Interviews of note: Randall Munroe, Eric Stephenson, Julia Wertz

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Catching up on closing those tabs, here are some interviews well worth your time.

Math Horizons interviews xkcd’s Randall Munroe on some of his more mathematically complex comic strips:

2012102511071 Interviews of note: Randall Munroe, Eric Stephenson, Julia Wertz

MH: How did you determine how much black ink to put in each of the charts?

RM: I figured out how to measure each of the quantities shown in the charts. I drew up the outlines in Photoshop, added the captions, drew in eyeballed estimates, and then used some utilities to count the number of pixels.

Photoshop will tell you how many pixels are in this area, if you select in a certain way, and I’ve been pixel painting in Photoshop forever. I just wrote down the numbers, used a calculator, and calculated for the first two panels: What should the height of the bar graphs and the angle of the pie chart be?

The third panel I generated by just taking the image and cloning and shrinking it. I had a big sheet of paper to keep track of the math, and I was just doing it all by hand.

§ Image Publisher Eric Stephenson gets a loooong interview at Multiversity, but since Stephenson isn’t blogging anymore, this is where we’ll have to enjoy his bomb lobbing:

ES: I think it’s a stength actually, but it’s funny because I had a retailer tell me back ten years ago, this is back when I started doing marketing for Image – he said “you guys need to stop doing so many different kinds of books, because it’s impossible to market diversity.” And I said I don’t think so, I said as long as they’re all good books, that becomes the hook. We do every different type of book, you don’t have to buy all of the books, but everyone’s going to be able to find something that they like. Actually when Jim Valentino was publisher he had his tagline, “a book for every reader”, and I think that’s a viable way to get diversity across. We’re not trying to sell a gigantic line of superhero books where we’re saying “hey, buy all of these and you get a multi-title crossover every year.” That’s not what we do. But I think at the same time we can say “look, if you like “Fatale”, you’re probably going to like “Point of Impact” or “Near Death”. If you like “Saga” there’s a good chance that you’re going to like Brian Wood and Ming Doyle’s new book “Mara”.” I think within each genre type there’s some crossover and that’s how you market it. We do these different books and you can pick and choose what you want out of that.

§ Julia Wertz gets the Sunday Interview treament talking about her new book from Koyama Press, and not being able to work for the mainstream:

WERTZ: Yeah. Yeah, definitely I think it was affecting my work. As soon as there's a lot of money and a lot of prestige involved I caught myself leaving certain things out. With comics you kind of veer into a very weird avenue or just things that don't read well to them. They don't like books that don't have a conclusion, that aren't really about anything. Short stories are very hard to sell. I caught myself… there was one story where I wanted to get a little bit meta with it: put a diary comic in it, so it would be a different style. The editor said, "This is going to confuse people; just stick to your style." I definitely caught myself tailoring it to a larger audience. I don't want to work that way. Even though I could do what I wanted, it's a mental block that I have to work differently to sort of please them. Also during the time I decided to do this book with Annie was when I was dealing with a Hollywood deal that I ended up killing because of this reason. I just came to the conclusion that even thought it's not financially beneficial for me to work this way, so independently, it's not worth the money for me to be miserable for it to affect my creativity. That's the one thing I want to have control over at all times. If having money in it is affecting it, I don't want to do that. Even if it might be a smart career move, I just don't give a shit.