NTMI: Hello, everyone, we're here this afternoon with Indigokitten, the creator of the Star known as Quatringa. Good afternoon, Indigokitten!
Indigokitten: Good afternoon
NTMI: Although that's not quite right for you- I must note, you're six hours ahead of me, so my afternoon is your evening. Time zones strike again!
Indigokitten: Indeed! Good evening, then, lol
NTMI: Hehe... but onto our topic of conversation: Neopets! The first question is how did you find neopets and get started playing on the site at all?
Indigokitten: Well, I first heard about it through my sister, who had heard through a friend of hers (word of mouth, basically). I thought the blue aishas were rather cute, so I adopted one (and was promptly accused of 'copying' by my sister, who also had a blue aisha - although, given that there were only 12 species and 4 colours available then, I think that was a little unfair)!
NTMI: Oh my, that must have been some time back! But still, with a name like "Indigokitten," what else would you have?
Indigokitten: Exactly! But my sister rarely plays Neopets anymore, so I think she's stopped caring, lol.
NTMI: LOL, but you haven't. What do you like about the site that keeps you playing still today?
Indigokitten: Well, there's obviously the Neopian Times, which is entertaining to read and to contribute to. I like the creative aspects of the site (likewise the Neopian Art Gallery, although they do seem to be having rather too many 'specials' recently).
NTMI: Ah, the art gallery. Did you ever get anything in there?
Indigokitten: I've had several pieces, actually,( 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 ) but recently I haven't submitted very much because I'm more preoccupied with my Quatri comic. I recently tried to send in a picture for the Birthday special, but found it had been posted while I was colouring the picture! I think my timing needs a little work, lol.
NTMI: Oops, lol, hey there's gotta be another good special coming along soon! That is if you're not too distracted with Neopian Times stuff. How did you find the Neopian Times and what got you started with it anyway?
Indigokitten: I really don't remember how I found it (probably just by reading the New Features page regularly) but I know it was something which really appealed to me. To be able to write stories is the one ambition I've kept since I was very young (after I discovered that elephant keeping was probably going to be a bit messy!) and this seemed like an ideal opportunity to practice.
NTMI: But wait, you've been doing comics... right?
Indigokitten: Well, I have recently been specializing in that area, but comics are a relatively new addition to the NT. Before I decided to make those, I would write stories. The first story I ever sent in was a modified version of one I'd written previously (I thought I could cut corners just by changing all the characters into aishas!) but that didn't get in.
NTMI: What finally succeeded for you?
Indigokitten: Well, my first successful submission was a spin-off of a competition that Neopets was running at the time - 'Design a Faerie'. Mine had been one of the winning entries, and I was proud to think they'd be using it on the site. Unfortunately, that was around the time that they stopped using user-submitted ideas because of copyright issues.
NTMI: Meaning they were afraid of legal action from their users if they used something the users submitted?
Indigokitten: Yes, probably (I think that was also the reason they had to re-design many of the original pets).
NTMI: I know the Lupe and one other neopet were originally user-submitted ideas. Interesting! Well back to your own personal career... so you started with stories. How did that get changed to comics?
Indigokitten: Well, I'd always enjoyed drawing pictures of my aisha Quatringa, and she had a very detailed story behind her - her quest for fame as an actress and/or singer (this was the basis of her Pet Spotlight entry, which was probably where Neopets started to get a lot more interesting for me)!
Indigokitten: When the Comic section of the Neopian Times looked as though it would become permanent, I decided this would be the ideal bandwagon to hop onto, if I really wanted to get Quatringa noticed.
NTMI: So one thing led to another and she actually DID achieve fame. Have you ever thought of bringing another character in with her? After all, you seem to be rather unique in using just one main character in your comics.
Indigokitten: I don't think I've ever thought about it like that, before. Generally, when I come up with an idea for a comic, the general plot is decided by the title - I try to base those around film genres, and then see if I can work something around that theme. So it can be quite difficult to fit other characters in.
Indigokitten: However, if I run out of ideas for the 'Movies' series, I would probably try a series based around Quatringa's day-to-day life - which would probably have to include me, and some of her friends (whether such a thing would get published is another matter)!
NTMI: So instead of the usual interaction of "character vs character" you do "character in weird situation" ?
Indigokitten: Exactly. It sounds a little unconventional, and I sometimes think it would be a better comic if there were something in it that people could identify with, but the idea sounded like a gimmick which could help the comic get a regular slot. It's worked so far, but whether that has anything to do with the format of the comic, I don't know.
