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Interview

Jim Francis p2

Jim Francis, pen-name Arioch, creator of the color PG-13 science fiction webcomic Outsider talks about influences and his hectic routine…

READERSVOICE.COM: When I started reading Outsider, it felt and looked more like a movie than a comic, with the great ship designs, explosions and other effects. You probably wouldn’t need an animation or a movie to be made of it, but which of your favorite anime or other directors would you like to see make a series or movie out of Outsider?

JAMES FRANCIS: Outsider is deliberately styled like a film comic; I don’t use speedlines or a lot of other comic conventions. If I could have my choice of animation director, it would be Yoshikazu Yasuhiko. Miyazaki is my favorite director, but Outsider is not his style.

RV: It was interesting where you listed your influences on the comic, and when I look at the comic now I can see them, like the ship The Orgus reminds me of Miyazaki a bit, and the voice of Captain Carl Hamilton sounds a bit like the father in the Thunderbirds. Do you still spend a lot of time watching anime, games and comics and other influences, and which do you like the most from now and the past?

JF: I do watch a lot of movies, including anime, read manga and play a lot of computer games. Most of my favorites are listed there in the influences. Star Blazers and Star Wars were huge for me when I was young. More recently there are really some iconic games with striking visual and storytelling styles, such as Homeworld and ICO.

RV: What is your daily routine and is it difficult jumping from the real world to this detailed fiction world where you can spend 20 hours or three to five evenings making a single page?

JF: I normally work during the day as a software engineer, and do my artwork at night or on the weekends. I don’t find it hard putting my head in into the world of fiction (since it’s there most of the time even when I’m supposed to be working), but at times it is difficult to come home from work and avoid just plopping in front of the television until bedtime. That’s one of the reasons the background in Outsider has got so complex while the story itself has moved slowly: because worldbuilding feels like recreation, but actually drawing the comics requires a lot of effort.

RV: Eventually Outsider could have seven chapters of 50 pages each. How do you get ideas when you get stuck and need to keep the story developing?

JF: The story of Outsider is at this point already pretty well laid out, so when I get “stuck” it’s usually for other reasons (lack of time or energy, or distraction with something else). But when I’m trying to write and feel the well is empty, that’s a good time to fill it with movies or reading or playing games.

RV: What are some of your plans?

JF: I have a lot of story projects that I’d like to work on, but I want to complete at least Chapter Two of Outsider before I take a hiatus to work on something else for a while. But right now I’m just trying to make it through one day at a time.

-Visit Outsider at well-of-souls.com.
-copyright Simon Sandall.