A fireside chat with the creator of Arsenic Lullaby

Arsenic Lullaby Comics

Douglas Paszkiewicz, creator of Arsenic Lullaby, a darkly humorous comic, joined the Whale Community for a fireside chat where he discussed his artwork, creation process, and thoughts about comics in the NFT space.

You can watch the full video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6qqXII1vfk8.

Here are a few excerpts from this very entertaining conversation!

Introduction

“Well my name is Douglas Pescavich, and I guess I just drawing as a little kid like everyone else and here I am!

Draft Sketch

The bulk of my background is in comic books and magazine illustration and that sort of thing. So a lot of old school techniques are still hardwired into me. All that programming is still in the CPU between my ears”

On the Dark Humor in his Art

“I think you just go with what your voice is. I just go with what I find interesting, what I find funny. So when I’m doing something dark, I’m not, I’m not trying to be dark. I’m not trying to shock anybody. I’m not trying to be edgy. I’m just doing what I think is funny. It just so happens that that’s really dark. So that’s, I mean, I think that’s a big difference. And you see somebody who’s too over the top or they’re pushing it too hard or it’s too cutesy. They’re not, they’re not really, just, they’re not really doing their thing. They’re trying to do something else, you know. Just, just do your thing, man! Just do what you find funny or paint what you think you want to see. You just have your voice and things will take care of themselves. And if you stray from that, and you’re trying, you know, to do something, be something specific, that’s, that’s when it’s not as genuine. It doesn’t connect as well I think.”

Negative space Squidward

“I didn’t really plot out okay this is what Voodoo Joe does this is his personality type blah blah blah. I just kind of drew it out and I kind of just knew this guy, right? You know I know this guy. I know how this guy would act. I know how he would respond to x, y, and z. It’s just like a personality that exists in my head somehow.

As far as being a writer, like, I consider myself a comedian / writer. But I don’t write stories really, like, with an art, like a beginning, middle and end — a three, three act story arc. If it does happen, it’s on accident. It’s really just, I plug this character in a situation, I know how they would act, I let things take care of themselves. Once that’s figured out, I draw it. So it’s really, I mean the stories are really just more, you’re just watching this guy for six hours. Or however long the story goes on however long it takes for things to come to an end.

Voodoo Joe and his Zombie Fetus army

I’ll juxtapose some scenario in there like, I don’t know, Voodoo Joe needs an apprentice and then, okay, I know how he acts. I get in my head the personality of the apprentice and then I just, you know, let my imagination just kind of go. Okay this is how it would play out and if it happens to have a story arc great, but if it’s just a bunch of weird crap that goes on and then there you go that’s 10 pages the end and that’s what happens!”

NFTs vs PRINTS

“That’s the tragedy of working in comics and in print, is you, you put out the composition and you don’t get all the details in life. And then 30–40% of it gets covered up with logos and barcodes and UPS symbols. And all these intricate details you run your hands over and and inked so meticulously, look there’s a barcode there now! Oh fantastic. That’s gone, no one’s ever gonna see that.

I mean one of the nicest things to me about making an NFT is the difference between that and putting it in print. First of all, I don’t think I’ve ever, ever, ever colored a cover for a comic book, given it to a printer, and had the colors look anything at all like what was on my computer screen. Like nothing, just nothing!

Erotic Robot

With an NFT, it’s 300 DPI. So you can get it you can look at it. You can zoom in you can see every intricate detail and every Easter egg. And every, you know, if I hid a message along the side of a beer can or something, you can zoom in and see all that. Where, when I do it and it’s a comic book, no one’s gonna see that. What am I doing to myself? Why am I, why am I hiding this in here? By the time it gets printed, it’s gonna be too blurry, you know. It’s like, why, why am I doing this? But on an NFT, the neurotic overworking that I do, it can really it can be taken in. So it’s really, it’s, it’s an enabling problem.”

On Connecting to Unusual Art

You know fans like Lullaby, they like Voodoo Joe, because, like, they know that guy. ‘Yeah, I know that guy! That’s me!’ Sometimes, you know, there’s, there’s a connection there. You can have, like, as bizarre as — you know just using Voodoo Joe as an example, not, not that I’m an egomaniac (although I am), but to use him as an example — you’ve got a guy who’s a witch doctor and he’s walking around with a big voodoo mask on his face and he’s got all these powers and stuff on the surface there should be no way to relate to that! Like voodoo is so obscure now, if you asked a hundred people what they knew about it, they they’d be able to write everything they do on a stamp, you know. It’s completely obscure. What he’s able to do is completely fantastical, but the connection, the the base connection of him having to deal with life and, and loathing what he has to do, and that’s a connection where they feel like, even though he’s all these weird things, they know him as well as they know their buddy that they work with. Like, ‘Oh yeah, I know this guy!’ It’s a that connection I think it makes a big difference, in whether you’re entertained by something or not.

