Interview: Courtney Hahn, Co-Creator of Podunk

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Courtney Hahn is doing excellent work in all age comics. She’s been webcomicing, drawing, and guest-posting like a boss. Her illustrations are bright, happy, and clever. Even the ideas behind the comics make me smile. Like Uni-puppy. It’s a puppy unicorn. There is everything to love about that.Courtney Hahn, http://kootanihan.tumblr.com/, uni-puppy

I met Courtney at last weekend’s Kids Read Comics and was intrigued by her wares. I purchased a copy of Podunk and got her to agree to an interview. Here are her answers:

How long have you been working in comics?

I’ve really been drawing all my life in one way or another but I’ve only been doing comics for about 3 years. I self published my first book then, so I like to count that as when I started.

Your recent work, Podunk, was inspired by cowboy comics from the 1940’s. What was it that drew you to reimagine that particular comic?Courtney Hahn, http://podunkcomic.tumblr.com/page/24, podunk

Well, it never really started out that way. My friend and I were sitting in class and I doodled a “caricature” of the teacher. We thought it looked like a cowboy, then we said he should be a mailman, then we thought he should have a horse that looks like two people in a horse costume, and thus, Podunk was born. I’ve always loved cowboys and felt that most of the western comics these days are all grit and death and I felt like western comics need to be a lot happier. I feel like it’s specific enough to not present too many artistic challenges to get these pages out every week and make it fun and colorful, but it’s open enough to have a large variety of characters and personalities.

How have your experiences working in animation compared to working in comics?

The one big thing I think of when working in animation is “who am I working with?” Mostly because it’s not as easy to do an entire animation by yourself. Often, you need help or you need others’ skills. With comics, not so much. Yes, you have the option to work with other people but it’s not entirely necessary. It depends on who you are and what your skills are but I like to think that I can work faster on comics because there are less people in the pipeline.

Who are your main creative influences?Courtney Hahn, http://kootanihan.tumblr.com/, eep

Oh man, where to begin? Artistically I’ve always looked up to DreamWorks Animation. I hope to work there one day and I’m constantly watching their movies over and over again and flipping through the Art Of books on my shelves. I feel like other influences are too vast to list and my artistic obsessions change nearly every month. I do have a special place in my heart for the work of Gigi D.G., Rad Sechrist, Nico Marlet, Gurihiru and Fabien Mense. Plus, my friends are always pushing me creatively and always helping me with critique, story and just general life advice.

Which do you prefer working with, zines, comic books, or webcomics? And why that choice?

I’ve only gotten to do one zine to date (Kirby Dream Zine) and that was a delight to do but they’re few and far between for me. I love working in actual print comic books because it’s so tactile and I love seeing the work I produce on the computer in a book and in my hands. Webcomics are just a way to share the comics I make for a book.

What is your artistic process like when doing webcomics?

Right now, I work Courtney Hahn, http://kootanihan.tumblr.com/, animal crossingwith a writer so I have to have the script on file before I can really start working. So after I get that I divide the script into where the pages begin and end. I typically use a regular note book to do thumbnails because they’re cheap and the lines help keep things uniform. After that I look at the thumbnails and draw it on my Manga Studio page template. After getting that done I draw in the panel lines and start drawing the characters and word bubbles. Depending on the panel and how I’m feeling, I may or may not do more tight pencils to get a character more solid before going to inks. Once I get the inks done I either send it to my colorist (and co-creator, writer), I get it back later and boom, colored, finished page. Then when it’s time, I upload it and let everyone know it’s up and ready to read!

And what does your process consist of when story-boarding animation?

To this day I’ve only storyboarded one thing that got turned into an actual film so I suppose I’ll share my experience from that particular project. I convinced my group to do our short film based on a comic I had made earlier that year, Night Light, that I thought would look amazing in stop motion. After some help from our instructor, we got the story more tightened up to where the themes were more present and understandable. Since the comic was already made, it’s was like in storyboards but of a different kind. All I had to do at that point was convert the comic to a storyboard form as well as make the story changes that we’d decided on. I pretty much did all of the storyboards in a very short amount of time, an hour or two I think. My lovely team mates helped me do the finishing on them. I presented them with a smile on my face and a cane in my hand for pointing and got the green light to keep going. So I guess, long story short: Storyboards are like comics but square; their time is not told in how big the panel is, but in the editing.

What can you tell us about your upcoming projects?Courtney Hahn, http://kootanihan.tumblr.com/, monster

Well, I’m working on a mini about a Unicorn Puppy and his adventures. I’ve also got a couple other mini’s planned as well as a remastering of an old comic (possibly). I’m also going to be working on a super secret project with a friend of mine that I am very excited about. Of course, there will be more Podunk in the months to come as well.

 

And, (my favorite question to ask), what were your favorite books when you were a kid?

Oh man, I haven’t thought about this in a long time. I loved The Hungry, Hungry Caterpillar and the Little Critter books. I also started reading manga when I was fairly young so Naruto is always lingering in my past. I was never a really strong reader but at school sometimes our teacher would read books to us out loud and I always loved it when they read the work of Roald Dahl, especially Matilda.

Courtney Hahn, http://kootanihan.tumblr.com/, royal family

Do these books impact your current work in any way?

I like to think that they do. Especially Dahl’s work. I love the fun and the fear that his books evoked. I hope to one day make books that keep readers on the edge of their seats in suspense and come up with incredible worlds filled with chocolate rivers and witches with square feet.

 

You can read Podunk every Tuesday at PodunkComic.Tumblr.comCourtney Hahn, http://kootanihan.tumblr.com/, podunk endAnother thank you to Courtney Hahn for taking the time for this interview.

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About Author

Romona Williams is an ex-librarian, current tutor, and constant writer. She can usually be found in antiquarian bookstores, curiosity shops, and carnivals after dark.

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