Hello and welcome!
We’re very glad to be debuting the first in an ongoing series of interviews focusing on designers, creators, and professionals working in games and / or with themes based in gaming sub-culture. We’re very hopeful that these articles will provide interesting tidbits and thought provoking discussions.
Today we’ll be exploring the genesis and current run of a sweet web-comic known as Tavern Wenches! Ms. Sarah Frisk, the artist / creator / web designer behind this plucky story of female Non Player Characters (NPCs) who’ve had enough indignities, is a very intelligent and humorous ‘turning of the tables’ for these much maligned and objectified ladies. Lulu, Veronica, and Anita are full of vim & vigor and are women who run their own business while pushing back against the predations of their mostly male player character (PC) customers. Sprinkle in a dash of kind Lich, a fun Beholder named Bee, and the commentary of Mr. Tiny the cat and you’ve got Tavern Wenches: A Dungeon not to be Mastered.
I’ve had the pleasure of Sarah’s acquaintance for a number of years now, and I’m so happy to see her work continue to mature and grow. Though I’m not a visual artist, I’m very interested to find out what makes any creator tick, and now that her comic is hitting its stride, it’s a perfect time to ‘pull back the curtain’ and get in on all the fun! Enjoy this short interview with Sarah and check out Tavern Wenches every Monday!
How would you summarize the story and theme of your comic?
Tavern Wenches follows the adventures of three NPC tavern wenches [working] at A Need for Mead as they face down lecherous PCs, point the way towards Epic Quests, and try to make sure the tavern is still standing in the morning. But it isn’t just about the wenches! Along the way, you’ll catch glimpses of the lives of NPCs, both good and evil, and what their lives are like when the PCs aren’t around.
Who is the main character of your strip?
I don’t know if there is really one main character. We’re certainly introduced to the world via Veronica’s point of view, but as the strip progresses, all three tavern wenches (Veronica, Lulu, and Anita) shall get their chance to shine.
Is Mr. Tiny your voice within the strip?
Not really. Mr. Tiny is himself, and I doubt he would like to be associated with a human.
So Anita is one of my favorite characters, because dwarves rule. What have you included in the strip to underscore her dwarf-ness?
I’m not sure if I really underscore it, beyond the fact that she’s clearly shorter than the other girls. Anita, unlike most dwarves, actually prefers red wine over ale. Lulu is the one who tends to be obsessed about the quality of dwarven ale and how it’s not the watered down stuff some humans make. I do want to go into Anita’s past as some point. It has been hinted, that Anita wasn’t always a wench at A Need for Mead – and she used to keep much different company.
When will we be seeing more of Bee the Beholder?
Very soon! Bee is a Monster, and the upcoming storyline is Monster Game Night, so Bee shall be making an appearence. Also Bee has lately decided to teach humans the joys of HTML in the Monster Markup Manual, which was my entry for 24-hour comic day.
How have character designs morphed since your initial concepts, if at all?
The basic personalities haven’t changed too much, although some of the characters did look a little bit different than how they look today.
Do you have any new characters planned for the future you can share with us?
Some, but none I’m ready to share yet. Still working on them.
Do you plan story arcs ahead of time?
Somewhat. I have a bunch of story arcs in my head, but I typically don’t write anything down until it’s time to start writing a script. I’m attempting to get better at that.
Dedication can be such a challenge for any creative endeavor, how do you make yourself complete the strip each week?
Pretty much Sundays are totally written off for me. No hanging out, no plans, nothing except for working on Monday’s strip. Monday is my due date and I tell myself I can’t play video games until I draw it. Normally that’s motivation enough, although occasionally I’ve slipped. (Or, in the case of 24 hour comic week, I was too tired) It does help I love drawing.
Putting one’s work and personality out there can be very daunting, how large of a following would you like to see Tavern Wenches garner?
I dunno, as large as possible I guess? I will admit I still get nervous every time I post a strip online. I’ve been doing the coding thing for years, branching off into more art-like stuff is still scary for me.
What’s your greatest fear in terms of Tavern Wenches and its future?
Running out of ideas.
Will there be a Halloween themed Episode?
Sort of. The Monsters for the Monsters Party should start showing up by Halloween. Does that count? Or, if you like, you can consider this pic of Bee dressed up as Han Solo as a special silly holiday treat.
The personalized avatars you’re currently offering on your site are awesome, what should someone do to ensure they get one?
The personalized avatars are a part of the retweet rewards on twitter. If you RT the new Tavern Wenches strip from the @TavernWenches twitter account, or if you tweet about Tavern Wenches on a posting day (currently Monday) and mention @TavernWenches in your tweet, you’re entered into a drawing for getting a custom avatar. Winner is decided by me rolling a die or asking one of my coworkers to pick a random number.
You’re an accomplished digital designer and programmer, are your site’s visual design and function a representation of your own work?
Indeed. For my day job I’m a web developer. I’m a big proponent of responsive design. Responsive design is basically a way to design your website where the website responds to the size of the user’s browser. This means that the site is optimized for both desktop and mobile visitors. I’ve only seen a handful of webcomic sites that are responsive, so I was determined to make sure I incorporated it into the Tavern Wenches website. And the best way to make sure that happened was to do it myself.
I know you are also a huge Star Wars fan (we can sense our own) so is there any chance of any subtle, or not-so-subtle, homages to our far away Galaxy making their way into the strip?