Welcome, one and all, to another Fursday Spotlight. This series is where I highlight the awesome creative folks in the furry fandom and explain why – whether you’re a furry or not – you should check them out.
This time around, I’m chatting with Tim Weeks, the creator of the gaming webcomic Savestate. The paperback and hardback release of the comic’s first three years has just been released, so expect a review of that later today.
Now, I stumbled upon the comic in 2016. I was on a bit of a webcomic kick at the time and was pretty much devouring everything I came across. When Savestate popped up, it ticked a number of boxes for me. Obviously, it was furry, and that’s always a good way to get me initially interested. The comic had a really fun air to it too, with the humour being lighthearted and quirky. I loved the gaming focus, and seeing so many nods to consoles from my youth made me smile. On top of that, the art was consistently good, with cartoony style that allowed for some awesome work in terms of facial expressions.
So, in short, if you love gaming and want a lighthearted read, Savestate is absolutely for you!
As is always the case with this feature, I reached out to Tim shortly after I finished reading the paperback release of the comic. He was kind enough to agree to a Q&A too, so I give you…Tim Weeks.
Tim, for those unfamiliar with you and your work, can you give us a quick introduction to yourself?
I’m Tim Weeks. I’m a gamer and furry artist mostly known for the webcomic Savestate.
I’ve been reading Savestate since 2016, but it actually dates back to 2014. What made you decide to start working on a webcomic? Was it inspiration from another artist, a want to fill a gap in the market, or something else entirely?
The original idea for Savestate came from a random doodle I did of our family dog, Mandy. I’ve always loved webcomics and was inspired by others like Mac Hall by Ian McConville, Broken Plot Device by Lis Boriss, and Housepets by Rick Griffin to name a few. Savestate doesn’t have the most original story setting and, if anything, I thought it would be completely overshadowed by similar gamer webcomics. Luckily it seems to have resonated with a few people.
How far in advance do you tend to write and illustrate strips for Savestate? Also, do you have a set routine when it comes to working on different strips?
It depends. I’m not as strict as I probably should be but this is all done in my spare time so it’s tough to stick to a regular schedule. The general ideas for comics are written a month or two in advanced, often I look at upcoming video games that I’d like to cover. The actual scripts are written a week or two before and drawn then. There isn’t much of a routine other than listening to music or YouTube while I draw.
The characters in Savestate are all wonderfully likable. While not the main protagonists, I wanted to start with Harvey and Ness though. What was the inspiration for these two? Harvey in particular has a wonderful look to him that makes him seem equal parts cute and creepy.
The idea for Harvey came from my Mom. Mandy used to run around the woods at night chasing nothing in particular. My Mom would say she was chasing and invisible rabbit, Harvey. This was a reference to the old black and white movie, Harvey.
Harvey’s original design was based on Kosh from Babylon 5. I always thought it was creepy the way he slid around without taking steps. Eventually I settled on the idea that Harvey’s skull would be the only physical part of it’s body and the further away from the skull the more spectral it would become.
Ness is basically a dog’s squeaky toy. I thought it’d be funny to have an evil spirit trapped inside the weakest thing possible. Her limitation to only communicate in squeaks was a way to let her say extremely rude things while sounding cute at the same time. It’s up to the reader to decide just how vulgar Ness actually is.
Nicole was based on your real dog, Mandy. Meanwhile, while Kade came first, he has a real resemblance with your most recent addition to the family, Ivy. Do you find that the fictional characters and real dogs share any traits, and if so, which ones? I know that it’s intentional with Mandy, but do Kade and Ivy match up personality wise?
Nicole and Kade are basically my personality split in two. Mandy was a very smart dog but didn’t get along with strangers at all, so Nicole ended up having my more brash tendencies and calculating mind. Which left Kade with my more optimistic and playful side. By complete coincidence that also fits Ivy’s personality. She is very much your standard dog, super happy and always ready to play.
Kade and Riley’s relationship is very sweet, and Kade’s interactions with her are absolutely adorable. When did you decide to add Riley to cast?
Both Riley and Rick were around at the start, but I wanted to hold off on introducing them so people could get used to each character’s interactions first. The only thing that really changed about Riley during that time is she became more skeptical and afraid of the supernatural stuff that everyone else seems to accept without much hesitation.
One thing I’ve always wondered is how you would place the characters age wise? I don’t recall it being mentioned in the strips at all?
Kade and Nicole are 25 with Rick and Riley being right around the same age. I didn’t really want to write a story that took place during college and they had to be old enough to be living on their own.
The comic is littered with references to all sorts of things, but primarily video games. Kade and Nicole are themselves gamers, as is their friend Rick. The demonic entities Harvey and Ness get sucked into the gaming world too, and the newest cast member Riley works at a game store. I think it’s safe to resume that you’re a gamer too, right? Can you tell us a little about how you came to enjoying gaming?
I started with an NES Power Set, which came with Super Mario, Duck Hunt, and Track Meet. I still have the box too, which I still used as a nightstand. You can see Kade doing the same in the flashback of the strip “Demonic Candy.” I’ve always had a very technical mind and enjoyed things like Lego or all the clever gadget designs in Rescue Rangers. I guess video games were kind of a digital extension of that. I like being able to interact with and figure things out.
I love how this kinda spilled over into the lay-out of the print edition of the comic too, with the instruction manual elements at the start and the character select screen section at the end. Was that always your intent with the print edition, or did that come as an idea later on?
I wanted to make the book a huge joke with as many little extras as I could pack into it. The only thing I planned going into making the book was that each volume would follow video game console naming conventions. That means volume two will be “Super Savestate”, volume three “Savestate 64”, and so on (“Savestate Wii” is going to be a weird one if we ever make it that far).
