Comic Catchup with Tony Fleecs Part 2/2 (in which we discuss the Pony Jar)

Interview - Comic Catchup with Tony Fleecs
Part Two: How to Get Into Comics and Get Noticed
Foal Duke, International Affairs, HarmonyCon, Dallas, 9th Feb 2019

Following on from Part One of the interview, Tony had more to say about comics, and some much needed advice for would-be comic writers and artists. See more after the break.

So after Tony Fleecs discussed his influences, he had some sage advice for would-be comic artists...
FD says: ''Do you have any advice for would-be comic artists?'
     Tony: 'Make comics. A lot of people I meet at cons like this that want to get into comics have gotten good at drawing and figured out how to put together actual pro-looking stuff and the nuts and bolts of putting a page together.
     He elaborates. 'Telling a story, that sort of thing. You really have to figure that out before you jump in. You don't want to suck when you start. OK, everyone does at first, but you'll want to get good enough!
     'There are people on the MLP staff who suggest hiring so-and-so, but they haven't drawn a page of comics before. Then, the panel-to-panel sequence can get lost, so it helps to have done a few issues' worth.
     'That's like 50 pages worth of stuff. So, just start writing and drawing, or find someone who can, so you have the sequential part figured out. First, figure out how to draw what you want to draw, like ponies.
     'Learn how to draw everything - you never know. I did two issues of ponies and was then asked to draw Equestria Girls. People argued about if I knew how, bit I did know how to draw a person at that point, so I could accept it.'

FD says: ''Was it a challenge trying to meet the style requirements of Equestria Girls, considering they have quite thin, stylized proportions, thin limbs and so on?'
     Tony: 'For sure. It was a real switch. Going from ponies to my regular style, it would be easier. But I had to go from a style I was learning to another based on it. So it was challenging.
     'And then the change from round environments for ponies with no straight lines, to EG, where you had to use rulers more - they had lockers, cars, clothes. All this was way more detailed than the ponies who were just naked and hair.'

 FD says: ''Do you have any advice on how to get yourself noticed after you start drawing? Presumably a webcomic is one way - are there any others?'
     Tony: 'If you want to get work doing it, go to conventions where publishers are, meet them, show them your things. Bigger cons like NY Comicon or San Diego Comicon will have portfolio reviews where you can meet the staff, show them your work and if it's good, they'll ask for your info, and if it needs work, they'll tell you how.
     'That's a valuable thing to do. But also, go to cons and meet other aspiring people. Maybe you draw better than you write and want someone to collaborate with. A team will have a better time putting something together that could rise to the top easier.
     'If you can draw but not write, who's gonna see it?'

FD says: ''We're gonna round off with a few last minute questions. Firstly, fave pony and why?'
     Tony: 'Applejack always reminds me of my cousins from the Midwest - hardy, saracastic, workaday type folks. So I always say Applejack. I'll stick with that.'

FD says: ''Do you have a pony you like the least?'
     Tony thinks carefully... 'If I was a pony myself, I couldn't handle Pinkie Pie!' He laughs and qualfies that statement with, 'I'm sort of calm. I wouldn't have a problem with her, but I'd ask not to invite her to dinner as she always makes it about her... I don't have anything against her. I like her on the show but if we had to hang out I couldn't.'

FD says: ''What was your favorite issue to draw?'
     Tony knows the pain of choosing favorites. It's difficult. 'Good question. Nightmare Knights was fun. Issues #3 and #4 had lots of splash pages and action, sort of like a big--'
     FD says: ''Really dynamic story?'
     Tony: 'Yeah. A big dynamic one. There was an issue of Legends of Magic like that too. It was like "It all leads up to THIS, and there'll be big things happening!" and that was issue 11 or 12 of LOM.'
     'So I like it when big stuff happens. But there's also one issue where Pinkie becomes Princess of Chaos, and ends up taking over Discord's Dimension, because... well, she's Pinkie Pie. And that was fun as I got to do wacky Discordian stuff like melting fish, Pinkie in a Pinkie-head balloon, and other fun visuals. It was a lot of fun too.'

