20 Questions Tuesday: 183 - Aaron Kuder (aka DDG)

It is a new week and a new 20 Questions Tuesday is ready for your prying eyes. This week I have had the pleasure to interview Aaron Kuder, and up and coming comic book artist.  Seriously, he is badass and gonna be famous.  He has worked on the book “Amory Wars” and can be found pencilling and inking the soon to be published “Key of Z,” a bad-ass zombie book (a book about zombies, not a book that has risen from the dead craving man-flesh).  I once met Aaron outside a mall north of Columbus, Ohio and ate in the mall’s food court talking shop.  It was awesome.
So without further ado… onto the questions!

So, we met just north of Columbus, Ohio while you were on a cross country move… Question 1: Where were you coming from and where were you going to .

I was in Fayetteville, Arkansas. I have some family/friends there and had been there to grunt my way through this ” economic downturn”. Which I did, and now I am living in Ithaca, New York.. Seriously beautiful area. I went through high school here and end up moving back just as much as I move away… Which also happens pretty often. I like to travel.

Question 2: If economic and political constraints were not an issue, where would you want to travel to immediately the most?

 Whoa… big question. That’s like a kid in a candy store, where do you start? Immediately? Well, I have a bunch of friends that are scattered all over the world.. Sri Lanka, UAE, Turkey, Greece, South Korea, etc etc.. I’d probably start with visiting them.. maybe not in that order though. If you’re wondering where I’d like to “settle down” thou? I truly hope I never find an answer to that question.

Question 3: That is visiting people, is there a geographic area that you would call your “go to” for rest and recouperation? For example, I would travel to some mountains at the drop of a hat.  Mountains rejuvenate me, whereas beaches are quite annoying to me.  


Friends, especially these friends, would rejuvenate the hell outta me. They’d fill me with food and drink, and pay me lots of complements. But to answer your question, no.. There isn’t one place that stands out more then another. I really like beaches and mountains, rivers and deserts.. The only thing that would sway me away from one place more then another is the number of people there… The more people the less likely I would want to go. So, that being said I guess I could eat my green eggs and ham most anywhere that’s not over populated.

I am a bit confused.  Let me ask a question to clarify, but first let me define before I question… anyway… for this purpose, let’s define an extrovert as someone whorecharges their battery by being around other people and an introvert as someone who needs to be alone to recharge thier battery.  You said that being around your friends recharges your battery, but you don’t want to be around large crowds… so Question 4: By the aforementioned definitions, are you an extrovert or an introvert?

 Hmmm, well I guess I wouldn’t define extrovert and introvert like that. I would say I’m an extrovert, but not because that’s how I recharge my battery, but because I don’t have a problem with “putting myself out there” so to speak. To clarify, I would be the guy that let’s his opinions be known, makes jokes, will go out on the dance floor when no one else is there, I’ll fill a room with my voice. And yet, at the same time, I’m not a fan of large crowds. Crowds and friends are different too.
When it comes to recharging my battery, it can be with friends or on my own. I love nature, but I don’t “need” it for a recharge. All I really need is to get away from the environment that’s wearing me down. And that can mean going for a hike or grabbing a beer with a friend.

So, I cannot stand crowds and need time to myself to recharge.  That being said, I also need, crave, yearn for good conversation, and must create some banter with good friends.  So I feel like I am a little of Column A and Column B in the introvert/extrovert scale.  
Question 5: Have you had any interviews by comic book industry/fansites/etc… yet?


Short answer… Yes. I’ve done a number of interviews with various websites… No podcasts yet, but a good number of interviews. Multiversity comics did a nice little piece about my artistic process, which was fun.

Oooh, I love stuff about process, but the fact that it is out there lets me know that these 20 questions need to steer away from the art track questions. Because, seriously, I cannot compete with the comic sites in that arena, but I can ask the questions that no one else will ask.
Question 6: I asked Khoi this as well… Did you get much push back from family and loved ones for deciding to chase the dream of drawing comic books? It is a difficult profession and, until one is established, it is not necessarily lucrative.  Did this difficulty manifest with dissaproval from the fam?

 I wouldn’t say anyone gave me any push back. Although I would have understood if they had. This job isn’t easy, and it takes a lot of your life away. I have very little time to spend with friends and family these days. My dad was a voice of reason, in that he was worried that the unstable nature of freelance work would end up being a disappointing experience.. and truth be told, freelance is really really tough sometimes. But all in all, whenever I asked any of my friends and family “if I should go for it”, they unanimously said “DUH!”

