A Prince and His Bodyguard Set Out to Save the Emperor – Reclaim

Saga Holmgård is a comic creator situated in Sweden. She is in her final semester at university, studying 2-D art for games. In her spare time she writes, draws, and chats with her friends. She is the creator of Reclaim.

Synopsis: After a successful coup on the throne, Albus and his bodyguard Styrka need to find a way to save Albus’ father, Emperor Justinian, and reclaim the empire from the power-hungry Irene.

Did you go to school for either art or writing? If so, what school?
I’m currently studying 2-D game art at the University of Skövde.

What is the main genre of your comic? What appeals to you about that genre?
It’s a medieval fantasy, which has been my favorite genre for as long as I can imagine! I just love to dig into the worldbuilding and the magic systems that the author creates, and I’ve always been fascinated by stories with political intrigue and the high stakes that come with it. It really makes you root for the main characters!

Are there any other genres that apply to your comic?
Not really. There are LGBT themes, but they’re not prominent enough that I would consider them a part of the comic’s identity.

What was your inspiration for the story?
I always start by getting ideas for cool characters in cool action scenes, and then I start thinking about their personalities and relationships with each other, and that’s what happened for Reclaim as well. When I started writing I drew inspiration from my own emotions at the time and asked myself, how can I convey what I’m feeling in a story that I would like to read? That’s still what drives me: the need to portray the emotions I’ve felt while sticking to a story that I want to read myself.

Do you have any favorite artists or writers who influenced your style?
So many! For the past several years my art had been influenced by the comic artist ONE, creator of Mob Psycho 100 and One Punch Man. That’s also why I chose to do a black and white comic. But I have also been very inspired by 2-D animated movies such as the Road to El Dorado and the Emperor’s New Groove. As far as writing goes, listening to interviews with writers I look up to is probably what had influenced me the most. The episodes from the Steven Universe Podcast that includes the show’s writers are some of my favorites because they can go in depth on what they thought was important for the characters to do and feel in relation to the plot.

How long does it take you to complete one page?
I don’t keep track since I work on more than one page at a time, but I would guess about 5-6 hours on average.

What is your process like for creating comic pages from start to finish? What tools do you use?
I usually thumbnail 20-25 pages and then I work in batches of five pages at a time, doing all my pencils, and then my inking and shading. I work every morning for about thirty minutes to an hour while having my morning coffee, and then I work extra on the weekends. I use Clip Studio Paint and the process for five pages takes me just over five weeks to complete.

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?
My comic is not finished, but I’ve written everything and I hope to finish within five years of consistent posting, averaging about two chapters per year.

How long did it take you to plan the comic before even beginning to physically create it?
I had the idea in 2015 or 2016 and started writing in 2017. The first page went up in June 2019, so between two and four years of prep time depending on if you count the time I spent just making up the story in my own head.

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?
I had to get my tablet replaced because of a defect and it was a whole ordeal that took about two months to get sorted. I thought I could do pencils on pen and paper in the meantime, but that just did not happen. Since my comic queue ran out I posted some behind the scenes art in my scheduled updates but even compiling that into the right format took a lot of time and effort I could have poured into something else, like making not-webcomic-related art. If I could go back I might tell myself that it’s okay to have a short hiatus when unexpected things like that pop up.

What is your favorite part about working on your comic?
I love it when I reach a scene that I’ve been excited about for a long time. To finally get to draw something that I’ve been thinking about and imagining in my head for months or years, and then to imagine how the readers will react when the page is posted is such a big motivator when working on the comic!

What is the most difficult part about working on your comic? How do you overcome it?
This is a hard question, and I had to think for a long while on it! A lot of things are difficult, but so much of it is also very rewarding and so I think I tend to forget about the hard parts, haha. One trap I fall into is spending too much time perfecting sketches, when it would be more effective to move onto inking and getting pages done. I’d like to think I’m getting better at it, though!

Do you have a favorite character to write for? If so, why? Tell us more about them!
I love writing Styrka. She’s bad at expressing herself verbally so I’m looking for creative ways to show what she really means and how she’s feeling through her actions and body language, which of course is extra fun when the final product is a visual medium!

Which character gives you the most difficulty to write for?
The main antagonist, Irene, is definitely the most difficult for me. Contrary to Styrka, she’s VERY verbal and I’m always struggling to make her lines feel the way I want them to.

Do you have a favorite character to draw?
I love to draw Mari. She’s the oldest character in the story and I really like working with the way her wrinkles are affected by her expressions.

Which character gives you the most difficulty to draw?
Both my main characters, Albus and Styrka, have parts of their design that I often struggle with. Styrka’s armor is pretty difficult, especially in sitting poses, and Albus has a specific eye shape that I think is hard to get just right.

Where can we find you?
My comic:

Anything else you want the people to know about yourself or your comic?
There are so many exciting things coming up and I feel really lucky to get to draw them and share them!

Have you read Relcaim yet? Let us know what you think in the comments!

Also, shout out to ShadowBestie for helping me format these interviews!