Wide World of Webcomics Gives you GASTROPHOBIA
Welcome back to Newsarama’s Wide World of Webcomics, our ongoing look at the best of the web! Today, we take a trip to Greece for a farcical tale of Amazonian adventure.www.gastrophobia.com), we travel along with Phobia, a monster-slaying “Barbarian MILF” and her ADHD son Gastro, who would rather play music than fight monsters. Along the way, they encounter laser-shooting deer, mythological creatures, allies, enemies, and most recently, some gender-flipped results of time travelers mucking up their universe. We got up with McGuire to get him to explain this insanity.
Newsarama: David, how did you initially come up with the concept for the strip?
David McGuire: I was standing on the edge of my toilet hanging a clock, the porcelain was wet, I slipped and hit my head on the edge of the sink, and when I came to, I drew the first chapter of GastroPhobia.
Nrama: What have been some of the unique advantages and challenges of doing it online?
McGuire: Putting GastroPhobia online for free is what made self-publishing the print book possible. GastroPhobia is designed for print, but without the internet, I'd never have an audience large enough to pay for printing. I'm thrilled that this was an option.
Of course, the webcomic also has a couple of fun features the book doesn't have – color-coded chapters, alt text, animations, etc. – I can't really force it into one category.
The biggest challenge with doing a webcomic you ultimately want to put into print is how tempting it is to make each page self-contained like you would with a serial comic strip. What seems like a great idea when you're reading the story one update at a time doesn't work so
well reading the story all at once. You want the pages to flow into each other naturally. You don't want a pause at the end of each page.
Nrama: So in your current storyline, you're not only finally dealing with Gastro's father, but added in some time travel. I'm curious as to what's led to this direction.
McGuire: Here's the deal: my sister is a big fan of The Golden Girls. It's her favorite show. And The Golden Girls, as you may or may not know, has more flashback “clip shows” than any other television series.
The Golden Girls has clip shows with zero recycled material. They sit around remembering scenes that never happened in any previous episode. And it's a great because they pull it off sincerely, without a hint of irony.
"If These Old Walls Could Talk" is essentially a clip show. The title comes from an old SNL sketch about Family Ties having too many clip shows. I thought it'd be funny to change the scene and show other characters trapped in similar places also “remembering when.”
McGuire: Oh man, I have all these adult responsibilities like some kind of a regular human being. It's ridiculous! I don't really go on planned breaks from the comic. Life just gets in the way. If I get a paying job, that takes priority over my free webcomic.
Nrama: What is most interesting to you about Greek mythology and history, and why do you feel it's been such a fertile source of storytelling up to the present day?
McGuire: There's nothing special about Greek history specifically. GastroPhobia could easily have taken place in ancient Egyptian, Persian, or Mayan culture. What interests me is that it happened long ago and that people probably acted exactly like they do now back then.
You always see historical fiction where everyone is absurdly serious and dramatic and it's all very silly. Nobody has ever acted like that in real life.
Nrama: For that matter, what are your all-time favorite Greek myths and stories?
Nrama: How do you feel you've evolved as a creator since starting the strip?
McGuire: I'm more comfortable with Phobia and Gastro. I know who they are now and I understand them. I still feel I have a ways to go as a storyteller/artist, but that's a good feeling to have.
Nrama: How long do you see the strip running ultimately -- do you have an ending for Gastro and Phobia's adventures in mind?
McGuire: GastroPhobia doesn't really need an ending because it's a series of stories rather than one big story.
The comic will run until I get tired of it. I promise never to end the comic in the middle of a storyline. I'll eventually let them grow a little older and get different jobs. Maybe they'll have adventures in Egypt or Atlantis. Perhaps I'll end it with them all losing their jobs and having a group hug like in the last episode of The Mary Tyler Moore Show.
McGuire: I thumbnail the entire story in my sketchbook before I draw the first page of a storyline. If I don't know what every page is going to look like ahead of time, that can cause problems down the road. If I iron out the bugs in my plot when the art is all stick figures, I avoid a lot of headaches. Here's a pretty good summary of my process.
Nrama: Which character has proven the most fun to write since you started the strip?
McGuire: I love all my babies equally. What am I, a monster?
Nrama: What's coming up for Gastro and Phobia?
McGuire: SPOILER: They'll get out of that snake pit eventually!
Nrama: Something I've been asking everyone in this series – what new opportunities do you feel are available to both individual creators and larger companies as the result of such new delivery systems as iPads, smartphones and online databases such as Comixology, and what can they do to take better advantage of these opportunities?
Nrama: (briefly dreams of such a world) What are some of your other favorite comics and their creators, online and off?
McGuire: If I seriously answered this question, you'd have, like, a six page essay on your hands.
Instead, I'll tell you my favorite kids cartoons on the air right now: Adventure Time, Avatar, My Little Pony, and Phineas & Ferb. They all have great storytelling and cute art, which happen to be my two favorite things in a comic.
McGuire: I'd like to eventually adopt a cat from an animal shelter. I've come up with the perfect name for a girl cat, but I won't tell you what that name is because I don't want anyone to steal it. I'm partial to Tonkinese cats, but I'm keeping an open mind. I'm a big mutt fan too.
Keep up with the insane adventures of Gastro and Phobia at www.gastrophobia.com, and meet McGuire in person at the Small Press Expo (SPX), which you can learn more about at www.spxpo.com.
Next: Phineas & Ferb’s Eddie Pittman takes us on an all-ages journey to Red’s Planet! Then, it’s a teen witch like you’ve never seen in Aaron Alexovich’s Serenity Rose!Got a comment? There's lots of conversation on Newsarama's FACEBOOK and TWITTER!