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Interview: 'DSV Nautica' creator Rei Vegan

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I had the pleasure of interviewing Rei Vegan earlier this year, starting back in March. Due to a busy schedule, the interview wasn't completed until April. Final exams got in the way of editing, so some topics brought up will be out of date. Thank you for your understanding.

My questions and comments are not to be taken seriously. Also, this interview is pretty long. Might want to grab something to eat.
Rei Vegan

Isiah Jacobs: Good evening, Rei Vegan, thank you so much for joining me tonight!

Rei Vegan: Good evening Don, the pleasure's all mine.

Isiah Jacobs: So let's see here, you're obviously very well known for your web comic, DSV Nautica [NSFW], one of my personal favorites, I hate to admit, but you've actually been doing this whole furry thing for quite a while now. According to what the younger generation would call you, you're a "gray muzzle." You'll be turning 32 next week, is that correct?

Rei Vegan: This is indeed correct. I'm kind of fond of the term "gray muzzle" myself; it makes me imagine myself on the porch yelling obscenities at kids on my lawn or some such.

Isiah Jacobs: What, like yelling at them to stop their furpile?

Rei Vegan: -and listening to that dot matrix printer noise they call Dub Step. *chuckles*

Isiah Jacobs: We'll be getting to that genre of music later. Sir, I think it's about time you grew up. Sure it's fine for the youngsters to do this, it's just a phase their choosing to go through, like homosexuality and poverty. You are a grown man now! You need to focus your attention on more serious matters, like joining a bank and playing the capital system.

Rei Vegan: "Growing up" has been on my mind more seriously for the past couple years. Turning 30 was something of a milestone. A quarter-life crisis I guess? I would go to local functions and know next to no one. It really sank in when I realized that half of the "kids" at a furry BBQ here in Edmonton were in grade two when I was getting wasted at my graduation bush-party. In all honesty though, many of the younger furs are great people. It's a generation gap, and it's not really that large of a rift. Yeah, some of them can be obnoxious, but I'm sure I'd have seemed just as obnoxious to someone a decade my senior when I was twenty and full of pixie-stick fuelled naive optimism.

Isiah Jacobs: Hey, don't you dare dis the pixie sticks. They are sacred relics. So, were you one of these furries that felt all their life they were a furry? Or did they just, "turn you on"?

Rei Vegan: I'm not sure how much faith I place in the statement "all my life." When I hear someone say that, particularly in an interview situation, I get an impression similar to the one I get from watching interviews with schizotypal patients. I suppose I'm referring more to the furry "lifers," whom I suppose are about as harmful to those around them as hippies on the majority. That being said, I'd say it was more of a passing fancy that caught my attention at a point in my life when I was struggling to find something fun to draw.

Isiah Jacobs: Why did it have to manifest in furries? How come not something lame, like photography, or sculpting, or crafting?

Rei Vegan: Fantasy and science fiction on television and in the movies played a large role in my young life. I think just about everyone has a movie or show with characters they can associate with. Obviously, furries tend to gravitate more towards anthropomorphic characters in this sense, so if I were to say that characters from movies like Dragonheart, Warriors of Virtue, Labyrinth, and a handful of other stereotypical titles didn't have a place in my young heart I'd be a liar. In the same breath I would also admit that characters from shows like Star Trek, Babylon 5, Space: Above & Beyond, etc. held similar stature in my fantasies and still do.

On the artistic side of things, when I found the fandom (through one of the first iterations of FurNation) sometime in the late 90's, I saw within it the potential of bringing science and fantasy together in a community that celebrated art without being stodgy about it. I'll also admit that there was a great deal of sex appeal in much of the imagery I was finding through FurNation at a time of my life when the cool kids were getting laid on a regular basis, and nerdy me wasn't so much so. Chatting was a new thing, and suddenly there were hundreds of people to talk to, who also liked science fiction, fantasy and art. There was also a level of dirty-little-secret sense to it. Logging on the FurNation chat in the back corner of the library after school was a new and thrilling adventure.

Isiah Jacobs: And they never caught you looking at gay furry porn?

Rei Vegan: I was caught being propositioned in a chat by my physics teacher. I should clarify: I was being propositioned for some chat sex, and my physics teacher shut the computer I was on down remotely.

Isiah Jacobs: Wow! I didn't know all of that was possible back then!

Rei Vegan: He worked at a university before he taught senior year physics. He never brought it up after that though. Needless to say, I did very little to upset him for the rest of the year.

Isiah Jacobs: As any sensible furry should. What was your first proper furry experience on the internet?

Rei Vegan: I've experienced a lot. More specifically? Visual? Sexual? Transcendental?

Isiah Jacobs: Just the very first time you came across furries, in any sense in the slightest.

Rei Vegan: That would have to be what I was talking about earlier with FurNation. FN was the first furry website I had come across. I had never been more concerned about who was looking over my shoulder at the school library than the first ten minutes of browsing that site. At first, I couldn't believe what I was looking at, seeing how most of it was sexual. Very sexual. Quite homosexual too, but after moving to a more discreet terminal, I found a handful of hetero and vanilla art and stories.

Isiah Jacobs: I find that very hard to believe. There's no such thing as heterosexuality in the fandom. At all. Completely gay. So did you just go on and search "animal sex"?

Rei Vegan: Dragon mating, actually.

Isiah Jacobs: Because you were in to dragons at the time, right?

