At over 200 pages and still going, Weaker Sides is one roller coaster of a web comic. With surrealist story telling, things can get lost in translation, but this is definitely not the case. The story telling is compelling and the characters are unique. The art style lends extremely well to not just the pace, but also the characterization of the world and the inhabitants.
GenderTerror was able to talk to the creator and artist, Falco, about the comic, history, transition, and much much more!
GenderTerror: Tell us a little bit about Weaker Sides.
Falco: Weaker Sides is mainly about two opposing characters, Kyoko and Ashley. Kyoko is a painter who, during her stay at a rehab clinic, wakes up to find her human face gone. Instead, she’s now got the face of a doe. Ashley is a slightly lonely young man spending most of his time working hard as a nurse or trying to save the lives of the beetles, birds and snails his neighbors bring over. Kyoko tends to sink her teeth into what she wants and won’t let go, which hasn’t turned out well for her or her close friends in the past. She’s stubborn and strong-willed, while Ashley prefers cocooning himself in a deceitfully soft world. Both of them have a pretty hard time relating to the people around them without scaring them away, and once they meet, they mostly just hurt one another. However, as the story progresses, more characters enter the scene who pierce through their little shell of a world with their own stories, dreams and fears.
GT: Surrealism is a very interesting choice for a webcomic. What challenges have you found working in this genre?
F: I’ve always been attracted to a surreal way of storytelling, or of using a more metaphorical approach. But the biggest pitfall with that kind of story is to lose yourself in weird, associative imagery and wordplay and kind of losing the reader along the way. I think most of my early work was really too obtuse and unnecessarily complicated kind of stuff. With Weaker Sides, I want to shift between the more visceral, surreal scenes with more down-to-earth dialogue and playful, human moments. Which I find much more challenging than just going wild. ;P
GT: What made you finally decide to take the leap and become dedicated to a webcomic?
F: The biggest attraction about making this story a webcomic was the artistic freedom. I’d been creating a lot of short, black and white comics for years. These comics helped to hone my skills, but lacked personal attachment because they were too short and impersonal to really get involved with. So I wanted to create a comic with no boundaries, something I could go all out with. At the same time, that aspect was it’s biggest weakness (pun intended). The comic has seen three major rounds of changes and revisions in the past years. Some of these were inspired by comic friends of mine chipping in very helpful advice. In a way, I have changed very much as a person, too.
GT: How has what you learned from Weaker Sides affected your other artistic endeavors?
F: If I were to start another comic project, whether alongside Weaker Sides or once Weaker Sides is finished, I’ll take a very different approach. More solid and concrete, with a clearer vision of what lies ahead. Weaker Sides started out as a venting project and a visual / thematic exploration, and I’m okay with that. I don’t think I could handle another project like that, though.
GT: Where did the story come from?
F: When I started WS I was eagerly awaiting hormone replacement therapy while trying to keep myself from going nuts. Those were some very depressed and anxiety-riddled years and that energy is palpable in the first chapters. The initital story drafts were more depressing, too. Throughout the years, the transformation and the support and comfort I was lucky to receive, I’ve altered the core of the comic. I wanted it to be not just about that anger and anxiety, but about healing and reconnecting with the friends we hold dear! The first spark for Weaker Sides came from seeing an image of a woman with a doe’s head, somewhere in a TV series. I kept drawing her and wonder what her true face looked like. For the longest time I had no idea where all of this was going. I added Ashley as a supportive and complementary character and slowly, a story began to emerge. More characters showed up, adding their own voices to the storyline. All I knew was that Kyoko was running away from a painful energy while constantly wanting to turn back and look that pain in the face, but being too frozen to do so. That’s all I want to say for now.
GT: The support you received while waiting to get on HRT helped change Weaker Sides, is this something you saw reflect in your art overall?
F: Yes, I believe most of my art got more gentle over the years and a lot more personal. Funnily enough I also let loose all restraints on drawing NSFW art as I came to terms with my own sexual preferences. That’s another story though. ;-) I had an extended goth phase when I was younger, drawing mournful ladies in lavish dresses (you know the drill), then before I found out I was trans, I drew hundreds of faceless men, or men with object heads. They seemed lost and weren’t all that pleasant to look at, really. After starting HRT, and finding so much support from my inner circle, I started drawing real people more often, with real faces and feelings.
GT: What do you feel ultimately changed the course of Weaker Sides?
F: Realizing that, as much as I love dark and terrifying stories, I didn’t want to create something that would only linger as a hopeless and confusing tale. I wanted to find out what these characters that were so hard to figure out really had to say, and how they could change and connect with one another over the course of the story.
GT: Feedback seems super important to you. What’s the worst piece of advice you wish people would stop giving?
F: There’s not really a recurring piece of advice that irks me or upsets me. So far the criticism I received was constructive. Of course hearing that aspects of a story suck quite hard can be daunting but it helped improve the comic.
GT: In a positive light, what is the best thing someone has told you about the comic?
F: Several readers wrote that after reading Weaker Sides they felt seen, or acknowledged. Also, the comic gets described as an ‘experience’ quite often and that’s what I aimed for, so hearing that is a big compliment!
GT: Favorite aspect you can talk about without giving out spoilers?
F: What I like the most so far is how the main character’s little world gets broken up and changed by the people around them. It’s taken me a while to properly introduce them and to add a sense of warmth to the story. And then there’s that strange other plane of being, the Quiet World, that’s been hinted at during various parts of the comic. It’s a world very close to my heart and I can’t wait to introduce it to my readers!
We definitely suggest checking out Weaker Sides, though there is a content warning for: violence, some nudity, and discussion of sexual violence and mental illness.