I was recently interviewed for the blog fupduck.

Here’s the interview:

WebComic: Zombie Roomie

Posted on January 2nd, 2010 by DaVe

I recently had the opportunity to interview John Wigger about his relatively new Web Comic, Zombie Roomie. The comic follows the adventures of John, the normal guy, and his roommate George, the zombie. The stories are funny, the art is amazing and I think it will be one of the up and coming Web Comics. Check it out.

DaVe: What made you decide to start your own WebComic?
John: I’ve read Scott Kurtz’s PvP for six years and during that time I graduated from college with a double major in Drawing and Computer Animation along with a minor in Art History.

Around June I started thinking I could do something more with my free time rather than just playing World of Warcraft and thought doing something artistically would be worth my time. I started researching how to actually setup hosting and an archive system (I use ComicPress).

Eventually, come October I was as prepared as I could have been, besides working far enough ahead on a sizable buffer.
A side note, anyone planning on starting there own webcomic always hears to not put up their strips until they have at least a month’s worth of updates in the can… they hear it and disregard it. I was exactly the same. I so wish I had had the restraint to put the brakes on and get a nice buffer of strips ready as there are times I’m busier than I’d like so I have had to spend the entire night before an update getting a strip ready for the morning. So, if there’s anyone reading this that is planning to make their own webcomic. I’ll be another of those voices saying wait until you have as large of a buffer as you possibly can before you start posting. I’ll probably also be one of those voices you tune out as you post your first strip with none in the can. Heh.

DaVe: Where do you come up with your ideas and story-lines?
John: When I was originally playing around with what kind of webcomic to produce I started with a real general idea. It was too general and not focused enough to give me a driving story to produce comics from… it was much more along the lines of a Far Side or something like Kris Straub’s Chainsawsuit.

I had an idea for a gag that involved a zombie and things started funneling into my brain about more zombie based jokes. I started playing around with character designs and various amounts of decomposition and zombie gore. Eventually I landed on just dark/ reversed eyes (black where they’re normally white and white where they’re normally black), lines around his mouth, and of course blue skin.

So, I had the idea for a zombie living with a guy and now I was left with what kind of zombie he’d be. A mindless shambler zombie would have given me maybe five or six strips before I’d have to struggle with ways to have him interact with other characters without just eating them. Definitely giving him a personality and ability to speak was something I would have to do to keep him a viable character.

Also, I have a few good friends from college that I talk with still. One of them has gone above and beyond to help me with ideas, he allows me to bounce stuff off of him, or even send me scripts for strips that he’s come up with. Long story short, I set up this world where a guy lives with a zombie and what kind of zombie he is… I can think of typical roommate issues and give them a zombie spin and work from there. When I want to address something a bit more fantastical than I just go back to the kind of comic I want to produce and the world I’ve set up in notes and discussions with friends and try to fiddle down the idea until it’s something I can work with.

DaVe: Who are your artistic influences?
John: Cartooning-wise Scott Kurtz (www.pvponline.com) and Mike Krahulik (www.penny-arcade.com). I’ve read their comics the longest and I’ve noticed that I have incorporated some stylistic things that they’ve done in my own comic.

The tone and writing for the character interaction has been compared to Kevin Smith. I’ve seen his flicks dozens of times and his ties to the comic fanboy world have pervaded my consciousness enough that I’m sure I’ve picked up on his back and forth enough to crib stuff from him to call him an influence.

DaVe: What other WebComics do you regularly read?
John: Of the big names out there: PvP, Penny Arcade, Chainsawsuit, Evil-Inc, Sheldon and Girls with Slingshots. There are a few lesser known comics that I read too: Edmund Finney’s Quest to Find the Meaning of Life, Unbearable Bears Presents! and 1977 the Comic. Then there’s a handful of other comics I read from time to time but not every single update when they come out.

DaVe: Do you follow a standard process: Sketch -> Scan -> Ink / LineArt -> Color -> Caption? Or do you use a different process?
John: Until recently that was exactly my process.

I had a super old Wacom Graphire 3 and I just could not make it do what I wanted so, I went back to drawing on paper with blue leads (so the pencil lines would drop out in a greyscale scan) and inking before I’d scan it.

