Monday, June 9, 2014

Check it out: WebComic Watch: Metacarpolis

Chapter One Cover Art by Erin

I'm a little late to the webcomic scene (like always…) but I'm a poor 20-something and always looking for free entertainment, so when I stumbled upon the wonderful world of webcomics I nearly peed myself! Metacarpolis was the first true webcomic I came across and I instantly fell in love with the style and the story. There are many things about this comic I relate to, the characters' personalities, their lives and struggles. Erin, the author and artist, has done a great job of creating a rich story in a beautifully crafted world! Read the rest of my review and an interview with Erin after the break!




Meet Max!
Metacarpolis is a city much like other cities in the US, except it has a company called Doomcorps (which is out to take over the world), little robots floating around every where (called Digits), and a real bad cast of isolation (ever heard of the internet?).

We first meet Max, a down on his luck, minion who has just lost his job at Doomcorps. Immediately he goes to the unemployment office where he is directed to Bureaucrats Unlimited. Once there, Max is immediately offered a new job (by Rebecca Flores, Personal Assistant, and Marcus Medera, CEO) but because the day has been so crazy Max asks if he can think it over. Pennyless and heart broken he wonders the streets trying to decide what to do with himself when he meets Susan the Digit (a flying robot) and Emi (Susan's human friend). After helping Emi and Susan repair another Digit, Max is invited back to Emi's place for the night, and the story blooms from there.

I read all eight chapters in one sitting and when I got to the most recent update I was so disappointed! I just want to know what's going to happen! (That's when you know your've found a good story!) Erin's comic is filled with comedy, heart, and friendship which creates a wonderful concoction of delight! I recommend this web comic to anyone who needs to feel good!

I decided I wanted to get inside Erin's mind a little and asked for an interview. She agreed and below you will find a window into the world of Metacarpolis.

How did you come up with this story? (what were your inspirations?)

Metacarpolis is something I can actually trace back very specifically to a short bit of writing I did back in high school.  Back then I was in my school's Writer's Club and somehow the question came up about stories written from the villain's perspective--not even antiheroes or the like, just straight up villains, including all the minions and lackeys that are just glimpsed in narratives.  As a response to that, I wrote what is, with very little change, the opening of Metacarpolis.  I fleshed out the story with my friend, Laura Kandle, a little during college, but we were at different schools so it never really took off as cooperative project (and we were kind of swatting art duties back and forth). The current iteration of Metacarpolis came up rather spontaneously two summers ago when I was just inundated with a ton of new ideas for the story that moved it from focusing just on Max's story to making it a story about the whole city.  Hence the title.

As for inspirations...well, it's kind of TV Tropesy, but in a very roundabout way.  A lot of the character development and plot elements came about as these sort of deconstructions of deconstructed tropes, and some elements were straight-up reactions to the way I saw plot elements handled in other stories.  Aside from that, a lot of the character elements are just based on my own musings and attitudes... when I write characters, I feel like I'm trying on their view of the world, which is probably my favorite part of writing.
Meet Emi

Tell me some of your artistic history? Have you always drawn?

Honestly, I started out as a bit of a copycat! My sister has always had much more of a natural knack for art and draftsmanship, and back during the summers when I was 10 or 11 we would pause VHS recordings of anime and draw stills from those.  It's a pretty good way to spend your summer inside when it's 100+ degrees outside.

I didn't really get serious about drawing till high school, when I made a sort of oath to myself not to copy other drawings anymore and to develop my own drawing style and learn anatomy and such.  Which is probably why I almost never draw fanart.  I got super-serious midway through college when I started drawing comics consistently, and since then, aside from a few especially busy periods I've been putting out two or three comics a week, and six comics a week when I was publishing Metacarpolis and Four Tales side by side (which was for about eight months!).  I'm still not a great artist, but I haven't hit a plateau yet so I don't get discouraged by that.

Why a webcomic?

I like art and I like writing. There's a lot of ways to put the two together, but comics are one of the only feasible ways to do it all on your own.  It's cheap and I can be a complete control freak about it, and putting it online is a good way to get an audience and get people reading without having to wrangle the comic industry.  I love the communities that pop up around comics and I like to think I'm starting to generate one of my own!

Did you/do you read comics in general?

