts Peep come from?
I probably get asked this more than anything else. PeepPeep is a nod to a fandom in-joke, its mostly just cute and stupid, not unlike Scout. Theres not much to explain really.
In the context of the story I imagine the RED base has more chickens; we just havent seen them.
How do you go about creating a page? What materials/programs do you use?
Its fairly simple really. I start with a piece of plain old printer paper and a pencil. The one Im currently using is a Pentel Side FX, its just a chunky mechanical pencil with the button on the side as opposed to the top. I also use metal cork-backed ruler. The pencil and ruler are just personal preferences, theres nothing very special about them. I use the paper because its cheap. I sketch out the entire page and write in the narrations and dialogue as I go.
Then I scan the page into photoshop at 300 dpi and ink it with my tablet. All my digital art tools are rather old. The computer is a circa 2002 iMac running photoshop 7 and the tablet is a 4x5 wacom graphire. Ive had it for more than a decade. Wacom doesnt even make them anymore, but it was their cheapest tablet at the time.
I only use a few tricks in photoshop for the final lineart and coloring, mostly just to make and keep the border panels straight and to outline things like sound effects and the narration text. I also use a plugin called multifill to speed up the coloring process. All the color is just flat unless I absolutely need shading to get a point across. The marbley texture on the pages is just an overlay. Its not necessary but I think it helps any large areas of one color not be so boring.
How many more pages can we expect right now? How subject is this number to change?
I expect it'll be roughly the length of a one-volume graphic novel when I'm done, so between 100 and 150 pages total. It's a pretty flexible number since I plan stories by events in them rather than number of pages it may end up being more than I expect.
As every reader of CV knows, Red and Sniper have been maintaining a relationship, evidently of a sexual nature. Any comments on how they got started?
Red was definitely the instigator; he has a tendency to hit on everybody. Sniper is far too introverted to make the first move in that sort of relationship. I'm actually considering writing a prequel comic about them once I've finished Cuanta Vida, we'll see if I have the time and enough ideas for it. I had some friends tell me they were doing an RP about how they met. I haven't seen it yet, but they're both excellent writers so maybe I can convince them to let me use it for a script.
Now, since were on the subject of relationships, what other
feelings are going around the two bases? You dont have to include the obvious if you dont want to. In fact, I for one am a bit curious about the not-so-obvious, and even the unseen, if any
I think of most of the characters as being straight, you just wouldn't notice since there's no women around for them to be straight with. I do have a rough network of who gets along with who in my head, so when I draw characters in a scene together I know how to have them react towards each other. For example on the BLU team Heavy is the only character who Medic is civil and not-creepy towards, and Heavy likes everyone.
Come to think of it, are there any other pairings you ship in TF2? Any particular reasons?
I'm actually really really fond of Engineer/Spy, which is funny because it's not in the comic. I also like Soldier/Engineer, Heavy/Medic, and any combination of Medic, Spy, and Sniper. Honestly, though I like any pairing so long as it's executed well.
Now, without mentioning names, since its quite obvious who were referring to. It seems pretty safe to presume that the main pair wouldnt reach the
activity level, if you know what I mean, of Red and Sniper within the comic.
If youre willing to share, what is the least we could expect of them?
*laughs* Well in the context of the comic I don't intend to have any on-camera sex from anyone.
They might kiss, and I think a lot of people will be very disappointed if they don't, but I don't want to give anything away. That subplot will have a resolution of some kind though.
There has been fanart and fanfiction of Cuanta Vida spanning several websites not just here at deviantART, but on Y!gallery, LiveJournal, TF2chan. Ive even seen a Fandom!Secret on LiveJournal calling it the best fancomic [the OP had] ever read. Essentially, CV has created a fandom within its fandom something not many with fanworks can say. Did you ever expect this would happen? How do you feel knowing that your comic has caught the attention of and is well-loved by a significant part of the TF2 fandom?
It feels pretty awesome. I never imagined it would become as popular as it has. This is actually the first time I've done anything like fanfiction so it's been a complete surprise. I've had people tell me they started playing TF2 because of the comic, and at Otakon this year I actually encountered people who were nervous to meet me. That was kind of surreal especially since I'm usually a very shy person myself. I'm probably just as nervous as they are, if not more so.
So far the vast majority of CV based art and fiction I've seen has been really awesome, some of it by artists and writers that I already admired. I hope everyone will keep showing me their stuff, it's one of the things I find most rewarding about drawing this story.
Are there any little things -- plot-unimportant details -- about any of the characters that youre willing to share with us?
Hm, well there's probably a bunch of things that won't pop up in the comic itself. I have relatively specific stats written out for Bleu, such as his real name, where he was born (Bordeaux, France), how tall he is (5'11"), etc. I also have a little written about his family. I also have real names for Red, Sniper, and both Scouts, but unlike Bleu they only have first names. There's been some debate as to where Red is from originally, so I guess I can settle that here. He's Italian, but he also speaks French, Spanish, and English fluently. Bleu also speaks French, Spanish, and English, but his fourth language is Catalan.
Also, this isn't a character thing, but another fun fact I suppose: the comic is named after a song. If anyone wants to hear it try searching for Cuanta Vida and Pastora on YouTube. Pastora isn't a very well known group as far as I know but I like their music a lot. According to Wikipedia, they're from Barcelona, which, coincidentally, is where Bleu's mother was originally from.
Ah, so you have other names for the characters. Are you willing to share those now? Or are you planning to release them later? Or at all?
I'm somewhat reluctant to reveal them, since trying to name the classes is somewhat taboo in this fandom. I suppose it's all right though since the characters are meant to be examples of the classes as opposed to representations of the class as a whole: i.e. Bleu is a spy, not The Spy.
Anyway the names aren't important and were intended mostly for my own notes. Bleu's is the only one that has any chance of appearing in the comic and even then it'll be hard to see. I guess I may as well reveal them though since you asked and they're not likely to crop up anywhere else. Red and Sniper are Gabriele and Liam respectively, the Scouts are Jeremy (BLU) and James (RED), and Bleu's real name is Jordi Bertrand.
No need to reveal it here -- in fact, I think we'd be better off learning for ourselves. But I just want to confirm: We will find out who Bleu's been talking to via the narration all this time, right?
Yes. There have been a couple of clues in the narrations themselves, but they're pretty cryptic so I'll be surprised if anyone works it out anytime soon.
Any last thoughts on anything at all?
I'd like to thank everyone for reading the comic so far! You guys inspire me to keep going.