Interviews with readers and creators

25

Feb 2015

Creator Spotlight: Uriah and Holly Brown

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Today’s creator spotlight is with Uriah Brown and Holly Brown, creators of the webcomic Kri: The Unseen Essence.

Kri_Banner

 

D: Tell me about yourselves, the people behind the comic.

U: We’re an interesting pair, that’s for sure. To start off with, my name is Uriah Brown, and I live and work a hum-drum job in Columbus, OH. Graduated college in May of 2014, the same college where Holly and I met and started this whole endeavour. Holly and I met some odd years back through a mutual friends online RP and have been great friends ever since. In my spare time however, I dedicate a lot of my waking thoughts and efforts to Kri: The Unseen Essence. If I’m not working on something Kri related, I’m at least thinking about something else Kri related. I often find myself engrossed in various forms of tabletop games, and video games in my spare time as well. Having spent years playing World of Warcraft on a regular basis, it’s hard not to check in on things every few days or so. Most days though, I just count down the hours at work until I can get home and start working on something or another.

H: Let’s see… Uriah and I are two massive dorks with a massive dork idea, pulling massively dorkish hours to bring it to fruition! In simpler terms, we’re just a couple of goofballs trying our very first hand at an Indie comic. We met in college through a mutual friend and ended up becoming good friends ourselves. We work pretty darn well together, with Uriah’s studies centering on things like business, data management, and other types of logistics I can’t stand. And I’m just a graphic design student wading my way through my last semester! When you put us together we can really take on one another’s weaknesses. It’s a really nice harmony. As for me personally, I’m a college senior with a heavy interest in cartoons, video games, LARPing, nature, camping, and storytelling. Getting to draw and write a story about a LARP-centric, game playing, dice rolling group of teenagers discovering their place in the world among this hidden reality of nature based spirits is a pleasure beyond words.

D: So…Brown and Brown. Married or just happen to be good friends with the same surname?  How is working with your spouse? (If that’s a faulty assumption, just switch to “how is it working as a creative team”)

U: Haha, wrong assumption, but one that we assumed would be made. She’s actually engaged and we’ll have to change the string on the top of the comic once she gets married. But yeah, we’re best friends with the same last name. One could call it fate :p. Anyway….

H: Oh man, you know, as soon as we made our first comic live, we knew without a doubt we’d get roped together because of our last names. While I AM the best Brown, I’m engaged to a wonderful man with a different last name, so sooner or later Uriah will usurp the throne.

D: Oops… ;) Well, how is it working as a creative team?

U: Working with Holly is a roller coaster, but in a good way. We both have our creative ups and downs, and they always seem to coincide with the opposite on the other. So we can pick each other up when those times do strike hard. We’re on the same wavelength with a lot of the decisions and character development in the story. It will sometimes happen that I’ll be thinking of some direction to take the story in, and then later that day, I’ll get a message from Holly with the EXACT same thing. It’s great.

H:We work together pretty darn well! As I mentioned before, Uriah is great at logistics and I can do everything art side, so we cover all the bases together. We have a really nice synergy when it comes to writing our story and characters, and if we do have a disagreement, we’re always quick to reconcile it and come up with the best middle ground. I do have to take care of the whole production of making the actual strip though, which includes story-boarding, line art, coloring, paneling, and dialogue (Uriah does take care of the creation of the bubbles, however), so sometimes I can get a little slow or overwhelmed. Uriah is a punctual kind of guy though, so as soon as I give him the word that a strip is going to be late or an update is going to be missed, he immediately covers for me on all social networks. It’s a great partnership that hasn’t affected our friendship negatively at all. If anything, it’s kept us in touch!

An example of our process. A bullet point I would type out for the strip invovled would simply be something like "Ana, sad about what happened, gets a ride to school from her mothers." Then Holly would do all the work you see in the image, and I would finalize the bubbles as in the last bit.

U: An example of our process. A bullet point I would type out for the strip invovled would simply be something like “Ana, sad about what happened, gets a ride to school from her mothers.” Then Holly would do all the work you see in the image, and I would finalize the bubbles as in the last bit.

D: So Holly’s in school mostly, I assume (how’s that going?), but how about you, Uriah? What do you do for the day job?

U: I graduated in 2014 with a business degree in Information Systems Management. I started out just working at a Meijer down the street as a gas station attendant, but within a month or so, I wound up landing an internship at Nationwide Insurance in Columbus. I’ve been here ever since, managing to turn my internship into a full associate position. My job is a Requirements Analyst, working on a program which our Call Center Agents use to quote and bind insurance. I learn from the business what they want programmed into the software at a high level, and translate it into tasks for the team to program at the low level. That’s the basics anyway. It’s a bit more in depth, but that about covers it. Pays well and I’m always downtown. I love it.

H: Yes, I am in school! Finishing up my last semester after 4 long years. I’ll be graduating with a degree in the fine arts, and have a major in graphic design. For 3 years I was majoring in animation and game design– which has done wonders for my design and storytelling ability in terms of the comic– but I recently switched last fall.

