Spotlight

Snow Elves Try to Survive in Harsh Conditions – WARBAND

Jenny McKinney’s hobbies are illustration and writing and computers are her job. She loves gaming, knitting and greyhounds. She’s a huge fan of fantasy and science fiction, high epic fantasy being her favorite. She is the creator of WARBAND.

Synopsis: In ancient times, there was war between the five races, a war ultimately won by the Dragons– when they dropped their savage sorcery bombs on the Elves. The elf homeland was turned into a poisoned wasteland, and the Elves themselves were warped by magic, changing the fiber of their being. They found themselves inextricably dependent on environment, and forced to scatter across the globe. The Sea Elves went into hiding in the sea, the Sand Elves vanished into the desert, the Snow Elves disappeared into the frozen north, and the Forest Elves haunted the forests of the land.

The story of WARBAND follows a group of Snow Elves trying to survive in harsh conditions, resorting to raiding and adventuring to bring rare resources home to their people.

Did you go to school for either art or writing? If so, what school?
No, self-taught. I went to a local college for liberal arts, but all of my teachers there were very anti-comics. I got a general education in classical technique, but my heart was never in it because my teachers were always crapping on the things that I actually wanted to learn. I only kept going to school until my free scholarship ran out, I never saw the sense in paying actual money for blows to my self esteem.

What is the main genre of your comic? What appeals to you about that genre?
My main genre is Fantasy, specifically the “Dungeonhammer” type of fantasy that you’d encounter while playing Dungeons and Dragons. I have a lot of love for D&D, and a good chunk of Warband is inspired by past games with friends.

Are there any other genres that apply to your comic?
Comedy! I love making people laugh, and the banter between the main cast is almost natural comedy fodder. They’re five very different personalities, and they clash to hilarious effect (I hope, anyway).

What was your inspiration for the story?
WARBAND is largely inspired by TV shows like Vikings, old comics like Poison Elves, and every Dungeons and Dragons game I’ve ever played in my life. D&D is the driving inspiration, and while this is a comic book I feel like I could probably write this up into a D&D campaign.

Do you have any favorite artists or writers who influenced your style?
I love Sir Terry Pratchett from the bottom of my heart. GNU Terry Pratchett! I also love Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files, and of course, the father of all Dungeonhammer– Tolkien.

Art-wise, I grew up watching and drawing good old 90’s anime, Record of Lodoss War, The Slayers, Vampire Hunter D. Over time I’ve slowly expanded my artistic palette beyond the big-eyes, little mouth and I’m still working on settling into an art style of my own. It’s an ongoing process, if you stop growing it means you’re dead.

How long does it take you to complete one page?
I can produce a page in approximately a week or less, but unfortunately my output isn’t as high or as optimistic as that– I have a full-time job outside of comics, as well as being a wife and mother. I really wish I could dedicate all of my time to making comics, but life just doesn’t work that way. Unless my Patreon site really takes off to the point where I could quit my dayjob, anyway.

What is your process like for creating comic pages from start to finish? What tools do you use?
Overly optimisitc writing, hair-pulling editing, frenzied sketching, sober revision of sketchwork, blissful inking. Then, I send it off to my colorist, LaNora. I’m blessed to have a friend who actually understands color, because I really really don’t.

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?
No, not a finished work– I once got myself good and depressed because I sat down and did the math, and realized that at the rate I was working I’d be in my 60s before I was finished with this comic… Best not to dwell on it too much, really…

How many pages do you have complete at the moment?
There is 14 pages of Chapter 1, and 15 pages of the prologue story, “Warcry.” Warcry started off life as Chapter 1, but underwent extensive rewrites AFTER being drawn. The prologue was cobbled together from the remains of the rewritten story, chopping about half of the chapter’s page count out of the total story. Two steps forward, three steps back. Warcry isn’t available on the website for free though, it’s currently on offer on Amazon as a Kindle comic book.

How long did it take you to plan the comic before even beginning to physically create it?
I started creating the world and really getting into the characters around 2013. I did a lot of character-building illustrations and short stories, chapter outlines, and general brainstorming, all of which wound up getting edited or revised a whopping six times. I finally got frustrated and reached a now-or-never point, where I just started drawing and hoping for the best, probably around 2016 or so.

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?
When I took my Hail-Mary leap head-first into making this comic, I ultimately wound up doubting the value of my work after it had been done– No one was looking at it, I was getting no feedback. I had no audience to tell me if I was doing well or not, so I turned to professional advice. I hired a content editor, and he pointed out the literary mistakes I was making in my narrative. This resulted in me cannibalizing my original Chapter 1, and starting over. The end result– I still don’t get any feedback, I still get nailed with crippling self-doubt, but I’ve made the realization that I ultimately need to write what pleases me, and an audience who has the same tastes will follow in their own time. If I could give Past-Jen a pep talk, it would be exactly that– be patient, and don’t worry about making a sellable product– make what you love. It might wind up silly and weird, but screw it– the world needs more silly and weird.

