Interview with Kat Brenowitz of High Hopes

Some ideas are born of careful thought and planning, others are created from something completely unrelated and morph into something new.  When Kat Brenowitz first created her world of Pertho, it was a little bit of both, and all started with one character.

“I wanted to do something with the character Nelsyn,” said Brenowitz, explaining the birth of her world.  Nelsyn, the main character of her comic High Hopes, was created as a table-top game character.  Joining that with an alien species she had been developing since grade school started the gears in motion.  “I just jokingly one day drew this role-playing character as this species and I was like, wait a second, it works.”

Where would Nelsyn be without Simone? Probably down there.
Where would Nelsyn be without Simone? Probably down there.

From there, the character and the world around him started growing.  Brenowitz even gave him a best friend – a robot named Simone.

“I love robots, I think they’re really awesome.  There’s a lot of really neat stories I think you can tell with them,” said Brenowitz.

From those two characters, the whole world was born.  The name “Pertho” itself was based on a mispronunciation and slight misinterpretation of the Perth rune spurred by one of Brenowitz’s teachers.  The Perth rune represents chance, mystery, and science, and the mix of secrets and change suited Brenowitz’s need for a city name – a city of movement and journeys.

Despite the solid foundation, the original story for Pertho kept fell apart under the weight of everything Brenowitz wanted to create.  “Every time I tried to continue High Hopes it was sort of like, well, crap,” she said.  After several tries, she finally decided on a way to break the larger story into manageable chunks.  “This story is a series of vignettes that builds up into something larger.”

That moment when you know your friend is right.
That moment when you know your friend is right.

This also allowed Nelsyn a little time to rest in between adventures.

“Something I really like about Nelsyn is that he’s a little bit neurotic – if he was human he would probably be diagnosed with an anxiety disorder,” Brenowitz explained. “He’s going to be a little bit nervous and kind of anxious for most of the plot.”

As for the future of Nelsyn and Pertho, Brenowitz drops several major hints including alien wedding customs, and many further hi-jinks for her main characters.

“There will be a comic in the future – I do plan on continuing this,” Brenowitz said.  “These characters have been in my head long enough, other people need to have some fun with them.”

And the plot?

“An alien and a robot try and fix a turbine, screaming ensues,” Brenowitz said simply.  “Simone and Nelsyn are tasked with repairing a structure that’s being build by a bunch of robots, except something goes wrong and they shut down half of Pertho – that’s when the real fun starts.”

While creating comics is a passion for Brenowitz, it is both a labor intensive and part-time venture for her, meaning there are often long stretches in between updates.  However, patience pays off in a truly unique story with a lot of potential for those who are willing to stick it out to read.

So many aliens, so little time.
So many aliens, so little time.

In addition to creating her own comic world, Brenowitz had some advice to share for any aspiring comic creators out there that helped her through the process.

“I think something I really want others to get from my comics is that the environment is just as important as your characters because it is a character,” Brenowitz said.  “I think that’s something that a lot of comic artists don’t really consider.”

According to Brenowitz, the setting is often seen as less important, which effects the overall comic.  “They focus very hard on the characters but they don’t really consider that the environment that the character is in is going to influence them,” explained Brenowitz.  “It’s going to be not just the setting or the background, its environment they’re interacting in.”

Her advice is to creators is to make the setting as dynamic as the rest of the story.  “That sense of place is super important, you need those establishing shots, you need that kind of detail, you need to think about what and how your characters are going to be interacting in this space,” Brenowitz said emphatically.  “If you don’t, you could end up with a great story, but if you’re trying to tell something about a fantastical world or something weird, it’s not going to feel very grounded.”

Brenowitz’s work can be found on her website and her Tumblr page, and can be seen at conventions in the area like Katsucon and SPX.  For more creators from Square City Comics, check out their site.

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