Zach of Extra Fabulous Comics
One of the internet’s favorite webcomics is Extra Fabulous Comics, by Zach. I did an interview with him because I wanted to hear more about the comics, about his projects, and about the guy himself. If you’ve seen any of his comics, you’d know that they are consistently funny, even throughout the evolution of his craft. He’s one of my favorite webcomic creators, and webcomic creator personalities, too. The interview speaks for itself, enjoy.
Tell us about Extra Fabulous Comics
Q: When did you start Extra Fabulous Comics and why?
I started the comics in 2011. I had always wanted to draw comics online, but I never really considered it until my life turned to garbage and I had nothing to live for.
Q: What’s the inspiration behind your choice to start a webcomic?
I scribbled in the margins of every sheet of paper I came across as a kid. My teachers despised my ability to earn the lowest scores possible while simultaneously ignoring every lesson due to my avid doodling. In spite of all this I never considered my doodles to be a viable career or avenue for study until after I had accrued tens of thousands of dollars in debt.
I went to college for music and found that music was stupid and I wasn’t good at it, so naturally I finished my degree and decided I should do something else. It was at this point I wondered if my passion for drawing stupid stuff was actually my real passion, and I decided to give it a shot in the form of a webcomic. It started off terribly and everybody hated everything I did, but it was fulfilling to me so I kept doing it.
Q: When would you say was the point that Extra Fabulous Comics really started to take off, and what triggered it?
The comic has seen pretty gradual growth since it started. There have been bursts of traffic from differing sources, but never really a steady stream from either facebook or reddit etc., rather always it seems a combination of all those, which I’ve found to be ideal. Diversification or whatever!
It started off terribly and everybody hated everything I did, but it was fulfilling to me so I kept doing it.
I guess the particular decision or change to the comic which prompted more growth than usual to begin would be when I decided not to follow my own original idea for what I believed the comic should be, and listen to the criticism I was receiving from forums and allow myself to adapt. The comics changed from a small format to a larger one, they started having color, they stopped being trendy, and on and on. Really I am still making changes to the comics. I have found that, while uncomfortable at first to abandon my ideas and plans for what I had envisioned, the comics have become much more fulfilling to me as I’ve learned more about forms and color and subject matter and composition and blah blah. Since I know very little about these things, it’s nice to know that I still have a lot left to learn, and from that I know that someday I might make a comic worth being proud of.
Q: What’s your favorite thing about making a webcomic?
Having a comic is a pretty intimate thing. I don’t like telling people about it, i don’t like talking about it. It’s like a diary full of wieners and poop jokes that I enjoy but am afraid if people read it it will reveal some level of mental illness that I’d rather have kept a secret.
That said, there is that side to who I am that I am grateful to be able to express. It feels good to make people smile if I can, sure, but it’s nice to not have to consider whether or not I’m going to hurt someone’s feelings or whatever because I’m not really making it for them anyway. I think to do so would diminish the content.
For other webcomic creators, share your insight
Q: Can you recall your most successful comic in terms of views and engagement? Why do you think it was as successful as it was?
I think it was the “Sleep Tite” comic. It’s a stupid comic. I think I drew it and considered not posting it because it was so stupid. Those are usually the ones I think are the funniest, then I second guess myself after posting it, and then once others tell me it’s funny I think it’s funny again.
Q: How did you grow your following, and what’s your advice for newbies?
Be humble. Make your comic because you enjoy making it. Learn from your mistakes and make changes. Read the harsh criticism, and learn to not take it personal, instead use it for your benefit by toughening your skin and reaping the truths from it wherever it is. Know that some people are just idiots and their opinions do not matter.
Q: Sharing viral original content puts your comics in front of millions of eyes. How do you handle people like trolls?
The most important advice I can think of is this, do not under any circumstance respond to trolls/negative comments in any manner. You aren’t going to win and you probably will look like an idiot. All you will do is give them what they want, attention.
Q: You are currently in the process of making Extra Fabulous Comics books. What is the process like?
I am considering doing a Kickstarter for the first book. After seeing the success of other webcomics I think I could do it, but before I pull the trigger I want to see If I can raise some of the money on my own through selling prints. At the moment the print shop is paying for it’s own expenses and nothing more, so I may need to bump up the price a buck or two, but I am lazy and I don’t like the idea of overcharging…I am not a good businessman.
Q: For webcomic artists thinking about monetizing, what would be your advice to them?
Look into my eyes. I know what you are thinking. “Ads turn people away”, “I don’t want to monetize my passion”, “I don’t want to look like a money grubbing douchebag”. I had these same thoughts and I staved off monetization for years. Don’t hesitate any more. People don’t care about ads. People don’t get angry when they see your merch. People don’t get pissed when you tweet about your Patreon. If one guy does pipe up and say something then screw that guy, you’re better off without him. Sure there is a limit that borders spamming when it comes to self-promotion, but I feel if you are worried about these things in regards to monetization now, you won’t make that mistake in the future. Get that money you idiot! You’re starving to death!
Get that money you idiot! You’re starving to death!
