20 Questions Tuesday: 195 - Christopher Hastings

So, I have been reading a few web-comics in my life.  I am looking at the PVP Online's, the Penny-Arcades, the XKCD's and I am just soaking up the Internet goodness… I start looking for other properties online that I can consume with my voracious online comic appetite.  Nothing is truly filling the bill… until… Dr McNinja. Dr McNinja is both a practicing medical doctor and a near super human assassin of the night.  There is an internal war within the good doctor, and hijinks ensue.  The creator of Dr McNinja, Christopher Hastings has decided to grace my meager online presence with another installment of 20 Questions Tuesday….  So without further ado, I give you 20 Questions with Christopher Hastings!

I was born in Oklahoma City, OK. Moved to Montgomery, AL when I was 3.  Grew up just outside of Birmingham, AL. Went to school in Kent, OH.  Then I have finally settled in Columbus, Ohio.  Question 1:  What is your geographic story?

WELL, I was born in Cumberland, MD, and then lived within 15 minutes of it until I went to college at the School of Visual Arts in NYC. Upon graduation, I moved to Brooklyn, and have been living in the same neighborhood since.

That is not much a geographic footprint, yet you seem rather worldly in my completely uninformed opinion…

Question 2: Have you traveled much?

Haha, what gives you that impression? I mean, yes, I have. But I’m not sure how I give that off, other than posting to twitter when bored in airports. I’ve seen most of the continental U.S, been to the U.K. a couple times, the Netherlands, and I visit Canada a couple times a year. Most of that is because of various comic conventions.

I think the impression comes through with the level of worldliness associated with the McNinja Clan…The amount of odd tangents and weird happenings you have running through those stories speak of someone who has been outside the continental US borders.

Question 3: Have you ever been to or plan to be at Mid-Ohio Comic Con in Columbus, Ohio…. where I live?

I’m afraid this is the first I’ve heard of it!

Well, if you do ever consider Mid Ohio CC, lemme know and I will take you to places that have good food…

Speaking of good food, Question 4: Cake or pie?

Pie, I think! There is a wider variety of pies than cakes.

I have found people who like pie, really like pie, whereas people who like cake would curb-stomp a baby for cake.

I have a home away from home on the Internet in the forums of Ten Ton Studios.  I post things I draw over there and get comments and criticisms from other artists.  Question 5: Do you have an online artistic community that you bounce ideas off of or an offline community for that matter?

Not… really. I’m friends with a good number of cartoonists who have web presences, but I think we only actually “talk shop” in person. But it’s certainly not organized at all.

So, John Byrne’s run on Captain America in the late 70’s and early 80’s is what hooked me on comic books (goodness I am getting old)… I can even go so far (and have on previous 20 Questions) as to mention the exact issue that grabbed me as a medium. Question 6: Is there a specific moment or specific title/issue that hooked you on sequential art/comic books?

I was reading comics as long as I can remember, specifically Harvey and Disney comics. But one year for Christmas I got a grab bag of Spider-Man comics that the JC Penney catalog sold, and that was my first real intro to superhero comics, and when I really started getting a little bit more nerdy about them.

I remember those grab bags fondly.  Those and I believe Toys R Us had some random bags of comics as well.  So for me, clearly the super hero I tend to drift back towards is Captain America.  I think it was due to his imprinting on me at an early age.  I rember running out to my mailbox hoping that my Cap subscription came in the brown paper sleeve as a kid… cause I clearly am old and weirdly nostalgic… So Cap in many ways is “my guy.”

Question 7: Is there a comic book character from any genre that you just cannot help but follow?

Funny enough, comic book collecting has become too expensive a habit for me to keep up with. I’ll pick up trades if I hear about a particular run begin exceptional, but I don’t really follow any specific character any more. Batman is probably my favorite, though.

Oh, don’t get me wrong… I feel I am probably in about the same boat as you concerning the price of comic books.  I haven’t collected anything in years due to their exponential price increases, but, thanks to the Interwebs, I follow Cap as best I can.  I had an inkling that Batman was your guy, just because of the “What Would Batman Do” motivational stuff you have going in Dr McNinja.

Speaking of the “inkling" ooh pretty… probably be better in a few generations… Question 8:  Do you primarily do all of your work digitally now, or is there still a large component of your work that is done traditionally?