It is awesome when you actually get support from your support system. My support system now is strong, but the family of origin support…. eh.  it could be questionable.
Question 7: Speaking of the support systems… My mother-in-law has a family credo that she has bestowed upon my wife and myself.  It is a strong set of words to live by.  Do you have any creeds or mantras that you fall back on? The one I mentioned before is “Don’t let the fuckers get you down.”  Words to live by, baby!

Ha, that’s good. Nope, no credo, but maybe I should pick one up.. Couldn’t hurt right?

Well, a credo, or a motto, or a mantra is not necessarily a bad thing as long as it doesn’t rule your life… That’s why I think “Don’t let the fuckers get you down” works so well.  You are welcome to adopt this mantra as your own.  I am giving like that.

One thing I have found out about sequential art is that it takes all day and all night… every day and every night. Question 8: do you have any free time, and if you do, what do you do with it?  What does a DDG do with his free time?

Reorganize my life.. by the time I’m finishing up an issue, I’ve had to let a lot of the “little things” go. Like laundry, dishes, blaa blaa blaa..nothing too exciting.  When I’m not working on a book and I really have free time I spend it hammering out stories of my own, to hopefully get published some day. That’s the funny thing about working for yourself, you don’t really get get “free time” unless you’re willing to let go of your “life goals” for a day or two.. and I have a hard time doing that.

Question 9: Any other “life goals” that you are knocking around, other than the comic book creator thing?  You planning on climbing Kilimanjaro before it’s glacier completely melts away? What goals do you have?

There are a number of adventures I’d love to go on… Sky diving, hiking around ancient temples, make a family, save the world.. In no particular order. Actually, strike that, I want to hike through an ancient temple to an air plane, make a family while skydiving, and land on the head of Dick Chaney (which may not save the world, but I’m trying to be realistic here;).

But no other life goals, just bucket list stuff.  Interesting.

Oh, look. Half way through.  The questions only get harder from here. (not really). Question 10: What drives you when you are not inspired to do your art?

Well, hmmm, honestly if I’m feeling uninspired with the art that I’m doing I’ll normally just jump to a different medium… That way I’m still “making” something. The whole “art thing” is less about personal expression and more about needing to make stuff. I have a strange need to interact with whatever I’m doing. Like music for example, I have a hard time simply sitting and listening to music, I almost always have to tap my foot or dance to the band or play the air drums on the steering wheel of my car.

That’s cool.

I was born in Oklahoma City, OK.  I moved to Montgomery, AL, and then grew up in Birmingham, AL.  I went to undergrad in Kent, OH, and then settled in Columbus, OH.
Question 11: What is your geographic history?

Oh god.. Born in Michigan, moved to Iowa, back MI, Arkansas, Philly, Ithaca, Arkansas, back to Ithaca, Binghamton, Ny, Ithaca again, Colorado, AR, NY, Seattle, AR, and last Ithaca… That’s the “major” version… There’s a handful more of minor moves.

You keep going back to Ithaca.  Question 12: Is Ithaca your *home* where you hang your hat?  Why is that?

Ithaca is home.. And I would even go as far to say my “hometown”, or at least the closest thing I have to one. I think one of the reasons I keep ending up back here is because Ithaca is a bubble community in a lot of ways.. In a lot of the other places I’ve lived and I’m pretty sure I can safely generalize to say most of America, the downtown areas were replaced by giant shopping malls, and in the last 10-15 years those shopping malls have turned into what I call shopping-towns… Or boxburgs… All the big corporations piling in on top of each other, taking over huge chunks of land to create these monoliths of pointless crap.. Whatever.. I don’t want to start a rant about what’s wrong with the world.. Anyway, Ithaca, yeah… In the past it has prevented boxburg takeovers, and even though a lot of them are here now, there are still a good chunk of people who won’t shop at them. This makes for a community of people that support local things.. And that is something I like.

Shop local is a wonderful principle to adhere to.  I know I definitely try to do that, especially with restaurants.  Question 13: Is there a local eatery that you cannot help but find yourself inside sitting at a table and ordering food?  What food?