Rei Vegan: I had just finished reading a Dragonlance novel that focused on the lives of dragons (I can't recall the subtitle at the moment), and had a particularly steamy moment in it involving the mating flight of a pair of dragons. In retrospect it was pretty tame in comparison to what I would find in searching for more on a then-young internet. -and yeah, dragons were something of a hot-topic for me over the previous three years, hot off the heels of seeing a CG dragon walk and talk alongside Dennis Quaid and David Thewlis in 1996. It was difficult finding novels that treated dragons as more than just large unelegant flying monsters. I was really getting into other novels like the Pern series and novellas like The Book Dragon.

Isiah Jacobs: So I take it that you're a fan of How to Train Your Dragon?

Rei Vegan: Yes, though perhaps more so if I hadn't chosen to dedicate my life to understanding special effects, CGI, movies and media.

Isiah Jacobs: Another topic we'll be getting to in a bit. Over the years, since you've been a part of the fandom, you've gotten married to a "female" furry and you now have a daughter. Why are you both pretending to be something you're not?

Rei Vegan: I've been married to Jia for just about as long as I've been in the fandom, and she's just as furry as I am (less furry on the face though). I consider myself lucky from the many, many stories of lonely hopelessly romantic furries out there without a significant other. Less so now that furry is more widely known of, and the population growing conventions in numbers that rival political convention turn-outs. I suppose if I'm pretending to be anything, I'm pretending to be normal around my daughter. I think it's important to separate your fantasy life from your real one particularly in a case where your fantasy life involves socially illicit things. I would no sooner expect a Playboy photographer to bring their ten year old to work and show them who daddy takes pictures of, even if it's tasteful nudity, but I wouldn't tell this photographer that doing so is wrong either.

Isiah Jacobs: So you think it's just alright to be a furry around a child? You want your daughter to be a furry?

Rei Vegan: I think it's up to the individual to raise their children how they see fit. If community is involved it's with a community of the parent's choosing. Personally, I don't think the furry fandom is the kind of community I want my daughter exposed to. As she gets older and more capable of navigating the internet, and more importantly, making decisions that I feel have a positive impact on her life, she's always welcome to question what something is, or why these people are doing what they're doing. So far, she's rather oblivious to the furry culture. I'd prefer it stay that way until she's a few years older. I try to foster her creativity, her grasp of the sciences and maths, about space and politics and other real world ongoings. I understand that children will have adapted an understanding of the difference between reality and fantasy by age seven, but I don't think a fandom that idolizes escapism and celebrates sexuality is the best thing for her at this point of her life.

Isiah Jacobs: First of all, since I don't necessarily agree with your opinion, and it doesn't fit with what I believe, you are a terrible parent. I hope you burn in hell. And second, it sounds like you're just living your failed, miserable life through your daughter. You have to match them to what's right, like going to beauty pageant shows and dressing them up like sluts! Moving on, recently, you've sort of left FA and focused your attention on Tumblr. But this isn't the first time. You've actually left FA before, in 2007, is that correct?

Rei Vegan: I did. It was a foolish move but one that I think I had to go through in order to learn a lesson about protesting in the furry fandom.

Isiah Jacobs: What were you protesting back then?

Rei Vegan: Back then it was my opposition to furry pedophilia drawings.

Isiah Jacobs: And then you realized that even if you went away, it wasn't going to stop?

Rei Vegan: Like I said, I think it was a lesson I had to learn the hard way. There were more than a few artists who shared my distaste and were also packing up and leaving. Even then I knew that the actions of a single person meant little in the grand scheme, but the more artists that "left" might make an impact. In the end it was FA's sponsors that changed the TOS and AUP regarding pedophilia art on FA and the emergence of Inkbunny. Not that I would say that the AUP and TOS are enforced as fiercely as the could be.

Isiah Jacobs: Be careful what you say. Dragoneer's agents are all around. Watching. Judging. Masturbating.

Rei Vegan: As they should be. I have nothing against FA or it's proprietors. It's a free site (aside from ad revenue).

Isiah Jacobs: Now, you joined the site back in '05, but you've actually been a part of the furry community longer than that. You've said yourself that you've been working on your webcomic DSV Nautica for a little over ten years now. And it actually all started back when you were six. Did you immediately start drawing animal abominations?

Rei Vegan: People were my first subjects of illustration. When I was little, I didn't really like how I couldn't seem to get the shape of people right, so I tried to figure out how to draw them better. Other students didn't really care about it as much as I did, so I strived. Over the years of late elementary, there were other students who showed just as much artistic talent as I did and a few who could do it better, and so my focus turned a little more into getting better than "that other kid." One in particular, who managed to stay ahead of my curve all the way through grade school. I like to think her and I had something of a friendly rivalry, but I'm sure if I were to ask her if she felt the same, she'd most likely not know what I'm talking about.

Much of my young life was spent drawing real life things from reference imagery. I was told by my art teachers that tracing was bad, so I learned to sight copy to figure out how things were proportioned and shaped. Cars, people, animals. Mostly mundane things. I liked the way DC and Marvel comic illustrations looked, exaggerated forms in fantastic situations. The art I did in my junior high and high school years was predominantly focused in comic books.

Isiah Jacobs: Did this play a role in creating Nautica?

Rei Vegan: Definitely. Whenever I watched a show, or a movie, my mind would wander off in places of the worlds that were left unexplained. What was on the other side of that mountain? How does that flying car work? Why did these people go to war with the protagonists in the first place? So when I create a character like Neesah in a space opera setting, I can't help but build backwards. Why is she captain? How big is the ship? What part of space are they in? Why? etc. I find the comic format a bit more engaging than just writing about it, and deeper than just drawing pinups. This can lead to dead ends as well, as was the case with the Distortion project.

