We are back with another Wool Wolf creator interview featuring Sheryl Schopfer. Sheryl has also been interviewed for her comic Sharpclaw, but this time, we're here to share her thoughts and insight on working on her longer running comic, Deer Me.
Deer Me has been on the web for a long time! What have you learned about your creative process since its beginning? Making comics is hard. Deer Me literally started when I read one too many bad webcomics and said, "I can do better." While I already had some characters and stories in progress, I had no plans for an ongoing comic. I really put that much thought into its start... and have since learned that making comics is hard. But so fun! I love comics. I fantasize in comic and animation. This is definitely my passion. My actual process has changed a lot over the years. Deer Me originally was going to be a series of stand-alone gags... though the first 27 formed one story, so clearly stand-alone gags were not my style. I shifted from writing gags as they came to planning intertwining stories years in advance. The art side has changed over time, too, much in thanks to technology making digital art easier and more accessible. Making comics is still hard, though.
What is your process with writing for a slice-of-life comic? Do you take any inspiration from real life events and experiences? Real life can be hilarious at times, sometimes with a little editing, and sometimes simply as it is. Some of my favorite jokes were lifted verbatim from real life, or with minor tweaks to fit the situation into the comic. For example, several of the conversations and situations that took place in the first half of the Domestic Bliss chapter (runs #551-#571) were actual occurrences with a former roommate. And I have stranger stories yet to share from those days! So, my process often involves finding the funny side of real world situations. The characters have developed their own storylines over the years, though, so jokes from real life are no longer the only focus of Deer Me.
A common issue slice-of-life comic artists tend to face is not seeing an ending to their comics, since life goes on. Does Deer Me have a clear ending in sight, or if it doesn’t, what are your plans moving forward? Funny timing, because one of my big goals for Deer Me right now is to determine an ending for it. I certainly never expected to keep doing it this long when I started, but I do not want to just drop it one day. Real life does not have endings, so determining a satisfying "happy ending" for slice-of-life is challenging. I know that I want to set the characters we have come to know (and, hopefully, love) on positive trajectories, so their "happily ever afters" will be them foreseeably living their best lives... like a satisfying ending to a good sit-com. I just have not figured out what "living the best life" means for everyone, yet.
Publishing webcomics has changed drastically over the years. What would you say has changed about webcomics from your perspective and how have you adapted to that, if at all? My favorite change is the ease of making comics today. Back when I started, digital art was still rare. Art programs were almost non-existent and quite expensive, and who could afford a digitizer? Even scanners were still often pricey, and then where would you host? Internet speeds were still slow, computer monitors had smaller resolution... Technology has made remarkable changes within the last two decades alone. I absolutely love that almost anyone can create and share. The Internet has changed dramatically, too, for good and bad. Link exchanges, web rings, and forums have been replaced by social media services and #Trending. I feel like today's Internet (and webcomic) culture focuses far less on community and more on statistics. Art now is often less about passion and more about transaction: money, views, Likes, etc. That has to be daunting for new creators. Though it is easier than ever to create and share, there seems to now be a greater pressure to instantly attract many followers or deem oneself a failure. For my own sanity, I seek smaller communities of folks driven by similar interests. Sharing a lifeboat with friendly folks makes navigating the ocean of clicks and statistics much easier.