My name is Steven Scott and I am an IT Solutions Architect for a Fortune 500 company in the “real world”. I have been dabbling in computer graphics art for a little more than a year now and as a way to force myself to learn the graphics software, I started an online web comic called The Kitteh Khronicals which is meant to be a silly, fun series of stories with characters based on the real world personalities of our three “rescued” cats. I have not actively promoted this comic, and initially I only made it known to a handful of family and friends, but the audience has grown a bit since the beginning. I still do not have it set to show up in Google BlogSpot’s list of sites, or Google Search, or anything like that – but it is not otherwise “locked down” or “private” and so anyone who has the link is certainly welcome to take a look. I make no claims whatsoever, however, as to the talent level of the graphics or the humor quality of the story writing.
1. What is The Kitteh Khronicals?
The Kitteh Khronicals is a web-based comic that I started about one year ago purely as a hobby that would enable me to learn about 3D computer graphics. Not 3D in the sense of needing funny glasses to see 3-dimensional objects like in Avatar, but 3D in that the scenes are created within a three dimensional virtual space that is then “rendered” as a static image – kind of like setting up a stage in the real world and taking a still photograph. I think the comic shows a progression over time of my slowly improving skill with the technology and software.
I started out doing 3 panel vignettes like you might find in any newspaper comic, but quickly moved on to a longer ongoing story line that I creatively called “Epic #1”. I’m currently in the midst of that story.
What I have been trying to do is have everything in a scene look as “photo realistic” as I can, except for the Kittehs themselves – who are left more cartoon-like. So I have spent a huge amount of time trying to learn how to produce that “photo realistic” quality in my scene renders. I easily spend more time tweaking things to get that part right than I do with any other aspect of creating the comic.
2. How many cats do you have? What are their names, ages and breeds?
We have three cats, pictured here, all obtained from Rescue groups. The oldest is Plumage. A pure white “mixed breed” cat that was born with an oddly deformed, stubby crooked tail that apparently made her “less adoptable” to the local yuppies but actually endeared her to us even more. She is approximately 15 years old now and we’ve had her since she was only a few months old. She is the primary character in the Khronicals. Next we have Sable, who is a four to six year old ragdoll mix that we got from Merlin’s Hope Ragdoll Rescue here in Texas. She is a total sweetheart. Finally, we have an approximately two year old pure breed Ragdoll boy named Dappurr who we also adopted from Merlin’s Hope and he is the totally loveable goofball of the group. Everyone who meets him wants to abscond with him. I generally work from home where Plumage and Sable usually spend much of the day sleeping or hanging out next to me. Dappurr, on the other hand, only makes periodic visits as he roams around the house taking naps in numerous different locations between seeking out things to mess with.
The Kitteh Khronicals main characters are based on these three cats and their real life personalities.
If you go back and start reading the comic from the very beginning, you’ll see that we had another kitty named Purrdy. Unfortunately, last year soon after I began Epic #1, real-life Purrdy somehow managed to get outside and was subsequently struck and killed by a vehicle. So, Khronical Purrdy is still part of the story line for Epic #1, and after much thought I have decided how to handle her character’s fate in the story (but you’ll just have to stay tuned to see what happens).
Times were sad around Kasa Khronicals after Purrdy went away…
As part of Epic #1, I introduced an additional “fantasy” character – a mechanical Kitteh who Plumage named “Hitch” because he looks like a chrome trailer hitch (and because his real name is unpronounceable by ordinary organic Kittehs).
As mentioned above, I started out with the real life personalities of our kitties and also used some of their actual real life “adventures” as the initial basis. For example, the very first Khronicals comic was based on the real world event of Purrdy pushing and squeezing out a window screen – only to have the screen then snap back in place behind her, leaving her no way to get back in. While I was creating that set of scenes, the idea of the “big mean dog next door constantly lying in wait for the Kittehs to venture outside” came to mind and thus “Dogzilla” was born. In the 3D graphics program I use to create these scenes, I generally scale Dogzilla to be “larger than life” as seen through the eyes of the Kittehs. Here in the real world, there is no dog next door engaged in a constant battle with our kitties.
There is also a real life counter-part to Khronical Plumage’s “Baby Kit”, which is a very raggedy old mouse toy that is the only cat toy real world Plumage will have anything to do with – except she treats it like a baby kitten rather than as “prey” and will gingerly carry it around in her mouth making the “momma cat kitten call” sound as she does so. I used that behavior as the basis for her “baby kitten” toy in the comic strip. The loss, or kidnapping, of Baby Kit by the “mutant monkeys from space” then became Plumage’s driving force or motivation in Epic #1. There is one set of scenes during the kidnapping where we get to see Baby Kit actually through Plumage’s eyes and we see a living, breathing kitten rather than a toy.
I will also browse through online 3D “asset” catalogs, for example, models of cars, or spaceships, or items of clothing and so forth, and that will often generate ideas for scenes to create or stories to write. Like the “Sherlock Holmes” hat, pipe (if you look closely at Plumage, you can see that I substituted soap bubbles for tobacco smoke), and magnifying glass shown here.
4. Do you have aspirations to take The Kitteh Khronicals to another level?
That is a very tough question and I guess depends on what is meant by “another level”. I mean, if I could quit my day job and do nothing but Kitteh Khronicals all day? Hey, sign me up.
As I said, I started the whole thing purely as a hobby which would be a fun way to “force” myself to learn the 3D software. By “force”, I mean I would come up with a comic strip idea and then have to figure out how to twiddle the software to render the scenes as I envisioned them (as best as I could).
I only initially showed it to a handful of family and friends via emails in order to gauge whether it was worth continuing – and everyone’s reaction was positive and supportive.
However, I became a first-time Grandfather back in October and that, among other things, like increased workload at the “real world” job, has left me short on time to devote to it. It is absolutely not that I’ve grown tired of it; I’ve just honestly had a long stretch of physically little time to spend on it.
I do have 90% of the Epic #1 storyline laid out in my head, and have lots of ideas for “visuals” for telling that story – and I especially want to be able to “tell Purrdy’s story” as kind of a remembrance or memorial gift to her [and me]. I also have ideas piling up for future story lines. I do hope to find time to get back to it soon.
Having a bunch of new fans showing up as a result of this interview (and letting me know they’re interested in seeing it continue) would certainly help motivate me to get going again.
5. Can you fill us in on what is going on in The Kitteh Khronicals right now so that if someone wants to start subscribing to your blog, they will have an idea?
Ah, well, the story right now revolves around Sable, Purrdy, Dogzilla, and most importantly, Baby Kit being abducted by “Mutant Monkeys with Electronical Things”, as Plumage describes them – and Plumage’s attempts to rescue her “baby” with the help of a mysterious newcomer Kitteh that Plumage has named “Hitch” who has strange abilities, like invisibility, and a fondness for old television programs. Additionally, we adopted Dappurr [in real life] after the Epic story was started and so I’ve also “written him into the story” now as well.
The Khronicals blog site has a historical post archive tree/menu that allows you to go back to the beginning to view the comics in the order they were posted – and there are only a total of 9 installments right now, so that is not a very daunting task. Plus it lets you see how minutely my graphics skill has improved over the past twelve months.