NTMI: Good evening, everyone! This evening we've managed to track down that Crazy Duck Lady whose pets are always up to something wacky... yes, it's JustDuckyGal. Hi there, JustDuckyGal, and welcome!
JustDuckyGal: Hiya! It's great to be here! (and I left my wacky pets at home for this interview, just to let you know)
NTMI: (laughs) Good, then we can say anything we want about them and they won't object, right?
JustDuckyGal: Oh, of course.
NTMI: All right! So, the first question is, how did you ever find out about and get on Neopets?
JustDuckyGal: Well, a friend of mine at school sends me a lot of emails and forwards and things, and at the bottom of one email she typed something like "Have you been to Neopets.com lately?" I had never heard of it, so I went there and became kind of addicted. My friend told me later that her little brother played Neopets and that he kinda forced her to type that at the bottom of the email.
NTMI: The addiction spreads.... so tell me, when you got on Neopets, what on earth possessed you to use the name of "justduckygal" ?
JustDuckyGal: There's not much logic behind the username. I like ducks... and I'm a girl... That's really all there is to it. I didn't put a lot of thought into it because I didn't know how long I'd be online at the Neopets site, and I figured nobody would ever care.
NTMI: The price of becoming famous? Out of curiosity, did the fact that "just ducky" means that everything is fine have anything to do with it?
JustDuckyGal: lol I guess so. Or... I don't know. They don't call me Sarah the CRAZY duck lady for nothing.
NTMI: I believe it was Bunny that said she wasn't crazy, she was "spontaneously spontaneous"
NTMI: So what are your favorite things on Neopets?
JustDuckyGal: Well, I love the pets. I guess that's pretty obvious. And guilds are where I spend most of my time.
JustDuckyGal: My favorite game would be Meerca Chase.
NTMI: High score there of 415 neopoints... that's pretty good! Going to try and go for more?
JustDuckyGal: I'm not actually very good at games. I just got lucky that one time in Meerca chase with a fish negg
NTMI: Fish neggs are great, it was some fish neggs that gave me my high score in Neggsweeper... before they deleted both the game and all the high scores... but enough of my problems! How did you find the Neopian Times, and what inspired you to start submitting comics?
JustDuckyGal: lol I don't really remember how I found the Neopian Times. I guess I was just surfing and I came upon it one day. I've drawn comics in the past, just simple things that I've shown to my friends, and when I saw the Neopian Times I thought that I could make comics too! I have always loved graphic design, and after taking some classes and getting a cool new art program...
JustDuckyGal: I thought why not?! I could give it a shot! I really didn't think that I would get anything accepted the first time.
JustDuckyGal: And for some reason I've just never stopped making comics since then.
NTMI: So the Cheesy Neos were a winner from the first submission on.
JustDuckyGal: Yes, actually. All of the Cheesy Neos comics that I've submitted have been posted on the site. I can't say the same thing for my submissions to the art gallery tho...
NTMI: Well phooey on the art gallery staff then! What gave you the idea of using your pets as the subject of your comic strip?
JustDuckyGal: I suppose I just wanted to give my pets more personality. I started out just drawing my Poogle and my Usul... because they were easy to draw. That's why Bunny is in SO many comics- Usuls are easy for me to draw. And Puff- the Shoyru- is in a lot less comics because he's the hardest to draw.
NTMI: So where DID they get their personalities?
JustDuckyGal: Well, Bunny (as much as I don't want to say this) is very much like me. Bunny is the flakey one, Zestin's the smart one, Puff's the mischevious one, and JubJub is the reliable one. When I started the strip, my pets didn't really have any personalities, I just kinda formed them as the strip progressed.
NTMI: What about the name? Where did "The Cheesy Neos" come from?
JustDuckyGal: I had just finished my first comic, and I was thinking of something to call it. It was kind of a last-minute thing. I was thinking like cheesy (because I know that all my jokes are cheesy) and Neopets (I had to be general because I had no main character yet)... I asked my brother if he liked the name "The Cheesy Neos" and he told me it was stupid. (in his world, that means it's good) lol
JustDuckyGal: I kept the name just to annoy my brother. lol
NTMI: (laughing) I love it! Where do you get the ideas for individual strips?
JustDuckyGal: Sometimes they're based on real life (like the one about art prints) and other times I just brainstorm. I did a lot of brainstorming during my old Biology class last year. Most of the time I have writers block and I have to think of something at the very last minute.
NTMI: Is that the strips where Bunny will yell "sock puppets!" ?
JustDuckyGal: Well, yes. The sock puppet thing was last minute, but I've seen 2 other comic series use sock puppets somehow in their strips since then. I've started a sock puppet comic legacy!!! lol
NTMI: What happens when you get REALLY bored... the world trembles at the thought! So after you get the idea, how long does it take to draw the strip?
