Saturday, April 19, 2014

AdamMaleBlog Exclusive: An Interview w/ Buying Time Creator Casey J

I first discovered the wonderful animated webcomic Buying Time thanks to my pal Jack who lives down in Florida. He told me I needed to check it out. And, he was right. Buying Time is unlike any gay themed comic I have read before. First and foremost, it is partially animated in a format where the reader controls the pace at which the next panel appears. It's a pretty cool format that I wish more webcomics would adopt. The story follows the life of a charming welder with a not-so-secret creative side as he navigates his way through falling in love in an emotionally difficult, dystopian future where personal interaction comes at price.

Here's the official synopsis:
Buying Time is a sci-fi cyberpunk romance. Set in the future megalopolis of Hyperion City where all forms of entertainment, including our own personal social lives are regulated by a micro-transaction monetary system called Daily Leisure Credit. When Vinnie Smalls, a lonesome welder working for the Hyperion City Core finds he has a crush on a fellow co-worker, he finds he must break away from his usual loner lifestyle and dive headfirst into the inner workings of the Daily Leisure Credit system. Our story deals with the ups and downs of his relationship in the midst of system that makes staying in contact with someone a financial battle.
What is really amazing about Buying Time is that creator Casey J may actually have predicted our futures if the government and citizens continue allowing corporations more and more power. You will see in the interview section that Casey J came up with the Daily Leisure Credit system after being annoyed by video games that nickel and dime you for every extra feature or scenario you wish to have unlocked. But, this kind of mentality is spreading so far beyond video games. We are living in a world where places like Facebook beg you to befriend countless hordes of friends and then tries to charge you if you want more than a very tiny percentage to see your posts. It's really appalling. It's even more appalling that more people aren't raising a fuss over it. But, maybe that's how it all starts. Freedoms are whittled away a little at a time until every single thing in the world becomes a commodity which corporations will gladly exploit for profit. It's terrifying. Casey J's vision is just a little bit too prescient.

However, despite all this, the characters in Buying Time still have hope. Still believe in love. And still are willing to do whatever it takes to be with the person they desire. The human spirit prevails.

Q: How did you come up with the brilliantly terrifying idea of Daily Leisure Credit?
Casey: Videogame trends did much of the work for me! Daily Leisure Credit is my not-so-clever wordplay of Downloadable Content. I used to be a huge gamer, but lately have been a bit turned off by the rampant trends of downloadable content, microtransactions, pre-order exclusives and generally being nickel and dimed at every turn. It wasn't like this a decade ago, and I started to think about why we let it get to this point. Were the changes just small and gradual enough? Are we just complacent? I started to think about what it would be like if these trends affected other forms of entertainment as much as they have the videogame industry. Mainly, social entertainment. We go to someone's house for dinner because it's fun. We chat with someone because it's enjoyable. I imagined a future where instead of thinking "I want that extra mission in the game I'm playing, better shell out the cash." we'd be thinking "I want to hang out at my friend's house tonight, better shell out the cash." And the story started from there.

Q: So what happens when people get married? Does the DLC system apply to their interactions at home?
Casey: DLC applies to everyone! Married couples however, can apply for a license that gives them a discounted rate. Same kind of thing applies for common law partners and family members in general, think of it like all the numerous cellphone plans or Internet packages "that are perfect for your family". Likewise business owners can get a license that benefits their workplace as well, jobs that would require a lot of social interaction like a bartender for example.

Q: What is the penalty for overdrafting on DLC account?Casey: I often describe the penalties being similar to going a while without paying the fine for a traffic ticket. You'll get some "friendly reminders" at first. Eventually you'll start to get some threatening messages, and eventually get a warrant for your arrest.

Q: A good portion of the Buying Time plot involves music. Are you a musician yourself?
Casey: Can't say I am, I have next to no musical talent and am pretty tone deaf when it comes to singing. I learned to play the harmonica a number of years ago but quickly discovered I'd rather be using my creative energy to draw or animate instead. I have a great appreciation for musicians and their passion, and I think that is both why I tried to learn to play an instrument, and have such a focus on it in the comic.

Q: What do you envision Vinnie’s songs to sound like?
Casey: The past 2 years or so I've been on a huge 80's synth kick; both actual 80's stuff and the new-wave-retro stuff from artists like Perturbator, Tesla Boy, Lost Years, Lazerhawk, etc. I listen to that sort of stuff while drawing the comic, and it's exactly how I envision Vinnie's music to sound like.

Q: What does Galena Jules home life look like?
Casey: Galena lives with Papa Obari on Level 10, which basically means they are just barely a step above the slums of the "Sub-Levels". I'd love to be able to do a bit about their home life, and maybe will in future chapters, but I imagine they live in a cramped, messy apartment. They both share a penchant for fashion so I can see them watching Hyperion's Next Top Model together and bouncing idea's off of each other for a future fashion line.

Q: Your bio says you currently work for a company that develops apps for famous kids television franchises! What is your favorite app you have worked on?
Casey: I was most excited to work on Fraggle Rock, we were lucky enough to do 2 apps for. It was the first franchise I've worked on that was something I actually watched and loved as kid. I watched the original with puppets, the animated version and had some of the toys. So it was a real treat to one day be designing and creating character rigs for it. We go through a large number of franchises, but it's especially fun to work on ones that you are/were a big fan of.

Q: What other comic projects have you done in the past?
Casey: Buying Time is my first serious comic effort. I've done a number of short 3-5 pages stories for personal projects, stuff like doing a little origin story for a tabletop game played with friends or something like that. The bulk of creative efforts have been almost exclusively animation. It wasn't until Buying Time that I started to put serious thought into a comic book project for a wide audience.

Q: What comics/graphic novels have stuck with you from your childhood/teen years?
Casey: I was big into (and still am if it tickles me right) manga when I was younger. So I read a lot of work from Shirow like Ghost in the Shell and Appleseed. Battle Angel from Yukito Kishiro, the visuals blew my mind, and I still think his depictions of cyberpunk worlds go unmatched. As far as comics and graphic novels go I was always a big fan of Dale Keown's art, so Pitt and the Incredible Hulk. I also adored Sam Kieth so there was a lot of The Maxx as well. Simon Bisley so I read lots of Lobo. I'm a huge fan of Etrigan, so I collected and read anything he appeared in. Aside from that I generally enjoy all the common favorites like X-men and Justice League (though I admit, tend to focus and enjoy the animated shows and movies more).

Q: Unicorns…or narwhals? Who would win in a fight?
Casey: I'd like the say unicorns simply on the basis they are more fabulous. Though I think a lot of it would depend on the location, if they are fighting in water a narwhal would have a clear advantage, the opposite if they are on land.

*Start reading Buying Time now!
**You can view some of Casey J's earlier illustrations HERE.

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