Interview with Thom Hotka
I honestly don't remember how I first meet Thom...It's one of those deals where I've know him for so long I can't remember back that far. I've gone to cons with Thom, slept in his house, as well as being on panels with him. We have forged a rad friendship and I learn a lot about how to go about promoting myself from him. Plus you will all love this he does a free webcomic! I REPEAT FREE COMICS!!! We even managed to work together doing a bonus comic for the third volume of Nextuus where we crossed over his characters with mine (and Scott Twells) from The Adventures of Punk and Rock which was way fun!
For those unfamiliar with your work what is Nextuus?
Nextuus is a science fiction adventure graphic novel/webcomic. It follows a group of treasure hunters on the planet of Nextuus as they are hired to find a mythic item and run into trouble along the way.
When you started Nextuus did you think it would go on for this long?
When I put the first pages up on Christmas Eve, 2006, I had no idea how long the story would be, or that I would be working on it well into my 30s. At the time, long-running never-ending webcomics were still quite popular and prevalent, so I wasn't too worried about the length of the story.
Do you see an end to the series in the future?
Most definitely. Shortly after starting the story I decided it needed an ending. Having an ending in mind has made it much easier to write, since there is a clear goal to reach.
Nextuus defiantly feels like it has a manga/anime vibe. Can you talk a little about that?
Nextuus has been my attempt to pull together elements I enjoy from all sorts of stories and put it into one vehicle. I've drawn a lot of inspiration from anime like Cowboy BeBop, Outlaw Star and Full Metal Alchemist. It also draws heavily on inspiration from roleplaying games, especially Final Fantasy VII and Earthbound.
How hard has it been to keep up with the updates after the birth of your first child?
Incredibly hard! Having a baby has thrown my schedule, as well as my priorities, all out of whack. Before he was born, it was much easier to stay disciplined with comic work. Since he was born, comic writing and drawing has had to take a back seat and I don't have the same free time outside of work I once did. Being a dad is pretty rewarding, though, and I know that someday I'll be able to refocus my efforts on comics again.
Also why didn't you use any of the names I sent you?
Dude, I was team Chimney. I got out-voted.
I know you do print collections as well as having everything online and I was wondering if you thinks this makes the print collections a harder sell? (Personally I wait for the print collections to read them. Don't hate me Thom!)
Not especially. I've definitely had experiences at comic conventions where I tell someone the comic is available online and that seemed to end the interaction- like "oh, so I don't have to buy anything from you, I can just read it for free, okay bye". However, I don't know that people who react that way are ever that likely to purchase a printed volume from me at a show in the first place. It's been my experience that offering it free to read online gains me some readers who may not have the money to spend on books. And for folks like you that prefer print, they aren't less likely to buy books because they don't prefer to read digitally online.
What do you do for a day job? Do you think this has helped you at all as a creator?
I work as a trainer for Half Price Books. I've worked there about as long as I've been working on Nextuus, and it's been an excellent job for me, creatively-speaking. First off, the schedule has been flexible enough to allow me to take time off to work on prepping books for print and go to conventions over weekends. Secondly, it gives me access to a huge amount of reference materials- other comics, books, movies and TV shows, video games.
Besides comics you also make video content via vlogs aka The Thomcast what made you want to start doing that?
The goal of the Thomcast is to function as a sort of project journal- I can use it to vocalize goals and things I want to complete in the coming weeks/months and hold myself accountable. Because you can't lie to the internet.
How did you discover comics and what made you want to start making them?
I grew up without reading too many 'comic books'. I always enjoyed the newspaper 'funnies' or comic strips, and would always check out collections of them from the library, or select them from book fairs at school. Comics like Calvin & Hobbes, The Far Side, Foxtrot, Doonesbury and even Garfield were my favorites as a kid. Because I liked them so much, I would redraw strips with my own characters and then start drawing my own original strips. In high school (early 2000s) I discovered webcomics and fell in love with the format and it only seemed natural to make my own and post them online.
What are some of your favorite comics?
As far as 'traditional' comics I'd go with Hellboy, BPRD, Invincible and Savage Dragon. For webcomics some of my favorites/inspirations are Whomp!, Girl Genius, Gunnerkrigg Court and Between Failures.
How can people support you?
Go read Nextuus and tell me what you think! The entire archive can be found at Nextuus.com and new pages are posted to twitter and facebook as they are released. I also started a Patreon where folks can chip in a few dollars to get access to sketches of each page and other goodies when I can scrape 'em together! That's at patreon.com/nextuus