Spotlight

Cons, Crooks and Antiheroes – Patent the Sun

Alizarin grew up in the Bay Area, which isn’t particularly famous for having an art scene. She’s currently a software engineer and draws with faint hopes that one day she can just draw, and won’t need to code. She is the creator of Patent the Sun.

Synopsis: What begins as a story about a pair of masked heroes tasked with protecting their master at all costs quickly and abruptly evolves into a story about an antihero who’s both haunted by his past and ready to move on from it. In the face of everything, he decides to reinvent himself as a cold-blooded, stylish assassin. Along the way, he encounters plenty of interesting characters, including con artists and crooks, all against the backdrop of a universe in which space travel is possible. At times full of action and at others bordering slice-of-life, Patent the Sun is a comic about alter egos, aliens, murder, memory repression, and finding your place in a universe that hates you.

Did you go to school for either art or writing? If so, what school?
If a full ride to art school came my way, I’d be happy to go.

What is the main genre of your comic? What appeals to you about that genre?
The main genre is crime/action, which I admit I’ve only recently picked up an inclination for. In a perfect world I would probably be dreaming about fantasy worlds all day, but crime is a genre that can capture some of the dirtier realities we face in modern-day society. I think I’m always stuck between pragmatic ideals and fantastical ones, and my comic being a crime story with supernatural elements is one reflection of that personal internal struggle.

Are there any other genres that apply to your comic?
Patent the Sun also falls under sci-fi and fantasy, or more generally, speculative fiction.

What was your inspiration for the story?
The comic has drawn inspiration from many different sources, from personal events to world events to movies and music and media. When I first started conceptualizing the comic, I was taking a college gen ed class themed around aliens. That class ended up being a huge influence for this comic.

Do you have any favorite artists or writers who influenced your style?
I got into making comics thanks to indie webcomics: Gunnerkrigg Court, The Meek, Homestuck, Paranatural, Johnny Wander, Fishbones, Ava’s Demon, Helvetica, Prequel, Namesake, Unsounded, The Property of Hate, String Theory are all comics I’ve read (and many, many more). I learned that the Webtoon format could be fun thanks to comics like Magical 12th Graders, Nightmare Factory, and others. Recently, some of my comic influences are Cottonvalent of Glitch/Creepy Cat, Brian K Vaughan and Fiona Staples of Saga, and Bryan Lee O’Malley and Leslie Hung of Snotgirl.

How long does it take you to complete one page?
Patent the Sun is divided into long-form episodes, usually around 30 panels or so. It takes me roughly a month to finish and upload each one.

What is your process like for creating comic pages from start to finish? What tools do you use?
I use Google docs and physical notebooks to handle the script and thumbnails. I use Clip Studio Paint to make the actual episodes; it replaced Photoshop around episode 16. My process is to draw as many sketch layers as is necessary for the lineart to look O.K., then to line the episode, then to painfully wrangle with the palette, then to finally draw all the hard stuff last, after I’ve lined and colored everything else.

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?
Patent the Sun is not finished. I think it would end up pretty long if I were to reach the ending I have in mind. I try to write the story with interesting things happening along every point of the way, so that if I were to stop at any point I would equally be satisfied with what exists and want to show more.

How many pages do you have complete at the moment?
There are 20 completed episodes.

How long did it take you to plan the comic before even beginning to physically create it?
Some of the ideas go as far back as high school (including the name), which I’m just kind of embarrassed about. But I had relatively little of it fleshed out before I decided I wanted to make a comic out of it. I’m still suffering the consequences of that, needing to constantly brainstorm, but I think that’s what making a webcomic is all about. The other nice thing about that is that the comic grows with you.

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?
At some point I took a long hiatus because I was uncertain about the direction of the comic. Also, having a real audience for my works for the first time made me very timid and self-conscious. If I could go back to tell myself something, it would be this: flesh out the comic just a little bit more before you start it, thanks. Also, the comic is being made for yourself, first and foremost, before anybody else. That single piece of advice has usually been what carries me through making it.

What is your favorite part about working on your comic?
My favorite part is when the story moves. I love puzzles and mysteries, so my whole stake in this webcomic business is being able to reveal secrets little by little as the comic updates. I also love delving into introspective details and drama within characters’ lives.

What is the most difficult part about working on your comic? How do you overcome it?
The most difficult part is not being embarrassed by the earlier art and writing. At the same time, the newer content needs to be as interesting as and carry the same charm as the old. It’s all difficult, to be honest.

Do you have a favorite character to write for? If so, why? Tell us more about them!
The two main characters are always my favorite to write. I know the most about them, and they also have a dynamic that’s really fun to explore. They don’t always agree with each other and sometimes even act like strangers around each other, but they’re bound by an unbreakable trust. The readers seem invested in how their relationship will progress as well, which makes it more fun to write little interactions between them.

Which character gives you the most difficulty to write for?
Maybe it’s a little unwholesome, but probably the “good” characters, such as the special police agents. I’d like to insinuate these characters mostly have their personal affairs in order, but unfortunately that means less drama and writing material.

Do you have a favorite character to draw?
Scia!

Which character gives you the most difficulty to draw?
David is the hardest to draw. Aaarrrgghhhh.

Where can we find you?
Comic links:
Site: https://patentthesun.alizawren.com/
Webtoon: https://www.webtoons.com/en/challenge/patent-the-sun/list?title_no=123560
Tapas: https://tapas.io/series/Patent-the-Sun
I encourage readers to follow on Webtoon or Tapas, since the fan communities are on those sites.

Other links:
Twitter: https://twitter.com/alizawren
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/alizaarin/
Side comics: https://tapas.io/series/Stories-from-the-Void

Anything else you want the people to know about yourself or your comic?
I have a cartoon obsession. I wish more people would watch the cartoon Time Warp Trio. My current favorite musical artists are Louis Cole, Louie Zong, Clarence Clarity, Foster the People, but I listen to a ton of music beyond these. I made the song that accompanies the Patent the Sun trailer. I tried my hand at making a Patent the Sun game once (actually twice–once with a custom-built engine and the second time in Gamemaker Studio), but it’s on indefinite hiatus. Maybe that’s all I should say. Thanks for reading!! Bye!!