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interview: dirk schwieger on “moresukine”

August 12th, 2008 by Rick · No Comments ·

With all of the chaos regarding the end of my time with ComicMix, it would be a shame if one of my last webcomic creator interviews ended up being overlooked in the hub-bub – especially when the subject is the creator of one of my favorite online art projects in quite a while.

Moresukine was one of those projects that completely fascinated me when it was underway, so having the chance to sit down and talk about it with its creator, Dirk Schwieger, was one of the highlights of my San Diego Comic-Con experience.

I’ve posted an excerpt of the interview here, with a link to the rest of the interview posted after the jump.

Dirk Schwieger's Moresukine is different from other series I've focused on in these weekly webcomic creator interviews for a few significant reasons -- first and foremost of which being that it's no longer updated. The last comic was posted more than two years ago, back in in June 2006. However, when I saw that the German creator was a guest of NBM Publishing at this year's Comic-Con International, I jumped at the chance to include a Q&A with him in this series.

For anyone unfamiliar with Moresukine, the 24-part webcomic chronicled a year's worth of "assignments" Schwieger undertook at the request of readers while living abroad in Japan. Fans would send him tasks to accomplish -- anything from "meeting a traditional swordsmith" to "spending a night in a pod hotel" -- and he would write, illustrate and post a new comic each week based on his experience trying to complete that mission. The aim of the project, according to Schwieger, was to make the most of his time in Japan by offering himself up as someone through which his readers could live vicariously. The title of the series, Moresukine, came from the Japanese pronunciation of "Moleskine," the type of notebook he used to record his experiences.

A few months ago, NBM Publishing announced that it would be collecting Schwieger's online comic and publishing it in print form, complete with extra material contributed by webcomic veterans James Kochalka and Ryan North. Now that the paperback Moresukine collection has hit shelves, I spoke to Schwieger about the origin of the series, his favorite assignments and what we can expect to see from the talented creator in the future.

COMICMIX: Can you start from the beginning, Dirk? How did this project happen and what did you want it to be when you first conceived of it?

DIRK SCHWIEGER: Well, I was in Japan for one year. You could say that it was a travel-logue kind of thing, but the catch is that it's not just about what I deem is important or what i want to tell, but people were invited to send in emails with requests of places that i should go to in Tokyo, where I lived, or certain people I should get in contact with. And I couldn't refuse. I had to do all of the submissions in the order of their arrival.

It started very mundane. There is a webcomics portal in Germany, where I come from originally, and it's called Electrocomics.com. I had some stuff up there and they said, "Oh, you're going to Tokyo. Maybe you should do some sketches regularly." So they created this blog. I never had a blog before, and never intended to have one. I was kind of naive about the whole thing... but now I know. There are interesting blogs.

At that time, it was very important to me to get around the navel-gazing thing. This was one of the reasons to invite others and have this community effort of exploring the country -- to have me sort of remote-controlled from outside the city.

CMIX: What were some of your favorite assignments?

DS: Oh, that's so... hmm... there's so many... that's difficult.

CMIX: How about your least-favorite assignments?

DS: [Laughs] For the best one, the first thing that comes to mind is really Takao-san. It wasn't really that hard to hop on a train and leave the inner city and just be in nature and enjoy it. There were other times when I had assignments saying "Okay, go find biker gangs." That takes so much more time. It took weeks, probably months, before I found them. I was out every day looking for them. They don't just drive by your front door.

So yes, I think Takao-san was one of my favorites -- having this nature experience in the middle of this huge, vast concrete desert was amazing. And it was kind of like taking a break from this strict weekly schedule that had to performed after my daily job, which was quite a challenge.

CMIX: Outside of what you learned from each assignment individually, what else did this project teach you?

DS: There was a lot, really. For one thing, I wasn't a Japanese culture aficionado when I arrived there. I was pretty naive about the whole culture, but all of these people around the globe had such a detailed knowledge of certain places that i should go to, or certain people that i should check out. So just from a travel perspective, it was amazing for me to have all of these experiences that you will never find in a travel guide.

CMIX: You had quite a few personal travel guides, it seems...

DS: Yeah, I would never searched for a traditional swordsmith in the middle of Tokyo, but through the pressure of this project I was forced to find one. I was harassing people to tell me where the fuck I could find a Japanese swordsmith in all of this madness. And yes, I wouldn't have had the energy to see all of these special places without this project.

For the full interview, head over to ComicMix.

Tags: interviews · webcomic interviews · webcomics