D: RPGing you say? Urge to recruit you for the Demon Archives forum RPG game… ;) I also got to play my first group RPG this past year with some comic friends online. I’m a level 2 swashbuckler named Inigo :D But seriously, any good RPGing or LARPing stories to share?

U: Oh god, we are both insane with RPGs, and both in different but similar aspects. I’m really focused on digital and tabletop RPGs and a decent roleplayer. I’m really good at rules checking and seeing exploits and such within them. And since I love programming, I usually find ways to automate or generate things. But stories, heh? I’ve kind of settled into the role of a DM for the better half of my life and so I don’t have many stories from the player side…except one. So – I love playing clerics for some reason, especially if they go to become a Radiant Servant of Pelor. They’re basically tanks that just fling holy flame around, it’s great. When I get the chance, my favorite character is called Father Ambrose and he carries out Pelor’s judgement swiftly. A friend of mine wanted to start a game, and allowed us to start at level 7. Well, that’s just the level I needed to be to become a RSoP. He also allowed us a magical item. With that in mind, here’s what went down. We go into an abandoned temple, and go into the basement to retrieve some item, and the place has a ton of sleeping wolves. So our roguey party member stealths over and grabs the chest, turns, trips, and wakes them all up. I’m only wearing my cleric robes, immediate reaction – “May Pelor bless is devout champion,” and I’m immediately enveloped in my magical summoned plate mail. I roll the highest initiative and cast a spell to protect me with holy flame, dealing 2d6 damage to all attackers for so many rounds. So I just stroll through the wolves, letting them make attacks of opportunity and burn to death without touching me as I just walk over and pick up the chest. Pelor protects his own. Sadly, the game only lasted that one session, and even now I’m back in the DM seat and gearing up to DM another game.

I’ll let Holly take care of a LARPing story, while I have plenty, I’m sure some of hers are better. I wish I was involved in some of them. I will say that I play a race known as Ferun in our current rule set, who are basically animal people, and I play a Panda Guardian/Fighter named Daldega. :3

H: Oh lord do I love me a good RPG. I’ve not really played table tops too extensively, never more than a couple months of sessions, but I really enjoy them! I actually just finished up the Mass Effect trilogy yesterday (I’m a late bloomer, I know), and it has totally taken over my whole brain. Don’t be surprised if a freakin’ spaceship lands in New Columbus and abducts our cast.

My experience with LARP covers about two-ish years now, and it is just one of my favorite things ever. I play a halfling rogue / blade dancer named Liz under the Accelerant system of the group WAR (We Are Roleplayers). She’s all about getting into mischief, eating lots of food, and hiding in the dark to get the jump on monsters. I could tell you like a hundred stories, so it’s going to be tough to pick just one so I don’t talk your ears off! I guess I’ll settle for a pretty funny one that just happened a few weeks ago.

Firstly, I’m part of a group called the “Skeleton Krew,” which is an overly menacing name for a group of well-fed halflings. Before the event, our leader, “Dozy,” asked if I could make a logo for us to have sewn on clothes and banners and stuff. Well, things got kinda out of control, with the whole group telling me the different things they wanted. I ended up making an intentionally terrible Photoshop collage of a bunch of cherubs gathered on top of a pie on a backdrop of jollyrogers (don’t ask, it was hilarious at the time). We found out from that that “Dozy” has a fear of cherubs.

Fast forward to the event, we’re sneaking into a warehouse at night that we have been trying to find for the entire day. We’re on a mission for a halfling mob boss to steal a collection of items his subordinate gambled away. We beat up the half-ogre standing guard, and I was able to unlock the door by playing a riveting game of “Don’t Rock the Boat” in the frigid cold (we’re pretty classy). The opened door revealed an entire cabin FULL of criss-crossing yarn, which were physical representations of trip wires. It was basically your textbook warehouse heist, and my lord was I all about it. With the ability to handle “delicate” items as a rogue, I had to contort my way through the yarn, making sure not to touch any of it, while cutting the “wires” at their bases to deactivate them so my group could follow behind me. When we made it to the final stretch, there were loose boulders (mattresses) attached to the wires. I didn’t cut anymore for fear of the “boulders” falling on me, so I wove my way through the maze to the treasure. And what was this hard earned, magical piece of loot, you wonder? It was a large canvas print of the terrible photoshopped cherubs I had posted in our facebook group. Holding back the laughter was almost impossible, but I was able to choke it down and hand it back to Dozy with the picture facing the floor. After getting the rest of the loot, headbutting a wire and catching my head on fire, and knocking down a boulder that nearly ended in my death, we made it the hell out of that warehouse. And as we gathered outside to review our spoils, Dozy was baited into flipping over the canvas print, ending in a cacophony I couldn’t replicate via typed word if I tried.
It hung in our cabin above the fireplace for the rest of the event.

D: Wow, that’s some crazy story!

Back to art-ish questions, tell me about your creative projects.

U: Kri is kind of my golden goose, so to speak. It’s really one of the few projects that I keep up on as I should. I try to design websites in my spare time, but I’m always thinking “Why should I code this website, when I could be working on improving Kri?” It’s a real struggle sometimes. One site I semi-finished and pushed out did contribute to the Pokemon Tabletop United community in a big way though. I created an online set of tools to help potential DMs of the system. I’ve really been meaning to look back at that project and re-do it entirely. I’ve learned so much about web design since I pushed it out. It really looks like trash compared to what I can do now, haha.

