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Jim Francis p1

Jim Francis's webcomic Outsider is like watching a movie. A Terran ship is trying to make contact with warring species in outer space. When his ship is destroyed, Ensign Alexander is captured and boards the Tempest, a ship crewed by telepathic elflike people, mostly women. For a trip into a brilliantly realised world, with a story that grabs you from the start, visit the color PG-13 science fiction webcomic The Outsider.

READERSVOICE.COM: Can you list some of your favorite books of all time, whether fiction or non-fiction, science fiction or not.

JAMES FRANCIS: My favorite book has to be Heinlein’s Friday. I’ve read most of Heinlein’s work and I just find him a joy to read, but I read Friday at a relatively young age and it’s always been my favorite. I’ve read it at least three or four times. Other favorites of mine are: C.J. Cherryh’s Downbelow Station and Gate of Ivrel, Niven & Pournelle’s Mote in God’s Eye and Legacy of Heorot, Clarke’s Rendezvous With Rama, and of course Herbert’s original Dune.

RV: The detail of the language and writing system you developed for the world of the Loroi reminds me of how Tolkien developed these systems for his world of The Lord of the Rings. Did you have his work in mind and if not what inspired you to create these details?

JF: Tolkien was definitely an inspiration, which I think he must be for anyone constructing an artificial language. Like a lot of the details in Outsider, I intended to come up with a very basic set of words and names, but became engrossed in the process and spent way too much time on it.

RV: Your page design and panel sizes are dynamic and flow nicely. Which comics did you like design wise?

JF: I really liked Shirow Masamune’s paneling. Unfortunately my webcomic format requires relatively large text and few panels per page, so I can’t really do the kinds of things he did with his manga. I just kind of wing it.

RV: How did you learn programs like Lightwave and Photoshop, and how did you learn to draw things like perspective in the interiors of space ships and use tone and shadow?

JF: I learned Photoshop just by using it, but I did take a community college class to learn Lightwave. Other than a few classes here and there, I don’t really have much formal art training. I mostly learn by observing and then doing. For things like perspective, I recall the basic “vanishing point” concepts from grade school art class, but nowadays I mostly use 3D tools to help with those kinds of things.

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