The gaming strip, F@NB0Y$, recently ran some guest strips, most of which were the usual fare; take the established characters and give them a character beat to follow or make fun of video game X. Good stuff all around, but one in particular caught my eye, and not because of the content in the strip itself. Reading further down the page, Scott Dewitt’s blog (creator of F@NB0Y$) revealed that one of the fan entrys was by 15 year-old Katie Tiedrich, creator of Awkward Zombie, another gaming satire webcomic that tends to focus solely on Nintendo-branded humor.
I immediately went to the AZ site and checked out the shallow but impressive archives. With a very VGCats/Americanized-anime feel, Katie has harpooned some of the best Nintendo franchises will great skill and hilarity. To find out what the impetus might be for a teenager to undertake such work, and online no less, I hit Katie up on AIM to get the full story. What follows is just what you might expect: a chat with a teenager over IM about video games and the growing danger of pregnant women eating pencils.
Midnight Cartooner: Hey Katie! Jason Sigler here!
Katie Tiedrich: Yarr.
Midnight: Ok, first question, what’s with the pirate speak?
Katie: Well, everyone knows pirates are awesome.
Midnight: True, but are you, yourself, a pirate?
Katie: An awesome pirate.
Midnight: And pray tell, what exactly do you… pirate?
Katie: Lost Spanish gold, .mp3s, whatever.
Midnight: Wow, ecclectic.
Midnight: So, got a minute or two to whip up a quick interview?
Midnight: Do you read any other webcomics besides your own?
Katie: Of course.
Midnight: And what might those be (nudge nudge). If you have too many, just give me a top five.
Katie: Oh there’s a long list…as for a top five, maybe Penny Arcade, Dr. McNinja, Horribleville, xkcd, and 8-Bit Theatre, in no particular order.
Midnight: Nice, assorted but quality, at least in my eyes. What was your first?
Katie: If I recall correctly, someone linked me to a VGCats comic a few years ago after I started my own comic, and that was the first one I started reading.
Midnight: Yeah, I’d have to say at least some VGCats influence comes through in your work, and not just the video game-centered gags. So you started Awesome Zombie years ago? You’re just now fifteen, right?
Katie: Ye. Though I guess I’ll be sixteen soon.
Midnight: Sweet. So how long has AZ been running now?
Katie: I only launched the website this last February, I think, but I started doing the comics atleast two years ago.
Midnight: (Apologies for getting the name wrong, I DO know it’s Awkward Zombie.)
Katie: I didn’t even notice.
Midnight: So when you started you had a good amount of finished strips ready to go in the queue.
Midnight: (Not sure if that’s a good thing or not…)
Katie: Yeah, but there’s like two hundred I still don’t have put up; I’m hoping maybe I’ll get to that over the summer.
Midnight: So you’re not creating these from week to week?
Katie: Oh, I am, I just mean fleshing out the archive to go back even further, since the one on AZ only goes back to…December or something, I don’t know.
Midnight: Gotcha. So you’ve got tons more strips to put up someday, but what is your goal for doing AZ today? Fame? Fortune? Or just a place to easily display your work for all to see?
Katie: Just to amuse anyone who passes by…and maybe score a couple bucks off it if I can, haha.
Midnight: How long have you been drawing?
Katie: For just about forever, I’d estimate.
Midnight: So another of those kids that just came out of the womb with a pencil in hand, eh?
Katie: They need to warn more mothers about swallowing pencils during pregnancy.
Midnight: I’m starting a foundation, I’ll CC you on the e-mail. Have you had much training in your short time on this earth or have your skills come through self-teaching?
Katie: I’ve mostly learned from self-teaching, yeah, and seeing what works for other people.
Midnight: More of your pirating background, I’m sure. I believe I saw in the blog posts that you use Flash to create the strips, is that right?
Midnight: Are all the strips you’ve got planned for archiving created in Flash as well or by a different method?
Katie: No, I used to do them in an Oekaki, but I eventually switched over since Flash is just easier to work with.
Katie: It’s like…a BBS drawing system. The actual drawing part works basically the same way as MSPaint, as much as I hate to make the connection.
Midnight: Ouch, that must have been… fun.
Katie: Well, it’s restrictive, but you’d be surprised at the kinds of things other people can do with it.
Midnight: Ah, one of those programs that really only come to life at the hands of a master.
Midnight: And would you say you WERE a master of that program, or any other you use? My guess would be no with being so young, but my own eighteen-year-old sister has proven that can be a false assumption.
Katie: Oh by no means, I have yet to master tying my shoes, let alone anything else.
Midnight: Now where does the name Awkward Zombie come from? It doesn’t seem to have anything to do with the Nintendo-centric content on the site.
Katie: It really doesn’t. I just have a history with coming up with the worst names for everything. But I was having a hard time coming up with a name, so I just picked something out of nowhere and stuck with it.
Midnight: Last site address on the Web, huh? That’s rough.
Katie: Well, www.awesome.com was taken.
Midnight: You know, I bet that was the first site address ever registered on the Web. What about the Pi symbol, which can also be found here, on your AIM profile?
Katie: Probably…anyway, I’m just a fan of both math and pie, so why not.
Midnight: … You DO know that Pi and pie are different, right?
Katie: If you want to get technical.
Midnight: In this case, I think we have to. But this isn’t XKCD, so I’ll let it slide. Back to the Nintendo love, why so much focus on one company? I love my Wii (hee hee) as much as the next guy and my DS is the first thing to go in my pocket in the morning, but do you feel you’re only achieving 1/3 of the possible gaming jokes by only using Nintendo characters?
Katie: Yeah, I could do more, but this is just a niche I’ve found I enjoy, and sometimes I just can’t think of anything funny to say about other games. Not to say that there’s no chance of ever doing anything else, but that’s just been the pattern.
Midnight: Fair enough, I think you have to take out a mortgage on the PS3 anyways, so that will have to wait a few years for you. If you don’t mind me asking, what type of traffic numbers and responses do you get on a regular basis?
Katie: Oh…I’d say around five thousand individual hits a day. It’s still a little slow.
Midnight: Five-thousand? Doesn’t sound slow to me. Is that all classmates or do you just know how to get the word out there?
Katie: It’s completely Internet folk, I don’t tell people I know about having a website. I do owe alot to Scott Dewitt from F@NB0Y$, since I recently got a kickstart of traffic from over there.
Midnight: Yeah, that’s how I came across your strip. Ok, wrapping things up, are there any other projects, books, or sites you want to plug?
Katie: Arr…I’m sure there are, but I can’t think of any at the moment.
Midnight: And with that… we’re done!
Midnight: Thanks for the interview, Katie!
Katie: Thanks for the interview, Jason.
Stop by Awkward Zombie and see if you can’t help jog Katie’s memory about those other projects!