Uzobono Interview

This interview was originally conducted by Callidus and Madam Kistulot for The Black Room podcast. Check out episode 21 to listen to Uzobono’s answers. Be sure to check her out on Deviant Art and contribute to her Patreon if you’d like to support her tremendous art.

Many thanks to Uzobono for favoring us with an interview!

When did you know you had a fetish for mind control?

Hmm. If we’re talking about a specific time – that’s really hard to pin down. I’d say it started around when I hit puberty, there was sort of a perfect storm of growing up, hormones and all that, access to the early-ish internet  and I was exposed to a *lot* of mainstream content on television, which while it was fairly tame by our standards, helped to solidify my sort of kink for mind control and corruption.

I don’t think I actually realized that I had a fetish for it until I stumbled on online fiction however, which was a few years later. When it dawned on me that I could get off by…reading and more importantly, visualizing it in my head, that was when I realized ‘Oh this is definitely my thing’.

Looking back to childhood, was there any fascination with a book/movie/tv show that featured mind control (not necessarily in a sexual context)?

Oh gosh, if I could remember and list them all, we’d be here for a week. Where to begin?

So, there were definitely shows and movies that weren’t overtly sexual in any sense which I know that I watched a bunch of times not sure why it captivated my so much. Basically mostly sci-fi, some fantasy like obvious movies like ‘Legend’. I dread the day when that’s remade because there’s no way the current film industy can match Mia Sara’s dance with her darkness dress.

Obvious shows like ‘Star Trek’, which through the Borg episodes, influenced me a bunch. I mean, that’s obvious right? I was so young, so its a little hard to remember but I know there were a bunch of made for television movies on…UPN or some other ancient network that had mind control themes. Oh, and the Hercules and Xena shows. I loved Xena even though, again, I was really young to understand the plots for the most part. We had them on video, and I remember there were a few hypnosis or at least the implication of hypnosis in some episodes that were sprinkled through the run of both shows.

The Outer Limits (the 90s version, not the old one) was a big one. I was definitely way too young to watch that one, that’s for sure, but my parents let me anyways…so there you go. There are a couple of episodes that I still recall to this day.

One is the ‘mind worm’ episode which was a direct link to why I loved and obsessed over Tabico’s ‘Mind Worms’ way back when. The episode was called ‘From Within’ and had these parasites that were ultra-squicky and entered through a person’s ear, into their brain and and made the townspeople in the episode lose inhibition and turned them into these sexual, violent versions of themselves. Also starred a post-Doogie Howser Neil Patrick Harris!

Another episode was called ‘The Deprogrammers’ and if you haven’t watched it, you owe it to yourself. The basic premise is that the Earth has been conquered by these reptilian aliens and humanity is enslaved. The last scene is…well you’ll have to see it for yourself,but for me, it left a huge impression.

There’re a ton of others, Stargate for example was just full of mind control content. I remember watching SG-1 a bunch. I mean that was the the main villains gimmick really. At least body possession. Plus squick.

I wasn’t into animated series as a kid that much, but as an adult I’ve come to appreciate things like Batman and other 80s/90s cartoons that really played around with the mind control aspect of villains. I mean, some of the Mad Hatter episodes of Batman: The Animated Series…wow.

As far as literature, I wasn’t much of a comic girl…well, ever, really which is kind of ironic. Half the mind control tropes seem to originate in comics so I’m thinking a lot of traditional comic writers may or may not be part of our little community whether they know it or not. Not much in the way of mind control for books, but at the same time I was…let’s say developing my tastes, I was also reading stuff like Jean M. Auel – she wrote stuff like ‘The Clan of the Cave Bear’ – which was *very* adult in both content and tone and totally not for a young teenager really.

Nature vs. nurture. Do you think some early life influence drew you to erotic mind control, or was the fascination always there?

I’m in the nature camp personally. I’m not sure that it was more ‘mind control’ per se, but definitely more in the ‘corruption’ camp.

There was something so…I don’t want to say ‘hot’ since I thought about these things before I grew up, but ‘tempting’ or fascinating at least, with say…a hero turned upside down. To turn against the things that make them a hero or a ‘good’ person, even if its temporary.

Its something primal, I think.

When did you first discover the online erotic mind control scene?

Ouch, you’re really testing my memory here. It was so long ago. I was still a teen, let’s just say that, *and* totally sort of not supposed to actually read any of that stuff! I did anyways. Ha.

I *think* I was searching for…fan fiction? I think? For something or other, and this was early 2000s so there wasn’t like…Google or anything. Whatever it was, it led me to a robotization story – for the life of me I can’t remember what *that* was, but I wasn’t searching for ‘mind control’ per se, but the fan fiction I did find was robotization which also implied mind control really.

