Why "Sea of Insanity"?
Originally, it was a pun on the name Isle, provided by my friend Indigo. I'm really, really bad at titles.
What's the update schedule?
At the moment I'm going for "about once a week." For notifications of updates, you can follow the Livejournal community or Twitter account to save you from having to repeatedly check the page.
Will we see more Greek gods as the story progresses?
Yes, we will.
What about the rest of the muses?
If we do, it'll probably be in flashback. Nothing personal against them, it's just that I'm not sure I have the energy to come up with eight character designs that I'll probably only use once.
Can gods be killed?
Yes, but only by other gods. Despite self-imposed rules and fading belief, deities are extremely potent beings. Because their "life" is not strictly regulated by their bodies, the only thing that can really kill a god is a being on the same level. Mortals can wound gods, but it's not advisable, since physical aggression towards a deity is one of their few remaining smiting offenses.
Is Python THE Python?
No. Apollo killed the first at Delphi. But where there's one giant snake, there's sure to be others. After all, even giant snakes need luvin'. This python is a descendant.
What's the name of the local pub?
The White Cross. It's been around since Prohibition, when it was originally the private home of a bootlegger. It is so named for a prominent tombstone in the small family plot nearby. It is owned and occupied by Jared Remington, and its staff includes a waitress named Eve.
Where does the strip take place, anyway?
SoI has no definite location, save that it is not in any of the "trendy" urban areas such as California or New York. "Somewhere in America" is about the closest you'll get, most likely in the middle or northern states. The bulk of it also occurs in the suburbs, not in a major city, as Isle's house tends to be the foci for most of the goings-on, and she isn't much for urban settings.
Will we see gods from any of the other pantheons?
Probably not. Although there is the occasional cross-pantheon interaction, most gods keep to their own. It tends to turn into something of a celestial pissing match given that belief is a valuable commodity, and other gods are generally still seen as competition. They're definitely out there, though, and there are trans-pantheon friendships -- just not many.
Only sometimes. When she's wearing a toga or shift, she makes them appear normal -- otherwise she doesn't bother. Although she prefers modern clothing for comfort reasons, occasionally she feels like wearing a transparent piece of nothing. Just for old time's sake, of course. (Plus, I used to be a little less thoughtful about that kind of detail.)
Why does no one notice Isle's ears?
They do, which is why she's grown her hair long. Around the house she's pretty careless about them, so she'll usually wear her hair up. Sometimes she'll forget, or other times, like at the Halloween party, she just won't bother. When you have a god trying to court you, appearance is not one of your top priorities.
Why does Dirk keep calling Isle "Iole"?
Because that's her name. Not to be confused with "Isle Mere," her current alias. Like so much in this strip, it is a terrible pun.
Can Isle be physically hurt? I thought she was made of water.
Actually, no, she's not. She's not exactly made of flesh as we're familiar with it, but her translucence doesn't mean she doesn't have internal organs; that's a sort of optical illusion that's simply inherent to her species. Though normally they're sustained through their habitats, nymphs can bear children, and therefore must have wombs -- and to sustain a child in a womb it follows that they must have some form of circulatory, respiratory, and digestive systems. They bleed when cut, bruise when hit, and most definitely die if you kill them.
Does Finn have a job?
Currently, no. He's a "full-time student," i.e. a guy whose parents are supporting him.
Hey, the bios say Finn's 20, and yet he seems to have no trouble getting served at the pub or buying beer. Is this a continuity error?
No, there are a couple of reasons for this. First of all, not all shopkeepers card, even though they should, and for most of his adolescence Finn has looked older than he is. As for the White Cross, Jared is willing to let things slide, and Eve just doesn't care. Finn's proven himself to be a responsible drinker (most of the time), so they're willing to overlook him. However, Jared does require Finn to supply him with contact information if he's, say, driven to the pub and is too drunk to drive back (which is usually the case), or in case of some other emergency, so he's not totally naive in that respect. (Currently, the Jake is the person listed on Finn's contact information: Eve's already used it once.)
Re: Finn's confrontation with Gil in "Guy Talk": Is Finn trying for "tough love" here, or is he just being a bastard?
You can draw your own conclusions, but I pesonally went at it from the angle that at least a third of the conversation was unnecessarily malicious. That doesn't mean he can't be (or indeed, isn't) a decent guy, but you have to remember that everyone has their trouble spots, and I have yet to meet a person who can be decent to absolutely everyone 24/7. It's also my sad little dream to have characters that are relatable while still being realistic . . . which involves them occasionally acting like assholes and holding beliefs that not everyone else ascribes to. Through-and-through "nice" characters are frankly rather boring, which is why there aren't many in the strip.
Hey, Gil looks like The Incredible Mr. Limpet.
Yeah, go figure. I did see the movie, but it was a pretty long time ago -- I don't think I was even thinking about it when I created Gil. Possibly the character design seeped into my subconscious (like what happened with the Greek mythology), or possibly it's just that there are only so many ways of drawing a simplified fish. It was unintentional, though.
What color is Gilfish?
To be honest, I've had a hard time deciding. I'm fairly sure his body is yellowish-green, with a pale belly and lighter fins, but it's still rather nebulous. The thing about fish is that they're almost never one or two consistent colors, and I've held off trying to color him for that reason -- it's a little intimidating. I also want to say he has some darker vertical striping on his back, but I'm not sure. All I know is that he's definitely not as plain as I draw him.
Hey, come to think of it . . . what kind of fish is he, anyway?
No idea. When I created him I just doodled a fishie. If you want a rationale, well . . . he was cursed by a god on a bender. I don't think Dionysus was too hung up on specifics.
What happens to the food Gil eats when he changes to and from a fish?
This is a bizarre question, and yet it's been asked of me a few times . . . Basically, the contents of Gil's stomach do not change, even though his body does. Therefore, if he's eaten just before he becomes human he will likely find himself hungry again. Should Gil have filled his stomach prior to changing into a fish, the results would be uncomfortable (and possibly fatal) -- if the pain of transforming was not so intense. If Gil should happen to change into a human on a full stomach, he vomits before making the full transition. As for alcohol and drugs, he has a very efficient metabolism. I assume the change sort of burns them both out of his system very quickly, but in doing so makes him feel really, REALLY sick . . . which may be why we don't usually see him drinking.
Is it "Sibyll" or "Sibyl"?
The title is actually "the Sibyl". I misspelled it for a couple strips because I wasn't paying attention. D'oh. It should be fixed now, though -- sometime late in 2002 one of my readers was kind enough to go through the entire archive and point out all the spelling/grammar errors, and I went through strip by strip to correct them all. (This is why the font occasionally looks a little weird in spots, BTW.)
How did Glenn and the Sibyl meet?
This may actually be the most-asked question I get about specific characters, and the answer really isn't all that interesting. Basically, they both happened to be at the same general campsite at the same time. The Sibyl was climbing around on some debris in a river, slipped, and hit her head. Glenn happened to see her, and managed to pull her out of the river before she drowned -- which went over pretty well with her family, as you might guess. That's pretty much all there was to it. As for why they're working together now, that's a little more complicated.
I'm English and I demand an apology for Glenn's accent.
Isn't it horrible? In all honesty, however, the way Glenn speaks is not intended to be a "normal" English accent, not even Cockney. Glenn is a very sloppy speaker, and is meant to sound a bit thuggish. This, at least theoretically, is supposed to contrast his "romantic" role in the comic as a prince who was reincarnated so that he might have a second chance at life -- I was just trying to draw a contrast between the guy's "classy" origins and his actual personality. Glenn himself notes that it may be some form of apraxia (an articulation disorder which can be somewhat inconsistant and involves the slurring, lisping, or dropping certain sounds), though there are a few other factors involved -- none of them really that important to the story, so it's not really worth worrying about. Sorry if this caused any confusion.
The Sibyl's hair is blue?
Yep, it is. The white streak is natural, the rest is dyed. (Originally her hair was brown, but it started going white when she was very young. She has some massive premature grey going on even aside from the streak -- it's not as tidy-looking as the dyejob might lead you to believe.)
Ophelia's a blonde, right?
Okay, this is kind of a weird question, but I've been asked it enough to put it here. Ophelia happens to be a brunette. (Additionally, as far as the Greek crowd is concerned, blond is a hair-color I typically reserve for gods -- it's a detail often found in myths.)
Where does "Ophelia" come from? Does it have any relevance to Hamlet?
Ophelia did indeed choose her name from "Hamlet," but one must bear in mind that many of these characters have aliases, having lived for so long, and have adopted bastardized Anglo-Saxon versions of their original names while living in the States. Ophelia and Isle are not going by their "real" names, although the names they have chosen for themselves often reveal something about their personalities. The names of main characters are rarely given at random, so it's something to watch for.
Is Herman based off Makoto Hyuga from Neon Genesis Evangelion?
Nope. I'd never seen EVA before someone brought this up, so the physical resemblance was something of a shock. To be honest, I sort of based Herman's physical appearance off Weasel from the Marvel comic Deadpool. You know, except wholesome and not a weapon's genius.
So is Herman really Hermes or what? You're not fooling anyone.
Well, obviously I'm at least confusing people, since I get this question in about 1 out of every 10 emails. It will be confirmed or denied whenever it becomes plot-appropriate; in the grand scheme of things, it's not a vital point.
Hey, Eve's a redhead. Why isn't she pretty?
What, the four regularly occurring knockout female characters aren't enough for you? There may be a proliferation of beautiful people in SoI, but most of them are immortals. The strip itself is still set in reality. (And no, I'm not joking, I have gotten this one a few times. Go figure.)
If Chas has been living at Jake's place rent-free for two months, why does Jake ask for the last five months of his life back when questioned on the subject in the "Halloween" storyarc?
Chas had actually been living at Jake's place for five months, but did not pay rent for the first two as he had recently lost his job and was having difficulty maintaining tuition, let alone rent. He has since gotten another job, and is pulling his weight. Chas is a putz, but he's not an evil putz.
How do you figure the ages of the immortals?
With great difficulty. I'm using sources based on Hesiod (who was thought to have lived in the 8th century BC, and was credited in the general bringing-together of all the myths floating around, as well as the creation stories), partly the Trojan War (historically speaking thought to have taken place in 12th century BC, and which the gods were thought to have been indirectly responsible for), and Homer (8th or 9th century BC, creator of the Illiad and the Odyssey). However, this is not a scholastic publication, and therefor the dates and ages given don't even pretend to be accurate. If anyone can get me better dates, you're welcome to try.
What references do you use for SoI?
Okay, so no one's really asked me this, but bibliographies are always nice, I think. My five main ones are:
Handbook to Life in Ancient Greece, by Lesley Adkins and Roy A. Adkins
I also use several online sources when necessary, usually transliterations of the Homeric Hymns or the Iliad. That, or I hit the mythology encyclopedias. Those are great, too, even if I don't have any of the names on hand. Oh yeah, and I also use Greek reader Aris Katsaris. Quite shamelessly, as a matter of fact. But I give him credit, so he doesn't seem to mind.
Uh, are you just making these myths up as you go or what? Or: I don't remember it happening like that . . .
I try my best to stay true to the spirit of the original mythology, but sometimes there are several variations on a myth. When this happens (example: Artemis and Orion), I subscribe to the axiom "all myths are true". It is not unusual for the immortals to pick and choose whichever version supports their current stance, or even to shift versions in mid-argument; this is not considered lying. On rare occasions I'll "create" a myth, but said myth will generally be something that could be inferred from certain circumstances.
. . . and then of course there are some times when I just make a mistake, but we'll just quietly fix those later.
What is Apollo quoting in the strip for 1/17/2002?
Apollo is remembering Hector's farewell to his son Astyanax, which can be found in part 6 of Homer's epic work the Iliad.
Who exactly was "Hector, Tamer of Horses"?
Hector is a character from The Illiad. He was the son of Troy's rulers, Priam and Hecabe, and considered the city's greatest champion. Hector considered his brother Paris (abductor of Helen) to be the cause of the Trojan War, but defended the city nonetheless. He lead the Trojans to victory until Achilles joined the battle, at which point Zeus' favors (and victory) fell to the Greeks. At this point Apollo, his chief protector up until this point, was forced to abandon him, and Hector met his death at the hands of Achilles. Hector left behind his wife, Andromache, who was enslaved and became a concubine, and his son Scamandrius, called Astyanax, who was hurled from the walls of the city because the Greeks feared he would one day rise against them.
You can find references to Hector in the strip here.
What's a fractuslux and why is it in the URL?
"Fractus lux" is slightly incorrect Latin for "broken light," which has absolutely nothing to do with the comic. It's the name of an old project of mine, which was supposed to be my username. Unfortunatly, I wasn't looking at the directions closely enough to realize this until I'd already registered. Oops. Now I'm just too lazy to fix it.
What's with the long gaps in the archives? I heard you had some kind of nervous breakdown or something.
Yes and no. The first gap, which was about 10 months or so around 2004-2005, was due to participating in a study abroad program in Japan. I had very little access to the internet, and no scanning or editing software. After I got back there were a few more comics, and then I had a breakdown due to a personal loss and complications of mental illness. Details too long to recount here, but if you'd like to see them I made a post here.
What artistic training do you have? Some of the strips are . . . uh . . .
I have taken a grand total of three classes of high school art, and because I was unable to bribe/borrow/blackmail an artist that's pretty much what I'm stuck with. Since I've been working on SoI since 2001, a long and embarassing trail of trial and error has been recorded for all to see.
My serious training and primary focus lies in prose. I have a BA in Creative Writing, which, despite being almost insultingly useless, did give me access to some very useful classes.
You seem pretty down on your art.
I'm in the frustrating position of have just enough talent to see the flaws but not quite enough to fix them. The art has thankfully improved with time, but this is still not professional-grade work. It also suffers from an unavoidable negative comparisonto the act of writing, which I enjoy a great deal more.
So why don't you just do SoI in prose?
Translating SoI into prose would require a vast overhaul of how I handle the story. Sequential art allows for not only sight gags, but a great deal of nonverbal information on a character's state of mind, atmosphere, all that, and I created SoI as a webcomic specifically to experiment with that format. Additionally, the strip-at-a-time format helps enormously with perseverance; it takes much more time and focus to do extended prose than a bite-sized piece of script.
Finally, if I'm going to work in prose I'd prefer to do so using one of the projects I designed for that media. I do have quite a few of those, each with far less potential to incur adaptation-induced braindamage.
What materials do you use when creating the strip?
You know, I get asked this a lot. Well, truthfully, I'm pretty low budget. I draw the strip on 8x11" computer paper with the aid of my trusty Bic mechanical pencils and a 30/60 degree triangle, which is pretty much my one concession to "real" art supplies. I did have a template for the half-page strips, although they seem to either scan or print crooked for some reason, and which I have since stopped using. After that I sic my terrible scanner on it, and proceed to beat the hell out of it with Adobe Photoshop 5.0. If I'm doing something "important" I will allow my other concession, a few Micron pens, to come into play, although I have a very unsteady hand and consequently have to invest a lot of time and effort into working with them.
Why don't you ink/color the strip? That would make it look more professional.
The simple answer is this: time. I lack it. The one colored strip I've done so far (that of the one year anniversary) took eight hours -- and that was just to color. As noted, I do have pens, and I can ink, but it doesn't come quickly or easily to me. So, in order to have a fairly steady schedule for the strip, I stick to pencils. I like the shading it affords me, and my lines are steadier, if not necessarily as consistant as they might be if I were inking.
Do you have any banners I can use to link to your site?
Some old ones. My banners on at the bottom of the Links page. Unfortunately I'm fairly awful at the advertising thing.
Are the guest-strips canon?
Only the strips written by me can be considered canon. You can assume anything with my name under the writer's credits to be within normal continuity, unless explicitly stated otherwise.
Are any of these characters based on real people?
No, they're not . . . except maybe Chas, and I think he just evolved that way. There are a few superficial resemblences in some, largely wardrobe and hair and so on, but generally I find basing characters on people I know to be fairly creepy.
Are any of these characters based on you?
Like most writers, none more or less than any other. I don't wholly agree or wholly disagree with any of them; I just try to make sure they're well-rounded.
What's "LKM" stand for?
Any personal information about yourself that you'd like to share?
I work a full-time job not even remotely connected to my degree. For most of my life I have been diagnosed with obssessive-compulsive disorder.
Do you read Sandman, by any chance?
I'm a huge Neil Gaiman fan (and a Terry Pratchett fan, for that matter).
Do you accept commissions? or, Will you draw for me?
Probably not. I'm pretty busy and not that great on producing on demand, so I tend not to accept requests. I will, however, sell most of the strips that appear on the site for a reasonably cheap price, so you can buy one you fancy. For more information, check here.