QWTD: AQua_ng interviews trevoramueller!
lucky7s76 at 8:48AM, April 30, 2008
posts: 229
joined: 10-25-2007
Username: trevoramueller
Comics: The Temple of a Thousand Tears, @$$hole

Let's start with the basics. Can we have some basic information about you (name, location, occupation, shoe size)?

Oh man, you ask the personal questions first. There's no warm up first? No “foreplay,” as it were? Alright, here we go:

1) My name really is Trevor A Mueller
2) I live in Ann Arbor, MI (the state where you actually can get frost bite and sun burn in the same day)
3) I work as an integrated communications strategist for an advertising agency in Dearborn (and that's the easy title for my job)
4) I have 10.5“-11” shoe size, depending on the brand

One of your comics is The Temple of a Thousand Tears. Why exactly did you pick an unnamed samurai as a protagonist?

Ah, the beloved swordsman. Originally when I started penning this tale back in the day, I was going to have some mystery thrown in about whether or not the swordsman could be an immortal Abraham, still walking the earth and looking for (insert MacGuffin here), or could he possibly be this legendary samurai that saved a town from one of the last dragons in the land? Or could he be both?

After a few months of playing around with several ideas, I lost interest in the mystery and decided to just keep him nameless for the time being. As I started the comic, Kill Bill finally came out and I thought to myself, “Why the hell didn't they give The Bride a freakin' name? That's so lame.” Then the irony hit me, and I shut my mouth. To this day, I swear that Tarantino stole that device from me.

If you're reading this, Quentin, I want my 10%.

Now, you have two main comics that are updating at the moment, The Temple of a Thousand Tears and the tactfully named @$$hole, both of which have completely different tones. Which do you find more fun to do?

I think that after having worked on Temple for so long, which is an emotional rollercoaster and was kind of an outlet for me to deal with the social and political climate post September 11, I needed a release from the melodramatic situations and characters that I had created. Instead of working as an way to vent my thoughts, beliefs, and frustrations, it actually started to create some problems for me. I needed an outlet from my outlet. Also, I wanted to put a bald guy with my messed-up nose in it. I was writing a horror story at the time, but tabled that because I needed something funny to bring me out of my funk.

Then I started working on @$$hole, based on a way to (more directly) vent about everything in the world that was bugging me, and do it in a comedic way. But even as I started the comic, I wasn't happy with the lack of direction. The comic needed a focus of some kind. So one day I was bored and sat down to watch “The Ring 2” and “Ringu 2” back-to-back (yes, I have no life) and noticed all of these differences between them. Namely, that the American movie was just so bad - like, beyond terrible. I needed to rant about it, but then the brainstorm hit me - why the hell not make the little girl a regular character in the comic?

This solved so many problems that I was having when I wanted to vent about bad roommates (and not implicate anyone that I had actually lived with). “Susie,” as I call her, would be the ultimate bad roommate.

So, to answer your question in a very round-about way, I enjoy working on both for different reasons. They both allow me to exercise different creative parts of my brain. @$$hole! is just more recent, and like a new baby, it tends to demand a little more of my time. But I don't mind. ;)

Where do you get inspiration and ideas for your comics?

Temple was very much inspired by music, namely the theme song to Xenosaga 2 - a song titled “Image.” The combination of orchestrial strings, Japanese vocals, and techno beat was what got the ideas started. The game wasn't out yet, but the trailer for it had been released and I kept streaming it off the internet to hear the song. After listening to the song on repeat for about 3 days straight (not an exaggeration), I finally had a story that I was interested to tell - which was nothing like the story that I actually ended up telling.

I then started to do some actual research. You know, that thing they have you do in school for reports and stuff. I started watching a boat-load of samurai flicks (Twilight Samurai, Samurai Fiction, The Last Samurai, anything I could get my hands on directed by Akira Kurosawa, etc) and it wasn't until I watched “Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai” that I truely started to understand what it meant to live Bushido.

