CF: Hi. My name is Chris "Cferra" Ferraiolo. I've been writing the Starbolts webcomic since 2008. Before that I wrote the story in prose form. I also occasionally do videos on YouTube where I review comic books.
INC: What made you decide to switch from prose to comics format?
CF: I always wanted to put my story in comic form, and since I can't draw very well, I thought I would try my hand at making original sprites.
CF: Starbolts is the story of the next generation of Earth's heroes trying to make a name for themselves. A bunch of their mentors were heroes in their own right, and they have to live up to that legacy. Sometimes they succeed. Sometimes they don't. The story is full of drama, love, action, adventure and everything you'd come to expect from a comic book.
INC: Has the story been planned out from day one, or was some or all of it made up as you went along?
CF: Some parts have been planned out from day one. I'd be lying if I said I didn't revise things. I have done that constantly. The story evolved a lot from the time I started to now. This in part thanks to input I've received from various friends of mine.
CF: It isn't easy. I just look at the characters and decide which characters to flesh out. I have a list of main characters. I recently brought a minor character to the forefront and fleshed out her story. Now she is a major character.
INC: What about the fight scenes? How do you plan those out, and everyone's role in them?
I usually like to add a bit of drama to the scenes. You always can't have decisive victories. This is especially true if a character is outclassed by a villain in every way. So, I try to evenly match opponents based on skills. I add tension and I try not to make everyone overpowered. As for the roles, Manta, Lady Liberty, and Hunter are the leaders. They organize everyone by their talents and strike hard and fast - after creating a strategy of course.
CF: From start to finish, it takes about a week. I write the script and then assemble the comic after my beta readers get a look at it.
INC: Are there any webcomics out there, sprite comics or otherwise, that you're a fan of or have been influenced by?
CF: Not really. My work has been inspired by my years of reading comics from Marvel, watching Star Trek in its many iterations and Star Wars. There are definitely good webcomics out there, like PS238. They just haven't really influenced me.
INC: Fair enough. As far as you can tell, how has the landscape changed for webcomics over the years? Are audiences growing, shrinking, staying the same?
CF: As far as I can tell, the landscape has grown a lot. Comics are all over the internet, as creative people find great ways to express themselves through the medium. I know sprite comics are looked down upon, but I try to be different from those. I did like one sprite comic back in the day, and that was the Mega Man-themed Bob and George. That was cool. But, I think in my case the audiences are growing. I just wish there wasn't a stigma attached to sprite comics.
CF: Sprite comics tend to get a bad reputation because of the Sonic the Hedgehog fandom creating characters that are basically pallet swaps of characters or quick edits. Nothing spectacular. There's also a sense that spriters aren't being original and are just ripping off other people. Certain fandoms get carried away, and I guess people want things to be more original. So, that's why I make my own original sprites
CF: I saw a lot of angry reviewers on YouTube and in forums where they'd bash comics. I wanted to take a more positive look at comics like my friend, Brian Heinz, who you may know as The Last Angry Geek. (Spoilers. He isn't that angry.)
INC: I do indeed. I hope you haven't been hit by Youtube's inane policies for content producers.
CF: I have. Several times I got yellow locks and for a while my Spider-Woman review was "not suitable for all audiences" for some weird reason. I have been demonetized and it'd just made me not want to do videos as much.
INC: I'm sorry to hear that. Any signs that things might finally improve on that front, or do you see it getting worse?
It's hard to say. I have been keeping an eye on things, and I have tried to get more subscribers. It's just tough out there. That and I am feeling like I get more freedom doing my comic than the videos.
CF: Usually I review something from my past that still has a resonance with me, like my New Warriors retrospective or anything Spider-Man related. I will review comics if it has a good story. And sometimes I like looking at old comics to see how far the medium has come in the form of retrospectives.
INC: Nice. Just a couple last questions to close things out. Anything you'd like to share with your Starbolts readers about what's to come?
CF: Well, I have been working on a storyline involving Firaxil finding his people and getting involved in their civil war. That is going to end at #400. After that is going to be a surprise. If you read the last few issues, you may get an idea of what is to come.
INC: Noted. Anything else you'd like readers to know about you, or any other projects of yours you want to spotlight?
CF: Well, they can check out my work on my website at http://starbolts.blogspot.com, follow me on Twitter (@Cferra1227), and subscribe to my YouTube Channel. I am also an amateur genealogist focusing on my Italian heritage. I am a project manager for Italian roots on a genealogy website called Wikitree.