Madeleine Cull (AKA Mccull) – has been a webcomic artist for close to ten years now, and has been writing stories for as long as she can remember. She currently lives in the pacific northwest and spends most of her time drawing or hanging out with her cat, but tries to travel as much as she can too! She loves attending “Artist Alleys” (at comic/anime conventions), music, writing, and the ambiance of her local coffee shop.
I had the opportunity to interview Madeleine, which you can read below.
First of all, welcome to Geeks OUT! Could you tell us a little about yourself?
Thank you for giving me the chance to interview! My name is Madeleine Cull (AKA Mccull) and I’m the creator of the webcomic “The Leg Less Traveled” (which is my current project, although I’ve been a webcomic artist for nine years now). I’m also a novelist and have published a couple of books in the last few years. So, as I’m sure you can guess, I love storytelling. In my free time I try to attend “Artist Alleys” at comic cons/anime cons, so traveling and meeting fans and selling merch is also a big part of what I love to do!
What drew you to storytelling, particularly to the medium of comics? Were there any writers or stories that sparked your own love and interest in storytelling?
Ever since I can remember I’ve been into storytelling. And, I started drawing so young that I feel it’s simply always been a part of me. So, I think the truth about me getting into comics is that it was more of a “when” it would happen, than a “how” it happened. Of course, there are a lot of inspirations that have carved a path for me creatively and even helped me develop an art style. Artists like Hamletmachine, Lucid, Hazel & Bell, and a few others really set the stage for me when it came to webcomics. I started reading their work when I was just a freshman in high school, and by the time I was a senior I’d worked up the courage to start my own.
As a webcomic creator, you are known for your comic, The Leg Less Traveled. what was the inspiration for this story?
The Leg Less Traveled actually has a bit of a sad origin story if I’m being honest. Back in 2020, the Pacific North West had some really horrible wildfires, and one of them happened to sweep through the town I was living. I lost everything in that fire aside from my laptop and my beloved cat, and it was shortly after that fire that I decided to quit working on my previous project (A Webcomic called “Periwinkle Blue”). I’d been struggling with it for a while anyways, but after such a huge life-changing experience, I just didn’t feel like the same person anymore.
What really saved me at this time was meeting one of my closest friends (and now editor) B. Rowdy Lufkin. Rowdy sort of stepped up and encouraged me to get back on the horse when it came to creating. He added a lot of stability to my life when I needed it most, and in return, we ended up with TLLT. I remember talking with him about starting a new webcomic, and he told me then (in not so many words) that if I was going to do it, I needed to make it the most self-indulgent comic, and really write what I love most. He and I were both worried about my ability to be self-disciplined and finish a comic after what happened with PB, but in the end it couldn’t have been further from the truth. I absolutely ADORE working on TLLT. And since starting it, I’ve gone from thinking “this will be my last webcomic” to, “this is the new beginning of webcomics for me”.
So, I guess to answer your question more directly, my inspiration for TLLT was to write a story that would truly rekindle my love for webcomics. And the way I did this was by incorporating all things and themes that I personally love. Music, traveling, culture, humor, self-discovery, and romance… I wanted to write a story that was bright, lighthearted, and, above all, made me happy.
Can you give us any trivia (that hasn’t already been given) about the characters from The Leg Less Traveled?
This is a good question and one that I had to really think about before answering! The most significant thing about the characters that people might not know, is that originally Kinley was going to be the main character/Judas’ love interest. His design came first and, while I liked his design a lot, after coming up with Judas and drawing them together I knew it wasn’t the right fit. Personality-wise, the story would have been totally different if Kinley had been our MC. So, I decided to set him aside and start over from a completely different angle. Fletch came rather quickly after that, and I think the only hang-up I had with him was that, at first, he was too “boring”. I knew I wanted to have some type of disabled representation in the comic, but it was actually Rowdy’s idea to have him missing a leg/use a prosthetic. I loved this idea for him, and that was what really sealed the deal. From there came the title “The Leg Less Traveled” and I was later able to bring Kinley back in as a totally separate character.
Another thing worth mentioning that I’m sure no one knows (this is totally just a fun fact) is that Fletch and his mom’s cats are all named after the soup. Gazpacho, Gumbo, Bisque, and Minestrone! Those four cats were named before ANY of the main characters were. LOL.