I picked up the book that the movie quotes constantly, “The Hagakure,” which is a series of quotes from the retired samurai, Yamamoto Tsunetomo, a former retainer to Nabeshima Mitsushige, the third ruler of what is now the Saga prefecture in Japan. The book gave me a completely new perspective on the lifestyle of a samurai, and from there the story changed dramatically.

@$$hole! is very much inspired by real life situations and frustrations with current events, both social and political. Movies, the “Hollywood process,” petrolium prices, and lazy roommates are all things that jump to mind. I wanted to tell jokes about things that ticked me off, basically, and without being an “ass hole” to the people who thought I was bitching about them. Also, it was my first attempt at telling jokes in a comic that was intended to be funny.

Are you more of a writer or an artist?

I keep going back and forth, honestly. I do enjoy writing and I think I'm better at crafting a story in words than I am visually (see early pages of Temple, where people have bobble-heads). But I originaly got into comics because I wanted to be an artist. Eventually I realized that it was a lot of work and that there was a plethora of people out there more talented than I, so I switched my focus to writing.

Currently, I'm focusing more on my writing than my art. I do still flex my artistic muscles on @$$hole and Temple covers (and I will be doing the art for the Temple prequel, entitled “Bushido”), but I'm mostly focusing on my writing skills at this time.

Keeping a comic updated is always important. What motivates you to keep on working your comics?

“What's my motivation, Mr Director?” Sorry, bad Hollywood reference.

Temple was a tricky one, because it was my first web comic and I was doing a pretty good job at maintaining a weekly update schedule…and then I started to not like what was happening. I knew the tragedy that had befallen these characters, and that was coming up down the road, and I just couldn't take it. There's a term for when a writer becomes too attached to his fictional characters - the term escapes me at the moment - but I was definitely experiencing that. After a few breaks, I finally came back with Chapter 6 and said, “I'm going to do this and I'm going to finish strong. Not because I want to, but because I have to.” I needed to get my message out there. I needed people to understand how I felt and why I thought that way.

@$$hole was a dare, actually. I was dared to update a comedy comic once per week for a whole year. So I did. After that, I received another dare (this time from my buddy Josh who works for TokyoPOP) to updated every day in black and white, with a color update on the weekend. “Are you frickin' nuts!?!” I had replied. “I have no life as it is with one update per week, much less trying to update every bloody day!”

Eventually, we settled on 3 black and white updates per week for 3 months, to test it out. It's been tough, but I am well on my way to the 41 page finish (which will be in May). After that, the comic will go back to regular Friday updates in color.

Really. Who the hell is Josh from Tokyopop? Seriously.

Ha ha ha! Josh is my buddy that I met at Wizard World Chicago one year, pimping a few of his books in artist's alley. He writes “Mail Order Ninja” for TokyoPOP, as well as a few issues of “Batman Strikes” for DC. He's just a really awesome guy, and he challenged me to do more (and do better) than I was. And for everyone who knows me, I do enjoy a good challenge.

What do gain the most from doing webcomics like these?

The sappy answer to this question is “I gain the knowledge that someone has read and reacted to my stories,” which may sound like a load of BS, but in truth is sits very well with me. The knowledge that people are reading my stuff, commenting on my pages, and even e-mailing me and talking to me at the cons is great! I received an e-mail the other day from someone about how they were talking with their roommate about who was going to live or die in Temple - for hours!

There's a quote in the Hagakure that goes like this:

“Once when Lord Mitsushige was a little boy and was supposed to recite from a copybook for the priest Kaion, he called the other children and acolytes and said, ‘Please come here and listen. It’s difficult to read is there are hardly any people listening.' The priest was impressed and said to the acolytes, ‘That’s the spirit in which to do everything.”

Basically, what I take from this quote is that there's no reason to read if there's no one to listen - likewise, there's no reason to write unless there's someone to read it. Therefore, from now on whenever someone asks me why I work on web comics, I reply with, “Because there are people who enjoy reading them.” Ultimately, you're all the reason that I do and continue to do web comics.

