NTMI: Good evening, everyone, I'm here this evening with Karma_leafbarer, whose obsession with death (Dr. Death that is!) has combined with her creative talents to give her a unique spot in Neopian Times history. Welcome, Karma!
Karma_leafbarer: Thank you, thank you. I'm pleased to be here. In fact, I'm pleased to be anywhere other than working.
NTMI: Ohh, work, that four letter word... well let's lay that one aside (for now) and talk about something more interesting. Namely, how did you find Neopets?
Karma_leafbarer: Well, I first found Neopets through my friend Darcie when it was just starting out. At the time I was really big into adopting webpets (little pet graphics to put on my webpage) and then Darcie sent me a Grarrl and an invitation to join this place called Neopets...it was nothing like it is today. Less than 10,000 users, faeries were 400 neopoints, and you could buy neggs for 50. *shakes her cane and hobbles around* THEM'S WERE THE GOOD OL' DAYS!!!
NTMI: Yes, back when your pets could actually be *gasp* human, hehe... so how did you come up with the name of Karma_leafbarer?
Karma_leafbarer: Karma Leafbarer is the name of my online furry persona that I used to roleplay with in IRC. Since a lot of people already knew me as Karma, I figured using it as my neopets name was only natural. Of course my karma_leafbarer account isn't my first account. I think my first one was nixed for inactivity back in the beta stages. I've been an off-and-on neo player for the past two and a half years.
NTMI: Did you ever write anything for the Times before becoming Karma Leafbarer?
Karma_leafbarer: No I didn't. I only took an interest in neopets writing/drawing about six months ago (if you want to get technical, about the time I discovered the character Dr_Death, and that nobody else was doing anything with him).
NTMI: So you knew about the Times from before, but it was Dr_Death that inspired you to actually start drawing?
Karma_leafbarer: That's right. :-)
NTMI: What was it about him that attracted you, besides the "expand into the vacuum" idea of going where no one else had gone before?
Karma_leafbarer: Well, I guess you could call me a fan of underdogs. Whenever someone tosses me a stereotype and says "This character is bad!" but never offers any proof as to why, I usually end up investigating. In this case, I had been reading scads of stories in the Neopian Times painting this Dr_Death guy to be a real jerk, but nobody really had any proof as to why. So, on a whim one night, I decided to look him up in the Neopedia and saw that, though the staff makes him out to be an evil grouch, they say right in his bio that he's not bad, just drawn that way. So in puzzling this, I decided to play with his character a little bit and see what sort of life I could tease out of it.
NTMI: Why did you choose to use a comic to do it?
Karma_leafbarer: Well, truthfully, the comic wasn't the start of it. The start of it was a story I started writing called A Book By Its Cover, in which I decided I'd tell the doc's life story and expose him a little more as just a regular person with a cranky disposition. I had a couple of friends tell me that I was making the story too heavy in some places and I should lighten it up...but since that really wouldn't fit with the plot very well, I decided, as a joke, I'd draw a couple of Dr_Death comic strips and send them to my friends. In short, my friends liked it, told me I should submit them to the Times, I got up my nerve and did....thus we have the comic.
NTMI: Which eventually led to the Series "A Rose by Any Other Name"... do I take it that your original story is still unpublished?
Karma_leafbarer: A Rose By Any Other Name was just a short standalone I wrote for fun. The original story, actually, is over 200 pages and still not finished. I can't publish it either because it has some adult content in it (swearing, violence...yay). But what's finished is published on fanfiction.net
NTMI: Not to mention at that long, it would be the longest series ever published! So how long does it take you to figure out a Poor Dr Death comic and get it finished?
Karma_leafbarer: Coming up with the idea is the hardest part, really. My biggest problem is I'll get a great lead-in and then no punchline. After I get the idea, getting the comic pencilled, inked, and colored takes about two hours, uninterrupted start-to-finish. But I'm lazy so usually it gets done in pieces and takes all week.
NTMI: Do you send the comic in as separate pictures? I've noticed that they seem to load in "rows"
Karma_leafbarer: I send them in as one picture. The Neopian Times editor chops them into rows so they'll load faster. I don't have a problem with it except when there's an HTML error and the strip ends up screwy (like the one where Dr. Death ate the bug brothers...nobody got that because the second row never showed up and the third row repeated twice)
Karma_leafbarer: for the record, that one's fixed now
NTMI: Ah, editors, what would life be like without them... heh. So what kind of feedback do you usually get?
Karma_leafbarer: For a new strip, I can amass sometimes as many as six neomails a day. I try to keep up and give everybody a reply, but the trouble is everybody wants a lengthy personal letter and I just don't have time for it. So usually I end up replying in "form" letters and sometimes not at all, as guilty as I feel about that. Its nothing personal, but my wrists ache enough by the end of the day as it is o.o;;
NTMI: Ouch! So what does an "average day in Neopia" consist of outside of that?
Karma_leafbarer: Lately, I've not been in Neopia much at all because of the real world standing in the way (for those of you reading, that's the main reason you've not seen a new strip from me in awhile...) But an average day usually consists of me logging into my main screen name, playing a little meerca chase, visiting the tombola and fruit machine, giving Yahoo a zap with the lab ray, and then logging into my sister's account for a little bit to help her play her flash games (she's always saving up for something and relies on scratch tickets. In return for me playing games, I make her scratch my tickets for me since she has more luck with them than I do. LOL)
NTMI: Yes, I think there was a phrase about scratching my... no wait, that was backs! Anyway, what do you like best about Neopets?
Karma_leafbarer: *looks at her pile of Dr_Death writing, looks at the Dr_Death plushie poking out of her coat pocket* You really have to ask?