I've read webcomics constantly since I discovered them back in 2002 or 2003, and I absolutely love webcomics.  I haven't had as much time as I used to to binge read webcomics, but I still follow something like 60 webcomics, and I've read others that have finished or stopped updating.  I used to binge read a lot of manga as well, but I haven't run into as many lately that have caught my interest.  I've read a few different DC/Marvel comics (Sandman is my all-time favorite print comic) but those aren't something I was ever introduced to and the reality is that when I was growing up, there was not a very supportive community for girls and women that were into reading comics, and even if I wasn't aware of it when I was younger, I really did miss the lack of prominent female characters.  I'm also just not terribly into the superhero genre, which really limits your options (though I feel that that's been changing a lot in the past few years).

You alluded to Sailor Moon early in the story and Emi's history is very similar, is Sailor Moon special to you to include it in this comic?

Chapter Seven's Wicked Awesome Cover Art!
YES. Sailor Moon was my first anime and I think girls my age are really lucky to have grown up with it (even with some of the odd censorship in the American version). It was one of the first things I'd ever watched where I wanted to BE the characters--which, considering the representation of young women in media, especially at that time, was a pretty rare thing.  Sailor Moon was one of those shows me and my sister used to pause and draw off of, so I would probably cite it as my first artistic influence as well.  It also did a relatively good job of not talking down to its audience, though I think a lot of cartoons made for kids/preteens have since shown more willingness to do that (Avatar and Adventure Time come to mind).

Your style is similar to anime and you've alluded to anime before, are you an anime fan? If so which is your favorite?

Sadly, I haven't watched a ton of anime lately just because I typically watch subs and I'm too busy to focus on concentrating on subs.  I can watch things in English while drawing or working, so I've been preferring original English shows lately.  BUT I used to binge watch anime a LOT, and I do have a few favorites.  If I had to pick one, I'd probably have to go with Mononoke (not Princess Mononoke, that's something completely different).  Its art style and writing are very unique and it just hits my tastes quite right.  It's a bit lesser known so I always go around recommending it.  Mushishi is a bit better known and hits a lot of the same notes for me.  Howl's Moving Castle is also up there for its dreaminess and sheer beauty.  I also slap on Sailor Moon and Yu Yu Hakusho as childhood favorites that have aged surprisingly well.

Where did Metacarpolis the city come from? Any inspirations? Were you molding it after a specific city?

Metacarpolis is straight-up alternate history Houston, which is my hometown.  But it really only bears a few resemblences to Houston--the climate, the sprawl, same ethnic makeup.  It's why you see people running around in short sleeves at night in the beginning of March.  I've been living in Seattle for almost a year now, though, and I've been to a lot of cities that are much more "urban" than Houston, which is more in keeping with Metacarpolis as a setting, so a lot of it is based on those cities as well (especially upcoming locations, which are based more on my experiences with NYC).

Is there a metaphor with the hand (metacarpals) or is that to come later in the story?

Ha, the hand pun thing is something I came up with as a stupid joke that permeated a lot of different places in the story and has a lot to do with the history of the city.  I wouldn't necessarily say it's a metaphor, but as the story goes more into the the history of the city, it'll become more obvious what the deal with that is.

And I really can't say much more than that.

I've noticed you put messages with every page when you hold your curser over it. (Makes me feel like I found an "easter egg" every time! :) ) Why did you start that?

I started that because hover text is pretty common with webcomics and I enjoy throwing in an extra joke.  It also feels like I get to talk more outright as an author to the audience, which is fun in and of itself.  I actually programmed the system that the Metacarpolis website runs on, and a few other webcomics use the system and when I implemented hovertext as a feature I went back and did, like, 80 pages' worth of hovertext jokes at once.  I thought that would make them suck but I went back and reread the hovertext a couple months ago and apparently when I'm desperate to write a bunch of jokes all at once, they seem to actually work out really well as more of my depraved, surreal side breaks in.

But maybe that's just me.

Do you have any other webcomics?

I do, though none that are updating right now.  My first "real" webcomic was Works in Progress (erinproductions.com/wip), which was a continuation of silly autobiographical comics that I'd been doing throughout high school and college.  It's discontinued for now, but I never discount the idea of doing more autobio comics.  The other big one is Four Tales, which is a gothic horror graphic novel that I drew 2010-2012.  It's finished and available in its entirety at fourtales.com.

Metacarpolis Confirmed: Great!


If you would like to read Metacarpolis you can find it here!

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