Monday, March 2, 2009

Interview: Paul Maybury

Paul Maybury came to my attention with Aqua Leung, but those more plugged into the world of webcomics probably first encountered him through Party Bear, his contribution to the ACT-I-VATE collective. After putting the strip on hiatus to finish Aqua Leung, Paul is now returning to Party Bear. We discussed the difficulties of writing a comic with an African American-majority cast, Paul's creative process, and his plans beyond Party Bear.

I've got a new theory that there are two types of people: those who find primates (gorillas, chimpanzees, monkeys, etc.) funny, and those who find bears funny. I know I'm definitely in the latter camp. Do you consider yourself a bear person?

I think bears have a certain charm to them. It's an animal who's identified with terror, as well as a term of endearment by many couples. Which works well as a character in a story I must say. I also think that monkeys are in the same category as pirates, ninjas robots and zombies. I need a break.

I think a lot of people agree with you about that.

That's interesting that you bring up the cute/scary dichotomy with bears, since it seems like those are the two qualities a child might want from a father: a tough exterior, but cuddly and loving to the family. It's the "Party" in Party Bear that adds an extra degree of weirdness. Is that mostly a joke, or will you be explaining it later on?

The whole idea stems from a drawing I did in 2004 titled "Dealing with Esteban". I just liked the way it looked, and it sort of had a fairy tale element to it. I won't really explain why he's a Party Bear in the story, as I feel it's more fun just guessing what he's all about, and adds to his magical mystique.

What led you to the story, characters, and settings of Party Bear? Do they reflect your own experiences, people you knew, etc?

Well, a few years ago I was approached by ACT-I-VATE early on to do a webcomic under the group name. So I just sort of dug up this image that I really liked, and I started to craft a story that was a tribute to a lot of early 90's urban drama movies, like Colors and Fresh. It's also set somewhere in my memories of Boston and my own personal middle and high school years. I grew up in Jamaica Plain, but because of busing I was sent to The Lewis Middle School, which is in Roxbury. This had quite a profound impact on my life. All of the characters in the book are loosely based on friends with the exception of Officer MacMurphy and Esteban, who are inspired by the movies I mentioned. The story itself has evolved as I've worked on it, and I've gone so far as to rewrite and redraw various scenes throughout the book if early readers were paying attention.

Many characters in Party Bear seem to be in somewhat difficult circumstances (I'm thinking about the Doritos that Seal's mother forces on him for breakfast), but it's a funny comic. Do you think there's some special opportunity for humor to be wrung out of the gritty, urban milieu? Does your experience as an outsider thrust into that world give you some extra insight into what makes the inner city an interesting venue for a comic like Party Bear?

I think that it lets me dance around the culture in my writing without feeling like I'm faking it. I'm also a few steps back enough to find humor in those kinds of small moments. I think humor is something that I really wanted to stress, especially with the back and forth between the characters and the constant ragging on each other that I remember. I also feel fortunate enough to be mixed racially, as I don't feel committed to strengthening any culture's point of view, but rather just observe and display it as honestly as I can.

It seems somewhat underrepresented in long-form comics. Comic strips like The Boondocks or Curtis have a predominately African-American cast and take place in cities, but there aren't many graphic novels like that. Do you hope to have Party Bear published in a collected form once you've finished it?

It's true, there just aren't many that aren't leaning towards an overly positive or negative representation of the culture. And when I say culture, I'm not necessarily just talking about African-Americans. I'm speaking of the smaller melting pot cities like Boston, that are overpopulated with poor people that are sort of just stuck in neighborhoods that are full of dead ends. I feel it's also difficult to present these issues in comics because there's tension that comes from fear of exploiting characters who happen to be black. I would love to publish the book with the right publisher, but because of the subject matter it's been an uphill battle for sure. This sort of saddens me.
Have you received any interesting and/or useful feedback from readers or colleagues regarding these issues?

