Perpetual Flux authors talk about vampires, horror and webcomics

Perpetual Flux is a webcomic by Julie Olson and Kat Haynes, running since February 2012. The art catches the eye and invites the reader to enter a horrific story about blood-drinking creatures, death and mystery. The world they constructed is full of fantasy and steampunk references, the plot gets the reader turning pages frantically.

Carolina Mello: Can you introduce the plot to new readers?

Julie and Kat: Welcome to the world of Perpetual Flux, where vampires and creatures from dark lore lurk and prey upon humanity. In the late 19th century England, Vanessa Clarke, a convicted, but spritely felon, has unwittingly been thrust back from the grave and into the path of mankind’s only fighting force against evil, the Purgers. Agents Briggs, a gentleman past his prime, and Edric, a mysterious man who recovers from any injury, will take her on a journey discovering the truth to her second chance at life as well as the mysteries of the weakening threads that separate two worlds.

CM: In comics, it’s common to have one writer and one artist. In Perpetual Flux, though, you mix things up without losing story or visual consistency. How does it work for you?

Julie: I would say the key is working with someone who shares a love for story through character, and is willing to challenge and support ideas.

Kat: One way we make it work is by dedicating certain characters to each writer. Not only are we able to create natural conversations and interactions, but we surprise each other with how the other characters react at times, leading to some interesting twists.

Julie: We have to be our own editors. From script, to panels, to finished product, we bounce back and forth with feedback. It makes for some interesting conversations and often helps us find where we need to improve.

Kat: Yeah, the nice thing with having two writers and artists is that we can keep each other in check and help in deciding whether or not an idea is valid, or just plain silly. Julie will often confer with me on panel layouts and I look to her for advice and guidance with the colors. It’s a very symbiotic relationship that we’ve formed over the years.

CM: Will we get to see more horror? Action? Fantasy? What is coming?

Julie: Would I be cheating if I answered ‘all of the above’?

Kat: [Laughs] While our comic thus far may come off as a horror story, it really is more like a fantastical adventure that covers all the above bases in spades!

Julie: Vanessa is going to be thrown into a world and a life she has to fight for. Vampires are only the beginning of what she is going to face.

Kat: So expect a great deal of action and many little mysteries to come as we join Vanessa on an adventure that deals as much with the past as it does their future.

CM: How much of the story do you have already planned?

Kat: We actually have a very strong vision of the ending and overall message. The steps leading up to this finale however, are more like loose guidelines that we develop as we progress through the story, bridging each of the major plot points that we’ve already planned.

Julie: I prefer it that way. It allows for the us to be flexible with what we want to see happen while still maintaining the focus of our original ‘message’.

CM: Who is your favorite character to write/draw and why?

Julie: Briggs. Hands down he never gives me any trouble when drawing. He’s always a good sport like that. And sadly one of my favorite characters to write has not shown up yet! Edric, however, always proves to have a lot of nuance in his story. I can’t wait to explore his apparent healing ability and how it affects who he is.

Kat: Vanessa will always have a very special place in my heart when it comes to writing, seeing as she is one of the original characters I had developed. She is as much in the dark as our reader, but there is a lot more to her and this second chance at life than even she knows about. She is going to be experiencing a lot of changes as the story progresses so I am really excited to watch her grow.

CM: Vampires in fiction come in various kinds and shapes. How Perpetual Flux vampires work is not 100% clear yet, are they based on some mythology? How can they be killed? Can they enter houses uninvited? Do they shine in the sun?

Julie: Oh the fun we have with our vampires. They don’t “shine” in the sun so much as “burn-and-die.” They are children of the shadows, and we felt we should keep it that way.

Kat: We were originally inspired by “Vampyr,” a German horror film from the 1930’s that stems further back into the mythos of vampires. We expanded dramatically on the traditional concept that focuses not only on how to destroy vampires, but how they came into being. While many of the well known rules apply such as sunlight, fire, wooden steaks, they can vary in effectiveness depending on the strength and “purity” of the vampire.

Julie: Though we will go more in depth, our vampires are not all of the same stock. Some are more powerful while others are easily killed. Our Purgers have to keep on their toes and study up on the various kinds. Otherwise one false move means one less Purger to protect humanity from the creatures of the night.

Kat: Vampires, however, are only one type of a wide range of creatures originating from the world we have created so expect to see many more monsters and beasts in the near future.

CM: What are your future ambitions?

Kat: Honestly, I would love to take this story to print via Kickstarter or Indiegogo if we were to gain a large enough fan-base. More than anything though, I really just want to put out a story that people love and if possible be able to make a living off of it. The dream of all story-tellers!

Julie: I could spend a lifetime working on art and it would still not be enough. Perpetual Flux is a practice project, but it is one I will be seeing to the end. I would love to be published one day, and have my hand in creating more stories.

CM: What are you reading at the moment?

Kat: I have been a fan of The Darkness for many years now and continue to be a big supporter of Top Cow’s universe. My other passion, which lies in a completely different spectrum, is Avatar the Last Airbender. They recently released their latest graphic novel and I just love that they have been bringing up many questions that the television series left unanswered.

Julie: In a bittersweet way I have not had time to read so much as study art. I do keep up with The Darkness comics and a few more Top Cow and DC titles.

CM: Why webcomics?

Julie: Perpetual Flux, for all the time put into it, is a labor of love. I can’t stress how helpful working on story, drawing, and studying for this comic has allowed me to grow as an artist. The web offers an easy way to throw your work into the public eye, and that is a big leap many artists are afraid to take.

Kat: Personally, web comics revitalized my passion for comics as a whole. The sub-genre has drawn me into many stories I would not have noticed on a comic book shelf. I want the ability to share our story with everyone, and love being able to interact and chat with fans as each page is posted. It really gives a great sense of community and allows us to directly share our passion with others.

CM: Final thoughts?

Kat: We’re only two chapters in but I already feel like we’ve learned so much. If this experience has taught me anything, it is that nothing is set in stone, and you must be flexible in stepping aside to let the plot and the characters grow naturally. This story has changed so much since its genesis and all for the better, I believe. We have only scratched the surface of this grand epic we’ve begun and are so excited to be telling it!