Interview with Amy Kim Ganter
Rasmussen : Good day, please introduce yourself and tell us abit about yourself and your work.
Amy Kim Ganter : My name is Amy Kim Ganter, I'm 26. I grew up in upstate NY, lived in NYC for seven years, and currently reside in Southern California. I'm lucky enough to draw graphic novels for a living and I'm currently working on Book 2 of Sorcerers & Secretaries as well as a short story for Flight vol. 4.
Rasmussen : What was it like, earning a Cartooning degree from The School of Visual Arts? Also seeing how you are both a freelance illustrator and a animator which do you feel your degree is better suited towards in terms of practical application of what your degree taught you (your work as an illustrator or towards being an animator)?
Amy Kim Ganter : The goal of all art is essentially communicating an idea or feeling, so with that in mind it was easy to translate lessons I learned in cartooning to animation. I also think that no matter what your degree, your life is what you make of it. I have friends that have degrees in engineering but are professional comic artists now as well, so in the end maybe it doesn't really matter. As long as you want to get the job done, you'll figure out a way to do it.
Rasmussen : Will there ever be a time that you see yourself working in the animation field exclusively in the future? If not what is it that keeps you from pursuing a career in the industry seeing how you have animator in your list of credits?
Amy Kim Ganter : I think about it every once in a while, mostly because you get paid with benefits if you get a good position. But doing that would mean giving up my own stories, and I love my stories enough to give them a fighting chance before I have to get a real job. It would be fun to work on a film that's good, though. I do like collaborating with a team.
[image3]Rasmussen : You mentioned that you would be interested in working on a film project that interested you. What kind of film project do you see as being the most interest to you, and why would this be your ideal film project over any other?
Amy Kim Ganter : Ideally, I just want to work with people that have passion and know what they're doing. Working on projects where everyone shares the same vision and are doing quality work that won't be embarassing, that's really what I mean by "ideal project". It doesn't matter the genre, story is story.
Rasmussen : The Flight Anthology. Can you tell those of us who don't know about this publication what it's all about, and why it's as acclaimed a publication as it is? Also how did you become a contributor to this and what stories have you contributed to this title in the past (and are you working on any contributions now for a future Flight?)
Amy Kim Ganter : Flight is a compilation of short stories from a variety of artists. It's put together online via a hidden section on the Flight forum (http://www.flightcomics.com for more info). The series of books features new artists, story artists from animation studios like Pixar and Dreamworks, and various online artists/illustrators all under the careful and nuturing eye of Kazu Kibuishi... my fiance!
What makes Flight so great is the collaborative spirit behind it, in my opinion. Because all the artists respect each other's work so much, as each story is submitted it inspires the artists to do their best. A bigger emphasis is placed on story quality, and work that has honesty. I think making stories because you genuinely have something to say is becoming more rare, so it's great to have at least one book where that kind of thing comes first.
The first story I did for Flight is called "A Test For Cenri", about a student-teacher relationship based on characters from my Reman Mythology comic. The next story will be in volume 4 called "Food From The Sea", a cautionary fairy tale about selfishness that's being painted by Kazu, written/drawn by myself.
Rasmussen : Of Japanese Anime and Manga, what are your favorites and what do you (in your opinion) recommend to newbies who are just getting into the genre?
Amy Kim Ganter : It depends on how old the person is and what kind of work they like. I'm more inclined to recommend things like Monster and Gon, even though I'm really a fan of anything Rumiko Takahashi. As far as anime goes though, I go straight to Studio Ghibli for inspiration and recommendations.
Rasmussen : Reman Mythology (from your site felaxx.com), can you tell us more about it? Also will there ever be plans (if it hasn't been done already) to solicit this series out to companies like TOKYOPOP for publication in graphic novel format?
Amy Kim Ganter : Reman Myth is my online comic. It's a story that's been close to my heart for many years, and I've rewritten it over and over as I grow older. The story has changed drastically in each incarnation. It's a story about a curious Earth girl who winds up trapped on the planet Rema. She studies it's history, religion, and social structure. Eventually she becomes a part of everything she's studied, and joins the quest to save Rema from death along with a young man that she's fallen in love with named Philip. Currently I'm reworking the story yet again, I have a good feeling about how it will turn out, though, and look forward to beginning the proposal process. But no, I haven't actually solicited this story to anyone yet.
Rasmussen : Are you presently still working on Reman Mythology? If so how long do you see the series going on? Will it be infinite or do you have a definite time that this series will eventually wind down and close?