On his Creation Process

Whale art in early design stage

“This is where you overthink things and redraw the same thing eighteen times and decide this plane should be just a quarter inch closer to the forehead. Let’s redraw the entire thing! Well this plane here, do I really want it to block all these windows or do i want it lower? And is this camera angle off just a little bit? This could be 10, 20, 30 man hours. Fifteen of that is just neurotic madness, that if I went to a psychiatrist I could probably up my productivity by a good 30 percent! Just getting rid of dude it’s, it’s fine dude, just draw the, just draw the bastard! But in between here and here is stuff like this where you figure out exactly where you want the camera to be, you know. Where you want the vanishing points to be so that everything lines up just right, you know. Do I want the camera a little bit lower or a little bit higher? Do I want to be looking more to the left, you know? Do I want to be looking more head-on or more on this side? All those decisions and sometimes, unfortunately, you just got to draw it out two or three times and see which one you like. Like, for example, in this one, I definitely wanted to be looking down a good amount. I wanted to be looking to the side a fair amount so that we could see the crypto in his arm. You know i thought those were the most important parts of the composition so that gave me the decisions, based on where I’m putting the vanishing point angles to replace the camera”

On Digitizing Comic Books

“They have tried for about the better part of a decade to make an industry out of downloading comic books, right. And it hasn’t gone anywhere because why would you bother? Why, if you are on the Internet, you have a device that allows you to do all the things you could possibly think of on the internet, would you use that to download an antiquated form of storytelling like a comic book? You wouldn’t! If people don’t it’s just you wouldn’t do that comic books themselves in physical form have a charm to them and that is unlike anything else and that charm has value and that form of storytelling has value and what what a lot of people don’t uh notice and no fault of their own and but unfortunately a lot of comic book illustrators never bothered to learn is there’s a way that you can lead the eye around a page on a comic book by using the composition. That is very unique to that method of storytelling and can help you tell a story and create a mood and create a rhythm of timing that can’t be done on a movie or in a book or anywhere else. It’s specifically unique to that. And that also goes into turning the page. Getting the eye to jump from one page to the next and knowing that there’s no more information until they turn a page. Then, you know, you can build up the drama and make sure those dramatic points are at a moment where they have to turn the page. You know, there’s all sorts of little things that make reading a comic book a really unique and personal kind of form of entertainment and almost none of that translates onto a computer screen.

So that’s the no, but here’s the yes. An NFT could be whatever you wanted it’s you know, what is the limit, let’s say 50 megs of data. Whatever you can produce on 50 megs of data. That’s your canvas. I mean there’s so much innovation going on right now. We’re at the dawn of something really ,really special. So, if as innovators, if we, or me specifically, understand, and grab onto these techniques, and use them to create a story, that is a comic book and isn’t, then yes, there is a way to tell a comic book story that is in comic book form. but also not as an NFT so you can tell a sequential story i absolutely think that there’s going to be a way to do that that’s going to have huge value be and be very entertaining and very visually compelling and have a great deal of value but it’s not going to be a comic book. It’s going to be something else. It’s not going to be a PDF that you click and scroll through.”

On his Goals as an Artist

”I would say what what I’m trying to, what I’m trying to do with everything, is, is capture people’s imagination. You know if I’m drawing a comic book I want them to feel like they’re seeing something happen. You know, if they’re reading Voodoo Joe, I want them to feel like they’re standing next to them, you know. I want to capture their imagination. I want them to be in that world. I want them to be sitting next to him in the van when the thing doesn’t start, you know. I want, I want to pull them in, pull their imaginations in. And same thing with if I’m doing an NFT, that’s just a single image, I want them to look at that image and feel like they’re looking into a world, you know! They’re seeing Krampus eating these kids! To them, that’s existing somewhere in their brain. It’s not just a painting or a drawing or what have you. Their imagination is looking at something happening. It’s, that’s what I’m trying to do. So yeah, that’s I guess, that’s the category and that would be the business I’m in, I guess. Trying to capture people’s imagination

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Listen and watch the full chat to hear more of Douglas’ thoughts including some ideas about Christmas, Ouija boards, the absurdity of the world, and the unresolved sexual tension between Spiderman and Dr. Octopus!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6qqXII1vfk8

You can see more of Douglas’ work at the official Arsenic Lullabies site — https://www.arseniclullabies.com/

The $WHALE Community Messenger.