Spotlight

The Guide to a Healthy Relationship – A Psychological Drama

Dani is just some painfully introverted, socially awkward person. They like animals, horror movies, minerals and exploring. Currently, they reside in Arizona, United States, close to Tombstone. As of right now they’re unemployed so most of their time is spent working on their comic, applying for jobs and doing house chores. They are the creator of The Guide to a Healthy Relationship.

Synopsis: Upon discovering his now ex-childhood friend isn’t dead, an emotionally immature alcoholic named Apollo tries to make amends for ruining everything. Unfortunately he is an idiot and the situation is much more serious than he can comprehend.

This is a dark character study packed full of suspicion, discomfort and mental health issues.

Is your comic available in any other languages? If so, what language(s)?
Ah! Yes, the beautiful people at Mix Fansub have been doing gods work, translating my uncooperative comic into Portuguese.
https://www.facebook.com/pg/MixFansub/photos/?tab=album&album_id=2373025332920208&ref=page_internal

Did you go to school for either art or writing? If so, what school?
Not really. I did take a drawing class when I was a child and just a couple years ago I took a Basic Design class, but by the time I did the latter I was already well versed in everything the instructor taught thanks to drawing comics and self-study. It was a fun class though! Lol

What is the main genre of your comic? What appeals to you about that genre?
Psychological Drama. Funny enough I’m not a huge fan of dramas, especially with comics… or, I guess it’s a genre I’m more picky about. I will watch almost anything, but there are few that have an impact. Although I am a fan of psychological films like Jacob’s Latter and Eraserhead. I love analysis and Psychology, so I enjoy movies that focus on the mind, or are more conceptual and challenging.

Are there any other genres that apply to your comic?
Slice-of-Life, and LGBTQ+ if you consider that a genre.

What was your inspiration for the story?
You know, this will sound cheesy. I was going through a really hard time, while going through a bit of an internal freak-out one morning while driving to work the story just sort of came to me. I knew how it would start, what would happen and how it would end instantly. So, I guess the comic was inspired by me having a mental crisis.

Do you have any favorite artists or writers who influenced your style?
There is one who lowkey had an impact on how I do colors. She is Erin Hanson, an Open-Impressionism artists from California. One day I stumbled across her work while looking up complimentary shading, after that my coloring just sorta… changed? It’s not quite what she does and certainly isn’t as well done, but yeah. My shading just got kinda weird after that, I’ve been going with it to see what the outcome will be.

Other than that I’m incredibly boring when it comes to influences. While there are many artists and a few writers who’s work I’ve loved over the years, I’ve never been interested in being like them, or simulating their style. I just let my hand and brain do it’s own thing.

How long does it take you to complete one page?
About 4-5 days depending on detail. Hour wise sketching takes between 1-3 hours, inking 2-5 hours, coloring around 30+ hours, reinking 2-3 hours, white ink touch-ups 1 hour.

What is your process like for creating comic pages from start to finish? What tools do you use?
So to start off, for tools I use 9×12 smooth bristol paper (I used to use vellum before finding out there was smooth paper.), an 2×12 c-thru plastic grid ruler, a 0.5 mechanical pencil, a hi-polymer eraser, verithin Prismacolor color pencils, Dr. Ph. Martin’s white ink, a fine tip watercolor brush, black sharpie markers and an assortment of Prismacolor and Micron pens in various sizes and colors. For pages with larger spaces to color I will also use copic markers for a base color.

The process. I’ll start off by doing a quick thumbnail on a sticky note or whatever scrap paper I have lying around, then I’ll doodle the basic panel layout with vague contents on the bristol paper to get an idea of size and placement. I’ll properly lay down the panels with my ruler, sketch out the bubbles and flesh out the panel contents a little more to know where everything will fit, after that I finalize the panel boarders with my ruler and a size 1 Micron pen. Once that’s done the contents are fully sketched out, then I’ll ink the speechbubbles with a 05 Prismacolor pen and ink the panel contents with a blue 005 Prismacolor pen.

I’ll start coloring, first filling in the shadows lightly to know where they will be (If a page has some hard light I’ll do the lighting first then the shadows), followed by the base colors which will be filled in kinda lightly. Now the shadows will be filled in with the appropriate colors and I’ll finish off all the base colors. Once the coloring is finished I reink everything with a mix of 03, 05 and 08 Prismacolor and Micron pens. Outlines, stars and shines to the eyes are added using white ink applied with the brush. Finishing off by filling in the gutters with the sharpie marker.

