Welcome to the first of what I hope will be a series of Q&A’s with creators and fans involved with comics!
First to the table is Mike Salsbury – creator of Boundless.
Boundless is a weekly web comic featuring a girl named Emily who gets swept up in epic adventures thanks to a chance encounter with a talking fox named Rudy.
Mike, a well travelled artist with a passion for surfing , drew upon his early exposure to different cultures and environments to channel his creativity to writing, music and comics. A graduate in Business and Marketing, Mike turned his creative juices to focus on Boundless!
The comic has already grown to over 12,000 followers on Instagram and has just hit nine chapters since starting in
He kindly took some time to answer my questions about his comic in this exclusive interview.
What inspired you to create Boundless? Have you been influenced by any other media?
I actually started creating Boundless out of boredom while sitting at my old desk job. I would just doodle the characters and eventually I turned them into a comic strip, which led to a full adventure series. I was definitely influenced by Sunday Strip comics, and some modern Graphic novels such as “Seconds.” by Brian Lee Omally or “Maus,” by Art Spiegleman.
How would you describe your art style? In terms of artists, has anyone been an influence on your style?
I would say a lot of my original inspirations have come from the old comic “Calvin and Hobbes” by Bill Watterson. I try to keep the sunday comic strip feel, but also push the level of art. I get a lot of inspiration from modern digital game/movie art. As a result Boundless is sort of what you get when you mix the two.
Elements of Emily and her story almost seem self-referential – how much of yourself have you put into the characters?
Pretty much everything. I can’t speak for every storyteller, but for me each of my characters are a reflection of myself or an experience. Maybe not to the same extreme, but they do respond to the world and their situations the same way that I might.
Emily looks to have been swept up in what appears to be a grand adventure – will Emily have a breaking point? When will enough absurdity be enough?!
It really depends. I definitely think she will hit a breaking point, Rudy probably will too. But like a lot of stories, the breaking point is usually the best opportunity for the character to reveal themselves. We’ll just have to find out how much they can take on.
In episode eight, Rudy casually reveals his large bag of cash! Your web page also suggests gun men on motorbikes! Is it safe to say Rudy is much more than a talking fox and could be engaged in illegal activities?
I can answer yes, he is involved in illegal activity-but not by his own accord or choice. The money doesn’t come from any illegal activities though. There will be a backstory to where it came from for sure. Within a couple of episodes from now.
You are very well travelled – is there one country or city you have always wanted to visit but have not yet had the chance? Will we see Emily and Rudy live out your dreams for you?!
I think so. One of the places I have always wanted to go is Tokyo, Japan. I think that would be fun on all creative fronts. I know Emily and Rudy have a strong chance of going there-maybe not their next stop but eventually.
If you happened upon awalking, talking animal – what kind of animal would it be and why?
Well in my day to day it would probably be my cat. Just because he is one of the only animals I see often during Quarantine. He would probably be just as sassy as Rudy too.
How is the quarantine affecting the production of Boundless? I know some creatives are finding it a much more productive time.
It has been about the same for me. Just as obsessed and passionate about the growth of the story as I was before covid. I was already living a relatively independent lifestyle before so I didn’t have much of an adjustment.
How are you finding keeping to a publishing schedule?
I keep the schedule loose and post weekly. I can do it each week with some last minute crunching. If I were to select a specific day I would be done for, and my readers would be sure to remind me that it was not out yet. I could speed my publishing up, but quality over quantity is my philosophy.
How far ahead do you plan your story arcs and do you ever adapt these plans to make Emily and Rudy’s adventures more culturally relevant?
I definitely have a couple episodes of the story mapped out before I draw right now, but I don’t write more than two episodes out. As I continue this I will only map out one episode before I draw. I think it would be too daunting to write as many pages that volume one will have, and then ask myself to draw them all out.
Not going too far ahead also gives me creative flexibility. The general story is in mind, but I keep it vague for myself. If I get inspired, I can change a few things without having to do rewrites or drastic plot changes. I definitely try to keep things culturally relevant. I won’t be drawing people with masks on, but my goal is to keep the adventure relevant to everyone.
Trends, styles, or technology will change – so I will be doing my best to keep those things neutral or out of the story when possible (Not very possible.) That way when I’m an old fart, someone could still relate and enjoy the books.
The way the general public read or access comic books has drastically changed over the last ten years – do you feel “web comics” have been a contributing factor to this?
Yeah I would say so. I think comic quality overall has skyrocketed in some respects and crashed entirely at the same time. There are a lot of good web comics out there, but since there is such a low barrier to entry now there are a lot of “fast food” comics too. The good news is that this creates high demand for quality stories and art, which will rise above the others in the long haul.
Is Boundless something that, ultimately, you would like to see in print as a physical comic or trade?
Definitely Trade. Once we hit 300 pages I probably will do a Kickstarter for volume one, or just sell it without a Kickstarter. I have not read a ton of modern comics, but all the ones I have seen seem super short. I figured if I’m going to charge people, I want them to get bank for their buck.
You have mentioned you have not read much modern comics – what have you read recently? Do mainstream comics, and as an extension, comic book movies, appeal to you?
Not recently, I usually read novels. Mainstream comics surprisingly don’t appeal much to me. I think because I can sense that the; writer, line artist, and color artists are all separate people. A lot of the indie comics are cool and stray from that routine, but sometimes they’re not very inviting by their own choice. Targeting an specific adult demographic. I do like the big superhero movies like the next person, but no more than any other good film. Compared to other artists and Comic creators, I barely read any comics. It may be an advantage, but I’m sure it’s just another double edged sword.
What are your future ambitions both with Boundless and without? Do you see Boundless as a long term project?
Boundless is most certainly long term. I intend to grow the audience further and take everything I have now to scale. My goal is to create enough revenue to develop my own studio and “Story telling team.” I think Boundless would be the gateway, but definitely just the beginning.
What would be your dream project to work on?
Probably an Animated film or series for the Boundless. That would be an absolute awesome challenge.
As a creator owned property would you prefer to keep this “in house” within your own planned studio or would you part with the rights if the right offer presented itself?
I think it depends on the impact I could make. Contracts and deals like that go beyond the creator and what we want. The larger the deal becomes, the more moral the question becomes. A deal that would get me scott-free for a few years would be a hard no, but a deal that could spark the ignition of an organization to serve others- now that’s something I might sell rights for.
To finish – what one thing can you tell us about Emily and Rudy that we don’t already know?!
I will be unveiling the two characters more and more, but here are two that haven’t really surfaced yet. Rudy is not only able to speak and communicate on a human level, but his intellect goes far beyond the standard individual. Rudy learns in one year what most humans do in six. Through study or experience. As for Emily, her father is a pilot- but she never got her own pilots license. It may or may not stop her in the future.
Be sure to check out the Boundless at the links below and show some support for this fantastic comic!