Isiah Jacobs: That's another thing I was going to ask you about. What was Distortion supposed to be about? What happened?

Rei Vegan: It was backburnered into obscurity. I prioritize my work, Distortion wasn't as important to me as Nautica, and at the time I had time enough to update Nautica on a monthly basis. If I was going to do Distortion, I wanted it to be published alongside Tamar's Exinctioners. As was my regular process I wanted to know what was happing in his world in Canidea (Canada) as told through the experiences of my trio of supers. We talked about it, and he was relatively alright with letting me figure that out with periodic approval. Between working on strips for Nautica which, over time, became more and more sporadic as things like work, post secondary and raising a child took more and more of my free time, I had to push a few projects back.

Isiah Jacobs: Did the same thing with your other project, Genesis?

Rei Vegan: Actually, Genesis is still in production. It's not really a furry project as much as an independent Sci-fi film I'm working on with a high school friend.

Isiah Jacobs: Now, a lot like Duke Nukem, the release date has kept being pushed back. First you said 2010, then 2011. We're in March, sir. Where is it?

Rei Vegan: We've both resigned ourselves to the release of Genesis being met with much of the same criticism of Duke Nukem Forever. Dave was the one doing the trailers, and putting release dates at the end of them was his way of trying to push us to get it done sooner.

Isiah Jacobs: What criticism are you expecting?

Rei Vegan: I expect very little from the friends and family that will participate in the screening. As for anyone else, I could really care less. Genesis is a labor of love. I'm working on it for myself, less than for the kudos.

Isiah Jacobs: I would admire you as a hero if you weren't a furry.

Rei Vegan: Me too.

Isiah Jacobs: And speaking of, it deeply worries me how much we have in common. I really don't want to be associated with a furry.

Rei Vegan: I promise not to tell then.

Isiah Jacobs: I mean, we both have an interest in bigger women. We think clothed sex is hot. We're very big fans of science fiction. We look to the stars for inspiration. We have a taste for electric/ambient music. We're both students of video production! It's like you're my evil half-step twin brother! From Canada! Let's break this down. You currently work as a cinematographer for a hunting company, right?

Rei Vegan: Partly. I'm working on that project as a freelancer and it's only for ten episodes as an editor and motion graphics designer. I would say that my yearly contract with Sobeys West is more like what I would call a full-time job. It's a steady contract that keeps me working for the better part of a half a year.

Isiah Jacobs: Do you do the same thing for Sobeys West?

Rei Vegan: Sobeys does a conference each year at a destination. Hawaii, Rio, Cancun. They pack up a few hundred of the Corporate managers and figure out what they're doing this year. I create the presentation they give, and over the past three years, it's become something a bit more dramatic and moving than just an eight hour PowerPoint presentation over three days that they were putting their managers to sleep with.

Isiah Jacobs: Do you take credit for spicing it up?

Rei Vegan: The amount they pay me is more than enough credit. I think a children's birthday party clown is more entertaining and informative than most PowerPoint presentations.

Isiah Jacobs: How dare you make that comparison! Clowns are Godless killing machines! Why else are their noses red?! I don't trust them.

Rei Vegan: Says a lot about PowerPoint, doesn't it?

Isiah Jacobs: I will give you that. Now, on a scale of one to psychotically obsessed, how much of a sci-fi fan are you?

Rei Vegan: I'm going to the Star Trek TNG reunion in Calgary in April, if that's any indication.

Isiah Jacobs: I'll put you down for "impulsive geek." Why science fiction?

Rei Vegan: I love to rationalize things. I like to know why things work, so just saying "well it's magic, so we don't need to explain why Gandalf can take on a Balrog," isn't good enough for me. It's also why I tend to gravitate more towards the harder science of Star Trek rather than the science fantasy of Star Wars.

Isiah Jacobs: You like to see how it works for yourself. You said you're a very visual person. Your professor said you have Advanced Visual Perception, I believe he called it?

Rei Vegan: It's more of a synesthesia. He thought I was being a jackass, or in his words "fucking with" him when my grade twelve chemistry average test mark went from low 40% to mid 90% in the course of a new unit.

Organic chemistry, unlike the majority of grade 12 physics and chemistry, can be calculated using a visual equation. All I had to do was memorize a couple "this-ides" and "that-anes" and I could easily tell you what organic compound you got from mixing this and that (as long as there was enough space on the whiteboard to draw the compound).

He held me after class one day, asked me if I was fucking with him because I suddenly was top of the class in marks, and I explained that I could "see" the compounds in my head and figure them out that way. There wasn't any real math involved. I said it was more like playing with LEGO than work. He and my physics teacher presented me with a university level compound. Just the name: some freakishly long word and told me that they would go and get a coffee while I drew the compound out on the whiteboard. About 15 minutes later, I had the compound about 90% drawn when they reentered the room. I don't think my chem teacher told my physics teacher what he was to expect, because my physics teacher looked a little stunned. I sort of apologized that I didn't have it all up yet, but they both just sort of shook their heads and laughed saying that they chalked it up to the way I figure things out visually rather than logically.

They told me that there was a great deal of potential there as they would expect the next best student in class to get where I had gotten in 15 minutes with the equation in a couple hours. He said it was "advanced three-dimensional awareness," or "A3DP" otherwise known as "spatial awareness" or "synesthesia."

Isiah Jacobs: That is actually very neat. It's not often you meet someone like that, I take it?

Rei Vegan: I don't know a lot of people who figure out math with fractions and shapes, no.

