By Superherologist - January 28, 2010
The monthly Survivor-style competitions to win contracts with DC Comics’ line of Zuda webcomics regulary take some interesting turns. This month, we’ve seen Matthew Petz’s War of the Woods rise steadily up the ranks to reach the #1 spot. WotW had been galloping toward number #1 even before The Thunderchickens, which had held that rank throughout the month, dropped out of the competition.
The abbreviation WotW might confuse some of our regulars because around here, that usually refers to G4TV’s Women of the Web program which featured our colleague Action Flick Chick Katrina Hill as the winner of their Next Woman of the Web competition, just hold in your heads that for the rest of this article, it means War of the Woods. Got it? Good!
War Of The Woods is a classic alien invasion story told from an entirely unique point of view, that of the animals of the New Jersey Pine Barrens. Father and son otters Nathaniel and Phinneas Waterbrooks will embark on an adventure with close friend, turtle Issac Brownshell. They, along with the rest of the animal kingdom, will not only survive but fight back against the greatest threat the planet has ever known.
Phin is a young Otter who loves reading the forgotten comic books of hikers and campers. Nathaniel, his father, is a fisherman descended from a long line of fisherman. He has cared for Phin alone since the death of his wife. Issac is his good friend and a grandfatherly figure to Phin. Through the eyes of these three we begin to witness the invasion. When UFOs begin descending upon the Earth the lives of all animals will never be the same. War Of The Woods is sprawling saga that will introduce us to the animals and their societies during this crisis. Phin will find himself at the center of a great war, a war that will take our characters all over the world, and a war for the future of the planet.
War of the Woods is an epic adventure along the lines of The Road, Lord of The Rings, and Aliens. It follows the quiet moments of survival and the explosive moments of a planet on the brink. At its core it is about a father and son and the bonds we all share during extraordinary times.
This week we discussed the competition and its craziness with War of the Woods creator Petz.
Llama: How strange has this month been for you?
Petz: I wouldn’t call it strange, it has been interesting though. For me I’ve tried to just focus on the comic, its merits, and the promoting. It has been really exciting to see the momentum. Since day one, I’ve been blown away by the support…it’s overwhelming.
Llama: You’ve been active on forums and twitter. You’ve run a contest to give away your art. What have you found to be the most useful means for finding WotW lovers?
Petz: I think its a combination of everything actually. I think first and foremost you need to have a solid comic and premise. That though, will only get you so far. It then becomes about promoting. Twitter has been really cool. I’m new to it, but I’ve followed bands and artist for maybe less then a year, but I still learned some great things with it. The instantaneous nature of it is very cool, and its very direct way to get in touch with people. It’s great for sketch contests. It’s also great to just keep the word out. Forums are great, and Facebook is probably better. Social media really is redefining how you connect with people. For something like Zuda its something you have to use.
Llama: What kind of person is a WotW lover?
Petz: I think people who want something that’s going to entertain them. Something unique and new. With the 8 pages online I tried to give a reader a sense of the characters the world, and leave them wanting more. I also wanted something with broad appeal.
Llama: What kind of person is a WotW creator?
Petz: We’ll I’m a fan of the big epic stuff, But I’m also a fan of the small moments that define characters. My hope is to craft a story that will combine both. I want to show readers things they haven’t seen before. I want to make them fall in love with the character. I want to knock their socks off with the art. I think if you make a comic that you yourself will be in love with, chances are good that you’ll find an audience.
Llama: What do you think the biggest influences on your artistic and storytelling styles have been?
Petz: I think right off the bat stories like Lord of the Rings and Wind in the Willows are a big influence. Of course War of the Worlds as well. The Road was a big influence as well. That book killed me. Artistically I was very influenced by E.H. Shepard. He’s most famous for the “Winnie the Pooh” and the Wind in the Willows illustrations. As well as Masashi Tanaka’s manga Gon. I was also really, really loving the guys on Zuda as well. They make amazing use of the format and the delivery system.
Llama: How long did it take you to create this piece?
Petz: I think the whole thing took about a month? The technical stuff, drawing, coloring, etc., that went pretty fast. But I spent a lot of time researching and planning a very large story. Also developing a mythology to this world.
Llama: But why otters?
Petz: I made it otters because the world doesn’t need another “aliens invade the world and humans fight back” story. I think seeing a global alien invasion but from the animal kingdom’s point of view was something new. Plus my girlfriend loves otters; they’re super cute and kind of perfect for the story.
Llama: Panel one, your story starts with a tranquil, panoramic view of forest and lake. Panel two, there’s a talking otter. Panel three, daddy otter’s reading in his chair. Pretty soon, we turn the page and there are the flying saucers. Are you going to keep cranking up the wild-and-weird factor as this story continues?
Petz: Definitely. I do think that the 8 pages of a submission tend to move things along a bit faster than one might want, but its works for the story. I have a lot of crazy things planned. My hope is that people’s eyes will light up and they’ll smile at where the story takes them. There’s so many animals you’ll meet both for the long term and fleetingly. Once the aliens hit the woods things get really fun.
Llama: Why did you want to tell this particular story?
Petz: It’s a story I’m totally in love with. In some ways that’s the only type of story you should tell. I think it’s a also a story that will really connect with readers. I know it will be something really great when it’s all said and done.
Llama: Do you have any advice for next month’s competitors?
Petz: Fill up as many pages in a sketch book with ways and places to promote as you can. When your totally out of ideas take a break. Then go back and add more pages of ideas. You simply can’t promote enough. You can’t just rely on a good or even an amazing concept. You’ll need to promote. Constantly. Wrangle as many reliable friends as you can to help. When you think you’ve done everything. Do more. There’s always something you’re missing or forgetting. Don’t just rely on what you know, think outside the box. Zuda is a pretty awesome thing; take advantage of it.
Read War of the Woods on Zuda: http://zudacomics.com/node/1661
If you like what you see, then register, rate the comic, and vote!
Contests ends Friday at noon.