Falling Awake is the debut graphic novel for Carl Mefferd ’11. The story follows a young woman who lives in a world of magic and monsters, but when she falls asleep she lives in modern America. The comic is 88 pages of full color, printed through Rare Earth Comics with funding through Kickstarter this past September. Then it premiered at NYCC in October 2017. The following interview is with Angela Boyle ’16.
How did you meet the rest of the team at Rare Earth Comics? What is the origin of Rare Earth Comics?
I joined Rare Earth Comics through Ian Ally-Seals, who went to the same high school I did and was friends with my sister. Back then he was one of the few older kids I knew that was actually making and printing his own comics. Rare Earth Comics itself was the creation of Ian and his longtime artist friend, David Robles, who formed it to publish their own work. After graduating from CCS, I started working with Ian on the series Doctor Atlantis and we’ve been collaborating since.
You are currently in Connecticut. Why choose the Pacific Northwest for the setting of Falling Awake? Have you been to visit?
I actually have plans to move to the Northwest this year. I can’t full explain why, but that part of the country has always had a kind of pull on me. Maybe it’s from Twin Peaks or the art style of totem poles and other wood carvings, but I just find the place really mysterious and interesting. It’s also isolated enough for the town in Falling Awake to work.
Do you have plans to start up JoyRiders again?
I definitely want to continue JoyRiders, especially since the first 150 or so pages are just the set up to get the series going. I’m just juggling a lot of other projects, and it’s hard to sink a lot of time into a series when you’re not sure anyone’s reading it. I imagine I’ll take some time in the coming year to hunker down and get some more pages out. There’s a lot more crazy adventures in store for the characters and that world.
What did you find changes in your story-writing process between your web comic and your graphic novel?
The writing process between a web comic and graphic novel are pretty dramatically different. For GN’s I think of the story as a self-contained thing that needs to refined, polished, and reworked as a whole before I can bring it to the art stage. For an ongoing web comic, at least the way I do it, I tend to riff a lot more. I have a general idea of where I want the story to go, but I write it in a small batch of pages at a time. The good side of that is that it makes it more fun and improvisational, but the downside could be that it’s more stream-of-thought and not always looking at the big picture.
What is your typical drawing process? Do you have a favorite tool?
My drawing process has changed so much over the years, most of all going from ink and paper to a traditional/digital mix, and now fully digital with Falling Awake. The steps I had for Falling Awake began with the thumbnail and writing stage being much more blended. I would use a big digital file with all the page spreads laid out to figure out how the story broke down by scenes and moments. I’d write my Word document script in conjunction with that, trying to be mindful of how chatty my characters were being. And once I had the story, dialog, and broad thumbnails established, I would save separate pages, increase the resolution, and begin to digitally pencil. I miss a lot of things about traditional pencils and inks, but there’s just so many advantages to working digitally, mostly how it’s helped my speed. As for the favorite tool, back when I worked traditionally it was definitely my brush. I started with a sable and later played with brush pens.