Spotlight

Exploring the Battle-Scarred World of Stigma Chronicle


Cammie Johnson is a trans female artist in training, trying to learn how to become a freelance animator. They make short one-off comics on Twitter from time to time, as well as posting on YouTube… sometimes. They are currently residing in the state of Georgia, US. They are the creator of Stigma Chronicle.

Stigma Chronicle focuses on a 10-year old named Else, along with her handful of friends, exploring the magic battle-scarred world of Viridia, in all it’s beauty and horror. While everyone is mentally broken and certain to lead short and unhappy lives, Else loves the world around her and is unnaturally happy. However, her love of the world and her sense of wonder will lead her discovering more about it than she and her friends ever wanted to know.

Did you go to school for either art or writing? If so, what school?
I haven’t, but I plan on going to Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) to study sequential art.

What is the main genre of your comic? What appeals to you about that genre?
Adventure, and the fact that I get to be there right with the characters in bizarre and sometimes disturbing places, the only limit being how far the characters are willing to go, and the imagination of the writing.

Are there any other genres that apply to your comic?
Fantasy, but it’s not traditional fantasy. I’m a really big fan of steampunk, so there are sprinkles of that in the more mechanized parts of the comic. And action isn’t really present YET because there aren’t any stakes to build up, but maybe I’ll add it soon.. I also tagged it with post-apocalyptic and horror because it fits the setting.

What was your inspiration for the story?
Stigma Chronicle is inspired by the newer age of exploration-themed cartoons I enjoy watching while I came up with it, and stories that are aimed at kids but have deeper meaning that older audiences can enjoy. Shows like Gravity Falls, Avatar, Steven Universe, and especially Infinity Train practically shaped the way I approach writing my characters.

Do you have any favorite artists or writers who influenced your style?
The most standout thing that influenced my art style is the design of the Netflix show Hilda, to the point I kinda tried mimicking it, but loosened up later. Aside from that, my art is inspired by older newspaper comics, especially in the shading, using lines instead of other colors. And as for writing, I do have a lot of inspiration, but none that factored in this comic. My sister did help write a bit of situations though, shoutouts to you sis. <3

How long does it take you to complete one page?
The fastest it’s taken me is about 8 hours, despite my minimal paneling and simple drawing structure. The longest it’s taken me, excluding procrastination time, is 3 days. And including procrastination time, hooh boy… I’ve gone weeks just slacking on a three panel page.

What is your process like for creating comic pages from start to finish? What tools do you use?
From start to finish, I use Paint Tool SAI, opening up an 800×1280 blank page because WEBTOON limits me . Next I just put some black rectangles and trace the outline over them to make hand-drawn panels to draw in. Given I know the characters well and it’s a comic I only use one messy sketch layer and lineart it with a rough brush.

Coloring is self-explanatory but the longest part, and throughout all of it I leave enough space in any given panel to handwrite the dialogue, given SAI1 has no text tool and it adds to the style. Lastly I send the picture to my phone to see how it looks on mobile, if it’s hard to follow, I rewrite the dialogue. I used to not do this and it turned out really troubling to the mobile readers.

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?
My comic is still in it’s infancy, not even it’s first episode is done, but I do know how and when to end it. I don’t know how long it will pan out and how long it will take to reach the end though. If I were to estimate, I’m gonna be in this for at least ten more years.

How long did it take you to plan the comic before even beginning to physically create it?
My initial idea began in 2014 as a different short story, but I decided to draw it and start plotting out a webcomic series in early 2017, before beginning it in December of 2018. So depending on how you look at it, it took either 18 months, or it took 4 years.

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?
This is actually a hurdle I’m still feeling the consequences of now, and that was to write an exact script. I used to write as I went, in terms of dialogue, and pretty fast I ended up either restating things over and over, writing myself into a corner, or just having trouble making it interesting. This is especially tricky because I’m still in the early stages and if it gets messy early on, I’ll probably lose a lot of people.

What is your favorite part about working on your comic?
I love to develop characters, fleshing them out more and in one case, turning them from an unlikable dolt into literally my favorite character. It’s almost like playing a Sims game, only I know exactly what they’re thinking. I also like to plant seeds of development early on, similar to foreshadowing, way before characters are even introduced.

What is the most difficult part about working on your comic? How do you overcome it?
The most difficult part of my comic is establishing personalities in my characters that don’t conflict with others. By that I mean I want each character to feel original and not too much like another character in the comic, but I also want to avoid giving each character only one personality trait to avoid flanderization (i.e. making “the scared character, the strict character, etc”). It’s hard because I have a lot of characters in the works, and I’ve managed to overcome some.

Calico is the example I’ll use. I wanted her to be generally uninterested and monotonous, like a cat, but I didn’t want that to be all there is to her. So I decided to make her curious as well, and unlike Else whose main thing is curiosity, Calico hides it. I also added some sassiness which makes her appear like she just doesn’t care about anyone, unlike Bea’s attitude which shows up because she cares too much about something.

Do you have a favorite character to write for? If so, why? Tell us more about them!
I do, as mentioned Calico is my favorite character to write. Overall she’s my favorite character in general, with her no-chill attitude and questionable motives, and she just has so much potential to turn the plot on its head just by being on a panel. She used to be my least favorite character as well, only supposed to appear once, and now she’s my wildcard character.

Which character gives you the most difficulty to write for?
As of answering this question, Beatrice is the hardest to write for. There are others harder, but none of them have shown up in the comic yet. As for Beatrice, it’shard to decide when to make her a doting sister, or an emotional troublemaker, especially because the crux of her personality is finding a balance between the two.

Do you have a favorite character to draw?
My favorite character to draw is again Beatrice, simply because of how fun and easy she is to draw. She also differs from my characters in her eyes, making her look really expressive. And while she doesn’t have my favorite design, she has a design that works.

Which character gives you the most difficulty to draw?
The character I currently have the most trouble drawing is Else, the protagonist. My main issue I have is trying to have her stay on model compared to previous panels, especially her hair. I sidestep this by reusing the sketch layer and changing it a little, but it shows sometimes. She’s the only character I’ve drawn from all angles, and EVERY ONE gives me hair troubles.

Where can we find you?
My comic can be found here: http://stigmachronicle.webcomic.ws/
I also have a Twitter: https://twitter.com/katsutg
And a YouTube, whenever I upload: https://www.youtube.com/c/KatsuTG

Anything else you want the people to know about yourself or your comic?
Stigma Chronicle was originally meant to adapt several seasons of a cartoon I wanted to make into a webcomic, so it might be a bit long. But that just means it won’t be going anywhere any time soon, so I hope you’ll enjoy what I have to offer!

Have you read Stigma Chronicle 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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