Exodus, Hobo and Evan Waterman Interview

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We’re continuing to interview creative teams for the duration of the Kickstarter and so today we’re chatting with Hobo and Evan to discuss their submission to the anthology: Exodus.

This post is a part of a series of articles about Cloudscape’s Life Finds A Way anthology. Visit the landing page for more information on the project.

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What’s your name?

EW: Heyo! I’m Evan Waterman 🙂

Hobo: Heya! I’m Hobo, your friendly space wizard, customer service monkey, and cartoonist!

What’s your artistic background?

EW: I’m a computer science nerd which has pretty much no overlap with comics so people are always surprised to hear that I’m also a writer. I’ve been making comics for a few years now. Mostly short stories for a number of anthologies, but I’ve also published a kids book and I’m currently working on a couple prose stories and a comic miniseries.

H: My background is kind of a hodge podge with no formal education: a horde of tutorials, mentorship from friends, networking with fellow creators, paying for courses online, and drawing seriously for… gosh, almost twenty-five years? Incredible. What year is it? I haven’t seen the sun in decades. Have we been invaded by aliens yet?

What comics/comic creators inspired you to make comics?

EW: It’s a boring answer but the book that originally inspired me to make comics was Watchmen. Something about the themes and the message the story was trying to tell really clicked with me. Blankets by Craig Thompson and Scott Pilgrim by Brian Lee O’Malley are some other formative books of mine. Nowadays I find inspiration from creators like Evan Dahm, Noelle Stevenson, Daniel Warren Johnson, and all the awesome people at Cloudscape.

H: The honor would have to go to Scott McCloud. Comics creation was an off-and-on hobby of mine, but after reading his book “Making Comics”, I became sincere in my desire to create stories through art. Following Scott’s book, I listened to the “Dirty Old Ladies” podcast by C. Spike Trotman, Amanda Lafrenais, and Kel MacDonald. Their knowledge and insight cemented me into comics creation. I easily see myself doing this for my entire life. You can’t get rid of me!

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What about Life Finds a Way caught your imagination enough to submit a story?

EW: I really liked the idea of an anthology about optimism and standing strong despite our setbacks. I’m starting to get tired of all the stories out there covering how terrible humanity can be. That’s not to say I don’t think it’s important to be aware of the dark side of our history and our future. Those stories have a place too. I just think we need more stories out there saying “yeah things suck, but we can be better than that. We can get together and do something about it!”

H: I like the idea of post-apocalypse with hope. Would that be post-post-apocalyptic fiction? At any rate, Evan made it known he was looking for an artist. I had to think it over for a bit before I decided to bite. Drawing old Jerusalem juxtaposed with future tech, the damage down by the downfall, as well as the strange metal “roots” and “trees” growing all over the place created a kind of a background mystery. We collaborated on the designs and as I drew, the question of “What the heck happened to planet Earth?” kept me enticed!

On our theme of hope, what did you find fun about creating stories within this framework? Furthermore were there any unexpected challenges?

EW: For whatever reason, most of my stories tend to be on the darker side (which is hypocritical of me since I just blabbed on about needing more hopeful stories). Because of that, getting to write a story with a more positive outlook was actually really fun for me. Turns out it’s enjoyable writing something that isn’t totally miserable! That said, I think ultimately that was the hardest part of writing Exodus. Showing how bad humans can be is easy. Coming up with a story that shows off our good side needs a strong enough example to convince the reader of its truth. That’s really tough to do in just 8 pages!

H: I personally find stories of hope in adversity to be very satisfying. Things like that keep me going day after day. When I looked over Evan’s script I liked the concept of humanity finally getting sussed and sorted, moving past issues such as war, prejudice and so on – but only at the verge of extinction did they collectively wake up and say, “Wow. We really messed up. Let’s start over and do it the right way this time.” Moving forward is what I look for in post-apocalyptic fiction!

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Part of the fun of Post-Apocalypse is the worldbuilding, how do you deal with the limitations of the short story format with that in mind?

EW: Worldbuilding is tough for me when writing short stories because I’m always tempted to create this massive and intricate world with deep and complex systems, but when you only have 8 pages, that’s just not really possible. Our solution to that for Exodus was to hide it all in the background. In Exodus, we never really learn everything about what caused the fallout, or how the robots came to power. All we get are glimpses of the world through the scenery, offhand remarks, and how people act around each other. I like the idea of leaving something to the reader to piece together. Let them interpret and re-imagine the details of how things came to be. I think Hobo really nailed what I was aiming for in this regard. Some of the establishing shots in the comic are just mind boggling to me. There’s so much depth and history to their panels. Each one feels like a world of its own. Its own little mystery.

