Under the Surface with Sean Karemaker

Hey comic book fans! It’s the week you’ve all been waiting for. Feast of Fields, the latest graphic novel by Sean Karemaker, is finally hitting store shelves, and it’s incredible. In this installment of “Under the Surface,” Sean talks about his unique drawing process, his VR collaboration with artist Charles Barnard, and his relationship with his mom.

Sean Karemaker

Why did you decide to write Feast of Fields?

Ever since I was a little kid, I wanted to learn more about my mom’s childhood and her experiences of living in an orphanage.

How did your mother react?

My mom has been involved in the process of making this book, so she has seen my very early explorations. The process was emotional for both of us and she was happy with the final product.

Your scrolls are amazing. What are the benefits of working on scrolls? The drawbacks?

This process gives me some freedom with how I frame shots in the editing stage, and it also gives me a chance to make a nice flow between pages. Making my comics on scrolls also makes it easier to adapt these stories into VR. This process can be difficult however because the composition requires a lot of thought and planning. They also require an obscene amount of time.

We’re so excited to hear more about the Feast of Fields VR experience! What’s the collaborative process like? 

I began a collaboration with 3D Artist Charles Barnard to adapt my scroll drawings into mobile VR experience on Google daydream. In this version the reader views each scene as a 3D panorama, truly immersing them in the story.

You do a lot of work in schools and other programs for kids. What do you hope they take away from your presentations?

When I teach or talk at schools I’m hoping to inspire kids to express themselves and empathize with each other. There are some kids who are really interested in art but they don’t have any examples of adults pursuing arts in their lives.

As you worked on Feast of Fields, did you learn anything about yourself or your relationship with your mother?

I worked on the majority of this book while living in an isolated artist residency, and I was forced to confront some of my own insecurities. My process involved projecting my subconscious into the story, and this gave me a greater empathy for my mom’s experiences. By looking more closely at the challenges my mom came to terms with in her youth, I got a feeling of how much she had missed out on. The process of making this book was a challenge for both of us, but it strengthened our relationship.

What’s next for you?

Right now I’m painting murals in the tunnels below Vancouver General Hospital. During the summer I will sell paintings and books on the beach. I also have a few ideas for future graphic novels, but I think I’ll wait at least a few months before I start on a new book!

Want to stay down a little longer? Go Under the Surface with Max de Radiguès.

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