The Meek is an absolutely gorgeous webcomic created by Der-shing Helmer. Its lush color palette and engaging main character, the green-haired Angora, will pull readers in by the first page. After growing up in the jungle with her “grandfather,” a giant salamander, she is set on the task to find “the center” and, ultimately, civilization. I would rather not get too spoilery, though; it will be worth your time to read it for yourself.
While The Meek has its own “Meekipedia,” I still had some questions for Der-shing, who was nice enough to answer them. The Meek will definitely lend itself well to anyone who is a fan of fantasy or of beautiful artwork. It’s more a web graphic novel than a strip, so I could only snatch certain images from the website. I should mention that the main character Angora does spend her time naked or partially naked, and while I don’t find it offensively drawn or pornographic in any way, I do want to warn you ahead of time.
Kelly Melcher: Would you please start by introducing yourself and telling us how you became a webcomic creator?
Der-shing Helmer: My name is Der-shing, and I’m a biologist-turned-educator. I am currently working on getting my high school teaching credential. On my free time I like to do comics, and have been drawing and making stories for a while. I’ve been picking away at my big story, The Meek, for about 12 years (I have no life). I made several attempts to draw it out, but I gave up pretty quick once I realized that I did not know how to draw. Finally, from 2007-2008 I roughed out about 350 pages of comics that I was happy with, and posted them to LiveJournal. Since people were enjoying it and I wanted to share with a broader audience, I put them on their own site and I guess that answers how I became a webcomic creator!
KM: Who are your influences, artistically or otherwise?
DH: I started out being heavily influenced by anime, but have since been pulling my inspiration from a lot of sources. More specifically, artists like Johane Matte, Aysha Shehim, Wendling and Barbucci & Canepa.
KM:. Does your background in biology affect your art? If so how?
DH: Definitely! I try to make all the practical details in the comic scientifically sound. I dislike comics that twist logic/science out of laziness… I have a lot of bio in my comic but it tends to be in the background. In general I try not to rub concepts like ecological succession in your face, but if you look for it, it is there!
KM: What are your plans for The Meek in the future? Will we see it in print form anytime soon?
DH: I’m just going to keep working on it until my hands fall off, I guess. There are an estimated 40 chapters so it is going to take a while. And yes, I am printing it out chapter by chapter as there has been some demand for it. If the demand continues I suppose I will continue as well.
KM: Besides The Meek, what other projects have you worked on or are planning to work on?
DH: I have done some professional work (educational comics) for Lerner Books, which may continue later this year. I will also have some work in anthologies in the future! Aside from that, I do get distracted easily with side projects but will have to put them on hold this year until I can find some more time to devote to them.
KM: What is your favorite aspect of working on The Meek?
DH: I really enjoy seeing finished pages. I have a lot of the settings and scenarios in my head, but don’t see them rendered until each page is completed. It is also a ton of fun getting to share the comic with my readers, and developing my art more as time goes on.
KM: At Fandomania we like to ask: what are you a fan of?
DH: I’m a big fan of Lost! And I deeply enjoy the Avatar animated series as well. But most of my fangirling is reserved for sci-fi and horror books, and of course the multitude of wonderful webcomics floating around the internet.
I would like to thank Der-shing on behalf of myself and my associates at Fandomania for taking the time to answer my questions about The Meek.
All images used in this article are property of Der-shing Helmer and were used with permission.
Thanks for the interview. I can’t believe I’m the first to comment! I gave each of my adult children signed (and sketched) copies of Volume One for Christmas yesterday. They squeed pretty hard. :) Der-shing is a gifted stroyteller and artist, and I look forward to the printing of Chapter Two, now that the comic is a few pages into Chapter Three.