Stina R is an artist from northern Sweden. She works as a technical illustrator, does freelancing and works on plenty of her own creative projects. She also enjoys outdoor life, animals and video games. She is the creator of Vápnthjófr Saga.
Synopsis: Vápnthjófr Saga (Old norse for “The Weapon Thief’s Saga”) is a historical fantasy comic, taking place in the kingdom of Jämtland, around year 900, in a world populated by anthropomorphic animals.
A conflict between the Aesir-worshippers and Vanir-worshippers has escalated into a civil war that’s threatening to tear the kingdom apart. A group of civilians are unwillingly dragged into the conflict, and is faced with a seemingly impossible task.
Did you go to school for either art or writing? If so, what school?
Wiks folkhögskola, Mälardalens högskola
What is the main genre of your comic? What appeals to you about that genre?
My comic is an historical fantasy. Ive always loved fantasy and the possibilities and escapism aspects of the genre. When it comes to the historical part, I am also interested in history and it gives me an ability to do research on historical cultures.
Are there any other genres that apply to your comic?
If one considers anthro comics a genre, and not just an aesthetic style, then I guess this comic falls into that genre too.
What was your inspiration for the story?
At first, I was inspired to create some story with anthropomorphic animals. I think my general history interest, as well as being Scandinavian myself, is the reason it got a viking setting. When it comes to the story, it took me a while to get the inspiration to put it together, but some large elements of the story (that I have yet to get to) are inspired by some lesser-known Norse deities and stories.
Do you have any favorite artists or writers who influenced your style?
I am very fond of and inspired by early 1900s children’s book illustrations, as well as several modern fantasy artists such as Yoshitaka Amano and Johan Egerkrans. That’s the reason why I try to go for a hand-painted style with pencil outlines. I have also picked up some stylistic influences from stuff that I consumed a lot as a kid- Action cartoons, Xerox-era disney, etc.
How long does it take you to complete one page?
It’s hard to tell exactly, but I’d guess around 5 hours per page.
What is your process like for creating comic pages from start to finish? What tools do you use?
I do sketch and lineart with pencil on paper, and then I scan and colour the pages digitally. I use paper textures etc. to get a watercolour-esque look on the digital colouring. I have also created a font out of my own handwriting to use for the comic.
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?
The comic is a work in progress. I have a complete script for the whole story, and Judging from how far into the script I’ve gotten by this point, I guess it will take me 4-5 years in total to complete.
How many pages do you have complete at the moment?
I have published 141 pages, but I’ve finished 176. I have a backlog of unpublished pages, which is a great safety net.
How long did it take you to plan the comic before even beginning to physically create it?
I got the first ideas in the fall of 2015, but then I had trouble working my loose ideas into a coherent script and procrastinated the project for several years, hahah. I finally got to work on writing it in the summer of 2019, and finished the script in November 2019. I started drawing the comic in December of the same year.
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 to figure out the plot. I had the characters figured out quite early, but I couldn’t think of a story for the comic. If I could go back and give my 2015 self a pep talk, I’d say that what I needed wasn’t to sit around and wait for inspiration, it was to just sit my ass down and write. Even if the first draft isn’t good, it will be better in rewrites.
What is your favorite part about working on your comic?
Telling a story visually! Whenever possible, I try to tell the story without dialogue. it’s a fun challenge to see how much I can communicate visually.
What is the most difficult part about working on your comic? How do you overcome it?
It took me a while to figure out all the technical stuff- What techniques were optimal, how to letter the comic, etc. I overcame it with trial and error, and when it comes to lettering, I went back to change my bad handwriting on the earlier pages to my proper handwriting font.
Do you have a favorite character to write for? If so, why? Tell us more about them!
I think that would be Unni. She’s a bold and fun-loving fox, and writing her snark is fun.
Which character gives you the most difficulty to write for?
I can’t think of one that really gives me trouble, but Hjördis is quite hard.
Which character gives you the most difficulty to draw?
I have to answer the weapon thief again- She is fun, but also challenging with all the details that has to be worked with.
Anything else you want the people to know about yourself or your comic?
This comic actually takes place in my home province (Jämtland) and this helps me to make the comic more grounded. Many of the places that have been visited in the comic so far are directly based on areas in and around my hometown.