What’s up, super seekers? It’s time for another life dive dance, and I’m happy to cut in.
For today’s episode, I get to slice through the mental majesty of J Adam Farster and his 4 piece 80’s arc explosion, Humalien. It’s wild whack-attack, GotG meets Family Ties vibes sound like the Happy Days, all-ages, oddball orchestra everyone hears coming from the pit of their soul. It’s accidental humor meets an electric slide surprise. By the way, he does all the illustration and storytelling himself. Enough jib-jab. Let’s explode onto the scene.
Chris: Hey Adam. Thanks for joining us. First off, where do you fit into Humalien? Why was it so important for you to tell THIS story?
Adam: Well, in the 1900’s (’99) I had the idea and self-published a book called Y4K. It is essentially the same as Humalien, just not as polished. I hit some cons and showed my work around with overwhelming rejection. I had a lot of negativity at cons, too. It was extremely defeating. In reality the work wasn’t great. So I backed away and was working as a graphic artist. I drew little comics here and there. There were a lot of starts and stops, all the while still loving the story I had created in Y4K.
It was almost 3 years ago talking with a friend, and then with my wife, and them both telling me to “just make the thing.” So I re-branded, put together a Kickstarter, and made the thing.
It was nice to make it through the project and have some extremely positive responses to the book. It had to be time, and what I put into it, this time it feels different to be making comics. I think it was important to complete the first 4-issue arc. There were ups and downs along the way, but ultimately having a completed project was rewarding.
Chris: Did you always intend on being the illlustrator and the storyteller? In my experience, collaboration makes it easier to market because you have more than one person pushing the content. What was it like being the lone genius?
Adam: I like being a storyteller. I like illustrating, but writing and coming up with ideas and figuring it all out is part of the fun. I also have control issues; I like to be the one making the creative decisions. Making an independent book is also a lifestyle. You get back what you put in. I can’t blame anyone for my failures/successes. It all falls on me. Not to say I don’t and won’t collaborate in the near future (foreshadowing). It just wasn’t my goal starting out.
Chris: Speaking of that, I read that one your most challenging things was building a brand. What was your process like? Do you have any specific MUSTS for fellow creators out there? Did Midday Monster sketches come out of that process?
Adam: It was really just finding an audience, which I’m still looking for. Exposure is tough in a crowded market. I’m really just figuring it out as I go.
As far as a MUST, I think creators need to be ok with failure. You are going to do it a ton. Working out of that and learning is a big part of being a creator. Also, find a group of creator friends. Start a group. Go to local drink & draw events. Having people to bounce ideas off of is a great resource. Plus it makes you become more social. Sometimes you can create with them. The group I am part of released an anthology book earlier this year called Lush.
Midday Monsters was a plan I had that hasn’t really happened…YET. I would like to do more live streaming and teaching/tutorials. I just need to make time.
My process is this: have an idea, write a rough outline, then sketch, thumbnail, and get to work. I have an idea and try and hit all the beats I want. I work 100% digital with Sketchbook and Photoshop using a Cintiq, so it all goes fairly smoothly.
I’m working on a couple ideas right now, and I draw a lot in a sketchbook to understand the feels of characters before I can commit 100% to doing an entire book with them. It needs to feel organic.
Chris: I checked your review on Roast.com. That must have felt pretty good. How do you handle criticism of your work? What was the most constructive advice you’ve been given as a creator?
Adam: There have been some kind things said about Humalien and a few pretty terrible things. When someone GETS the book, they get it and it makes me happy for days. Some people are turned off by the art or the limitations of the story. I’m just trying to make something fun. Everything doesn’t have to be for everyone. I make stuff I would like to have read or would like to read and see. You don’t see me doing a lot of superhero art because everyone does it. How many versions of Deadpool or Batman are there out there? They are great characters and have amazing talents working on the books. It just isn’t what I set out to make.
The most constructive advice I’ve ever gotten was to keep making comics. You don’t need a major publisher or anything. Anyone can make comics.
I tell this same thing to people when they ask how to get into it. Just make your thing, put it out there. Rinse. Repeat.
Chris: As far as the Humalien heroes: Ed and Plato seem brave and reckless, whereas Kuhl and Kyrja look before they leap. Which pair is more like your life style?
Adam: I’m totally Kuhl. He is the one who has to overthink and be the one hiding rather than right in the mix. Ultimately I’m Ed though, even though he is all action, he is an outsider with a bunch of weirdos around him. However, I’m sure I am the weirdo surrounded by normal people.
Chris: Speaking of reckless. I love the humorous dynamic between the characters. The dialogue seems natural. Was it easier to write the dialogue than the big picture details of the story, or was it the other way around?
Adam: I write all the dialogue last. I have all the art done and go in and make it flow the way I feel that is natural. Dialogue is tough to get the beats, and most of the humor is accidental.
As long as the art hits all the story beats, then it seems to work. I have completely scrapped pages because they didn’t work sometimes 2 days before printing.
Chris: I definitely see the 80’s vibe in the comic. You’re also clearly a Star Wars fan (Me too– WHO ISN’T?!). I also read that you were much more influenced by film and cartoons than comics themselves, at least initially. Is that true, and how has that impacted your animation style?
Adam: I still am. I think that film and animation are great. There are some great comics that inspired me to take a shot. Ultimately, it’s 80’s action/toy cartoons and movies that made me want to be a storyteller.
Chris: I saw a sketch of Jason in your collection. I loved it. Do you have an appreciation for the hack-and-slash horror genre, and has that impacted your story telling in any way?
Adam: I have a huge affinity for the Halloween, the first few Friday the 13th’s, and Nightmare on Elm Street movies. I don’t think it has impacted me at all other than I love creating monsters and menacing villains.
Chris: Where did the idea of spontaneous combustion come from as a superpower? That’s really unique to me. Is that where the Chuck Jones/Looney Tunes influence comes into play?
Adam: I read something about spontaneous combustion in high school, and it always fascinated me. I thought about it a lot. I thought of it like an electrical fire, and how cool it would be to harness the electrical power from your body and be part alien.
Chris: I saw you went to animation school. What did you love about it? What was challenging about it? Was there a lot of critique involved (like a typical art school), or did you experience a lot of freedom?
Adam: I did. I went to Columbia College in Chicago. It was great. I wanted to be Chuck Jones or Bob Clampett. I really loved Ren & Stimpy and what John K was doing, too. While we had projects to do, we were allowed to do what we wanted with them. Critique was more on technical skills, rather, so you had a lot of room to experiment creatively. I still love 2D and stop motion animation more than a lot of what we have going on right now.
Chris: What’s the most exciting thing happening in your life right now outside of comics/creativity?
Adam: I have a 3-year-old daughter, and she is the most exciting thing ever. Everything is new, and seeing something through her eyes is so much fun.
Adam really embodies everything representative of the indie spirit.
His grace while walking the tightrope of encouragement and criticism has provided space for a master class in independent artistry. His storytelling abilities have been crafted into a reliable catharsis of sorts. I’m excited for the next arc. If you want charming lessons in sibling rivalry, action and loyalty than look no further than Humalien. If you need a wise friend to help you navigate the oddities of life, look no further than Adam himself. He may not be a blue robot from the future, but I’d hop on the Ed express if I were you. There’s something truly “mega” in store for the man who’s just alien enough to sketch a new shade of the human experience.
To learn more about what Adam is up to, buy his work or just connect, check out the links below:
ComixShop: Floor 13 Studios