Yeah, some have been very useful. I've definitely tweaked the story to be less abrasive, and as I answer these questions, I'm rewriting and redrawing the first 3 pages to make it an easier pill to swallow. I'm actually pretty grateful that I started this project as a web-comic. I've had a lot of time to grow up with the project and rethink my directions. It's definitely going in a more serious and deeper direction in the end from what I had originally written in the beginning. I think I figured if it was going to be this hard to publish already, I'll take it as an opportunity to throw in some subjects that I wanted to talk about anyways. Such as the failure of the Boston public schools, contrast in parenting directions and reverse racism, all which weren't present in the original story line. I guess I'm only concerning myself with doing the story the way I want to see, and trying to present it in a way that's easily accessible. Maybe those two things don't mix well, and could be the reason it's taken this long to find a middle ground that I'm happy with.

When was it that you started Party Bear? What do you think are the most important ways you've changed your approach to cartooning since then?

September 2006. Which is interesting because I was just really getting underway with Aqua Leung at the time. I took a long break from it to finish Aqua and get some personal life things taken care of. I didn't really do new pages until around page 23, including a bunch of redrawn stuff from early on. A strange thing sort of took place in that long gap. I have progressive palmoplantar hyperhidrosis, which basically means the nerves in my hands are all screwed up. It causes sort of an electric painful tingly feeling through my hands and feet, and makes them shake and sweat randomly, but is brought out more when I'm around people or stressed out. The problem is the progressive part, as I started having the problem when I was around 12, but it didn't make my hands shake much until my mid twenties. That being said, I could no longer control my brush in a finer manner, even though technique wise I was getting there in skill. This has drastically changed my approach and style. And looking at that particular page when I got back really defines that moment for me. I would like to add, this should serve as an explanation as to why I hardly shake hands at conventions.

On another note, I've grown as an artist, and strive to focus on being a story teller over being some sort of master inker, or writer, or penciller etc. Another reason why I'm handling pretty much every task myself with this book with the exception of Olli, who came on recently to do flats.

How about coloring? You were obviously trying to establish a different atmosphere in Aqua Leung; how is your approach different for Party Bear? Is there any change in technique?

I want Party Bear to feel cold, in a way. Since I moved to Texas, it's something I've missed color wise in my surroundings. It's always sunny, and vibrant. I kind of miss the gray mute colors of a cold rainy day up north. There are a lot more flat colors at work this time around too. I make use of gradients and a "cuts" style like in Aqua Leung here and there still, but it just depends on the scene. Either way I'm trying to be very reserved in my approach. I think coloring is one of my favorite parts of working on my own comics. It's so easy to wreck a scene with crazy colors, or bad lighting, and I think it's one of the most underrated aspects of comics aside from lettering, which is something I'm having a bit of fun doing myself as well.

That's actually something I noticed looking over Party Bear again: there's a lot of variety in the lettering, and it's all generally pretty expressive.

Could you talk us through your process for creating a page of art for Party Bear?

I write/draw everything first in piccadilly notebooks in coffee shops. I like to sort of draw my way through a scene emotionally, then refine the dialog later after writing some brief stand in dialog. It helps me work the page around in a composition that I like as I write too, and I can tell what's too much and too little from page to page as I go.

After that's all set I usually use Eon boards, or Canson (they donated a bunch to me).
I take a look at my notebook, and play Tetris with the panels and find good positions for them on the page if I haven't already in my notes. I'll then lay down the borders in a clumsy fashion with my ruler in blue mechanical pencil.

Then I clench my black mechanical pencil like some kind of an ape and try to lightly pencil the page. I've yet to master the art of erasing, so I try to make it as painless as possible for me later.

After that I do all the lettering, which is a weird mixture of my own handwriting fused with Wholefoods Market sign maker font. I worked there while drawing Aqua Leung, and had to change my handwriting to their house style, and I've never been able to really get back to my own fully. The lettering is done with a Micron 08 and sometimes a faber Castell cheapo brush pen for larger lettering. After the lettering is dry, I lay down the word balloons with the same brush pen. After those dry (I'm afraid of smudging) I free hand the panel borders.