Q: How do you handle huge traffic spikes from the likes of Reddit or Imgur, or anywhere else your comics are shared?
I pay for a pretty good amount of server space from my web host. I’ve made the mistake in the past of not being ready for those surges, and think it put a bad taste in a lot of people’s mouths. In reality it isn’t that expensive for ample amounts of bandwidth, in the long-run at least. I think on my best day I had +20 thousand pageviews per hour for a whole day. I only pay a couple hundred bucks every two years or something.
Tell us about Extra Fabulous Comics’ illustration
Q: How did you develop your unique style?
I like to think that while I’ve been getting better and better at drawing over the years, I’ve still maintained a bit of the style I’ve had since I was a kid. I get compared often to other artists online, more so in the past than recently, but I’d like to keep moving away from that. It kinda sucks to work so hard on a skill and then a drawing you might be proud of and after hours and hours have somebody look past all that and demean you for supposedly ripping off somebody else. I don’t care about that anymore, but I definitely used to until I learned to man up and stop being such a puss. Now I just secretly hunt those people down and stab them to death.
Q: Tell us about your creative process. How do you come up with ideas?
In my backyard I have an old sycamore tree that has a trampoline strapped to the side of it about 30 feet up. It overlooks the train yards and faces the setting sun and is very beautiful and peaceful and I’m terrified of falling to my death so I don’t go up there and I just sit in my room drinking coffee and beer until I come up with something. Sometimes I think of stuff while I poop which is very often.
Q: In what circumstances do you get absolutely no drawing done whatsoever?
When I plan to get drawing done I get nothing done. If I am sporadic and just grab my sketchbook in the middle of whatever I’ll usually come up with something. The problem is just doing it when I’m not thinking of it.
Q: Which of your comics is your favorite?
I made a comic called “Butt Soft” where a butt with a hat on pines for the love of a butt in a tower window in the light of the window at night. The butt responds by farting out of the window. It is my opus.
One question about Zach
Q: Tell us something that you don’t want us to know.
You are very persuasive. I will tell you something. Once when I was little my mom made some apricot jelly and I ate some and I pooped foam and I was very scared, also I am very handsome.
When I plan to get drawing done I get nothing done. If I am sporadic and just grab my sketchbook in the middle of whatever I’ll usually come up with something.
Questions to help us learn who you are, deep down
Q: You get to play laser tag with one movie star, one music idol and one politician. Who would they be and which one of them would be on your team?
Scarlett Johansson and Taylor Swift and Sarah Palin and we wouldn’t play laser tag we would play “having sex” if you know what I mean.
Q: The world is coming to an end. How do you spend your last 24 hours?
Playing laser tag with Scarlett Johansson and Taylor Swift and Sarah Palin if you catch my drift.
Q: Cats or dogs?
Q: You get to reshape reality according to the world of a videogame of your choice. Which would it be?
Easy, Banjo Kazooie. To run through a field collecting honeycombs and jiggys to the eternal melodies of our lord and savior Grant Kirkhope would be bliss.
Q: God or whatever gives you the opportunity to do away with three human emotions for the entire species. Which, and why?
Entitlement, laziness, and love. Entitled people are the scum of the earth, laziness because I am plagued by it, and love because if I can’t have it nobody should.
Q: You’re trapped on a desert island. You can take two things, two people and one foodstuff. Go.
A knife, a fork, and two Donald Trumps. I don’t need a foodstuff because I am going to eat both Donald Trumps.
I don’t need a foodstuff because I am going to eat both Donald Trumps.
Q: If you could be any main character from any movie ever for the rest of time, which main character would that be?
Frodo Baggins. Easy
Q: You get to be a woman for a day. What do you do?
Rob a bank and hide the money and turn myself in, then when I return to my original form after hours of playing with the boobies, be released from jail to the confusion of the police and recover the money from where I hid it.
Q: You get to animate one non-animated book or movie or whatever story. What would it be?
My dream is to find someone who knows The Lord of the Rings as well as I do, record us trying to recreate from memory the entire 3 movies (extended editions) in one shot, and then animate it based off of our interpretation.
The future of Extra Fabulous Comics
Q: Where’s EFC going, what’s your goal, your dream?
I’d like to have a better rate at which I produce the comics. I want to get better at making comics. I want to focus more on animations. At some point I want to develop a graphic novel and hash out a good story. I want to pitch a cartoon to Cartoon Network within the next few years.
Q: What are you dying to tell us? What’s something you really want us to know?
If you are considering drawing your own comic, which if you are reading this I think you very likely might be, my best advice to you is to do it, now. Of all the emails I have received from people asking me how to get started or explaining that they are starting their own at some point, zero of them did it. It sounds cliche but the only way to fail is to simply never start. Put something out there. And then keep doing it. The first thing I did wasn’t successful. Neither was the second or third, so don’t worry. Use that time to learn to make something fulfilling, and to make it better and better. Just fucking do it god damn you! Send me an email if you’d like info on programs, tablets, websites, anything. I love you.
Thanks to Zach for doing this little interview. His comics are great, and now you can purchase prints of any of them! Here are some quick links to get you started on EFC: