An Ex-Soldier Tries to Escape Memories of Her Former Life – Dei Ex Machina

Zumie lives in Quebec. He has been drawing for about 20 years now; he has had formal training, but is mostly self taught. He is a writer/artist and creator of Dei Ex Machina.

Synopsis: “My talent comes from a deeper place. A familiarity to those that know. As the lakes of Hastur and the cloudy shores of Hali, Ilek-vad and the twilight sea..”

After being spirited away to another universe, Runie Ortix, a guilt-ridden ex-soldier is still unable to escape the memories of her former life.

Did you go to school for either art or writing? If so, what school?
I have gone to school primarily for my art. I attended Heritage College and the Ottawa School of Art.

What is the main genre of your comic? What appeals to you about that genre?
I suppose it would have to be science fiction, because of all the weirdness of alternate universes and quantum mechanics, that has always fascinated me. Unfortunately, I really suck badly at math so there is no way I could’ve made it a profession but, I also enjoy the infinite possibilities when it comes to science fiction especially alien races, different planets, etc, etc.

Are there any other genres that apply to your comic?
Fantasy and horror. There may be more in the future. I haven’t ruled out changing things up a bit for different parts/arcs once the current one is finished.

What was your inspiration for the story?
Damn, that’s going to be a long answer. I always loved Star Trek and science fiction like that; Sliders, Dr. Who, etc. really appealed to me. I used to write all kinds of star trek stories when I was young for my school, so much it pissed my teachers off. Then I started to write horror and they hated that too- but I didn’t change to anything else until long after I was done with my schooling. Anyway, I used to role play a lot and a lot of the settings that were used were also associated with alternate universes, or characters from alternate dimensions. Some of my characters also come from such sessions as well (like Runie, for example).

Do you have any favorite artists or writers who influenced your style?
Hell yes. Ironically, I don’t have any one Japanese artist that influenced me the most, only in terms of genre, and that one would have to be Masaaki Nakayama creator of Fuan No Tane. I was amazed at how scary each story was compared to other artists and it actually unsettled me. Of course I loved that, and I looked at some of the ways he utilized things to incorporate myself, but that’s not the only thing. I also suppose Masahiro Ito, since he did a lot of art work for Silent Hill (another game I really love- to the point that people may think I am crazy).

As for writers, Stephen King would be right up there. He wasn’t afraid of adding any content to his writing, no matter how stark it was and I always admired that. How sometimes he could get into other peoples’ heads in terms of their behavior always fascinated me. But also, I was never bored when reading his books, so that was another plus. Todd McFarlane was a huge influence on my life when I was younger, I loved Spawn and read it all the time. I loved how gory and dark the art was, but also the strong emotional elements some of the characters in his stories went through. HP Lovecraft, because of his extensive universe and generosity in terms of his mythos, allowing other authors to draw upon that, as well. I also always appreciated his vivid descriptions of creatures when they did finally show their face.

Last person isn’t really technically an illustrator, but he is an artist and that would be Trent Reznor. I always thought his music gave the perfect soundscape for the vast majority of genres I enjoyed and the mix of depression/sex/violence/angst was another thing that really appealed to me. A lot of his work could be considered character-centric due to the fact that it’s very much a personal interior struggle between different aspects of personality and that’s something I always enjoyed exploring.

How long does it take you to complete one page?
Hmm, I normally don’t create just one page at a time. I usually focus on creating more than one page at a time to keep things moving as fast as possible. I’d like to say 24 hours though, at the most. To be honest, I never really timed it.

What is your process like for creating comic pages from start to finish? What tools do you use?
Well, I usually thumbnail to get an idea of what kind of layout/details I would like to apply to the page. Then I sketch it out, and I usually move to another page once the sketching is done. Then after 5 pages or so, I go back and start to ink and edit out any imperfections. Then I begin flat coloring, next is shading, and finally highlights. And at the last step, I add text balloons/sfx/text. I don’t incorporate word balloons into my drawings. I have places set out where I want to place them usually and go from there, which is much easier for me.

As for tools, I use an iPad Pro/Apple Pencil with an app called Comic Draw- very handy and if you ever get a chance to try it out, I’d advise it. I also use Photoshop to add FX and text at the end.

Is your comic a finished work? If not, how long do 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?
This arc is not complete. The comic as a whole, I’m not sure when it will be finished. The “Fragility” Arc though, probably either has 2 or 3 more chapters before it’s complete. Then, I may move on to another arc.

How many pages do you have complete at the moment?
For my webcomic, 40+. Including my printed works, I’d say about 140+ pages, give or take. That’s when Book 3 will finally be published, which is shortly.

How long did it take you to plan the comic before even beginning to physically create it?
Uhhhh…. It wasn’t so much planned as it was slowly stewed and brought to a simmer. I had an idea of wanting to do something related to my older webcomic, 200:20, which also had Runie as a main character- but I didn’t know what. That’s when I started to explore (in a short period of time), Dei Ex Machina. Slowly it came together all at once; the world itself- over a period of years.

What was the biggest hurdle you faced during the course of making 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?
Conceptualization. Specifically, story wise. I would probably say to myself… try not to do so much so fast and take it a lot slower. But, then again, maybe I am totally wrong. Perhaps I shouldn’t say anything.

What is your favorite part about working on your comic?
I really like drawing women. Yes, I know I am horrible.

What is the most difficult part about working on your comic? How do you overcome it?
Story/writer’s block/resistance now. The only thing I can think of for overcoming it is pushing through and working with it. Otherwise, I just slow down and go insane.

Do you have a favorite character to write for? If so, why? Tell us more about them!
It may come as no surprise that I really like writing about Runie, but at the moment she is the most difficult to write for although, that has not always been the case. She is sort of always optimistic but at the same time hiding her feelings from others- primarily because she was always used to doing it when she was younger, to the point it was life or death for her. But, whenever I see her smiling face and jolly eyes, I can’t help but think that no matter how terrible things get for me, or anyone, everything’s always going to be alright.

Which character gives you the most difficulty to write for?
Warden for some reason, I don’t know why. Maybe because his story is so complicated or maybe it’s because I haven’t quite gotten around to writing/conceptualizing it yet.

Do you have a favorite character to draw?
Elise- for some reason she’s really easy to draw for me, maybe because all her styles are already laid out and it makes it easier to draw. That, and at the moment she always has fun outfits (even though they’re the same style at the moment).

Which character gives you the most difficulty to draw?
I’d like to say the men. I’m not very experienced with drawing men, so I have the hardest time drawing them in various situations.

Where can we find you?
You can find me on my website, of course:

Anything else you want the people to know about yourself or your comic?
If you like my comic please share it with other people you know, on social media, or wherever. Word of mouth helps keep it alive. Thank you! 😀

Shout out to ShadowBestie for helping me format this interview~!

Have you read Dei Ex Machina yet? Let us know what you think in the comments!