Some internet searching led to my discovery of the archive – which, again, I was a little young at the time for – and that was that. I think I used like…AskJeeves, which should tell you about when this was.

When did you begin creating erotic mind control comics?

I started in 2012. Gosh, that sounds so long ago now. I’d done some manipping on the collective – and tried my hand at writing fiction on the archive – before that but the comics only started in 2012, yea.

Some of the manips I did on the hypnopics collective were multi-panel shorts but they weren’t anything as cohesive as ‘The Division’ or ‘CORE’ are. I was restricted by the available images I found online, but it was a learning experience playing with Photoshop and stuff.

Who and what have influenced your work?

So this is pretty long answer to a short question, but here goes. For comics, I’d say I was religiously following the ‘Metrobay’ comic series by Doctor Robo, Finister Foul, Trishbot and Macrolass, who sadly passed away earlier this year. Metrobay convinced me that I could try my hand in making comics myself and see what I could come up with.

Their ‘gray drone’ designs were a huge inspiration along with what Dollmistress had done until that time with her doll designs. The main factor was that in both cases, like the Borg from ‘Star Trek’, these drones and dolls were all formerly people that had been turned into these machines or inhuman ‘things’ that were under the total control of a malevolent hivemind versus automatons or robots constructed from scratch like Blade Runner’s Replicants, for example.

I should also say that I think I totally ripped off of Dollmistress’ work really, because she focuses so much on depersonalization which is a huge, huge aspect of my work and in the ‘tiers’ of mind control its sitting right on the number one spot.

Besides the drones and dolls, my influence comes from comics and movies like Blade Runner and Judge Dredd which I haven’t read too much myself but I’m in love with the setting.

The mega-city, the dystopian future where its almost plausible it could happen, the domination of corporations and people being in a sort of ‘caste’ system where you have the ultra upper class living in the sky versus the gritty, dirty street folk below. So work in that vein influenced me a bunch.

Obviously, a lot of mind control fiction was my primary influence however. I was a voracious reader of Tabico’s work since I first started reading the archive. I started reading the ‘robotization’ stories at first, and her story ‘In the back of my mind’ had that tag if my memory isn’t absolutely terrible, I think that’s the first piece of work of Tabico’s that I read. What truly got to me though was ‘Mind Worms’ and the sequel for it.

After that I was hooked. Ever since I’ve stopped whatever I was doing whenever an update on the archive featured a new story or update by Tabico. The kind of world and character building she does, especially as she got better and better with each story, has been a massive influence on me and probably to a lot of other people. I still don’t think she gets the praise she deserves but hey, I’m just one fangirl so, yea.

I should note too that the archive, and especially authors like Tabico, thrall, trilby else and others, was the first time I’d actually read – in addition to mind control – any sort of lesbian erotica. So you could argue that also had a huge impact on me – like, just as I was coming into my own sexuality I discovered fiction that spoke to me on a number of levels.

I do have other authors in the same class as Tabico that had a major impact on my work, like trilby else or thrall – who I’m just as big a fan of as I am to Tabico. I think everyone who’s interested in mind control fiction or just a good thriller in general needs to read thrall’s work, especially ‘A Tenpack of Trixies’ which is an e-book currently I think. Trilby goes without mention – his work is essentially ‘the classics’ at this point.

I’m almost ashamed to admit I read trilby’s ‘Hive’ and ‘Watering Hole’ after Tabico’s work since trilby’s been such a huge influence on Tabico from what I know.

I almost forgot about Fool’s Page, another author who I kept up with. His story ‘Drone’ (along with Dollmistress’ work) is essentially the reason I created the ‘Synthetic’ comics and the ‘pleasure dolls’.

What I love about each of these author’s is that they take the time to really build their narrative. Its not just…WHAM! Mind control, sex and its done. Even though they do have shorter, quicker stories that are just as good, all of my favorites excel at the slow burn which is an extremely hard thing to accomplish. Keeping things hot *and* interesting *and* making you wonder what’s going to happen in the next chapter along with being invested in the characters, which is what makes it so awesome when the inevitable mind control or betrayal or corruption happens at some point in the story.

A common denominator in most content I consume, that is what I tend to enjoy most, is the loss of self – whether if its a character being totally assimilated and erased by another, changing personalities, memories or wiping them clean, even bimbofication falls into my fantasies a bunch.

