Haunted Hearts: An Interview with the Creators of "RIP You and Me"
Mother of Mugwort: So for starters, can you tell us a little bit about yourselves?
Chas: Hey there! I’m Chas! Pangburn—the “writer half” of RIP You and Me. I’m a freelance comic book writer, editor, and letterer based out of Northern Kentucky. My hobbies revolve around nerdy things, my best friend is my chubby corgi, and I own two stinky ferrets.
Angela: Howdy, I’m Angela Oddling! I’m the artist for RIPYAM and I’m a freelance illustrator and comic artist from Pittsburgh, PA. I love playing the ukulele badly and playing video games with my cats Oopsydaisy and Lukewarm. I really love breakfast and being dramatic about the things that I love.
What’s the general premise of RIP You and Me?
C: RIP You and Me is a weekly “slice of death” webcomic about breakups, mental health, and spooky stuff. Some stories are memories from one of the creators, others are focused on real psychology/dating concepts, and many are just fictionalized cautionary tales. Sometimes the stories are sad; others, they’re really hopeful.
Essentially, they’re little sharable tales that people will (hopefully) relate to. Whether they’re currently going through a breakup, still struggling, or “okay” now, they’re a nice reminder that you’re not alone in your thoughts and feelings. We’ve all been there at one point or another.
Who are Skeleton Boy and Witch Girl?
C: You, me, and everyone we know. While they definitely have personalities of their own, both characters are meant to be avatars that people can place themselves into. Instead of a long-form narrative, readers are presented with little snippets from life. While you might not connect with story “A,” there’s a chance that story “B” will resonate with you, and so on.
At a more personal level, Skeleton Boy is a brokenhearted individual that’s just trying to make sense out of what happened to him. Witch Girl is his elusive ex that has (clearly) already moved on.
To write or illustrate something so tangible, that emotion has to come from somewhere, from experience. Is there a lot of yourselves in this comic?
C: Yes, very much so. I went through a particularly painful breakup this past summer, so I tried to funnel that energy into something creative. I looked at all of my past relationships, read a bunch of books, went to therapy for being a sad boy, and just tried to figure things out. These tales were a form of personal catharsis.
While some instances are loosely based off of real-life events, others do get deeply personal. Haha hopefully the internet finds some solace through my previous pain and heartbreaks. ̄\_(ツ)_/ ̄
A: I went through a divorce in 2018 that shook up my life pretty hard. While I don’t write any of the words for RIPYAM, I resonate a lot with the tales of moving on and trying to come to terms with the loss of a relationship
About how long have you been working on this? What sparked the inspiration? And what prompted you to work together—had you created comics together before?
C: For an exact timestamp, I pulled up Google Docs. I apparently wrote “Digging” on August 13, 2019 at 8:42 PM. That would’ve marked about a month and a half of being a post-breakup sad boy before I did something proactive. Following that, I churned through a bunch of scripts and eventually teamed up with Angela in September.
Funny enough, she was actually one of the inspirations for me to tell these stories. She and I had been e-friends for a few months due to her beautiful work on a pin-up for Metalshark Bro (a comic series I’m the editor and letterer of). Over the months, I noticed that her own comics typically involved relationships; I realized that her head and heart worked the same way as mine. I honestly couldn’t even imagine a more perfect collaborator. I mean, have you seen her art? It’s beyond gorgeous.
What’s it like working together, with one person writing and one person illustrating? How do you take two different minds and sets of hands to create one end product?
C: As a writer, you have to think visually. Specifically, with the WEBTOON comic format, you have to think about how a reader “scrolls” through a story instead of “flipping” a page. It makes for a pretty unique experience and opens the door for some fun “moment-to-moment” storytelling. I take a story concept, break the script down into individual panels, send everything to Angela, and sit back while she does the harder work. She’s a ridiculously talented artist and continually knocks everything out of the park.
In regards to this collaboration, we’re both really easygoing people. I trust her creative sensibilities, so I try to leave my scripts open for Angela to play around as much as possible. Naturally, she takes every opportunity to add in cute little spooky puns and background details—I love it!
A: I try to give the characters as much of Chas’ and my personalities as I possibly can. Chas and I have become great friends since working on this project, and we’ve gained a pretty good understanding of each other and how each of our brains work. It can be difficult to translate words into images, especially when there’s so much personal experience behind them, but when I draw something I just go, “this will make Chas laugh,” or, “I bet this is how he felt when he wrote this." Being friends on top of collaborators makes it a really unique and special experience.
Was the color scheme intentional? What was the inspiration for that?
C: There’s actually less of an inspiration and more of a practicality: Time.
Angela’s an artistic powerhouse and is always working on projects. With the webcomic being a weekly release with numerous panels, going too detailed just wouldn't be feasible for her to do! Going “inks and tones” was an easy solution. It gives it a unique and totally appropriate aesthetic, too.
A: I picked pink because I think pink can be representational of a lot of emotions. There’s a sadness to pink, there’s a healing and calming effect it has, and it can be happy and bright as well.
What do you think sets RIP You and Me apart from other romance/ break-up comics?
C: While breakups occur in stories through all mediums, they’re usually just a plot point. RIP You and Me is solely about the end of a relationship, the feelings involved (both good and bad), and trying to cope.
While I’m sure readers will naturally duck in and duck out of the series, I’m really writing it for the people that are currently in these situations. When they’re up at night, can’t sleep, and have all sorts of thoughts running through their mind, I hope they stumble upon these stories and can relate. Sometimes it’s enough to know that other people have been there too, you know?
You’re calling it “slice of death”—besides the obvious play on “slice of life” but making it spookier, is there anything deeper behind that?
C: Sometimes a breakup feels like the end of the world. If you experience bad anxiety or depression—like myself—it can rule your head and heart for quite some time. You go through the day-to-day motions, but you’re kind of on zombie mode—your mind is elsewhere. You feel dead. Empty.
On a much happier note, we just thought it was a cute way of describing the series.
Where do you see this headed? Are you planning for a short run or multiple chapters/volumes?
C: I actually have the final episode written, but I’m only pulling that out when we feel like it’s a good time to end the series. As long as we’ve got readers, there’s always stories to tell. I’ve got four long-term relationships under my belt; I know Angela’s got a bunch of her own stories, too! At some point, I’d love to field episode ideas from readers—I think it’d be a fun way to help fuel collaboration and the community.
Beyond that, I’d actually like to do a narrative-based comic book series using these same characters. If people connect and like ‘em, I’m sure we’ll find a way to make that happen some day. I’d love for these stories to be animated someday, too—hit us up, Frederator!
On their Tinder bios, what would Skeleton Boy and Witch Girl’s favorite songs be?
C: I’d say:
Skeleton Boy - PUP’s "Doubts"
Witch Girl - Angel Olsen’s "All Mirrors"
A: And bonus fact, I drew almost all of the RIPYAM art to
The album “Jinx” by the band Crumb : )
And where is the comic available? And where can readers find you both on social media?
C: As of June 2nd at 12:00 AM EST, Rip You and Me is now up on WEBTOON! (To make things easier for readers, they can go to ripyouandme.com—it’ll automatically redirect them to the series.)
I can be reached at @chasexclamationpoint (Instagram) and @chasexclamation (Twitter). If pictures of my fur babies are too boring, I’m always up for chats!
A: And you can find my work on Instagram or Twitter @angelaoddling : )