Webcomics Weekly Extra: Talking ‘The Boötes Void’ With Stewart Moore

by Richard Bruton

In the latest Webcomic Weekly, we took a look at The Boötes Void – A Comics Trip of Many Dimensions by Stewart (SK) Moore/Booda Von Boodstein. I described it as ‘wonderfully, brilliantly weird, full of so many different things, layer upon layer upon layer and then even more’. But I also wanted to chat to Stewart about The Boötes Void, knowing that he’s one creator who always has something interesting to say about his work. So, join us for another trip to The Boötes Void as we talk with Booda…

Like I said in the Webcomic Weekly piece, I’ve chatted to Stewart a few times over at the 2000 AD site (here, here, and here) and he’s an artist who really cares about what he makes, really thinks about everything that gets onto the page (no matter what size or shape the page might be!)

The Boötes Void is a comic that plays with so many complex ideas, putting the strip and the reader through multiple twists and turns, pushing the envelope of what can be done in terms of both idea and execution. It really is a perfect example of how some creatively interesting the world of webcomics can be in the hands of the right creators.

Richard Bruton: I’ve been meaning to do something on The Boötes Void for a long time, my apologies! However, now I’ve had a look at it and… well, it’s a bit good, aint it?

Stewart K Moore/Booda Von Boodstein: Hah, thanks…I’ve never sure what anyway makes of it. I enjoyed making it.

RB: The Boötes Void originally appeared in Aces Weekly, right?

SKM/ Booda: Yes. I did the Thrawn Janet adaptation under my full name first but was under the impression I had limited pages per episode. When David (Lloyd – the man behind Aces Weekly) told me I could basically draw episodes to any length I had this realisation that I could create something much more vast and open and set at a very different pace. In this case I drew under my nickname ‘Booda’. Both Thrawn Janet and The Boötes Void, and one 3 page horror, can be downloaded from Aces Weekly as The Booda Collection.

RB: Now, the big one… what’s The Boötes Void all about?

SKM/Booda: This question is a little hard to answer but not because I don’t have an answer, I do. The short answer is that it is about consciousness, time and memory and perhaps above all the power of imagination. As you’ve read the story I’ll be happy to explain off-the-record the deeper aspects of what The Boötes Void is doing. In fact, I would be happy to do that with any reader who sends me a DM on Twitter!

But going into a greater explanation before the reader has read it might spoil it – like a joke told back to front!

‘A Time Traveller’
‘Who’s there?’
‘Knock, Knock’

There are essentially two versions of the story now. The Aces Weekly original and the re-cut version for Webtoon. I love the roll-down or scroll-down format of Webtoon, it’s delightful to flow through comics this way. This version is free but it doesn’t include the index.

In Aces Weekly, the final page is an index of all the references that run throughout the strip. Reading that index page will explain a LOT about The Boötes Void and what it’s doing, all the points.

RB: I’ve deliberately left it fairly open when talking about The Boötes Void in Webcomic Weekly, just giving the readers the plot up to the moment we realise it’s some bizarre region of Godzilla meets Fantastic Voyage yet the humans turn out to be the marauding monster. After that, I’ve really just given the readers a series of standalone panels that give an idea of the scope of where it all goes, how many twists and turns there are along the way.

Conceptually, you are hitting on SO many different ideas through the short comic, you go through real-world quantum physics, multiverses, and so much else. 

SKM/Booda: Yes. Last night I was watching an episode of Fargo (S3) and they hit on some of the very same points with regard to wave-particle duality. A character tells a story about a man and wife who are both married and not married at the same time. This is the famous Shroedinger’s Cat paradox. I go into that in different ways and at one point try and have Sputnik use it to provide an explanation for how the spirit (in the story) can move from body to body.

I did something here I don’t think I’ve seen before. When the ghost escapes the body it becomes the readers PoV. The reader is now the spirit, the consciousness. In that way, each reader is one with every other reader and a kind of universal consciousness, individual and a collective. Sputnik even holds up a mirror to reflect the reader into the frame but chickens-out because the reader is just too horrible!

RB: Similarly, along with the conceptual ideas, you also play with a lot of structural ideas about presenting the comic.

SKM/ Booda: Webtoon was a surprise here and I enjoyed re-cutting the story, this version is quite different than in Aces. It was good fun.

The Aces Weekly version is mostly a 9-panel structured comic on a landscape page format. The Webtoons one actually presented some interesting challenges and the versions, presentation-wise, are very different.

RB: On formatting – this is one of those webcomics that absolutely plays with the potential of making comics online, multiple tricks and treats in store for those who read it in terms of how you’re doing things that would be very, very difficult to get onto the printed page – well, that’s what I’m thinking anyway.

SKM/ Booda: Very much so. With Aces Weekly the intention was to allow for a more immersive experience, to go into the panel with the reader. Aces readers often read the issues on big flat-screen TV’s. So I tried to imagine what that might look like and how that scale could be used.

RB: Now, what’s online ends rather surprisingly… the whole ‘End of Prologue’ thing. It does work as a complete whole, with the ending opening things up rather than being a finite conclusion. But are there any plans for more? 

SKM/ Booda: ‘The End of Prologue’ thing is a wee bit tongue-in-cheek because it’s a 60+ page comic book. But I wasn’t pulling anybody’s leg, it really is a prologue, so I’m not actually joking. The main part of The Boötes Void would focus on a housewife, Gayle, and the setting would be that of Baltimore in 1981.

I think I would keep the prologue online but follow up with a printed book. The prologue would not be necessary to understand the book. But it could deepen the experience considerably.

Or maybe I should print the prologue and then draw the main body of the book, beginning, middle and end, on one page on just one page …and then follow that with a 62-page epilogue. Yes, I think I’ll do that!!

Okay then – told you it would be fascinating reading, didn’t I? I’m going back to read The Boötes Void in full online once more at Webtoons and so should you.

You can also buy it as a complete 83-page digital collection (plus his zombie-fest Thrawn Janet) in The Booda Collection at the Aces Weekly site.

Stewart’s graphic novel Project MKUltra:Sex, Drugs & the CIA will be published by Clover Press, San Diego. To find out more about Stewart, go here, and for more on Project MKUltra (& to sign up for the Clover Press newsletter) – click here.

And of course, there’s more Booda on Twitter and Instagram, as well as a new art site at www.stewartkmoore.com.

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