If my page has one-three perspective points that go off the page, I’ll use some scotch tape to attach a piece of scrap paper, then use the ruler to draw in the perspective lines. I also lay down a grid for any panel showing a background.

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 will be 11 chapters and definitely has a set ending. Page wise I fly by the seat of my pants, usually I’ll figure out what content goes into a chapter, but I never know how long it will be. I tend to leave out, add, or change stuff while working on pages so there isn’t much point in thumbnailing too far ahead.

How long did it take you to plan the comic before even beginning to physically create it?
Since I knew right away how exactly the comic would go the planning was maybe a week or two. Just enough to flesh out small details, do research, and brainstorm.

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?
The biggest hurdle was probably getting the hang of things. My previous comic was in B&W, didn’t have a set schedule and wasn’t particularly complicated. Getting into doing full color pages and going by a weekly schedule was tough, the latter being especially hard since I was working fulltime, which left me with maybe an hour or two after work to draw pages.

What is your favorite part about working on your comic?
Kind of everything. I love the fact that I can put the stories in my head onto paper, the community, the fact that there are people picking up with I’m putting down and that I have a means to vent.

Whenever I get a new reader, or a comment from someone theorizing or just saying they enjoy the story, it kinda floors me a little. Like, “Wow, some people actually like this.”, I went into it prepared to maybe have 1-2 readers. My webcomic is… something else, it’s definitely not for most people, but it has been an amazing outlet for a lifetime of awful experiences, thoughts and feelings that I have a lot of trouble putting into words. The process is equally as nice, drawing is relaxing, doing it helps me organize my thoughts and mellows out feelings of anxiety.

What is the most difficult part about working on your comic? How do you overcome it?
Marketing. Doing it burns me out right away, I absolutely hate it! I don’t like advertising myself, I don’t know how to make my comic sound appealing, I don’t have the energy to do all the extra things more professional people do, I’m always forgetting about/missing promotion events. I’m just the worst at this and is something I’m still working on improving, unfortunately.

I have gotten much better thanks to practice, studying how people in similar genres advertise and being around extremely patient people willing to help and give pointers.

Do you have a favorite character to write for? If so, why? Tell us more about them!
My tiny character, Julian. They are stressed a lot, anxious, really unwell in every way possible. There isn’t much going on in that head outside of being sick and unhappy, they’re in… a relationship, they work as a night janitor for a community college, they stress about everything all day. In a messed up way Julian has been fun, they are a lot like me yet totally different and working with them has allowed me to see and explore things in a new perspective. Also they are a bit of a sleeper, underneath all their issues there is this quarky character with this outgoing, yet extremely anal personality.

Which character gives you the most difficulty to write for?
Daniel, Julian’s partner. Even after extensive research and discussion, I still have trouble getting into his head space to properly work with him. Not just because he is completely different from me, but he just has something going on that I can’t empathize with.

Do you have a favorite character to draw?
Julian again. I like drawing their shape, hair and all the little details like scarring and such. It’s also fun to doodle them in outfits they would like wearing.

Which character gives you the most difficulty to draw?
Galia, one of my side characters. She takes a little more time to draw, having a bit of a unique shape and hair style compared to the rest, she also wears a lot of accessories and fancier clothes. Drawing her in all her stuff over and over, though multiple pages is challenging sometimes.

Where can we find you?
My main site: http://tgtahr.spiderforest.com/
Mirror: https://tapas.io/series/TGtaHR
Badly censored mirror: https://www.webtoons.com/en/challenge/the-guide-to-a-healthy-relationship/list?title_no=262561
Twitter: https://twitter.com/TGtaHRcomic
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/danithecarutor/?hl=en

Anything else you want the people to know about yourself or your comic?
My comic is rated R/17+ for nudity, profanity and substance abuse. It also contains a lot of sensitive stuff: Queerphobia, abuse, body horror, self-harm, mental illness, discussion of suicide and non-graphic sexual assault. So please read at your own discretion.

Have you read The Guide to a Healthy Relationship 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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