I couldn’t be more proud to present today’s featured artist, Braden R. Huggins. Braden was in the very first homeschool class that I taught a few years ago, and I immediately adored his style and voice. Not only is Braden a fabulous writer, but he is also a very talented artist. Today, he will be talking about his first comic that he wrote, illustrated, inked, and raised the funds to create. Talk about ambition!! And he’s barely out of high school. Check it out:
ENGLE: Share an interesting fact about yourself that we would never know:
HUGGINS: I learned about story telling by copying or making spin offs of other people’s work. When I was about 8, For example, I loved the comic strip Calvin And Hobbes by Bill Watterson so much, that I learned how to replicate his style by tracing his comics, and then tried to continue his series. Though I can now make a good story without ripping people off, I learned how to through trial and error, and by studying the creations of others.
ENGLE: What inspired you to create a comic book and the particular story you wrote?
HUGGINS: I’ve always loved comics of all sorts. I’ve read tons of Newspaper comics, some super hero comics, webcomics, manga, graphic novels, heavily illustrated books and such. Some of my favorite authors were popularized for their short stories, so I figured I might as well try the same with a comic book.
The story of Wooden Nickel is based off of my many trips to Colorado. Every year when I was little, my dad and my uncle would take me into the mountains to camp and hike. Ribbleton is based off of a town called Cripple Creek, that we often frequented. Cripple Creek was a gambling town, full of Casinos, and every year, as the number of Gambling attractions increased, the rest of the town began to slowly shut down, which always seemed kinda sad to me. I always wondered what would happen if someone who actually appreciated the value of money won a jackpot.
ENGLE: How did you go about making this inspiration a reality? Was it harder than you anticipated?
HUGGINS: To be honest, I have my dad to thank for this one. I’d had the idea for Wooden Nickel in my head, but he was the one to actually find a decent way to go about making it a reality. He was the one who discovered Kickstarter, and thus, he gave me a “kick start” in the right direction. And though he gave me the reigns from then on, he was always willing and able to help when I needed it. Love the guy! As for being harder than anticipated, yes. Yes it was. But now that I’ve gone and done it once, I think I can do better next time.
ENGLE: Is this a series comic? If so, when can we anticipate the next installment?
HUGGINS: Yes, I intend for this to be a series. If all goes well, it will be a collection of separate short stories, but they’ll all be inter-related. Most will be concept ideas for longer stories I’d like to do someday, a way of testing them out to see how people respond to them. As for the next installment, I hope to work on it over the next summer, though I’m probably going to change the format a bit.
ENGLE: How long have you been illustrating and writing, and can you explain how you “ink” a comic?
HUGGINS: Well, I’ve been writing and drawing comics ever since I was a wee lad. I’d make new stories based off of things I liked, videogames, books, tv, other comics, you name it. I actually made three really long newspaper strip style series when I was between 8 and 12; The Callahans, Dungeons and Doormatts, and Barren Battlefield. I never published them, or shared them with anyone but my immediate family, but they were fun. Over time, I somehow managed to attain decent drawing skills.
For Wooden Nickel, I attempted a 4 step process. First, I drew and wrote dialogue for all the pages in pencil. Then I inked most of the art by hand with a pen, leaving the dialogue, word bubbles, and the lines that boxed in each piece of art for the comic in pencil, with everything else black at white. I then scanned the pages into the computer as tif files, so that there was literally only black and white to work with, using Photoshop to touch up the black and white images and give them a basic coloring. For the final step, I’d add in dialogue and word bubbles, edit the writing a bit, and worked on shading all the colors to improve quality. Afterwards I’d simply make sure they were sized properly at their best resolution, and get them ready to send to the printer.
ENGLE: What is the first thing you would do if you woke up one morning to find one of your comics on the NY Times Bestsellers List?
HUGGINS: I’d probably cry. I’d need to find someone to hug, and then run up and down the street in my pajamas.
HUGGINS: If I’m not writing, I’m probably doing math. My head is constantly filled with stories and ideas bouncing around, so even if I don’t have a pencil in hand, I’m probably writing. Everything I see, I process, question, and apply to my stories. Math is probably the only time when my mind is actually not doing this, as it’s the only problem that my brain can’t seem to solve in its usual manner.
ENGLE: Finally, if you were a Muppet which would you be and why?
HUGGINS: Probably Statler or Waldorf, because they always get the best seats and get to talk during movies. I always thought those guys were hilarious!
ENGLE: Please share where people can buy your comic, find you, and follow you:
HUGGINS: Here are some links to where you can find me, my comic, and a few other of my works.
And here’s something a bit new. This is a webcomic I recently started, a parody of the super hero genre. I’m really excited about the story, and the comic is updated with a new page every thursday night, so please check it out if you can!
Thank you so much for taking the time to read this, and I hope you’ll enjoy this new year as much as I will!
ENGLE: Thanks, Braden. I am so thrilled for you. And to everyone reading this, go support this amazing young man and pick up a copy of his comic. You know you wish you’d been doing this when you were his age!