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Drawing Inspiration from Hopelessness

Posted by John Lustig in meetings

On Friday, Jan 21st, Cartoonists Northwest members welcomed Liriel McMahon, creator/writer/artist of the online comic Bad Blood. Liriel explained how she’d discovered web comics in 2001, and only two years later launched her own feature.

Bad Blood takes place in Seattle, but has more readers in Australia than local ones. The internet opens up an audience like no other. Hometown readers probably enjoy recognizing local landmarks such as Dick’s Drive-In on Capitol Hill as they follow the “vampire conspiracy” storyline.

Liriel uploads a new page of her story every Thursday. She spends three days on each page: day one scripting and doing thumbnails; day two transferring her thumbnails to the pencil stage using a lightboard and doing backgrounds; day three scanning, lettering, inking and shading.

Everyone was impressed with her art. Her shading, facial expressions, her backgrounds… are all great. Liriel told us that she had liked to draw from a young age, but only recently bought herself a how-to-draw book and developed her style with no formal training.

Her online comic readership has grown steadily, due to all of her hard work to reach the greatest possible audience. She stressed the importance of keeping to a regular schedule of updates and making your site’s navigation tools familiar, functional and user-friendly.

Bad Blood was ranked #6 on the Top 100 List at Top Web Comics the night of our meeting. Thousands of online comics compete with Liriel, but the online community of readers is huge. Participating in the “community is the best resource,” she said about networking with other online creators and checking out their projects.

Liriel said you first need to have a dependable host. She keeps a mirror site up just in case of problems with hers. Ask others how happy they are with their hosts. There’s nothing worse than having readers get “wanged” when your site is too busy to handle traffic—a good way to lose readers.

Bad Blood was conceived by Liriel as she watched the news of the Iraq war; the looting, stealing, “hopelessness of it all” inspired her to change a short story she had been working on into the vampire conspiracy tale of Bad Blood. Her vampires have a specifically unique aspect, which will come out in later chapters of her story.

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