Right now it is 100% digital. I prefer doing my layouts on the computer, because it’s easier to work quickly sketching stuff out and moving elements around without making a mess. And Manga Studio just magically makes me a better inker because again… I don’t make a mess like I do with a real brush. I’ve always lettered digitally, and the colorist works in Photoshop too.

Okay, enough comic booky/web comic-y stuff…  Let’s get deep inside Christopher Hastings… Well, not that deep… this next one is a four parter

Question 9: As a kid, did you watch a bunch of TV? What decade of TV did you consider your childhood TV? What was your favorite type of TV show? and why?

I actually grew up in the middle of the woods where there was no television service available. Satellite TV (which my parents now have) wasn’t the easily manageable thing it is now. So the TV I got to watch was tapes of the Disney Afternoon, and Ninja Turtles that my grandmother would record for me. And when I visited my other grandparents in Baltimore, I would watch Nickelodeon all weekend, and that was a big deal because that wasn’t available in my area where there was cable. So I guess that was the late 80s, early 90s.

Wow, I feel like this is a rabbit hole that I should have gone after earlier.  As a kid, we only had over-the-air channels, because my parents wouldn’t get cable. So all my questions about 80’s TV are right out of the widow… 

So Question 10: Did you read tons when you were a kid or did you live off of VHS? How did you spend your free time?

It was about split between the two! My brother and I made weekly trips to the library, and monthly trips to the bookstore. But we also rented a lot of movies and video games. We also lived in the middle of the woods, and it was a really terrific place to play outside.

We were on about a quarter acre of land in suburban Alabama, and about half of that land was into some woods that led to a larger tract of wooded area behind the neighborhood.  My brother, his friends and I played out in the woods All. The. Time…  So many nice memories of that.  One of which was making a crappy little tree house in our section of the woods… Question 11: Since you played in the woods a great deal, did you also have a tree house?

No tree house! There was a uh… large tree that fell over and was propped up against another tree in an interesting way, and I sort of faked it into being a “fort.”

No TV and no treehouse?  You are just biding your time before going on a murderous rampage… clearly you are a ticking time bomb of lost childhood rage.  It is times like these that I am glad that I am not in Brooklyn…  When you start plinking people off from a bell tower, I will remember this answer and take relish the fact that I called it.   

So, Question 12:  In all seriousness, do you consider your childhood to be a fairly happy and healthy one, or are you dealing with demons in your past like the rest of us?

I think you *might* be jumping to conclusions! Yes, my childhood was perfectly fine! (Except middle school, of course. Middle school is awful.)

You are right on the money, middle school was a horrible time for everyone.  If anyone says that they liked middle school, they are clearly a liar and should be treated as such, or they are trying to sell you on some term life insurance or something.  

Since this unlucky 13, we should discuss rituals and superstitions… When I played soccer in High school, and when I fenced épée in college I had these little preparation rituals and superstitions.  I had to put my gear on in a  specific sequence, and repeat a couple of little mantras to get myself “into the game” Question 13: Do you have any specific superstitions or rituals?

Nope! Well, not anymore. As a kid, I had some specific rituals to protect myself from ghosts. The big one was that to go into the basement, I had to turn on the stair light from outside the door, then unlock the door and open, then go down to the bottom of the stairs, and hit the switch for the lights in the rest of the basement. When going back up, I had to do it in opposite order, and that kept ghosts contained in the basement.

Ghost containment always involves rituals, usually more complex rituals than a sequencing of lights… I think your basement ghosts may not have been trying too hard… maybe throwing you a pass because you were a kid.  Who knows… All I know is that the attic ghosts I have to deal with now wouldn’t put up with that weak game in their house (until I get rid of them, it’s their house… jerky incorporeal assholes, the lot of them).

Many people I have asked this next question have asked their friends to chime in as well because sometimes other people’s input can be interesting.  So feel free to canvas people you know for this… but you certainly do not have to…  Question 14: Fill in the blank:  ”I am mostly _______.”

Okay, I popped out of my office into the apartment, where my wife and our mutual friend/neighbor chimed in with “well dressed, confident, unflappable” and then started in with jokey answers.