NTMI: *looks at list of interview questions* Yeah, that one's in there. Weird... ok, on to the next one... what do you dislike most about the experience of writing for the Times?
Karma_leafbarer: There's two that I dislike equally. Number one are the beggars. I don't mind sharing my things with Neopia, and in the evenings, I'm usually on the newbie board, more than happy to hand out small donations to people who need them. But I really resent getting letters from greedy people who've seen the gifts I've been giving and demand I give some to them. Some of these people are neither newbies OR poor. Just selfish. My second dislike is pointless flamers. People who have nothing to complain about and invent something just to knock you down in an attempt to make themselves feel better. The people who randomly neomail others for no reason other than to call them names or threaten them.
NTMI: I was once asked "how do you say 'get a life' in French?" ... I never did find out, but it did make me realize there's more to that simple phrase than the literal meaning!
NTMI: So what other drawings and writings have you gotten published on Neopets?
Karma_leafbarer: I've had my art in the gallery a few times. My first was a picture of Yahoo when he was still a blue cybunny releasing a light faerie. My latest was a friend's fire lupe chasing some penguins.
NTMI: What about writing?
Karma_leafbarer: I've had a poem published once...it was one of my first bits of Dr_Death writing that I sent in without many hopes and was quite surprised when they chose it as a winner.
NTMI: And outside of Neopets- what sort of writing and drawing have you done (or do you do?)
Karma_leafbarer: Oh let's see...nothing really professional. I'm a security guard as my source of income. Other than that, I help my husband letter his webcomic, Jack (jack.keenspace.com), offer commissions on Furbid sometimes, and I just recently did cover art for a small publishing company for a Driver's Manual
NTMI: A varied experience indeed! Anything else published on the net that we should know about?
Karma_leafbarer: Other than my other writings on fanfiction.net, not really. Most of my older things have been taken down or lost...not that I miss them much.
NTMI: So you can honestly say your writing has improved with practice?
Karma_leafbarer: Oh most definitely. If I were to dig out the Star Wars fanfiction I was writing in High School with my friends Kelly and Sonnet, and then compare it to, say, A Book By Its Cover, there's a noticeable difference. For one, I think I've learned how to control a plot now without letting it get out from under me and run amuck.
NTMI: (laughs) does that mean plot outlines, or just a better sense of where it is going?
Karma_leafbarer: Both actually. I used to be very undisciplined with my works. I'd end up writing a story for a single scene I wanted to put in it, and then I'd get to that scene, and not know where to go from there. I wrote a story once, about this shattered clan of fae that were cast out of their realm...I let this thing limp along for 80 pages until I got to the scene I wanted to write, and afterward, I finally let the story die because I realized I had no direction or ending in mind. LOL
NTMI: Did you give it a decent burial? ;-)
Karma_leafbarer: Oh yeah. It got the same burial all my test papers got. Funeral in the circular file and Taps played on a Kazoo ;-)
NTMI: Lol... so now that we know the past, how about the future? What sort of future goals do you have for your writing and drawing, both on and off Neopets?
Karma_leafbarer: Well, I've been saying the same thing for the past five years -- eventually I AM going to write a novel. My main problem is I have a disability to get interested in my own creations and characters so I end up borrowing other people's to write my stories about. Maybe I can hire a character generator o.o;; As for Neopets, I'm keeping the illusion alive that someday I'll finish A Book By Its Cover and then send it to the staff, though I honestly don't know what their reaction might be. Probably will toss it on the pile with all the others and never give it a look :-)
NTMI: lol, well just having it out there where it is now is an accomplishment! So can we look for more Poor Dr Death comics in the future?
Karma_leafbarer: Yes, I think so. I've currently got three on the drawing desk that have been inked, but not lettered. I just don't want to submit them until I have at least two more drawn (the next installment is kind of a miniseries) and I hate leaving people hanging because of my own lost interest
NTMI: Understandable! So what advice would you give to someone who wants to start submitting things to the Times?
Karma_leafbarer: The main thing is to be patient. More often than not, the form letter you get from the editor is the only communication you'll have with him. Don't get discouraged if you never recieve a personal reply. Second of all, if you don't make it in the first time, its nothing personal...either you have a little improving to do or there just wasn't room. Also, the deadline is usually Thursday to have something published in the Times. If you send something on Friday, even if the Times is published as late as Sunday, you won't see it till next week. Last of all, if you weren't accepted because of the quality of your work, don't take it as a slap in the face...just keep trying. I had several misses before the Times decided they liked Poor Dr_Death :-)
NTMI: Try, try again- that's a common theme that I've noticed with a lot of successful authors. Well, I think that's about all I had to ask, was there anything else you wanted to tell our readers?
Karma_leafbarer: Yes -- DO NOT SCAM. No matter how creative and original you think you are, every scam has been done before. Neopia has just started to really take off and the fact that people have to guard their possessions and watch who they let on their neofriend list really takes away from the fun factor. GRRRRRR!!!!! *cough* sorry.
NTMI: No need to be sorry, I suspect if people knew how many things Neopets is missing today because of all the creative work and effort that has gone into halting scams and hacks into various things, they would be stunned.
NTMI: But don't let me end without thanking you for giving us of your time! It has been very much appreciated and enjoyed.
Karma_leafbarer: It was enjoyed on this end too. If you ever need me for anything else (or if I haven't scared all your readers away by now) feel free to give me a call. You know where to find me :-)
NTMI: We certainly do! Thanks again!
Would you like to read all of Karma_leafbarer's works? Just click here to check her out in our database!