H: Kri is without a doubt my biggest undertaking. But I have been drawing, and had an interesting in drawing, for as long as I can even remember. A lot of it goes hand in hand with my love of storytelling, and I’ve been working for a long time on an illustrated booklet of campfire stories for kids. It has never been a priority, but I keep on going back to it time and time again! Other than that, most of my creative energy is sapped by the endless demand of graphic design projects and the constant strides forward taken to keep up with Kri. I do have a deviantART where I occasionally post an odd piece of artwork, though!

D: So what’s the basic story of Kri? Give me the extended elevator pitch ;)

U: While this was originally my story and creation, it has since evolved into our creation. As such, I’ll concede this one wholly to Holly. She’s good at this kind of stuff. I will say that we did come up with a one sentence tag line that has seemed to stick – “Everyone is born with two souls… how will you harness yours?” But Holly is better at giving the whole pitch. :3

H: Since the beginning of humanity, everyone has been born with two souls. One exists inside of your body, and one exists outside. The second soul is called a “Kri.” Your Kri takes the form of an animal that personifies you, the “Main Soul,” as well as one or two elements. Even mythical creatures have manifested as Kri, as well as rarely seen “legendary” elements existing outside of the standard seven: Feri (Fire), Grod (Earth), Eles (Lightning), Druim (Nature), Wados (Wind), Itsa (Ice), and Weln (Water).
But not everyone knows about their Kri. These people are called “Sleepers,” while Main Souls aware of their Kri are called the “Awakened.” One may experience an Awakening through immense physical or emotional trauma, but until this happens–and for some, it never does–the existence of Kri is an incomprehensible concept that can never be perceived.

The story of Kri: The Unseen Essence follows a boy named Felix Hunter, a teenager living in the city of New Columbus, Ohio in the year 2055. While LARPing in an abandoned construction yard with his best friend Stella, Felix trips backward and bashes the back of his head on a grounded support beam, experiencing some severe blunt force trauma. When he comes to, he wakes up in a hospital room with Stella at the foot of his bed. She has a weasel made of fire on her shoulder and a dragon plated in metal at her side. The dragon is his Kri, and is by no means an average one.

Kri: The Unseen Essence explores a hidden reality existing all around mankind. It is a reality deeply integrated into humanity, though by its nature, is shrouded in perpetual mystery. Throughout this tale, a group of teenagers is led to discover the special connections they share with their Kri, with each other, and with the world around them. They are haphazardly drawn into a conflict much larger than themselves, and through a great journey of self discovery, are forced to rise and face it together.

D: Sounds cool! What are your short and long term goals for Kri?

U: Man, short term, I just want more people enjoying it, haha. I love getting new readers and hearing people talk about Kri. Swells me up with a sort of pride, ya know? I wouldn’t mind getting some ads running either and making some form of income, however small. At least enough to pay for the advertising we do ourselves would be nice. Our convention appearances really help spread the word too, and are an awesome way to meet people face to face and get them into the comic.

Long term? I’ve already been having thoughts of a potential card game, as well as thoughts on a d20 ruleset. Facilitating custom roleplay in our world is awesome. We’ll eventually be looking into printed volumes, and I can always have the far off dream of an animated series of some sort.

H: My short term goals for Kri? To build a bigger readership! The story of Kri is pure fantasy, but we try our hardest to make our characters feel real. If any part of our project can inspire someone, or help them solve a problem, or even just comfort them in some way, then I’ll be the happiest girl in the world. I want our number of readers to grow so that we can reach out to one another in some way. And if Kri is that common ground, then I’ll feel like I’ve succeeded.

D: What are some lessons you’ve learned you’d like to share with others?

U: Oh boy. First, don’t be afraid to share your work. You may feel its not enough, that it won’t hold a candle to some of the big names out there. But you know what? Someone, somewhere, will read it and fall in love with your work. They will be there waiting for that update, and that feeling is the best in the world. Second, utilize the tools and networks that are out there. WordPress, comic easel, twitter (great way to network with indie comic people), tumblr, facebook. Don’t try to invent your own thing before you’ve tried to use what’s available. Last, and most importantly, don’t stop. Never give up hope, and never stop using your creativity. (Heh, Kriativity). Keep pushing yourself into those creative boundaries and push past them. Make your stuff not the way you think will get the most views or the most likes, but the way you want it to be. It may take time, but people will come. And when they do, they will love it just as much, if not more, than you did when you started it.

H: Your work is good enough! It doesn’t matter that only your small circle of friends knows about your project, and it doesn’t matter that you’re not popular. Every great project has begun with one simple step: Starting. The more you draw, the better you will get. The more you write, the better you will get. The longer you keep going, the better it will get! As long as you keep updating, there is nowhere to go but up. Create what you love, and love what you create, because somewhere out there, there’s going to be someone who loves it just as much as you do.

D: Awesome, thank you both for your time!

Everyone, go check out Kri ;)