The Life Finds A Way Kickstarter is LIVE! Click here or the link below to check out the campaign and grab yourself a copy of the book!
Thursday has come around once again, and by now we’re sure you know what that means: another Life Finds A Way creator interview!
With 22 days left in the campaign, the Life Finds A Way Kickstarter has passed the half way point with just under two hundred backers! Your continued support is so appreciated as we push on through the rest of the campaign. We have an exciting update coming very soon for all backers of the Kickstarter so stay tuned for more information.
We’re continuing to interview creative teams for the duration of the Kickstarter and today is no exception! Strap in and check out our talk with Jameson Hampton about their anthology submission: The Updrafters.
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.
What’s your name?
What’s your artistic background?
I studied digital art, with a focus on film and photography. I got into comics criticism a few years ago just because I really like comics, and only recently have I been making the jump from critic to creator! But I also think there’s a lot of similarities between film and comics. It requires the same kind of visual thinking, considering how your words are eventually going to look. So my background in film and screenwriting has been really helpful I think!
What comics/comic creators inspired you to make comics?
Isola, by Brenden Fletcher and Karl Kerschl. I reviewed it when it first came out and it was beautiful. And it particularly caught my imagination, I guess, because of the story about how it came to be. The creators were childhood friends and Isola was based on this shared world that they had been imagining together since they were kids. I had a chance to chat with Karl Kerschl at TCAF last year and I mentioned how much I liked this story because I play a lot of tabletop roleplaying and do a lot of creative worldbuilding with my friends too, and he was like, “Why don’t you put that in a comic?” It never occurred to me that I could before then!
What about Life Finds a Way caught your imagination enough to submit a story?
The world is a scary place these days and it can be depressing to think about the future. Do I think there’s a place for fiction that expresses that kind of negative, defeatist attitude? Sure, it’s totally valid. But, as a reader, I also think it’s super valid to want to use fiction as an escape from that, and I liked the idea of a whole anthology where I wouldn’t have to worry about being confronted with stories that are inherently depressing. As a creator, it feels a little like there’s pressure being taken off… like I’m being given permission to tell a story with a happy ending.
On our theme of hope, what did you find fun about creating stories within this framework? Furthermore were there any unexpected challenges?
Plotting out an entire future setting just for a ten page comic was definitely a challenge, but it was also a lot of fun because it was so open-ended! My favorite part was collaborating with my artist, Melissa Capriglione. It was really great being able to bounce ideas off each other about what we think it would be like living on rafts above a flooded city. And of course, she’s an amazingly talented artist! So we might have a conversation about what kind of clothes we think our characters might wear, and then she’d send me some concept sketches of how that would look, and it was just an incredible experience to get to see the setting and the story unfold like that!
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?
My favorite way to introduce readers into your fantasy world is to drop them into it wholesale without a lot of extra explanation and let them figure it out from there. I think it comes from my background in Dungeons & Dragons, where worldbuilding is king but happens kind of organically over time. And I think it works great for the short story format because it can make your world feel really immersive pretty much immediately — the reader doesn’t need to know why every single thing is the way it is, but it still creates a strong aesthetic. But of course it works best if I as an author have a really thorough understanding of the history of my world and why it is the way it is. And I have to be comfortable with the fact that not all of that worldbuilding that I plotted out is actually in the story! But that’s okay, because it still makes it feel real.
Anyway, that’s what I tried to do with The Updrafters! I think there are a lot of little details that make it feel different from our world, but in a real way. I thought a lot about slang. Slang changes a lot over time, so what might that look like in this small community in the future? I ended up adding little bits of Polish into their dialect. The idea is that this little community evolved from an old Polish neighborhood in Chicago, but the reader doesn’t actually need all of that background to appreciate how that detail adds to the aesthetic!
What’s your favorite post-apocalypse media, and why? (Games, Movies, Books, etc.)
The ones that come to mind are Fallout, Mad Max and The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys. I find the aesthetic really appealing. There’s something very primal about, like, being out there by yourself on the open road. Although now that I’m thinking about it, it’s kind of funny that I chose all desert-based post-apocalypses, and The Updrafters is a water-based post-apocalypse!
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?
Kind of a continuation of my last answer, I really love the aesthetic of the desert wasteland, but I also think that it’s done enough that I was worried if I did it, I would feel like I was being too derivative.
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?
Well, The Updrafters is set in a future where there has been massive flooding and most of the world we know is underwater. The short story doesn’t really go into how that apocalypse happened — but in today’s society I think it’s hard to see a character speculating about whether or not trees still exist and not let your brain drift to climate change and the anxieties that come along with that.
Do you think you could survive a week in the wild with a knife, a poncho, and a fishing hook?
Haha, absolutely not. My spirit is willing, but my body is weak.
Where do you look to find hope for humanity’s future?
Generation Z! I think “kids these days” are just wonderful and when I look at what the younger generation is up to, it makes me feel so hopeful for what things are going to be like a generation from now. Here’s an example: I’m nonbinary, and I came out at age 24, because when I was younger than that, I didn’t know what it meant to be nonbinary. I didn’t have any trans people to look up to when I was growing up, it wasn’t something that was really talked about. So it took me a really long time to figure myself out. And even now, it can be hard to explain to the older generations — but it feels like the younger generations just get it. I see a lot of tolerance and understanding, and that means lots of young people figuring themselves out and more and more people feeling comfortable coming out, it’s really wonderful. Anyway, that’s just an example, but it is kind of relevant because The Updrafters has a nonbinary main character and it means a lot to me to have the opportunity to write about someone who’s like me, and I think we’ll see more and more of that with the next generation of artists.
Do you have any projects you’d like to plug?
Life Finds A Way will be the second anthology I’m included in — but the first is called “Why Faith?” and it’s currently crowdfunding until June 14th! The theme of the anthology is personal faith and what it means to us, and it features stories from folks of very different religious backgrounds. “The Dweller on the Horizon” is my story about Fharlanghn, the god of travel from Dungeons & Dragons, and it’s got art from my friend Matt Taylor who’s so talented!