This week’s edition of #TalkingComics spotlights the ever lovely Lisa Nguyen and her slice of life comic, In Love & Justice! With all the other different projects she’s got going on, I was curious how she found time to keep everything updated and organized!
Kevin Cullen: You’re quite a busybody! From hosting an online boutique, to a graphic design company, to a regularly updated blog, you’ve got lots of projects going on. Then, on top of all that, you’ve got your weekly webcomic, In Love & Justice! Your time management must be impeccable. Any tips for those of us who have trouble with even remembering to check our email, much less update webcomics and design graphics?
Lisa Nguyen: Oh yes, I keep very busy! But my graphic design, doll clothing and plushie work are on a commission basis. I have a full time job that I really enjoy and is on my priority list (after family, of course). So it might sound like a lot, but it’s not at all! I think time management is important, but also remember to keep in good health, too.In my spare time, I really dislike sitting still. I’m not the type to just watch tv unless I’m multi-tasking. I like to have a few projects running. Now that even includes a Youtube channel! But I’m a very strong believer in making buffers. When I first started In Love & Justice in 2009, I created one comic a week and I got very lazy. Eventually, I stopped making it altogether. In 2011, I got it going again. I made a month (or two!) of comics in advance to create a nice buffer. I would dedicate a week of my free time to just making comics. For example: Monday for rough drafts, Tuesdays for inking, and the rest of the time for coloring, lettering, and adding it to the queue for Thursdays at 9AM.I take this same approach with my blog, Celestial Love. I buffer as much as possible. But I also take time to interact with comments and on social media. My favorite part of blogging and webcomics is reading and replying to comments. But, I really suggest creating buffers to those struggling with time management. Check out your schedule and see when you have time to work (while remembering to leave time for some exercise to keep mentally happy!). Try to judge if you need 1-2 uninterrupted hours. It really depends on your speed, too. I think for me it’s not just time management, but I’m also a fast worker.
KC: Great idea with the buffers. To help plan out your buffers, do you write up a script that you work with on In Love & Justice! or do you come up with a new bit of the story as you go? With all that work you’ve got lined up for yourself, I can’t imagine that you don’t already have a solidified chunk of story down already!
LN: To be honest, I don’t have a script! I come up with short stories that I split up weekly, usually when I’m actually sketching things out. Since it’s a more laid back, slice-of-life story, I don’t get too serious about the direction. IL&J is two plus years old now, and it’s always changing. I feel like having a set script would ruin the flow for me. I do have some plot ideas written down that I do want to tell in the future!
KC: As your comic is very slice of life, are there different moments throughout your day where you think, “Hey! This would make a great bit in my webcomic!” or do you try not to think about the webcomic when you’re working on other projects?
LN: I pull bits and pieces from my life into my comic, such as Lisa on the Volunteer Police Department and weight lifting, and they’ve become major arcs in the story. As for day-to-day moments, I usually don’t add those into the stories except for some filler comics here and there. Most of those involve Kiddo, since she has a lot of funny kid moments!As for random moments, I have a Tumblr with four-panel black and white comics, In Love & Justice Minis. That particular Tumblr has more random life moments that don’t really fit in with the comic, but I thought were goofy enough to make a comic of.
KC: What’s your workspace look like?
LN: I’m very fortunate to have a dedicated office for my workroom. My desk was built by my brother and it’s great. I don’t really have it arranged in a special way. It’s L shaped, so I have extra corner room, and I have a lot of shelving.
I love my home, but there is a lack of closet space! So, I really have to utilize my wall space. Not only do I have my display shelves, but also artwork and my craft supplies. I’m trying to add in more plants or occasional flowers. Kiddo also has her own little space.
KC: I’m guessing, based on that setup, that you’re a fan of working in digital.
LN: Yep! My favorite tools to create comics with are my Wacom Cintiq, Photoshop and Manga Studio. I prefer to ink in Manga Studio, but I color and add text in Photoshop. When I first started the comic, I would be more traditional with pencils, Copic Multiliners for inks, scanning it it, cleaning it up, then coloring in Photoshop.
I’m always trying to learn more about Manga Studio. But since my panel work is more vertical and not a traditional comic style, I don’t mind transferring it over to Photoshop. For my own personal work, I prefer to illustrate in Paint Tool Sai.
KC: You mentioned that gaming is one of your favorite past times! What kinds of games do you play? Do you ever find yourself drawing influences from those games and integrating them into the comic? (I did notice you start your webcomic off with the main character actually playing video games!)
LN: I grew up on video games. We had an Atari growing up and one of my earliest memories is running into a pit on Pitfall. Gaming and comics have always been a part of my life. Now as an adult, I feel guilty spending time gaming, but I try to remedy that by recording Let’s Plays! My favorite type of game is probably musou/hack-and-slash games, but I’ll play almost anything. My favorite series have been Tecmo’s Deceptions series of trap games, Dynasty Warriors, and Harvest Moon. Though I’m primarily a PC gamer, I have a lot of love for mobile Korean micro-management games like I Love Coffee or I Love Pasta.
But yes! I have spent way too much time with Demon’s Souls, Dark Souls, and Dark Souls 2. Those games have had a huge influence on me, such as naming my graphics freelance business after the character Solaire in Dark Souls. The online game featured in my comic is hugely based off of the Souls games. I find myself drawn to games where you are a silent hero in a land of chaos and helping others. I think this can really be seen in IL&J, where Lisa takes on a lot of different situations mostly on her own and how she juggles it all.