What were your inspirations and influences?
I guess the Cowboy Bebop influence is pretty obvious right off the bat, what with the music-homage chapter titles and the shape of TJ's nose. I've also been inspired by quiet, character-building-heavy movies like Strangers in Good Company and Omohide Poro Poro (the second is my favorite film of all time). Comics-wise, I'm really inspired by Kyle Baker, for the sheer amount of personality he gives his characters; Fumi Yoshinaga, who can make you care deeply about a character in just 10 pages, and Naoki Urasawa, who uses an incredible range of body and facial structures for his characters. I was also encouraged by Chester Brown's comic biography of Louis Riel - it was a compelling story, all told in square panels. Sort of felt like I was given official notice that you don't have to have wild, tilting layouts in order to tell an interesting story. As for the characters, I started developing TJ and Amal shortly after finishing Samurai Champloo on DVD, so they originally had a lot of the fire/water dynamic in that show. (I love thematic elements like that.)
How were the earlier concepts for it?
The early drafts had the same basic concept (road trip, family issues), but were pretty different otherwise. Amal had been estranged from his family for about 3 years, the trip was from Seattle to New Mexico and back, and there was a lot of sex but no real friendship. Also, Amal was cold and sarcastic, and TJ was armed and dangerous and a bit of a pyromaniac... not very goofy at all. There were a lot of really exploitative and ham-fisted scenes in the original draft, so I'm glad those got chucked out.
Have you been to any of these places in person and how was the last road trip you took?
I've been to the Bay Area a couple of times, but everything beyond that is drawn from reference. Later in the story, though, there'll be some locations I've visited.
The last road trip I took, hmm... it was up to Tulsa - about a 7 hour drive each way. It was all right, but we drove through the rain most of the time.
Were the characters based off anyone?
Not really. I've drawn small bits of inspiration from various people, but there's no direct correlation between the characters and anyone I know.
Would you consider it more of a love story or an adventure story?
It's a simple story about how two people change each other.
Which of the characters had more of your personality, TJ or Amal?
Definitely Amal. I gave him a lot of my negative traits - particularly cluing in too late when he's hurt someone or done something stupid. He's VERY left-brained, though, which, um, I'm... totally... not.
Are you going to introduce more characters later on in the series?
Yes - there are a lot of side characters that show up briefly, and you'll get to meet Amal's sister Sangeeta much later. I can't wait to get to her parts; she's a lot of fun to write.
Is there anything you'd like to say to your fans?
Thank you for reading, and thank you for your patience!