A real friend is one who walks in, when the rest of the world walks out. The release of our newest title, Good Game, Well Played, is just less than a week away! We were lucky enough to catch up with creators Rachael Smith and Katherine Lobo for a chat–you can check it out below!
Q: What was your biggest inspiration in writing Good Game, Well Played?
Rachael: There isn’t really one big one; I tend to take inspiration from loads of places when I’m working. For this I watched a lot of teenage coming-of-age films, and re-read some YA books and graphic novels that deal with friendships and finding your place in the world (‘Stepping Stones’ by Lucy Knisley, and ‘This One Summer’ by Jillian and Mariko Tamaki being firm favorites).
Q: Where did the idea for Good Game, Well Played come from?
Rachael: My editor, Chris Sanchez, came to me with the setting (a video game shop in 90s America) and a rough idea of the age and number of the characters and I just built on that.
Q: What got you into comics?
Rachael: I’ve always loved drawing and I’ve always loved writing for as long as I can remember – comics were just the perfect marriage of those things for me.
Katherine: When I was a child I liked to draw a lot, and I had a lot of imagination too. When I grew up and learned to read, I became a lover of reading. Finally, in my adolescence I discovered comics, and well, it was the perfect mix between two things that I really liked!
Q: Tell us a little bit about your creative process?
Rachael: When I’m just starting I like to write 750 words a day and do a lot of research and reading. I write a lot of stuff that doesn’t end up in the final project but it’s all useful because it means I get to know my characters and they come across as more 3-dimensional on the page. Then I’ll get all my writing together and try to beat it out into some kind of rough story arc. This one was a special challenge as all the characters go through their own arcs and overlap one another’s. After that it’s a lot of messy chopping up and changing things until it just feels right. Chris was a great editor, and helped a lot with American references and vernacular (I’m in the UK).
Katherine: I make the comics digitally. First I start by making a layout of the page. At this stage, sometimes it’s necessary to do a little research, for example, looking for references to places or objects. When the layout is ready, I continue with the “inks”; where I define all the characters and elements of the page. And finally, I add the color; I start doing flats, and then, I do the lights and shadows with a couple of blendings.
Q: Who/what are your biggest influences as a creator?
Rachael: I love Kate Beaton, Kate Leth, Tillie Walden, Bryan Lee O’Malley, John Allison, Laurie Penny, Donna Tartt, Noelle Stevenson, and Jamie Hernandez.
Katherine: I think I’ve been influenced by many other artists and comics throughout my life; but I think that, especially, all the popular anime of the 90’s were very important in my childhood, in the development of my art style, and in my love for the geek culture haha
Q: In GGWP, we have this incredible group of friends featured in the main story! Are any of these characters inspired by people you know IRL? How do you connect with them?
Rachael: I didn’t borrow anyone in their entirety but they all have bits and pieces of myself and my friends in there. I like to borrow things from real life to make characters seem more real. I did actually get my friends to help with the writing process though: once I had the first draft of the script I threw a dinner party for my friends (this is before Covid!) and had them read the script out for me. This was useful to see if the dialogue flowed realistically, and it was also super fun! I learned a lot about what was working and what wasn’t. I also learned that most of us are really dreadful at doing American accents!
Q: What do you hope for people to take away from Good Game, Well Played?
Rachael: I hope everyone remembers to appreciate their friends. Maybe even give someone they haven’t seen in a while a message asking how they are. Friends are so important.
Katherine: I hope that people who read it, can feel identified with the characters, and be encouraged, to overcome those stages of change, which are decisive, and which we all go through. And I hope that people can also, remember and appreciate their friends, those people who are by our side, with whom we make plans, we discuss, we have good and bad times, but at the end of the day, they are an important part of our growth, and important support.
Q: So, we have to ask. What’s your favorite arcade game?
Rachael: I’ve never really played arcade games; for me video games have always been something I’ve done by myself at home. I wasn’t the most sociable kid growing up! My first games were Sonic the Hedgehog 1 and 2 and I would play them for hours whenever I could, so I’ve always had a soft spot for platformers. More recently I’ve been getting back into Stardew Valley, I find it so calming.
Katherine: Street fighter.
Q: What are your favorite stories/genres?
Rachael: I do love coming-of-age/slice-of-life type stuff, which GGWP very much is. Otherwise I love fantasy and adventure, and anything with comedy and feminism.
Katherine: I really like a bit of everything, but I would say especially, romance and action, they are two very different genres, but I enjoy both haha
Q: Any upcoming projects we should know about?
Rachael: I’m currently working on a new graphic novel called ‘Isabella & Blodwen’. It’s about a young girl who meets a malevolent witch at university and their tumultuous relationship. I’m writing and drawing this one. It’s out this Summer with Cast Iron Books.
After that I’ll be straight on to ‘The Queen’s Favorite Witch Vol. 2’, written by Ben Dickson and illustrated by me. Vol. 1 is out now through Papercutz. Both books have witches in them but honestly they couldn’t be more different! I also have some autobiographical comics coming out later this year via Icon Books following my two recent releases ‘Quarantine Comix’ and ‘Wired Up Wrong’.
Katherine: I’m currently working as a creator on a webcomic. I’m very excited and I hope to share more about it soon.
Q: Any cons you’ll be attending in the near future?
Rachael: This year so far I have:
18-19 June: Toronto Comics Arts Festival, Canada
2 July: Mac POW!, UK
30-31 July: Megacon LIVE Manchester, UK
14-16 October: Lakes International Comic Art Festival, UK
12-13 November: Thought Bubble Festival, UK
Q: Anything else you’d like to share?
Rachael: I love, love, love what Katherine Lobo has done with my words. I worked hard at making the characters seem real – but add in her illustrations and they seem like they might walk off the page and start talking to you. She has made this book something really magical.
Katherine Lobo (She/Her) – Artist/Colorist
Katherine Lobo is a comic artist and illustrator from Costa Rica. She’s worked for a variety of indie creators and publishers including Mad Cave Studios, Boom! and Comic Experience. More recently, she was the artist for Bullet, currently published in Tapas.
Instagram: @kath_lobo | Twitter: @KathLobo
Good Game, Well Played will be released on May 3, 2022 in bookstores. Be sure to mark your calendars! The graphic novel can be purchased at madcavestudios.com, Comixology, Drive-thru comics, and your local comic book shop or book store.
Mad Cave Studios, and its imprint, Maverick, are a comic book and graphic novel publisher founded by Mark London in 2014 driven by madness and committed to quality. For additional information, visit madcavestudios.com or madcavestudios.com/maverick/
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