There is no doubt that the landscape for modern comic creators is changing. With the introduction of digital comics, self publishing has become the new standard for independent creators. While many comic writers and artists are satisfied with publishing weekly web comics, many other creators recognize the need to bring something new to the digital frontier of comics. Jorge Oliveira, creator of Thermidor 1929 is one of those creators who have recognized the need to combine classic comics with a new interactive element. His ongoing graphic novel Thermidor has produced as Jorge puts it “an audiovisual installation.” The project currently features two albums in conjunction with the graphic novel, as well as several video installations that accompany the entirety of the artwork.
I originally met Jorge while looking for a talented colorist to work on a comic pitch. Immediately I was interested in Jorge’s work based on its simple yet vibrant color palette, also I am a sucker for anything time travel. I spoke with Jorge about Thermidor and the new world of interactive digital comics.
I came up with the idea for Thermidor around 2005.
I wanted to explore a particular concept, that of time travel, with a retro aesthetic to it as I have always been a huge fan of the 1920s/30s and so I explored the dieselpunk side of that era, first through music (two albums came out of that experimentation – 1929 and Poema Seis – both produced with the support of the portuguese experimental electronics label Thisco) and then through writing, video and comics.
Being an independent creator, have you pitched to major publishers? If yes, what has that experience been like?
I have pitched for major publishers on occasion – haven’t had a lot of luck through e-mail. I had a nice and very much unexpected reaction coming from Stephen Wacker (Marvel’s Spider-man editor) on my first ‘live’ attempt! This was during my first U.K. comic convention (Thought Bubble in Leeds). He showed a personal interest on the work presented and gave me his contact so I could keep him posted on further developments. This was of course an excellent first reaction, it gave me both strength and hope to further pursue my objectives! I’d say your best bet is being face to face with the editor at a portfolio review session, that’s where you get your best chance of getting your work through or at least get a good review of it -although if you’re serious about improving your art you should probably invest some time on getting established artists to give you their input.
I find it that both aspects influence each other in ways I had not imagined. Writing can be hard when you are completely abstracted from the final form of what you’re writing – comics can have at least 3 different lines of narrative happening all at once, it can get confusing without method. I think the hardest part of writing is having the level of practice that allows you to put your thoughts to paper in the fastest way – I do thumbnail a lot at first, it saves a whole lot of trouble and time, so I actually start by drawing (helps having an image to start with). Between the two I find it harder to draw, committing to a single page for days can be quite exhausting, slow progress is the worst but you have to be patient to get things done well.
As an artist, if a writer were looking to have you illustrate their script, how do you feel is the best way to be approached about this?
Well if you happen to like a certain artist’s style you should try and contact him, get him interested in the project – just show it to him! Developing it further on a true collaborating basis can get it to grow, I’d say keep an open mind about your own project, these synergies are the ones that usually produce the best works, be flexible about it, listen.
Thermidor has an entire interactive element to it, with the rise of digital comics do you believe that creators must offer more than standard comics?
I think people should try thinking outside the box in a general manner. Digital comics open a whole new level of possibilities with which to enrich your project, your concept, your idea, your presentation, you should definitely try and make use of what is at hand – as great ideas usually come from simple, well explored concepts. Having said that I don’t really like reading comics in my screen, but it is undeniable that, through quality work and digital media you have higher chances to get to a bigger audience these days, this is definitely something to take advantage of.
Tell us about the multiple interactive elements of Thermidor 1929.
Thermidor 1929 is currently available as an OST (available on itunes and other platforms) and a preview issue (available throughIndyplanet). I am currently working on the OGN, it’ll probably reach about 100 pages in size when it is done. The album features not only the OST but an intriguing video track – shot in super 8. The project has been presented live on several occasions since its inception. The whole idea is to have the concept explored through varied media, the more sides to it the better.
Hopefully I’ll be finishing the Graphic Novel soon! This right now is my most important goal. After that we’ll see where Thermidor takes me to.
Any last minute advice for aspiring comic creators?
Work a lot, be patient, persevere, learn. Keep in mind that it is indeed quite hard to make a living out of making comics, which isn’t the same as saying it’s impossible (nothing is impossible with the right frame of mind). Discipline is very important if you want to see results. Sometimes it’s important to stop and just be objective about what you’re doing, keep it real as unrealistic goals only make you loose time and doubt yourself.
To check out more of the Thermidor project check out the links below.