Tails is a webcomic about Ethan Young, a young man who has problems just like the rest of us, and some problems on top of that. He lives at home, but his room is overrun by cats he and his ex-girlfriend saved from shelters. He has a strained relationship with his parents, and hasn’t talked to his brother in some time, but his life isn’t without humor. After all, who doesn’t daydream? If you’re not immediately drawn (pun intended, and I make no apologies) in by the story, you will be hooked on the art. Young’s style is certainly unique and absolutely stunning.
Tails is a “slice of life” comic and, as such, it was only fitting that I talk to the real Ethan Young. Below I talk to him about how Tails came to be a webcomic as well as its future. I hope that you will take the time to check out this comic. In my opinion, it is one of the highest quality webcomics out on the web right now, and you’re missing a real treat if you don’t check it out.
Kelly Melcher: I have seen you describe Tails as being semi-autobiographical, so would you please start by introducing yourself and your semi-fictional counterpart?
Ethan Young: Certainly, Kelly. Let me start by saying thanks for hosting this interview and thanks to all your readers. My name is Ethan Young and I have a webcomic called Tails that deals with the day-to-day life of a struggling cartoonist named Ethan (a cartoon version of me, more or less). In addition to his aspiring art career, Cartoon Ethan works with animals, drifts into pop-escapist fantasies, and tries his damn hardest to secure a stable relationship.
KM: Tails was originally self-published. What led to switching it to webcomic form?
EY: Mainly to gain a wider audience. Not that I’m ungrateful to the fans of the original print series, but we’re all aware of the dangers and pitfalls to self-publishing, and it’s just not viable to print when you don’t have the financial backing/experience to sustain it. This was before Print-On-Demand gained the prominence it has now.
KM: When you made the transition, what changed between the published work and what we can read online today?
EY: The original print series was my first published work, so it’s a bit rough, to say the least. Even before the webcomic route was concrete, I had already retouched/revamped most of the original series. I guess you can say I’m a bit obsessive when it comes to my own personal work. Not just art-wise, but story-wise as well. The new webcomic is paced better, written better, just all around cleaner with more professional story-telling.
KM: What is the most challenging aspect of self publishing? How about webcomics?
EY: For self-publishing, the biggest challenge was getting readers (hence the webcomic route). There’s such a small window of opportunity; an untested indie comic (which most stores will only order a few copies) is only on the shelf for a week or so. Try as you might to get journalists to review your comic ASAP, there’s no guarantee a reviewer will even open your package. Oh, and money.
As for webcomics, the biggest challenge so far has been getting the site to work properly. Other than that, I can’t complain. The comic gets updated weekly and the readers are happy, so I’m happy. But, as a funny side-note, I’ve had to deal with the growing impatience from readers. Since Tails isn’t a gag-a-day strip, the story builds to a point. Unfortunately, when readers only get a page or two a week, they question every step of the story. “Where is this story going?” “I can’t stand Ethan at this point…” And all I can say is “Be patient, the story is going somewhere…”
KM: Conversely, what has been the most rewarding aspect of either (or both) to date?
EY: At the risk of sounding profoundly narcissistic, nothing beats the sensation of holding your own published work. It really is rewarding for a lifelong comic fan to hold his/her own comic. As for the webcomic, I’ve been overwhelmed by the positive response from readers. Being able to interact with readers daily is such a wonderful thing. It reinforces my passion to create.
KM: How would you best describe your artistic style?
EY: I would describe it as a blend of big-eyed American cartoons with a touch of Japanese and European influences. But that’s only if we deal with semantics. I honestly prefer not to delineate my art style’s origins, or anyone else’s. A lot of cartoonists have clear traces from many different backgrounds. Labeling an art style feels a tad like pigeon-holing to me. Perhaps I’ve just dealt with one too many arrogant a%@holes. You hear things like “Oh, that’s just manga” or “Oh, that’s just that indie-stuff.” My gut response usually is “Oh, you’re just a dick.” Sorry if I’m ranting…
KM: Since Tails was published off the web first, how much of the story is already written?
EY: I published three issues of Tails from 2005 to 2006, and I was originally planning to publish three more around the fall of 2007. Those first six issues have now been condensed into the first five chapters. As I’m writing this, we’re halfway through Chapter 5. I’ve got a good head start, I’m almost done with Chapter 9, and Chapters 10 – 13 are currently being outlined.
KM: What is the future of Tails as a webcomic?
EY: After Chapter 13, I’m not sure. I’ve basically been working on Tails for 6 years straight. Before that, I was working on a similar project that was the precursor to Tails. So I might take a short break after Chapter 13, and post up short stories I’ve done, take a breather and examine where I want to go with Tails after that. Nothing’s written in stone though. For all we know, I might get a rush after Chapter 13 and just move onto the next storyline immediately.
KM: At Fandomania we like to ask: What are you a fan of?
EY: Oh, where to begin? I’ll narrow it down to things I love, versus things I just generally like. This is a list of comics, artists, directors, movies, actors, TV shows, books (no specific order, just whatever pops into my mind): Art Adams, WE3, Dave Cooper, certain runs on X-Men, Batman & Spider-Man, Ghost World, Same Difference, Tricked, Jim Lee, High Fidelity (both movie and book), On Writing, Alan Moore and Frank Miller on their good days, Firefly, Buffy and other Joss Whedon stuff, Lost, Mission Hill, Futurama, first three seasons of Family Guy, romantic comedies, Alexander Payne, Tom Cruise (yes, I know), Seinfeld, Colbert Report, etc. God, what a jumbled mess…
I would like to thank Ethan Young on behalf of myself and my associates at Fandomania for taking the time to chat with me about Tails.