DaRK PaRTY: What in god's name is "My Elves Are Different?"
Stephen: My Elves Are Different (M.E.A.D.) is a Web comic about the science fiction and fantasy genre scene. It's basically a way for me to vent my deranged sense of humor in a controlled environment. Most of the jokes come to me during conversations with friends who share my love of a good quip, or at least tolerate it.
DP: Give DaRK PaRTY readers the origin story -- how it started and why?
Stephen: It began when I idly tested an online comic strip generator. I was pleased with the result, and made some more, basically to entertain myself. I picked up some regular visitors among my online friends and began to get some links pointed in my direction. It's always a thrill to get a link from an author, when you've poked fun at them. You think authors are artists oblivious to the hoi polloi, but they know how to use Google and Technorati as much as anyone. Their attention just reinforces my behavior.
DP: Can you give us a quick rundown of the main characters and their personalities?
Stephen: The main characters are The Bowler-hatted Gentleman and Cholmondely Burnsides, basically a pair of bibliophile chums. T.B.H.G . is married, and is usually the more intellectual of the pair. We've seen his no-nonsense wife on a few occasions. There are some other characters whom I've toyed with: Earl Earl, a penitent medieval nobleman who is always getting into humorous misunderstandings; and Domus, M.D. a doctor who treats patients with fantastic maladies.
DP: You use the same drawing for each character over and over again. Why is that?
Stephen: Er, ahem, because I can't draw, and think that a lack of artistic ability should be no barrier to becoming a cartoonist. I could claim that there's some lofty philosophical justification for using antique clip art, but really there are two simple reasons: laziness, and the fact that it's the same characters in nearly every strip and all they do is talk. How much variation do you need in that context?
DP: You've developed a growing cult following for the strip -- any interest from comic syndicates? And just how difficult is it to break into the business?
Stephen: No interest from comic syndicates ... and with good reason! I've referred to M.E.A.D. as a "highly irregular" Web comic, and a major part of that is because I don't want to commit to any kind of publication schedule. And probably couldn't anyway. As far as breaking into the business goes, I imagine it's quite hard if you write for a rather specialized audience. Having said that: the Web has made it easy for anyone to produce their own comics for free, so in that sense, it's as easy as breaking into busking.