Spotlight

Undead Friend – A Deadly Game!

NJ Huff is non-binary, disabled and has mental health issues and can’t work a regular job so they’re doing their best as a freelance character and comic artist. They used to make a webcomic called Emergency Exit but suffered a bad injury that put them out of commission for 7 years, so they are still readjusting to society and drawing and still dealing with chronic pain. They live in Oregon with their husband of 10 years Orion Gates, who works on comics with them, and their many cats. They are the creators of Undead Friend.

Synopsis: Orrick Heretis was living an average high school life until a cute ghost girl named Mahalah appeared before him requesting to become his friend. When Orrick agreed neither of them knew they were entering a deadly game called Undead Friend. Now Orrick and Mahalah must lead double lives, killing monsters for points in order to not disappear. Along they way, they befriend Wylie and his ghost Brigger, who help them navigate their new world.

Did you go to school for either art or writing? If so, what school?
I went to the University of Oregon and majored in Digital Art and Japanese Language.

What is the main genre of your comic? What appeals to you about that genre?
I guess maybe supernatural? I really like ghost stories and the supernatural in general so doing a comic about it was sorta inevitable.

Are there any other genres that apply to your comic?
Adventure and Mystery have been used to describe it, Comedy a bit too.

What was your inspiration for the story?
My love for ghosts, and works like Fruits Basket, Bleach and Persona all played a part in the early stages but I also pull inspiration from anything pretty much.

Do you have any favorite artists or writers who influenced your style?
Natasuki Takaya, Rumiko Takahashi, and Hiromu Arakawa, and many more along the way.

How long does it take you to complete one page?
Varies a lot, a couple to a few hours or so, more if it’s a color page.

What is your process like for creating comic pages from start to finish? What tools do you use?
I plan the layout on the computer, use the dimensions of the panels to draw them large in the sketchbook with pencil and then scan and finish page mostly in Clip Studio but some use of Photoshop. Sometimes I draw parts digital from scratch as I get better at it.

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?
We have a pretty decent layout and ending set up, but I still don’t know how long it will take especially with my health problems. I hope no more than 10 years.

How many pages do you have complete at the moment?
Including Patreon comics 640 as of writing this.

How long did it take you to plan the comic before even beginning to physically create it?
I originally made it for a high school project but had to put it aside in college to focus on one comic and school. I then suffered my injury, so I had a long time to think about it and then a year of practice drawing and writing before starting the comic in 2018 after recovery. I write with Orion Gates who helps me out a lot and keeps things together cause otherwise my imagination would go insane.

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?
I would warn myself to never get injured, being in chronic pain for 7 years before having it less enough to draw again was not good for productivity or my sanity.

What is your favorite part about working on your comic?
Drawing pencils maybe, inking close second, though sometimes just brainstorming with Orion is really fun.

What is the most difficult part about working on your comic? How do you overcome it?
I suffer from clinical depression and anxiety as well as off and on chronic pain. My health is my biggest difficulty. I just strive to work hard when I can.

Do you have a favorite character to write for? If so, why? Tell us more about them!
Our favorite might be Wylie Kurosawa. Writing his angry dialogue can be a lot of fun. He’s also one of my most complex characters with many secrets and suffers a lot. I like those things lol.

Which character gives you the most difficulty to write for?
They haven’t shown up yet in comic but some characters like Gale are really tricky.

Do you have a favorite character to draw?
Probably Mahalah, she is adorable.

Which character gives you the most difficulty to draw?
Darwin. I am new to body types still so I keep not getting his right. He’s really big and sometimes hard to fit into panels lol.

Where can we find you?
Anywhere!
Undead Friend: http://undeadfriend.com/
Emergency Exit: http://eecomics.net/
Twitter: @njdrawscomics
Instagram: @njdrawscomics
DeviantArt: https://www.deviantart.com/undeadfriend
Discord Group: https://discord.com/invite/VnUBNzT

Anything else you want the people to know about yourself or your comic?
We work really hard on it, I’m not very good still but I am always improving.