What are some of your favorite parts of the creative process? What do you find to be some of the most frustrating/difficult?
My favorite part of the creative process has got to be… simply talking about the characters with Rowdy. Talking about their lives, their hurdles, their family, what they would do in different situations, how they would feel about certain things, and why. This is the part of the process that comes most naturally to me, and, I believe it’s what makes my characters feel real. When I start a big project like TLLT, I never have the entire thing figured out from the get-go. I have major plot points I want to hit along the way and goals for the story, but I sort of let the characters fill in all the gaps as we go. Rowdy and I always say “the characters write themselves” and it’s TRUE. Fletch and Judas have practically become real—that’s my favorite part.
As for the most frustrating and difficult part of the process… I think, physically, it’s the linework phase of creating. This is the most time-consuming portion of working on an update, and it’s the portion that I find myself dreading the most. So… so mindless.
As a creative, who or what would you say are some of your greatest creative influences and/or sources of inspiration?
I mentioned above a few of the other webcomic creators that have really inspired me… but along with them, I think the most influential thing in my stories is music. You’ll never catch me working on art without listening to something in the background. I have playlists for everything—sad scenes, happy scenes, background noise, angst; all sorts of moods. Even playlists for the character’s themselves.
Aside from your work, what are some things you would want others to know about you?
One of the biggest things I want people to know about me is that I’m not only a webcomic artist—I’m also a novelist! I’ve written two books (The Maple Effect and Honorable Discharge) and both of them are very near and dear to my heart. Rowdy and I also co-wrote a short story (RAWHIDE) and all of them can be found on Amazon. I love writing just as much as I love drawing, and sometimes I think I’m actually a better writer than an artist, so they’re worth checking out if you enjoy reading!
I realize that ^^^ sort of falls under the same category as “my work”, so I’ll answer your question in a more personal way too.
I’d want people to know that (even though I’m not a shy person) I’m a very introverted one. So, it takes me a while to warm up to new people. I often think that (In person) I must come across as reserved or serious-natured, but in reality, I’m just tied up in my own head. Lol.
What’s a question you haven’t been asked yet but wish you were asked (as well as the answer to that question)?
A question I wished I was asked… Hmm… To be completely honest, I’m not sure! I wish I was asked to be a guest creator at some big comic con or anime convention. Or asked to be on a panel alongside other amazing webcomic creators! Or come do a book signing… or sign a movie deal for one of my stories… or something. Hahaha. But these are all more goal-oriented “asks”, I know that’s probably not what you meant…
Are there any projects you are currently working on and at liberty to talk about?
Right now, TLLT truly is the only project I am working on. I’m sort of afraid to let myself work on two projects at the same time because I get so sucked into my work that I fear one might take precedence over the other, and then I’d lose my momentum. Also, Rowdy would kill me if that happened.
What advice might you have to give to aspiring creatives, particularly those who might want to work on their own webcomics someday?
There’s so much advice I could give to new artists just starting out… but I think most important above all, is that YOU have to figure out what YOU want out of doing a webcomic. For some people, webcomics are just a fun hobby, and for others, they are a whole career. I believe the amount of effort you’re going put into your work is greatly affected by what YOU decide you want out of it. Knowing this from the beginning will help you stay authentic to yourself, and then you will be more likely to be proud of the work you put in.
Finally, what LGBTQ+ books/ comics would you recommend to the readers of Geeks OUT?
There’s a TON of webcomics I could recommend, but I’ll give you two in particular. One of them is a comic that’s been finished for a long time, and it’s not hosted on any webcomic app (it’s got it’s own website). It’s called “The Less Than Epic Adventures of TJ and Amal” by E.K. Weaver. This is the ONLY other BL road-trip-romance comic that I’ve ever read. It’s funny and nostalgic, the characters are unique, and the story itself is well-written. I find myself coming back to this comic a lot when I need a good pick-me-up read.
The other comic I will recommend is “Countdown to Countdown” by Xiao Tong (AKA “Velinxi”) who is a master at world-building and overall, incredibly talented artist. This webcomic is by far the most beautifully drawn comic I’ve ever read, and It’s still ongoing! Which is great, because if you read it, I can almost guarantee you’re going to get sucked into the world and want more.