Comic creator Nick Seluk has given a great gift to the Internet. It’s very likely that you’ve encountered his comics Heart and Brain and Lars the Awkward Yeti online, as well as in book form and in various pieces of merchandise. And you’ve probably smiled when you’ve seen them: Seluk has a knack for using the lovable Lars and his organs Heart and Brain both to uplift readers, as well as help them reflect on their own lives, their emotional ups and downs. Seluk reminds us that it’s okay to feel all the big and small feelings that we feel; it’s what makes us human. Seluk reminds us that we’re all in the same boat, together.
Seluk has recently launched a Kickstarter for Lars the Awkward Yeti Volume 2 with Rocketship Entertainment, with whom he previously collaborated to bring Volume 1 to life. I spoke with Mr. Seluk recently about the conceit of Lars the Awkward Yeti, the Kickstarter for Volume 2, his process for creating Lars’ tales, and the rewarding aspects of working with his cast of characters.
FreakSugar: For folks who may not be familiar with the character, what can you tell us about Lars the Awkward Yeti?
Nick Seluk: Lars is a neurotic yeti who struggles in social situations, and is often inhibited by his overactive brain, and his anxiety. He has a good heart, but struggles with everyday decision making, responsibility, and doing what he believes he is expected to do. His internal struggles manifest in awkward situations, which only make things worse for him.
FS: What was genesis of the character? How did Lars evolve from idea to creation?
NS: Lars was inspired by some of my own quirks originally, as a way to laugh about them. His first appearance was in a children’s picture book I wrote with a very simple message: that no matter how weird someone is, that’s what makes them who they are. So Lars is trying to embrace more of himself, and more of his heart, to inspire himself and others to learn to be comfortable in their own skin… whether human, or a blue-furred yeti.
FS: What does your work day look like? I imagine it changes from day to day, but you seem to wear a wide array of hats.
NS: My work day balances between business and creative. I run a business selling my merchandise, with a fantastic staff who help with day to day work that allows me to develop more creative work. So I am able to focus a lot of my time on writing, drawing, and thinking. Some days it can be a bit much, but being ADHD I’m also able to jump around to different tasks more easily. Kind of a blessing and a curse.
FS: People share your comics all over social media. What has been the most rewarding experience you’ve had with a fan or fans since doing Lars and Heart and Brain?
NS: The most rewarding experiences are when someone uses my work to dig out of a dark place in their own life. I think by putting myself out there a lot of the time, even the difficult things, it gives people going through something similar a chance to feel seen. Like, you may think you’re alone in this terrible emotional place, but you’re not, and you can get through it too. What’s funny, is that when I get a message to that effect, it’s often at a time I need to feel less alone too, and it’ll drive me to keep doing my work.
FS: You have a background in psychology. How does that play into your process in crafting new comics featuring Lars, Heart, and Brain?
NS: Having a little background in psychology was helpful, maybe when it came to organizing those characters. Early on I would see them as id, ego, superego, although I think some of the id got siphoned off of Heart and into Tongue. I’m a generally introspective person, so most of the work just comes from my own overthinking.
FS: How does working on Lars fulfill you creatively and personally?
NS: Personally, I often get to use my comics as a way to explore something in my own life and work through it. Creatively, I get to find ways to tell those stories in a way that doesn’t make it all about me. They are their own entities, that get to exist and outlive me, and I love them in this odd way where they feel real, and exist with or without me. The whole thing, the 10 years of this, has been incredibly fulfilling in so many ways.
FS: On to the Kickstarter, what can you tell us about the campaign?
NS: This Kickstarter is being put on by Rocketship, who work with a lot of fantastic artists. It allows us to make a book exactly the way we want it, and get fans more involved by offering things like hand drawn sketches of characters, and products.
FS: What are some rewards that backers can expect?
NS: They can get sketches, signed prints of popular comics, products of mine like board games, tons of great stuff. Definitely a perk to doing this as a Kickstarter!
FS: If you had a final pitch to potential backers, what would it be?
NS: This volume is going to be even better than the first one, it includes some Heart and Brain comics not seen in any other books, and overall it really represents my sense of humor. Fans who like any of my work will love this one, and will get to know me a bit more as a cartoonist.
As of press time, the Kickstarter for Lars the Awkward Yeti has already more than doubled its initial goal, with 29 days left to go! Make sure to check out the campaign and the backer rewards, as well as the stretch goals waiting to be unlocked!