What is your favorite part about working on your comic?
My favorite part is spending every day with these crazy, pointy-eared adventurers and getting to know them inside and out.

What is the most difficult part about working on your comic? How do you overcome it?
Overcoming executive dysfunction, distractions and poor time management to actually MAKE the comic exist. It’s just bloody-minded determination that keeps my hands moving, if I could hook my brain into a printer and just print out comics, I surely would.

Do you have a favorite character to write for? If so, why? Tell us more about them!
Micah Arclight, definitely– he’s wild, sexy and fun. Definitely a wish-fulfillment character, a trickster archetype with manic grins and zippy one-liners.

Which character gives you the most difficulty to write for?
The leader of the warband, Magus Ferox. She’s my flagship character so to speak, you’d think it’d be the easiest– but with all of the Opinions flying around lately about how Strong Independent Female Characters are Supposed To Be, it turns writing for her into a minefield of navigating crappy tropes and avoiding stepping onto a Feminist pulpit and getting over-preachy.

Do you have a favorite character to draw?
Micah all the way– I am a sinner, literally lusting for a fictional person of my own creation, I admit it freely. He’s big, red and ridiculously sexy.

Which character gives you the most difficulty to draw?
Gwilyon Mallenal, the wizard. I struggle with body type diversity, and he’s a tol skinny boi. I’ve definitely fallen into the MUSCLES ALL THE TIME mindset of drawing men, so figuring out his proportions and convincing myself that yes, lithe can be pretty no leave it alone stop fiddling with it, it’s not incorrect it’s just slimmer than what you’re used to drawing, no you don’t need a new reference et cetera ad infinitum. I regularly commit the sin of occasionally drawing Gwil as a floating head attached to a set of billow robes. (Not a dress– Never a dress. He’s very specific about that).

Where can we find you?
I am everywhere, man. I’m trying to push Warband to a wider audience, I’d gotten it in my head that more websites = more exposure, so I’m doin’ Warband at ALL of these places:
https://warbandcomic.com/ – The main website, of course.
https://www.patreon.com/magusferox – The Patreon, which updates the most and the fastest. There’s usually always about two or three pages hidden there that’s not available on the main site yet, I squirrel them away for 30 days before releasing comics out into the wild.
https://ko-fi.com/magusferox – The Ko-Fi, if you just want to send a little love my way.
https://tapas.io/series/WARBAND – The Tapas, which updates in one big chunk when a chapter is finished (so, like once a year haha).
https://www.webtoons.com/en/challenge/warband/list?title_no=231556 – WebToon, which actually I really hate their interface and they only accept crappy JPEGS so can’t really recommend this one. ALSO, if you should want to read the original “Warcry” before I gutted it for editing, it still exists here. Not considered canon anymore, but here you can see my past sins.
https://warbandcomic.tumblr.com/ – The Tumblr, which miraculously hasn’t gotten censored, I don’t think.
https://twitter.com/magusferox – The Twitter, for all your tweeting needs. Mostly I just post HEY GUISE I UPDATED THE PATREON all the time.
https://www.instagram.com/magusferox/ – The Instagram, which… yeah. Dammit why can’t I upload pictures from ANYTHING but my crappy cellphone… Seems like a lot of artists are doing well on this platform though, so on the bandwagon I go.
https://www.twitch.tv/magusferox – The Twitch, which… I really want to stream again, but still can’t pin down a good time for it. I’m also on Picarto and Youtube, but yeah… streaming is hard, man.
https://mastodon.art/@magusferox – Mastodon, a Twitter alternative if you wanna stick it to the MAN and roll on a federated social media.
https://www.artstation.com/magusferox – The ArtStation cuz I got half-assed aspirations toward Bein’ All Professional and Stuff.
https://www.pinterest.com/magusferox/ – Lol why do I even…

TL;DR – – HOLY CRAP I HAVE TOO MANY WEBSITES COME VISIT ME

You can also find, LaNora’s works here:
Patreon: patreon.com/LAN0RA
DeviantART: deviantart.com/lan0ra
ArtStation: https://www.artstation.com/lan0ra

Anything else you want the people to know about yourself or your comic?
I’m writing a five-man band Dungeonhammer fantasy adventure story, but my other passion is subverting tropes. I have posh Dwarves and brutish, burly Elves, humanoid Dragons and peaceful Orcs. Things are meant to be a little bit sideways, so if you come at Warband expecting certain things, I hope you find you’re pleasantly surprised instead.