NTMI: Good evening everyone! I'm here at a secret little nook with Smudgeoffudge, creator of not only Tonus, but now Sloth's family. Hi there, smudge!
Smudgeoffudge: Hello ~waves~
NTMI: LOL. So our first question is, how did you find Neopets?
Smudgeoffudge: I was playing another multi user virtual game. It had avatars and one could go on quests. Someone from there was basically spamming about Neopets every day. I just had to go see what it was all about.
NTMI: In other words, you got "irritated" into it?
Smudgeoffudge: Yeah, I guess you could say that. I wanted to see what all the fuss was about.
NTMI: And when you got there and saw it, what was your first reaction?
Smudgeoffudge: I thought it looked interesting and the pets were cute. I liked the idea of actually being able to feed them and play games. But I thought I was "too old" to play.
NTMI: Well I'm thirty, is that too old? ;)
Smudgeoffudge: No, I know that now. I read up on how Neopets was actually designed by college students for college students to play.
NTMI: And there are certainly a number of them on it. I've heard that the good access that colleges have to the net is part of it. But once you got on Neopets, your first job was to think up a name. How did you come up with smudgeoffudge?
Smudgeoffudge: Yes, and it wasn't smudgeoffudge at the time. I had a different account back then. It is still there, but I don't use it. And No, I am NOT giving it away. I MIGHT go back to it someday.
NTMI: Why did you change?
Smudgeoffudge: I saw a brown zafara in the news and I wanted one.
NTMI: Lol that would do it. Is the brown zafara what prompted the name then?
Smudgeoffudge: There is a little restaurant in my town and it has all these signs on the walls. One sign is for "the road kill cafe" and has a menu. It has stuff like "smear of deer" and "stack of flat cats" and smudge of something..
NTMI: Smudge.... then how do we get to fudge?
Smudgeoffudge: Well I liked the brown zafara and of course I love chocolate. I wanted a fudgy name and I thought, "What rhymes with fudge?"
Smudgeoffudge: Well for some reason I thought of the sign down at the diner and how it had smudge of something on it..
NTMI: Cute! So now you're all set up as smudgeoffudge. The next step is to get into the Neopian Times. How did that happen?
Smudgeoffudge: Well, after the krawks came out I really wanted one. I basically sold everything I had to get one. I had always loved the Neopian Times and had written things for it in another account. After the Golden Dubloon opened, I was pretty outraged at the thought of Krawk pie. I drew the comic Say No To Krawk.
NTMI: That went for several weeks, didn't it?
Smudgeoffudge: Yes, until my computer crashed. I lost the rest of the comics and was frustrated so I quit.
NTMI: My sympathies. Seems like you never have enough backups when that sort of thing happens. So what prompted Zapunzel?
Smudgeoffudge: Well, I would rather not think about that comic. I sent in more to it but it was never published. I just thought it was cute, but pretty predictable. I was going to tell the whole story but they just never published any more to it.
NTMI: And then we get to Life with Tonus... do I detect a tonu somewhere in your account there?
Smudgeoffudge: Oh yeah, I love that comic. That was when BabySmacks was a Yellow Tonu. I had been zapping her for a long time after getting her from the pound.
Smudgeoffudge: I was so glad when she became a Tonu. Tonus remind me of myself. They mean well, but they are kind of clumsy sometimes. But they have a big heart.
NTMI: And a big horn with lots of muscle to use it?
Smudgeoffudge: Yeah, if they have to fight they will. :)
Smudgeoffudge: But they have mastered "the stare". I think it would be unwise to bother a Tonu if it gives you "the look">
Smudgeoffudge: Just count yourself as lucky to be able to get away.
NTMI: Did they give "the look" to Josh? Or what prompted that series to end?
Smudgeoffudge: Well, I painted BabySmacks Baby. And I plan to do a baby comic someday after the Sloth one ends.
Smudgeoffudge: I just never finished the Life with Tonu's because I wanted to redo it to have a baby Tonu.
NTMI: So the Sloth series is all planned out already? or not?