Isiah Jacobs: And yet you waste all this talent on being a furry...

Rei Vegan: I couldn't do an organic compound now to save my life, so I have to agree with you.

Isiah Jacobs: Check mate. In one your recent updates to Tumblr, you drew a picture of a nebula, rightly titled "Birth of a Star." Now is it just me, or do I see a vulva in there?

Rei Vegan: I would hope so.

Isiah Jacobs: So it was intentional. There's no denying of quite a bit more (NSFW) of vaginal imagery in your art. Why is this?

Rei Vegan: I wish I knew. The best I can chalk it up to is a subconscious desire to draw yonic things. Along with a conscious desire to draw yonic things. I like girl parts. [Yonic is Sanskrit, meaning in the shape of a vulva.]

Isiah Jacobs: I don't know why. I mean, you're a furry! But I shouldn't be surprised, because you like putting girl parts on guys.

Rei Vegan: Furries do love to mix and match.

Isiah Jacobs: Let's talk about your character Jessi (NSFW) for a bit. You say he's genderverted, but let's just be completely honest. He's a cuntboy.

Rei Vegan: To use a slang, yes.

Isiah Jacobs: Now I don't know about you, but I don't understand cuntboys. They're essentially flat chest tomboys. They confuse me.

Rei Vegan: It's different and not so different than an intersexed female, which you see a great deal of on FA. Not so different in that it's the polar opposite, different in that you've taken away what many consider to be the stronger essence of what it means to be a man, and replaced it with the lesser essence of what it means to be a woman. Stronger and lesser being in the eyes of the beholder. The argument stands more firmly when you consider an intersexed female and their typical, more dominant portrayal: Doing the opposite in the case of an intersexed male means that their expected portrayal, demeanor and any number of other traits would be submissive. It's these social expectations that deeply intrigue me.

Isiah Jacobs: And it's this exact intrigue that has led you to work on another story with this Jessi character.

Rei Vegan: Once again I find myself considering the world to place him in. One very similar to ours. An analog of current situations and social norms, yes. Rather than focusing on curiosity and exploration, like in Nautica, I want to go after social aspects and subsequent emotions, sociology, ethics, morals; all that good stuff, while still maintaining a light hearted comedic note (something Nautica sorely was lacking in). On its most basic level, I want people to be able to relate to Jessi in some way. As simply as not fitting in somewhere, or on its extreme, being intersexed or transexual and dealing with resentment anywhere between mild to extreme. Now I could have made Jessi transexual, but I wanted him to be born intersexed, and left unaltered by the medical establishments that routinely "assign" sexes to people born intersexed.

Isiah Jacobs: So, what I'm really curious is what drives you, the inspiration that makes you do what you do, much like how you're interested in people function. Another similarity. In the past, you said you derive inspiration from observing nebulae, listening to electric/ambient music, and thunderstorms, is that correct?

Rei Vegan: Yes. I don't think that any of those are really way out there though. Most artists I know listen to music while they work. If music isn't really doing it for me, I'll listen to other things like thunderstorms, or surf hitting the beach. More recently I've been listening to the radio recordings of the planets. Jupiter in particular. If it's abstract auditory things I'm listening to for inspiration, it's specific to what I need to get done. Thunderstorms and surf for an image involving these things, or sounds from space when I'm strapped for ideas on where to take the plot of Nautica for example. It's never really that specific, just sort of the sounds I crave when I'm in a slump.

Isiah Jacobs: But what about visual inspiration? What is it about space that inspires you when you look at it?

Rei Vegan: Visually, it's that nightly illusion that makes the stars all look like they're all sort of the same distance away against the knowledge that they're all inconceivable far apart and far away, and yet, there they are. They're always arranged the same way (more or less), which makes them familiar and comforting and yet so wonderfully enigmatic.

In the case of nebulae, they're big… really, really big. The remnants of stellar events long (really long) past, slowly coalescing back into stars once again. I find comfort in this beautiful, natural cycle. The same cycle that happened to the stuff we're made of to make us and the things we use today, and that one day will become again. We're all part of this dance, and while some may feel insignificant in it, I feel privileged and humbled to possess the wherewithal to exist, in this moment, as part of our star's consciousness, and part of the universe's consciousness, regardless of how fleeting that may be.

Isiah Jacobs: As much as it pains me, I agree. Space is a marvellous thing to behold. Now recently, on your Tumblr,

Isiah Jacobs: Ok, because I totally thought it was real! And what do you mean? Are you saying NASA fabricated all those rich, vibrant colors in nebulae?

Rei Vegan: Much of the color work that's done to the photos of nebulae is based off the chemical composition of the nebula, so it's more of an estimated guess.

Isiah Jacobs: So those photos are forged?! Do you believe the moon landing was a hoax?

Rei Vegan: Much like the truthiness of the government, the color of nebulae are "enhanced." The main difference being that the enhancement of nebulae color is done using science and facts.

Isiah Jacobs: I don't trust science or facts. They don't fit to what I believe. One other thing we have in common is that you're in to the film business. I'm more inclined towards the artistic expression, but you're in it for the industry. Why is this?

Rei Vegan: As much as I love starving for a living, I had my fill of it after a year or two. I jest. *adjusts monocle* As I mentioned earlier, I've been interested in TV and film production in my youth. I liked knowing how special effects were done. I suppose it's akin to wanting to be a magician, except with electronics.

I went to Grant MacEwan after high school, and got certified and jumped headlong into motion graphics as a career rather than a pastime. I knew there was money in the industry, but more importantly it was a job I could unbegrudgingly get up in the morning to do. It was either this, or work at a Starbucks, which I'm also quite happy doing.

