Spotlight

His Pain Fuels Him! Threshold: The Story of Vance Hibbert


Vincethestick is a guy from California who draws a lot in his spare time, and sometimes he remembers to post them online. His moniker comes from me being tall and skinny, as well as referencing stick figure comics he made during middle school. He likes video games and does some amateur video editing, usually with a ton of YouTube playing in the background. Music is probably his favorite medium, and he owns a keyboard which he doesn’t play as often as he wants to. Popeyes chicken is the shiznit. He is the creator of Threshold: The Story of Vance Hibbert.

Synopsis: Vance Hibbert is, in a lot of ways, just an average person who loves to read comics. One night, he is visited by a mysterious man named Lucien who claims to have the power to grant wishes. Vance takes this opportunity to gain superpowers to live out the stories of the comics he reads. While successful, Vance ends up with the less than desirable ability to convert received pain into fuel for his powers, but he aims to make it work regardless.

Did you go to school for either art or writing? If so, what school?
I went to the Academy of Art University for like less than 2 years intent on getting an illustration degree, but the overall experience was probably some of the least favorite years of my life so I bailed. It was just an expensive mess with useless prereq classes and overworked assignments that did not befit the tuition prices. I won’t deny that in some classes I did learn some important information and philosophies from some cool teachers, but it’s really not stuff that you can’t just find for free online, especially nowadays. It was pretty sobering considering I wanted to go there for like my entire life up until it actually happened. Overall pretty pointless; do not recommend.

What is the main genre of your comic? What appeals to you about that genre?
Superhero, it’s something that’s so broad that you can really just do whatever as long as it hits some of those minimal check boxes. There’s a hero, there’s a villain, there’s some ridiculous outfits and powers and stuff. Superheroes as a concept feel inherently campy to me, but that’s not saying it can’t have serious moments as long as you break it up with some levity.

Are there any other genres that apply to your comic?
Action and maybe comedy? It depends on how much humor you find in it.

What was your inspiration for the story?
The concept of Vance’s superhero persona came to me randomly while eating at a Popeyes. I guess fried chicken and bondage imagery are connected but I’m not sure how. I designed him as a pain-themed antihero, the closest comparison I can think of is Penance from Marvel I guess. For some reason, I liked the concept enough and just expanded upon it, eventually creating the villain who I made ghost themed to contrast with Vance’s darker color scheme. Lucien, the wish granter, was a character I planned for another project which I just decided to put in here as an easy way to introduce the powers while having some air of mystery.

The general story structure was modeled after cartoons I watched as a kid, mostly just villain of the week type shows like Powerpuff Girls and Danny Phantom, along with the typical superhero origin story. The themes aren’t a projection of anything really, I could give two birds and a stone about bondage or masochism, I just thought the irony of Vance having pain based powers and donning a modified gimp suit was funny.

Do you have any favorite artists or writers who influenced your style?
I’d be a huge liar if I didn’t say Jhonen Vasquez had a big part in influencing my overall style and penchant for sarcasm. It was actually way too apparent in my early art post-anime that it’s embarrassing. Genndy Tartakovsky is another, especially Samurai Jack which is my favorite cartoon of all time. Sprinkle in a dash of Tite Kubo and you get the gist of it.

I’m also really big on Osamu Tezuka and how he can create simple but appealing characters, and incorporates them into dark storylines that are weirdly presented in an easily digestible and lighthearted way visually. The Hot Dog Corps is like super messed up when you think about it.

How long does it take you to complete one page?
If I sit down from start to finish it could only take like 3-6 hours, but I also get easily distracted so it might end up being 8. I think the worst was one that took like 3 days cause I was having serious composition issues.

What is your process like for creating comic pages from start to finish? What tools do you use?
For the first 15 pages I drew traditionally on a large comic board. Pencils, micron ink pens, and a ruler were my main tools. I scanned the comic board and adjusted the levels in Photoshop before formatting it for upload. Then I managed to buy a Cintiq and just straight up switched to all digital and have been since. I currently use Clip Studio Paint because…idk, I like it.

Starting off, each update was on a page by page basis, which is a fancy way of saying I had no idea what I was doing and basically improvised most pages. Later I realized I was stupid and actually started thumbnailing several pages in advance, writing the dialogue on the side with arrows connecting them to whatever panel they belonged in. I just sit down, put on whatever I feel like in the background, sketch out the page and ink it, usually in one sitting.

For some reason I am eternally compelled to use as few layers as possible, and so each page only has separate layers for the borders, sketch, ink, and text. I used to handwrite the dialogue, but that takes too long so I use a free font now. I made a font out of my own handwriting some time later so I might just switch to that in the future.

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?
Technically I would say it’s about 50% done. Threshold was never intended to be super long, so I didn’t think of any grand adventures beyond its origin story and the one conflict that follows. I want to include a second part to resolve some story bits, though there’s no ETA on that currently. There’s going to be a definitive end that also still leaves it a bit open in case I ever go back to the concept.

How long did it take you to plan the comic before even beginning to physically create it?
Less than a month, I think. I jumped into it straight away, which was a mistake cause I ended up stopping after 7 pages and came back to redo them 7 months later. It’s a very simple plot structure so it wasn’t too hard to plan 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?
Well, first of all I’d tell myself to make pages in reserve so you can keep a consistent schedule and engage with reader comments more. Practical advice is sometimes enough for me. A big thing that I still can’t really wrap my head around is advertisement for lack of a better word. I feel greasy when I try to shill my work, so I end up not doing it enough.

What is your favorite part about working on your comic?
Honestly, just seeing how a page looks once it’s ready to upload. I know a lot of people who don’t like inking, but it’s honestly my favorite process.

What is the most difficult part about working on your comic? How do you overcome it?
Keeping a regular upload schedule for one, I think that’s the biggest one. Second by a large margin is probably the initial layout of new pages. As far as overcoming it I didn’t on the first bit evidently, but I’m too self aware about it now to fall into that trap again. I guess to reiterate the best way to prevent it is to build up a page buffer before even thinking of uploading.

Do you have a favorite character to write for? If so, why? Tell us more about them!
Vance is a bit of a self insert so by default I like writing for him because I just think of how I would respond to the situations he’s in. He also falls into the kind of lovable jerk category I think, which are always fun characters to write for.

Which character gives you the most difficulty to write for?
Lucien, because it’s also hard to write his dialogue without making him just seem like Mr. Exposition. Also I don’t see myself as very charismatic so it’s pretty difficult to put myself in the shoes of someone who is supposed to be persuasive and intelligent. Another thing about him is that I don’t want his dialogue quirk to feel shoehorned and obnoxious, so I use it as sparingly as I can.

Do you have a favorite character to draw?
Vance’s superhero costume is really fun to draw and looks cool for the most part.

Which character gives you the most difficulty to draw?
Ruth, because while I find her fun, it’s hard to convey that her ghostly ponytail thing is constantly moving without making it look like she has a weird H. R. Giger head.

Also just in general, I seem to never decide on how I want Vance (in costume) OR Ruth’s profile to look.

Where can we find you?
Webcomic: http://threshold.thecomicseries.com/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/vincethestick
Twitter: https://twitter.com/vincethestick
Comic Fury: https://comicfury.com/profile.php?username=Vincethestick

Anything else you want the people to know about yourself or your comic?
Not really, everything is pretty much covered. The story thus far is available as a paperback print on Lulu.com which you can view on my spotlight page if you want: http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/vincethestick

Have you read Threshold: The Story of Vance Hibbert yet? Let us know what you think in the comments! Or, hey, go to the creator’s site and show some love 😀

Want your webcomic to be featured here? Drop me a line!