Smudgeoffudge: Well, I really need to work on the last few of them. I have an idea how I want it to end. I don't really plan to do a long comic that runs for a year or anything. I don't think I could do that. I would run out of ideas.
NTMI: So you like the challenge of thinking up a totally new set of characters and ideas every couple of months?
Smudgeoffudge: Yeah, I know a few of the older comics have been around for a long time. I admire them because they have a certain quality to them. They stick with you and are memorable. I hope that I can achieve that, but I don't know.
NTMI: Actually, I think it's interesting that you would do it this way. Most artists do seem to find one thing and stick to it forever.
Smudgeoffudge: Well, I don't think I have hit on anything of that quality yet. I would rather do a lot of characters and keep people guessing who I will make fun of next.
NTMI: Where do you get the ideas of who or what to do?
Smudgeoffudge: My twisted mind I guess. Well, who doesn't like to make fun of Sloth. I love the guy. I mean, there are endless possibilities.
NTMI: He seems to be the butt of every joke in Neopia, doesn't he? lol
Smudgeoffudge: I hope they never kill him off but if they do, I got dibs on his leather jacket..haha..
NTMI: Hehehe... And once you do have the idea, how long does it take to get a comic ready to submit?
Smudgeoffudge: I tend to work on two or three of them all in one day. Then I have to go and spoil it by letting people look at them. But I like to get reactions to how they are. Then I just send them all in at once.
NTMI: So Josh winds up with two or three weeks' worth of comics in one go?
Smudgeoffudge: Yeah, but maybe he likes it better that way. At least he can see where I am going with it, and decide if it is good.
NTMI: That's true. I know he requires you to send in all of the parts to a story series at once. I've wondered why he wouldn't want to do the same with comics.
Smudgeoffudge: I thought everyone did it that way.
NTMI: I know some don't. Actually, that's a good question! Well maybe someday we'll find out...
NTMI: But in the meantime, what kind of feedback do you usually get?
Smudgeoffudge: Not much actually. Sometimes I wonder if people even read my stuff. Believe it or not, most of the mail I get is about the silly song on my pet's lookup. Today I got one asking where the cave chia is.
NTMI: Cave Chia? They saw the trophy on your user lookup?
Smudgeoffudge: Yeah, I guess they just randomly picked me. I don't know. But anyway, I try to answer people if I can.
NTMI: Ever get any negative stuff?
Smudgeoffudge: Well the other day someone told me that Sloth turned his parents into Slugs. So I had to go back and read all the plots and articles about Sloth. But I just can't find where he turned his parents into Slugs.
Smudgeoffudge: But even if he did do that, who says they have to stay slugs?
Smudgeoffudge: They look pretty much like slugs as it is..
NTMI: Hehe... I can tell you where that one is. It's a mention in the first "Evil Overlording for Dummies" series that LittleLysshu wrote.
NTMI: But you do bring up a good point. Neopets sets up an "official" site with "official" background, but after that, whatever anyone wants to make up, they can.
NTMI: What I find amusing is when they adopt as "official" what someone just made up on their own.
Smudgeoffudge: Yeah, it is just a comic. I never intended to change history. Anyone who reads real comics, especially political ones, already knows that the truth is boring. Putting a figure into a strange improbable environment is funny.
NTMI: Particularly when you're using a strange figure in the first place!
Smudgeoffudge: I have seen sloth dressed in drag and sloth singing and just about anything else you can do to him, and it never stops being funny to me.
NTMI: Hehehe... don't forget the multi-colored hair in his armpits!
Smudgeoffudge: Of course, he is an evil villain, so you can't underestimate him. I wonder what he is up to?
NTMI: Hopefully we'll be able to find out in time to trounce him ;)
Smudgeoffudge: I'd rather keep him alive and just completely embarrass him.
NTMI: LOL! Anyhow, now that you've "made it", so to speak, what advice would you give to others who want to get their own pieces published in the Times?
Smudgeoffudge: First of all I would say read the Times. Look at what has been submitted before. Don't try to copy anyone, but be original. By looking at the Times you can get a feel for what has been done and what people are interested in.