H: It’s a bit of a challenge to find that nice in-between, and with Post-Apocalypse there are so many questions to wrangle: “How did the world end?”, “What are various human groups doing to rebuild or tear each other down?”, and the endless cavalcade of lore surrounding such a setting. Working on Exodus I thought, “Well we aren’t dealing with a story of how the world ended, but what if we dropped some clues and leave the reader wondering?” And from there I drew the usual trashed landscape common in post-apocalyptic fiction, but I also added the metal “flora”. Vines growing over every surface, and later, massive “trunks” of trees breaking out of buildings and growing into the sky!

What’s your favorite post-apocalypse media, and why? (Games, Movies, Books, etc.)

EW: The Last of Us had a huge impact on me. I still get chills thinking about the ending. I also bawled at the ending of the first Walking Dead Telltale game. I played a lot of Fallout 3 growing up since I’ve always been a fan of massive RPGs. Left 4 Dead was just a blast to play with friends. Borderlands as well if that counts.

H: I haven’t consumed a lot of post-apocalypse media but my favorite has to be the Fallout games. I’ve played Fallout 1 through 4. I’m just engrossed by the protagonist with the noble quest in a dead world, the factions, strange creatures, and stranger denizens. You never know what’s around the corner!

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Clichés, our editors outlined some that we did not want in our stories in our narrative guide. What elements about post-apocalypse media do you think are over-done?

EW: Like I said above, I’m just tired of seeing stories about how terrible humans can be. Do we really need more stories full of people screaming and fighting with each other? It’s funny because I used to be obsessed with stories like that. I think something inside me just changed over the years. I need more hope in my life now!

H: Oh jeez, let me think… the protagonist who just doesn’t care about the bigger picture and only wants to satisfy their own selfish goals. Usually those goals involve gathering enough money or other resources and retiring to live in luxury for the rest of their life while their fellow humans starve and die. I just cannot relate to this type of character, yet time and again I see them crop up over and over, usually as the main protagonist. What about protags who are driven? Mischievous? Smart alecks whose wisecracking is as entertaining as the trouble they get into? I think post-apocalypse could use a few wizards. And I’m not saying that because I’m a space wizard. Totally.

Post-apocalyptic fiction can often be a reflection of anxieties that occur in contemporary society, does your piece reflect any societal anxiety that you can identify?

EW: There are quite a few topics we looked at when coming up with the story for Exodus. Fear of the unknown/other, fear of change or of obsolescence, the desire for self preservation… That said, I like to leave most of that to the reader to discover for themselves. We’re just providing the story. I’m not here to decide the correct interpretation.

H: Easily! Environmental ruin. Something human-made caused the end of the world. Metal, circuit-like trees just don’t grow out of the ground for no reason. The destruction of one’s own society, of one’s identity is symbolized by familiar and often comforting cultural symbols depicted in ruins. Few people contemplate these bygone icons in favor of surviving for just one more day. It’s a kind of apathy in a way, and in some works it’s a philosophical, often a political statement.

Do you think you could survive a week in the wild with a knife, a poncho, and a fishing hook?

EW: If Bear Grylls can do it, I can too!

H: I’m a child of air conditioning and video games. I put all of my points into skills like art, napping, gaming, watching strange Youtube videos, and having a pile of books I always say I will read but never will. If I set foot outside, I would die instantly.

Where do you look to find hope for humanity’s future?

EW: Not politics, that’s for sure! Honestly, I find my hope in movies, comics and games. I think the stories we tell have a huge impact on society. (I’m pretty sure half the planet has seen the Avengers movies… and the other half has watched Game of Thrones.) Stories are amazing at showing us ideas and perspectives that differ from our own, and fantastic at bringing us together despite our differences. By creating and sharing great stories, I think we can connect with each other in a way that no other form of communication can.

H: Human rights and scientific advancement – especially regarding astronomy and space exploration. This is tricky to do because I like hunting for these nuggets on social media, which is awash in trolls and horrible news. I’m not very good at this.

Do you have any projects you’d like to plug?

EW: I have a number of comics projects going on right now. All are available (and most are free to read) on my website evanjwaterman.com. I’m also occasionally (and begrudgingly) on Twitter @Evan_Waterman.

H: Absolutely! You can find my funnystrips, “Zero Explanations”, at zero-explanations.tumblr.com, which is 100% fun and nonsense. I have a future project that will be released this year, “Skilamalinks” – a steampunk story about an all-women thieves’ guild. There will be funky creatures, robots, undead, magic, and a lot of sneaking and thievery! I post WIPs and updates on my Ko-Fi, ko-fi.com/artbyhobo so feel free to follow!

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