Depersonalization is a little dark in terms of kink, I think, but I tend not to leave it at that either. I want to know what happens to that individual, follow them in their new life even for a little bit and see what happens next. Which is why I enjoy Dollmistress’ work so much. Characters turn into mindless blank dolls a bunch in her work, but still the story follows them and sometimes even gives the mindless dolls some type of catharsis.

What tools do you use to create your comics? 

The only software I use is Poser and Photoshop. Poser for rendering, and Photoshop for piecing together the rendered panels and doing all the postwork such as fixing clipping and inserting dialogue.

In the (near) future, I’ll probably move onto DAZ Studio to catch up with the times, but for now, just the two work for me.

Have those tools changed over the years?

Not really, what has changed is the hardware. If you’ve been reading my work since I started you’ll see that the first few issues of ‘The Division’ and ‘CORE’ aren’t the best looking graphically. Little to no shadows, and the sets are bare at times, the poses aren’t the best, that sort of thing.

When I upgraded my hardware, which was after the third CORE, you can literally see the difference between my previous work and ‘Zonedance’, CORE’s fourth issue. Zonedance is still one of my favorite comics that I’ve ever worked on, for a lot of reasons, but the visuals in it, and the flow of the panels was something I was really, really happy with.

If I ever get to the conclusion of ‘The Division’ – and there is an ending – I could see myself moving onto DAZ Studio, which is another, better, renderer and has a lot more variety in terms of models and sets. But, for the moment, I’m still using the old, steam powered engine that is Poser.

Is there any part of your comics that you were surprised resonated more with people than you expected them to? IE: Certain expressions, background elements, etc.

I get so many comments, its hard to pick out what aspect of which comic that a single person liked. Its been so varied, which is great to see. There’s something for everyone.

Some readers really love the little details in some scenes, like characters from another comic showing up in the background, giving a little bit of ‘life’ to the setting sort of.

What surprised me actually was that…well, since this is primarily smut, but that the sex isn’t the main draw for people reading.  The mind control is what they’re here for and the sex as a consequence of the mind control is what does it for them. I fall in that camp myself, so I totally get that.

To be honest, and this is concerns  ‘The Division’ a little less than it does ‘CORE’, I found that people are *really* attached to characters than I thought they’d be. Which is awesome for me, because I can also get attached to those same characters and give them a little more attention and care when I’m working on scenes with them.

Just to give you an example, I think I spend about twice the time – if not more – posing and making sure a character like Mel or Tammy from ‘CORE’ or ‘Moira’ from my ‘Division’ comic has just the right expression and ‘feel’ in a panel than a secondary or disposable character. Which is sort of a given, but its nice to know that attention to detail in terms of faces and expression is appreciated.

And again, just to reiterate, what took me by surprise the most is that in a comic series where the primary reason for reading is sexual gratification that the ‘sex’ isn’t actually that important. Its great to know that the mental aspect of sex is far, far more important to others as much as myself than the physical.

That’s at the core of the ‘mind control’ fetish as far as I’m concerned. The physical act of sex isn’t even necessary. You could lay out a rich, well crafted story with well rounded characters who end up enslaved – and the enslavement itself can be through sex or not – and just the description of like ‘drone women’ doing menial tasks in a Hive setting is enough to get me off. Sex is the icing on the cake.

Could you briefly describe the process of creating an issue of one of your comic books?

Sure! Its not too complicated as far as the technical work is concerned, the creative side is where a lot of my frustration and angst reside.

I always start out with a basic scene by scene outline – similar to how screenwriting works – just a breakdown of each scene and if I have specific lines of dialogue that I want to include I jot those down to include them in some panel or other. I’m almost a completely visual person, so I can ‘see’ the comic before I have any sort of dialogue or written content on it, so I start rendering as soon as the outline is done.

Rendering a comic is fairly straightforward, it just takes time. I follow the outline loosely, and insert pages or scenes depending on what I think would be interesting or hot. For example, I might render a conversation scene in a couple of pages, but if there’s a drone conversion or hypnosis scene I usually tend to put more panels in because that’s the payoff, so it stands to reason it could use a little more screentime.

Once all of the panels are rendered, which for a comic around 80 pages can be hundreds of single panel images, I sit down and arduously begin the writing process moving from panel to panel while consulting my outline.

Sometimes I get ‘in the zone’ where I know what I’m going to write and its almost like transcribing a movie that’s playing in my mind, but most of the time its a slog. I’ll get stuck on a panel or a scene for days sometimes which really slows my output. This is one of the primary reasons I love working on CORE so much is because I don’t have to write! Its tough!

Finally, after the script is finished, I move onto postworking the comic – adding all the visual effects such as glowing bits, hypnotic rays and such, as well as inserting the dialogue like I mentioned before.

