All Is Full Of Linky-Love: 3 Questions With Christopher “Stu” Lange, Writer/Artist Of Capitol Hillbillies, By Dale Lazarov

His bio: Christopher “Stu” Lange is 5′ 9″, about 135 lbs. has a swimmer’s build, and is into — oh, wait, this isn’t one of those bios? Let’s start over then…

Chris graduated from The Evergreen State College in Olympia WA, where he currently lives with his partner. When he’s not serving Olympia’s best benedicts and omelets at the New Moon Café or mixing up custom fragrances at Archibald Sisters, he’s doodling something. Sometimes he speaks Spanish. Occasionally he’ll play a video game or two or five. But mostly, he’s doodling.

from Capitol Hillbillies, @2010 Christopher “Stu” Lange

First question: Fanboys of the Universe says “Capitol Hillbillies is a sex-positive celebration of love, lust, friendship and that “gay lifestyle” we’ve been hearing so much about.”  Is there any particular set of influences or aspirations that guide your sensibility and style?

There are so many amazing artists out there in the comic/webcomic realm that influence me either artistically or sensibly. The top few that come to mind right away are Mike and Jerry at Penny Arcade (duh), Hawq over at Applegeeks, Scott Ramsoomair at VG Cats, Jhonen Vasquez of JTHM/Squee/Invader Zim fame, Dronio, and a few million more. Before college, I would try and draw hyper-realistically, in that traditional Marvel/DC style — until I realized I wasn’t having very much fun with that. Then I noticed some of the more clean, loose, and unique styles of some of the people I just mentioned, and slowly crafted what I hope is more personal and enjoyable look for my art. Why do the Capitol Hillbillies have no necks?  I don’t really remember…too much Rayman as a kid, perhaps? Whatever is was, it worked; suddenly drawing and creating comics on a regular basis just seemed like less work, more fun, and I started being more observant of what exactly appealed to me about other artists’ styles. In the 200+ strips that Capitol Hillbillies has, you can see very clearly when I tweak or change something — this is me observing other art and molding my own accordingly.

The type of humor I write into Capitol Hillbillies is similar to that of Penny Arcade or VG Cats, because that’s what I grew up with and laughed to on a daily basis. But lucky for me, the friends from which the Capitol Hillbillies are based off of, are ridiculously funny as well. The good people I surround myself with are sometimes too smart and witty for their own good (and sometimes I feel I have to “dumb down” their jokes to fit into three panels), and creating Capitol Hillbillies was my way of sharing that to the world, especially to other gay men who could either relate, or needed someone to relate to.

from Capitol Hillbillies, @2010 Christopher “Stu” Lange

Question no. 2: Other than its purpose as a sexual farce comic strip about gay geeks, what do you want people to take from Capitol Hillbillies?

Hopefully, people take away a sense of community, pride, and confidence from the strip. That might seem like a lot or sort of silly to ask from a comic strip (mostly) about butt sex, but it’s true. There’s a reason I present such explicit and usually graphic jokes so plainly — because I feel they don’t need to be as explicit or graphic as society makes them to be. The tagline “Because sodomy is funny” represents this: gay sex is actually hysterical, and fun, and a lot of people do it, so why keep it “taboo”? This idea comes from another major influence of mine: Dan Savage, from Seattle’s The Stranger newspaper and Savage Love articles. For around a decade now, Mr. Savage has been telling the gay and straight community that all these freaky-deaky stuff they’re doing in the sheets is probably normal, that there’s others out there like them, and that it’s ok to indulge in fun, safe, and sexy play. This is the same message I want to project in Capitol Hillbillies: gay sex, and all that it includes, can be discussed, shared, experienced in positive and hysterical ways. This is how me and the “real” hillbillies have always approached sex, so this is the only way I know how to express that in Capitol Hillbillies. It’s worked splendidly so far!

The “gay geeks” part is important too — I didn’t really see anything that appealed to gay geeks in comic form, and I, without really realizing it, tried to fill that void a bit. (That’s what he said).

from Capitol Hillbillies, @2010 Christopher “Stu” Lange

Question The Third: What appeals to you about publishing Capitol Hillbillies as a webcomic?

Sheesh, what DOESN’T? For a creative-minded type, especially if making money isn’t your top priority, the internet, and specifically webcomics, are a beautiful medium. There’s no middle-man, no editor, and no expectations or regulations. This is, of course, a double-edged sword (or double-ended dildo, all things considered) because it means I HAVE to be self-motivated to get any sort of consistency in quality or schedule. I also realize that my comic probably only appeals to very select audience, rather than looking for a publication or outlet that Capitol Hillbillies might kinda sorta fit into, having it as a webcomic allows that audience to look for me instead. I have some fantastic liberties as a webcomic: I don’t have to censor my language or content, I can change the style whenever I want, and if I need to take a break and not update, I can — although that reflects poorly on me if I abuse that too much!

To me, webcomics can be infinitely better than printed ones: I imagine some of the best webcomics out there would have a hard time selling their ideas to a publisher or publication off the premise or art alone. It’s really the publishers loss, and our incredible gain.

You can check out Chris’ freelance art here, his comic Capitol Hillbillies here (Facebook and Twitter too!), and you can contact him for commission work or projects here!

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Dale Lazarov is the writer/editor of chic hardcovers of gay comics filth — STICKY, MANLY and NIGHTLIFE — published by Bruno Gmünder Verlag. Visit Swanderful, his tumblog of Curt Swan comics art, and his very NSFW gay erotic art tumblog, Fuck Yeah Dale Lazarov.