Meredith Gran: The Charm of Octopus Pie
Welcome to “Noteworthy”. I’m Will Scott and it’s my job to highlight projects, publications, and artists that, we at Sequential Highway believe, due to the quality of their work or the creative message they’re sending, warrant more attention from the comic book market. This installment: Meredith Gran
In quiet moments, when inspiration strikes me, I search the net for interesting new webcomics. Octopus Pie caught my attention. I found Meredith Gran’s story and art quite enjoyable—a bit of fresh air really.
I’m embarrassed to admit that I was completely unaware that print versions of Octopus Pie also exist. Octopus Pie has been collected and published by Villard Books, a division of Random House.
Octopus Pie can be ordered here.
Will Scott: Please introduce yourself to our readers and tell us about your webcomic Octopus Pie.
Meredith Gran: Okay. Hi! I’m Meredith Gran, I’ve been a freelance cartoonist and animator since 2006 and I like dogs and lifting weights. Octopus Pie is a webcomic about 20-something life in Brooklyn that’s been the center of my cartoonist life for most of my time as a 20-something.
WS: I think it’s rather impressive that Octopus Pie has been online since 2007. How many readers/subscribers do you have?
MG: I honestly have no idea. I haven’t been tracking my RSS stats in a while. Analytics says around eleven thousand visits on update days. It’s been a long time since those numbers meant much to me.
WS: Did you produce a web comic instead of a print comic out of economic considerations? Is there more of an audience to be found online for your subject matter? How did you go about building a readership for your web comic?
MG: I was 22 and recently out of school when I started Octopus Pie, so I don’t think I saw myself getting published anywhere. I was working from home on animation freelance, and I had a little time to myself. I’d already been making webcomics for fun since high school, so it seemed natural to start a new project that way. My new readership came mostly from existing friends in webcomics giving me a plug in the first month. I took out a few Project Wonderful ads in the next couple of years, but most of the spread was word of mouth.
WS: Were you concerned that traditional comic book outlets would ignore your work in favour of super heroes?
MG: It didn’t even cross my mind. My background was in animation and I had no idea how the comic industry worked! I just wanted to make a comic I’d enjoy writing.
WS: Your pages have a nice rhythm to them. And your art definitely has an animated feel to it. A bit of manga too. Would you mind telling your readers who and what you are influenced by?
MG: Animation is generally an influence to the style. I was a big fan of anime in my teens and it definitely stuck with me. Other than the visuals, I think most of my influences come from movies and music and books.
WS: What does creating comics offer you that other media do not?
MG: I can do it by myself for free. It’s a hundred percent mine and I don’t need to spend a lot of money.
WS: Do you have a target audience for Octopus Pie or is it a storyline for all ages and genders?
MG: I’ve never had a target in mind, even if the stories were kind of personal and could be applied to me. Other than very young kids, I meet readers of all ages and genders. Now that the comic’s been around a while, I hear from people who got started reading it in middle school, and sort of grew up with it. Lots of my readers are parents and have gotten their kids started on my Adventure Time books. It’s nice!
WS: If you had to choose just one of the following elements that you believe is the single most important ingredient to making a good comic, would it be character, story or art?
MG: My stories are pretty meaningless without the characters, and it’s hard to convey the characters without the stories. And people identify with the characters partially because of how they’re drawn. Can I say this question annoys me? Art and writing can’t really be separated in comics!
WS: Why do you work—with rare exception—in black and white rather than colour?
MG: It’s easier to print, for sure. And color isn’t really my specialty. It’s a very time-consuming process for me. I’m workin’ on it.
WS: Would you like to see print versions of your work? Would you like to see your work translated into other languages?
MG: There are many print versions of my work! And yes, please translate my comics.
WS: Lastly, do you see web and digital as the wave of the future? Can you envision the disappearance of print altogether?
MG: I don’t know, and it doesn’t really concern me. It seems like this conversation happened years ago, led to no conclusions, and now everyone’s just doing their own thing. We have no idea what the next ten years hold in terms of delivery. The real challenge is creating good stuff to deliver.
Photograph of Meredith Gran borrowed from http://www.flickr.com/photos/breadnbadger/4079498484/