Demon of the Underground is a webcomic, created by Shobana ‘Bob’ Appavu, based around the character Pogo, a cheeky young thief who falls through a hole in the ground and discovers a brutal underground world. The comic is both suspenseful and laugh out loud funny, and the artwork is stunning. It’s only 34 pages in so far, so it’ll be easy to catch up on what you’ve missed, and it’s already had so many awesome moments that it is well worth doing so. But that’s enough from me. Let’s hear what Bob has to say…..
Q1. Tell us about yourself.
My name is Shobana, but most people call me Bob. It’s a random nickname I’ve had since high school that happened to stick. I’m an animal lover, and I go absolutely nuts over cute (and lovably ugly) critters. I’m a freelance illustrator by profession. I also write prose fiction and have a couple of pending works that will be published professionally in 2012. Writing and art have both always been my passion.
Q2. What would you tell someone who’d never read your work? How would you describe your style and your goals?
I’d probably warn them that I’m a little bit crazy, and crazy things happen in my stories! I’d also tell them that they can safely read anything I write without fear of running into damsels in distress or objectification of women. My goal would be simply to entertain through art and storytelling. I don’t preach or get political through my stories. As for my style, I’ve always had trouble describing it. I suppose it’s just an idealized version of how I see reality.
Q3. You obviously have a lot of the story of Demon of the Underground planned out. Do you adapt as you go, based on feedback and new ideas you think up, or do you stick to the story fairly strictly?
You’re right that I have a lot of the story planned out already. I actually had the first 65 pages of DOTU penciled before I even launched the comic online, and I have an extensive outline for the entire story and a sequel. On the other hand, I never stop brainstorming and trying to figure out better ways to tell the portions of the story I haven’t already drawn. I don’t really make plot changes based on feedback I get, because I know how I want the story to play out. But I do pay attention to feedback because it’s invaluable in letting me know if something is confusing or isn’t coming across as I’d intended. I also try to pay attention to what resonates with my audience, to make sure I continue to deliver in future chapters.
Q4. What can you tell us about Pogo?
Oh, I love Pogo. He’s definitely the most fun character I’ve ever written. Bottom line: he’s my favorite. On the surface, he comes off kind of cocky and pervy and immature, but he’s also very complex. He’s incredibly stubborn, and he likes to provoke people. He’d tell you anything about himself except for the things you actually want to know. He’s not the smartest or most reasonable dude in the world, but he’s very creative and tends to think outside the box.
Q5. What is your creation process like? How do your art and writing intertwine and how do they influence each other?
I generally like to plan things out in words before finalizing them with art. I brainstorm anytime and anywhere. I write down plot elements and dialogue passages on index cards, and eventually I plug them into an outline. Next, I usually write out a script; then I translate the script into thumbnail sketches. From there, I take it to final art. Sometimes I’ll use my art as a starting point, too. For example, I may draw a portrait for a supporting character and then look at it while brainstorming what that character’s background and personality may be.
Q6. When it comes to art, do you start with a clear picture in your head and set out to put it on paper, or do you have a more rough idea and the art unfolds as you draw?
I tend to see my story like a series of key frames or movie screenshots in my head, and they’re fairly clear. It then becomes a struggle to accurately portray the image I have in my head, and to fill in the spots that are unclear. What’s usually unclear is how those screenshots will come together on a page, how the panels will be focused and cropped, and what’s going on in the background.
Q7. Is there a project you’d like to work on if you had no limits when it came to time or money?
I think DOTU is the one, along with its sequel. I always work on multiple projects at a time, but DOTU is the most complex and longest project I currently have going. If I had no time or money limits, I’d put out three pages a week! But at the same time, I also really like alternating between different projects so I don’t burn out or get bored.
Q8. If you could have any three superpowers, what would you choose, and why?
Oooh, fun! Let’s see…
Super power #1: I’d want to be able to step outside of the natural flow of time so I could get more done in a day and improve my skills without getting older along the way.
Super power #2: I’d want to be able to jump into the bodies of other people and animals and know what the world is like from their perspective.
Super power #3: I know it’s cliche, but I guess I’d like to be able to fly. It’s always been fun when I’ve flown in my dreams, and I’d love the chance to freak out my parrots. Plus I’m really short, so it would make it much easier to reach things.
Q9. What’s a question you’ve always wanted to be asked, but never have been? And if I may be so bold, what would the answer be?
This is really tough! I can name at least a dozen questions I hope no one ever asks, but this? I guess I’d like to be asked what my dream animal companion would be. Assuming my current pet species are off the table (because ferrets and parrots really are my #1 and #2 choices), I’d love to have a pet skunk. They’re illegal where I live, but man, they’re so cute! If I wanted to be even more unreasonable, I’d choose a mink or a river otter. Or a penguin!
You can read the Demon of the Underground comic here. In addition to the comic, Bob has included artwork of characters who haven’t yet appeared in the comic, and rules for a card game she created based on the world. Demon of the Underground is updated every Monday.