I first encountered Adrienne Bazir’s work thanks to fellow Beat writer Josh Hilgenberg’s great list of 9 comics to read on your first itch.io binge. I had no idea the digital platform most commonly used to sell games contained such a cornucopia for comics. I immediately connected with 199 Slumber and sought out more of Bazir’s work. She’s created a plethora of comics, fan art, and even a visual novel, balancing that creative work with a full-time job in animation. I was thankful for the chance to interview Adrienne Bazir about balancing that workload, selling comics through itch.io, and expressing herself through so many different art forms.
Where do you find so much time to work on comics, illustrations, visual novels, etc. while also working fulltime as an animator for Brown Bag Films?
Short answer is: I work pretty fast. Long answer is: I’m a hermit and have very little hobbies outside of work, so I spend all my time drawing, watching/playing stuff (“for reference”), or sleeping. My work hours are also pretty flexible, so my typical day would be work from 8 am to 4 pm, and then the rest of the time I work on my personal projects! And also, I work pretty fast.
Does having a job as an animator provide you more freedom to follow your muse on your other projects?
The stability of having a fulltime job helps for sure! And working in an artistic field keeps the artistic part of my brain active, and helps me pick up new skills or art shortcuts (I’ve started drawing eyes the same way the show I’m working on does them lol). My studio also sees how important it is to hire people that have their own artistic projects, so it’s very encouraging in that way as well!
You’ve grown a sizable following on social media. Have you considered going independent and focusing on your own projects full-time?
I have thought about it! And I’ve decided it’s not something I’d like to do right now. I like that making personal projects is relatively stress-free for me, and depending on them for my livelihood would definitely add pressure. I can also imagine myself making my projects more palatable or commercial to appeal to people, and I don’t really want that to happen either! For example, my storytelling style gets pretty ambiguous sometimes as I like when people derive their own meaning from my stories, and if I had to rely on my art to survive I can see myself going “aw geez this ending is too vague. I need to make it more obvious, for the people“, and that would suuuuuuuuuck. But I don’t know, I can see myself going independent eventually!
Did you see a rise in readers during the pandemic, a time when people seem especially eager for new content?
Apart from WAY MORE PEOPLE playing my visual novel Serre thanks to itch.io’s Bundle for Racial Justice and Equality, I actually haven’t noticed a big change!
Why did you choose to sell put your work on itch.io, a platform best known for selling indie games, rather than another service like Gumroad?
I started using itch.io as a replacement for Gumroad, actually! When I moved to Canada, Gumroad wouldn’t let me change bank accounts unless I created a whole new Gumroad account, so I found another platform instead. I had purchased products through itch.io before, it was just a matter of changing my account so I’d be able to upload stuff on it! I’ve had a very good experience with itch.io. I find it very welcoming and I feel it’s easier to interact with fans and content creators I admire. And if I release more games they’ll be in the right place!
How labor-intensive was the process of creating Serre compared to comics and animation?
Compared to comics, I find that creating a visual novel is both more complicated and way easier! Not counting creating the story/script, visual novels are way heavier pre-production wise (assets, backgrounds, figuring out how to even code), but once that’s done it’s just a matter of copy-pasting the code for the different portraits and everything. Unlike comics, visual novels are more forgiving when it comes to showing things to the viewer- if I have a scene of a character walking away, taking a glass of water, and coming back, for the comic I’d need to draw each panel individually, but for the visual novel I can get away with just having the character slide offscreen and slide back in (like three lines of code), and having the narration say “so and so walked, got a glass of water, and came back”. SO MUCH FASTER TO CREATE! But yes, the pre-production time alone is a killer, and the main reason I haven’t made one since!
Are you interested in making more visual novels or video games?
I may or may not be working on a personal short little game!
You participate in so many art forms and create so many different kinds of content. Do you think you will narrow your focus as you grow older or do you always want to diversify your content?
I certainly hope I’ll always diversify my art! Stories are what I love creating, and there are so many mediums available to tell them!