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Creator of After Y2K

Nitrozac is the shadowy and sexy boot-wearing creator of After Y2K, one of the net's hottest comic strips. Growing up in Canada, she studied technology based art, but it wasn't until she booted up her first Apple that her love of computer graphics started. Her online life started as one of the creators of geekculture.com, where she began uploading a simple little comic strip a year ago.

Since then After Y2K has blossomed both creatively and in readership. It is one of the few daily strips to really utilize the unique possibilities of the web. Where most online strips are simply static, doing more than recreating their paper-based brethren in an online format, AY2K often includes animation and sound. The strip is also know for poking merciless fun at geek celebrities such as Steve Jobs and Woz!).

Q: When did you first start using Macs? What was the first Mac you ever owned?

A: You always remember your first love, and mine was an SE, which I started using about seven years ago. Ah, the good old days. Kid Pix and I had a lot of good times, ... I think Photoshop could use an "oh no!" sound when you click the eraser. With the help of friends and family, I eventually saved enough and I bought a 7200/120 PPC. The first thing I did with it was create an animated gif, which was a new thing for web pages back then!

My latest Mac is a blueberry iBook, and I just love it. It keeps me cozy on cold Canadian winter nights, although I must confess I get jealous of it sometimes. When I’m out and about and have it in hand, it gets far more attention and compliments than I do. ;-)

Q: What inspired you to first create After Y2K?

A: The idea to make After Y2K started after working on the cartoons for Geek TV, and other animations that appear on Geek Culture. I really wanted to do a daily cartoon that geeks could relate to. Last year, I thought that the Y2K bug would be a good source of jokes and techie humor. I planned out about 20 comic ideas, and just tried it out, to see if anyone would like it. It seems that they do!

I find the standard, three panel, black and white format of many web comics to be rather limiting. I've always wanted my comic to make full use of the advantages of not being in print, by utilizing color, sound, and animation. I try to push the technological and stylistic envelope to create interesting work. In addition, web comic readers tend to be intelligent, so they inspire me to create complex storylines and imaginative ideas, because they like to learn and they like to figure things out, as well as identify subtle geeky references.

Q: How long does it take you to create an Y2K episode?

A: The first comics I created took a couple hours from start to upload…of course they were a lot simpler back then! Today an episode is much more elaborate, involving writing and drawing the main comic, writing the QuickPoll, and drawing a second comic for the QuickPoll image. The main comic usually takes about 6 hours to draw, with a couple more for the second comic in the QuickPoll, so on average about 8 to 10 hours. I have a lot of help from my partner Snaggy, without whom it would be impossible to deliver so much bang for your click!

Q: How has the change in the software you use influenced the evolution of the strip?

A: I started off using Photoshop and Illustrator to do everything, but the introduction of Macromedia’s Fireworks made a big impact on the time it takes to prepare the text and animate the sequences, so now I can spend more time on creating the actual images. This has resulted in a noticeable improvement in their quality.

Of course, creating animations using Macromedia’s Director is a thousand times easier then creating gifs and I hope to bring out more Shockwave versions of the cartoon. Hopefully Macromedia will soon develop a GNU/Linux Shockwave plugin, since I have many, many GNU/Linux-using fans.

Q: You've poked fun at a lot of the celebrities in the geek community. Ever get any response from any of them?

A: Name dropping alert! Yes, I have heard from most of them, and they’ve all been great. CmdrTaco and Hemos from Slashdot, have been very kind to me since I drew them napping on piles of money, surrounded by TTBs. ;-) They are quite supportive of my work, and I’m very grateful to them. :-)

I asked many of the Geek Celebrities to speak at my cartoon Abacus World Expo via irc chat, and a lot of them did, like Hemos and Roblimo from Slashdot, Richard Stallman and Eric S. Raymond from the Open Source community, as well as Mike Popovic, editor of BeDope and BeOS advocate. They were great, and they took time out of their busy schedules to have some fun at a goofy virtual expo about Abacuses. They all are very down to earth, have a great sense of humour and they seem to like being cartooned into my universe as much as I like cartooning them.

I did receive very kind replies from those who didn’t have the time to be able to chat, like Guy Kawasaki (who will be appearing in the cartoon soon), Nicholas Negroponte, and John Carmack. I have yet to hear from others such as Linus Torvalds, Martha Stewart, Woz, or Steve Jobs, but hey, when they do find some time, I’d love it if they drop me an email!

Q: (And why does your John Carmack have those funky shoes?)

A: Ohhh, those boots are calf-length, red Doc Martin’s. :-) John’s extremely groovy outfit is a spoof of the Pinball Wizard scene from The Who’s Tommy. John is wearing the costume that Elton John wore in the movie, with the addition of some very cool Quake symbol-based glasses, which I think he looks quite dashing in! ;)

Q: It has to be asked: which one of the Techno-Talking Babes is you?

A: The TTB’s evolved from my desire to include some female characters that were both sexy and intelligent, and they have become a huge success. I think it struck a cord with people, both male and female, in fact “TTB” is fast become a part of the English techno-talking language. I get tons of email from young, intelligent, women who don't want to be called a geek, but they do like being called a Techno-Talking Babe! :-)

Which one is based on me? Wow, being compared to any of them is such a hard thing to live up to... that’s a lot of pressure for a girl! There are bits of me in all of them, but if I’d have to choose one, it would probably be Fawn, since we share similar interests, temperaments, and her quirky fashion sense. ;-)

Q: How has being a geek celebrity changed your life?

A: Well, for one thing I spend a lot more time answering email! ;-)

Seriously, the biggest change is that I have the best job I could ever imagine, and I get a lot of satisfaction from my work. Knowing that thousands of people enjoy my comic every day, and it makes them laugh, or learn something new, is very satisfying as a cartoonist.

When I was trying to establish a more traditional art career, the most discouraging factor was that for the most part, very few people actually see your work. After Y2K is seen every day by thousands of people, and I get a lot of encouragement and feedback from the fans.

My high school art teacher, Doug Stout, was a big influence on my art/cartooning career. He always started sentences like this, "When you’re a famous cartoonist…." I think he would have gotten the biggest kick out of the the whole geek celebrity thing! :)

Q: What does the future hold for AY2K?

A: Since the TTBs traveled back in time and and saved our world from the Y2K bug, the time line of the comic is now the present, which gives me more leeway to poke fun at current events. So far, I’ve already had a blast with Ballmer taking over Microsoft, Playboy’s Linux article, and Transmeta’s unveiling.

The TTBs are a permanent fixture and I’ll be eventually adding another one. I’ll be starting a new plot line that will be a combination of real life and the comics, so I’m really looking forward to that. Of course you can always be on the look out for more geeky guests celebrities, ...they are constantly popping up in my Cartoon Universe!

Hmmm... what do those famous geeks who work at Mac Addict look like? ;-)

Q: Last but not least...which are the best boots?

A: The fans seem to like the black leather boots with hundreds of snaps, that I wore for the "Dogs of War" comic. I call them my "Lucky Boots", as they seem to bring me good luck whenever I wear them. :-)
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