I'm usually doing this to 5 pages at a time in a factory method. That way I'm not just staring at the wall while everything dries. I've recently been inking with a Scharff 3000 size 2, although I jump back to my Winsor Newton sable brush from time to time. Working on 5 pages at the same time helps me make expressive lines while the brush is working for me without having to stop. I usually wrap them all up by the end of the week, then repeat.

I then scan them, clean them up, format them for print then send them off to my flatter Olli, who is a life saver. Once I get them back I work my magic and you have a finished Party Bear page!

How long do you expect Party Bear to end up being?

I would like to shoot for 120 pages (half way there),but might fill out to 150. I'm working off a loose evolving script, so you never know. I've been joking with my girlfriend that 27 seems to be a popular year to die as an artist, so I better hurry up in case that's how I'm going out.

Any update on The Adventures of Maxy J. Millionaire?

Maxy J. is trucking along. I've got maybe 30 pages of the script left to write and it's ready to venture out into the world and make some deals. It's an all ages book that I've put a tremendous amount of thought and care into, and I guarantee it's not going to be another cheap kids book cash in, and should be something that I hope will be something everyone can get into and have fun with, and will be a great learning tool.

I assume, then, that you've reworked the original concept quite a bit, since the original 8-page Zuda strip had some adult elements. And there's going to be an educational component, too?

Yeah, the entire thing from Zuda is pretty much scrapped. Other than the boyfriend moving in on his girl Roxanne and them "breaking up". It's going to teach kids about cooking, trying new foods, diversity, manners etc. There's a lot in there, but I've gone to great lengths to not come off as preachy or obvious. I'm extremely excited to start it as soon as I put Party Bear to bed. I need to do something my Grandma can read and then I can look her in the eye afterwords.


Unknown said...

just read all 43 pages that currently exist of Party Bear. it's pretty awesome. i would love to pick up a collected print version of this and pass it around to people.

Dick Hyacinth's Ghost said...

It actually gets funnier in the upcoming pages Paul graciously allowed me to see for this interview. I hope Paul does manage to get it published, because there's really nothing like it out there.

Anonymous said...

Hello Viagra Online Ive been using viagra for a very long time and i don't have any problem with this medication use it and you can experience good results in youre sexual life .

Anonymous said...

Ocytocin plays a prominent role in enhancing labor contractions, breastfeeding and orgasm. Believe it or not, it has also long been a matter of great interest in bonding animals, including research into monogamy and parental love in rodents. Taken into perspective, ocytocin could be like social canada viagra Nasal Spray. According to a study, scientists can boost ocytocin in the human brain with the help of a nasal spray.

Anonymous said...

Prix du viagra en pharmacie
Acheter du viagra en france

Sky Park Schiphol said...

Nice reading thanks for sharing. Sky Park Schiphol, Quick Parking Schiphol, Central Parking Schiphol, Vakantie parkeren Schiphol,Budget Parking Schiphol, Smart Parking Schiphol, Parkeren Schiphol

Schiphol aankomsttijden said...

Thanks for the great post. Excellent opportunity to save time! Greetz Schiphol

viagra soft said...

This interview remember me in young age.

send flowers to australia said...

I really liked your article. Keep up the good work.

Winstrol said...

Thanks for an interview with an interesting man!

咪摩兔 said...


Catherine A. Murphy said...

Comic is also very good i like this picture.

best android apps said...

When it comes to the realm of Android app development, creativity and practicality rule, the best applications are easy to use, attractive and engaging.

- said...

THanks for this great post!
Schiphol vertrektijden
Luchtvaartmaatschappijen Schiphol
Luchtvaartmaatschappijen op Schiphol
Actuele Schiphol vertrektijden

schiphol said...

schiphol aankomsttijden


Learn to Play Guitar said...

You really did an awesome job. Sharing your ideas and artistic view, it really inspire me a lot to help others Learn to Play Guitar Online since that's my art too. I also want to let you know that I enjoyed reading the Party Bear. I cant wait for the next release.