Look into the crystal ball. What do you think the future holds for you and your projects?

“Yes…I will give you the contents of my wallet….”

I have a goal to start printing something - anything - before the end of the year. I'm already planning to print the current @$$hole! storyline, which may debute at Wizard World Chicago. Temple will be trickier to print, since when I first started it I didn't know all the little tricks about printing a book…like DPI and whatnot. That was my fault.

But as for the future of the web comics, they're going to keep going. Temple has several prequels in the works:

1) The Legend of Abraham: Starting in May, Olivia Kasle do the art for a 25 page watercolored fairy tale that details the events that Abraham went through to cause a religion to form around him. This comic will update on the regular Temple site, as well as on the Drunk Duck site (no new URL), on Mondays - with continuning Fan Art Fridays.

2) Bushido: After Abraham, we'll see the events of the fateful day when the swordsman's family was attacked, and learn a few secrets along the way that even he was not aware of (hint: the Bishops didn't attack his house to find the missing 7th Key of Abraham).

3) Genocide: Olivia is working with me on the design work, and may jump back on art duties for this prequel about Sophia long before she ever met the swordsman. This story will set the stage for the events of the first sequel to the comic, which is….

4) Holy War: The sequel to the original Temple story, which takes place approximately 16 years later. The world has changed completely after the events of the original story, and the few characters that have survived must undertake a new journey to far off lands to protect a little boy who may actually be a decendant of the fabled Abraham.

As for @$$hole, I have a few story arcs planned for the comic, but I'm going to take a break from longer stories for a little while and just try to tell some jokes. The first will be a series of events (some true, some fictional) that take place at comic conventions. Also, Susie has just started a job, so I can tell some funny stories about working in a coffee shop / cyber cafe….

Wait a second, if I'm looking into your cyrstal ball, shouldn't YOU be telling ME what the future holds? Honestly: worst psychic ever….

Trying to keep updating while holding a good job and social life must be hard. Or so I heard, the details are fuzzy when it comes to the latter two. Anyways, what do you to unwind from the stress?

Comics are a great way to unwind and vent my frustrations, honestly. But for those few times when drawing someone cutting through armies of armored dudes simply isn't enough, I play violent video games. I'm a little behind the times, so I'll pop in GTA: San Andreas (yeah, I know, I'm not quite done with it yet), or Rogue Galaxy or Final Fantasy 12.

At last, ten semi-serious questions done. Some more ‘light hearted ones now’ X-Ray vision or super speed?

Well, I'm already quick like the wind (except where it matter, ladies), so I'd go for some of that x-ray vision. Not that I need it, mind you - people have a natural tendancy to dis-robe around me.

…no, seriously.

Would sacrifice your right hand for a million dollars?

I dunno, I use my right hand for a lot of things (like drawing those comics everyone enjoys reading). But make it 2 million and I'll think about it…. ;)

Having hair on your head is delightful, why do you want to be bald?

This is a silly story. My friend Cory went to film school and in order to graduate, he had to make two movies: a short and a feature. He filmed the short, which I did story boards for, and then he was working on some ideas for the feature and asked if I would mind playing the lead - a bald vampire. My hair had been getting shorter and shorter through the years anyway (and honestly, thiner on top too), so I said why not.

Then he never films the movie. What a jerk.

Seriously, who is Josh from Tokyopop?

Alright, twist my arm - I made him up. I'm a writer, and most of what comes out of me is complete and utter fiction. I'm really a sad and pathetic person with no friends, who lives in his mother's basement and flames people on the internet all day for fun. I tried to play sports in high school (because only the cool kids play sports), but when I didn't make the cut I faked a bum knee and invented an imaginary popular friend named Josh. Josh has done it all: dangerous top secret government assassinations, spending the better part of his college days on a pirate ship in the Pacific and looting drug cartel cargo, and even traveling to other planets and fighting alien invasions.

