Poorly Drawn Lines: Interviews with Webcomic Artists

Inventing humor with Reza Farazmand

It is the primary purpose of this blog to help other webcomic artists understand what it’s like to start a webcomic. So it is an innate responsibility for the blog to seek out successful or new webcomic artists in order to promote what they’re willing to share about the struggle and fun of starting, growing, and sustaining an online webcomic. Naturally, these interviews will be interesting for a much wider audience, so I hope that you continue reading to discover something new about your favorite webcomic artists.


Poorly Drawn Lines has surgical humor that locates the funny bone you didn’t know you had and tickles it madly. Reza Farazmand makes the whole thing seem easy and off-the-cuff, but his unique draw and massive following are proof that, calculated or not, it’s comedic genius that has not only allowed for personal trailblazing, but has advanced the internet webcomic world into a more interesting and funny era.


 

Starting out with a webcomic

When did you start the comic, and why?

I started PDL during my freshman year of college. I wanted to make fun of everything, write weird jokes, and occasionally rile people up.

The comic is called Poorly Drawn Lines. How did you come up with the title?

It’s a reference to a Luis Buñuel film.

Tell us how the first 5 months of Poorly Drawn Lines went for you.

The comic was rough at first. I had only started drawing about a year earlier, so I wasn’t very good. Every comic was a small struggle and took me forever to finish. Not to mention my handwriting was almost totally illegible. But they made people laugh, and that was all I needed to keep drawing them.

What are some milestones for the growth of PDL along the way? Who or what (besides your great comics) do you credit with such massive popularity?

Deciding to draw the comic on a regular three-a-week schedule was the first big milestone. That’s when my audience really started to grow. The next milestone was when I went full time with Poorly Drawn Lines in 2013, and the latest milestone has been publishing my book.

Every comic was a small struggle and took me forever to finish. Not to mention my handwriting was almost totally illegible. But they made people laugh, and that was all I needed to keep drawing them.

What has been your most popular comic?

The one where the dog takes off its mask and is actually a cat has been a big hit lately.

Poorly Drawn Lines comics - Deception
“Deception” by Poorly Drawn Lines

Introduce us to your favorite characters.

PDL has too many characters for me to pick favorites. Most of them don’t even have names, so I mix them up sometimes. I guess “Snail With Knife #2” was a classic in my mind. That’s the sort of character I would like to define my career.


 

Questions about the creative process

What is the engine behind your creative process? Where do you go, what do you listen to, what do you do?

I like to drink coffee and listen to music. I have a few playlists on Spotify that readers can follow to check out what I’m playing while I make the comics.

How do you develop a new character?

I don’t have a specific process, and often a character will come to me in the course of writing a joke. For instance, Small Cat was just a one-off comic at first, but then I decided the character had potential to make a few more appearances.

Have you ever abandoned a character, and if so, why?

I never fully abandon an idea. Even if I stop working on something, I’ll keep it on the back-burner in case I ever have a stroke of inspiration and decide to come back for another try.

You have unique humor. How does a joke get developed? Is there a vetting process once you think you have it?

It’s different for every joke, but most of them involve sitting at my desk and quietly thinking. I don’t have a real vetting process, but I can usually feel if a joke needs more work or should be tabled for another time.

PDL comics - The last man
A favorite, “The Last Man”

What is your advice for a new webcomic artist starting out in terms of creative process?

Write and draw as much as you can. You’ll develop habits around how you work, and they’ll gradually morph into something you can call your “creative process.”

Write and draw as much as you can. You’ll develop habits around how you work, and they’ll gradually morph into something you can call your “creative process.”

 


 

All about the internet

You have extremely dependable commenters on Disqus. They love puns. How did this come about?

It just started happening one day. I was surprised at first because there actually aren’t many puns in the comic. But puns have come back in a big way with internet humor, and you can see that a lot within the webcomic community in general.

How do you think comic artists should engage their readership?

It goes without saying, but being active on social media is a great way to engage with your readers. Most comic artist just do it by default now. I mainly use Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter, and Instagram.

So much traffic must have crashed your site before. Can you tell us about the evolution of your hosting providers and plans?

I had frequent crashes for the first few years, but when the site started making money I was able to buy a professional hosting plan. It’s been pretty stable since then.

Give us a 5-word story that describes the internet for you.

Something to read with coffee.

"Looking at the internet" - Poorly Drawn Lines
“Looking at the internet” – Poorly Drawn Lines

 


 

Reza Farazmand making a living

Are you able to make a living with your comics? How? Or if not, how do you make your living?

The comic has been my full time job for three years. At first I just sold merchandise, ran advertising on the site, and sometimes did commissions. Then as the comic grew I found more opportunities, like book deals.

Some artists are reluctant to put ads on their site. What do you use, and do you have any advice for artists reading this?

Ads can definitely compromise good art, especially when they’re in-your-face. But having a revenue stream from ads gave me the ability to quit my job and go full time with the comic. Find a good middle ground and use low-key ads that don’t make people want to leave your site.

I’ve never left my home town, as I am trapped here by a 3000-year-old family curse.

Have you been approached by advertisers or media companies?

Yes, but most of them go in my spam folder. There are hundreds of media companies trying to bring small publishers into their networks, so it’s important to vet them and pick a few that you can trust.

For those thinking of making a book, what insider insight can you give them about the process? Any tools you’d recommend?

Work on a clear idea for your book, and how it should come together. If you’re looking to go the traditional publishing route, start by finding an agent. An agent will help you focus your ideas and will navigate the publishing world on your behalf.

Do you travel a lot for PDL, conferences, etc? Can you tell us about public appearances that PDL has allowed you to make?

I’ve never left my home town, as I am trapped here by a 3000-year-old family curse.

What’s your advice for a comic artist who wants to make a living with a webcomic?

Focus most of your effort on making good comics. Good comics bring an audience, and an audience brings opportunities to make money from your work.

 


 

About the Reza

Who or what is your inspiration?

I take a lot of inspiration from daily life. Just hanging out with friends or going to the coffee shop can turn up a bunch of ideas. Then there’s an entire list of artists and writers I could name as inspiration, like Matt Groening, Kurt Vonnegut, Tina Fey, and way too many others to put here.

Can you tell us a little bit about the Reza before Poorly Drawn Lines?

I never met the guy.

What’s life like for you today as a recognized comic artist?

I would describe it as similar to the music video for “Easy Rider” by Action Bronson.

The interpersonal themes in your comics are subtle yet palpable. What do your comics tell us about you?

I’m a subtle yet palpable kind of guy. Like water with a piece of lemon.

Poorly Drawn Lines comic - Life
A subtle comic

Turn rain from water into whatever you want. What’ll it be?

I’d be worried about destroying the planet’s water supply, so I’d stick with water. Maybe iced tea.

 


 

Questions about the future

You have a book out. Can we expect another anytime soon?

I’m working on other projects right now, but I definitely plan to work on another book in the future.

Where do you see PDL in the future?

I hope to see it grow into a corrupt mega-corporation.

 


 

Thanks to Reza Farazmand for taking the time to do this interview. Don’t miss all these quick links to his stuff.

Grab one of Reza’s books

Comics for a Strange World by Reza

Poorly Drawn Lines good ideas for amazing stories comic book

Follow Poorly Drawn Lines:

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/poorlydrawnlines

Twitter: http://twitter.com/PDLComics

Tumblr: http://pdlcomics.tumblr.com/

Store:  http://poorlydrawnlines.storenvy.com/

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