Amber Love and Ashley Neuhaus 28-JUNE-2012 Our guest for VODKA O’CLOCK episode 1218 is JANINE FREDERICK, a veteran of the Comics Experience workshops and indie comic writer. Talk today revolves around the Kickstarter for her project QUANDARY with a lot of talk about the comic making process and some rather sensitive storytelling issues. Janine explains that QUANDARY is quite Orwellian ala 1984 so visit our sponsor, Audible.com/AmberUnmasked for an audio book version. When you read through the rewards of the Kickstarter, you’ll find one that gives you three free months at Comics Experience Comic Creators’ Workshop.
- * Quandry comic discussion
- * Rape tropes in storytelling (gaming, books, comics) 50:00 mark approx.
- * Writing sex scenes 59:00 mark approx.
- * Hey, Skype only disconnected us twice!
Download on iTunes or listen here.
Janine is occasionally a guest on the SmodCo’s The Smorning Show and I Sell Comics podcasts in the Kevin Smith network of entertainment. The snarky and endearing Janine has dedicated some of her time to helping great causes like when she dressed up as a Green Lantern for the fundraiser in NJ, Heroes for Hayley. Janine has evolved from a chef to a computer programmer, police auxiliary officer and comic writer. Tune in to see what that involves.
50:00 mark. We got into some hardcore topics about storytelling. Two in particular which have been hot button issues recently in the media due to things like 50 SHADES OF GREY, the Sandusky trial, and Congress kicking out a woman for saying “vagina” propelled me to pay attention to some key twitter feeds. Kotaku’s coverage of the LARA CROFT game unveiled an attempted rape scene then denied it existed by the Crystal Dynamics executives. On June 22nd was the release of an independent movie called THE INVISIBLE WAR about rape in the U.S. military. These key subjects lead me to think about how the issue is addressed in forming a female character (or male) with a possible unpleasant origin story. Janine talked about the one time she included the subject of rape.
Though rape has nothing to do with sex, the vocabulary and the blurred lines with a BDSM story evolved into our general discussion about how to write sex scenes. For great tips on that process check out Chuck Wendig’s entry at Terrible Minds, “25 Things You Should Know About Writing Sex.”
AN: What’s it like collaborating with your significant other?
JF & KF: Sticky and there are always dirty dishes.
AN: Have there been any instances where problems with the project have worked their way into your personal life? Or are you able to keep the two types of relationships separate?
JF & KF: Yes and No. Since we are working on the project together, certain project details will come up randomly while we are discussing other things, like “Joe and Sue are coming for dinner, we need to buy more paper towels, and did you get the reference photo I sent you for that new character?” The fact that we are working on something together is now and ever will be a part of our relationship because it’s part of our day-to-day lives, but not in a negative way. There haven’t been any marital spats about page turns. If anything, woking on something like this together helps keep us both on our toes in the “communication” department.
AN: How long ago did you conceive the idea for QUANDARY?
JF: I first started writing QUANDARY two years ago, right as the Zuda competition we were in was coming to a close. Issue one of QUANDARY was originally a stand-alone story that was supposed to appear in an anthology. The anthology project was canceled and I had put the story on the back burner. But, every now and then, I’d open it back up again and start noodling. I noodled with it so much that more story started to develop and now, QUANDARY is a lot bigger than I ever originally intended it to be.
AN: Do you think the world you’ve created is one that we’re headed towards given the current state of affairs?
JF: I think it could be. Actually, this world is intended to be us, if history had been just a little different shortly after September 11th. I wrote it with that divergence point in mind and then thought, realistically, how would things change for the worse. What strategies and fail-safes were already in place that could change them and how quickly could that actually happen? What would that do to the population, the economy, and to civil rights?
AN: Can you tell us a little about the characters we’ll meet in this world? Does the story follow a main cast or just the general population?
JF: QUANDARY definitely follows a small handful of people. Many of them don’t know each other at the start of the story, but by the end, they are all working together, some in secret, for the same cause — to reclaim their country and protect its people from further destruction and exploitation.
AN: You are a student the Comics’ Experience classes. If you hadn’t taken those classes, do you think you’d still be making this comic and other comics?
JF: I think I’d still be making comics, but I think I’d be failing at it miserably. I had a lot to learn and still do.
AN: What got you into writing comics in the first place?
JF: I’ve always written stories but never did anything with them. I wrote them for me, for fun. Once or twice I’ve turned one of my stories into a short film with some of my more theatrical friends, but again, never did anything with it. It wasn’t until Ken started drawing again that I started to tinker with turning one of my stories into comic script. That first script was what became my 8-page entry that ran in the March 2010 Zuda competition.
AN: Do you set writing goals for yourself?
JF: Yes. Sometimes I meet them, sometimes I don’t, and that’s because my self-goals tend to be lofty. But, I want to see what I can do when I push myself. There are obstacles that I try to account for when setting a writing goal, but sometimes you just can’t plan for family emergencies or large-scale pop-up projects at work.
AN: How do you overcome writers’ block (if you’ve ever encountered it)?
JF: Writers’ block is a funny thing. Honestly, I’ve discovered that a block is not usually due to a lack of ideas, but instead is caused by an external stressor. If my day job is really busy and my deadlines are tight, I won’t be able to focus on my writing. The same applies for things like ‘too many family obligations’ or ‘the house getting messy’. So, when I have a clear moment and have made time for myself to write and literally can’t focus enough to do so, I meditate. It probably sounds ‘new-agey’ and silly but, for me it’s not. I trance out. I force everything out of my mind and when I come back, there is nothing but story, in a steady organizable stream of thought.
AN: If I donate $2,500, can I save you yelling at me for when I see you in person next or does it have to be a phone call?
JF: There is no escape from the yelling. You may choose if said yelling happens in person or via telephone, but oh yes… there will be yelling. However, the yelling will not be ‘angry’ yelling. How could I be angry with anyone who supports our project with $2500?
AN: Does Janine ever hang over your shoulder while you’re working on QUANDARY and have you make changes in the moment or is she patient enough to wait until you’re done working?
KF: Janine’s actually never done that, she always stays away until I have something to show her. She’s probably more patient than I would be if our positions were reversed!
AN: What is your favorite subject to draw?
KF: I like drawing people! I try to spend at least an hour doing some kind of figure drawing, be it from reference or imagination, each day. Still have so much to learn!
AN: Do you prefer to work digitally or by hand?
KF: I definitely prefer working digitally for the speed and flexibility it offers, and the ability to experiment and try different things with a safety net under me. Working digitally lets me go back to any stage of the drawing if I feel that something is not working. Can’t beat that! However, one thing I really miss about drawing by hand is getting nice traditional media effects like dry brush. I haven’t found a way to get a good dry brush effect digitally.
AN: You’re a big Hulk fan. Can we expect to see a little cameo by him maybe via a banned comic book?
KF: As fun as that would be, I feel like Marvel probably wouldn’t be too happy with me if I did that! So sadly I wouldn’t look for any Hulk appearance in the pages of Quandary, lol.
AN: Where can we find you on the Interwebz and learn more about your work?
JF: janinefrederick.com and @J9Naimoli on Twitter.
KF: kenfrederick.com/art and @KenFred on Twitter.
Janine shares her easy Appletini recipe with us:
2 shots vodka
1 shot Pucker
3 oz. apple juice