Interview With Kevin Church and Max Riffner (Lydia)

Kevin Church has just launched Lydia, “a comic strip about corporate culture”, drawn by Max Riffner. It spins off from The Rack, his previous strip with Benjamin Birdie.

The Rack

Kevin, what made you decide to start doing webcomics?

Actually, it was Ross Richie at BOOM! Studios. Right at three years ago, he asked me if I wanted to write a webcomic that’d help promote their titles. We had a few people whose work looked good, but Birdie’s leaped out, and thus Nitroglycerin was born. After working together for a few months, Birdie came up with the idea of doing a comic strip in a comic shop, so I wrote up a bible, and here we are. In short, other people made me start doing webcomics and now I enjoy it. It’s sort of like eating Indian food for the first time.

What spurred the idea to spin off Lydia into a strip with a business setting?

After his stint helping out The Rack while Birdie was finishing up the book, Max Riffner made the foolish mistake of saying he’d draw her spin-off because he had so much fun drawing her. Being a stone-cold opportunist who knows how popular Lydia is in the fanbase, I came up with the idea of her leaving Yavin IV, asked Birdie if he was OK with things, and went for it.

As far as the setting, I wanted her in a place where Lydia would feel like her organizational skills and work ethic would be appreciated and she wouldn’t have to deal with retail anymore. And for those die-hards who can’t be bothered to read the ongoing strip but still like her, Lydia’s still going to appear in The Rack, just less often.

Lydia example

What do you envision for Lydia’s future? Is it planned to end, or is it ongoing?

I’m not going to discuss any future plans because I just plain don’t like getting anything close to a spoiler myself. I actively avoid most film discussion on the internet because of this phobia, and I don’t even watch the previews for shows I enjoy because I hate seeing jokes or plot beats getting ruined for the sake of hype.

Understood. So is Lydia (the strip) going to run as long as there are ideas for it?

I’ve got an ending in mind for Lydia, but I’ve got one for The Rack, too, and I don’t plan on shutting down that strip anytime soon.

How is working with Max?

We get along terrifically well, and it was one of those natural fits that you look for when you’re a creator.

Max draws The Rack

Max, how did you and Kevin get together for Lydia?

Kevin and I initially got together via Twitter of all places — we both started following each other and he was really instrumental in getting attention to Drunk Elephant Comics early on. When he asked me to do some guest strips for The Rack, I jumped at the chance because I love the characters. I almost immediately started getting emails from fans. Many of them were comic shop employees who I thought didn’t even actually read webcomics, telling me how much they love The Rack and how great it was that I was doing some guest strips. Kevin also got a lot of feedback about my brief run, and between Kevin, Benjamin Birdie, and myself, we all thought that a spin-off was worth exploring.

What do you like best about working on the strip? And just to stir up trouble, least?

I absolutely LOVE drawing Lydia herself. The talented Mr. Birdie created such a great, original design for the character, so I have a lot to work with. The moment I first drew her, I think I emailed Kevin immediately and told him how much fun she is to draw! I think the thing I like the least about it is that, like Office Space or the novel Then We Came to the End, when you work in those worlds, it’s an uncomfortable mirror into your own life. Kevin really nails the environment. I’ve worked in places like that before. It’s simultaneously hilarious and sort of painful how close to real life ridiculousness Lydia’s office can be.

What do you see as the strip’s future?

Kevin has given me quite a few scripts so I can build a buffer, so I have a sense of where we’re headed. All I can say is that Lydia is in for an interesting time coming from the world of comic shop retail to the world of marketing.

Kevin, do you have plans to do collections or merchandise from your webcomics?

The Rack Year One

Funny that you should mention that! Yesterday’s edition of The Rack announces the print edition of our first year, which has been curated by Birdie and myself and features pinups from people like Jeff Parker, Dan McDaid, and TJ Kirsch along with an interview conducted by a real live university professor. The book is going to debut at MoCCAFest 2009, and we’ll be offering it online after that.

You have a Cover Girl collection out from Boom! Do you have plans to do more print comics?

Honestly, I’ve not pitched anything to anyone in about a year, mostly because I’d want to own whatever I do. Don’t get me wrong — I think it’d be great fun to write a J. Jonah Jameson miniseries or the like, but I’m at the point where I get the most joy from creating my own characters and worlds.

With Diamond having made some decisions that aren’t friendly to the small press, I’m of the mind that the web’s definitely the way for anyone to start doing comics. Outside of time, your production costs are minimal, and you can build up your audience slowly without having publication pressures on your back.

Which is your favorite Rack strip and why?

I think The Rack‘s best strips are the ones that are driven by characters instead of industry punchlines. Danny sleeping with Lydia’s roommate, Jerry and Rick going to San Diego, Lydia’s departure — I’d count those among my favorites. That said, Alan Moore’s appearance is just a fantastic bit of cartooning from Birdie, and I have to hold myself back from just telling Batman jokes constantly.

Thank you both, Kevin and Max, for your time!


2 Responses to “Interview With Kevin Church and Max Riffner (Lydia)”

  1. Journalista - the news weblog of The Comics Journal » Blog Archive » May 13, 2009: Generating debate and offering sage advice Says:

    [...] [Profile] Kevin Church and Max Riffner Link: Johanna Draper Carlson [...]

  2. Robot 6 @ Comic Book Resources - Covering Comic Book News and Entertainment » Comics A.M. | The comics Internet in two minutes Says:

    [...] Creators | Johanna Draper Carlson talks to collaborators Kevin Church and Max Riffner about their webcomic Lydia. [Comics Worth Reading] [...]

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