CARTRIDGE is a collaborative team between two Kingston based sisters, Kristen and Laura Lee who create the comic Ghost Junk Sickness. Kristen, is the elder sister of the duo and specialises in inking, environments, and technical design. Laura is the younger who excels in character design, drawing and painting. They are the creators of Ghost Junk Sickness.
Synopsis: Trigger Elliot is a bounty hunter who travels around the galaxy with his not-so-fully-licensed-and-technically-illegal-hunting-partner Vahn Gavotte. They’re lousy at what they do and often resort to petty tactics just to get a bounty. This is their life.
Their home planet, June7, is a world rebuilding itself from an inexplicable catastrophic phenomenon that destroyed 75% of the planet’s surface. It has been 5 years since the destruction of June7 and the planet now thrives on the transient and growing population of bounty hunters. Trigger and Vahn’s routine changes when an ambiguous, huge bounty surfaces; an alleged bounty hunter killer named “the Ghost” with frightening abilities and an unknown motive. When Trigger’s past catches up with him, there begins a strain on his and Vahn’s hunting dynamic, forcing them to become further involved in chasing the elusive and unpredictable ghost.
Did you go to school for either art or writing? If so, what school?
Both Kristen and Laura went to school for Fine Arts and graduated from St. Lawrence College in Brockville
What is the main genre of your comic? What appeals to you about that genre?
Ghost Junk is an action packed sci-fi comic– its genre being that to reflect both sisters’ love for the aesthetic and style potentials of such. In creating such a story, both Laura and I wanted to push ourselves with a narrative that isn’t seen in this genre, as well as create a world that felt inclusive and optimistic.
Are there any other genres that apply to your comic?
Psychological and supernatural themes exist in the series as the story unfolds. It explores many aspects of different relationships, troubled pasts, and the unknown.
What was your inspiration for the story?
Ghost Junk Sickness came to be when both Laura and I decided that we wanted to write a story in the action/sci-fi genre that reflected our views within a world that wasn’t confined by how our own restrictions concerning modern day politics would be. From that, we then pulled together many of our favourite media aesthetics, and essentially mashed it into one big story that defined ourselves.
Do you have any favorite artists or writers who influenced your style?
Yasuhiro Nightow’s work in Trigun was a huge inspiration for the way we both work on the style of the comic with traditional inking, as well as a nod to his action that takes place in his work. Katsuhiro Otomo and Hiromu Arakawa are also inspirations for both story and style.
How long does it take you to complete one page?
Typically, with the entire process including the thumbing of the page, drawing, inking and toning/lettering can take anywhere from 5-8 hours to complete!
What is your process like for creating comic pages from start to finish? What tools do you use?
GJS pages are done traditionally on a 11×14 heavy weight mixed media paper and drawn by Laura, taking about an hour to two hours to complete. Then, Kristen goes in with the inks, roughly taking 2-5 hours depending on complexity, and the pages are sent off to be scanned. After piecing the pages together, the pages are set for digital toning and lettering, ranging from an hour to 2 hours per page. And thus, one page is completed!
This process is usually done in bulk as well to keep up with a proper buffer, and to keep the pages streamlined with each chapter for consistency and readability.
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?
Ghost Junk is a long run work that is projected to run for at least nine or ten volumes. As with long run projects, the story fluctuates over the years it’s being produced, and many key parts of the story have been reconsidered with newly inspired content or the general reactions from readers to go in a different direction. Through all of this however, the ending is still secure and true to the original draft of the story!
How many pages do you have complete at the moment?
Over 800 pages have been currently completed! We’re quite proud to still have the fire for such a large project!
How long did it take you to plan the comic before even beginning to physically create it?
We took an entire summer off after graduating college to really brainstorm what we wanted GJS to be. It was originally based off of an older project that had been in and out of development in our earlier years (with the previous title DivineXAce ) and re-constructed into what it is now. The story went through huge changes, stylistic choices, and an absolute overhaul to accommodate the vision we have now and that time brainstorming was still one of my favourite parts of writing such a large work!
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 hurdle would probably be figuring out what our work process should be. Originally, we would trade off who draws and who inks, which led to a fall back in productivity and a concise style. I actually did go back to the pages that were most affected by this trial and error and coloured/fixed them up (them being the first 30 pages) but it’s a process I don’t usually recommend! If anything, I would tell my past self to just stick to inking, haha.
What is your favorite part about working on your comic?
I (Kristen) specifically enjoy my work with the inks and developing environments for the different story settings. It’s both a part that I can easily get lost in and enjoy while being relaxed and accomplished!
Laura’s favourite part is drawing the pages. She loves the way a thumbnail (ours are the size of a toonie) comes to life and is fully realized!
What is the most difficult part about working on your comic? How do you overcome it?
The problem solving in writing is probably what we both have most difficulty with. The ‘re-writes to solve re-writes’ is a constant battle, especially with the changes we implement when we feel differently about how we went about a certain scene or moment in the comic.
Do you have a favorite character to write for? If so, why? Tell us more about them!
We both personally enjoy writing for the main trio, that being Vahn, Trigger, and Boggmouth! Each of their story arcs intertwine in these intricate and unique ways, and to figure out the paths for their backstories and reasons for being is very satisfying to put together.
Which character gives you the most difficulty to write for?
This is an on and off feeling, as the character changes with that sort of difficulty to write. We would have got to this part in the story where we need to write about a certain interaction, and we realise that the initial notes don’t make sense or relate to what was being laid out before and that the character in question was lacking in development to make these decisions, basically! So then, we’d dedicate a workshop to finding out about this certain character, and eventually reshaping them to be easier to understand, thus easier to write!
Do you have a favorite character to draw?
I enjoy drawing the main protagonist Trigger Elliot, whereas Laura’s favourite is the main antagonist, The Ghost!
Which character gives you the most difficulty to draw?
Probably our alien/lizard characters (called bolobogans)! Sometimes the perspectives can be challenging, and getting all four eyes right can be a task on its own!
Where can we find you?
We have all of our social media links for the comic itself on the site (www.ghostjunksickness.com)
And our personal social links are (Kristen’s Twitter): @Feather_Notes
(Laura’s Twitter): @SpaceRockBun
Anything else you want the people to know about yourself or your comic?
Ghost Junk Sickness is an LGBTQ+ action sci-fi that explores many aspects of relationships, trauma, and the unknown. It is a story made for many to find themselves in and to relate to, and to unwind in its long and extensive adventure!
GJS is written for an older teen audience as it contains scenes of violence and coarse language.
Have you read Ghost Junk Sickness yet? Leave a comment and let us know what you think!