Between Worlds: An Interview With Anna Fitzpatrick

One of my favourite Irish comics ever is Anna Fitzpatrick’s webcomic Between Worlds so I was delighted when she announced that she was launching a Kickstarter to fund a hardcover physical version. I decided to reach out to Anna to ask her about the book and about working on her second Kickstarter.

Between Worlds has such a feeling of depth when it comes to the world it is set in. Did you spend a lot of time sketching it out before starting the story?

Yeah, I started creating the world of BW way back before I ever started what’s now the final creation. The story went through multiple iterations since I started making comics back when I was 16, though it all looked and felt very different back then! world-building is something I really enjoy, I can’t just write a plot and be done with it, the world the characters inhabit informs everything about the story. We’re products of our environment after all! The names of the characters and countries are all the same as they were when I was 16, which is a bit embarrassing, but I’m a bit of a sucker for tradition…

How would you pitch the story to a potential reader?

Yeah, that’s a task that’s eluded me for a long time. Between Worlds is very particular, it has its own soul. I think every creator has that one project that almost has its own life, separate from the creator. I suppose I’d pitch is as something that’s a bit strange. You have to take it for what it is. Don’t expect anything.

What made you want to tell this kind of story?

I think my main influence in storytelling was JRPGs of the 80’s, particularly Final Fantasy VII. There was just something so unusual about the whole thing, it infected my brain in a way. I initially made BW as like, my Final Fantasy VII. It’s totally different now as it’s grown and mutated over the years. Though i have a few little references in there as homage. That’s the reason the King wears red and the soldiers are purple, it’s my little tip of the cap.

All that said, one way stories like FF7 and other influences didn’t satisfy me was I could never find myself in them. They were always about heroic young men who fall in love with beautiful women. Only half of that is relevant to me. But then I discovered Rose of Versailles and the real fire was lit. It’s this story of a woman in a man’s world and just kicking ass anyway. She doesn’t give a damn if she doesn’t fit the mould, she IS THE MOULD *sigh, oh Oscar-sempai* Though she ends up with a dude in the end of course. Pour one out for Rosalie, eh.

Juno’s like a failed Oscar. She tries, but she’s just too damn mean.

I really enjoy your art style. Can you give us a little detail about what goes into a page?

Thank you! I always try to learn something new with every page drawn, I don’t like to just stagnate. That does have the unfortunate result of leaving the comic a bit inconsistent over the years, what with different methods used. These days I try to do as much research as possible before I start. I design the environments, build them in sketchup so I can situate everyone nicely, design the costumes for each new scene and work from there. Mostly its just me spending hours refining and building up layer upon layer. It’s a tedious method though, I don’t recommend it.

You’d taken a break from the book. What made you decide to bring it back and why go with Kickstarter?

It goes back to what I said earlier about the book having its own soul. The story isn’t just a thing I made up at this stage, it’s a little piece of me. It became too much of me for a time though, I took the decision to walk away in an effort to learn about myself apart from Between Worlds. Sounds silly, but I’d been making it so long it kind of became an albatross rather than a passion. I grieved it for a long time, like I’d lost a friend. I think it was that intensity of feeling that made it important to walk away.

When I took the decision to come back to it, it was a gamble, honestly. I’d let the tough emotions go, grown up a lot as an artist and as a person and thought it was worth a shot, worst thing to happen would be it wouldn’t get funded, and that would have been fine. Now that it’s been funded, however, I can’t get my mind off it again, thinking about the story moving forward and all sorts of plans, though now it’s in a much healthier way.

This is your second Kickstarter. What did you learn from the last one when it came to organising this one?

I think to run a Kickstarter you have to be ALL BUSINESS. You have to be full of synergy and vertical integration and KPIs and ready to WORK. You have to put your emotions as an artist aside and put on your businesswoman hat and be like “Hey, I have this thing, do you want it? Y?N” and that’s that.

Also, RESEARCH SHIPPING COSTS! I actually ended up making a loss on the last KS due to undercharging on shipping. It’s far better to charge higher and get fewer pledges than undercharge and be thousands in the red! :O

Any chance of more volumes of Between Worlds after this one?

I want to say “maybe” but the real answer is HELL YES. I’m already writing more, I can’t help it, these people live in my head, I don’t control them, please help me.

You can help Anna fund her Kickstarter and reach some stretch goals here.