Cornelia Tzana ’17 /Emertainment Monthly Assistant Comic Books Editor
In the last few years, we have seen many talented artists find their way to popularity and great opportunities through the power of the Internet. Webcomics are becoming more and more renown and have given free access to the wonderful world of comics to people from all around the world. Many of them have found their way to store shelves through Kickstarter campaigns funded by the fans of the original medium. One such comic worth mentioning is Plume.
Written and drawn by Kari “K.Lynn” Smith, Plume is, in its creator’s words, “a western/fantasy adventure about Vesper Grey and her supernatural companion, Corrick. Together, they are on a quest to gain back her father’s stolen artifacts and to discover the many dark corners of their pasts.” With a combination of witty dialogue, characters that stand out and a great art style that perfectly captures the Wild West aesthetic, it is definitely something to check out. The webcomic is now being published by Devil’s Due Entertainment, a North American based comic book publisher and pop culture content creator.
Emertainment Monthly reached out to K. Lynn Smith for an interview about Plume and her career in comics.
Emertainment Monthly: When did you first get into drawing comics and animating?
K.Lynn Smith: I went to Grand Valley State University for Film and Video, emphasis on Animation and New Media. I did a lot of storyboarding, which quickly became my favorite part of the project. In my sophomore year, I got a little gig as a weekly comic strip artist in the college newspaper. That was the beginning of my comic love. After I graduated, I started making a few comics on the side, just as a hobby, and it was from here that Plume was developed.
EM: Tell us about Plume. What is it about and where did the idea come from? What were your influences in terms of both writing and art style?
KS: The idea came from a novel idea I wrote a while back about guardian angels in a Victorian setting, but the story somewhat morphed into what it is now. I’ve always loved the Western Genre, and being a huge Red Dead Redemption fan, it seemed fitting to base the setting there. Influences in style and writing come from all corners of my fandoms. The look of Corrick is heavily influenced by Edward Elric from Fullmetal Alchemist. Avatar: the Last Airbender influenced a lot of the look and writing as well; Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko really know how to tell a story.
People have described my style as American Anime meets Disney or Don Bluth, and I’m quite okay with that.
EM: What is the process you go through for each chapter? Have you figured out the entire plot already or do you let the characters and the story guide you?
KS: I have written out the overall story arc as a synopsis and then tackle the chapters one-by-one as they come. I have a script, but keep it very loose so I’m allowed some ‘wiggle room’ for happy accidents. I don’t like to block everything out too much; otherwise it might become too stiff in both writing and art.
EM: What process do you follow in terms of creating the actual page? What tools do you use?
KS: The process is all digital. I use Photoshop CS5 and a Bamboo WACOM tablet.
EM: In your Comics Coast to Coast interview you also made some interesting comments about the variant covers for Plume. Were you the one that reached out to the artists and what did you think of their portrayal of your characters?
KS: I believe it was Devil’s Due who reached out to the other artists. It was so neat to see another artist’s take on the project and to see your own characters in someone else’s style. There were, however, a few issues about bust size for poor Vesper. I never wanted Vesper to be sexualized, so seeing her with her top busting open didn’t go over well. Haha, but relatively easy fix!
EM: How did the comic make the transition from digital to print?
KS: I decided to try my hand at a Kickstarter campaign to bring it to print, just so I could hold my baby in my hands and smell her pages (too weird?). And through this campaign, Devil’s Due found me and wrote me a lovely email saying they wanted to bring her to print. My reply was something along the lines of, “Heck yes.”
EM: In the past few years we have heard a lot of debating about free online content and copyrights. Even though Plume is being published you still update it on the website where it is free and accessible by anyone. What is your opinion on the matter?
KS: Plume started out as a webcomic and will remain a webcomic. It would be unfair to those who started reading it in the very beginning to suddenly take Plume down and release it only in print. I love my readers, there are no greater people out there, and having Plume as a webcomic allows me to interact with them as often as I can. And if they like it enough, they will buy it, so they can hold that baby in their hands and smell her pages (that’s not weird at all).
EM: You also work as the Marketing and Graphics Coordinator for your regional Chamber of Commerce. How did that come about and how do you manage to balance your time between that job and your webcomic updates?
KS: They just made me Manager! That’s both a bragging thing and a panicked thing, because I have a lot more responsibilities and less time to do it. I love my job at the Chamber of Commerce; no day is the same, which is wonderful for a right-brained person. But it does take quite a bit of juggling to get other things accomplished. Mainly why Plume‘s updates are a bit sporadic. But, like I said before, my readers are the best and they’ve always been super patient. Have I mentioned that I love them?
EM: In your interview with MI Geek Scene at CADILLAC POP CULTURE CON 2015 you briefly mentioned a new novel you have been working on. Could you give me some more details about that project and any other future projects you may have in store?
KS: I am super excited about this upcoming project. It is a crazy adventure and I am madly in love with my characters. It is about time traveling pirates; enough said, yes? I am hoping to finish it very soon, so you might be seeing some artwork from it within the next month or so.
EM: Finally, what advice would you give to an artist who is thinking about starting a webcomic series?
KS: Do it! Just start posting. Get your following, and let it snowball. And if you love it, and you work at it, good things will come. I promise you.
You can check out Plume at plumecomic.com.