Webcomic Wonders: Eerie P.D. Puts Meta-Twist on Detective Genre

The weekly webcomic Eerie P.D. is a comic about a comic. Following the tale of intergalactic detective Cameron and his alien girl sidekick Eiri and the creators who made them, Eerie P.D. is a creative, nuance approach to the webcomic genre. Series creators Alex Chautin and Jenny McKeon talk about the process and inspiration behind this webcomic wonder.

First some background information, who are the creators behind Eerie P.D.? How do you spend your civilian lives?

Alex: Well, I am about to begin a Masters program for  education in Massachusetts. I generally work a bunch of odd jobs of either construction or substitute-teaching. During the summers, I teach classes for gifted children about myths and legends or gaming at Amherst College. All the while coming home and writing scripts for the comic!

Jenny: I recently graduated with a BA in Japanese and linguistics, so… right now I’m working on comics and art stuff as well as studying while I decide where to go next! I’m currently starting to put out comics through sites like Gumroad and just got a comic accepted in the Dirty Diamonds zine!

How did Eerie P.D. come together? Where did the inspiration for the comic come from?

Jenny: We’d been wanting to do a project together for a while, so when we had the idea during a late-night chat about comic collaborations, we got super excited and decided to go for it. Alex came up with the characters of Cam and Hunter while I invented Nat and Eiri, then we tweaked them together so that they’d both pair up well.

Alex:  Jenny and I wrote the first page during 24-hour comic day a while back actually! Comic fans are always so passionate, so when you have an idea, it’s going to break out eventually. I also asked a friend and former bookstore co-worker named Jenn Jordan far too many questions about the medium, since she was also a co-creator of the webcomic “Darwin Carmichael is Going to Hell”.

There’s a lot of “meta” going on in this comic. How did you find the balance between the “real world” of Nat and Hunter and the “comic” of Elri and Cameron?

In Eerie P.D., Nat and Hunter are two struggling comic creators who are working to bring Cameron and Eiri's story to life.
In Eerie P.D., Nat and Hunter are two struggling comic creators who are working to bring Cameron and Eiri’s story to life.

Alex: I think we really had two stories to tell and felt this was a good way to make them one! Nat and Hunter comprise the fun and wacky stories that, as creators, hits close to home sometimes.

On both sides of the story we show bits of what it’s like balancing a partnership of two similarly motivated people with slightly different approach. The trickiest part, I think, is how much Nat and Hunter we should give readers.

Jenny: The process of producing the color pages and the screen-toned ones is different too, but they’re both fun to make and hopefully fun to look at – I think it’s a neat way to distinguish between “realities,” since sometimes it feels like comics are more colorful than the real world!

We like to try to have certain parallels between the situations of the “real” creators and the characters in what’s basically the “comic-within-a-webcomic,” too, so I hope our readers keep an eye out for both visual and plot-based allusions to that!

How has the webcomic changed over time?

Alex: Boy, it’s always changing. Perhaps to a fault, we are always trying to think of new ways to present a page of the story and what to put in it.

The original conception of Eerie PD was a type of real world/comic world parallel strip.  I think my jokes have gotten a bit better, but they were pretty cheesy to start with so…

Jenny: Yeah, our weakness for puns hasn’t changed. I think visually the style has definitely developed a lot, to the point where it can be painful for me to look at older pages – every artist probably goes through that, but I hope that means I’m improving and will continue to improve! Alex has started helping lay down the flat colors which lets me put more time into other aspects of the art.

Are there any plans to collect Eerie P.D. into a graphic novel?

Alex: Hmmm yes, we have talked quite a bit about it after getting similar questions. There are a bunch of computer logistics that while, writing scripts and doing colors, I don’t deal with as much.

We would like to do it but we are waiting for the right time, and the funds. The comic is primarily in color, so printing can get pricey. Jenny and I dropped by a local print-shop one day with this very idea in mind. When we took a gander at some of the numbers it was like, “yowza!”. But we are continuously looking into it.

Jenny: We’d like to put out a PDF of the story so far at some point soon, and we’ve also been developing some other ideas – a dual-sided prequel graphic novel about Cam and Eiri’s respective lives before the comic, for example. As for the comic itself, like Alex said, we’re still working on it!

What have been your favorite story arcs of the comic?

Jenny: I’ve had a lot of fun with Nat and Hunter’s blossoming friendship, which ended up more vaguely shoujo-esque than either of us expected. I’m also excited about this current ghost arc – some cute and emotional stuff is coming!
Whle Nat and Hunter create the comic, Detective Cameron and Elri travel the galaxy solving intergalactic crimes.
Whle Nat and Hunter create the comic, Detective Cameron and Elri travel the galaxy solving intergalactic crimes.

Alex: I really enjoyed the introductions arc, where we could present our characters and see them all in panel action! But there are other arcs I am looking forward to in the future!

How exactly did you collaborate on the story together? Is each page done  once per week, or is there a larger script you both work from?

Alex: Outlining, Google Docs, character creation; all of these ideas are bounced off one another in person or in text messages. That being said, we outline an arc together and I try to keep at least a month or so ahead of schedule [on scripts] in case we need to do a rewrite.

There are certain character stories we really want to get out eventually though. Personally, I am itching to show some of the ideas we have talked about for the chief and commissioner.

Jenny: We’ve been gradually improving from the seat-of-our-pants approach to a more structured system, and have crossed over between art and writing more.

For this arc I’ve been contributing more outlines and ideas, and Alex has been helping out with the art, like I mentioned before.

What are some exciting things coming up for fans of Eerie P.D.?

Jenny: We’d like to put up some wallpapers for fans and maybe even a little online store (we’ll have a promo sale when it opens)! You can catch us wandering the floor at a few upcoming cons and hopefully tabling later in the year, too. Plus more side-projects from both of us, Eerie PD-related and beyond!

Alex: More of all our characters! and some new ones of course! We are working on the stories of some background stuff that will be drawn traditionally by both of us. Also, Jenny and I have been thinking about printing all the Nat and Hunter pages as their own collection for conventions with some added pages that aren’t on the website!

Lastly, is there anything else you’d like to share about Eerie P.D.?

Alex: We are really excited that this project is maintaining steam! Neither of us have done a regularly updated story like this so we are always looking for more reader input!

Jenny: It’s appropriate that a comic largely about teamwork has taught us just how fun (and productive) a good partnership and collaboration can be. So, I hope we can keep sharing that enjoyment with others!

Eerie P.D. Don't Toy With Me

Want to learn more about Cameron, Eiri and the rest of the cast? Check out Eerie P.D. , updated every Saturday.

About Caroline Albanese

Caroline watches a lot of cartoons, reads a lot of comics and plays a lot of video games. Evangelist for each iteration of Robin the Boy Wonder, Caroline's a self-proclaimed Pokémon Master, lover of candy, and most importantly your friend. Follow her on Twitter @Calbanese

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