Ralph Lauren Polo said... is a personal online shop that offers a wide range selection of affordable and fashionable men and women’s designer polo, polo shirt, ralph lauren polo, lacoste t-shirts and lacoste polo. Visit us online to avail of some discount and promotion. Orders more than £50 could be free shipped.

Expert Forex Trading Software said...

I have come accrosed with these amazing website that help me gain much income. And teaches me the value of Forex Trading. Be An Expert Trader by watching these tutorial Automated Forex Trading
Forex Trading Software online.

Natural vitamins supplements said...

The maintenance and promotion of health is achieved by different combination of physical, mental and social well being, and sometimes called the "triangle of health." Health is a positive concept emphasizing social and personal resources, as well as physical capabilities.

Limo Memphis said...

Posh limo services in memphis tn has been servicing the Memphis Metro area since 2000. Posh limo services in memphis tn takes great pride in servicing our clients. Best limousine company in Memphis.Posh limo services in Memphis tn has never had any complaint's since we opened in 2000. We are very proud of this.

Free Classified Ads said...

As usual i am searching some useful information, immediately i found this post and gain some useful information great work such a great brain to use.

3d ultrasounds said...

Very useful information you have here, I really like the way it is written.

website design perth said...

I’m so glad that I took the time to look at this blog, because let me tell you. Not a lot of people know how to balance knowledge of a subject and content website Design perth.

pc game said...

I like your website. Thank you for great information. I will come back to your website again.

best regards

Cheap wedding dresses said...

Very happy to see your article, I very much to like and agree with your point of view. Thank you for sharing. At the same time,i love best pram very much .Welcome to look at my website and blog articles.Hope we can become good friends, and exchange and to help each other! Thanks!!

Create a Logo said...

Just find this post it's really cool and Poping me!! Fulfill your dreams! You only have one life to live...when it's your time to leave this earth, you want to be able to say, "I've lived my life and fulfilled my dreams...Now I'm ready to go HOME!

organic supplements said...

Interesting post. I have been wondering about this issue, so thanks for posting.

Fabian Smith said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Search Engine Optimization Specialists said...

Your blog is definitely worth a read if anyone comes across it.


interesting and very useful and informative article. It is well written and informative post. Keep sharing other great posts.

security guard Brownsville said...

Nice stuff, checked out Party Bear and it pretty cool. Thanks for the article.

Hosting said...

As usual i am searching some useful information, immediately i found this post and gain some useful information great work such a great brain to use.Hosting Website

Louis Vuitton Outlet said...

This topic was really educational and nicely written.

Catering Logo said...

Great information, you have a wonderful blog and an excellent article!!

Alis Stafford said...

Nice and fantastic post... thank you very much to do this and thanks for sharing this with us.
Show Plates

price per head said...

Hi, nice post. I have been wondering about this topic,so thanks for sharing. I will certainly be subscribing to your blog.

Alis Stafford said...

NiCe BlOg and NiCe PoSt

Moe Nawaz said...

Its really helpfull and informative Way of explanation. Please also consider visiting my site, I will be glad if I could be helpful for you.
Business Coach

Anonymous said...

It actually gets more amusing in the future webpages John graciously permitted me to see for this appointment. I wish John does handle to get it released, because there's really nothing like it out there.
buy steroids

steroids for sale said...

I am extremely impressed thanks for sharing all information. It is a great post for the people to get the proper information.

Cheap Essay Writing said...

hey that's really a great post and i like this and thanks for sharing it with us!I have read a few of the articles on your website now because I was looking for information

Paper Writing Services said...

It was very wonderful blog.thanks

Cheap Essay Writing said...

This is really good advice. i also like this! thanks so much for this post!

Desktop App Development said...

Great Post. I would love to read more in future. Keep up the good work. Desktop App Development

Generic viagrabuy said...

