The creator of Stuff Sucks
, Liz Greenfield, has been so kind to spare some time for a few questions about creating a webcomic, life as an artist and Dorito brownies.
Are you ready for a few questions? I'm sure there's a lot more I could and should ask but I haven't been able to think of much more just yet.
Sure. You know when you first emailed me asking for an interview and congratulating my #400-something rank on the TWCL, I thought I was being pranked. That number hardly seems like a bragging right.
I'm surprised it didn't get spammerised right away!
So am I. Well fire away. I'll be back in just a second, with a cup of tea.
First something about what you said earlier that I find interesting, you live in Holland yet your first language is English. So who am I talking to, Liz Greenfield or Liz Groenveld?
That's right. Several months ago Anglicized my surname. This was all in effort to avoid confusion, but now look where it got us!
I understand you traveled a lot with a musical background, i.e. your parents?
I was born into the alternative music scene, so inheriting a strong distaste for commercial music was inevitable, I guess.
It shows in Stuff Sucks... been to any good concerts lately?
Nothing newsworthy, plenty of local gigs, friends performing. Next month i am going to 5 big concerts in one week though! Good bands are coming out of hiding and invading Holland all at once: The Decemberists, Goldfrapp, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Fiery Furnaces, Spoon, it's some kind of musical conspiracy.
I know. Usually it's around November, but last year has been very disappointing and now they decided to make up for it and all come at the same time.
The winter concert line-up was so disappointing I almost cried.
So it's only a matter of good sense to assume you'll be at the cartoonist stand at Lowlands (Dutch festival) this year?
I'll be at Lowlands, but I doubt I'll be in the mood to draw, after a spring of animating and a July full of comic-cons. The music festival season will be my time to relax. It's a funny thing, no matter where I go traveling, Lowlands ends up the highlight of my summer! I can't think of a easier place to gather everyone I know in one place. Except maybe San Diego.
...I've completely forgotten what this question was about. I'm so sorry.
Umm... concerts, right?
Yeah, lets talk some more about festivals in Holland, haha.
So, what's in your cd/mp3 player right now?
Wolf Parade - Apologies To The Queen Mary. An album full of ghoulish sounds and clever lyrics, it's very nice.
To stay in the music related questions: do you know a real life Tony?
Man, I think we all know a real life Tony! That balding eccentric music snob whom you can't help but love. He's behind the counter at every back alley record shop around the world!
Do you think that the fact that the characters are so easily recognizable is what makes your comic so accessible to readers? Even though it's not exactly about gaming/roommates/megaman/final fantasy/random violence or boobs?
Oh it has boobs, they are a crucial conversation topic. As for the leading characters in Stuff Sucks, they are all extremes of my own personality, so I guess I should be very glad that at a few people can relate.
Shall we stop being distracted by boobs and return to a few questions?
... What? Right, right.
Umm yes... the questions...
And answers. Gotcha.
You said your characters are all in a way extremes of yourself, is there one you relate to the most?
Most people just assume Zemi is a self-portrayal. She isn't really.
Because of boobs and red hair?
Hopefully not because of her soft-drug abuse and shoplifting tenancies!
Sure hope not indeed. It would suck to miss updates because of jail time.
Jail is no place for us webcartoonists. We are much too fragile.
Any idea of the monthly traffic from readers?
I lost my statistics page ages ago and haven't bothered to replace it yet. But if i'm ranked at #447 on the webcomics list, the numbers must be astronomical! Nah, I'm just pleased when people send me emails or a fanart, I can rest assured not all of the readers are my mother.
Something I'm really interested about, I just have to know: culinary experiments?
Well, half a year ago I couldn't fry an egg to save my life, and now I cook myself a good three course meal most every night. Other times I just goof off. Last weekend when a friend came over and we baked brownies with random things inside: Doritos, gummybears, noodles, you name it. Sometimes it's necessary to forget about nutrition and just eat dumb stuff! Digestive system with a sense of humor = required.
Were you sober or was it one of those feared midnight snacks that sound good at the moment?
Oh we were completely sober. I mean, we were as sober as you can be when deciding chewing gum in a chocolate crust is ‘a brilliant idea'.
What does an average day in the Life of Liz© look like?
My daily life is a mystery.
Let's continue with some simple "answered them a thousand times already" questions...
First of all, inspiration? Many scenes are common every day life situations, is that where it all comes from?
I've always mixed in various scenes, and I love exploring new places and talking to strangers in odd situations. Experimental social behaviour is an endless source of inspiration for characters and tales.
And how well do you know your characters? Are they following some bigger plan or are you in part as much a spectator as your readers?
The big picture is so huge, you wouldn't believe.
I can't help getting the feeling that it's going to get worse, lots worse... Without revealing the huge plan... Am I right?
Things get worse. Things can always get worse. I didn't choose this title fo nothin! The irony is that things were never very good to start with. Makes for a good challenge.
Always or only get worse? Things are heading for epic disaster the way I see it.
Right. The trick is simply turning bad into worse, repeatedly! It's exciting to see how far that can go. I fancy myself an optimist in life, but it sure doesn't show in my comic. Happy stories are boring, anyway. I just got back from watching Ice Age 2, where half the audience got their $10 back in laughs before the opening credits, that bloody squirrel. A fine reminder that the world is full of sadists.
Like the squirrel in Ice Age, there's one cute-factor pet in your comic, though.
Yes, the tortured fish.
So, the not talking Binky, you hate talking or thinking-bubble-dialog animals that much?
This much (You cannot see my arms but I am gesturing a great amount).
It looks like he's better off than any other character too
Binky is living the dream, he just doesn't know it. Free peepshows, endless company, and have you seen his treasure chest? It is awesome beyond words.
When will we be able to get our own Binky plushie, or other merchandise besides the book?
I'm not a big fan of merchandise but the books make me happy. When I got my hands on Book II, I was surprised how nice it is to read in print! I got so excited that I immediately had to figure out how to make it available to order online with the paypal thing.
You do everything on the site yourself?
The design and maintenance is mine, but I don't take full credit. Sambro writes the PHP underneath, and scolds me appropriately when my page source looks like a train wreck. I write all my HTML in notepad, straight up geek.
...and you have a big pile-o-books under your desk you send out yourself whenever one is ordered?
They are delivered in CD boxes, that is where they stay until I mail them off. The format that of a inlay book, so they can even be used to replace a missing CD cover, the nice one you may have cut up in a 'crazy' mood, to paste in a high school notebook.
Plus ofcourse a lot of comic conventions... how many did you go to in the past year?
Oh man, yes. Hmm about 6 I think! I'm going to increase the number of conventions I attend, every year, until I finally go insane.
And you met some big names too, Madsen, Weebl, did they bite or are they just like the rest of us mortals?
Normal people are strictly prohibited near comic conventions. Jonti and Madsen are two of the most sane people I've met in that territory. I feel like we understand each other, we can make eye contact from a distance, and just nod, we both know what's up.
We'll see you at the "top" soon as well, people lining up for hours just to get an autograph on their forehead?
I don't think I'm anywhere near the top. I'm just pleased anyone knows who I am. Meeting readers at comic shows is great and sometimes i get inspired all over again. For instance in London, one guy requested a sketch of Coldplay being eaten alive by piranhas and it turned into a masterpiece if I do say so myself, and I went home feeling completely satisfied!
Thanks for your time, Liz, and we'll make sure to keep an eye on Stuff Sucks!