Spotlight

Numb – A Traditionally Drawn Mystery

Niina Eveliina is a freelance comic & illustration artist from Finland. and her passion project is her webcomic Numb. She also has various other projects like short animations and art exhibitions under production and lives for all things storytelling.

Synopsis: Numb is a mystery comic that brings together surreal horror, character driven drama and traditional watercolor art!

The story starts with Levi and Sue, childhood friends who have since grown apart. They attempt to meet again but right before Levi ends up in an accident that has something else behind it than just careless street crossing. Old strains are being brought up and something sinister is lurking around.

What would you do, if your senses start blending between what’s real and fantasy?

Did you go to school for either art or writing? If so, what school?
I have masters degree in art from the University of Lapland.

What is the main genre of your comic? What appeals to you about that genre?
The main genre of Numb is hard to pinpoint, but I’d say it’s mystery. I have always gravitated towards stories that blend together different genres and story elements and I approach to Numb in a very similar way. It has very strong elements of both horror and borderline SOL-type drama in it.

I think combining different genres can really add layers and weight to your story and characters. Those sweet moments make the bitter pill that much harder to swallow, when the time comes.

Are there any other genres that apply to your comic?
There are strong fantasy elements in Numb and also some comedic moments. I love comedies but don’t consider myself funny enough, so I settle with having a few fun moments here and there.

What was your inspiration for the story?
It’s hard to pinpoint. While Numb started it’s online life in 2015’s the story had been in development for years before that. I get inspired by a lot of things, and my creation progress is very slow burn. To pick some certain influences out, I can say that both the Texas Chainsaw Massacre and the soundtrack of American Beauty played big parts. If any of that makes sense…

Mystery stories are all about giving out bits of information to have the reader piece things together. How do you find the balance between reveals without giving away TOO much information but also giving a reader enough so that they’re not completely in the dark?
Well I’m one of those people who really enjoy obscure and slow burn stories that really reward patience and multiple views. So when I started Numb I had very clear image of the pacing I wanted to achieve. I also think that down-time is very important in these kind of stories. After a revelation, there’s a period that allows the characters (and the readers) to absorb the new situation and react to it naturally. All good things need time to simmer.

Do you have any favorite artists or writers who influenced your style?
For sure! There’s so many but I’ll name a few I’ve picked up from different parts of my life. Morris, Carl Barks and Don Rosa, Jeff Smith, Yukito Kishiro, Rumiko Takashi and Joe Kelly.

It’s also worth being said that my answer changes every time someone asks me this question. I really think we absorb everything around us and use that to mold our own individual way of doing things.

How long does it take you to complete one page?
It takes from one to three days. I could take more time BUT considering I want to get this story done at some point I’ve refused to allow myself to spend more than three days with a page, and three days is also spent only when it’s absolutely necessary!

What is your process like for creating comic pages from start to finish? What tools do you use?
I do really loose storyboards to get a vague idea of how many pages I need per chapter. I sketch one chapter at a time and then proceed to color the pages. While doing that I can start figuring out the storyboard for the next chapter. All the main story elements and chapter beats are very clear to me, but the only script I have is in my head.

I use traditional tools in my art progress. Pencils for sketching, watercolors and gouaches for coloring. Then I add the speech bubbles and text with Clip Studio Paint. It’s a wonderful program for comic artists!

Why did you choose watercolor/gouache as the media for the comic?
The reason was quite simple. At the time I was not comfortable with coloring or watercolors in general, but I wanted to learn this medium and knew that if I choose to do Numb with them, I’d stick with it. The start was rocky and there was (and still is) much to learn, but today I’m very proud of my past self for taking that commitment. That single choice has elevated my art and working ethic to a level I doubt I’d have reached this fast without it.

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 know where Numb will end and I know most of the road there, but I do enjoy letting the characters roam around a bit and discover new things alongside them. My goal is to finish Numb in 2023. If it happens sooner that’ll be great, but by then I want to be able to move to my other stories.

How long did it take you to plan the comic before even beginning to physically create it?
Ohhohohohh! Well it’s a little bit complicated. It was on-off relationship for a while. I started planning it somewhere around 2009, then drew the original prologue in 2012, then sat on it for a while till I started to draw it again in 2014 and in 2015 when I started actually putting it online is when the gears truly started moving.

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 tell myself to focus on the details right from the start. Getting things like lettering, file size and speech bubbles right early on would have saved me plenty of re-editing trips.

Of course there are plenty I could say about the art and panelling and all that jazz, but I think you learn by doing the damn thing and no amount of preptime will prepare you for it all. Comics are a marathon and especially when it’s your first go at it, you are not going to get everything right with the first try.

What is your favorite part about working on your comic?
Every part? I love fantasizing about getting to certain parts, then drawing them and getting to the colors. It’s just overall so much fun!

What is the most difficult part about working on your comic? How do you overcome it?
Keeping up with the buffer. I’m always so excited over my new pages I’d want to show them to the world right away. You just don’t know what life can throw at you and when you just don’t have time to work on pages. That’s when that buffer is really important.

I run out of buffer few times and it got bad enough that I needed to drop down my update schedule from two to one page per week. Now I’m back on the saddle with a healthy weekly work schedule and the buffer is nice and growing. But this time instead of throwing all those pages out to the world, I’m gonna just sit tight on them.

Do you have a favorite character to write for? If so, why? Tell us more about them!
I used to have favourites, but at this point all of the characters are really important to me and I love writing for them all. It’s a good place to be. Though my favourite interactions to write are between Levi and Nikita.

Which character gives you the most difficulty to write for?
The difficulty comes when you aren’t sure what the character is about yet. I’ve gotten past these slumps with most of the cast. When you nail down what kind of person the character is and why, writing becomes pretty easy. You’ll just know how they’d act to a certain situations.

Do you have a favorite character to draw?
Nikita. Hands down. He’s just so much fun.

Which character gives you the most difficulty to draw?
Nikita. No pain no gain I guess.

Where can we find you?
Numb: http://niinaeveliina.com/numb/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/NSalmelin/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/artofniinaeveliina/
Store: https://www.etsy.com/shop/ByNiinaEveliina

Anything else you want the people to know about yourself or your comic?
Alongside Numb I got other comic and art projects as well! You can follow my social media to keep up to date of what I’ll do next 🙂

 

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

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