Food?!? Oh man, this is going to turn into a advertisement for visiting Ithaca! There is no shortage of great food here. My end all favorite is this place called the Hazelnut Kitchen in Trumansburg, NY.. About a 20 minute drive away.
But with in the city limites Ithaca, per capita, has more places to eat then manhatten…

A place called Fineline has hands down the best brunch. Hal’s deli has the best greasy spoon diner breakfast, best bar/sitdown dinner.. This is a tough one.. Actually there are too many to count… Northstar Pub and Maxie’s are two of the top thou… Anyway this list goes on and on and on. And the only good it’s doing is making me hungry…
Lol, let’s move on :P

Crap… now I’m hungry too.  The issue that I have here is that I have not found a local restaurant that has something that I just cannot help but eat.  Don’t get me wrong, there are many places that are perfectly tasty and have great food, but I have not found anyplace with the one dish that draws me like a moth to the flame…. One day I will find it though… and then I will burn in the flame, um… like a moth.  DAMN YOU ANALOGIES!  DAMN YOU TO HELL!

Speaking of “damning,” Question 14: Do you have a favorite invective curse? Do you have a favorite “clean” curse and do you have a favorite “blue” curse?

Favorite? That’s like asking a parent to pick out his/her favorite child as a favorite.. I mean sure they most likely have one but they’ll never say.
Fuck- is the ambassador to all other curse words. When in doubt, “fuck” is usually as strong of a curse that you will need in any give situation. It’s the rock of curse words, great as the word it sometimes you know a scalpel.
Clean curse word? Like something I use around kids? Um, normally I don’t think about it until too late… Hmmm… Fudge-sicle.. Shitty-chitty-bang-bang… Oh! So you know how sometimes you’re somewhere that you really really should NOT curse, but your month has started and nothing will stop it…So I’m in a room with kids and a plethora of “proper” adults… my mouth wants to say “fuck”, but my brain jumped in right in the nick of time to change it to “fuck-a-duck”.. because if you add a cute duck to anything it automatically makes it appropriate for all ages. so yeah, there’s that. :P

I am a big fan of the word “fuck” in all its wonderful forms.  It is like the age old, recently re-discovered word “smurf.” It can be substituted for any other word.  As far as a clean curse word, I dig the term “j-hole.”  It just makes me laugh because it means nothing.

Question 15: So, I feel good if I get a solid 6 hours of sleep a night, but typically I get a total of around 5…Knowing when you tweet and post on Ten Ton, how much sleep do you get per evening and what hours are your typical sleep hours?

"Typical"… I don’t think that word applies. I work until I can’t stay awake any longer. At least that’s what happens when I’m on a deadline for a monthly book. I’m sure I could give you a better answer if my life in the last year had been in anyway sane.. In the last year (which was also my first year of doing comix full time), I’ve moved twice (once being cross country) and the other time being do to the massive rains we here on the east coast endured this last fall.  Three words: studio ceiling fail. Anyway, almost every month in the last… 6 or 7, has had its own little headache to deal with.. For example, while working on the first issue of Key of Z, that is when my live in apartment/ studio ceiling collapsed, in the next few weeks there were construction crews in, on, under, and in front of my place; in, repairing the ceiling, on, repairing the roof, under/in front of, the local gas company was replace all their old equipment. When I was sending in the pages for the third issue I had had to move all of my computer equipment (think big and clunky) out of my studio to allow the guys working on the ceiling to do their thing.. So every night after they left, I would take all my computer stuff back upstairs, hook everything back up, scan in my pages, do whatever photoshop tweaking and whatnot that needed doing, take everything apart again move it all back down stairs, and get back to drawing the next set of pages.. Needless to say “typical” is not a word I think of when it comes to meeting a deadline. “Whatever it takes” is a better phrase.

That is harrowing to say the least.  I cannot imagine being that productive amidst that amount of chaos.

Question 16: Bearing in mind that your schedule is complete and utter shite, are you more of an evening person or a morning person?

When it comes to drawing I’m more night then day… But I think that comes from years of academic training… Which is to say I was the kid in class with his head out the window, wanting to be anywhere other then the indoors. So I blame the school system for that. However I enjoy both day and night. I wouldn’t say I’m naturally one or then other.

I am firmly and most indelibly a night person.  I am most creative between the hours of 10 pm and 1 to 1:30-ish am… That is when I draw the best, and come up with my best ideas… however I have to be at work between 6:30 and 7 am…. That makes for an untenable schedule.