Amy Kim Ganter : I can't really make any solid statement since I haven't started redrawing the books yet. Things could change, I plan on three books but it might expand. It's hard to discuss things when I have no publisher yet, but I definitely work on the story every day and it is a finite story. I have a particular emotion I want to express, so making it an on-going series is unnecessary.
Rasmussen : You mentioned reworking the Reman Mythology story with each incarnation. Why? Is there any significance behind this pattern? Also can you tell us how the story has evolved and been reworked in past incarnations, and what the differences might be in this incarnation as opposed to the last one?
Amy Kim Ganter : Reman Myth is kind of like my waking dream. It reflects whatever I'm feeling or thinking about at the time while using themes and personalities that stay consistant with me as I get older. If it didn't change, I'd only be writing about something that happened to me long ago. I think in order to have a good story, it needs to reflect how you feel in the here and now. This is why it alters with each writing.
In the first version, the story was about a rescue mission between five magic-users. Then, it turned into the story about a Reman stranded on Earth, who was picked up again to be reintroduced to her home planet. After that it turned into the webcomic, and now as I'm about to get married and thinking about starting a family, it's a good time to write it again. In this way, doing Reman one last time will be a way to close one chapter of my life and move on to the next. As to what it'll be like, I won't say much other than the emotions captured in the webcomic version will remain the same... only better!
Rasmussen : Sorcerers & Secretaries. How did you come to create this title? What was your inspiration for it and the love story that is found in it's two volume format?
Amy Kim Ganter : The books are based on my short story from Rising Stars of Manga 4 about a flirty neighbor and his oblivious crush. This story was loosely based on an experience of mine in high school. When Tokyopop asked me to pitch a series to them after the contest, I decided to extend the storyline of the RSOM entry since I felt there was a lot more to explore between the characters of Josh and Nicole. Since then, I've plugged in a lot of things from my own experience as well as trying to capture the innocent romantic mood of Korean dramas, which I love. I want to talk about the power of finding your true path, and how everything in life is affected by it if you aren't on that path, including your love life.
[image2r]Rasmussen : The fantasy world of Ellon in the story, how did that come about? Did you pull any inspiration for this dream world of Nicole's from past fantasy title Reman Mythology or is it a unique stand alone creation all it's own? Also does the "dreams" of Ellon and his troubles with Sonneth relate to what is going on with Nicole in her life (either figuratively, symbolically or in some other way)?
Amy Kim Ganter : The world of Ellon is definitely it's own thing. I think the world came out from Ellon's costume, which was loosely inspired by my friend's European costume collection. It also came out from the design of the story itself, if Nicole's world is nicely rendered then her inner world would be flat and stage-like in contrast. The fairy tale reflects Nicole's feelings, so the characters change as she does. The villain changes as well, I think in book 2 readers will be pleased with the fantasy's ending. I'm really looking forward to drawing those scenes!
Rasmussen : So (as you mentioned the villian is going to change in the fantasy story in Sorcerers & Secretaries) Sonneth is going to suddenly get bumped out of the controlling evil character position? Can you give us any hints as to what "villain" is going to replace him, and a hint possibly how that'll come about (if possible)?
Amy Kim Ganter : Mmm... I'd rather not give anything away! You'll find out in June.
Rasmussen : When you look at the characters of Nicole, Josh, and the other supporting cast of Sorcerers and Secretaries do you find yourself noting that you created these characters (either on purpose or accidentially) on real people you know (or maybe even based on yourself and/or perhaps your fiancee Kazu?)
Amy Kim Ganter : I think all my characters including the villains are reflections of my own psyche. But I'm always inspired by the people around me. Josh definitely gets more and more Kazu-like as the story progresses, and Susan is a combination of various people I've known throughout my life. I think it's difficult to create believable characters without that combination of observation and expression from your life.
Rasmussen : In retrospect have you seen any of your works as carrying any hidden messages in either the political or social venues? The carving of the figures that in turn create leaders of humans good and evil (and the "evil leader" that springs forth from Sonneth's carving from Sorcerers & Secretaries Volume 1) for instance? If so what can we take from these "messages" in terms of any meaning you might be trying to convey in them (intentionally or unintentionally)?