NTMI: Good points. Anything else?
Smudgeoffudge: Then try to think of something new. A unique perspective. Also read the news. Look at the new items and plots developing in the world of Neopia. Maybe you can think of something from the news to write about.
Smudgeoffudge: The chat boards are great too. You can just sit back and read what people are talking about. Pretend you are actually in a crowded mall or street and all the things are going on around you.
Smudgeoffudge: People are rushing about to stores, or home to feed their pets. And you are just listening to what is going on around you.
Smudgeoffudge: Sometimes a story can come to you from there. But if someone says something and you want to make a story out of what they said, you might need to ask them. It depends on what they said.
NTMI: How specific they were you mean?
Smudgeoffudge: Yeah. People often share their ideas and they might not intend to write a story about it.
NTMI: True enough! That's a nice list of starting points, I'd say. But sometimes it isn't the best quality around when it gets published in the Times. What fault or faults do you usually notice the most about published pieces?
Smudgeoffudge: Well, I hate to be critical of anyone. I look at my own work and can find plenty of faults.
Smudgeoffudge: I like all kinds of stories but mostly I dislike some that don't really end properly or end too abruptly.
NTMI: Stories that end with unresolved questions?
Smudgeoffudge: If a story leaves me saying "Huh..what happened.." I don't care for it too much. It can have the best intro and really be interesting but the ending is very important to me.
NTMI: In other words, you want it to actually mean something when you finish it, correct?
Smudgeoffudge: Oh it doesn't really have to be all sappy and happy. I have read some pretty sad stories in the Times. It doesn't really have to have a moral really. I am sure all of them do, if you really read it. But some just don't really end right to me.
NTMI: Let me get your reaction to this saying:
NTMI: "Most things make sense when you look at them right. It's just sometimes you have to look really, really cockeyed."
Smudgeoffudge: I believe there is good in all people. Or at least there was good in them. No one is born evil but learn it. And I guess even things that don't make sense can be studied harder and something can be learned from it. Even if it is just to not let history repeat itself.
NTMI: And speaking of history, looking back on your history as a Neopian Times author- what has been the best part of the whole thing?
Smudgeoffudge: That I actually got IN. :)
NTMI: LOL! Very good point! What's been the worst part?
Smudgeoffudge: People who look at my account and think I have millions of neopoints when I don't. People that beg me for stuff or send me scams. At the moment I have about 4000np. I spend all my money on my pets for training.
Smudgeoffudge: And people see I have two krawks and think I know something and am not telling. I have a few people convinced that I know a secret way of getting a free krawk.
NTMI: Does that mean they're ready and rarin' to go to defeat Meridell's invaders?
Smudgeoffudge: Yeah, I am ready to fight. I am ready to fight..did I mention I was ready to fight..Now where is the fight...LOL..
Smudgeoffudge: I am ready..It just isn't ready for me..
NTMI: Hehehe! Since the newest Meridell invasion game came out, I'm wondering if they pulled a shell game on us and this is it.
Smudgeoffudge: No, too many unanswered questions. First of all, where is sir borodere, lysha, and all them?
NTMI: Yeah, you'd think they would finish their plot- like they did with the Destruction of Maraqua plot?
Smudgeoffudge: That is a game based on the war but not the actual war. The actual war will end the plot.
NTMI: Convincing arguments. You're probably right, I guess I'm just a bit too cynical at times lol.
Smudgeoffudge: But I think neopets has more up their sleeve. Maybe they'll leave some questions unanswered and give us room for new developments in the future.
NTMI: Well anything they leave unanswered, we can always think up some interesting answers to fit, right?
Smudgeoffudge: Yep. It makes for good Neopian Times material.
NTMI: PreCISEly! Speaking of which, have you ever looked at how the Times is organized and wished there was something different about it?
Smudgeoffudge: I guess I can't really think of anything I would change about the Times. I have plenty of things I would change about the website first.
NTMI: Oh? What would that be?