Isiah Jacobs: Do you want to take this filming desire higher? Like a full-blown film producer?

Rei Vegan: I can't say. I rarely turn down the opportunity to do visual effects work for clients and friends when the projects come up. I let my work speak for itself. I've been told I do good work, so if a larger producer approached me to do work on something bigger for TV or film, I certainly wouldn't say no.

Isiah Jacobs: Well, I can't believe I'm going to say this, but I hope you never turn down an offer like that! From the video work you've shown, I would love to see you work with a mega budget!

I also understand that you are on the staff of a fur con in your area?

Rei Vegan: Yes. We're getting down to crunch time here for Fur-Eh.

Isiah Jacobs: Icy what you did there. So what do you do? Are you security?

Rei Vegan: I'm running the Dealer's Den operations, as well as the dances.

Isiah Jacobs: Oh my God...the dances... Are you kidding me? Do you have to bleach out your eyes every year?

Rei Vegan: Well, this is our inaugural year, and there's a healthy population of locals that love to dance. Though this isn't the first event I've DJ'd at. Furthest North which happens every summer up here is the other main event that I DJ at. It's dark, and I'm usually pretty caught up in spinning and drinking to be too distracted by the floor.

Isiah Jacobs: I thought that was the con you were on the staff for?

Rei Vegan: There's two.

Isiah Jacobs: Do you do the same thing for that con?

Rei Vegan: For the most part, yes. Furthest North is a furry camping convention that's been happening around August between Calgary and Edmonton for past ten years. Fur-Eh's the new (less outdoorsey) one coming up this May 4th-6th here in Edmonton.

Isiah Jacobs: And since this is its first year, what's going to be so special about it? What's going to draw people there?

Rei Vegan: Aside from a large local furry population, we're sort of in the middle of western Canada. Ideally we'd like to see furs from Vancouver, Calgary, Regina and Manitoba come out to this thing. Over the past decade there was always talk about a furry con in either Calgary or Edmonton. Thallanor (the convention head) is ponying up a substantial amount to make it all happen. The theme this year is Canadiana, and assuming the interest is good enough, following years will focus on other Canadian things (hockey, maple syrup, stuff like that).

Isiah Jacobs: And having universal health care?

Rei Vegan: Why not?

Isiah Jacobs: And how you can all carry your guns where ever you go? And how you're all Mounties? And always getting in to fist fights?

Rei Vegan: That's the best way to make new bar friends.

Isiah Jacobs: Canadia is so strange... So, for Fur-Eh, is Kyell Gold going to be the Guest of Honor there as well?

Rei Vegan: I'm not entirely sure. Thallanor runs most of the heavy stuff for the convention, while I deal mostly with the dealer's den and dance, so I can't really say. If he isn't this year, he very well might be next.

Isiah Jacobs: So, you say you DJ the dances. Do you mostly just play electronica?

Rei Vegan: I prefer electronica, though I'm actually quite eclectic. When I DJ, I tend to play what people want to dance to. While I'm not a huge proponent of Dubstep, I know that the younger crowd is really into it, so I'll be playing some of it later in the evening on the second day. I tend to play remixed classics and electro-house

Isiah Jacobs: So are you one of those boring DJs that just plays music, or do you actually get the audience participating and doing fun stuff?

Rei Vegan: The more people I can get on the floor moving around, the better. I do blow on the mic when there's one to do so on. If people are talking about how good the dance was the day after a set, the better I feel about my work.

Isiah Jacobs: Do you at least throw out glow sticks?

Rei Vegan: Wouldn't do a set without a pile.

Isiah Jacobs: A good DJ is one that comes with glow sticks! And speaking of which, you've released two portfolios in the past. One about glow stick bondage (NSFW) and the other featuring your character Neesah (NSFW). The glow stick bondage was actually a commission, is that correct?

Rei Vegan: Yep. The project was funded by a local who just gave me the idea and let me run with it. After the first image he insisted that I keep going with the theme. It turned into a portfolio.

Isiah Jacobs: Now, I don't claim to be an expert on art, but that doesn't stop me. I thought portfolios were usually bigger than just six items.

Rei Vegan: I can't say I'm an expert on art either in that case. I just sort of always assumed that a portfolio was more than a few pages long.

Isiah Jacobs: Well, I guess we'll never know! But regardless, I wish I could throw up one of the pages from the portfolio, but every single one is sex! And they're also huge! Like, my computer slowed down trying to open it!

Rei Vegan: I tend to work at 600dpi to get all the little details in.

Isiah Jacobs: Well, I'm not going to go in to too much detail, but I will admit, the fluids look amazing!

Rei Vegan: Thanks.

Isiah Jacobs: So, that is a total 3600dpi! How long did it take to complete the portfolio?

Rei Vegan: Between 20-30 hours per image. So… 120-180 hours total>?

Isiah Jacobs: That's a lot of time to work on porn!

Rei Vegan: This is true.

Isiah Jacobs: Your wife is also featured in there, in some pretty naughty situations. What did she think about it?

Rei Vegan: She loved it. I don't draw her enough; any opportunity I can get to draw her character the better.

Isiah Jacobs: Another thing that I really liked about the portfolio was the work you did on the glow sticks and the light they give off. It looks really complex. Was that the most difficult work you've ever put in to lighting?