Writing a comic in and of itself is a whole another can of worms. For ‘The Division’, I have an arc that I’m sticking to but I’m never sure on where I want the next issue to start or when it should end so I tend to cut them off and points where there’s a shift in character – like a character becoming enslaved, droned, et cetera or some major cliffhanger happens.

Dialogue is insanely tough to write, especially for multiple characters and secondary characters because you’re constantly fighting with making them sound unique as much as you can but also remaining consistent.

What are some of the challenging parts of that process?

I guess this is a continuation of my previous answer, but yea, basically the most challenging aspect of creating a comic is writing – specifically writing dialogue.

If anyone’s kept up with my work, you’ll notice that when I started I had a much, much faster output – the comics were smaller in size, sure, but I also released a LOT more often. The main reason for that isn’t that the issues get larger per se, though that’s a little bit of a factor, but that I’m juggling *so* many characters and story arcs. Like, even though I’m not writing CORE for example, CORE is still a presence within ‘The Division’ and I have to think ‘Hmm. If I did this, it wouldn’t make much sense within the context of CORE’. That goes both ways too where maybe Tabico might write something that wouldn’t work in the larger narrative even though if CORE existed in its own bubble, it might.

See? Its all very convoluted. I pass this question off to anyone who’s kept up with ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’ really. Now *that’s* slow output.

Tabico is one of the best writers in the genre, especially in the subgenres highlighted in CORE. How did you two come to collaborate and what’s it like to have a chance to work with her? 

Oh my gosh, working with Tabico is a dream come true. I mean, come on.

So, I’d been a fan of Tabico’s ever since I read her work on the archive which was a little while after I first discovered the archive. She’s had such an impact on me that its hard to kind of say on my part how shocked and excited and thrilled I was that she even responded to my messages or work at all in the first place.

Anyways, I’d been reading her work for…years, but I started making photoshopped images on the collective…oh, its been more than a decade ago now. It was really…eh, let me just say they weren’t very good in retrospect.

I started this series called ‘Packaged’, which was just photo manips of women being converted into these faceless gray dolls. Heavy on the depersonalization aspect of mind control, the erasure of the individual into a uniform blank slate.

Tabico sent me some supportive messages and did some of her own manips in the same vein as ‘Packaged’, so we sort of started a back and forth. Fast forward when I started ‘The Division’, she loved the first set of comics and wondered if I’d be up to do the art (or renders in this case) for a story she’d write.

She threw out a few ideas, and a few weeks later ‘CORE’ was born. Its been an insanely awesome experience working with her, and I couldn’t ask for a better partner because *I* personally think I’m a terrible writer, even though I keep getting told that’s silly and totally not the case. Still, to have Tabico writing in *my* little silly setting is a dream, yea.

I’m just as much a fangirl as I always was, and she’d probably laugh or cringe if she actually knew how excited I get whenever she sends over a new outline or script for CORE. She does things with words that I didn’t think were possible, honestly. As amazing as she is, you would think her day job is screenwriting.

Now, what readers of CORE don’t see, and what they should know, is that Tabico doesn’t just do dialogue. She essentially ‘directs’ CORE as well. The shots, the various close-ups and angles for the most part are her work. For example, she doesn’t just say ‘Tammy kisses X’ and leave it up to me to figure out how that kiss happens, but more like ‘Tammy leans over, pushing her into the wall, and closes in to kiss X’ which is a world of difference to someone needing direction in terms of posing characters in specific panels.

I mean just in the last issue, there was a super popular – and hot – scene between Tammy and Annarose York, the new CORE doctor, where she’s roleplaying with Tammy right? Tabico *could* just write ‘Annarose hypnotizes Tammy’, but instead the script reads ‘Annarose, naughty expression, holding up the hypno-pendant.’ and the dialogue follows that visual description of the action Annarose is taking.

Anyway, as good of a writer as she is, Tabico is just as good of an editor. For the last few issues of ‘The Division: Aria of the Hive’,  , she’s been a monster of an editor where without her I think my dialogue is bland and repetitive and she injects it with that special something to make the words pop out of the page.

In short, Tabico is latex clad, dripping with shiny, wet goop in a chrome lined neon chamber awesome!

In the last episode of our podcast we answered the world-famous CORE Questionnaire! 

Thanks for answering! Finally!

I can check one more name onto the ‘Feedback Goes First’ program we’re running. Yay! I do watch all of your podcasts – I’m a terrible lurker in that way – and was ecstatic to hear your review. Although you do get Tammy and Mel mixed up, which is totally not a good thing because you do *not* mix up brunettes and redheads, and this is coming from a blonde, which doesn’t actually mean anything but there it is.

