Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief: Congratulations on the recent release of your series, The Complete Origamiac Comics Series! For those who may be unfamiliar, how would you describe the series’ premise, and what inspired you to tell this story?
Seth Levens: Thanks so much. Because just about everyone is unfamiliar with this series, I definitely need to provide a description! The Origamiac series follows the misadventures of Orson “Orry” Thitchafer, who, through a daisy chain of disastrous mishaps, is transformed into sentient loose-leaf paper. Desperate to become human again, Orry discovers an evil enterprise known as MALefactory that may be able to grant his wish--but only if Orry can prevent MALefactory from causing the end of the world first.
What inspired the story was my love of transformation, both literal (I’m a fan of werewolves and non-Michael Bay Transformers.) and more abstract (such as broad societal changes that can improve the world around us). Because my illustration skills are so limited—every panel of this series was “drawn” using the shapes tool in Google Slides—I landed on a character whom I could easily manipulate just like in the art of origami. One of my other loves is absurdism, and this storyline offered the opportunity to be off the wall while still connecting to wider issues that concern me.
BD: How would you describe your creative process in balancing the writing and illustrative duties, and what have been some of your creative influences?
SL: At heart, I’m a writer, so that’s how the series first developed. I tried writing this series as an “ungraphic novel,” a poorly worded label for what was basically a glorified screenplay, in that I would describe what would appear in the panel, then include the dialogue below. It actually received positive feedback in the Goodreads review group I participated in. But everyone said it should be an actual comic book.
From there, I hired a student illustrator, and when the first issue launched, it earned a favorable review on Bleeding Cool, which I thought would be a springboard to success. But with my collaborator being a student, progress was very slow, momentum slipped, and my illustrator eventually lost interest. That’s when I decided to apply the tools in Google Slides to my script, which resulted in the somewhat rudimentary cartoon style, but I hope it still enables the story to come through in an interesting and humorous way.
As for my creative influences, I’m inspired by the political comedy of Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert from their The Daily Show and The Colbert Report years. Chris Elliott’s TV series, Get a Life, grounded me in absurdism, and my favorite philosopher is George Orwell who helped form my worldview. As for comics, Ryan North’s The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl series is a favorite because of its wholesome silliness.
BD: At Fanbase Press this year, our #StoriesMatter initiative endeavors to highlight the impact that stories can have on audiences of various mediums. How do you feel that The Complete Origamiac Comics Series’ story will connect with and impact readers, and why do you feel that this story was important for you to bring to life?
SL: What I hope the Origamiac series can offer readers is thoughtful escapism. So, while none of the storylines deal with specific events from our current times, they do speak to larger societal issues but in a fun way. The comic itself is not necessarily action-packed, and there is more dialogue than usual in comics. Yet I think it covers a lot of the traditional ground of an origin story, a hero’s journey, and self-actualization that should appeal to readers.
Bringing it to life was important for no other reason than I had to get it out of my system. The character and ideas had been percolating for years, and I was tired of always just thinking about what could be. While my wish is that it will resonate with readers, in the end, I wrote what I like.
BD: Are there any upcoming projects on which you are currently working that you would like to share with our readers?
SL: For the time being, I’m trying to dust off my 3D modeling and animation skills to create some entertaining shorts. But I would love for readers to check out some of my YA sci-fi work under my pen name, Devin K. Smyth—both my New Dakota series and my stand-alone novel, The Emergence.
BD: Lastly, what is the best way for our readers to find more information about The Complete Origamiac Comics Series and your other work?
SL: All of my work is available at Amazon—both digital and print for the Origamiac series, and digital only for the rest. Thanks to Fanbase Press for this opportunity, and thanks to any future readers out there for your support!