Well, if Paul Southworth hasn’t managed to completely destroy all of my journalistic credibility with his fiascos and snarkery, then hopefully some of you all will read the following interview with David C. Simon, who creates Crimson Dark.
Update: Crimson Dark and David are part of Nightgig
Fleen: Who is David C. Simon?
Fleen: Are you the kind of Australian who gets annoyed when foreigners ask you about all the kangaroos?
DCS: We’re very proud of our Kangaroos in Australia, it’s always a thrill to see them in the wild. Just don’t ask me about Koalas.
Fleen: Why do I have to read two chapters in order to find how why your comic is called “Crimson Dark”?
DCS: Because if I were to just tell you straight off the bat, that would spoil the fun, wouldn’t it? (my fun, not yours)
Fleen: What kind of nerd spends his entire high school career drawing space ships, and then goes to college and studies Theatre?
DCS: The indecisive kind. I could never work out what I wanted to be: an actor, an artist, a playwright, a director, a musician (and so on). I’d have fun with one pursuit, get bored, and move onto another. Theatre, however, was my first true love. I was quite passionate about it, and still am to an extent. I was involved in some amateur and semi-professional productions, but eventually I ran out of steam – Theatre was great, but somehow it just wasn’t enough.
More recently I’ve come to think of myself as a story-teller, willing to work in any medium which lets me tell a story effectively. The world of webcomics is, by far, the most effective medium that I’ve worked in to date.
Fleen: What does the phrase “a wagon train to the stars” mean to you?
DCS: I first heard Gene Roddenberry utter that expression when I was a child, and in my mind’s eye I saw cowboys and horse-drawn carts walking through space. It’s an image almost as surreal as the sailing ships in space from Doctor Who.
Later I learned that the idea was to treat space as the new West, the final and ultimate frontier. A great many parallels can be drawn between the Western and Space-Opera genres.
Fleen: Why is outer space so brightly lit?
DCS: So we can see all the pretty spaceships.
Fleen: Why does everyone in the future speak in Digital Strip?
DCS: Well they tried speaking in Wingdings, but it was terribly confusing and resulted in some truly tragic misunderstandings. Many have died needlessly.
Fleen: Do you consider yourself a professional cartoonist? Why or why not?
DCS: Like the vast majority of webcartoonists, nobody pays me to do this so I am not a “professional”. But that doesn’t mean that amateurs can’t aspire to create work of professional quality.
I’d love to be able to earn a living from this kind of stuff one day, but my primary goal is to tell a story and know that people are getting something out of it. Anything beyond that is a bonus.
DCS: I think I’m still in shock, to think that someone might mention me in the same breath as these truly great artist/writers. I don’t expect to win, not against such quality work.
I’m truly impressed with the other nominations, it certainly demonstrates how rich and varied with world of ‘Science Fiction’ can be. Each nominee in the “Outstanding Science Fiction Comic” category is radically different from the next in terms of style, tone and intention.
Fleen: How would you describe your own comic in terms of style, tone, and intention?
DCS: Wow, I should have seen that coming. This is a lot harder to answer than I thought it would be…
At it’s heart, I want Crimson Dark to be a fun, engaging and thought-provoking story about some troubled people who live in troubling times. It is a drama, but human beings are helplessly funny creatures.
Fleen: What factors go into desiging one of your spaceships?
DCS: In order of priority:
- It needs to be possible to build for someone with very little skill (ie: me).
- It’s gotta look cool.
- It ought to fit in with established ship designs
- It should reflect the nature of it’s owner in some way
- It would be nice if it looks functional.
Fleen: How do you balance the needs of the story with the skill you have to tell it?
DCS: I think that this is something that every story-teller struggles with on one level or another. Every movie has a budget, every artist has his limitations.
Ultimately, I think these limitations are as much a blessing as they are a curse. If we were given free reign to make everything in our imagination become reality, then we would end up vomiting our thoughts onto a canvass without paying any real attention to form or function. The obstacles we face in the creative process force us to examine our stories and ask ourselves what they’re really all about. Okay, we can’t have a story where XYZ happens, but do we really need that particular moment to tell the story effectively? What if there’s a simpler way to illustrate the point?
Overcoming these difficulties is not contrary to the creative process, it is the creative process. The result, I believe, is a more refined product, and better story-telling.
Fleen: What is the relationship between art, science, and religion?
DCS: Science seeks to explain the physical universe, to establish a framework of general principles which can be applied with confidence to everyday life. Science asks “How does it work?”
Art goes beyond the predictable, physical world. It explores humanity, and serves as a mirror for society. Through art we experience joy, pain, wonder but most importantly we learn about ourselves.
Religion (as in metaphysics/philosophy) bundles these things together and provides a framework for answering those most complex and vital of questions: “Why?” and “Wherefore?”
Fleen: Eugene, J.Michael, Joss, or George?
DCS: Joss is Boss. Sure, I still haven’t forgiven him for what he did to Wash, but that one small crime is nothing compared to ‘The Phantom Menace’, or the fifth season of ‘Babylon 5′. I think Scott Kurtz summed it up very nicely when Brent said “Joss Whedon is my master now”.