Question 17: Fill in the blank… “I am mostly ________”…. and go!

Although being that I’m not big on questions on cage personal insight.. I’m sending a text to some of my friends to see what they say…

Khoi Pham says “liger blood”
Nick Pitarra says “id driven” (he means “id” as in the other side of ego)
Reilly Brown says something I won’t repeat.
My 11 year old nephew says: crazy… No wait you’re worse then that

Those are all great answers! Since we are nearing the end of these 20 Questions

Question 18: Any questions that you have for me?

How’s the fam?

In general the fam is doing well. Wifey is training for a marathon currently and cranked out a 20 mile run this weekend in  super craptastic weather. You can read about her exploits at tueslife.tumblr.com … she is amazing, and I have to say super hawt and sexay.  She is a badass. We have determined through countless hours of observation that Little Man is quite possibly the nicest person in the family… and that goes to seriously extended family as well.  He is just a wonder.  I wish I could be as nice as him.  Today after watching some Star Wars: The Clone Wars episodes he went upstairs and recreated the whole ep with his LEGO’s… seriously a great builder.  He is a badass. As I am typing this, it is currently just before midnight on Sunday Jan 15th, and my 3 year old girl is testing boundaries. The boundary she is testing currently has to do with going to sleep.  So, she is stubborn.  That being said, earlier today she was playing dress-up as a fairy princess.  Her particular fairy princess has a cutlass and a knife and two-weapon fights a la the dagger/rapier combo.  She is a badass.  To sum up, the fam is badass.

Question 19: Is there anything specific that you will take away from these 20 Questions that you didn’t realize you were bringing in?

Well, one of the things that stood out to me about a number of the questions was their duel nature: are you a day person or night, extrovert or introvert, etc. To each of which, my answers were “neither”…. Or “both”…

These questions totally fucked with my head for a minute. Why? Well, I believe that one of my personal keys to happiness is creating the right blend of decisiveness and openness. To spending too long worrying about stuff that doesn’t matter can lead to the path of unhappiness. So decisiveness is key to cutting through the overgrowth in life. And openness to happiness and failure. People talk about being open to life’s experiences, which is totally fine, if you’re willing to let the outside forces of life guide you… Which I completely “get”… I’ve lived that kind of life too.., but I also believe that if you want to form your life into want you want it to be, you can’t be open to “everything”. You have to make your mind up about where you want to take your life and be willing to live with the consequences..

Now, to be clear, I have an inherent sense of morals as a guide.. Respect is given when it’s earned, be there for your friends and family, listen more then you speak (need to work on this one), etc.. (BTW, I realize that those are mottos I live by, see earlier question.. But I don’t necessarily recant them to myself very often… They’re mostly hard wired in)..  Between this moral code and my half-assed rules for personal happiness, I think of myself as a fairly clear minded person.

After answering the dualistic questions with. “neither” or “both”.. I felt wishy-washy.. It had me thinking, how can someone be decisive AND be so open to “night or day”, “extroverted or introverted”…  Then “openness” hit me. I remembered that because I’m cool with both sides of the coin doesn’t mean I’m indecisive.. And hopefully it means I get to pocket the coin.

Here is the deal. If you are not a Buddhist, you may want to re-think your spiritual path. For you, it seems like life is the comfort of the yin and the yang. The deft maneuvering between the this or that states that our little minds tend to impose on the world. You are fuzzy math in a bivarite system.  That is one of the reasons, I think, you will, in the end, be a raging success.

Question 20: What is next for you?

I have a couple pitches I’m working on. And some other things that are possible very very cool, but I wouldn’t want to jinx anything.

Well, that was delightful.  I want to Thank Aaron again, because he rocks. Whatever is next, you will do well.  Follow him on the Twitters at @AaronKuder and check out his art in his online portfolio.

To recap:
This 20 Questions was a shit ton of fun
Lots of stuff not working at the work today
I have spent many an hour today trying to make them work
Sadly, this involves lots of progress bars

If I were to open a bar, it would be called the “Progress Bar” and a bar of light would slowly crawl across the building front though out the evening with a percentage of how much longer the bar would be open that night
I would expect many digital artists and programmers to be the clientel
I am loving Star Wars: The Old Republic
I have 4 characters on the “Keller’s Void” server
Look me up
I am a Zabrak Sith Warrior named Pa’apa
I love it when you call me big Pa’pa
Have a great weekend everyone