If pushed, what would be your favourite console or gaming era of all time, and your pick of top games from that generation?
My favorite era is definitely the 16-bit and I’d have to give it to the SNES for the shear volume of timeless classics it produced. 8-bit games are great but the graphics can be limiting and 32-bit games started that awkward time of early 3D. 16-bit games are the perfect blend of graphics and the ability to fully realize your game. There’s no way I could pick a single favorite game but to name a few: Mario World, Yoshi’s Island, Sonic 3 + Knuckles, Final Fantasy 3/6, Super Metroid, Chrono Trigger, Mega Man X, and Link to the Past. I should probably stop before I end up listing every game and go on a rant about how we never got Alien Soldier in the US.
The 16-Bit generation is my favourite too. The Genesis – or Mega Drive as it was here in the UK – was actually my main console growing up. Did you find that you got caught up in the console wars at all? I know a lot of people who are more open to different consoles now but very much part of the ‘you can only like Nintendo OR SEGA’ conflict that domianted the market.
I never got seriously behind one console vs the other. They all had their ups and downs. Back then you’d get one or two games a year and a few rentals every now and then. Different friends would have different consoles and that was how you’d get to experience different games.
Do the modern games that appear in the comic represent the games that you’re enjoying yourself right now? If so, what would be favourite of them?
If there’s a game in Savestate then I’ve played it in real life. Based on number of hours played I’d have to say Overwatch, but that’s mostly due to the nature of the game and how easy it is to pickup and play a round or two. Going by pure enjoyment of a game released in the last few years then probably Spyro Reignited. The attention put into that game was amazing to see. Every Elder Dragon given a unique 3D model all the way down to light illuminating the membrane in Spyro’s wings.
That’s awesome. Overwatch and Spyro reignited were actually ones that I only started last year myself. I absolutely agree on the level of detail presented in Spyro too; the effort they put into making it work is so clear when you play it. In terms of Overwatch, did you have a main, or do you tend to adapt depending on what you’re playing? Also, did you try any of teh other popular FPS titles like PUBG, TF2, Fortnite or Apex Legends?
I usually fill in Overwatch, so I end up playing tanks and healers a lot. I try to play the character that will fit the team comp best. For example, is our damage are fast characters like Genji or Tracer I’d play Ana or Zen for long range healing.
I’ve played Fortnite. It kind of comes and goes in waves. The constant updates and weekly challenges start to get annoying after a while. PUBG was good but then they started slipping with stability updates. Anyone who played PUBG on early XBox One knows how bad it was waiting for building to render into existence. TF2 I, unfortunately, never got into. It was fun, but it was also released on Orange Box and Portal held my attention. I haven’t gotten a chance to play Apex Legends yet, but I’ve heard good things.
What would you say are the best and worst controllers you’ve used, any why?
Best controller ever belongs to the SNES; it’s comfortable, set the standard of four face buttons, and invented the shoulder button. Worst would probably be the Intellivision, but that was before ergonomics were a thing.
Most underrated console and game?
Genesis is the most underrated because its Motorola 68000 processor was SO much faster than the SNES, but the volume of quality games on the SNES overshadows it. Just goes to show the games make the console.
With the characters being anthropomorphic animals, the comic has done well in the furry fandom, and has been nominated for ‘Best Anthropomorphic Comic Strip’ in the Ursa Major Awards multiple times. How does it feel to get the nominations?
Being nominated in the first year of Savestate was amazing! It was a real eye opener, as I didn’t really know that much about Ursa Major Awards back then, and it really showed me that people were reading and enjoying the comic.
How did you come to discover the furry fandom, and what would you say is the best part of the fandom?
I’ve enjoyed anthropomorphic animals for as long as I can remember thanks to shows like Rescue Rangers. I didn’t hear about “furry” until I was in high school when I randomly ran across Terrie Smith’s Havoc Inc. at my local comic shop.
My favorite part about the furry fandom is how creative everyone is. Seeing the amazing works everyone else produces makes me want to push myself further.
Have you got any stories of cool or awesome things that fans have said to you at conventions?
Early on during Savestate someone gave me a sketch they had done of Kade. That was really cool. I never thought anyone would bother to take the time to draw one of my characters.
What are your top 5 furry characters from popular media?
Only popular media, hm… Larry from Zootopia, Spyro, Bowser, Wolf O’Donnell, and Kass from BotW.
How about your top 5 furry characters from outside the better-known series?
That’d be tricky. There are so many to choose from like Sparkster from Rocket Knights, Red from Solatorobo, Swat Kats, or almost anything from the early Disney Afternoon shows. I can say one of my favorite lesser known arcade games is Metamorphic Force. It’s a standard beat-em-up where you get to play as a bull, wolf, panther, or bear and beat up other furries like lizards and hedgehogs.
What’s next for you? Do you intend to keep going with Savestate for years to come, or did you have some other projects on the horizon too?
I’m having a blast working on Savestate and I’ve still got tons of stories. Right now it’s something I do as a hobby in my spare time, which unfortunately is limited. Maybe that’ll change someday as I have a few ideas for comics and video games I’d love to get off the ground at some point.
Finally, I wanted to thank you for agreeing to answering my questions. Did you have any final message for readers? Where can they go to find out more about you? Feel free to link to anything you wish.
The “Links” page of the Savestate website has all the different places to find me.
I just want to give a huge “Thank you” to everyone who reads Savestate. It means so much to me that you’ve enjoyed the series. I never thought so many people would be interested in my story about a couple of video game obsessed dogs.