One of my favorite aspects of comics these days is webcomics. Whatever story you want, whatever type of character you want to read about, chances are someone is doing that type of story online. It's a way to support newer creators with minimal investment (most webcomics are free!) but also to follow seasoned and well-established creators between books and projects.
The one big downside to webcomics is that they can be really difficult to keep track of. I have countless webcomics links across browsers and devices, and quite frankly, it is a mess.
And that's why I love Tapas Media. It's an easy, one-stop shop that makes following webcomics easy. You can find your favorite premium comics (Fresh Romance, Sarah's Scribbles) on there, but also plenty to read for free (including prose—Tapas isn't just limited to comics!). You can find it on iOS, Android, and also on the web at Tapas.io.
Recently, Tapas announced that Andy Weir (author of The Martian) and Sarah Andersen (creator of Sarah's Scribbles) would be joining forces for a new fantasy comic exclusive to Tapas. I had a chance to talk to them about their comic, Cheshire Crossing, about fairytale heroines Alice Liddell, Dorothy Gale and Wendy Darling, and what it's like to write a fantasy comic for a digital platform.
Swapna Krishna: Sarah and Andy, how did you two end up working together on a comic? Have you worked together before?
Andy Weir: It's our first time! I've been a fan of Sarah's Scribbles for a while, but we've never talked before. I'm not sure if we would've crossed paths if it weren't for Tapas. They were talking about publishing Moriarty and Principles of Uncertainty onto their app, Cheshire Crossing was also brought up. When they said they had the perfect artist in mind, I was like, “Sure! Let's do it!”
Sarah Andersen: Andy and I haven't worked together before, but I've been a fan since I read and saw The Martian. I believe it was Tapas' choice to pair me with the story.
Andy, you've written a bestselling book that was turned into a blockbuster movie. You've got a TV show in the works. Why did you turn to comics?
Andy: I made webcomics for years. I'm a terrible artist, but that didn't stop me. So when Tapas gave me the opportunity to have Cheshire Crossing drawn by an artist with actual talent, how could I say no?
Sarah, you've been writing your autobiographical (and wonderful) comic Sarah's Scribbles in black and white for years. Why did you decide to work on a full-color comic? Has it presented any new challenges?
Sarah: Cheshire Crossing presented me an opportunity to mix my illustration style with comics and have some crossover between the two modes that I work in. It's allowed me to show something new. It's been challenging because this style is much more detailed and work-intensive, and since I've never adapted it to comics there's been some hiccups along the way. But I think we got to where it needed to be, especially with Alison's colors, and I'm quite happy with it.
Cheshire Crossing is a fantasy comic, telling the story of a boarding school that fairy tale characters live in. Andy, you've worked primarily in SF, and Sarah, you've worked in autobiographical comics. What drew both of you to fantasy?
Andy: Well, to be blunt, Cheshire Crossing is really just crossover fan fiction. But hey, I like crossover fan fiction. I also like strong female leads. So I figured it would be interesting to see what happens if you took these three magical girls, aged them a bit to make them less doe-eyed and innocent, then send them on an adventure.
Sarah: Many people don't know my work or influences outside of Sarah's Scribbles, but traditional fairy tales are some of my biggest inspirations. Arthur Rackham, Edmund Dulac, Kay Nielsen are all people I heavily referenced in school. It's a world I'm naturally drawn to.
What's your collaborative process like?
Andy: Interestingly, Sarah and I have never directly communicated (yet). Everything has been done through Tapas. That's just how the industry is sometimes – we're both busy with packed schedules. I'd written and (poorly) drawn the comic years ago, so the writing was long done. Sarah's art was awesome and I didn't want anything changed, so we didn't need a lot of back-and-forth.
Sarah: The story was already written, so on my part it was taking what Andy had already done and creating the visual aspect. He gave input along the way as we finalized designs and brought everything to final.
Why did you decide to publish your work on Tapas? Can you tell us what appealed to you about the platform?
Andy: Tapas is an interesting stab at adapting to a mobile world. The concept of reading stories wherever you go isn't a new concept, but formatting them in a way where they're specifically supposed to be read in short bursts is neat.
Sarah: I started publishing on Tapas with Sarah's Scribbles maybe four or five years ago. It's an easy to use platform with a lot of talent and an enthusiastic audience.
What can you tell readers about what to expect from Cheshire Crossing?
Andy: It's not your average fairy tale, that's for sure, so don't go expecting the characters you know. You don't want to mess with these girls.
Sarah: There's a lot! Every time you think you've been introduced to the full cast of characters, someone new appears around the corner. There's a lot of twists and turns, as you can imagine from a story with so many elements.
Thanks to Tapas and Sarah Andersen, we have some exclusive early art from Cheshire Crossing to share with you.