Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief: Congratulations on the release of your graphic novel, Sneaky Goblins! For those who may be unfamiliar, how would you describe the premise, and what inspired you to tell this story?
René Pfitzner: This story is basically about taking that journey from failure, towards learning to accept the help of others. The main character, Dank, is a goblin assassin-in-training. The problem is that he’s good at the theory but not with the physical combat aspect of his studies. He refuses to accept advice or help from those around him.
He’s blackmailed into running a mission for the local mob. They want to use his thieving skills to retrieve an elf relic that will help them climb to the top rung of the local crime scene.
For the safety of his friends and family, Dank has to take on the assignment. First, he has to travel to the elf city in the north, without getting killed! Along the way, Dank teams up with other adventurers, fight mysterious wizards who want to interfere with his quest, and, of course, deal with an elite elf army once he arrives in their city!
BD: What can you share with us about your creative process in balancing the writing and illustrative duties, and what have been some of your creative influences?
RP: This is my first graphic novel project, so I had to learn everything from scratch. I had made short comics before, but this is the first time I’d taken on a project of this magnitude: 150 comic pages!
Sneaky Goblins started as a webcomic, but I always knew that my endgame would be to publish it as a graphic novel with the help of Kickstarter. I hoped that the readership I gained from publishing a weekly webcomic would stick around for the crowd-funding campaign. And they did!
Back when I was still thinking about starting the comic, the best advice I got was to figure out the entire story first. Don’t start your webcomic with a few random pages and hope the story will lead somewhere. So, I scripted the entire story before I even started drawing the pages.
From there, I got in the habit of batching the different parts of the page creation process, working in chunks of 30 pages: making thumbnails, then pencil roughs, then lettering, inks, and color. I actually get into a lot more detail about this over on my Patreon page.
I have had many influences for my drawing, beginning with Calvin and Hobbes and Asterix comics, to Tank Girl and Bone, and more recently Adventure Time and Scott Pilgrim. Oh, I also dig Mike Mignola, as well.
BD: What do you hope that readers will take away from your work?
RP: Over the last few years, I’ve experienced a few struggles: changing careers, having kids, feeling the pressure of more and more responsibilities, and not knowing if I'm cut out for any of it. I’ve faced crippling doubt and I’ve struggled with depression.
It's usually after we dive into a new and scary situation that we gain confidence and find out that we can survive, adapt, and sometimes even thrive. It would be great to know how our lives are going to work out, but we only live it in one direction: from start to finish.
Dank has to discover if he's up for the task, and he has to do it the hard way: by diving in and having a go!
BD: Do you have plans to expand the Sneaky Goblins world into additional graphic novels or an ongoing comic book series?
RP: Since publishing the graphic novel, I’ve been making and posting new adventures on my web comic. In May 2019, I’ll be running another Kickstarter to print these collected stories: Sneaky Goblins at College. This book will explore some of the back-stories of the characters.
BD: If given the opportunity to expand your series into other entertainment mediums, in what format do you hope to see it adapted?
RP: The obvious choice would be an animated series. I love the way Hilda has been adapted into a series on Netflix. It’s as beautiful and whimsical as Luke Pearson’s original comic book.
BD: Are there any upcoming projects on which you are currently working that you would like to share with our readers?
RP: Starting in July, I’ll begin posting a new webcomic: Mythic Creature Trainer! It’s set in the same country as Sneaky Goblins, but the cast is mostly new. I’ve been planning and drawing this story over the past year or so, and now I’m dying to start sharing it!
BD: Lastly, what is the best way for our readers to find more information about Sneaky Goblins?
RP: The best way would be to check out my webcomic site, www.tolcraft.com.
While you’re there, check out my blog. I write about the process of writing and drawing the comic, planning a Kickstarter, finding the time to create, etc. I also write about my time at Disney. (I was a traditional animator in the Sydney studio in the early 2000s.)
If you’d like to download the first issue of Sneaky Goblins, head over here.