The Back o’ Beyond : Meet Jon Walker !
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The Back o’ Beyond : Meet Jon Walker !

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Also known as JammyTheBirb, Jon Walker is the creator of the stupendous webcomic series The Back o’Beyond

He also work on a bunch of other things, including? the webcomic series The Rose Thief.

Embark with us on board for a great interview, and put plenty of wind in your sails !

Hello Jon, welcome on Art Of Webcomics !
– Where do you come from ??
Cambridgeshire, England
– How old are you ? ( tell it or not !)?
– Influences ??
My influences vary depending on the work. There’s a lot of Steven Universe in The Rose Thief, but not so much in The Back o’ Beyond. I think my usual artstyle started life as a mashup of Tim Burton and Animal Crossing, and evolved from there into something else entirely! I’m always incorporating bits and pieces from art I like, whether it’s Studio Ghibli films, animated tv shows or art by my friends. It’s hard to say there’s any one thing that influenced it more than anything else. From a storytelling standpoint, so many things inspired me. Game of Thrones, Pirates of the Carribbean, Avatar: The Last Airbender…

But most of all what inspires me is MOTHY’s Story of Evil. It’s a huge series of vocaloid songs spanning a thousand years, telling lots of complex interconnected stories.

Some are dark, some sad, most of them are pretty strange, and it all comes together expertly. I just love the kind of stories he tells and that they can be consumed in almost any order. That’s the reason I decided I wanted to create multiple stories set in one world. I know if I can make someone feel what I felt the first time I listened to Servant of Evil, I’ll know I’m doing something right.
– Art school or not ?
Nope! I’m entirely self taught, and oh boy does it show. I had the chance to take art as a GCSE subject, but someone told me you got too much homework, so I passed it up. That’s something I regret now. I often wonder what level my art would be at right now if I’d taken art seriously at an earlier age and learned from a teacher when I had the chance.
– Favorite digital art software ??
Clip Studio Paint, for sure. I used to use Manga Studio 4 and before that, Paint Shop Pro but CSP has so many tools and features that make life easier. At this point, I couldn’t use anything else. Well, tell a lie. I still use MS4’s speech bubble tool, I like it better. Thank goodness the files are compatible with CSP!
– Your working method ??
I tend to script pretty far ahead before I start drawing. I’m definitely not the kind of person who feels comfortable working on the fly. From there I’ll do thumbnails, then a sketch either on paper or using my tablet. After that it’s onto lines, then the little details, colours and finally shading and highlights.

I tend to work in batches of around 2-6 pages at a time.

It seems to be quite an efficient way to get things done, and it’s allowed me to get a little bit ahead of where I need to be, which is always useful.
– What your webcomic is about, in a symbolic way, the hidden sense ??
This is something that took me a long time to pin down. I didn’t set out with a message in mind, but I think it’s pretty hard to write something that has no meaning at all. Beyond’s ultimately about two things, different kinds of relationships and the way they affect people, and resiliance- the struggle to maintain your morality and keep going in a difficult situation. Where relationships are concerned, yes the obvious one’s the main romantic pairing, but it’s not the only one that’s important. The different relationships between Seb and The Captain and Nate and Murphy are (or will be) vital, and the way Baines acts in the present is very much shaped by losses he experienced. Even Finn has a siblinglike bond with Twigs that’ll get more focus later. Yeah, exploring how characters interact with and see each other is a big part of this comic, as is what all that leads to.
– Tell us more about your main character, the hero !?
Heh, I probably wouldn’t call either of these nerds a hero. Right now the most heroic thing both Nate and Seb are doing is not dying. Nate’s probably the main protagonist, he’s the one whose perspective the story begins with. A friend of mine described him as ‘the most unlikely romance protagonist ever’ and I loved that. I always knew I wanted Nate to be an awkward doof and a little bit ugly or funny looking. He’s short and scruffy with a wonky nose and a disgusting fondness for raw fish, but he’s a really sweet guy, very kind and genuine, and that’s what really matters. I have a great time writing for him beacause he has a habit of putting his foot in his mouth, even though he means well. He’s also determined to always do the right thing, to not hurt people. Seb’s a challenge to write and draw for a lot of the time because he often conceals his emotions, so I have to find subtle ways to indicate how he’s feeling. Even then, there’s a lot of room for interpretation when he’s talking to The Captain, which is something I quite like! Later on expect this mask to break in different situations, some hopefully very sweet, others much less so. The other pirates have taken a strong dislike to Seb because of his social class and future danger he might bring, so he’s been using his wits to get by the best he can. He’s a bookworm, yet eventually will prove to be a surprisingly effective fighter. His character arc going forward is one I’m really looking forward to tackling.
– How do you see your future ??
I think I’ll always be doing webcomics. I have a lot of ideas I want to work on once Beyond’s over, so that should keep me busy! Some are connected to my main universe, but other ideas are more their own things. There’ll probably come a time it’ll be a nice change to work on something new. Not right now though, I’m quite happy with what I’m doing!
– Your next goal ??
I have a lot of goals. Right now I suppose my goals are to reach the end of Beyond’s third act (the half way point! Aaaaah!) And to finish illustrating a series of short stories written by my friend. Other things I’m doing at the moment are chipping away at two other major projects, and completing ’30 Days of Characters’ this month… Yep, my plate’s rather full. At some undefined moment in the future I would love to table at a con, but we’ll see what happens.
– Advices for beginners ??

Buffer, backups and be accepting of criticism!

The first two are important, because you really don’t want to end up running out of pages to post or losing the ones you have finished. I recommend having at least 12 pages saved and backed up elsewhere before you start uploading, more if you can manage it. I started Beyond with a 12 page buffer, and that buffer’s standing strong after three years. It’s helped me avoid a lot of stress. Criticism’s something that you will inevitably have to face, whether it’s solicited or not. You’ll probably get both kinds eventually. Some of it can sting pretty badly, but it’s usually a good idea to listen to it and take it on board. You don’t have to agree with and impliment all the criticism you get, but it’s amazing how much the right critique can help. Something that really helped me learn how to accept criticism was to think that someone who’s written about the problems in my work and given advice to fix them isn’t being horrible, but kind and helpful. They took time out of their day to do that, and this is a great opportunity to improve.
– Your technical secret trick ??

Cheating! I use the fill bucket, various overlay layers, CSP’s outline feature, copy pasting…

All things I’m sure a lot of people would say not to do. But when you’ve got deadlines to keep, sometimes you do have to cut a few corners. The trick is not to get lazy. I don’t use these tricks every time; you’ve got to look at what you’re doing and judge whether or not the result will look too obvious.
– Favorite quote ??
“I LOVE MY BRICK.” -Father Jack Hackett, Father Ted
– Your social links and website ??

Many Thanks to Jon Walker for answering our questions !

The Back o’ Beyond – 22- In Agreement