Spotlight

Afraid of Monsters – A Vibrant World of Fanciful Creatures!

Kat Ozkosar is a twenty-four year old Webcomic artist hailing most recently from Sweet Home Alabama. She has a fondness for Gothic and Romantic sensibilities, the beautifully macabre and the awe-inspiring yet terrifying might of nature and the otherworldly. Growing up needing reading glasses she stubbornly refused to wear, her love of comics and graphic novels came from finding that the pictures within the panels elaborated further than words could to her. She is the creator of Afraid of Monsters.

Synopsis: Afraid of Monsters follows the perfectly boring and gray Allen as he learns that he belongs to a vibrant world of fanciful creatures. While he does his best to adapt to his new setting, he discovers that he may play a bigger role in it than he initially believed…

Is your comic available in any other languages? If so, what language(s)?
Currently, a Russian translation is actually in the works, and a group of volunteers have opted to translate it into Spanish as well.

Did you go to school for either art or writing? If so, what school?
I did, I attended SCAD for four years and graduated with a BFA. Personally, I wouldn’t recommend pulling out debt over it. There wasn’t anything I learned at art school that isn’t accessible for free online – in fact, there were actually a number of classes where professors just sent us to YouTube or another artist’s social media to observe their techniques. Many artists in the industry have no formal education in the arts. If you’re determined to learn, you can succeed.

What is the main genre of your comic? What appeals to you about that genre?
Afraid of Monsters is a Cartoonish Contemporary Fantasy setting, set in our relative era and world. It’s the least intense of the genres I plan to write, and I thought that would be a good first Webcomic for me to tackle and learn with.

Are there any other genres that apply to your comic?
You could call it Adventure, as well. There are definitely moments of Romance and Horror, but those aren’t the main focus at all, so I wouldn’t call those applicable genres.

What was your inspiration for the story?
As cliche as it sounds, Harry Potter was one of the big ones. Corpse Bride as well. As a kid, I always enjoyed the idea of a perfectly normal main character being thrust into an extremely abnormal circumstance, in the way that Harry Potter wasn’t aware of magic until he was taken to Hogwarts, or how Victor from Corpse Bride goes from the gray and mundane World of the Living to the colourful World of the Dead.

I was inspired to attempt to make a Webcomic when I discovered Aisha Thani’s Warrior-U online. I didn’t even realize the potential in self-publishing online until I saw how well she pulled it off. I was hooked on her comic, and definitely took some inspiration from her more cartoonish and slapstick style.

Do you have any favorite artists or writers who influenced your style?
Well, definitely Aisha Thani as one. Growing up, I really loved the Tim Burton movies even though Henry Selick also deserves a lot of credit for the art direction in the ones I grew up with. That’s where I picked up on that really thing, elongated, angled style, and seeing Aisha Thani’s world inspired me to be more loose with my proportions and push for more cartoonish physics. The general art style in Batman the Animated Series was also a big inspiration to me, since I grew up watching and rewatching the box sets we had of the series.

How long does it take you to complete one page?
It’s hard to gauge how long it would take me to finish a page from start to finish, because I work a full-time job and my time to work gets broken up by that. I also generally work in an assembly-line fashion, where I do one job over and over until it’s done. So, I’ll do my pencils, then my inks, then my colours, for the whole chapter in a chunk instead of page by page. If I had a full day to work with no other obligations, I could finish a page a day.

What is your process like for creating comic pages from start to finish? What tools do you use?
I actually have a small script hand-written in a sketchbook, to get the timing through the chapters right. Then I do my thumbnails in a composition notebook to get a feel for the proper pacing, and how each page will stand individually as well as through the set, since Webcomics tend to update page by page instead of chunk by chunk.

I use a Huion tablet since my old Wacom Intuos broke, it’s pretty much the dupe for the Intuos 4, and I actually like it even more than the Wacom. I complete the pages entirely in FireAlpaca, a free art program you can download online. I liked to use free/cheap/accessible material where I can. In my experience I’ve found that a lot other people believe you need to have and spend money to be a good artist, you need to have the best programs and the best material, so I want to show that you can do anything with the skill, regardless of the program or material.

Is your comic a finished work? If not, how long do you think you think it’s going to be when it’s complete? Is there a definitive ending or will you just keep going for as long as possible?
My goal is to finish the comic within five years. I’ve actually revamped it, and I cut about four years worth of work down into just one year. The comic is a total of five “Books” long, and with the first Book taking just under a year to complete, I want to keep that going.