If we haven't heard about it, then he's done his job. Now the question you need to ask yourself is this: which answer is the real fiction? :P

Now, plug three other comics.

I'll assume you mean Drunk Duck comics. I read a LOT of comics on here, so it'll be hard to pick just three, but here goes:

: I can't help it, I love this book. The artwork resembles something out of Frank Miller and Mike Mignola combined! I know that Midge doesn't need anyone to pimp his stuff, but I get goosebumps whenever I see that he's updated. Truely awesome stuff.

A Bit Cheesy: Fitz does such an amazing job of including imagry (beautiful imagry) into each and every single page, with near picture-perfect renderings of the subject matter. And the subtext thrown in throughout his narration and dialogue is top-notch. It's a very deep comic about the awkwardness of love - even if it's only one-sided.

Lack of Ethics: Short_Circuiting has a very unique style which is both simple yet dynamic. It's a cute story with a colorful and sacrastic cast, and the about of imagination that she puts into each and every page blows my mind! Lately she's doing what I've been trying, and sacrificing color for an increase in her update schedule to get a story out faster, and it has been working for her! Her pages have been improving by leaps and bounds, and it's always great to see an artist's style mature over time.
By the time you finish this, you'll have read it. :3

last edited on July 14, 2011 1:48PM
amanda at 10:34AM, April 30, 2008
posts: 2,075
joined: 9-19-2007
I received an e-mail the other day from someone about how they were talking with their roommate about who was going to live or die in Temple - for hours!
Gee, who was that? =p Very cool interview, both of you! Trevor, I'm really looking forward to your prequels/sequels. Gotta get more more MORE of my Temple fix.
last edited on July 14, 2011 10:51AM
Steely Gaze at 12:40PM, April 30, 2008
posts: 824
joined: 7-7-2007
Wow, what a great interview! Both of you know how to conduct a proper interview; I loved reading this.
A Roll of the Dice now with full-size pages!

John Clyde now with ten times the tacky Hawaiian shirts!
last edited on July 14, 2011 3:57PM
AQua_ng at 12:54PM, April 30, 2008
posts: 7,830
joined: 4-6-2006
So that's who Josh from Tokyopop is…

K.A.L.A-dan! Brigade Captain :D
K.A.L.A.-dan forums!
last edited on July 14, 2011 10:59AM
trevoramueller at 11:15AM, May 1, 2008
posts: 1,462
joined: 9-17-2007
So that's who Josh from Tokyopop is…

Yes. Josh from TokyoPop is totally an alien fighter / secret government agent. :P

Great interview, buddy! I had a lot of fun answering the questions.
My Drunk Duck Comics:

Nominated for numerous web awards, see more news at My Website
last edited on July 14, 2011 4:33PM
TheMidge28 at 12:07PM, May 1, 2008
posts: 6,847
joined: 7-5-2007
Thanks Trevor!
Much love here!
awesome interview guys.
last edited on July 14, 2011 4:25PM
seventy2 at 7:30PM, May 7, 2008
posts: 3,955
joined: 11-15-2007
i've said it like a million times but honestly, someday i'm going to finish the archives of temple….

but @$$hole rules!!
Running Anew an exercise blog.
I'm gonna love you till the money comes, half of it's gonna be mine someday.
last edited on July 14, 2011 3:28PM
trevoramueller at 7:23AM, July 18, 2008
posts: 1,462
joined: 9-17-2007
Midge, you're awesome sir!

seventy2: Do it, sir! And thanks for the support on @$$hole! :D
My Drunk Duck Comics:

Nominated for numerous web awards, see more news at My Website
last edited on July 14, 2011 4:33PM
albone at 4:56PM, July 22, 2008
posts: 413
joined: 10-27-2006
Very thourough interview, lots of cool answers. Like Amanda, I'm looking forward to the prequel and other projects you have planned. I also liked the little tidbits of information behind Asshole and Temple.
You are part of the rebel alliance and a traitor!
last edited on July 14, 2011 10:48AM

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