A Second Class Citizen is Shot Out of Her Underground Home! The Doctrine of Gnorf

Wes H is an East Coast cretin who tells stories and eats chips. She is the creator of The Doctrine of Gnorf

Synopsis: THE GNORVES are a fat-ankled, elvish-eared species who live in a mysterious underground system of interconnected tunnels. They believe they survived the apocalypse with the help of an omniscient deity/philosophy/messenger/way of life known only as THE GNORF. When KITCHMAT DORVA, a studious, grandiose 2nd class Gnorvette, upsets a Gnorf of a higher rank, she gets herself SHOT!!! …From her underground home into a world that school didn’t begin to prepare her for.

Did you go to school for either art or writing? If so, what school?
I went to a state university for Illustration and New Media. My background is in digital media and design, so I can do my own layout, lettering, etc. I also took a lot of writing courses there that DIDN’T help me become a better artist, but they did make me more knowledgeable about things. All knowledge is good if you know how to use it!

What is the main genre of your comic? What appeals to you about that genre?
It’s kind of a bait and switch- a science fiction comic that looks like a fantasy comic. I personally don’t buy the separation as I am not a magical thinker by any means. But it is also a satire meant to poke fun at a heavily religious, controlling culture that once made me a very demoralized, troubled youngster, which I still am.

Are there any other genres that apply to your comic?
Psychological future fiction, f/f nerdxjock slowburn, post-apocalyptica (?), fish out of water story, hypnagogic pop- I could go on but I don’t want to spoil too much!

What was your inspiration for the story?
I don’t want to share this. The audience can make their own assumptions.

Do you have any favorite artists or writers who influenced your style?
Jamie Hewlett’s Tank Girl was a staple of my teen years. So was Invader Zim, Steven Universe- I am also a big fan of how Moebius creates sublime worlds with gradient colors. I won’t pretend that I measure up to any of the masters I listed, but my goal with this comic was to make all my mistakes (artistic and otherwise) and move on with each page.

How long does it take you to complete one page?
When I was measuring the time I spent it would take me an average of 3 hours to ink, color, texture, add values and letter a page. I’m trying to streamline the process a bit as I move forward but having all my thumbnails done at once early on is an important step to seeing the bigger picture.

What is your process like for creating comic pages from start to finish? What tools do you use?
I use the Adobe suite- Photoshop for art, Illustrator for lettering, InDesign for layout. Thumbnails are made to suit the needs of the script, and from there I went page by page. Now I’m trying to do everything in steps- ink everything, then color everything, then letter everything.

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?
I have only six chapters written as of now but ideally this story would last much longer. Maybe 21 chapters! I see the distant future of the story more in phases than I do in pages.

How many pages do you have complete at the moment?
That’s a loaded question. But I can tell you the first chapter is complete and ready for purchase on Gumroad! Or if you don’t mind waiting you can just follow it on Webtoon and get two pages every Friday.

How long did it take you to plan the comic before even beginning to physically create it?
I sit on ideas for a long time, until I’m ready to take one to completion. This is one of those ideas that I had inklings about way back in 2016. Sometimes I’d go back to it, just chew it up in my head and then let it sit for longer. Then around 2018 in the spring I wrote up an outline for the first arc of the story (which I lost!) but I remembered the important parts well enough that I could use NaNoWriMo to flesh it out.

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?
Procrastinating, because when I first thought about this story, I couldn’t draw. I think I still can’t draw. But I am making Big Gains in my art and storytelling XP points as I continue working on this. I’m not going to blame my younger self for wanting to focus on study before taking on a webcomic- it’s like having a baby. It’s a commitment. You want to feel as ready as you can before you put your all into something like this. Otherwise you end up with a half-baked webcomic glowering at you from across the table like “Why weren’t you ready for me, mommy? Why did you abandon me and go on hiatus for years on end?”

As for a pep talk at myself: Nice work! Keep doing that, until you can do better, then do better.

What is your favorite part about working on your comic?
I’m a Results Oriented Anxious Type A, ergo I like finishing a chapter and just getting to look at it altogether laid out in InDesign. But I also like experimenting during the color stage. The first chapter is full of weird experiments.

What is the most difficult part about working on your comic? How do you overcome it?
Perfectionism is a killer of finishing things. I had to learn about the process of seeing vs the process of making. You need to do BOTH of these things to be an artist. You can’t do both at the same time when you’re trying to invent something- seeing is about building your taste, but making is about regurgitating that taste into something original. Everything you make is going to be a watered down version of a bunch of things you love in a smoothie!

So how do you stop the self crit? You stop looking at things while you are making, and you stop making while you are looking. While looking, you can still do master studies, life drawing, anatomy drawovers, portrait practice, painting practice- but don’t try to invent anything because you’re going to feel like crap about it. And when you feel that phase is over and your taste has changed enough, you can start to invent again! But while you do that DON’T COMPARE YOUR WORK to other works. That’s the bicycle you ride as an artist moving forward. You lean one way or you lean the other, but you need balance.

Do you have a favorite character to write for? If so, why? Tell us more about them!
Here’s a boring answer, I like all my characters. Because I don’t like to invent characters that I wouldn’t enjoy writing for- even the bad mean ones. Everyone serves a purpose in the story.

I guess I’ll talk about the main character, Kitchmat. She’s an overachiever who is desperate for an approval that’s impossible for any Gnorvette to achieve in her society. In her spirited attempt to opt out of oppression (because she thinks she is special and it doesn’t apply to her)- she just ends up traumatizing herself. She has a lot of growing to do as the story moves forward.

Which character gives you the most difficulty to write for?
I don’t want to spoil anything, but this story does have its share of tragic characters. I think what I like about satire as opposed to straight up comedy is its ability to be tragicomic, like in Brazil (1985). The hard part is striking a certain kind of balance so that the funny/sad divide isn’t jarring and just feels like the same thing.

Do you have a favorite character to draw?
All of them are equally challenging and fun in their own ways… again I don’t like to bore myself.

Which character gives you the most difficulty to draw?
The background. Haha, but seriously, I think I’m starting to get better at that sort of thing.

Where can we find you?

Anything else you want the people to know about yourself or your comic?
You can follow me at @liquidcultureshock on Instagram! You’ll see more concept art and progress there.

Have you read the Doctrine of Gnorf? Let us know what you think in the comments!