NTMI: I think interesting plot lines might have something to do with it. On a random side note, am I correct in assuming that it was Josh's idea to link back to Vampire Part One when Vampire Part Two came out this week?
Indigokitten: Well, if it was his idea, he didn't mention it to me, lol (perhaps it was telepathy)! I'd intended to do the 2-part Vampire thing in issues either side of Halloween (since I wasn't sure which the Halloween issue would be) but it all went a bit pear-shaped when i didn't finish the first comic on time, and then put the second one off for several weeks.
Indigokitten: Still... I learnt not to attempt a continuing story again, lol. At least not until I can become a little more organized.
NTMI: Or maybe do them all as one submission?
Indigokitten: Yes, that would be a good idea. I must write it down somewhere so I don't forget it, lol.
NTMI: LOL, but speaking of submissions... when you do submit a cartoon, what sort of guidelines do you use on size and type of file, etc?
Indigokitten: It's changed with almost every comic I've done, but I think I've finally found a pattern that works. I now use the same basic template for my comics, which read vertically, so that I can avoid that 'maximum width' issue. I also try to save my comics as 'gif' images, where possible, since the file size is generally lower than other types, and they are a lot clearer (and easier to read) than 'jpg's.
NTMI: Speaking of easier to read, how do you handle the text readability problem besides using gif?
Indigokitten: I actually sometimes wonder if the text I use is too small, but I've had no complaints so far. I use Arial Narrow, since it takes up less space and I can fit more of it into a little speech bubble. It's also a simple, sans-serif font - so people don't have to struggle with curly letters which might look nice, but don't resemble real words unless you squint at them!
NTMI: In other words you put it into the comic after it's on the computer... so does the original get drawn by hand and scanned, or done on computer originally?
Indigokitten: I used to sketch the graphics for the comic by hand, scan them in and then trace over them. However, thanks to some lucky exam results and the generosity of my parents, I now have a graphics tablet which enables me to draw my comics straight on to the computer.
Indigokitten: Although I do still usually come up with the ideas for them while I'm sat in class, lol... my drama teacher recently asked me why there was a four-eared cat on my homework notes)!
NTMI: Lol, did you say "oops, wrong subject"?
Indigokitten: Looking back, I probably should have said that, but I ended up trying to explain Neopets to him... it's amazing how simple it seems when you've been playing for two years - but try explaining it to an 'outsider' and you suddenly find yourself talking about Pokemon in an effort to make any sense, lol.
NTMI: Eeek, you're probably right! Well how about inside neopets- what sort of reaction have your creative efforts gotten from readers of the Times?
Indigokitten: Thankfully, most of it has been positive. I get neomail from people who like Quatringa, pets who want to be like Quatringa, and others who just like my drawing. The only really negative thing I ever had was quite recently, where somebody decided to launch a personal attack on me because they though I was 'stereotyping the female youth of today' (yeah, they all have blue hair and four ears!!)
NTMI: And have sock puppets of their idols... was quatringa2 an actual pet?
Indigokitten: Ah, there's a funny story behind that one! The idea for that comic came to me a year before I actually drew it. I'd recently discovered another Neopets user with a similar username to mine, who had created an aisha named Quatrina00. I thought very little of it - actually, I was pleased to have been noticed - until they started trying to scam me out of my account.
Indigokitten: Apparently they wanted the real Quatringa instead of just an imitation!
Indigokitten: Quatringa00 eventually got abandoned, so I changed the name to Quatringa2 to make sure the new owner didn't get any unnecessary attention.
NTMI: Lol, so it was a hostile takeover attempt! Well good work on turning it into a laughable one instead So, other than "change the names to protect the guilty" what sort of advice would you offer anyone wanting to get into the Times?
Indigokitten: There isn't much I can say that hasn't already been said, but still... obviously it helps to do something different to what everyone else is doing. If you want to write an article about a certain issue, don't take the obvious option - try and look at it from another angle.
Indigokitten: And most importantly - 'if at first you don't succeed, try again'. I once said that to an aspiring Neopian Times writer in my guild, after her most recent work had been rejected again. You interviewed her a few weeks back, so I think it worked!
NTMI: Yes, it can't be stressed enough. Even if you try and fail, you have experience that can be used to improve yourself beyond what you had before. But what about the quality of what is in there. Are there any common mistakes or problems that you see in what the Neopian Times publishes?
