Like many visual artists, Ashton Dame (B.F.A. Printmaking '12) uses Instagram to share and promote his creations. His first post under @kreaturekastle dates back to November 28, 2011. Today, over 12,400 followers watch for Dame's content consisting mostly of sketches and works-in-progress as well as the occasional personal update.
In 2014, Dame pushed the boundaries of the photo-sharing social media network with an imaginative choose-your-own-adventure comic called "Quest of Death." Three years later, with more than 300 posts, the webcomic has gained an audience of nearly 3,000 followers who decide the fate of the story’s protagonist in the comments of each post.
We asked the Brooklyn-based artist about what he’s learned along the way and what’s in store for the next chapter of "Quest of Death" as he transitions to Patreon, a membership-based platform that connects creators with patrons.
HERRON: First and foremost, how would you sum up the comic?
ASHTON DAME: "Quest of Death" is a story about a guardian named Birt who's tasked with keeping corrupt gods imprisoned for all time. When those gods break free and seek to regain control of the planet, only you can help our hero stop them!
HERRON: What’s the origin story behind "Quest of Death?"
DAME: At the time "Quest of Death" started, I was in a weird transition phase in my life. I had just left behind Indianapolis and all my old friends, went through a break-up and had no real job prospects. Needless to say, I was a bit down in the dumps. Then one day, while taking a shower, the idea just suddenly popped into my head: "Wait a minute, I should make a comic!"
HERRON: What inspired you to use Instagram as a platform for your webcomic over others out there like Tapas?
DAME: Instagram felt like the best fit at the time due to its insane popularity and built-in audience. It's easy to use, people already knew how to navigate it, and it could become searchable via the web without having to purchase a domain or hosting platform. Also, it was important to me to keep it free of charge.
Additionally, being a total newbie to comics at that time, I was really overwhelmed about how to format the whole thing and where to begin, and the structure of Instagram gave me a simple set of rules and parameters to work within, so I could spend less time focusing on page layout/composition and more on just having fun and making it. To top it all off, I noticed no one was really doing it, so that had some appeal.
HERRON: Do you have a disciplined production schedule?
DAME: I just post when it’s convenient for me. I often stay up late into the night working on it, then get a couple hours of sleep, then go to work feeling like a zombie all day, and do it all over again the next night. I tried sticking to schedules and various other things, but could never keep up with it. So I just agreed to do my best at any given time.
The main issue with the Quest has been my inability to post it regularly, which really bugs me because it's been received so well and I know the fans want more. Luckily, to alleviate this, I'm setting up a Patreon account just for "Quest of Death" and hoping fans will help fund it so I can take it on more seriously and see it to the end.