Smudgeoffudge: Well, one thing that bugs me is that when you work on your pet's description you have to then go and look up your pet to see what you did. Why not put a link right there on the description page. They did fix the user lookup on the sidebar though.
NTMI: Point. Anything else?
Smudgeoffudge: Well there are things that bug me but can't really be helped. Like when games break down and will not score or when things go glitchy. But nothing can really be done about it but to wait.
NTMI: True. I think it's an ongoing challenge for them just to handle the traffic. I mean, 500 million page views in one weekend??
Smudgeoffudge: I don't really like some of the garbage on the chat boards but I do understand the monitors are doing their best.
Smudgeoffudge: I think as Neopets gets bigger that there will be problems just trying to handle the load. It has been said that one day it may get too big to even operate but I doubt that. I guess I would even pay to play if I had to.
NTMI: I think the best way you can pay is to buy Neopets merchandise.
Smudgeoffudge: Well, if they ever make a krawk plushie or a tonu one, I know I'd want that. I have soo many ideas for things that they could make that I would buy.
NTMI: Yeah, wouldn't it be neat if they had somewhere for people to submit their "merchandise want list" ?
Smudgeoffudge: Yeah, I could give them a lot of ideas for things. Like how about replicas of some of the battledome stuff or even some Halloween costumes? It'd be cute. Now I am too old but I know some kids would love to dress as a faerie or a pet.
Smudgeoffudge: I want Dr Sloth's leather jacket...
NTMI: Well maybe next year! But in the meantime, can you tell us what else you have done and posted on the net?
Smudgeoffudge: I pretty much hang out at Neopets. I was a big fan of Pier's Anthony. He has a whole wacky world called Xanth. I used to go online and roleplay a Xanth character.
NTMI: That could be very interesting! What about comics or stories?
Smudgeoffudge: I know a lot of people have live journals but I don't want one because really, I can't think of what I would write.
Smudgeoffudge: I've experimented with having a homepage before. But I didn't know much html. I am still learning. Maybe one day I'll make a page about me. I just don't know.
Smudgeoffudge: But I will tell you I used to get into trouble at school for drawing and writing. I wish I had kept all the stuff I had written or drawn.
Smudgeoffudge: I pretty much was always daydreaming. I still do. People can be talking to me and I'll just look up and say "huh..you said something?"
NTMI: LOL... I live by myself, and that helps when you want to daydream ;)
NTMI: So what sort of goals do you have for your drawing and writing in the future?
Smudgeoffudge: I just want to make people laugh or to have someone actually remember something I have written. I remember this story in the Times called You'll get what's coming to Ya.
Smudgeoffudge: I like that story because at the time, it was pretty original and had a good message and moral.
Smudgeoffudge: Maybe I am the only one that remembers it but it is one of the ones I have always remembered.
Smudgeoffudge: I'd like to be like that I guess.
NTMI: Yes, that's probably the best reward any sort of creator can have. Well, I think that's about all the questions I had to ask. Was there anything else you wanted to tell us about?
Smudgeoffudge: I just wanted to say that in a way I feel I have been judged. Maybe it is the price I pay for getting in the Times.
Smudgeoffudge: People beg me for items or for a krawk
Smudgeoffudge: I have to get mean with some people and they think I am a big snob or something.
Smudgeoffudge: But I try to be nice to everyone and treat them the way they treat me. I just have little patience for people who can't understand that I have gotten all my things honestly.
Smudgeoffudge: by playing games. If everyone would just get past the krawks or the baby pet that I have and just talk to me they might find I am nicer than they think. It is true I wanted painted pets and krawks. But I don't think that makes me a snob.
Smudgeoffudge: That's about it
NTMI: Thanks so much for sharing your time and interests with us!
Smudgeoffudge: Ok, and I look forward to reading about other people as well.
NTMI: Hehe, well you are "other people" too, so I wish you the best of luck in your future endeavors, and we'll look forward to that next series around the corner!
Would you like to read all of Smudgeoffudge's comics? Just click here to check her out in our database!