Monday, July 19, 2010

Mare Odomo Pokemaster

Many of you might have seen these comics floating around the Internet. The cartoonist behind them is Mare Odomo. Recently Mr.Odomo made the comics available in a mini-comic that can fit into a DS case for only $5.00. Letters To An Absent Father is Pokemon nostalgia looking through the eyes of a adult and pondering, "Where the Hell is Ash's Dad?" I asked Mare a few questions below.

Could you explain once again in short detail to newcomers of your comic what it means to you?

What my comic means to me? Well, the comics are about Ash writing letters to his absent father. They're largely based on my own experiences. The word "Absent" was chosen specifically because I didn't want to imply that he was dead or a deadbeat. Maybe he has a perfectly good reason for not being there. I wasn't trying to demonize my own father, or Ash's. The comics are more about being a kid and trying to make sense out of a complicated situation.

And it's not just Ash. Most of the games feature the same fatherless, single-parent household. In one instance, the father is a gym leader in another town and I don't know if he commutes or what.

Letters To Absent Father is a great series of short comics. It's almost like a children's story book. Especially the ending. Did you conceive it to be so?

Like a children's book? Mm, not really. It was never intended for children. The only audience I was writing for was myself. But I did make an effort to make the strips as simple and effective as possible. And I had no idea how I was going to end it. I didn't even know if I could.

Why didn't you do Artist Alley at Anime Expo? I'm sure you would have been welcomed. So many pokewalkers.

The timing was bad. I designed a t-shirt (and also modeled) for this great company called Lion's Share Industries and their launch party was the same weekend. And then my friend's birthday was the next day and I wanted to see her. It would have been great to have tabled at AX, but it would've meant more stress, and I doubt I'd break even with all the plane tickets and hotel costs. I'm planning on having a table at the next Sakura-Con, though, and Emerald City Comicon, but those aren't happening for a while. I'll probably be wandering around PAX too.

Any other video games you're going to tackle?

I don't know that I'd be able to write anything similar to "Letters" for any other game, and I still have a lot to say about the franchise, so I'm just going to keep going with that. Hopefully later this year, I'll have put together an anthology of Pokécomics made by me and some artist buddies. My list of contributors is pretty short right now, though. So far I have Katie Turner and a few people from my school. I've been busy trying to figure out what to do for "The Controller" (Cory Schmitz's second issue of his video game art & culture magazine), and mailing all these minicomics.

So, yeah, there's no solid answer. Whatever I end up playing and liking will probably turn into a comic. I made a comic mashing up Harry Potter and the Minish Cap a while ago, but that was mostly just an excuse to draw a nerdy-looking Link with glasses and a scar. I have an idea for an Uncharted 2 comic but I'm not sure how to go about it yet. And I have an Earth Defense Force 2017 comic but it's in a sketchbook back in Seattle. (I'm visiting my family for a few weeks in California.)

Are there any shirts in the works based on pokemon or video games?

I would LOVE to make some pokémon/video game shirts for Meat Bun or Attract Mode or TopatoCo. Or anyone, really, as long as I don't have to screenprint or ship anything myself. And as long as it looks good.

Why do you think Nintendo doesn't go after you and other artist who use their characters? Do you think it's the, "it prints money" mentality of the company that gives it the attitude to not care because they're already rich?

I doubt Nintendo even knows I exist. I'm a little worried that they're going to sue me or send me a cease & desist, but I'm also tempted to mail them a copy of my minicomic, just to see what happens. From what I hear, the anime and manga industries tend to turn a blind eye toward fanfiction and doujinshi because it's good (and free) publicity. It makes sense to me.

What's your favorite pokemon?