Dirchansky in 50 Questions or Less

Today we catch up with Dirchansky, creator of Here We Are. They had plenty of links to share, so be sure to check them all out!

1. Who are you?

2. Where are you from?

3. Introvert or extrovert?
Introvert but also ambivert depending on the situation.

4. What’s your sign? (Interpret this however you wish. Any system or a literal sign.)

5. Is the above sign accurate or not? How so?
The stereotypical traits of an ox are definitely more in line with my personality than my other sign, leo.

6. Pets. Do you have or would you like any?
I used to have fish and shrimp aquariums! Not anymore 🙁 but hope to get back into it when my environment allows for it. Otherwise I have 20+ houseplants.

7. What are you currently working on?
My webcomic is called Here We Are over at http://dirchansky.com/hwa and most my creative energy goes to it. I’m also going to try to animate some scenes from it in the fall.

Here We Are by Dirchansky

8. What do you call your work and why? (Comic, webcomic, webtoon, graphic novel, etc.)
Comic! The majority of my comics end up being printed, so “webcomic” and “webtoon” feel too specific. Graphic novel feels like a term that’s used for longer-form comics in literary mainstream publishing, but I self-publish all my stuff and they’re usually shorter in length.

9. You have three to five words to convince me to read your work. What are they? (Bonus points if you can do it in fewer.)
Nothing special byeeeeeeee. [Ouch. A lot of creators seem to have trouble with this. Maybe I should do a piece on promotional tips.]

10. Are you working with anyone else on the above project? If so, who?

11. What comics or other projects have you worked on in the past?
I do a lot of stuff with lovelovehill.com comic collective, have collaborated with Josh Tierney and Saicoink on Spera https://www.webtoons.com/en/challenge/spera/one-and-another/viewer?title_no=337813&episode_no=47, made a weird visual novel https://dirchansky.itch.io/come-for-a-drink with some voice over artists and musicians, and a whole slew of other zines and strange projects

12. Do you have any formal art or writing education?
Yes and no, but I feel like I learned more about how to use software in some of my classes than actually learn how to art.

13. Have you had any education that has unexpectedly proved useful in your work?
I think any assignment that forces you to clarify and put down your thoughts is useful, since it’s a lesson in how to communicate clearly. At the core, my POV on comics is that they’re meant to communicate something to the reader.

14. What do you feel you still need to learn?
Everything! It’s a never ending journey…

15. What have you done to educate yourself about art, writing, comics, or life?
I learn best by doing and then reflecting/observing. Editing my latest book (150p+) was a big learning moment!

16. What is a quote that resonates with you?
There’s an Ira Glass quote (that’s quite long, so I won’t paste it here, but here’s a link https://www.brainpickings.org/2014/01/29/ira-glass-success-daniel-sax/) about how your taste is usually better than your skill, which is why we’re often dissatisfied with our work, and some people even give up because of that dissatisfaction.

The quote resonates with me because it rings true for my me and it’s a reminder that I’ll never achieve perfection, so I shouldn’t stress over it.

17. What genres do you most enjoy when consuming entertainment?
I’m fine with all genres except really scary stuff!!

18. What genre/s does your current work fall into?
Super regular modern day slice-of-life-ish drama.

19. Why did you choose that genre for your project?
I wanted to draw something that was grounded in our real world.

20. What creators, comic or otherwise, do you draw inspiration from?
I admire creators who have had time to do extremely in-depth world and character building, and ones who can take me, as the audience, on a roller coaster of emotions. I don’t actually do any of this in my own work, despite my like for it…so I suppose I enjoy their work for what it is, and don’t necessarily draw direct inspiration from it.

21. What is your favorite comic?
I sometimes draw comics about shrimps and other animals, which I really love…hahaha. [That’s cool.]

22. Have you tried to adapt some aspect of your favorite comic into your own work?
I might try to take some of the feeling/emotional impact that I felt when reading someone else’s work, and try to instill analogous impact to readers through my comics. For me it might be more about trying to make the reader feel, rather than say, specifics of visual execution or story elements.

23. What tools do you use when making your comic?
I use anything (pencils, watercolour, ink, marker, etc.), but recently I’ve gone full digital. I’ve been using Clip Studio Paint.

24. Can you walk us through your creative process?
I choose some overarching themes I’d like to communicate, and then create a story and characters that will allow those themes to emerge. Then I might write a draft outline, and sometimes some memorable phrases, actions, or moments. After that I usually do the rest of the problem solving in thumbnails and the actual drawing of the page itself. I generally do thumbnails, super sketchy draft, slightly more refined draft, then ink and tone.

