'Lucid's Dream' – an interview with Ookami Kemono
Those pictures were drawn by Ookami Kemono. Since then, he has continued to entertain his thousands of watchers and, on 31 August this year, began a webcomic entitled Lucid's Dream. I got in touch with him to talk to him about his art and his latest project.
Rakuen Growlithe: I'm sure you hear it all the time but your art is amazing. You seem to move effortlessly from pictures that are heavily emotional to ones that are cuteness personified to ones that are funny and even to erotic scenes. How much work does it all take and do you think your style, which is very recognisable, helps you move through so many themes?
Ookami Kemono: Whenever I feel something, whatever it is happy or sad or any emotion that motivates me to create, I draw it. I try to capture that emotional moment onto paper using what medium I have with me. While drawing and inking it, I remember what I felt and think about it as if I was someone else going through the same problem, making me ponder about the current emotion I'm feeling and trying to put it down into words/line art.
My erotica scenes, the ones that are emotional and sensual, are moments where I feel very romantic and "energetic" or just feel inspired by another's art piece. I use those emotions to create something soft, nice and romantic - something that feels realistic instead of pure fantasy. My style is very simple and it helps me draw what I need to quickly without showing too much or too little.
RG: One of the things that one can't help notice when going through your gallery is that you are comfortable with both black and white and colour pictures. Lucid's Dream has, so far, been entirely in black and white. Which palette do you find more comfortable to work with and will we see later panels of Lucid's Dream in colour?
OK: I prefer the use of a black and white pallet compared to color, not just for the "laziness", but also I can portray a stronger sense of emotion through black and white illustrations to a high degree. Color is just as fun to do as black and white, but I need to think of what colors would be right on a character or object, which takes a bit more time to figure out. However, I won't hesitate to use color on an emotional piece if it's needed.
RG: I suppose that is similar to art photography that is deliberately in black and white?
OK: I remember taking a photography and film class back in college. We mostly used black and white photography to try to capture emotion and shadows/light. We then used 8mm camera film to try to capture the same emotions, but through moving objects. Next, we tried the same with color photography and film. My teachers and I found that I can convey more emotion through black/white photography and film than color. But that is just from my experience.
RG: For those who have never heard of Lucid's Dream, would you be kind enough to provide a brief description of what it's all about?
OK: Lucid, a new born kitten, is dragged into a world where felines called "Maus" are agents of an ancient Egyptian God, assigned to hunt and eradicate demon spawns known as "Nightmares". Lucid quickly realizes that he was pulled into a world where cats have magical powers, rats can talk and where "Nightmares" are not the only thing that wants him dead. It's a story based off Egyptian mythology that deals with magic, demons and Gods.
RG: Ancient Egypt is quite a good source of inspiration for many people. What about the characters and story though? I doubt there was anything like your comic in their myths. Are there any people or series that have particularly influenced the comic?
OK: Cats were and have always been a big influence and highly respected animal in Egyptian mythology as well in other cultures too. They serve as protectors of both the human and the Underworld in hundreds of stories, human inspiration throughout thousands of years and of course, magical influences. I'm using cats in my comic as the driving point of the mythology in the comic.
Influenced? Besides several Egyptian Mythological stories, I would have to say David Pertersen's Mouse Guard series. I love his unique storytelling and his crosshatching style. Plus it's hard to try to find any comics that have anthropomorphic protagonists and I find that Mouse Guard hits the right spot for my inspiration.
RG: At the end of July, you posted that you had finished up to page 113 of Lucid's Dream. Currently you've only posted around 50 pages, meaning that there's plenty more content to come. Has the length of Lucid's Dream been finalised yet or will this become an ongoing comic like Housepets?
OK: Unlike my first graphic novel Concealment, Lucid's Dream will be a comic series, each chapter about 30 to 50 pages long. I didn't plan for it to be a web comic until a few months ago, and I was already near page 120. However, it would be great to gather in a large audience before I can start publishing my comic. So far, there is no limit to how many pages are going to be in this series. I'm near page 130 and I'm still introducing prime and secondary characters. This is going to be a large project for me that will take years to complete.
RG: I believe you have plans to move Lucid's Dream to a physical medium at some point in the future. Will the comic remain online at that point or will it be taken down? And, considering it's free now, will there be extra content in the print version to encourage purchases?
OK: As soon as all of chapter 2 is posted online, I do plan to print and publish chapter 1 and chapter 2 as individual soft cover books and sell them at Furnal Equinox and What The Fur convention 2014. When chapters 1 through 4 are complete, I plan to sell a hardcover version of all four chapters as well as the individual chapters, hopefully getting the funds with the help of Kickstarter. Yes, I do plan to have extra content in the physical prints, like backstories, concept illustrations, fan art and other stuff that you won't find on the online comic site.
RG: Is there a way for fans of the comic to help support Lucid's Dream until a print version can be made?
OK: Yes. They can donate money to help fund my project and get it out into print. Such information can be found here. If people donate a certain amount to Lucid's Dream, they get free illustrations as well as limited edition desktop wallpapers including having their own character (feline, canine or mouse) drawn in the Lucid's Dream style.
RG: Let's move away from Lucid's Dream now. You were born in the United States but have since moved to Canada. That seems to have worked out well for you as you have been named the guest of honour for Canadian furry convention What The Fur 2014 (WTF?). This is the first time you're going to be a guest of honour (GOH). Have you attended WTF? or other conferences before?
OK: This is the first time I will be GOH at any convention. The first furry convention I've ever been to was FurFright. I've been going there more than five years, doing promotional and charity illustrations for their con. When it was time for me to branch out, I found a nice small furry con in Montreal called What The Fur. That's where I met my girlfriend and decided to try to start a life in Montreal with her. With What The Fur being connected to FurFright, they asked if I could draw some illustrations for them for their convention. They surprised me when they nominated me for GOH for the 2014 convention coming up.
RG: I do remember some of your promotional art for FurFright. I'm sure you've heard the news that FurFright is coming to an end, although some of the staff are apparently going to be starting a new con to replace it. Do you think you'll still be involved with the new convention or is it just too early to say?
OK: It is sad that FurFright is going into retirement, but because it is a popular convention, I'm sure there will be people there that will keep the spirit of the con alive in the form of another convention. It's too early to say where I will stand with the new "FurFright", if any.
RG: As we move to the end of this interview, is there anything you would particularly like to share that has not been covered here?
OK: Not that I can think of. Only to ask for your help into making my comic Lucid's Dream a big hit and help me getting out there in physical form. Your patronage, donations and support aid the push for me to continue my project.
RG: And finally, for those who are not already watching you, where can they find more of your art?
RG: Thank you very much for taking the time to do this interview. I wish you all the best with your GoH appearance and look forward to the rest of Lucid's Dream.