On Thursday during NYCC 2018 I had the chance to sit down and talk with author Rafer Roberts and artist Kristen Gudsnuk about their mini comic series, Modern Fantasy. This comic is a mix between modern life problems with heavy fantasy elements. The story follows a group of friends as they set out on an adventure to save the world while also struggling to keep their crummy day job and make enough money to pay off student loans, debt, and bills while also trying to enjoy life. Modern Fantasy is published by Dark Horse Comics.
I am a huge fan of Modern Fantasy due to its very beautiful blend between what I would like my life to be with what it came to be at times. The art by Kristin is beyond fantastic and she brings Rafer’s story to life before your eyes. If you want to give this amazing comic a read, you can find it in your local comic shop or purchase it online here through Dark Horse Comics!
Julia Roth: How do you guys find a natural balance between like modern life problems and fantasy?
Rafer Roberts: For my part I tend to start writing it as if it’s just modern day and then bring in the fantasy elements. That way it has a realistic foundation with the addition of the fantasy rather than starting in the fantasy and bringing in some modern elements. Because it is still a modern world with some fantasy aspects, and it is a tight rope after that but I think we walk it very delicately.
Kristen Gudsnuk: I think for me it’s all just very intuitive, we kind of do whatever and if its working we continue following that kind of you know vain and if not then fix it.
JR: What outside influences do you guys think affect the comic the most for you guys?
KG: I was so obsessed with Lord of the Rings as a teenager, you know when you’re like hormonal and everything matters so much? I was like that about Lord of the Rings for like a good year or two, so I almost think that for fantasy that Lord of the Rings was probably the biggest kind of just like siren calling my way, calling me towards nerdiness.
RR: For me going back towards the modern stuff, I still have a day job, crappy open office atmosphere. So I mean I am surrounded by Bock-darr and other um…
KG: Mr. Carpuscle! The floating eyeball boss, he sees all.
RR: Yes so a lot of it is mostly not so much therapy but like coping mechanisms. So I have my own day job where I can get through this job if I just picture this annoying coworker as a barbarian or even instead of them discussing American Pickers they are discussing Growing Up Kobolds or something. So it is like a coping mechanism.
JR: Growing up Kobolds was one of my favorite references. As soon as I heard it I was like, yes! Who are your favorite characters? Who is your favorite one to draw and who is your favorite one to write about?
KG: I think Lizard Wizard for me is like very fun to draw and I have always liked his arc you know going from being a mooch to a little bit more of a self actualized mooch. I don’t know I think I like him because he is such a lost cause, like how to try to not be a lost cause.
RR: I like that! Bock-darr’s dialogue is a treat to write, really any jerk like that is so much fun to come up with the dialogue. Though it is a little disturbing that it comes to easy.
KG: You’re like, why am I an asshole?
RR: Exactly! Like thank god it worked for the comics. But yeah all of them bounce off of each other, the way Sage and Gondra relationships were, it’s not even so much individual characters but just the relationships between them were a treat to write. While I am writing I am picturing how Kristen is going to draw, I starting giggling a couple times trying to picture how it is going to work.
JR: How is it working together?
KG: Awful….no I’m just kidding!
RR: That’s it, interview over!
KG: No no oh my gosh it is so much fun collaborating because instead of screaming in the existential void I can just scream text at Rafer being like, what do I draw here, I don’t know what to do! Like for instance we put a lot of Signs gags into it, when I am running out of like creative juice I’m just like Rafer come up with something funny and he just sends me a punch of puns and I’m like sweet. So I just kind of like pick and choose from there. So it’s really fun collaborating and you know having another person’s perspective.
RR: Yeah it is really great I know there is a lot of work for hire kind of stuff and it’s not uncommon for the writer and the artist to never be in contact, so it is just writing a script and sending it off into the void.
KG: Yeah and then you don’t know if something doesn’t make sense or something. This way we definitely know.
RR: Yeah and I think we work real well together, even with the lettering, she sends me the layouts with temporary lettering put in so I can figure out where my stuff goes.
KG: I do lettering first because I’m like I do not want to draw underneath this or anything important.
RR: Which works out really well for me as a writer because then in the end after the lettering it all looks good and we got it all up front. So early communication and good communication is key and this is one of my favorite collaboration projects.
KG: It’s my first so it is actually my definite favorite.
JR: So how is it working with Dark Horse?
KG: I love them.
RR: Beyond my wildest expectations. It is so good. The entire marketing team and of course the push they put behind it. The amount of fun that it seems the Dark Horse guys are having with the books as well.
KG: They are so creator friendly, I’ve had such a great time working when them. I started working with them for Henchgirl, my first book and I was just like, I’m not leaving this publisher.
RR: I really love it. Couldn’t have asked for anyone better.
KG: They really good. They are very pro creator rights too you know.
JR: Now do you guys have any plans for in the future after Modern Fantasy? Expect it will never end but if it does.
KG: Well it was a mini series of 4 issues and so we are going to be pitching more and we are going to try to do more.
RR: Fingers crossed. I think our chances are pretty good.
KG: So people want more Modern Fantasy.
RR: Yeah get your hopes way up.
JR: I’ll keep super up and then when it doesn’t happen I won’t be okay. It is like every Anime without a second season.
RR: It is like every comic project I have ever worked on. All my hopes and dreams are pinned on everything that has come out.
JR: So aside from Modern Fantasy what are your favorite things you have worked on?
KG: I don’t have that many credits to my name so, I only have Henchgirl, my book Making Friends from Scholastic and Modern Fantasy really so there’s all of them and I am so proud of them all.
RR: My favorite things are usually the things I am working on at the moment, so Modern Fantasy, I have a book called Grumble coming in November from Albatross with Mike Norton supplying the art which is going to be a lot of fun. I got a project I am working on with a heavy metal band Sound of Thunder which is going to be like this multimedia comic album in singles video things which has a million moving parts. We will see if it all comes together but I am excited for it. Yeah and then fingers crossed more Modern Fantasy.
JR: Awesome. Thank you so much! It was so great talking with you guys today!
KG: Thank you so much!
RR: Thank you.
[Images courtesy of Dark Horse Comics]
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