I have reference folders for each character that’s filled with stuff that relates to them, like clothing/style, accessories, etc.

25. Do you listen to music at any point in your creative process? What kind and why?
I can’t listen to music with understandable words when I’m more in the plotting/writing part of the process, so during this time it might be silence or some kind of ambient/lyric-less music. I can listen to anything in the drawing phase. I listen to all genres, from classical to hip hop to metal to heart throb boy bands.

26. What is the best beverage and/or snack while working on your comic?
I love honey + lemon and milk tea drinks! I can’t really snack and draw/write at the same time…at least not effectively.

27. How long did you spend planning your project? Is this normal for you?
About a year for the first arc. I don’t have a benchmark since I haven’t done anything long form for over decade.

28. What is your favorite part of your comic?
I drew an opossum into chapter 5 and I also enjoy the stupid and poorly drawn 4-panel comics that were printed in the book as extras. The light-hearted stuff!

Here We Are by Dirchansky

29. What do you feel your strengths are as an artist?
I’ve gotten better at book design over all of theses years of self-publishing.
I’ve had some people tell me that my paneling flows well, but I admit that I don’t pay deep much attention to paneling when I draw. I just use random polygons in sequence.

30. What do you think your strengths as a writer are?
None! It’s definitely a weakness to improve on!

31. What do you want people to get from your work?
Any kind of enjoyment is fine!

32. How do you decompress when you need a break?
Lay around! Retail therapy…

33. How do you define success for yourself? What is your goal? (This may or may not be related to the previous question.)
Learn more by drawing and writing!

34. What is your favorite dynamic between two or more characters in your story? Describe it briefly.
There are two guys, Fake and Jake. The rhyming is unintentional!! But Fake is a big joker and likes to troll people, while Jake is SERIOUS BUSINESS and doesn’t want any of it (but actually tolerates it because he values Fake).

35. Why does the above dynamic appeal to you?
It was a rare moment of comic relief after 9+ chapters of ~feelings~ and ~drama~.

36. Who do you think your audience is in no more than ten words?
Slow burn romance trope lovers.

37. What, if anything, would you like to get from the/a comics community?
If we’re talking about comic creator community, it’s mutual support and understanding! [I was thinking about a creator community, but all questions are open to answer however you like.]

38. What is the most important thing you’ve learned? (Comics related or otherwise.)
There are so many amazing skillful and gifted people making comics, and I shouldn’t compare myself to them.

Just keep doing what you’re doing, because you’re the only one who can tell your story.

39. You can choose one person to be your mentor for a day. Who do you pick and why?
I’m lucky to have good people in my life, so I don’t feel a particular need for a mentor.

40. You can hire anyone in the world to create an original soundtrack for your project. Who do you pick and why?
I kind of did this, but not a full soundtrack, just a song. I asked https://www.nosmmedia.com because it’s important to support indie creators! [Nice!]

41. Early bird or night owl. Why?
Naturally night owl but due to aging, I am also an early bird now. Net net it means I sleep way less hours than I used to.

42. Pick a card. Any card. (Standard playing card, Tarot, Pokemon. I don’t care.) Why that card?
Ace of diamonds. Just the first thing that came to mind!

43. What is your favorite tabletop/board game?
Mysterium! Fun for visual people…

44. What is your favorite video game?
Yakuza and Shining Force series.

45. Do you have any hobbies that have worked their way into your comic?
I sometimes bake in my hobbies/interests into characters. So some of my characters like to play video games, some of them like to read, journal, sew, etc.

46. Where can we find your work?
http://dirchansky.com is the gateway.

47. Do you have a Patreon, Ko-fi, or any other page you would like to point people to?
Printed comics are available at http://store.lovelovehill.com if folks want!

48. If it has not already been revealed, what is the most important thing we should know about you?
I am the worst at self-promotion so don’t ask me for advice on that!

49. What, if anything, would you like to ask me?
What does success look like for your survey project? Thanks for the survey. 🙂
[At a base level, success is somebody wanting to answer this thing. So, mission accomplished! Beyond that, perhaps a bump in site traffic, but honestly I’ve been so busy I haven’t looked at the metrics.

I’m debating if I should continue this series or not. It was an experiment to try and find a way to provide useful content for the comics community. I am continuing to try to find ways to improve this site and help creators. If you’d like to fill out the questionnaire contact me on Twitter. If people respond the series will go on for a while.]