6 Questions with Sareen Akharjalian Creator of Ink On The Side
Ink on the Side is a weekly comic created by Sareen Akharjalian from Beirut, Lebanon. Sareen’s style is reminiscent of classic comic strips that I enjoy. Her subject matter doesn’t go for the cheap laughs by being overly vulgar (much like us) but instead she tells stories that are close to her but relatable to anybody. Each week I’m delighted by each comic she creates with Sareen adding unique spins on ordinary problems.
The OG: You’re one of the first web comicers that I’ve talked to on the internet that doesn’t come from the US, Canada, or the UK. Living in Beirut what comic strips or webcomics inspired you to start creating? Or were you inspired by something completely different than comics?
Sareen: First of all, it’s really exciting to be interviewed by a fellow web comicer! So I have to thank you once again for including me in the list of people you’re interviewing!
As for the comic strips that have inspired me. I find myself extremely fortunate to have been exposed to a lot of amazing comics as a child. When my dad grew up in the 70s, he used to buy a lot of Mad Magazines and thank God he had a fear of throwing anything away. As a result, when I was around 8 years old, my dad gave me these magazines and I was just…I fell in love to say the least. Up until then, I only had access to the comics available in newspapers so you could imagine my excitement! And of course, when I finished reading all the old magazines, I went to the bookstore once a month to buy the latest issues of Mad! My favorite artist from the “Usual Gang of Idiots” was Sergio Aragones. I also used to love reading Asterix and Obelix, Calvin and Hobbes, and Garfield.
Nowadays, there’s just so many wonderful webcomics out there that I literally waste an hour every day to catch up on all of them. Some of the comic geniuses I love include Cyanide and Happiness, xkcd, PVP, Questionable Content…the list goes on and on.
The OG: Your art style has evolved from your early black and white comics. What made you go into using color and using different techniques now than you did in the beginning?
Sareen: Oh you just had to remind me of my early comics didn’t you? I cringe every time I look at the old ones! Well, when I first started drawing, I used to draw with only a black felt tip pen and a regular A4 paper. Nothing fancy at all. I remember buying a graphics tablet at the time but I hated using it because I could never control the pen the way I wanted to. So I stopped using my tablet for almost a year (translation, left it to collect dust on the dining room table) until I started using it out of guilt.
I first started experimenting with the tablet by cleaning up my black and white comics on the computer and doing some shading on them. I saw the immediate feedback by everyone, saying how amazing they looked. So one day I drew my first colored comic that made fun of Lebanese people at the beach and how they try to look sexy all the time. That comic had a huge response and everyone praised the use of color. And really, that’s all I needed to hear! I now only use the tablet to draw and I love it!
The OG: Including myself you have a high amount of fans that comment on the Ink on the Side site as well as retweet and likes on Facebook. How does it make you feel knowing people love what you create?
Sareen: Before I answer that question I have to say this. A typical comic that is about 4 panels long takes about 6 hours to draw. That, of course, depends on the complexity of the topic, and the amount of research I have to do before I draw something difficult. So basically, after working on ONE comic for an ENTIRE day, I would take a final look at the finished result and think “Boy…this is complete shit. This is the most unfunniest comic I’ve ever read.” I would then proceed to have mini panic attacks.
Which is why, when I finally do post the comic the next day, and these wonderful people comment, tweet and share on Facebook, I get an incredible sense of accomplishment and an appreciation towards them. There really is nothing in the world that is more flattering than seeing people share your work and tell you “great job” especially after all that hard work. So I really have to thank you and everyone else who always shares and comments on the posts. It really is such a humbling (and wonderful) experience when you hear that praise.
The OG: Your comics come from a refreshing point of view (non sexist/non homophobic). How does it feel web comicing besides dick humor and foul mouthed ridden comics?
Sareen: Wow, a very interesting question but so difficult to answer. I guess it goes back to what I was telling my friends the other day. Do you want to do something that’s just pure toilet humor? Or do you want to deliver quality? Poop jokes/Homophobic jokes/Dick humor (as well as rage comics) are a dime a dozen. There’s literally a billion of them online and the punch line is so obvious that you can see it coming a mile away. I try to stay away from these hackneyed jokes and try to deliver something new. I try to deliver strips that people will continue to remember years after they’ve been drawn.
The OG: Is doing a web comic something that you see yourself doing for a very long time or would you like to eventually like Ink on the Side to evolve into something else?
Sareen: What’s with all these difficult questions? I didn’t sign up for all these hard questions man! What are you playing at?
Hehe just kidding. Well, I love drawing and I definitely see myself doing this for a long time. The only thing I would really love to do is turn my comics into a book. Hopefully I can find a good publisher that would help me achieve this dream. I’d love to see the book published not only in Lebanon but in many other countries as well! (Hey a girl can dream can’t she?)
The OG: Who would win in a fight Wolverine or your murderous Cupid character?
Sareen: Seriously James? Now Cupid may be getting on in the years, and his aim may be a little off, and…His beer belly isn’t helping, but by God he’s got something Wolverine will never have. The ability to spread Love like a disease, and I don’t mean STDs. One shot of from those heart tipped arrows will turn Wolverine into a cute wovvable wittle puppy awwww….
Head over to Ink on the Side every week and enjoy what Sareen has to offer.
Official Web Site: Ink on the Side