Word Balloons: An Interview with Webcomic Creator Terry Blas

Last week, fellow Geeks Out blogger Anthony reviewed the webcomic Briar Hollow.  You can check that out right HERE.

I spoke with creator Terry Blas about Briar Hollow, his influences, and a little something you may have seen elsewhere on this site...

Drew Tabb: The webcomic arena has grown considerably in the last few years.  What do you like about doing a webcomic versus a traditional "print" comic?

Terry Blas: It has grown! Artists have definitely caught on to the fact that if you want to make a comic and you want to have it be entirely your vision you can utilize the internet to get it out to a lot of people very quickly. Web comics aren't limited to a page count or content, they can really be anything, and you can of course print your web comics later if you want. Web comics feel liberating. You can really put anything out there.

DT: The first thing that came to mind when I read your comic was another webcomic, PVP - both in terms of art style and characters.  And then it turns out you had just finished a guest stint on PVP!  Is it safe to assume there was some influence or homage there?  Maybe Molly will have a PVP-flavored dream?  Or would that be too meta?

TB: Skott Kurtz and PVP have been a tremendous influence on me and my work. PVP was the first web comic I read and also the first one that sort of taught me that I could do what Scott was doing too, make work and put it out there. I was very fortunate to do a two week Artist in Residence stint on PVP and it was inspiring and bizarre to be working on the comic that started it all for me. I mean, I grew up reading X-Men and Gen-13 and various other books, but by putting his work on the internet, Scott opened up a whole world to me that I hadn't realized existed. I don't know that Molly will have a PVP themed dream, it might be way too meta for me, and PVP exists as it's own thing I wouldn't want to touch.

DT: One thing that struck me about your characters is how familiar and genuine they are, even though we've really only followed them for one week (their time).  I've been known to yell cartoon catchphrases with my friends as well.  Was it easy to come up with the personalities for the main cast

TB: Coming up with personalities for the main cast was fairly easy. I knew I wanted to follow a young girl in her journey towards accepting herself. Molly's journey very much mimics my struggle for self acceptance. I've got a friend who's a fashionista and incredibly intelligent and elegant, so Sam was born. And the guys are all sort of amalgamations of my other friends. Benny, who recently came out, might be my inner child.

DT: You were raised Mormon.  There may be a LITTLE bit of controversy in the LGBT community surrounding one of its most prominent members - sci fi writer Orson Scott Card.  Do you feel like Card is representative of modern Mormonism?

TB: I was raised Mormon, I even went on a Spanish speaking mission to New York City, although I grew up bilingual so I didn't have to learn Spanish. I can only speak to my experiences and because I no longer consider myself a member of the LDS church, I'm not so sure if Orson Scott Card's opinion reflects modern Mormonism. I know Mormons who speak out against homosexuality, but I also know Mormons who don't know how to deal with their feelings because they don't believe "acting on being gay" is a sin, despite the church telling them that it is. 

I think more, Card and his opinions are suffering from living in an enclosed box made up of his own beliefs. When people say awful things about other groups of people it's usually paired with the fact that they don't know any of those people or have any of those people in their life. I grew up in Boise Idaho, there's a reason so many Mormons live there and in Utah. There's no one challenging their opinions or beliefs. Someone in my family, who is Mormon, came to Portland once, where I live, and couldn't handle it. "Too many hippies and weirdos and gays," was what they said. They needed the comfort of their bubble. People are not happy when their bubble bursts and their thoughts are exposed to the world.
DT: What's your take on Skip Enders Game?
TB: I think it's terrific that so much attention is being brought to the forefront. The internet has made it possible for information to move quickly and for opinions to be heard. Clearly, the things he's said are horrible. Clearly his bubble burst and he was caught off guard not knowing who to say or do. Going back to what I said, I would wonder how many out gay people Orson Scott Card has in his life? How many does he know? Not how many has he met, but how many does he associate with? I believe he must live a life surrounded by like minded people who don't expose him to the fact that those who are different aren't monsters. That "different" could mean interesting and intriguing and as a writer he should be interested in exposing himself to new ideas and experiences. In my opinion, organized religion doesn't celebrate individual thought, but art does.
DT: At least two other popular webcomics (PVP and Penny Arcade) have had video games come out of their respective worlds.  What are the chances of an actual Oakey Hollow game?  And will we find out the names of the pistol packing flamingo and the nunchuk wielding bear?
TB: I don't know how video games are made but I would love to see an Oakey Hollow game one day! We'll get more of a taste in the next issue in regards to the game. The flamingo and bear don't have names yet, but I'm open to suggestions!
DT: Lastly, what makes YOU geek out?
TB: What makes me geek out? How long do you have? Here's a little list: 
Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Daria, RuPaul's Drag Race, X-Men, Star Trek, Adventure Time, Regular Show, Bee and Puppycat, anything Oz related, Ultimate Spider-Man, My Little Pony, Abarat, Teen Wolf, Community, Drawing, Karaoke, Musicals, The Hunger Games, Young Adult literature in general, and making comics!

Thanks to Terry for taking the time to answer my questions.  Check out Terry's webpage at terryblas.com and listen to him on The Gnerd Podcast!
on August 25, 2013