Rei Vegan: I wouldn't say that the Glowstick Bondage 'folio was the hardest lighting work I've done, like you said: "Complex." This. While the number of light sources are large, the light itself is diffused so there's not a lot of shadows involved, just a lot of colour mixing fretwork. The Neesah portfolio has one image of Neesah standing between waterfalls, where light is streaming through and bouncing off of the water below. I'd say that's my best lighting work to date.

Isiah Jacobs: Thank you for the segue!

Rei Vegan: :)

Isiah Jacobs: Moving on to the Neesah Portfolio, "Cold Shower" is my favorite as well! So, let's just talk about Neesah in general for a moment. She embodies both of our personal interests; big, older women. Now, as you know, I hate furries. But despite this deep rooted loathing, I have a big fascination with Neesah. She's a 120, right?

Rei Vegan: 214 actually.

Isiah Jacobs: Yeah, that's just a bit too old. I prefer 30 myself. But Neesah looks pretty damn good for her age! She must have one hell of a work out regiment!

Rei Vegan: Well yes, 214 is a bit old to us, but considering her life expectancy is about a 1000 years, she isn't quite in granny territory just yet.

Isiah Jacobs: Well thank God I'm not in to granny's! And she's also a pretty tall women. Fourteen feet, is that correct?

Rei Vegan: 13'1"

Isiah Jacobs: Wow! I am sucking at facts tonight! Again, not a problem with that height. I like having to tilt my head up, but 90 degrees is a bit too much. So, what do you find so interesting about bigger, older women?

Rei Vegan: Well, bigger seemed interesting. A girl that's twice your size would definitely be in charge. I like strong women, so making her 13' tall seemed to be the simplest way to accomplish that in a relatively unique way. As for making her "old" it was a story mechanic. Who better to captain a ship than someone who could nearly outlive it?

Isiah Jacobs: A very good point! We'll be getting to that in a few minutes. So, what made you want to do this Neesah portfolio?

Rei Vegan: The fans. I had been talking about creating a Neesah portfolio for years, and the time finally came where I came through on it.

Isiah Jacobs: Well thank God! Now surprisingly, it doesn't really feature a lot of a naughtiness. It's just Neesah being her sexy self, but not actually having sex. Did you want to uphold her image or something?

Rei Vegan: Generally, I do. It's also part of the reason for the reboot of the series. While I don't mind people's character's playing around with mine, when I draw my characters for myself, I prefer to draw them in pinups more than drawing them giving it away. Not to mention that when it's solo-sexy, it creates the opportunity for commissioners to take it to the next level; allow them to indulge in their fantasies rather than be a bystander in mine. Personally, I find teasing imagery far more erotic than blatant pornography.

Isiah Jacobs: Another shared interest! Why do you believe that, sir?

Rei Vegan: People's imaginations are far more vivid than anything anyone could ever draw.

Isiah Jacobs: Beautifully put, Mr. Vegan! I whole heartedly agree!

Rei Vegan: I'd rather lead them to an idea than show them what they should think.

Isiah Jacobs: So you're one of these free thinkers, is that it? You know what free thinking leads to, right? Communism. Is Neesah a Communist?

Rei Vegan: Quite the contrary: The DSV Nautica universe is one where capitalism runs the show and government takes the back seat. If she's anything, she's libertarian.

Isiah Jacobs: Sounds like she would make an excellent American!

Rei Vegan: In the classic ideals of freedom of liberty, very much so.

Isiah Jacobs: So, did you take suggestions for the pin-ups? How did you come up with the individual pictures?

Rei Vegan: I mostly just picked a time in the story where she might be doing something in the buff, or nearly so. The lingerie image was more of something she would never actually do, but I would imagine she had thought about doing.

Isiah Jacobs: Do you have plans for future portfolios?

Rei Vegan: There's a bit of interest in a Jessi portfolio, but I'd like to focus on getting the comic through an issue or two before I get to that. Niege is another character that fans have asked to see more of. She's established, so I suppose if there's going to be another 'folio, it'd be of her.

On the topic of naughtiness, I'm something of a prude with Niege. Mostly because I wanted to make a character that was mature, but still shy about her body. She's a little rounder than my other girls, so I ran with the idea that if she were drawn, it'd be a tease.

Recently Max Blackrabbit asked if he could draw her fooling around with other characters, but was aware that I had a bit of a tame policy about her usage. Given that it was MBR asking, I said I'd be totally okay with whatever he wanted to do. There's few artists that I would grant that sort of privilege to, if only because I trust him and Tamar.

That being said, I like to tease so the 'folio would likely be about as cheesecake as the Neesah portfolio. Imagery like "Cold Shower" where stuff is showing, but nothing overtly erotic. I think the Jessi portfolio will be a little deeper into the erotic spectrum, showing a bit more, seeing how the comic itself won't have any sex in it (partly because Jessi never gets laid). So the side comics and 'folios for Private Design will be the hot n' heavy stuff for the fans.

Isiah Jacobs: Well that will be interesting to see how it plays out! And forgive me, I forget at the moment, but Niege is the tribe mistress, right?

Rei Vegan: Niege is the polar bear character from the Extinctioners spinoff Distortion project.

Isiah Jacobs: Ok! That's why I'm not familiar with the the character! Let's move on to your comic, DSV Nautica. You've been working on this thing for over ten years, right?

Rei Vegan: You bet.

Isiah Jacobs: Why has it taken you ten years to get through three volumes?

