INTERVIEW: Melissa Capriglione and Clara W. on FALCONHYRSTE

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Webcomics come in all colors, and Melissa Capriglione and Clara W.’s collaboration project Falconhyrste is a dazzling array of them. From bright blues and pinks to a diverse set of skin tones and vibrant expressions, the fantasy webcomic makes a point of popping off the page.

Falconhyrste (started in 2015) follows a young trans boy Cei in his first year of a bizarre boarding school. After a spooky experience in the woods that leaves him half-conscious, a strange girl walks out of the forest and announces that she’s a new student. But who is she, and what is up with the spooky forest and weird school anyway?

falconhyrste, melissa capriglione

I sat down with Melissa Capriglione with some questions about the comic!

FALCONHYRSTE – Melissa Capriglione

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Dunstan: Let’s start with a question for the both of you. How did your partnership [with Clara] start, and did it start with or before Falconhyrste?

Capriglione: It started back on Tumblr in December of 2014. I was running a fandom blog at the time, and the show was about to end, so I figured I needed to make my own fandom while working on what I wanted to work on (comics). I made a post on my blog about starting a webcomic, and Clara was the only one who responded! We were both in the fandom and bonded over it and immediately got to work on the webcomic project. So I guess you could say that it started with Falconhyrste, but also ended up with us becoming best friends.

Dunstan: A lot of comic book co-creatorships are relatively clean-cut between writing and art. You both do some of the writing and art. How does that work out, what’s your process like?

Capriglione: I think both of us wanted to individually improve our writing and art skills, so we decided to work alongside each other. It has been a huge learning curve, but having someone there to help out or turn to for inspiration is a great opportunity. We do run into arguments often, but we’re thick as thieves and always move on. Our process usually starts with discussion of plot to the final script, which Clara writes, and I edit as needed. I then do the thumbnails for every page, and she pencils out the details and adds the lettering. I finish off the pages with linework and colors.

Dunstan: Has finding an audience been difficult or did you find your crowd early on and stick with it?

Capriglione: We haven’t always had a crowd! Up until just last year, we probably had barely a handful of readers (mostly being friends). But with lots of patience, we were able to slowly build a small following which turned into wonderful support, allowing us to get a website and do a comic issue run! Our audience has always been all-ages and LGBT+ friendly; it just took us a while to find one!

Dunstan: Is there a plan for each chapter of Falconhyrste, or is there a certain amount of going with the flow/throwing things out there? In other words, are you gardeners or pantsers?

Capriglione: I would say about 50/50. The full script for the entire story is written, but it wasn’t written very well, and it’s very old. That kind of paved the way for us, but the overall arc is figured out, and our ending is planned. We currently work with chapters broken down into plot and then add filler stuff. Usually, we work with one chapter at a time.

Dunstan: Are one or the other of you responsible for certain characters or plot points?

Capriglione: Most of the jokes and funny stuff is written by Clara. I usually write the more dramatic anime stuff. Specifically, however, I don’t think there is anything in the story that you can point to and tell which one of us was responsible. Usually, I come to Clara with wild ideas, and she filters whatever dramatic and outlandish plot points I come up with.

Dunstan: Representation is a hot topic in media right now. What does it mean to you, especially in terms of writing something with a lot of casually queer characters?

Capriglione: The basis of our comic was to make every character unique and strong in their own way. The world in which we live in is incredibly diverse, so we wanted to reflect that into our story. Our goal, I believe, was to have queer characters casually existing in a universe and discovering magic. Young adult tales of magic have always been intriguing to me, but the stories I’ve read have always lacked queer representation. With our story, we wanted to create something that we would want to read. Seeing as both me and Clara are queer, we wanted to make sure that our story represented different queer identities and orientations.

Dunstan: How can readers and other interested folks best support you?

Capriglione: Of course, the easiest way to support us is to read the comic on our site (falconhyrste.com) and whitelist it for your adblocker because we get ad revenue from views. To support us monetarily, we have a Patreon (patreon.com/falconhyrste) with lots of great rewards, like requests, giveaways, and reading ahead! You can also follow us on various social media and join us on Discord to stay up-to-date! I also post a lot of sketches and previews on my Twitter account @mcapriglioneart.

Big thanks to Melissa for taking the time to sit down with me! This is just one of the webcartoonist interviews coming along for #PrideMonth.

Have you read FALCONHYRSTE yet?

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Elliott Dunstan
Elliott Dunstan is a semi-professional Canadian nerd with a special talent for reading way too fast, spouting weird trivia, and latching emotionally onto that minor character with a one-liner in the second episode. Elliott was born in 1995 and is mildly annoyed by this.

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