Comics Strip Team Interviews - JamesRoden
Interview by Dee-Marie
We are excited to present a new series of interviews featuring members of the Renderosity Cartoonist Team. Each week these outstanding artists put the "giggles" in our funny bones, and the "thrills and chills" in our adventurous spirits.
This week our featured cartoonist is James Roden, better known on Renderosity as JamesRoden. Each week James provides the thrills and chills" to the Renderosity Cartoon team, as he sends his Tunnel Runners into exciting escapades along the Renderosity Front Page News' Comic Strip pathways.
Don't miss a week of James's continuing Tunnel Runners adventures!
While you are there be sure to say hi to James and the rest of the Renderosity Cartoonist Team!
Your continued tales of the Tunnel Runners, featured each week on the Front Page News Comics Strip, has been a huge hit on Renderosity … how long have you been creating this specific strip?
The seeds of Tunnel Runners have been in my head for probably 15-20 years now. It's only been since the Renderosity strips that I have really had the medium to give it the attention it deserves. The other thing that made Tunnel Runners a reality was the creation of Bryce and Poser. I have absolutely no drawing skill whatsoever, and without them, this series would not exist.
The Adventure Begins
As with all great stories I know that the Tunnel Runners has an exciting back-story, will you share it with us?
Tunnel Runners has two back stories.
1. TR is one facet of a larger series called Requiem, which is a multi-cast sci-fi web comic that I am doing right now. Tunnel Runners is kind of a prelude to the larger work, and shares a number of characters with its parent (Ray, Fionn, Moira, Ian).
2. Tunnel Runners also comes from some of my personal experiences exploring abandoned places and tunnels in my home town as a 13 year old kid. This was back before the “Net” even existed, and I have since learned that there is an entire subculture dedicated to what’s become known as "Urban Exploration.". Back then though, I thought I was the only one doing those kinds of things. [laughter]
One thing I especially like about the series is its feeling of the old weekend serial movies [chapter-plays], or those great Doctor Who reruns. Did you have that in mind when creating your weekly strip?
What I was thinking of with the setup and pacing of Tunnel Runners was the BBC television dramas. When the BBC lost it’s monopoly on television broadcasting and the Independent Television Authority came in the BBC got into Sci-Fi. Back in 1953, a gentleman named Nigel Kneale, put together a serial called The Quartermass Experiment. It was about a professor who investigated unexplained phenomena and such. After being fortunate enough to see the third one in the series entitled Quartermass and the Pit, (Five Million Years to Earth as it was filmed for the Americas) when I was very young, it really became the seed for all of this.
What other strips are you working on, or have created in the past?
Well, the source comic for all of this is being hosted by the kind people at Spider Forest, where Requiem is a “continuing-daily.” Also, there is another comic that is in hiatus right now called Pryce. Pryce is set in the same universe as Requiem and Tunnel Runners and deals with a war between rival criminal factions. (Think Dashiell Hammett and Red Harvest)
What software do you use, or does it differ with each week's strip?
The whole series is built in Poser 5 and 6, Bryce 5, an old copy of 3d Studio Max 4, and occasional work with Blender. Image Optimization is done with Irfanview and Macromedia Fireworks. But on the 3D side of things; Poser and Bryce are all you really need. I know there are all kinds of capabilities in Bryce 5 that I haven't even touched yet.
How long does it each strip take from conception to completion?
On average, I’d say about 4-8 hours (sometimes of course they go much faster)
Ian and Ray
Do you storyboard and script each strip, or do you come up with new ideas each week as the strip progresses?
Things get storyboarded and scripted out in my head … but really not much of that goes on. It’s all up here in my head already. The hard part of it is to scrape it out of my skull in the first place.
The main thing that I do have is the big dry erase board over my computer desk that has a running record of where everyone is, who is all traveling together, and the current date within the comic … plus it helps me keep track of little things like who needs to be attended to next.
Outside of the world of art, what/who inspires you?
Music of any sort, really is what helps me get focused. I really ought to put together a track list of everything that gets played while I work on these comics.
On those rare spare moments when you are not creating comic strips, what are your non-cartoonist artistic [and non-artistic] outlets?
I enjoy spending time with my wife and cat. Other than that, with my job (I’m a software trainer specializing in CADCAM software) and the comics, free time is at a premium.
Please share any words of wisdom for budding Renderosity cartoonists?
Other than practicing with your tools constantly? With software like Poser and Bryce, the only limitations you have on what you create are what you see in your own mind, and your facility with your chosen tools. Hardware isn’t even as much of an issue as people think now, especially considering pieces like Renderosity artist Flak [David Lloyd ] put together with his Siege series.
Work on things constantly; be aware of your own surroundings. Heck, I once did an episode of Requiem that had its scenery based entirely on a section of highway I drove on while I was on a business trip in Toronto.
Finally, try to look at things from a world wide prospective. There are things that maybe just off camera (shadows and reflection) that sometimes contribute as much to the image as what’s right in front of you.
You can use anything for inspiration and subject matter, what you have to do is be attentive enough to pick them out.
"Lets Talk" with Dee-Marie
is a monthly featured column
Senior Staff Writer, and
Managing Editor of
Renderosity's Front Page News
Sept. 12, 2005