Lindsay Cibos and her creative partner Jared Hodges are major up-and-comers in the manga world. In 2003 she won the Grand Prize in Tokyopop’s Rising Stars of Manga competition for Peach Fuzz. They published the work in a three volume set and then extended their talents to produce several instructional books based in manga and digital art. Lindsay has also contributed work for Sabrina the Teenage Witch, Children’s Digest Magazine, Sonic the Hedgehog, and Domo: The Manga. Her latest publication is the ongoing webcomic The Last of the Polar Bears. I was very lucky that she agreed to be interviewed for Webcomics Week.
She took the time to answer some questions via an email interview:
What are your favorite books and comic books?
Wow, I have so many favorite comics. I’m absolutely in love with the works of Osamu Tezuka. Little by little, I’m reading my way through his entire catalog (those available in English). His approach to storytelling, cinematic layouts and expressive characters is really inspiring to me. Osamu Tezuka’s Buddha is my favorite; Black Jack is also an entertaining read, and Unico is super cute. I’m also an avid listener of audiobooks. Spending a lot of time sitting in a chair drawing = lots of time to listen to books. I really like Tamora Pierce’s Song of the Lioness and Protector of the Small series (and think they would make for an awesome comic adaptation). Lately I’ve been enjoying the works of Haruki Murakami.
How has your experience publishing The Last of the Polar Bears as a webcomic contrasted from your experience publishing Peach Fuzz in print?
With Peach Fuzz, working for a publisher, we had deadlines and funding—both extremely helpful in focusing our efforts to create the comic. With Last of the Polar Bears, I’ve had to work on it as a side project, which has regretfully slowed its production. The webcomic format has benefits, of course. It’s really nice to be able to release each page as it’s created and receive immediate feedback from readers.
Do you and Jared Hodges collaborate on the webcomic to the same extent as you did on Peach Fuzz? What is it like to have a partner creating an online comic compared to a printed comic?
The online comic format hasn’t made a significant difference in our collaboration process. I came up with the initial concept, and then Jared and I worked together to develop each of the characters and transform the rough concept into a complete outline. From there, I wrote the initial draft for each chapter before handing it over to Jared to look over and offer notes and ideas for fleshing out scenes, or cutting parts that weren’t working. Unlike Peach Fuzz, where we shared artistic duties (I penciled, Jared inked, and we both screen toned), the art in The Last of the Polar Bears is 100% illustrated by me, which I think gives it a different feel.
Well, an online format for my art instruction books would be up to my publisher. That said, I would love to continue the series of online tutorials I’ve been writing on the creative process of making comics. There’s so many topics in that area that I’d like to cover. I’d also love to dig into dissecting Tezuka’s and other creator’s works, and analyze what makes their storytelling techniques so effective. When time allows!
On the flipside, do you have any plans to publish your online work in a print medium?
There aren’t any concrete plans, but I’d love to eventually see Last of the Polar Bears published in a print medium. I appreciate the flexibility of the online format, but I love tangible books. In fact, I storyboarded all of the pages of LOTPB as double-page spreads to ensure that the panels on one page flow into the next when the pages are presented side-by-side.
What other webcomics have influenced your work?
I credit Jason Brubaker’s online graphic novel reMIND for inspiring me to take the plunge into webcomics. His openness about his process and his success with the medium gave me the courage to go for it. A few of my favorite webcomics are Cucumber Quest, Roza, nemu*nemu, and Solstoria!
What is it about polar bears that brought you to depict global warming through their perspective?
I heard this interview on the radio several years ago about a woman who was teaching her kids about conservation by telling them that every time they turned off a light, they were “saving a polar bear”. I thought it was a cute way of illustrating the cost of energy usage, and the image stuck with me. That was the initial ‘spark’ that eventually led me to write a story about polar bears contending with the warming Arctic. I honestly didn’t know much about polar bears before I started research for the story, but the more I read, the deeper I became engaged in their plight. They’re beautiful, fascinating animals, and my hope is that by showing the consequences of climate change through their perspective, readers will empathize with the bears and be moved to make a difference in their own lives.
What artistic techniques do you use to produce LotPB?
For the first chapter, I drew the pages on 11″x17″ Bristol board with mechanical pencil, and colored them in Photoshop CS3. Recently, I’ve been experimenting with streamlining the process by working completely digital from start to finish. So far I’m really happy with the results. There’s a brush tool in Clip Studio Paint that nicely captures the look of soft pencils, so the new pages are almost indistinguishable from the traditionally drawn pages of Chapter 1. This illustration of Stella and Nanook snuggling in the den demonstrates the new approach:
What future plans do you have for your art and comics? What can we expect to see in the future for LotPB?
I’m currently working on a new how-to book for IMPACT Books about one of my favorite subjects, drawing cute little animals. 😉 Comics are my passion, so I’m eager to return to polar bears as soon as the how-to book is wrapped up. All of The Last of the Polar Bears is written and storyboarded, so it’s a matter of sitting down and making the pages, and I’m really looking forward to it.