Rei Vegan: That's probably the top of the my FAQ list if I had one. If drawing Nautica was a full time project, I would feel a whole lot worse. I tip my hat to those artists who hold full time jobs and still find time to maintain a weekly full-color comic. There's a couple out there, and they're troopers. I suppose my main reason is that I'm a freelance videographer and motion graphics designer, as well as a father with a vested interest in his daughter's education outside of the school curriculum, a husband and local furry socialite. This year I'm helping run a second local convention "Fur-Eh!" in its first year, major obligations aside, I tend to play video games that require more thought than pull-trigger = kill soldier (though I do enjoy those too), a snowboarder in the winter, and a camper in the summer, and a car enthusiast. This is just some of what I do in a day. While it may seem like updating Nautica is low amidst this sea of obligations and pastimes, it's actually just below freelance work, meaning that there's even less time for a lot of the other stuff I like to do, but just don't have as much time to do as I would like.

Isiah Jacobs: So, you've said that the comic originally started from an RP session. It was heavy on sex. So, what was it that made you want to change the direction of the first volume?

Rei Vegan: I grew up I guess. I personally prefer story above sex, so rebooting the series to reflect that is what I'm doing. Not to say there won't be any sex, just that the sex parts will be alluded to and done up as a side project or portfolio for those that want to see "what happened before I cut away to the next part of the story."

Isiah Jacobs: Well, it turned out to be an excellent choice! We get to know a lot more about the main character, while still keeping the core elements from the original version. For those who aren't familiar with the comic, could you please briefly explain what DSV Nautica is all about?

Rei Vegan: DSV Nautica takes place in our distant future where a common gene has been discovered to have seeded life throughout the galaxy in both familiar and alien ways. Having found a place as captain of a deep space generation ship, our hero Neesah finally feels at home for the first time in her very long life. Life aboard the the Nautica, however, is far from serene; strange anomalies, malevolent super-species and pirates are standard fare for a ship so far from home near the center of the Milky Way galaxy. Fortunately for this city ship, the captain is no pushover.

Isiah Jacobs: Mmmm, that's some good copy pasta.

Rei Vegan: Yep.

Isiah Jacobs: You mentioned how you use Neesah's extreme life expectancy as a plot device to measure against how long the ship will last. What purpose does this serve?

Rei Vegan: I often hear people say that they would give anything to live forever. It seems as though they completely ignore the fact that everyone they know would come and pass, leaving them alone in their journey. A natural response to cope with one's mortality is to attach one’s self to an idea greater than themselves. Heaven, if you will. Neesah has attached herself to the only thing she has found that will outlive her: the Nautica. The crew will come and go, but the ship will endure. She finds solace in that, and sees a role as it's captain, as it's protector as a genuinely rewarding endeavor. Space Mom… if you will.

Isiah Jacobs: And thanks to all the sex, she's a space MILF. That's actually kind of an awesome idea, if you think about it.

Rei Vegan: Freud would have more than a few words for me, I'm sure.

Isiah Jacobs: Well if he were here, what do you think he would say?

Rei Vegan: Tell me about your space Mom. Then he'd commission me for Neesah porn.

Isiah Jacobs: There are rumors he had the hots for mother figures!

Rei Vegan: Psychologically, more of us have mommy and daddy issues than we'd like to admit.

Isiah Jacobs: This is true. So, you say that the Nautica is a generation ship. What does a generation ship do?

Rei Vegan: It's sent to the deepest parts of space to chart, survey and make first contact with unknown species.

Isiah Jacobs: So this is kinda like Furry Star Trek?

Rei Vegan: In a nutshell, yes, with bits of Star Wars, Sernity, Battlestar Galactica, Space: Above & Beyond, Babylon 5, The Last Starfighter, Avatar, and Black Hole thrown in.

Isiah Jacobs: Wow! That's a lot of science fiction geekery! I aprove!

Rei Vegan: That's not even the whole inspiration pool.

Isiah Jacobs: Good God! The first conflict that you introduce in to the story is with space pirates. Why space pirates?

Rei Vegan: Who doesn't love a story with pirates? Seriously though, the pirate mistress Keiry is an invention of my wife's and I needed a good foil for Neesah. Not to mention the "second in command" of the Nautica is Keiry's estranged twin brother. Tension, contrast and drama.

Isiah Jacobs: Oh! So your wife has snuck your way in to the comic twice! How did your wife come up with Keiry?

Rei Vegan: Jia (the wife), loves gypsies. She developed Kiery as a gypsy. I asked if it would be skookum if I adapted her for the comic as a pirate. She also loves pirates (Jia is a self-proclaimed pirate after all), so we worked out her backstory in the comic as the pirate captain of The Black Spot. Basically the DSV Nautica universe's most feared pirate.

Isiah Jacobs: Just to side track here for a bit, I understand that you are an acquaintance of Rick Griffin, is that right?

Rei Vegan: Well… We've chatted in the past. He's an intellectual I'd like to get to know better, but he's busy like me, so I don't get a chance to talk to him as much as I'd like to.

Isiah Jacobs: Well let me ask this: have you read his latest story?

Rei Vegan: Which one? He's had a couple that are worth reading.

Isiah Jacobs: "Ten-Thousand Miles Up"?

Rei Vegan: The last story of his I read followed the adventures of a tribal society battling a steam/magic tech society on flying islands. Don't get me wrong. I want to read his stuff, but every bit of time I find to do something I want to do is spent doing work for others. I guess that's also part of the reason I don't talk to him as much as I'd like to. I find it difficult to talk to others if there's nothing of theirs I can talk about.

Isiah Jacobs: Well, when you find the time, I recommend you read it. I ask because it also has space pirates!

Rei Vegan: Oh for sure.

Isiah Jacobs: So, since your wife claims herself to be a pirate, I take it she's a big fan of Pirates of the Caribbean?