Thanks for sharing such a creative and ideal blog with us please keep sharing
Generic Viagra buy
Generic Viagra
Tadalis SX
Generic Viagra
Sildenafil citrate
Online buy Generic Viagra

Quân Đào said...

dich vu ke toan tai tay ho
dich vu ke toan tai ba đinh
dich vu ke toan tai hoang mai
dich vu ke toan tai thanh tri
dich vu ke toan tai dong da
dich vu ke toan tai tu liem
dich vu ke toan tai ha dong
dich vu ke toan tai long bien
dich vu ke toan tai thanh xuan
dich vu ke toan tai hai phong
dich vu ke toan tai bac ninh
dich vu ke toan tai hai ba trung
dich vu ke toan tai dong anh
dich vu ke toan tai gia lam
dich vu ke toan tai ung hoa
dich vu ke toan tai quoc oai
dich vu ke toan tai son tay
dich vu ke toan tai thanh oai
hoc ke toan tong hop
dich vu ke toan thue tron goi
dich vu bao cao tai chinh
dia chi hoc ke toan tong hop
khoa hoc ke toan tong hop
hoc chung chi ke toan
dich vu ke toan thue tai ha noi

Quân Đào said...

dich vu ke toan tai tay ho
dich vu ke toan tai ba đinh
dich vu ke toan tai hoang mai
dich vu ke toan tai thanh tri
dich vu ke toan tai dong da
dich vu ke toan tai tu liem
dich vu ke toan tai ha dong
dich vu ke toan tai long bien
dich vu ke toan tai thanh xuan
dich vu ke toan tai hai phong
dich vu ke toan tai bac ninh
dich vu ke toan tai hai ba trung
dich vu ke toan tai dong anh
dich vu ke toan tai gia lam
dich vu ke toan tai ung hoa
dich vu ke toan tai quoc oai
dich vu ke toan tai son tay
dich vu ke toan tai thanh oai
hoc ke toan tong hop
dich vu ke toan thue tron goi
dich vu bao cao tai chinh
dia chi hoc ke toan tong hop
khoa hoc ke toan tong hop
hoc chung chi ke toan
dich vu ke toan thue tai ha noi

Microhost said...

You have done a great job by sharing this informative post. I would like to appreciate your good work and also would like to encourage you to keep it up
purchase SSL Certificate in India

Unknown said...

The Linux web hosting is very flexible and has all the software that one customer need. It also has good support and also does not need high prefunded hardware. The Linux Web Hosting has the database based infrastructure which is easy to manage server and domain. It also provides the high level of security.
Linux web hosting

Unknown said...

It is basically the type of reseller hosting that facilitates the customers for maintain and creating the services along with some additional support. The Windows Reseller Hosting resells the same package that contributes the best in it and hence, is growing leaps and bounds in recent years. It can easily keep the track of different cabins just to make the use of single control system.
Linux Reseller Hosting

Creativehighs said...

I hope you don’t mind if i bookmark your site, so that I can easily find it again in the future. Cheers
Advertising Agency

Unknown said...

you have nice content in your blog..
Leading Digital Marketing Company in Gurgaon

Priyanka said...

Thanks for sharing article with us..Nice post...
Ad agency | Branding agency

reverhomes said...

Thinking of constructing your dream home in Gurgaon? Well, there is no better option one could come across than Rever Homes. When people think of building their dream home they look for the best construction services provider in the industry. And, Rever Homes have left no stone unturned to establish themselves as the pioneers of the construction industry, thus earning the bespoke title of best construction service providers in Gurgaon. It is a name which has become a synonym of reliability and perfection in the field of construction service providers.
construction service providers in gurgaon

Elev is a talent scouting platform said...

Hello this is actually quite intriguing blog entry found here... It's educational and intriguing. Much thanks for the offer... Continue to post...
online learning organisation

Metrostaples said...

This article is truly cool, it is one of just a modest bunch not many articles of given out examining that I appreciated!!
pneumatic coil nailer

best digital watch said...

I truly like your blog.. extremely decent tones and topic. Did you make this site yourself or did you enlist somebody to do it for you? Plz answer back as I'm hoping to make my own blog and might want to know where u got this from. good wishes.
waterproof digital watch

Promark Pvt Ltd said...

Extraordinary post that you have shared here. I respect your made work aptitudes and all the finding that you have shared here.
digital teaching system