FD says: ''Now, as this is Horse News, we have to ask this: what is the cringiest thing you've seen in the fandom so far?'
     Tony: '... I mean, there's just so much! [Laughs.] Most of it has been on Horse News, I must say. You guys do a pretty good job of covering that. I mean the worst thing I've ever seen in my life is that baby food jar with the pony in it. I can't imagine anything being worse than that. Has there been anything worse than that?'
     FD actually has to stop and think for a moment. 'No!'
     Tony: 'I mean, I'm not up to date on it - I dip in.'1
     FD says: 'Apart from that, not much!'
     Tony: 'Thank goodness! I mean, until someone turns out to be an actual murderer I think that's the worst thing that's ever happened'2 Congrats to that guy! He was really creative. [Laughs].'
1. In this context, that's the worst possible choice of words. Enjoy your lunch!3
2. Certain very nasty and serious incidents aside, but we're trying to keep the tone light.

Tony then had a rather heartwarming tale to tell us... FD says: ''Final question, what's the funniest thing you've seen in the fandom so far? And your favorite memory?'
     Tony: '[Thinks...]We laugh a lot at these things, but I couldn't tell you six months later what the hell we were laughing about .I just like seeing bronies find their place, their people. We went to a brony wedding at BronyCon. It's like these people met, found each other, and married at Bronycon... incredible. I guess that's sentimental, but I'm old now! [Laughs]. I'm not as snarky as I used to be!'
3. What are you doing reading this at work anyway? You wanna get fired, you lazy bastards? 4 
4. And just what about you, Duke? Get back to work,5 or get back to your torture chamber. --Capper6 
5. Yes boss. 
6. Where Capper found him under some stables7>in the North Korean DMZ. 
7. Known as 'The Jar'.

FD at this point noticed the drawing Tony was working on, and because of his lack of attention span decided to drag the interview out further.
     'So what are you working on there? Can we see?'
     Tony: 'This is a commission. There's a gate in Nightmare Knights you have to be evil to get through. Starlight's trying to get through, but she's not evil enough!'

FD says: ''Where do you see yourself in a couple of years in the fandom? Still with IDW and the comics?'
     Tony: 'As long as the comics go on, I'm happy to work on them. I get better as time goes on. I think I was a bit rough when I started, but after 6 or 7 years I have my act together. I have it streamlined so I can knock out a pony issue and feel good about it. Still get to try new things.'

FD says: ''How long does it take to produce an issue?'
     Tony: '3.5 to 4 weeks. 4 is beautiful, and 3.5 is pushing it. I've done them in 11 to 12 days, and that's working 16 hour days! It gets wild. I have tell my wife I won't be around until it's done. I feel bad about it.'

FD says: ''As we know, G5 is coming in the next couple of years. If there's still a comic tie-in, would you still want to work on that?'
     Tony: 'Sure! I mean, I've talked to the IDW folks and they know whatever happens I'm happy to tag along. Ponies are my steady day job. The energy I used to find work, I don't have to worry about. My create-your-own stuff is a side job.'

FD says: ''If the G5 comics go to another publisher, will you ask if you can draw on them?'
     Tony: 'Maybe. I'd be surprised if they did [knocks wood].'
     FD says: ''Yeah, because I'd be surprised if that changed.'
     Tony: 'Yeah, they're pretty good with Hasbro right now, but you never know. I mean I've done stuff for IDW and the RPG game River Halfhorse in Australia, kids' novel covers for Little Brown. So I feel I could find where they're going, go over and still do ponies I imagine.'
     'But if it didn't pay as well I don't know if I'd want to! But yeah, I'll stick around and do G5. And I've always hoped that when they do wrap up G4, they do the next season in the comics, like Buffy. If they do the next season - Season 10, or whatever - in comics it'll be fine!'

FD finally manages to get his ass moving. 'We have to go. Do you have any last parting words you'd like to say?'
     Tony: 'Looking at you, I just noticed how horrifying my hotel headboard is... What is THAT!? I have SLEPT in that.'
     FD says: ''Good GOD.'
     Tony: 'Like, look at this disgusting moldy nightmare!'
     FD says: ''Oh God! Oh JESUS!'
     Tony: 'What is it? Am I gonna get a disease?'
     FD says: ''I think whatever got the disease has already died on it!'
     Tony: 'There's your Horse News. Gross!'
     FD says: ''Well.. we specialise in what we are at Horse News.'
     Tony: '[Laughs.] What a mess! Disgusting and messy! That's what you are at Horse News!'
     FD says: ''Well, I'm glad to bring you more of that content! That's the usual reaction to what I write. That's MY reaction to what I write! "I wrote this? How drunk was I!?"'

Drunk enough to want to write for Horse News, certainly.
--Foal Duke


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