Where did the idea to survey your readers come from? 

So, the idea to survey our readers came from a lack of lengthy feedback, honestly. Its all great and wonderful to hear ‘awesome work’ and ‘amazing issue’ in comments, don’t get me wrong, but both Tabico and I were really interested in seeing what and why people liked certain things, what they’d want to see more of and what they thought would happen next. Its common to all writers and creators I think, that you want heady feedback so you get better and can improve.

We did get a few long form responses before the survey obviously, but nothing incentivizes people like a bit of a carrot on a stick. Plus, I felt like I should do *something* to reward people who take the time to really put their thoughts to paper – or text, in this case.

How have you and Tabico used the info from the answers to shape the CORE series?

As far as how we’ve used the info…I can’t really say since I’m not the writer – but I know Tabico probably feeds off of it a bunch (gosh, I feel like I just described her as a literary vampire) and uses it to maybe go in directions that the readers won’t expect or to expand on things they’d like to see more of.

Just to give you an example, a huge portion of the feedback since Melanie was first captured by the Hive was ‘MORE MEL’, and I think since then more or less the story has focused on Melanie as the primary character even though CORE started out with our three protagonists, none of whom were secondary with maybe the exception of Nicole who, until issue number three, wasn’t as much of a player.

Sure, there’s been a focus on Tammy with her background, and the Exis and Nicole arc, and subsequently ‘Robo Nicole’, but overall its been Melanie heavy in terms of narrative, especially in this last issue and I don’t know if that’s a direct result of feedback but if I had to guess it might be.

Personally, I take more of a direct feedback approach, since a primary concern for me is readability and to keep the comic visually exciting. So if someone says the text is hard to read, or they can’t remember the names of certain characters, maybe I’ll fix those issues by making the text a little larger, giving more space for text to fit and adding little name blurbs just to signify who a character is when they first appear on the page.

You do both collaborative and solo efforts. Do you wish you had more people to collaborate with? Do you wish you had more time to create more solo projects?

If you had asked me that a few years ago, the answer would be a resounding ‘Yes’, right now though with my real life schedule and my hardware being what it is, it’d be tough to juggle ‘The Division’, ‘CORE’ *and* something else.

Working on ‘CORE’ is actually the most relaxing and casual part of making my comics, writing *and* doing the art is both tough and time-intensive. When Tabico is writing, its a weight off my shoulders and I can get a little bit more creative and have a little bit more fun without worry about the inevitable writing that I’d have to do after the art is finished.

Do I wish I had more time to create more solo projects? Yes!

I have *so* many more little stories I’d love to do – but time is such a massive barrier that I can only focus on one thing at a time. And again, ‘CORE’ is a breather of sorts for me because in the downtime between Tabico revising and writing her scripts, I can tinker around with things that I’d want to do in the coming months that I wouldn’t have the drive to do if I was struggling with writing my own work.

Are there any other kinds of projects, IE not comics, that you want to work on but haven’t yet had a chance to explore?

Animation! I’d love to animate things like ‘CORE’ and ‘The Division’, and Poser is actually a animation program at its…core.

I do watch a bunch of adult SFM and 3D animators work and I’m constantly amazed by the quality and content that’s been done in the past few years, so if I ever get the chance I’d love to try my hand at it. Just think of the last scene between Melanie and Laurel (the girl that Melanie enslaves) being animated, at least the part where she’s in the chair. MMmm. So yummy.

You recently launched a Patreon how is that going?

The Patreon is going great! If I can be real for a hot minute, I literally expected nothing. Because I thought ‘Ok…someone might throw me a dollar, or something, but no one is going to support me making this stuff’. Then I get a whole bunch of people signing up! I was shocked, and there might have been tears.

I’ve been making comics for so long out of pocket – since this is my hobby and I pay for my assets like all the skins and props and environments myself – that anyone would even consider supporting me back is…really touching.

I do have a hard set rule about keeping my comics free and public, so really, Patreon is a gift jar at a time when I actually do need every bit of support I can get. I really am grateful for every penny, and I’ll probably do something special – but not too big – for the people that donated.

What’s next for you and your work?

That is…a secret….

No its not. Its ‘CORE’. Get excited. Pants or shorts optional.

I do have the next ‘Aria of the Hive’ outlined and planned, so I’ll plug away on that whenever I get the time but overall my schedule is pretty consistent with what I’ve done so far. You can probably expect a ‘CORE’ and another comic – probably ‘Aria’ – in 2019.

Chrome fingers crossed.