For Christmas I received a Wacom Bamboo Fun. It’s much larger than my old tablet and immediately I could work it and receive results much closer to what I could produce on paper. I toyed with the idea of phasing out the paper/scan method as I practiced on the new Bamboo, but, the results I was getting was fairly close to the quality I had been able to get done with the old barbaric paper method.

In the end, I decided that I could just essentially practice on the fly while doing my comic. I’ve seen a marked change in just the two months that Zombie Roomie has been updating in my cartooning… I’m just continuing the experiment.

DaVe: I saw in your blog (Dec 12) that you are experimenting with Flash verse Photoshop CS4 for your digital inking and coloring. Which do you like better? Is animated flash-based comics in your future?
John: At the time, I was using that old tablet, mentioned earlier. So, I was able to get better lines out of Flash than Photoshop. Having the new tablet, I’m doing everything in Photoshop currently.

I may end up playing with Flash again at some time, but, at the moment Photoshop does what I need it to and it’s the tool that most of the big names out there use for their digital inking… I’m sure there’s a reason they stick with it. I graduated college with a degree in animation, but, the majority of my work dealt with 3D animation. I don’t have enough of a grasp of Flash’s animation techniques to definitively say yes, I’ll end up doing something with it anytime soon. Animating takes so long to do it at a level of quality that I’d be forced to pull back from my comic itself to do something with Zombie Roomie cartoons. So, for the time being I’m only going to put time into the comic itself.

DaVe: Do you have a fulltime 9-to-5 or does ZombieRoomie.com pay the bills?
John: Sadly no on both accounts. I’m currently unemployed. That’s another reason I decided to do a webcomic… to do something productive with my time.

Really?Zombie Roomie doesn’t even pay for itself yet. The advertising I have on the site is intended to help pay for the hosting, but, at the moment my traffic isn’t to the point that I’m pulling in the money from it to cover the hosting bill. So, it’s all out of pocket. I’m contemplating adding a donation button to my site to go along with the redesign I’m implementing shortly. Perhaps some kind readers will chip in a little to help offset the costs.

The planned donation page would include non-payment options as well that would help me out. I use the program Dropbox and if people use a link that I share to register, I end up getting more free space out of it. Signing up for two gigs of space from Dropbox is free and I get more space out of it too. That way if someone wants to help out Zombie Roomie without dropping some cash, they can as well.

DaVe: What is your favorite zombie film?
John: If we’re talking serious zombie flicks… It’s either the ‘68 or ‘90 ‘Night of the Living Dead’. Tom Savini’s version from 1990 was one of the earliest zombie flicks that I watched repeatedly. There’s a bit of nostalgia coloring my opinion of that flick.

Comedy zombie flicks… Of course it’d have to be ‘Shaun of the Dead’. That flick is just so great. I’ve watched it at least a dozen times and a few times with the various commentaries on the DVD. The number of inside jokes, references, and what not just add to the hilarity. While ‘Zombieland’ was fun, in my opinion it wasn’t even close to ‘Shaun of the Dead’.

DaVe: Are you doing any conventions or appearances?
John: It’s still far too early for me to attend a convention to sell/promote Zombie Roomie at this time. Any conventions I attend would be as just that, as an attendee. Zombie Roomie is only two months old and while the ‘fans’ I do have, while super awesome, are few in number. I don’t have the audience to warrant the expense of purchasing an artist’s alley table or the likes.

DaVe: Where do you see John and George’s adventures headed after the Christmas story arc?
John: Well, I just ended the Christmas story on Christmas day and I’m settling down before I do another longer story. I’m doing mainly one day strips or maybe a few two day comics for a bit….
I do have a long idea for a storyline that will last for a few months where the guys end up traveling the globe and getting into trouble on a world wide scale.

I wanted to introduce the readers to the characters and world of Zombie Roomie fairly easily at first. That’s why the first few strips are just John and George, then we slowly start introducing some more characters to help flesh out the world. We see that the supernatural world is real and John is forced into witnessing it first hand, just as the readers are introduced to it. When the time is right, I’ll pull the trigger on starting the global adventure and I’m looking forward to it.

I had a wonderful time interviewing John Wigger about Zombie Roomie. Please check out and support his comic. If you know of any other up-in-coming comic artist, please let me know.