Final Arcanum is the story of swashbuckling adventure, magic, islands floating in the sky, and pirates! It follows Acacitli, a young sky pirate out to prove himself to his crew and inadvertently walking into a high-stakes struggle with a tyrannical empire.
In the following interview I did with Stephanie Stober, the creator of Final Arcanum, she describes how she got into comics and how she went about creating her tale of adventure.
Q1. So what got you interested in webcomics in the first place?
Strange as it may sound, my dad actually got me into them way back when I was 13-14 years old, and it was my first introduction to comics! I remember spending a whole lot of time going through the Sluggy Freelance archives and at some point deciding "I gotta do this" haha.
Q2. Why sky pirates?
Why NOT sky pirates? Okay wait I do have a legimate answer for this-- around the time I was getting into storytelling and comics, Disney was really pushing their Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, and that's where I first got really interested in pirate-based fiction. I was always really captivated by the works that were about pirates, especially the non-traditional kind-- Treasure Planet is always going to be my favorite animated movie (not to knock the original Treasure Island!), and Airborne and Skybreaker by Kenneth Oppel are always going to be some of my favorite books. I guess I just discovered that pirates with the tech to could FLY was a concept I couldn't pass up. Soon after, Final Arcanum started!
Q3. If I'm not mistaken, your fantastical land floats in the air, so what's down below?
Yup! From a practical storytelling point of view, I had to find a reason the people of this world traveled by air and not water, so this simply meant that there were no oceans to travel on. But according to the world's mythology, the continents didn't always float and originally sat on the earth and amongst oceans.
Q4. How does everything stay afloat?
The legend is that the gods lifted the land into the sky in order to save the world from a giant flood. There is actually a lot of world building like this that won't be said in the story. I would like to share it though, which is why I'm currently ooking for a good medium to share it in!
Q5. Now, I realize that asking this is like asking to choose a favorite child, but which character of Final Arcanum is your favorite? Or at least, which one is the most fun to write/draw?
Oh geeze, yeah, that's a tough question! I do really legimately enjoy the entire cast and each character for different reasons. I guess I don't really see the point writing characters you don't like? There are definitely some that are easier to write though! Acacitli is by far the easiest since he's a whole lot like me as well a funny character. I'd also say Mirna, Kite, and Mael are sort of the same way! But in reverse, Zero. Falk, and Iver are all actually really hard for me to write, meaning their behavior, speech, and reactions just take a lot more consideration because they're so serious and have this tendency to angst. Every story needs it's own bit of tragedy, but that needs to be balanced with lightheartedness. Otherwise, the story becomes heavy, depressing, and just hard to get through, so it tends to be a theme I wrestle with a whole lot.
Q6. How long is the story that you're planning?
I keep telling myself Final Arcanum will be as long as it has to in order to tell the best story. I have certain plot points I want to hit, and certain scenes I'm just really excited about writing, but since it's constantly being revised and edited, the length tends to change. A really vague estimate would be around 300 pages, and it's currently just a little over 100. We're definitely not even halfway yet, how crazy is that?
Q7. How did you go about creating your webcomic?
I guess the whole process started with a lot of research. I read a lot of books on writing for comics and read a lot of established webcomic creator's blogs on their own process to get an idea of where to start. What I learned from almost every one is to just start by making a comic and the business side will come later. (It's been 3 years and only now am I considering opening things like a store and moving to official hosting.) When I first started Final Arcanum, I focused on conceptualizing the story, creating outlines and scripts to follow, and then the actual creation of the comic began. I also researched various free webcomic cms options and hosting, and ended up choosing Smackjeeves since it was so easy to use. It was great start, but I'm really excited to see that Final Arcanum is finally growing into more than just a comic every week!
In Part II of this interview, which will be up next week, Stephanie talks about her process and some things she has learned along the way.