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An Interview with Eleanor Bick – Freelance Author and Illustrator

For those who may not know who you are, who are you and what do you do?

Alright, so, I’m Eleanor Bick and I’m a freelance author and illustrator from Germany! I started publishing children’s books in 2017, about tiny dragons camouflaging themselves as flowers in our gardens. With the Gardendragon-book series I want to teach children about the importance of insects and their preservation. But online I am most known for my Pokémon Comics! I kind of accidentally created a whole webseries about the Alola region from the Sun and Moon games in my free time, and now “El’s Alolan Adventures” has become one of my main projects next to writing my books.

What inspired you to write/draw?

I think I’ve been drawing since the day I could hold a pencil – which comes to no surprise if you know my family. My mother is a freelance artist herself, so she always encouraged my creativity. And writing stories I began in grade school, where I got my first taste of how powerful a good story can be. I will never forget the day when just for once I wasn’t the shy wallflower of the class, when I had to read a short-story I wrote and made them all genuinely laugh. It still took me some time to realize, that writing stories was one of the main things I wanted to do. I think the internet helped me a lot in that regard, when I made another fancomic in my teen-years and switched from deviantArt to tumblr.

What is your favorite thing about El’s Alolan Adventures?

I think it’s the fact that the comic has forced me to get out of my comfort-zone, in more ways than I expected. First it was a challenge for me for the simple reason that drawing humans is one of my weak-points. Then there came new challenges, from complex backgrounds to trying new shading techniques, but it also became a journey of personal growth. I am finally learning to use short-cuts for my work and reuse assets, something that for some reason a lot of artists such as I thought were a form of “cheating” and felt guilty for doing. Which is nonsense, because when you already drew something, what’s so wrong about reusing it to make your life EASIER?
Writing my comics also made me reflect on myself:
El’s Alolan Adventures is a comedic slice-of-life series, but at it’s core it’s about relationships and personal growth. And the more I explored these topics as I kept writing scripts, the more I reflected on my own growth and what I value in a relationship, be it platonic or romantic.
When I look at the effects the comic has on my community, I really appreciate it for how it apparently is encouraging others to make their own comics, but also be as self-indulgent about their art as they want to be.
The Protagonist “El” actually started out as my “Trainersona”, which means the character is basically the Pokémon-equivalent of myself. The comics started out as simple shorts about my experiences with some of the games I played, but then I got very invested in the character of Guzma in Sun and Moon and made more and more comics about him and El interacting. When I noticed I was apparently turning this into a series, I just rolled with it and El became her own character as the story continued.
Over time I’ve gotten a lot of messages of people telling me that they’re now less afraid to just draw their Sonas interacting with their favorite characters or to publish stories about them, which I think is awesome!
Self-inserts have a rather poor reputation on the internet, so I’m glad if I can somehow contribute to their image in a positive way.
I think that if your story is good, it shouldn’t really matter if your main character is based on you or not. In some way we always put part of ourselves into our characters anyway.

Are there any plans to have El go to newer regions, like Galar?

Currently no, the story will continue to play in Alola, but we’ll still have a change of scenery within the region, since the majority has played on Mele Mele Island so far, but there are a lot of places in Alola we haven’t explored yet! Especially Ula Ula will be interesting, but that’s still a long way ahead of us…Though on the note of other regions, if I have to be honest, I wasn’t a huge fan of Pokémon Sword and Shield – Galar left a rather weak impression on me, so if I’d send the characters on a short trip somewhere else, it might be Kalos or Hoenn instead. Though again, there aren’t any plans for this yet…

What would you tell someone who wanted advice in writing or drawing?

Have fun. Have fun no matter what you do. It’s incredibly general, but I think its the most crucial part. Learn what you enjoy doing and keep doing it. It will lead you on the right path eventually. If we want to be more concrete, I’d say go watch a lot of film-reviews and essays on YouTube if you want to improve on writing – they helped me a lot over the years to figure out what makes a story work and what doesn’t. If I’m allowed to make some personal recommendations, “Just Write”, “Sideways” and “CriticalHit” are one of my favorite channels, the latter being painfully underrated. “Sideways” is actually all about musical scores for movies, but still gives you a fascinating insight into the world of storytelling from a musical standpoint. And if you’re stuck on a story and you’re waiting for a strike of motivation, do take a break, but if motivation doesn’t come back, try to sit down and work on it even if you still feel stuck at the moment. Sometimes we can break through a blockade just by starting to type / draw again and you’re back in the flow. But in the end it all comes down to if you enjoy your work or finding out how you can make it enjoyable for you again.

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