Indigokitten: I don't know about common mistakes, but one thing which I keep noticing in stories is that nobody really seems to know exactly how many of each type of faerie there are. For instance, some say there are lots of dark faeries controlled by one Uber Dark Faerie; some think there's one Dark Faerie and one Uber Dark Faerie; some think that there are multiple versions of all the faeries.
Indigokitten: I used to think I knew, but now I'm just really confused! But that's really not a technical issue, lol.
NTMI: LOL, no, but it does point out something else that people need to keep in mind: everyone who writes (or draws) for the NT is giving you THEIR interpretation of Neopia, which may or may not be right. Even more to the point, there is a lot that the "official" version leaves out which you have to create as a writer, so you're left to fill in with whatever you want!
NTMI: As you view your overall Neopian Times career, though, what's the best part about it?
Indigokitten: Getting free stuff, lol! Er, okay, there isn't really 'free stuff' involved... but I have had some nice people offer to buy medicine when Quatri gets sick. That's really what I like about it - getting to hear from other people who appreciate the comic.
Indigokitten: Receiving nice neomail reminds me that Neopia isn't just full of hackers and scammers and those irritating people who say 'y iz ur asia got blu har'!
NTMI: I know what you mean- and what's the worst part?
Indigokitten: Sometimes it's looking back on something I had published and thinking, how could I show that to anyone - let alone submit it for publication? It surprises me how awful some of the things I've done really seem (like that first story about the faerie... *cringe*). But at the end of the day, at least that means I've probably improved a bit.
Indigokitten: And then there's that 'hate mail' I mentioned earlier - but that hasn't happened very often, so I hope it won't again.
NTMI: Anyone in the public light will catch flak now and then. I've got my own stories to tell, but at least it doesn't happen very often! So the best is the good people, and the worst is the bad people. But since you can't change people, what about the Neopian Times itself. Is there anything in the layout or the contents that you'd change- add, or delete?
Indigokitten: Well, there's the obvious problem of that great long list of issues at the top of the page... it's getting almost comical, to have links to 69 issues. But maybe they'll do something about that once the 70th has arrived.
NTMI: We can always hope, can't we. Maybe I could offer my services to the neopets website to get that fixed.
Indigokitten: There's also the fact that people who want to co-write items may be discouraged by the fact that only one will appear to get the credit. Admittedly this probably couldn't be resolved without changing what is a very useful system (that search box saves a lot of work) but it's still something I rather dislike.
NTMI: I know, I've been wondering how I can handle those sorts of things on my index site as well. Part of it is organizational- how to present the data- and part of it is the sheer amount of work that would be involved in going back through 6,000 pieces to see what might be there.
NTMI: But back to your own experiences. You've done stories and comics for the Times, even some art gallery stuff. What else have you gotten onto the Neopets site?
Indigokitten: There is the winning faerie competition entry that I mentioned earlier. In retrospect, it may only have won because my faerie shared a similar name to winners they had already chosen, but it's still something I'm quite pleased about. Then there is Quatringa's Pet Spotlight entry. I don't think there's been anything else, although I've attempted the storytelling and poetry competitions - to no avail.
NTMI: Yeah, I've tried the storytelling a couple of times myself with no results. What about off the neopets site? Anything else on the web that you've done?
Indigokitten: There's nothing in particular that I've had 'published', but one thing I could mention is Quatringa's online journal. She's a member of quite a large community of Neopets who 'write' their own webjournals, and it's an interesting project which really helps with developing her character and interacting with other pets.
NTMI: Ohhh definitely will need to check that out! Well apart from a webjournal and NT submissions, what else do you think you might write or draw in the future?
Indigokitten: I hope to make my own personal website, some day - it's been delayed a few years as I can never settle on a good design! If I get that done, I might attempt to run a non-Neopian comic series, but I think I'd miss having an editor to weed out any poor quality efforts, lol. Then there's Quatringa's web page and that elusive Site Spotlight... I think that would be an interesting thing to aim for!
NTMI: Most definitely! Well don't worry about the website, put it up and then you can worry later about getting it redone... I think redoing websites is as much work as getting them started in the first place, lol. Ok, I think that's about everything I had to ask. Did you have anything else you wanted to tell us about?
Indigokitten: Er... not that I can think of, lol. I might choose this moment to make a political statement about the Meridell war-thing, but since I don't actually know where I stand on that issue, I think it's better left alone!
NTMI: I would say it's hard to make a political statement about something when you haven't got a clue as to where you'd stand, but I'm sure I would be proved wrong. Ok, thanks so much for your time, and best wishes for your continued career!
Would you like to read all of Indigokitten's pieces? Just click here to check her out in our database!