The Wax Conspiracy

Too many horses, throw a horse away: Interview with Burton Durand of Horse_eComics

By day, Burton Durand is Senior Art Director at BBR Creative, a design & advertising shop in Lafayette, Louisiana. Now starting his fifth year, Durand works on "anything from logos to tv commercials. And sometimes I even get to draw silly things!" By not-day he's the creator, artist and all that behind Horse_eComics. It's a surreal, romantic and dementedly oddball webcomic based on a spam twitterbot's flutterings.

It started late 2011 back when his friend, Dale O'Flaherty, posted a comic strip based on a @Horse_ebooks tweet. Durand had already been following the Twitter account and when his friend suggested someone take the idea and run with it, he volunteered. "It gives me a chance to take some nonsense and apply my sense of humor to it. Which sometimes results in more nonsense, sometimes a morbid nightmare, sometimes something cute and sincere (though those are much more rare)."

I had arrived back from the shops
I had arrived back from the shops

Sitting down at a table, possibly, Durand answered a few questions asked from a kitchen counter, partially, at some other time of the day. None of the answers are written in horse tweets.

What's the process for picking out what tweet you'll turn into a comic?

Every day I sift through Horse tweets. I can usually tell within five seconds of looking at a tweet if it will make a fun comic or not. I'll fav potential comic tweets and then when it's time to draw, I'll look more closely over the list and pick one. People do suggest some every now and then on twitter or facebook, and I'll add them to the fav list.

How long does it take to create each strip?

I'd say that the average Horse_eComic takes about an hour and a half, total, from conception to posting. The style I use for it allows for the illustrations to flow pretty quickly, as it is black inkwash and cartoony figures. Every now and then I'll get more detailed or draw out six panels, though.

What tools and/or materials do you use to put one together?

I draw everything on my custom 11x17 bristol board comics template. I can fit three comics on a page, usually. I sketch each out in pencil, then use a mixture of technical pens and brush pens to illustrate. Then I scan everything in and do touch-ups in Photoshop. I add the screenshot of the tweet and my twitter handle at the bottom and save out for web.

Burton Durand at process
Horse_eComics creator Burton Durand at the stables

Noticed any changes in your process or the way you crack out each strip?

Not really! Once I was about 10-or-so comics into the routine, I developed a pretty standard system and size. I try to keep the style consistent, but I'm open to experimenting every now and then. One of my early comics ("delicious mud") was digital. But since I'm not published and my only source of potential income from this comic is the original art, I figured it'd be best to hand-draw everything.

How can people buy the original prints?

If anyone has a favorite comic, they can email me at horseecomics@gmail.com or send a tweet to @burtdurand and I'll check and see if it is still available. Three-panel comics are $40 and that includes shipping and a silly horse doodle. Six-panel comics are $60. Hopefully one day I'll have a collection published!

But enough scary Parrot talk...
But enough scary Parrot talk...

Are you coming out with a second collection? Or any related merch?

I'm having 150 Horse_eComics Mini Volume 2 books printed digitally. There are some Volume 1 Minis left. Volume 2 has 40 comics in it and has a silly full-color cover. Printing and assembling Volume 1 myself was a lot of work, so I had these professionally printed. I'm asking $10 for Volume 2 to help recoup some of the costs. I actually do have a Horse_eComics shirt for sale; something which I never really advertised.

What tales or experiences do you have from the comic convention floor?

I learned that I need to add a "NOT SAFE FOR KIDS" disclaimer to the Horse_eComics banner stand I had printed. At the first con I set up at, kids kept running up to the table yelling "HORSIE HORSIE!" and I was frantically trying to explain to their parents that there actually aren't that many horses in these comics, and that they're not really appropriate for kids. I had a "Horse-Drawn Prizes" box that people could reach into and pull out a slip of paper. On it was either a print of a comic or a horse name. If you pulled a name, you received a tiny matching toy horse. Well, that wasn't the smartest idea because that only encouraged kids to swarm the table. Lesson learned.

this preposterous and ridiculous business
this preposterous and ridiculous business

Gotten any fan mail?

Every now and then someone will send me a message on Tumblr commenting on how much they like the comics, and that they're glad someone took it upon himself to translate Horse's tweets. Once I received a message from a lady saying that the comics cheered her up at a tough spot in her life. It's nice to know that some good can come out of drawing a silly comic.

What else is happening besides Horse_eComics?

Work and freelance have been exceedingly busy as of late, so I haven't had as much free time to devote to side projects. I have, however, drawn out 20 pages of a mini comic about a jester duck, called (aptly) Duck Jester. Once SPX 2013 (Small Press Expo) is over, I plan to put together a Kickstarter vid for it and try to fund a nice print of a mini book for it. It's completely silly and quick, but I think everyone will get a kick out of it.

Horse_eComics is approaching its second birthday, and it's still a lot of fun to do. As long as people keep expressing interest, I'll keep drawing it.

I Can t Find You,
I Can t Find You,

Follow Burton Durand on Twitter at @burtdurand and continue reading the comic at horseecomics.com

Published on Thursday, 12 September 2013

By Ethan Switch Ethan Switch

Well doesn't that just look tasty.

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