Encompassing social oddities, history, science, and more, Victims of Circumsolar is an awesome webcomic created by Scotsman, Craig Hunter. Varying from single-paneled, one-liners to multi-panel observations, Victims of Circumsolar calls attention to the bizarre circumstances of our world that many people can relate to.
Victims of Circumsolar is one of my favorite webcomics because of how Hunter successfully blends humor with clean, stylist design elements. The results are well-thought out, graphically-pleasing comics that people worldwide can understand. Check out Craig’s answers to my webcomic interview to learn more about this incredible webcomic.
Interview with Craig Hunter, creator of Victims of Circumsolar:
Q. What inspired you to start Victims of Circumsolar as a webcomic?
A. I used to write a (sometimes popular) blog when I lived in Japan. I noticed that I missed having something to update when I eventually left the country. Unfortunately, there wasn’t enough raw material in my life without Japan to continue writing anything of meaningful interest. However, I’ve got a mind that won’t shut up so I thought I’d give comics a try.
Q. What is your artist background and what do you do for your day job?
A. I only ever studied art in my first year of secondary school (junior and senior high school combined). The classroom was barren with broken desks and no windows. My teacher was an alcoholic who kept a bottle in her desk. In one particular lesson, she had us take off a shoe and place it on the desk. She gave each of us a piece of charcoal and kept shouting at us to draw “what we really see”. I was handed a red sticker as part of those who had failed. In later years, I’ve taught myself how to use Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop.
I was a webinar presenter last year and a technical writer this year. I’m not sure how I land these gigs, but they pay the bills.
Q. You mention your extensive travels overseas to Japan, Ireland and Australia. What prompted these travels and how have these experiences played into your comics?
A. I had always wanted to live abroad and somehow ended up in rural Japan. I do tend to get bored in one place and enjoy the excitement of moving somewhere new. A few comics make reference to these locations (history, weather… Guinness), but the biggest impact of moving so often is being without internet for large chunks of time… which is like losing a limb.
Q. Victims of Circumsolar varies between single-panel and multi-panel comics. What do you feel you get out of changing up your layout?
A. I change it more depending on the idea I have. I find if the joke can be made in one panel then there’s no point filling in two or three others with fluff. I think the multi-panel ones can have the advantage of a better punchline, but a good single-panel can be memorable and easily shared.
Q. What gave you the guts to approach sensitive subjects such as racism and religion? How have your comics about those subjects been received?
A. I wouldn’t say I’m gutsy at all really. If anything, I tend to censor myself if I think it won’t work. I’d even argue that religion and racism are lazy targets. I occasionally make a comic when I get angry or perplexed by a news article. I guess comics are a good way to portray the absurdity of life.
I’ve made one or two “sad” comics that didn’t go down well apart from a small corner of the internet. I find them funny myself, but I’ve often found that to be a warning sign. All the comics I rush out and regard as mediocre tend to fair the best.
Q. You jump from these sensitive topics to more easily-relatable subjects such as pop culture, science, etc. Do you prefer one particular subject over another?
A. The relatable ones always seem to do better, but it can be more rewarding when a comic you’re unsure of turns out well. I don’t really have a favorite type, but like to keep trying something different.
Q. What inspired you to take the time to create your detailed Spanish Civil War historomic piece?
A. I read this particular historical fact a few years ago at University, but was reminded of it recently when browsing Wikipedia. I felt it deserved to be turned into a comic. Unfortunately, this took me ages to make and my lack of artistic ability hindered the final outcome. I hope to make a lot more of these historomics in future. I’ve got an image of how I would like them to look. I often find I have depth in ideas, but lack the cutting edge or time to make them at the moment.
Q. My comics come from the land of weirdness and free speech in the USA. How have Scots taken to your comics and have you found a local network of supporters?
A. I’m actually quite shy and somewhat embarrassed to have a webcomic for some reason. A few friends (mostly non-Scots) follow it, but I find it awkward to talk about in real life. Although, I would be lying if I said I didn’t like to boast to one or two whenever I top reddit. I drew one comic about a Scottish cocktail containing methadone that people hated and a cheesy one about being Scottish abroad that everyone liked. My facebook page often rotates my most popular city between places in Mexico, Brazil and India. I think that’s great.
Q. What few comics best sum up Victims of Circumsolar?
Q. What do you like better: being called “English”, having to explain your comics, or pop culture?
A. Haha. That first one can certainly be a sensitive subject for Scottish people. The whole United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is a confusing state of affairs, so I understand and don’t really care. However, if I spend time explaining it to you and you still call me English then I’ll gut you.
Explaining comics is fine. It’s mostly down to the artist to have something work. Occasionally, there are a few who completely misinterpret or don’t realise that something is a joke. I imagine they’re the same kind of people who attack actors on the street because of a particular role they play.
Q. I love whales, especially humpback whales. Why did you choose a whale as your avatar?
A. Oh dear. I have no answer to this. I think I liked the deadpan face on the whale. I’ll probably update everything soon with a new theme. I ate a lot of whale in Japan. It’s actually really nice. If it isn’t one of the endangered ones that they “catch for research” then I think it should be considered alongside every other animal that we kill and eat.
Q. Where have you found the most support for your webcomic?
A. I pretty much use Reddit exclusively. A popular comic there sometimes gets picked up and shared on sites like 9gag. I have been shared once or twice on IFLS… that page just keeps on growing.
I’ve read it from others before, but other webcomic artists really are a lovely and supportive group. I think we can all relate to how much time and effort we waste on disposable doodles. ‘Lunarbaboon’ and ‘Safely Endangered’ were the first to like my page so I’ll mention them. It also helps that I really like their comics.
Q. Do you have any upcoming projects to stay tuned for?
A. Not really. I’m attempting to write a book based on my time in Japan. However, I’m constantly crippled by doubt, self-disgust and embarrassment by saying things like “I’m attempting to write a book”.
Q. Do you have any words of wisdom for newbie comic creators?
A. I’m pretty new to the game myself and my comics are still fairly basic, but here’s some honest advice. Learn how to use a proper program (Inkscape is free), download some professional fonts (dafont.com) and play around with colour schemes. You’ll always improve with time, but don’t be surprised if a blurry jpeg drawn in Microsoft Paint isn’t well received. Indeed, it could take a few weeks or months before you hit any kind of stride. It might be best to upload a few to imgur/reddit first before deciding if you can be arsed maintaining a whole site.
Prepare to read a lot of comments from gobshites, but take on the constructive criticism if it is relevant. You’ll also notice a chunk of your spare time will vanish forever and that your webcomic will actually cost you money. I’m not even sure why I do it. I think I just like seeing numbers go up.
Q. Anything else you want to add?
A. Thank you for taking the time to interview me, Sara. I have enjoyed reading the others you have done as part of this series. Also, I really like how you draw noses.
Some Favorite Comics from Victims of Circumsolar: