Spotlight

Cryptida – The Adventures of the Department of Cryptozoology

Microraptor is some 80’s kid who lives in the Ruhr area in Germany. Due to a childhood interest in dinosaurs, he pursued an academical education in within fields of natural and life sciences – which reflects in his comic on occasion. He is the creator of Cryptida.

Synopsis: Cryptida chronicles the adventures of the Department of Cryptozoology, University of Gernsbeck.

Though their main business is hunting cryptids, they also often get entangled in a lot of other weird shenanigans, which can involve such various things as pirates, Atlantis, or evil toy companies.

Is your comic available in any other languages? If so, what language(s)?
Yes! Cryptida exists in an English and a German version.

Did you go to school for either art or writing? If so, what school?
Nope, with the exception of a course for 3D design which I did in recent years, my formal art education never went beyond what my country’s equivalents of elementary and high school have in their curriculum.

What is the main genre of your comic? What appeals to you about that genre?
I would call my main genre “urban fantasy”. I think inserting fantastical elements into a “normal contemporary world” setting can yield very interesting (and often outright hilarious) results.

Are there any other genres that apply to your comic?
Well, science fiction elements also crop up from time to time. I also like to do story arcs that are globe-trotting treasure hunts (think Indiana Jones), so “adventure” would be another genre that is strong in my comic. I occasionally also borrow elements from a plethora of other genres, but I think they don’t stand out that much in comparison.

What was your inspiration for the story?
I often doodled critters during university lectures. One day I doodled a sailor (the prototype of what is now Sören in my comic) attacking a giant sea serpent with a harpoon – which gave me the idea that a team of cryptid hunters would be a good premise for a webcomic.

Do you have any favorite artists or writers who influenced your style?
My primary influence would be Don Rosa, who back in (mainly) the ’90s elevated the “Uncle Scrooge” comics to new levels. While I am of course miles away from being as good at him, I can often see the influence shining through when I examine my art and writing.

How long does it take you to complete one page?
Two to three days, while working, I’d guess… two to four hours on a page.

What is your process like for creating comic pages from start to finish? What tools do you use?
I am working purely digitally, using a Wacom tablet and a FireAlpaca as drawing program.

I usually don’t bother writing down a script or something (plot planning happens mainly in my head) and start directly with a rough sketch of what will be the next page instead. Then comes the dialogue, then I pin down the panel framing more exactly. Then I replace the rough sketch with a more precise sketch. Then comes the line work, then the coloring.

But wait! That was only the foreground! So I repeat the last few steps with the backgrounds.
Then I add details (like stuff suggesting different textures of materials), color grading (via transparent layers), and (occasionally) shading.

Last but not least, I draw the speech bubbles, “sound effects”, movement lines and similar details.

And THEN I translate the dialogue (originally written in German) to English, and adjust the size of the speech bubbles if needed.
THEN everything is finished!

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 comic is pretty much open-ended, I plan to continue it as long as it is feasible for me to do. If circumstances force me to end it though (or if I do lose enthusiasm for it after all), I hope to do it in one final satisfying ending chapter. (Even though right now I have no idea what the plot of such a chapter would be!)

How long did it take you to plan the comic before even beginning to physically create it?
I had the notion that it would be nice to do a webcomic since (my country’s equivalent of) high school. From thereon, the concept for my comic gestated veeery slooowly – like I said earlier, the premise with the cryptids didn’t occur to me until university.

I don’t remember exactly when that was, but the oldest Cryptida-related files on my computer are from 2011, the oldest pages from 2012, and I started posting them on ComicFury in 2014.

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?
There wasn’t really any hurdle in the sense that it pulled down my motivation, but if I’d want to pep-talk younger me, I’d say to him: “Don’t worry, your art will get SIGNIFICANTLY better over time.”

What is your favorite part about working on your comic?
Seeing the reader reactions, expressed in comments or via fan art, and interacting with said readers. In some cases good relations to my readers even resulted in collaborations such as entire spin-off featuring my characters.

What is the most difficult part about working on your comic? How do you overcome it?
Right now the most difficult parts are… the daily fights with my ancient computer, which seems to get more buggy from day to day. Maybe I’ll need to replace it soon.

Do you have a favorite character to write for? If so, why? Tell us more about them!
My favorite character is undoubtedly Babette Méliès! She brings a little bit of steampunk (hey, yet another genre!) into my comic!

My second favorite may be Major Selene Wildebees – her military style of approaching things allows me to use her for action scenes in a way that I can do only with few of my other characters.

Which character gives you the most difficulty to write for?
In the early days of my comic, I only had rather hazy ideas about my characters personalities, telling myself that I will figure out the details over time. (A cardinal sin of writing, I know.) The characterizations of the two primary males (Peter and Tarik) were too similar to each other, as were those of the to primary females (Mira and Kanny).

I think this let to Peter and especially Mira remaining somewhat underdeveloped in comparison to Tarik and Kanny. But luckily they are both catching up in this regard.

Do you have a favorite character to draw?
Once again, my answer is Babette! Gotta love those goggles!

Which character gives you the most difficulty to draw?
Nowadays I am only rarely showing Captain Camilla in her full pirate regalia (the large hat with skull and crossbones on it, and the scabbard bearing her cutlass) because that’s always a pain in the butt to draw.

Where can we find you?
The link to the English version of Cryptida: http://cryptida-eng.thecomicseries.com
The link to the German version of Cryptida: http://cryptida.webcomic.ws
The link to Playground, the newest spin-off of Cryptida: http://playground-cryptida.thecomicseries.com/comics/first/

Anything else you want the people to know about yourself or your comic?
I want to take this opportunity to also point out that Cryptida’s newest spin-off has comic just started.

It’s called Playground – A Cryptida Story and is a collaboration between me and lirvilas (the author of Grinder$, whom you already interviewed).

In this comic, we’ll get to see the newest adventure of Bettina “Tiny” Timmy, the CEO of a toy company called Timmy’s ToyCo. This character first debuted Cryptida, then featured in an earlier spin-off called Childhood’s End, which was also done by lirvilas.

Have you read Cryptida yet? Let us know what you think in the comments! Or, hey, go to the creator’s site and show some love 😀

Want your webcomic to be featured here? Drop me a line!