Interview: Vel Smells, Creator of Countdown to Countdown

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By Young Jeohn

Vel: I'm Vel, I make a web comic called Countdown to Countdown - it's on Tapastic and I have my own website at CTCcomic.com. I also do line art for another web comic called Lochbank Cryptic Society and I'm just start[ing] out with conventions and [will] hopefully spread out more into the art industry.

YJ: Very nice. And... she's only 17, can you believe that?

Vel: *laughing* Yeah, I've been drawing since I was a kid so I kinda started out young, I guess...

YJ: So it's not just the Asian genes, you ARE 17.

Vel: Yes, I'm 17, it's not just the Asian genes (giggling)

YJ: Holy cow... she's 17, she has a booth (at an anime convention), she's done all this work, and you were telling me something about your parents. What was it?

Vel: Oh, [that] they support me. They used to be on the fence about it, but after I started my own business and store online, it kinda became successful. They let me spread out more into the art industry and they're letting me go to art college next year. They're willing to help me get there.

YJ: You've been drawing professionally for how long?

Vel: Roughly three or four years. But I've been doodling on paper since kindergarten.

YJ: I see some comics on the table, tell me about them.

Vel: This one over here is a collaboration comic between me and my friends. One of my friends wrote Lochbank Cryptic Society and I do the lines and my other friend, Danielle, colors it. Ezra, my friend, is the one that writes the comic. And I basically follow what they tell me to do and draw all the lines and design the characters.

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YJ: And what about the other comic next to it?

Vel: Oh, the comic next to it - Flying Home is a fanzine for the Voltron rebooted show on Netflix called Legendary Defender and it's just something I did in memoration of my sister and I. It's just a fun little zine that some people liked so I printed it out.

YJ: So not only do you have comics, you also have posters and prints and buttons and stuff. Can you explain the merch you have?

Vel: The buttons and stickers I print myself; I use a button machine to stamp all of the buttons down. And the prints get [delivered] from a printing house. Half of it is fanart from games like Overwatch or like Boku no Hero Academia and the other half is from my own web comic, Countdown to Countdown.

YJ: And what about these bootleg stickers?

Vel: *laughing* They're basically mis-prints. I decided not to waste anything, and sell them for like a dollar each. And they've been a big hit - people like bootlegs, I don't know why.

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YJ: It's like the underground version, people like this kind of thing. The word bootleg itself is like "oh yeah, I gotta buy that." So where can people find out more about you?

Vel: I have a website for my web comic, ctccomic.com

But I'm also on
TW @Velsmells
Tumblr @Velocsmells

YJ: Now why Vel Smells?

Vel: Back when I was 12 years old, there was this manga by a famous artist named Shilin, her comic is called Carciphona and the main character is called Veloc. I really liked that character so I just sort of took the name, made it Vel Smells and now it's a staple - people call me Vel. It's a bit weird, but it kinda stuck.

YJ: And the smell you just added - did it have anything to do with cheese or...

Vel: No, I just liked it *laugh*

YJ: Ok. Does that mean you like to smell things?

Vel: No. I do not. *bigger laugh*

YJ: So this is your first convention... is it really?

Vel: Yeah, this is my first convention. But I got advice from my friend Danielle, and she helped me out and set this up and I'm here now.

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YJ: Wait a minute, you were selling merch before, right?

Vel: I sell merch online on my store, but this is my first time at an anime convention selling anything.

YJ: Did you build this stand yourself?

Vel: Yeah, and my dad helped me cut out everything, so I just put in everything myself along with these little table setters so the stand doesn't move.

YJ: So not only are you an artist, you're like a construction person too - I see pvc pipes, Irwin clamps...

Vel: I have some friends who have been to cons to sell before so I ask them for advice and all that.

YJ: Are you really 17? I don't believe that anymore.

Vel: Yes, I'm 17.
I am 17,
yes I'm 17.
Yeah.

YJ: What's your favorite medium?

Vel: Oh, I prefer to use digital for almost everything. I don't really use traditional anymore cause digital is really convenient. And I use a Cintiq 22HD to draw and color basically everything... lines, sketch, color, yeah.

FIN