Hey guys! Today we have the highly-anticipated interview from Ru, the creator of the magnificent webcomic “Saint for Rent!” Ru is an amazing person, and I am constantly astounded by her work. She’s definitely someone you want to keep track of in the years ahead! Here we go!
Thanks so much for joining us Ru!
Sure, thanks for having me aboard!
So tell us a little bit about yourself!
My name is Ru! People also know me as Emruki online. I’m a SCAD graduate with a BFA in Sequential Art, so I guess that means I’m super certified to draw comics! I’ve worked on some Adventure Time projects with Boom! Studios, and I currently draw the webcomic “Saint for Rent” over at Hiveworks!
That’s fantastic! So tell us about your comic!
Saint for Rent is a story about inns for time travelers. The title character, Saint, is a perpetually chipper innkeeper who tries to keep all his guests safe and happy at the CloverHouse Inn. Unfortunately, along with his time traveling friends and family, he tends to attract more “supernatural” guests. The narrative is mostly split between three main characters, including Saint, who explore their time travel community from different perspectives and roles.
What was the origin of the project? Was there any specific event that happened that made you want to create it?
I had a character named Saint and an idea about a special inn where people entered and exited through a magic closet. I sorta rolled with it from there!
How did the style of your project Saint for Rent come about? Are there any direct styles or inspirations you draw from?
Thinking back, I’m really eclectic in gathering art styles for SfR. I wanted the settings for each inn to be iconographic, so I’ve also incorporated motifs inspired by design-oriented movements like art deco, as well as more timeless art like stained glass windows. There’s also a lot of manga influence, if it wasn’t apparent from first glance. I grew up with a lot of Craig McCracken’s work, so you can see some of that geometry and color in the background art, too!
In terms of narrative, I originally wanted Saint for Rent to fall under the same formula that CLAMP’s xxxHolic started with. SfR was going to be episodic short stories with a few recurring characters who helped people that were lost in time. As I continued to develop the idea, I started playing with more unconventional storytelling inspired by Pulp Fiction and Baccano!. The SfR chapters themselves may be from the viewpoints of different characters, but now they all fit into an overarching plot and world that is gradually revealed with each new segment.
How do you come up with ideas for Saint for Rent? Is there any special way you approach the creative process of the comic?
Ultimately, the story is finished in my head, but the process for producing SfR pages is pretty experimental. I’m constantly changing up how I work on it to see what suits me better. I still gather images and inspirations for the detail work as I flesh it out into comic form, so I actively seek out references, like historical fashion and art techniques. But I get a lot of ideas passively through my tumblr feed, too.
I do some simple animation for the .gifs. Many readers tell me the animation is what drew them to SfR, but I actually try to be as understated as possible about it in most cases so it doesn’t look too out of place with the still images. I got the idea from cinemagraphs, you know those photos where only a portion of it is moving. After 100+ pages, I decided I like using the .gifs for mood and subtle environment shifts best.
I like the silent artist-reader agreement that the story takes place from one panel to the next, so I don’t like my .gifs to distract from that visual eyeflow. I think about this all the time. Oh man, it’s a dumb obsession now. At this point, I get nervous when I see webcomics where you’re on panel one, and suddenly panel four starts moving. Or if you’re on panel four, but suddenly panel three starts moving. I’ve also seen awesome comics where everything on every panel is moving, but I find it creates a particular energy that isn’t what I’m trying to do in SfR
but another project someday!
For SfR, I’ve created timed .gifs, messed with animation placement, and arranged the format so that the animation is hidden until the reader scrolls down. Ideally, by the time you see the animation, you’ll have already read everything on the page prior to that panel in question. I mean, unless it’s the first panel, of course. I also try to keep my pages under 200kb each because I understand that loading pages are annoying, but sometimes the .gifs get the best of me. Even when I manually select all 64 colors on a 600×840 page, I sometimes still get .gifs that are 1Mb because there are so many frames.
Do you listen to music or watch TV when you work? Is there a specific (tv show)(music album)(insert media) that gets you in the zone?
Absolutely! I listen to music, and I also like watching educational documentaries while I do the more tedious parts of the comic-making process. I mean, if I’m going to spend eight solid hours inking, there’s no reason why I can’t learn about Victorian apothecaries, amirite? Lately, I’ve been marathoning shows on Netflix. I’m halfway through 30 Rock as of today!
Who is/are your favorite artist(s)?
Hmm! It’s hard to say! I guess there’s a lot of people whose art I admire and want to study when I have more time, such as Kevin Dart, the EliOli twins, JC Leyendecker, and Nakamura Asumiko. I’m also inspired by comic artists I’ve chatted with online, like Priscilla Hamby and Jayd Aït-Kaci, as well as the students and professors I’ve met at SCAD. And of course I can’t possibly forget the wonderful artists at Hiveworks, like Isabelle Melançon and Minna Sundberg to list a couple off the top of my head. There’s just too many talented people to mention in an interview, but I recommend checking out the people I follow on twitter to get an idea of the kind of artwork I see daily! They’re really cool and have fascinating obsessions I love reading about 140 characters at a time!
Do you consider them a strong influence on your work?
It’s so funny because my style is so different from everyone that I’ve just gushed about, but I do think they influence me a lot! I just can’t exactly pinpoint it! I mean, it’s hard not to be influenced by work you see all the time, right? And in all honesty, everyone has that one technique or specific aesthetic that I just want to absorb into my being in a totally legit, hard-earned, and non-creepy way!
Are there any exciting things we can look forward to in the webcomic?
Ah yes, there is a supernatural being that’s been lurking around the story since chapter one. The “Consultants” and their role in Saint’s temporal society will be revealed soon. Later on, we’ll head to new inns, learn some of Armand’s time travel tips, and find out what Kitty Cat really is
aside from a cat. And we’ll meet more of Saint’s super mysterious (but mostly dysfunctional) family, too!
Where do you see Saint for Rent in a year, in five?
In a year, I should be near the end of the first major story arc. In five years, I’d like to time travel back to 2012 to help myself work on the pages faster!
What are your future plans for Saint for Rent?
My plans change all the time, but one that’s never changed is that I’d like to finish this project!
So there you have it! Ru is one of the greatest webcomic artists I’ve seen, and a fantastic storyteller! Make sure to bookmark her webcomic, and keep tabs on this rising comic star!
Saint for Rent Website