A blogger, webcomic artist, and convention founder, Onezumi Hartstein certainly wears a lot of hats. Her appearance at Zenkaikon V is sure to entertain, inform, and influence every attendee who has the pleasure of meeting her. I recently conducted an email interview with Ms. Hartstein about herself, her webcomic “Stupid & Insane Defenders Against Chaos,” and her convention “Intervention.”
1. Please describe your personal webcomic, “Stupid & Insane Defenders Against Chaos.” Is this your first webcomic? How long have you been doing it? How long have you been doing comics in general? What is/was your inspiration? What gives you ideas? What comes easier to you: writing or illustrating?
Stupid and Insane is a comic about some characters that are loosely based off of Harknell and I and the H.P. Lovecraft mythos. Imagine a world where there are 2 parallel universes – a “Lifeside” and a “Deathside”. The Lifeside is what we know as the real world. It’s stupid and bizarre in a Dadaist kind of way. The Deathside is where evil won and the old gods were called forth successfully. It is not a very nice place. The good and evil versions of our characters (Onezumi and Harknell, Negazumi and Garthnell) were swapped by accident. Now we get to watch as they try to adjust to their new surroundings. In addition to the horror element, there is a lot of commentary on society and a lot of lulz. Also, monkeys.
This technically is still my first comic, but it’s heavily evolved from its original diary comic format as my life changed. It has been running in one form or another since I began drawing comics seriously in 2003.
I get ideas from life. Life can be pretty Stupid and Insane. I definitely prefer just illustration, though. It’s my primary skill.
2. Please describe your convention, Intervention. What guests does it feature? How would you like to see it grow as years progress? What other conventions do you regularly attend (or are a regular part of)? Do you find yourself drawn toward anime conventions, sci-fi conventions, or comic book/popular culture conventions?
Intervention is an indie creator and pan-fandom convention in Rockville, MD. The focus is on the creators, the fans, fun parties, and great panels. After all, fans can also be creators.
Last year we had about 50 guest speakers – webcomics, bloggers, artists, crafters, musicians, and burlesque performers. We will be announcing more returning guests and more new guests this year. We just announced Jennie Breeden and Shaenon Garrity. We will also be expanding our in house goth club, and adding a film festival! Our guest lineup will be updated here.
All of the stuff we did, plus our low cost educational workshops to teach people how to be better creators got us a lot of press last year from places like Otaku USA and Wired.com. You can even watch videos of some of the panels on our site all year round.
As far as where I’d like to see us grow- We have a lot of comics, podcasting, music, and the like – I’d like to see more costumers, bloggers, and anime fans get involved with us. If anyone reading this does something creative that they feel warrants a lot of attention, they should contact us. One of the things we do differently from a lot of events is that we market the people who work with us to the media and promote them heavily on the site. (Kind of like this! )
As far as which types of cons I like best – I like them all, but anime cons have been extremely nice to me and a lot of fun!
3. Do you have advice for any aspiring webcomic artists?
Actually yes! I post advice for webcomic artists every Thursday on my blog here. But the most important thing I can say would be – ignore the first few thousand rejections you are going to get. Everyone gets them, and the winner is the last person standing. Be that person!
4. On your blog, you express a desire for theme parks. What is your favorite theme park? Do you have a favorite ride (or type of ride)? What theme would you like to see incorporated into a park? How many hours have you spent playing Rollercoaster Tycoon?
Ah, yes – I grew up in Pittsburgh, PA near Kennywood Park, so it was always something I did with my family. I could never afford to go to Disney World until I was an adult, though. Now I am an absolute theme park and haunted attraction junkie. I go to at least 10 parks per year and 30 haunted attractions per year during the fall. I justify it as blog material, but perhaps my blog is to justify my habit. I am grateful that some of the parks are nice enough to work with me on some of the blog posts.
EPCOT might be my favorite because Harknell can’t ride coasters and we can go on most everything together in this park. Including the line for tasty Bratwurst and German beer.
Dark rides are my favorite. Currently the surprisingly modern and high-tech Haunted Mansion in Knoebel’s park near Philly is my best along with the Haunted Mansion in Disney World. There was a ride called Le Cachot that Kennywood used to have that was awesome, but it sadly burnt down in 1998. I am big on the vintage, cheesy dark rides, but I also will ride every roller coaster that I can get to.
I think Disney’s The Great Mouse Detective should be made into a ride. It was tragic that this film got no love.
I actually don’t have Rollercoaster Tycoon, but I probably spent more than 2 months either going to or coming from parks last year. Wow, that’s some maths.
5. Anything else you would like those reading the Zenkaikon V blog to know?
Harknell and I have two other projects we do: AWSOM.org, which is Harknell’s WordPress plugin development site (he releases free plugins for artists and bloggers), and our iPhone App development service for Webcomics, which we make customized versions of our iPhone app for webcomic creators for free.
As you can see, we strongly believe is giving back to the artistic community–which was one of our main reasons for creating Intervention, as well as going out to cons like Zenkaikon to talk with other creators and fans. We really appreciate the opportunity Zenkaikon is providing for this outreach.