Peeking Over The Wall: Interview With Pete Wartman

GameStop, Inc.

Have you ever seen a tall wall and wondered what was behind it? Maybe there is something extraordinary or something dark and sinister? Or maybe there is a comic book artist and writer sitting there enjoying the day. I found an ominious wall and I just had to peek over it and there was Pete Wartman! It was quite the coincidence I had just finished his book Over the Wall, because I was full of questions to ask him.

Whitney Grace (WG): Who are you in relation to the comics world?

Pete Wartman (PW): Right now, I guess I’m the guy who wrote Over the Wall. One day, though…

WG: Why do you like comics and graphic novels?about

PW: Comics require you to wear a lot of hats. You have to be a writer, an actor, a set designer, a designer and a good illustrator. In most other mediums (like animation, for example) the workload is far too much for any one artist to take on, but you can take on a comic as a solo work. You to have complete control over the story. There are good and bad aspects to that, of course, but it appeals to me.

I’m also just enamoured by the language of comics: the weird way time passes, the ways you can change the emotion of a scene just by changing the size of a panel, and so on. It’s a flexible and powerful medium.

WG: What made you to decide to pursue a career in said field?

PW: I guess it just never occurred to me to try anything else. I’ve always been drawing.

WG: What do you do as a designer by day?

PW: Mostly web-stuff right now, actually. I find it to be a nice contrast to what I do on my own time: drawing and coding are both creative endeavours, but they require different parts of the brain, so I don’t feel drained when I go home to draw.

WG: Do you think of your dual careers as a superhero and secret identity concept?

PW: Nah, I pretty much tell everyone I make comics all the time. I’d make a terrible superhero.

WG: What graphic novels and other books have you written?otwcover

PW: Over the Wall is my first book, so I really haven’t done anything else (beyond a few short stories that were never published).

WG: What is Over The Wall about and what inspired it?

PW: Over the Wall is about a young girl who has taken it upon herself to rescue her brother after he’s lost inside a vast, (mostly) empty city.

WG: Why did you decide to set Over The Wall in a pre-Colonial American society?

PW: While I don’t think it was set in an American society per-se, I do think that the whole time and place is often overlooked. Africa too, for that matter. These were complex, sophisticated cultures who did a lot of amazing things long before Europeans showed up. I think I’d like to do something that’s more true to their cultures one day.

WG: Was it inspired by any particular American culture?

PW: Mayan stuff, certainly. There’s also a lot of other influences in there, not all of which come from America. The domes everywhere are clearly Roman, for example, and I think a little Assyrian stuff started filtering in too. Looking back, I have some mixed feelings about this grab-bag method of world-building, but I was trying to create a place that didn’t feel like it was necessarily from our own world.

WG: Names are a powerful concept on European fairy legends.  When you were researching for inspiration did you encounter any American legends that use the same mythos or was it entirely extrapolated?

PW: Nothing specific comes to mind. It was probably just an idea that seeped into my head from all the fantasy books I’ve read, honestly. I think the story was more influenced by neurology then mythology: I’d been reading Oliver Sacks The Man Who Mistook his Wife for a Hat (one of the better titles for a book, by the way) and gotten fascinated by amnesia. Real amnesia, not the kind where you get knocked on the head and conveniently forget everything the author needs you to. One of the stories in Sacks’ book was about a man who could only remember things for about five minutes, something which I found both fascinating and horrifying. There were probably other influences, but that was one of the seeds.

WG: Kudos for having a girl hero!  Why?

PW: Part of it is just the stories that I liked to read as a kid. For whatever reason, the plucky girl protagonist archetype was always my favorite, so it’s something I’m drawn to in my own work. And, hey, you can never have too many good female characters. I think comics have gotten a lot better about this sort of thing lately, and I’m happy to be part of the trend.

WG: Why did the demon in the book decide to help the girl hero?

PW: Well, that would be telling, wouldn’t it? This is something I’m going to explore a lot in the next book (which, yep, that’s happening).

WG: Why did the society send boys into the demon city as a rite of passage?

PW: Two reasons: first, it lets them maintain some sort of claim over the city, to say that they haven’t really abandoned it. It also gives the boys who go into the city a chance to see what they’ve lost and remind them of their heritage.

The second reason is at the heart of the sequel’s plot, and I’ll let that play out in the book.

WG: Any plans for a sequel?

PW: Yes! The book will be called Stonebreaker, and, in fact, I’m about thirty pages in right now. You can go read it online at stonebreakercomic.com, but we’re also planning on getting the thing printed once I’ve completed it.

WG: What other projects have you worked on or are working on?

PW: Stonebreaker is my main focus, but there are a few other things (hopefully) coming soon which I can’t talk about yet.

WG: Looking at your concept for a bug alphabet book, would you please explain what it was about?

PW: Oh, the children’s book thing? On my portfolio site? That was for a class I took back in college. Which reminds me: I’ve got to update that site sometime.

WG: What types of jobs did bugs work?

PW: Whatever they can, I suppose.

WG: What artists have influenced you work?

PW: I think my top four most influential artists are Jeff Smith, Katshiro Otomo, Myazaki ,and Mobious, in no particular order.

WG: What are the goals for your career?

PW: If I can make a living drawing comics, I’ll be a happy man. That’s as far as my ambitions go.

WG: Do you have anything to declare?

PW: Just that I can be found on tumblr under the name ‘shipwreck-planet’, I’m @Peter_Wartman on Twitter, and I post a new page from Stonebreaker at stonebreakercomic.com every Wednesday.

 

 

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