A little after my spotlight on Tri Vuong, I checked my email to see… that he had emailed me. (Cue fangirl screams).
To make a long story short, I was even able to have an interview of sorts through email. My questions are in red, his answers in black:
How did you come up with such a unique character as Oscar Zahn?
Oscar sorta came about by accident. Prior to creating him, I never drew skulls or English gentlemen or even much paranormal stuff. I’m actually surprised that he would be my first comic creation! I was just doodling stuff at lunch day and I thought it would be really hilarious to have a skeleton character that was also really handsome and vain. I didn’t really like him much because I didn’t like drawing any of the bones except the top part of his skull so i erased everything and found I really liked the way he looked. It was a complete happy accident!
How did you come up with the idea for the adventures Oscar has?
It usually starts with an idea of a setting that I’d like to see Oscar in. The great thing about working in Oscar is that he seems pretty maleable and I can conceivably put him in all sorts of different environments. So it usually starts with something like “What if Oscar was in World War 1” or “What if Oscar was a sailor”. Because Oscar is only on his third story, I’m not sure what stories wouldn’t work but I’m excited to find out.
After I have an idea of what I want to draw, then it comes down to the nitty gritty of actually coming up with a story. I try not to overthink this part too much and trust my instincts and the characters. If you know your characters well enough, you can present them with a problem and they’ll end up coming up with solutions that will often surprise you.
What is your process to creating each episode, artwise? Writing wise?
I sort of write, draw and color all at the same time. Its a pretty organic process for me. Usually as I begin laying out a page, the scene will start playing out in my head and I’ll have a sense of what the characters would say or do. I may not know the exact words coming out of their mouth but I’ll know how they would react to so something. I might make little notes about possible dialogue that I’ll refer to when I’m done drawing the comic. Generally I complete the art before I go in and write, but by that time I’ll have a pretty good idea of what’s happening with the words.
Also, I generally have an idea of where I want the story to end with each chapter. So I know the beginning and the ending, so making the comic is a matter of connecting the two points.
Do you plan out your “arcs” (each continuing story) in advance, or do they tend to change as you go along?
I do plan out my arcs. I write a complete first draft from beginning to end, then I never refer to it again. The story always changes as I work on the comic, because the characters will often want to go in a different direction than where I wanted to take them so I just let them have their way. I also get alot of inspiration from the readers. They influence the story alot more than they probably realize haha.
Have any places you’ve visited influenced specific settings?
Absolutely! Art can’t exist in a vacuum! Pretty much all of Oscar Zahn has been inspired thus far by my trip to Newfoundland a few years ago. To this day, I’m still pulling from alot of my experiences during my time there. I’m sure new places I visit will find their way into Oscar Zahn in the future.
Will Oscar’s past ever be revealed?
Will Agatha ever come back? I thought she was funny in the first arc. And will it ever be revealed how she and Oscar met? (Blogger’s note: yes, I did mean Agnes. This is what I get for writing my questions after staying up late, ha have)
Haha, you must mean Agnes. Yes absolutely. She is vital to Oscar’s story so she’ll definately be returning in future stories.
How many arcs do you plan on writing? Or is it not set in stone?
It’s not set in stone. I definately have many more stories to tell but I also have an ending in mind. It might not be THE ending but it definately is an ending of sorts. There are other comics that I’d like to work on but sadly there’s only one of me so I have to pick my battles.
I’ve noticed that there are occasional crossovers (like with Oscar and Saphie). How does this work? Do Webtoon artists routinely “work” together?
I met Joho, creator of Saphie at a con one time and had such a great time hanging out with her. We just decided that our characters should show up in each other’s comics once in a while. Oscar has also showed up in Orlando Caicedo’s The Bad Guys. Basically if its a fun thing and it won’t interfere with the story I’m down for it.
Will your dog ever cameo in Oscar Zahn? Or have they already? 😉
I think it will only be a matter of time before one of them shows up in OZ haha.
How did Andy Weir discover your art? (Blogger’s note: I still think it’s pretty awesome to have such a good relationship with Tapastic that they decide you should illustrate something by a famous author).
I’m not actually sure if Andy Weir is aware of my existence haha. Basically I have a good relationship with Tapastic and they thought that my style would be a good fit for Moriarty which Andy Weir already wrote before hand. Sadly I can’t claim any more credit than that.
Have you done any research while doing illustrations for Moriarty?
I did. Research and reference is always important in every job. I looked up alot of images on Victorian England and Sherlock Holmes naturally.
I am so happy to have been able to have this interview with Tri Vuong! Thanks so much, Tri! And if you’re curious, here’s the link to Oscar Zahn: The Strange Tales of Oscar Zahn