William Hessian discusses his daily webcomic, 'King of the Pill'
The opening panel of King of the Pill
Minneapolis artist William Hessian can always find time for art. The St. Louis Park native has toured the country, taught during an annual residency in Jamestown, North Dakota, and masochistically spent two full days crouched inside a 4x4 box during extreme humidity at the Red Hot Art Festival. Somewhere in between these projects he has found the time for King of the Pill, a daily PG web comic that will run through 2012.
The comic is set in a whimsical world of anthropomorphic creatures, each of whom seems to have different attributes that distinguish their role in the community. Thus far Jasper, the hero, has mysteriously grown six extra hands out of his face. His quest: to figure out why Sandbeck gave him the magical pill that caused his transformation.
City Pages took a minute to chat with Hessian on how he's keeping on track with the 366-day project, which is 38 days in.
How firmly are you sticking to the midnight schedule? Have you missed any days yet? Does it affect personal plans (or sleep patterns)?
I have not missed any yet, but I am trying to keep a day or two ahead in order to make sure I don't get behind on anything. It is a six-step process from drawing, to inking, to coloring, to scanning, to editing, to uploading. Right now I am three days ahead, but I'm working feverishly to stay that way.
How much of the storyline do you have plotted out? Do you know what will happen in December (or June for that matter)?
Initially, I was going to just go one page at a time. But as I thought about it I decided to change it. I decided to make chapters in my head, and I have a rough idea of how things will progress towards the end. Other than that, I have no idea.
What are your plans for the finished product? My math has you at 91½ pages of material.
I plan to publish the book in a long, skinny format: four panels stacked on top of each other, just like they appear on the website. I plan to make a limited run for those who donate to support the web comic along the way, and then another batch for those who just want to buy and own the full story.
Where did the characters come from? Are they based on real people/experiences?
The characters are completely fictional and not based on any real people. However, the names are all derived from real people. But the names are just names.
You stress that it's a PG comic. Do you think the name "Pill" has some more adult undertones?
I stress that King of the Pill is PG partially because the "pill" reference may indicate drugs or substance abuse. Pills and medications are becoming the daily norm for children as well as adults in this world filled with ADHD/ADD and all the other common issues kids are facing these days. While the stigma of the word pill might still exist, I do not think it will exist much longer.
The comic does have some darker undertones. However, so do all my favorite animated movies, comic books, and children's stories.
Hessian isn't limiting his 2012 projects to just King of the Pill. He also has lined up a "not so PG" erotic art show in Fargo, North Dakota which will open this week, and has public art hunts scheduled in several Midwestern cities this summer, including St. Louis Park. In the meantime, keep up with King of the Pill at kingofthepill.blogspot.com.
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