I kicked off my webcomic interview series again this week, posting a conversation between myself and Chris “Dr. McNinja” Hastings. He’s good people, and I’m looking forward to meeting up with him and many of the other webcomic creators I’ve become familiar with over the last bunch of years during this weekend’s MoCCA Arts Festival.
If you’re in the neighborhood (and even if you’re not), you should come check it out.
As always, here’s an excerpt of the interview. A link to the full transcript can be found at the end of the post.
Chris Hastings' ongoing webcomic The Adventures of Dr. McNinja is one of my favorite pay-it-forward comics. It was recommended to me a little more than two years ago, and I've been recommending it to anyone with even a passing interest in webcomics ever since.
While the series remains a consistent source of great storytelling and endlessly amusing, over-the-top action cliches presented in proud, black-and-white glory, I think it's the tagline that really sells it. Go ahead and Google "Dr. McNinja," and you'll see what I mean.
According to the InterWebs gods:
Dr. McNinja is a doctor who is also a ninja.
And there you have it.
Sure, I could tell you about the series' excellent, ongoing and continuity-laden stories featuring a man torn between his medical oath to heal and his ninja oath to kill, as well as the raptors, ghost wizards, pirates, giant lumberjacks and flying sharks he finds himself battling time and time again, but when everything is said and done, that tagline really sums it up best.
Of course, it doesn't hurt that Hastings is a witty, approachable creator who continues to seem pleasantly surprised by his status as one of the 'Net's most prominent webcomic creators. I recently had the opportunity to send some questions to Hastings about Dr. McNinja, the perils of giving characters a backstory and who he would cast in the big-screen version of Dr. McNinja. (*nudge* Take a hint, movie people, and get on this one!)
COMICMIX: While a lot of webcomics rely on the one-shot model with little continuity between episodes, The Adventures of Dr. McNinja thrives as an ongoing series with a massive, ever-expanding cast of characters. Why do you feel this is the right model for the stories you want to tell?
CHRIS HASTINGS: I think the Internet is the right model for me, because there are a lot more people with computers in their homes than there are people who go to comic shops and conventions looking for indie comics. I also had to spend way less money to put the comic online than to print it myself (which I did do eventually, but only after having a demand for it).
I recognize that long stories and continuity aren't necessarily a massive trend in comics online, since typically someone's attention span is reduced to about 12 seconds once they open their browser. But it was already my style to have something funny or exciting or generally satisfying in each individual page or update. And after someone reads a few pages and likes them, hopefully they're hooked, and they've got some investment in the story and characters.
CMix: Do you ever worry about getting bogged down in the continuity you've created?
CH: I do occasionally. Like this recent story has been going on for a little over a year now, broken up into chapters, and I'll be quite happy to go back to doing shorter stories like the first few were. But years down the road if the continuity gets to be an actual burden, like it is for Spider-Man, the X-Men, and others, I have the freedom to deal with it however I like.