TJ and Amal

E.K. Weaver’s THE LESS THAN EPIC ADVENTURES OF TJ AND AMAL is fantastic

E.K. Weaver’s THE LESS THAN EPIC ADVENTURES OF TJ AND AMAL is one of the finest webcomics on the internet. The award-winning series follows the titular characters as they make a cross-country journey to attend his sister’s college graduation after Amal calls off his wedding, comes out to his conservative parents, and quits school.  

THE LESS THAN EPIC ADVENTURES OF TJ AND AMAL has won several awards, including a Harvey and Lambda award. E.K. Weaver was also nominated for an Eisner Award, and after reading the comic, it’s clear why. With beautiful artwork, complex characterizations, and incredible queer representation, THE LESS THAN EPIC ADVENTURES OF TJ AND AMAL is a testament to good LGBTQIA+ representation. 

THE LESS THAN EPIC ADVENTURES OF TJ AND AMAL, E.K. Weaver

E.K. Weaver’s Creative Influences

ComicsVerse:  In an interview with ComicsAlliance, you were asked who inspired you, and you had mentioned Kyle Baker, Fumi Yoshinaga, and Terry Moore. Could you expand on some of their works? What was it was about those works, in particular, that inspired you?

E.K. Weaver: Baker’s WHY I HATE SATURN, Yoshinaga’s ANTIQUE BAKERY, and Moore’s STRANGERS IN PARADISE — all three of these defied what I was used to in comics. Story-wise, they each focus on character and personality and the general messiness of being human. Visually, they stray pretty far from what most people think of when you say “comic books.” There’s a lot of emphasis on timing, atmosphere, and expression, and hardly any on fighting or other dynamic action. I enjoyed all of these books when I was in college, and when I finally started thinking about making comics in my late twenties, they showed me I didn’t have to follow any particular drawing or layout style — I could do whatever I wanted and still tell the story I wanted to tell.

CV: Are there any new creative influences in your life right now?

EKW: I’m currently obsessed with the recent anime series YURI ON ICE — which, like the comics mentioned above, has flawed characters who have trouble relating to each other sometimes. It’s also the first time I’ve seen a bisexual protagonist with anxiety, where both of those aspects are just… part of him, rather than a joke, or a tragedy, or a problem that needs fixing. I didn’t realize how much I needed to see that until it was on the screen in front of me. It’s incredibly comforting and makes me excited to go on creating new characters and stories.

READ: Find out our take on YURI ON ICE and its LGBTQIA+ representation.

Creating and THE LESS THAN EPIC ADVENTURES OF TJ AND AMAL

CV: In your comic, a major part of Amal’s conflict and characterization derives from his Indian-American family’s reaction to his sexuality. Where did you find the inspiration for this specific background, and how do you feel that Amal can connect to other people in similar positions?

EKW: Amal’s background is based partly on people I knew in high school and college, and partly on research. I didn’t want his parents (his dad in particular) to be some sort of conservative or religious boogeyman, nor did I want his relationship with them to be magically perfect in the end. Instead, we simply see that the lines of communication have reopened, and it’s up to both Amal and his family where things go from there. I’ve heard from a lot of people who could relate to Amal, which makes me happy. I hope that readers who sympathize with him can draw some reassurance from his personal journey.

THE LESS THAN EPIC ADVENTURES OF TJ AND AMAL, E.K. Weaver

CV: Since so much of ComicVerse’s audience is made up of creators, what’s your advice on getting work seen or noticed?

EKW: This is something that plagues just about every creator I know, and honestly I wish I had a clear, sure-fire answer. So much comes down to sheer luck. Aside from that, though, all I can say is: keep going, put out good work, and don’t be afraid to promote your art through social media. Also, communicate with other artists! Find inspiration and encouragement in each other.

READ: THE LESS THAN EPIC ADVENTURES OF TJ AND AMAL made our list of the top 10 must-read LGBTQIA+ webcomics. Find out what else made the cut!

CV: What are some of the essential messages you would want readers to take away from TJ and Amal? What is at the heart of their relationship that you feel people can benefit from?

EKW: I think it’s up to individual interpretation. I didn’t consciously put any message or moral into the story, but I do hope that it can touch someone’s heart or help them feel less alone during a rough time. Maybe something along the lines of “love isn’t perfect and people aren’t perfect, and that’s okay?” Haha.

THE LESS THAN EPIC ADVENTURES OF TJ AND AMAL, E.K. Weaver

E.K. Weaver’s Future Plans

CV: Do you have any new ideas or projects you are currently working on and are at liberty to say?

EKW: Mostly assorted freelance projects and my day job, lately. I’m in the very early stages of a new comic, which I’m hesitant to talk about too much, as I don’t know yet when I can release it. It’s different from TJ AND AMAL, but it’s still full of flawed-but-likeable everyday people. I’m also doing illustrations for my Patreon subscribers, and a short YURI ON ICE fanzine.

E.K. Weaver’s Creative Process

CV: What was your favorite parts of the artistic and writing process of working on TJ AND AMAL

EKW: It’s a tie between writing the dialogue and pencilling the artwork. That’s when I have the most mental and emotional immersion in the story. It’s really energizing!

THE LESS THAN EPIC ADVENTURES OF TJ AND AMAL, E.K. Weaver

CV: What part of the creative process, in general, do you most enjoy?

EKW: That moment when things finally “click”, when I figure out how to make a scene work, in dialogue or staging or visuals. This usually comes after brainstorming with my husband.

CV: In previous articles, you had mentioned studying painting at university and receiving a BFA degree in it. What was the journey like from painter to comic book creator?

EKW: It wasn’t a journey so much as a detour and a jump across a canyon. I spent the years in between university and comics doing a lot of advertising and programming work, and hardly any painting. I still enjoy painting, though, and hope to get back to it again someday. It’s a bit tough, though, since I tend to work on very large canvases, and have limited space in my home studio.

Keep up with E.K. Weaver’s work by following her on Twitter, Tumbler, and the official THE LESS THAN EPIC ADVENTURES OF TJ AND AMAL website.

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