Sunday, April 23, 2017
Zach Weinersmith Interview
1) First off how did you get started in doing web-comics and how long have you been doing this full time? Did you ever imagine you would become one of the most popular Patreon web comic artists?
I just started :) Over time, an audience built up, and by 2007 or so, I was able to do it for a living. I'm not sure I ever thought actively about my position on patreon, since it's a relatively new website.
2) Being one of the most popular web comic artists isn't something that really happens by accident, you obviously have put in a lot of work into what you do so I'm curious if you had any social media strategy together when you started to publish comics? For artists that are looking to build a community around their art what tips can you give them? Did you do any research into business or marketing as you made your comics? How much do you interact with fans on social media?
I didn't have any strategy of any kind when I started. And, in any case, the environment has changed a lot online since then. The one thing that really seemed to help me was meeting peers and doing guest work for them. I interact a bit, but less and less as things have gotten very busy, and I now have two small children.
3) Do you have recurring characters in your works or do you prefer to keep the comics you make for Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal as one offs? What is your process for creating your comics? For example do you create a lot of comics ahead of time and slowly trickle them out? How often do you release new content and how far ahead do you create?
Not really. They're largely one offs. My process is to read a lot, and then write for a little while every day. I try my best to average 8 comics drawn a week, so I can build up a buffer.
4) What does your day to day life look like, do you have a set schedule you follow everyday and about how many hours a day do you work?
I watch kids all morning, then in the afternoon, I try to read, write, and draw every day.
5) You have a book coming out later this year that you collaborated with your wife on called Soonish: Ten Emerging Technologies that'll Improve and/or Ruin Everything can you tell us a little bit about the book and what the process was when you two began to research this book? How do you decide what goes in a book and what gets published online and how do you balance the two?
It's a real book of real science, often quite in depth too, but with jokes and comics to lighten things up and make it fun. To an extent, the decision between indie and traditional publishing comes down to the product and the potential profits. If I think I have a niche product my readers will like (e.g. a themed comic collection), that's probably better as an indie offering. This book has broader potential.
6) I noticed you mentioned in your Patreon biography that your wife is a research parasitologist, and from reading Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal it looks like most of your work either centers around religion or science. What is it about these topics that inspire you? Do you ever get negative feedback from people who are offended by your work? Do you consider yourself to be religious or have any spiritual beliefs or practices?
I don't know if they inspire so much as they're just things I'm interested in. So, they end up in the comics. I am not a religious person, but I try to be respectful, and I get very little hatemail.
7) ) To continue with this what inspires you and how do you find inspiration for your work? What kind of books and movies have inspired you in the past or that you are checking out today?
I don't know if I have any super direct book inspirations. Stanislaw Lem perhaps. If you want to see what I'm reading, I do short reviews on theweinerworks.com
8) What do you think about the digital platforms like Comixology and how does Patreon differ from these platforms?
I haven't got a clue, I'm afraid!
9) What is key to success on Patreon or in web-comics in your opinion?
The main thing is to make a product that is good and that is something only you can do. All the other stuff - strategy, marketing, et cetera, is comparatively easy.
10) Any shout outs you would like to give to any other artists out there? Who are you a fan of?
Abby Howard is always great. Kate Beaton too. I'm afraid I'm not super up on modern comics, though!
11) Lastly what can people expect from you next and where is the best way for people to follow you?
More books! I'm doing a collaboration on a non-fic graphic novel with economist Bryan Caplan, and then I have a couple other projects that are too early on to talk about openly!
You can follow Zach Weinersmith on his website Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal Comics or by visiting his Patreon.
You can also check out a few of his comic books available for purchase through Amazon below: