Throughout the month of October, the Cartoonist Cooperative will be sharing interviews with members of the Co-op who have a new comic available at the ShortBox Comics Fair 2023!
NOTE: The Cartoonist Cooperative is not affiliated, associated, authorized, endorsed by, or in any way formally connected with ShortBox.
Cartoonist Cooperative: We’d love it if you could introduce yourself and tell us about your background in comics.
Karenza Sparks: I’m Karenza Sparks and I’m from Cornwall in the UK. At the moment I’m a freelance artist with lots of different interests; my first long-form comic SPEIROCHORY debuted in last year’s Shortbox Comics Fair, and it won the Sci-Fi category in the 2022 Minicomics Awards!
CC: Tell us more about your new comic!
KS: Avoiding Work at the Sunny Day Cafe and Bakery is a choice-powered branching narrative comic (in the ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ style) which uses the power of interactive PDFs to let you jump between pages. There are four endings and multiple pathways to reach them.
Avoiding Work is about a waitress at a Cat Cafe whose ultimate goal is to slack off as much as possible. This becomes difficult when she is put in charge of an over-enthusiastic new employee who she can’t seem to shake. Help Cat avoid work, poke into her co-worker’s business, and maybe even find the source of the mysterious and foul Morning Smell.
CC: Tell us about your creative process; how did you develop this comic and what are the steps you took to bring it to the final stage?
KS: After making a semi-serious comic last year, I decided to try writing something fun and light-hearted. I wanted to make an interactive comic about a lazy worker discovering weird secrets at their seemingly idyllic workplace — that’s how Avoiding Work started. In a small way it’s a subversion of the ‘cosy’ and ‘ghibli-esque’ setting – without becoming too cynical.
I love interactive fiction so I was keen to use some interactive PDF features to really exploit the digital format – it’s crazy how much you can do with a PDF! I discovered how to link pages together while tediously linking up table of contents pages during another job. I planned the story tree in Twine which was a really nice way to visualise and organise everything.
My goal was to make something that would be really fun to read and I’m very happy with how it turned out!
CC: Can you tell us about your newest projects/projects you have in development? Feel free to plug anything here as well eg. socials, website, etc.
I’m currently working on a graphic novel with Avery Hill which I’m very excited about. It features mysterious fossils. You can find my portfolio at https://karenza.party, my instagram at https://www.instagram.com/xarenzah, and you can find SPEIROCHORY on my itch at https://toumeya.itch.io.