How many pages do you have complete at the moment?
According to the Archive, about 131 pages are complete. Each Book is made up of five Chapters, and each Chapter is between 20-30 pages long.

How long did it take you to plan the comic before even beginning to physically create it?
Including the first run?? Heh… I tend to sit on ideas for years, working out the kinks in the plots, finalizing designs, doing a lot of concept work in sketchbooks, and so on. I’m actually already planning my next Webcomic ahead, because I know I’ll want to stew on it for at least a couple years. I started Afraid of Monsters back in High School, so that was maybe seven/eight years ago?? Back then it was a composition notebook that I passed around my classroom to my friends.

What was the biggest hurdle you faced during the course of making of your comic? If you could go back in time to the point where you just started making it and give yourself a pep talk, what would you say?
The biggest internal hurdle was starting it too early. I got over-excited and jumped into it the very first day I got my tablet. I had never drawn digitally before, and it showed in the first run. I should have taken the time to wait and practice, to get a better feel for drawing digitally, and I didn’t. It took a lot of my time to go back and fix it, time I could have spent moving forward if I had just waited.

The biggest external hurdle I faced was probably around the end of college for me. I was stressed with classes, looking after a sick relative, and got bombarded with a lot of bullying online. Normally it would be a situation I’d walk away from and ignore, but with real life also being very stressful, it just sort of kicked me while I was down. But, I had some very good friends looking out for me, and my boyfriend stood by me through a lot of it toward the very end, so I got beyond it. My advice is that even if you’re stumbling for the current moment, you can come out of a stumble and keep running. Even if you fall, just get back up, and finish the race. That’s what matters.

What is your favorite part about working on your comic?
Process-wise, I really enjoy inking, I could ink for days. If I got hired just to ink things, I’d be happy for the rest of my life. Outside of the process of making pages, my favourite thing is interacting with my readers. I have a Discord server now specifically for people who read the comic to join in and chat, and I love hearing feedback, criticism, comments, theories… It’s insanely cool to me that other people out there look at my work and enjoy it, and I love hearing from them.

What is the most difficult part about working on your comic? How do you overcome it?
Besides the mental math my shading technique is?? Probably keeping at it while working full-time. It is hard to meet those deadlines, but you have to. I’ve heard a lot of people say “it’s a free comic, you can take a break, it’s not like it’s a job,” but I personally disagree. I made an obligation to get it done, and I’m going to get it done, even if there are hiccups.

Do you have a favorite character to write for? If so, why? Tell us more about them!
I have fun writing all of them. If I had to narrow it down, probably Deacon, he’s the very zealous and serious angel that has a lot of internal struggles. He hasn’t even appeared yet, but I have so much concept art with him in it, just because I really enjoy morally gray characters. He’s even confused about whether he’s the good guy or the bad guy, and I love writing internal conflict like that.

Which character gives you the most difficulty to write for?
I genuinely enjoy the challenge of writing someone with a completely different perspective from my own, so I don’t consider it so much of a difficultly as a consideration. That said, I think Pomfrey (one of the minor characters) is the hardest for me simply because she means well but her logic is so backwards to me personally. It can take extra consideration to write a perspective I think is flawed in a way where the comic doesn’t inherently condemn it as flawed, that’s not something I want to do.

Do you have a favorite character to draw?
Ingot, he’s an Eidolon (boogeyman/shade/bogart thing) that just has an overall wispy look to him. His anatomy is also slightly off, intentionally, to make him just a little more unnatural than everything else in the world.

Which character gives you the most difficulty to draw?
Anything with feathers, like Phoebe, because it’s this constant struggle of not wanting to over-detail it to the point where she no longer fits in the world, but wanting to give it enough detail to look right.

Where can we find you?
Right now I’m most active on my Twitter, https://twitter.com/KatOzkosar
Sometimes I post on my Instagram, I need to get back into that, https://www.instagram.com/katozkosar/
I read all the comments that people leave on my Webcomic, so I’ll definitely see things there as well. And I’m fairly active in my Discord, I check in whenever I can and answer as much as I can.

Anything else you want the people to know about yourself or your comic?
Well, I just genuinely enjoy making comics, and am flattered to have an interview. I love what I do and it makes me happy. Thank you so much for giving me the chance to talk about it!!