Rei Vegan: As much as anyone else I think. I mean, come on… Johnny Depp? Who could resist?

Isiah Jacobs: Very true! And it would seem the entire Universe is against Neesah, because there is a prophecy that she will be the destroyer of worlds or something like that.

Rei Vegan: It's a Draconid prophecy. The Draconids have "Seers," which should be pretty sel-explanatory. They can see the many possible futures to be. Being Draconid means they live for nearly 10,000 years, so there's some prophecies they see coming for eons. The prophecy of "The Tainted One" bringing about the end of Draconid society is an old one that is converging in time around Neesah's existance. Thus they feel the need to get rid of her.

Isiah Jacobs: And this will played out more in the future right? Because at this point, you've just left us hanging.

Rei Vegan: I sure did. I do that a lot.

Isiah Jacobs: So, in the second volume, it's all about the Arbiter of the Draconid's being sent to kill Neesah. He can't bring himself to do it, but she get's killed anyway. Or, at least an attempted assassination. The entire arc is fuzzy, really. How much do you plan on re-writing the second volume, if at all?

Rei Vegan: As we catch up to the current online story, the plot gets more similar. A lot of what's happing in season three online with Neesah being stranded on a planet in the "badlands" of space. The trick (and it's really not that hard to do) is to write out the naughty bits of the stories.

Isiah Jacobs: So you're going to take out the Festival of the Moon scene? [NSFW]

Rei Vegan: If there's sex, it'll be implied.

Isiah Jacobs: Well, if that's the way you want it to go! So, then why did you have Neesah teleported to this "badlands" planet in the first place? Why be teleported at all?

Rei Vegan: She didn't have much of a choice in the matter. Hass'k had everything to do with her going off the radar in his vain attempts to protect the one he loves.

Isiah Jacobs: So was her destined planet intentional?

Rei Vegan: Yes. Because it's in a part of space where the very fabric of reality is shredded. Making it an ideal place to hide from the Draconids.

Isiah Jacobs: And not to give too much away on the current arc, but this rip in reality is why the indiginous race rejected technology and went back to tribal life?

Rei Vegan: Nope, there's a whole backstory for the Plekti (lizard racoons) I could make an entire comic out of on its own.

Isiah Jacobs: And will you?

Rei Vegan: So many ideas. If only I were as long lived as Neesah. I'll say no, for now.

Isiah Jacobs: I'll take that as an answer. For now. So, now there is this side arc, back with the crew of the Nautica, and them searching for Neesah.

Rei Vegan: Yep, and the introduction of the Aelo.

Isiah Jacobs: One of the character who joins the search is a transgendered wolf. Is shi essentially the prototype for Jessi?

Rei Vegan: Actually Theresa's the property of someone else who won a cameo entry years back. So, nope. The inspiration for Jessi came more out of a need to embody the feeling of feeling out of place.

Isiah Jacobs: Ok, I see. I totally thought there was a connection there. And you make mention of the Aelo, which is a bio-mechanical ship. Why a bio-mech ship?

Rei Vegan: I've been enamored with the idea of a bio-ship since I saw the "Tinman" episode of TNG. Aelo's my outlet for that fantasy.

Isiah Jacobs: From how the ship integrates with its members, I can tell it's a sexual fantasy!

Rei Vegan: Modern computers are integrated with daily sexual fantasies today. It's not that far of a stretch from the truth.

Isiah Jacobs: So whose decision was it for your wife's fursona to be the captain of the Aelo?

Rei Vegan: That was mine.

Isiah Jacobs: Why did you put her in the comic?

Rei Vegan: Because I like drawing her character in the buff, and I needed a character to be the "captain" (Favored Pilot) of the Aelo that was a dragon.

Isiah Jacobs: Did that win any points with her?

Rei Vegan: I really don't want to brag, but I don't need to win points with her. After being together for more than a decade, we're still in love. No brownie points needed.

Isiah Jacobs: Aw, how cute! I could just about gag!

Rei Vegan: Yep, we're disgusting.

Isiah Jacobs: Now, for the longest time, you've been having someone else do the coloring for your pages. Is this still going on?

Yes, I have Zhelle working the colours now. I've had the pleasure of his assistance for the better part of a couple years now since I made the call for a colourist to lighten the load of updating pages.

Isiah Jacobs: Yet it still takes an eternity and a half. So is it your drawing or his coloring that takes forever?

Rei Vegan: I claim the lag responsibility. Zhelle rarely takes longer than a week or two to finish the colours on a page.

Isiah Jacobs: Rei, stop having a life! You're killing your fans!

Rei Vegan: Life kills. Truth.

Isiah Jacobs: A universal truth, sadly. So are you expecting a new page before the end of April?

Rei Vegan: I think so.

Isiah Jacobs: Well I am really looking forward to it!

Rei Vegan: Me too! Here's hoping I can meet a Nautica deadline for once.

Isiah Jacobs: Can we expect monthly updates again?

Rei Vegan: I hope so.

Isiah Jacobs: If you don't, then you will forever go down in history as a filthy liar! Alright, Mr. Vegan, final question: Digitigrade or plantigrade?

Rei Vegan: Semi. I like the half-way between look. Think… invisible high-heels.

Isiah Jacobs: You filthy moderate! Thank you so much for your time, sir! I look forward to having you back on the show!

Rei Vegan: The pleasure's been all mine. Thanks for having me!

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About the author

Isiah Jacobsread storiescontact (login required)

a furry journalist and Spider from Michigan, interested in science fiction