No worries, this really is intended to be really casual.  I just love that you have stuck with this for so long
Back to the task at hand…

Those are all great answers… Question 15: do you feel that there is a significant disconnect between how you perceive yourself and how others perceive you?

If there is, I am not aware of it!

It is an odd thing when someone’s perception of themselves is similar to, if not the same as other people’s perception.  That is a good quality.

Question 16:  Since you are a digital comic book creator, and in some ways on the front line of the digital comic revolution, how do you see digital distribution of comic books moving forward?

I honestly have no idea. I do know that right now the system is still pretty broken, but it will be interesting once it’s all sorted out.

I think in many ways it is very interesting right now, but in some ways it is completely boring.  Mainly it is boring in the “This is kind of a boring question” kind of way.

Question 17: Since AxeCop is currently invading the PVP Online universe with the the guest strips that Ethan Nicolle is doing on Scott Kurtz’s web-comic… AND AxeCop has already done a cross-over with Dr McNinja… will there soon be a super group much like the Justice League comprised of AxeCop, Wexter, LOLbat, @ReTweet, Dr McNinja, and Gordito?  Think of the epicness.

Maybe! This has come up with one of the writers of another “humorous” super hero and we stalled pretty quickly. Maybe I should revisit that email.

It would be fun, mainly just to think of the characters being all in the same universe… maybe you should slyly throw some cameo’s of other properties in the background of your stuff.  Wouldn’t it be fun to see Brent Sienna just buying some coffee in the background panel of a crowd shot in Dr McNinja?

Anyway… turn about is fair play…

Question 18: Anything you want to ask me?

What is your favorite beverage?

That is an easy one.  I am chained, sometimes happily so, to my lovely green mistress, Mountain Dew. Mmmmm Mt Dew

Question 19: Is there anything you are taking from these 20 Questions that you did not bring in with you? Have you learned anything over the course of this conversation?

It’s funny, I remember very strongly once when I was probably 7 or 8 years old, getting a can of Mountain Dew at a peewee baseball game, drinking some of it, and thinking that it tasted like someone had put a cigarette inside. I asked for another can, same thing. And I haven’t enjoyed Mountain Dew ever since, except Code Red.

Well I haven’t thought about my “tree fort” in a while. Next time I’m at my parents I may go into the woods and scope out the state of it. Hmm… actually no I probably won’t. Horrifying spider webs canvas the forest around my parents’ house now.

Good call, when I was a kid, I had a spider experience camping, and now I have significant spider issues… Stupid spiders and their freaky amount of legs.

And last but not least… Question 20: What is next for you?  Be as literal or existential as you want or even as literally existential as you want.

Well, career wise I’m doing my best to prepare for Life after Dr. McNinja. I’m planning on quitting the comic in 2015, which will be 10 years working on it. I figure that’s a good point to make sure that the comic can end on a high note instead of slowly falling into mediocrity. Since I’m planning for that, I have the luxury to start working on other projects now, and set myself up for a broader creative career, which should hopefully make the transition off McNinja as painless as possible.

So right now I’m collaborating on a new comic with another popular webcomic artist, and it’s the most I’ve been excited about a project since when I started Dr. McNinja. And I’m also writing a Dr. McNinja novel, and of course I’d love to get more work like Fear Itself: Deadpool.

I think it is always a smart thing to bring a property to a conclusive ending, so I can honestly say that I am looking forward to seeing where you take the McNinja storyand how it culminates.  I also think it is a very brave idea to be willing to let a character go, and I applaud that ideal.  It is better to allow a life cycle than to slowly draw out the demise of a character into obscurity.  I cannot wait to see what other properties you generate and to watch your success in the future.

This has been an absolute joy for me to ask you 20 Questions.  Thanks so much for taking the time with me.

To recap:
Well, the Easter Bunny brought a Limited Edition xbox 360 with Kinect

It was the Star Wars edition
It makes R2-D2 noises
That too is awesome
Little Man and Q were dancing up a storm…. as Star Wars peeps
Again, more awesome
It was a great holiday weekend
Really it was awesome
Did I mention “Awesome?”
I thought so
I need to think about more
I need some caffeine this morning
I need some bad
I really enjoy doing these 20 Questions hootnannies…
Anyone out there want to be asked 20 Questions?
Leave a comment and I will be happy to start up a 20 Questions with you
Have a great weekend