Ave Messer is 35 years old and hails from Redding, CA. Creativity, especially writing, has always been a passion in her life. Ultimately, she’s been most drawn to speculative fiction, especially superheroes, with a second emphasis on fantasy. She is the creator of Almighty Protectors
Synopsis: The Protectors are a team of superheroes, who are often unwittingly thrust into unknown worlds, always in a situation where they will be needed. They’re a family, though not all of them are related. The comic itself contains a diverse cast of primarily LGBT characters, though their adventures hardly ever touch on these aspects.
Did you go to school for either art or writing? If so, what school?
I took creative writing classes in college at Humboldt State University, to the point where I nearly minored in the subject, as I progressed towards my current BA in English. No art classes, though (and I’m sure it shows in my comic).
What is the main genre of your comic? What appeals to you about that genre?
Superhero. I love the fantastical in storytelling, when you can tell stories about just about anything, and superhero is a kind of hodgepodge of speculative fiction, where you can have fantasy and science fiction living in harmony next to each other, while still being in a recognizably modern world. It just feels to me to be the genre where I can feel most free to create stories about anything I want to say.
Are there any other genres that apply to your comic?
Considering they travel to various worlds, technically other genres begin applying on a per-story basis (such as when they travel to a fantasy world on their first adventure), but as an over-arching thing, I would guess one could classify the comic as adventure, as well, since a good amount of it involves traveling to unknown lands.
What was your inspiration for the story?
I would say there’s the inspiration of the comics I read while growing up, but I believe a degree of it was influenced by stories I found appealing as well about people traveling to strange lands, such as the Oz and Narnia series, Alice in Wonderland, TV shows such as Sliders, and so on.
Do you have any favorite artists or writers who influenced your style?
I have writers I enjoy, and they may have influenced my writing style, but I don’t know how, per se. For instance, my favorite author is Kurt Vonnegut, but since I really don’t write like him, I hesitate to mention him as an influence, though there might be something about his writing that shaped mine. As far as art goes, I will say that the artist who I feel had the most influence on my style is Chris Villanueva of the webcomic Victory. It’s not much that I took from his style, but working with him at one point did help shape my art the tiniest bit in his style’s direction. Otherwise, my style in the end is me trying and failing at realism.
How long does it take you to complete one page?
It depends. Sometimes it can take as little as an hour, while other times quite a bit longer. I can never predict which pages are going to be the difficult ones, either.
What is your process like for creating comic pages from start to finish? What tools do you use?
I use the cheapest tools I can, as I don’t have the money for much of anything. My pencil and pens are cheap ones bought from Safeway or Rite Aid (depending which I’m at when I need them), while my drawing pad is usually from the Dollar Tree, most often one designed for children, with yellowish, flimsy paper. Ultimately, I pencil and ink traditionally, before scanning in black and white and laying down flat colors (and lettering) digitally.
Is your comic a finished work? If no, 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?
I’m not one who likes the idea of a definitive ending to be working towards. There are story bits, mysteries and the like, which I’m working to the ending of, but as a fan of traditional superhero comics, I prefer the idea of having a story which can keep on going. I guess I still have that pipe dream of my comics becoming so popular that I’m able to get others to keep them going after I need to step down from creating them.
How long did it take you to plan the comic before even beginning to physically create it?
Well, my characters were beginning to be developed as far back as the 4th grade (though they’re basically unrecognizable now from who they were then). I don’t know how long this iteration took, though. I know I initially set out to try to have somebody draw it for me, since my art was horrible. However, lack of money did hamper things. Eventually I took on the task of creating a different webcomic, which helped me to start to enjoy the act of drawing as I saw my art improve. Ultimately, I got to the point where I felt comfortable enough to actually draw the stories myself.
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?
I would say the biggest is getting the art right. One can look at the comic at the beginning and be put off by the fact that multiple artists might have done a single issue, something I’ve tried to back away from now. This may point to a larger issue: when I have something already created, I can’t help but feel that such should be used, no matter if I really should change things. If I were to go back, I’d tell myself to have patience, and to really look at my scripts, try to get the characters’ personalities displayed early, so I won’t be scrambling now to rectify something I usually don’t have any trouble with.
What is your favorite part about working on your comic?
These are my nearest and dearest characters, who I just love to write for, in a genre I adore. It’s creating stories about characters I know so well, to where if I met them in person I’d consider them part of my own family.
What is the most difficult part about working on your comic? How do you overcome it?
The lack of feedback/lack of readership. It may be the art, it may be my lack of promotional skills, but I often feel like I’m presenting these comics to a void. The thing is, I could have millions of readers, but if there were no comments I would feel ignored, while if I had only ten readers but they always commented, I’d feel the comic was actually appreciated. However, knowing I’m on the (very) low end of readers and only comments once in a blue moon, it does cause me to have to battle the feeling of irrelevance.
Do you have a favorite character to write for? If so, why? Tell us more about them!
Flame Thrower is my favorite character, as she’s the first one I ever created. She’s a trans woman with fire-based powers and an eye for literature. While she never asked to be a superhero, she actually loves the ability to fly and is actually beginning to like the life of heroism, even if she won’t admit it yet. She’s a woman who can’t help but step in and protect those who she feels need it, especially if her family is threatened.
Which character gives you the most difficulty to write for?
Rearranger. He’s the intellectual of the team (or supposed to be), and while I was always the one in my family most seen to be similar to such, his discipline is science, while that was always my worst subject in school. Rearranger also has bipolar disorder, which I do have a difficult time depicting, as I have no first-hand experience with it. One could ask why I created a character so contrary to my experience (I could also point out his religion and race don’t reflect my own, either), and sometimes I wonder why I did, too, but also know he’s an important part of the team. I just need to get better at depicting him.
Do you have a favorite character to draw?
Pinball. Zhe’s quite simple, just a muscular human form (supposed to look genderless, but tends to look male) with the only particular defining characteristic being distinctive, never-changing eyes. I don’t have to worry about expressions or clothing or any of that. And, one could argue Pinball could be seen as the mascot of sorts for the comic, so I’ll often have reason to draw hir.
Which character gives you the most difficulty to draw?
Dispawn. He’s a dragon-man, and I’m not all that great at drawing non-human characters, especially when they have a snout like he does. Doesn’t help that I’m always trying to be conscious of his wings and trying not to block other characters with them (also a problem with the character of Arianna).
Anything else you want the people to know about yourself or your comic?
I’m always looking to do crossovers. If you have any interest in it as well with your own characters, don’t be afraid to contact me.
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