JustDuckyGal: It depends on how complex the backgrounds and expressions have to be. Sometimes they take 2 hours, sometimes they take a LOT longer. I usually spread out the work over a couple of days, so it's hard to say exactly how long it takes.
NTMI: And it is done entirely on the computer?
JustDuckyGal: Yup. My first 3 comics were hand-drawn, but everything after that was all done by computer.
NTMI: So what sort of input device (mouse, graphics tablet?) do you use?
JustDuckyGal: I use Adobe Illustrator 10 to make my graphics, and I use a mouse to draw everything. (I could never figure out how to use those fancy tablet gadgets)
NTMI: I'm assuming that Adobe Illustrator helps make the process easier and faster... what sort of tips and tricks do you use to speed your work in drawing and coloring things?
JustDuckyGal: Sometimes if I've drawn a particularly cool looking image, I save it and use it again later and alter it a little bit. This is what I do with Puff, anyways- lol I've only drawn his entire face once!!! lol I don't know if I recommend that- It's kinda like cheating.
NTMI: Nah, that's what computers are for! So now that you're on top of the game, what tips would you give to someone else who wanted to get their comic(s) into the Neopian Times as well?
JustDuckyGal: I think sometimes that I just got lucky when it comes to The Cheesy Neos, so I can't guarantee that anyone will make it into the Times. But I would tell any aspiring artists that they should make sure that the text is readable and spell checked on their comic. Lots of color is good. Just anything that can really get people's attention.
JustDuckyGal: And being funny helps
NTMI: It certainly would! What sort of feedback have you gotten from doing The Cheesy Neos?
JustDuckyGal: Pretty much every neomail I've received about the comic has been positive. I can tell how popular a comic is by how many neomails I receive. So, when the first comic with the black-haired girl in it was released, I got like 100 neomails! And then the comic about Puff shipping himself home in a box... I got 0 neomails.
NTMI: Awww, well I liked it! So tell me, when you look at other NT comics, what is the most common mistake(s) that you see?
JustDuckyGal: For comics, I'd say the text. Sometimes there's spelling errors or the text is really small. The graphics are usually always good.
JustDuckyGal: Sometimes I see comics that aren't original ideas. That's not too good either.
NTMI: So make it readable, and make sure it's yours- good points! For our next question, if you could change one thing about how the Neopian Times is organized, what would it be?
JustDuckyGal: I think it's just fine the way that it is. *thinks about it some more* Nope, I like it.
NTMI: It's hard to improve on perfection, isn't it!
NTMI: What do you like best about being published in the Times?
JustDuckyGal: That would be the fans. I've received tons of neomails from people who like the comics, and I'm just so happy that I can share something with so many people and make them laugh. *justduckygal's head starts getting big* Oh, and another cool thing is getting to meet other NT artists and writers.
NTMI: I've sometimes wondered what it would ever be like if the NT contributors ever had a real life convention... ah well, dream on.... how about downsides? Any problems about it?
JustDuckyGal: That would also be the fans. lol Sometimes my inbox is so full it's like I can never answer all of the messages. And there are some crazy fans out there... crazier than me...
NTMI: Ohhhhh I get the picture! Hehe, nuff said about THAT then... on to the next thing... what else have you gotten published on the Neopets site besides the Cheesy Neos?
JustDuckyGal: Nope. All I've ever gotten published is the comics.
NTMI: Any other art, or site spotlights, or anything?
JustDuckyGal: Oh, yeah! I had a site spotlight once, for Bunny. I won that the same week that my very first comic was published. Anyway, I've neglected the site for a while now and some of the images don't work so well.
NTMI: Too bad How about off neopets- any other websites out there showing off your work or interests?
JustDuckyGal: Yes, I started a website about 3 years ago called The Cartoon Kingdom and there's just a collection of images of cartoons and other junk that I've collected and created for the web. For some of my other artwork I have a whole website dedicated to... my teddy bear... lol
NTMI: All right! How about the future? Where do you see your art leading you?
JustDuckyGal: Ever since I started the Cheesy Neos I've become a lot more interested in graphic design, so maybe I'll become a graphic designer someday?! (that would be the best-case scenario)
NTMI: Hey, it's hard to reach somewhere if you're not trying. Well, that's all the questions I had. Is there anything else you'd like to add for our readers?
JustDuckyGal: Well, I guess I should clarify two things- I have no idea who that black-haired girl in the comic is. She's not me, and she's not based on anyone. lol And the other thing is that Bunny changes color from blue to green and back again in every comic, and that's only there to confuse the readers.
JustDuckyGal: I also want to thank everybody who's ever read my comics. Thank you all!!!!!
NTMI: Well thank YOU for writing them! They are greatly enjoyed
NTMI: And while I'm at it, thank you also for sparing the time to chat with us this evening as well.
JustDuckyGal: Well thank YOU for your compliment and YOUR time!
Would you like to read all of JustDuckyGal's comics? Just click here to check her out in our database!