Barry Linck creator of the webcomic Phineus: Magician for Hire takes the hot seat…

Q1: What is ‘Phineus: Magician For Hire’ about?

A1: Phineus is a fantasy/horror/sci fi comic, published on the web, about a paranormal investigations team.

Phin and Sara Beam make up the Beam Agency. The married couple solve all manners of supernatural problems, from vampires and werewolves, to evil garden gnomes, zombies, Elder Things and evil sentient eyeballs bent on world domination.

Phineus is a wizard. A magic Adept, who can cast spells and do magic. Sara is a gun-toting, butt-kicking archeologist and former superhero. Together they protect the world from all the things that go bump in the night.

Q2: Phineus and Sara may be married but they seem like they’re from different world – How did these two get together?

A2: Well, they are from very different worlds, but the same as well.

In the Phineus universe, certain people are what I call “Freak Magnets”. Certain people are genetically destined to run into the paranormal or supernatural. These two are Freak Magnets.

Aside from that Phineus is all about magic. He was literally born with the ability to control magic, on an innate level. He’s what I call a “Magic Adept”. In D&D terms he’s a Sorcerer, along with the Chaotic Good nature. He’s a little unpredictable. He did get guidance from the Vatican and went to Fourier Mystic-college to learn to control his powers.

Sara was born into a whole other world. She’s fairly normal. Her father was a government agent, working for a secret organization. He taught her about combat and shooting, although no one was aware she , herself has a special ability. She never misses when shooting. Sara became a member of a Pittsburgh-based superhero team, GD7, with her best friend Emily.

During a mission in 1988, Sara and Emily ran into Phineus, who was thrust into a demonic plot. Together they solved the case, and fell in love.They’ve been together ever since.

Sara distrusts magic and only grudgingly uses it, in the form of magical trinkets that Phin gives her.

Q3: What were your inspirations for creating ‘Phineus: Magician for Hire?’

Q3: Well, clearly “Dungeons & Dragons” and other types of gaming…”Warhammer 40,000″ & “Shadowrun”.Comic-wise, Matt Wagner’s “Mage” series’, Bill Willingham’s “Elementals” & “Ironwood”, & all of Mike Mignola’s stuff, “Hellboy”, “BPRD”, “Fahfrd & the Grey Mouser”& “The Chronicles of Corum”.

In films; The Highlander, “Big Trouble In Little China” by John Carpenter. Plus most all of Carpenter’s films. Big Trouble in particular for it’s attitude that you put everything in that you like and make it all work, together.

And all the general mythology, folklore and legends I can devour!

Q4: But you don’t just have a multitude of inspirations, you also have a multitude of projects! How do you manage so many?

A4: Well, all my projects just sort of appear out of nowhere, so it seems.

Phineus has been my obsession for 25 years, now. He was created in high school, during a computer graphics class I was taking at Carnegie Mellon University. I fiddled with him for a while and the Phineus we all know came about in University at Edinboro University (in the US).

During all those years, I’ve been blessed to meet a lot of creative people that I’ve worked with. Brian Babyok was the first and most prolific. We did a bunch of other one off projects over the years and then “Weirdlings” a Lovecraftian webstrip that ran almost 4 years and most recently “Gaslight Tales”.

In addition, I do a Doctor Who parody comic with James Riot, Called “Bastard Who: The Gentleman’s Chronicles” and random projects that people come to me with. I am also toying with the idea of bringing back a comic I did back in the 90′s “Gil:The Walking Dead(or Vampires Suck)”.

I am truly blessed, as I have a load of friends who are writers and get scripts from them for my comics. I love to write, but I love to draw more. I always leave it open, if anyone wants to write me a story, I’ll draw it.

I also have four, count ‘em, FOUR stories of Phineus, being written and drawn for me. That is a kick!

As to how I get it all done, a midst a daytime job and kids and life, I draw fast! More than that, I draw small. I draw my pages at 8 x 12. What that does for me, is make my studio very portable! I draw anywhere and everywhere. On the couch, at work at my daughter cheerleader practice, everywhere.

The hardest part is keeping focused and not lazy, so I make myself deadlines and plan out as far in advance the stories I want to tell. I have a self-induced 3 day a week schedule for Phineus that I rarely miss. I do a 24 hour comic every year. 24 hour comic = 25 pages = 9 weeks of updates.

I figure out how many pages I need to get done in a year, figure how many I need to average in a week try and keep to it. Some weeks I’ll get a boat load done and some weeks I get bumpkus. It all evens out.

Q5: Drawing fast helps! Do you have any advice for Artists who want to ramp it up?

Draw a lot. All the time. Every day. The more practice you get, not only do you get better, you get faster.
Draw everything. People. Phones. Laundry. Practice everything.

Get comfortable with your style. Get very familiar with your characters. If the story allows it, embrace the cartoony. A looser, more cartoony style allows you to draw faster. Now, I’m not uber-cartoony, but the looser, less realistic style both fits my story and my personality.

Use your computer. I don’t spend a lot of time filling in large black areas. I put a little “X” in and move on. The “fill” tool will become your friend in Photoshop.

Pre-rule your pages. I just started doing this and it’s like lightning! I plot out the story and go in a program (Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign) and draw all the boxes and gutters out and print the pages out on Bristol. That way when I draw I just grab the sheet and I’m drawing!

Draw a lot. Did I already say that?

CLICK HERE TO GO TO PART 2 OF THE PHINIUS: MAGICIAN FOR HIRE INTERVIEW!

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