Amy Kim Ganter : Here's where my nerd really comes out. The idea of carving statues and having them come to life was partially inspired by the character of "Clayface The Goblin" in the Hallmark miniseries "The 10th Kingdom". I was also thinking of the feeling of having no control over the government after the last election. I guess making up a fairy tale about having leaders who I don't necessarily agree with come into power in a way that's totally out of my control was a way to deal with my disapointment. Any subtext I put in my stories is a way for me to deal with things in my real life. If I have a reaction about a certain situation, I usually conclude that someone else out there must be feeling the same thing. If I can figure out a way to deal with it, I like to share it with people. It's one of the best things about books and stories, their ability to share experiences and help people deal with things, even if it's only on a symbolic level.
Rasmussen : It's mentioned in your bio (at the end of Sorcerers & Secretaries V. 1) that Kazu is a graphic novelist, what work has he done/presently doing? Any recommendations in terms of graphic novels we should be looking out for as interesting reads?
Amy Kim Ganter : As mentioned above he's the editor and a contributor for the Flight anthologies, but he's also done his own stand-alone work.
His first book, Daisy Kutter, is a steam-punk western about an anti-hero named Daisy and her moral struggles with being an outlaw. Right now he's working on Amulet which is going to be published Scholastic. It's a series of fantasy graphic novels about two siblings who go on a quest to rescue their Mother in another realm.
Kazu's writing, sense of lighting, and staging are very cinematic. It's probably a reflection of his Film degree. He always writes from his heart, so his work is very genuine. He also continues putting up his beautiful webcomic, Copper, on his site http://www.boltcity.com. Obviously, I look up to Kazu in many ways and I feel so lucky to have someone who also draws these books as a life partner.
Other books I'm reading right now... I'm really into the work of Graham Annabel (Grickle), a French comic called Le Magicien D'Oz, and again Monster. If you haven't read Bone yet, you should definitely pick that up, and you can't go wrong with Derek Kirk Kim's Same Difference and Other Stories, or Scott Pilgrim!
Rasmussen : Sorry if this is abit of a personal question, but recently I got a feedback from one of your loyal readers and he mentioned that you and Kazu got married. Is that true? Also if that is true how is married life (in context of your work together and seperately in the AmeriManga field)?
Amy Kim Ganter : In our heads we're married, but technically we're engaged. The wedding rings are ready for the big day though, which will be in spring. We share a studio and just about everything else! It's great to have a life partner that I can share my passion for stories with, and I know he feels the same way. We're always asking for feedback and constantly encouraging each other. I find his work to be a bottomless well of inspiration, as well as his attitude with business and people in general. I don't know anyone who's more honest or who has more integrity, and it shows in his art. Since we have similar approaches to work despite stylistic differences, he's a reinforcement of my core work ethic. We try not to talk too much about "industry" stuff, and focus more on the persuit of telling a good story.
Rasmussen : Is there any particular character you created which you have the most in common with? Someone you created (male or female) that you feel is abit of yourself when you look at that character's personality, attitude, and so forth? If so why does this character seem to be the one (so to speak)?
Amy Kim Ganter : It depends on my mood since they all kind of reflect me. I don't think there's one character I'm more of than another.
Rasmussen : At present there is mention of Sorcerers & Secretaries V. 2, but not even Right Stuf International has listed yet when this title will come out. Can you tell us when we might expect the second half of the story to come out in print (if it's not presently out already online)?
Amy Kim Ganter : The second book is scheduled for June 2007. I think Tokyopop hasn't announced it yet because they're waiting on me to give them more material. The whole book is scripted out, I just have to draw it now! So far, I'm a little bit into chapter two. There was a break where I worked on a story for Goosebumps, and things are kind of hectic with Flight 4, but the book is plodding along and I'm still really excited to draw it out.
Rasmussen : As 2006 approaches it's end, and 2007 looms, what titles are you working on in the future that we can look forward to? Any hint of the works you have coming in the near future (and if any of these will be published with TOKYOPOP)?
Amy Kim Ganter : There's the Goosebumps comic I mentioned above, it will be in "Goosebumps Graphix: Terror Trips" which comes out March 2007. There's also the short story in Flight 4 which will be released summer 2007. Finally there's "Mangaka America" from Harper Collins featuring a tutorial I wrote, which will be available Nov. 1, 2006. As far as projects for the near future after S&S, it's anyone's guess! I just hope I'll be able to continue doing what I'm doing. I'm very lucky.
Rasmussen : Any final words for our readers?
Amy Kim Ganter : Thanks for reading this, and thank you especially for your patience on book 2 of S&S!
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