Notice: This site currently does not support mobile devices.

Double Diamond Denizens of Death- Victors' 2024 Interview
Double Diamond Denizens of Death- Victors' 2024 Interview

After the bloodletting of our first death tournament via the Black Diamond, we upped the stakes for the Double Black Diamond 2024. Artist teams battled it out as they proved it takes two to make one fantastic blowout bash of violence.

Now that the dust has settled, join us as we dig into some of the gory details with our Double Diamond Victors, Plaid and Sleepy as they give us a peek behind the curtain.

Tell us about yourselves! How long have you two been doing comics together and separately? 

Plaid: Hey! I'm Sarah and I'm a community organizer and jack of all trades artist from New Zealand. Hester (Sleepy) and I met in an OCT (Original character tournament), actually! I distinctly remember them dropping a comic in round 1 that blew the expected page count (and frankly, quality level) totally out of the water and scaring the shit out of everyone . I've really admired their work from the start, and I was genuinely excited to see them coming back for the follow up tournament (hmm wonder why), then we ended up battling each other... and now we're dating about it. We've been meaning to collaborate on something for ages, and now we have our workflow down thanks to DBD we have no excuse not to make more, haha. As for myself, I've been making comics for years prior to these OCTs, but I grew up on depressed autobio instead of action comics, so I still feel a little out of my depth? Nothing teaches you faster than jumping into the deep end with death matches, though. I think you can tell where my background is... I definitely lean far further into interpersonal character writing and making stuff Sad and Realistic, so it's good to have a partner hitting me with a newspaper to make it less tragic.

Sleepy: Howdy! My name is Hester (Sleepy), and day-to-day I’m a Library Technician in NSW, Australia. Prior to this, I've been making comics since the Ring of Power OCT back in 2019. I’d been introduced to OCT’s by RoP’s showrunner on DeviantART way back in the day, and it inspired me to jump in and try something I had always wanted to but never felt ready for. Even though I've been around for a while, I still consider myself a newbie and a hobbyist in the scene. Sarah (Plaid) is my girlfriend!! This was our first time truly collaborating, although Sarah and I actually had a competitive match against each other during the War for Rayuba OCT (2021), before we were dating (She won, surprising nobody). We really wanted to work together on personal projects, and we thought that a death tournament would put enough fire underneath us to finally get started. There's nothing like an OCT to powerlevel your abilities!

What do you look for in a collaborative partner when death is on the line?

Plaid:  I mean I can only speak for myself here... I feel like I'm a bit of a nightmare when I enter editor mode, so I'd say mostly making sure your processes mesh well and you can handle each other. Hester was an absolute dream to worth with and we're in near constant communication anyway, so tossing ideas back and forth was pretty seamless for us! We really love enabling each other, which was great for some of the weirder directions the stories ended up going in. Perfect example of this is how we figured out our plot direction- Hester suggested the girls break up and i was initially a bit upset (they hadn't even broken the curse to be together yet!) but then i just got really determined to explore what that would look like, and how we could get them back together believably. Things spun out from there- how could we contrast each of the other teams with the girls' relationship? How can we get to the heart of each character? How badly do we fuck up Isaac Newton?

Sleepy:  I mean, obviously pick someone funny, charming, effortlessly beautiful and deeply talented of course-- if you don't possess a girlfriend to partner up with, then a store bought collaboration partner is fine.

Genuinely though, having someone that you can communicate with clearly is key, I think. It really helped that we could pitch ideas without fear, and talk frankly about what we thought was or was not working. We passed several diagrams back and forth while discussing things so that we could both be on the same page while working together long-distance. Someone who is also willing to stay aware of your schedule and communicate when they're having trouble or have other commitments is super important too. It's all about da teamwork baybee!!!

(a diagram explaining a vision I had for who drew what panels in round 1. It’s interesting how we gravitate back to something like this in rounds 2 and 3 despite scrapping it in round 1!)

a diagram explaining a vision Plaid had for who drew what panels in round 1.
(The diagrams varied in quality, lol)


What advice can you provide by way of your behind-the-scenes process when working together? Did you have a gameplan from the beginning?

Plaid:  Our characters actively evolved over the whole tournament based on what opponents we were getting, so it's a bit hard to plan that stuff- we ended up taking part of our opponents forward with us in each round, which is part of the joy of an oct I think? You fall in love with everyone else's characters too.

We started each round watching a movie or something similar for inspiration and talking through things we wanted to evoke- you can really see Atomic Blonde in round 2, for instance. Round 3 was a whole different beast, though, as i'm sure you can imagine- Hester ended up making a whole moodboard/treatment for how each act would look style wise, and i headed off to the library to do some research on how other artists have handled the sort of tone we were going for. We were taking it really seriously!

We didn't take a break between rounds, just so enthused about the story we wanted to tell that we ended up talking about our direction and how we'd incorporate each potential opponent team so we could hit the ground running when the match went live. I also knew that we would need an ambitious pagecount to pace it properly; i made extra effort to schedule the whole thing so we weren't drawing it all in the final weekend, but even then... We had hoped to keep it under 40 pages, but by the end i did 45 pages just myself. Genuinely would not have been possible if Hester wasn't such an amazing partner, smashing out all those amazing thumbnails so i could just draw all day!

Sleepy:  No game plan at all. We were absolutely figuring everything out as we went. We made our characters in various picrews, and then mashed them together. Something we both enjoy doing is bringing part of our opponents with us through each round, so that adds to the unpredictability. There were elements that I put on Valentine's character sheet that I never ended up touching on because we picked up the Veil association from King and Kong instead.

As I was the one doing all of the roughs/layouts, I did plan to work in a more rigid/contained format that I normally would on my own. Giving myself a style guide and set dimensions right at the start helped me get things together faster, especially during round 3 with the high page count. Sarah works traditionally while I work digitally, so we needed to keep our documents at a consistent scale so they would fit together with minimal fuss. Look! She letters things by hand! The maniac.



What benefits are there to working with someone else in a death tourney? Were there any difficulties?

Plaid:  If you get the right match, I think you can make something better than the sum of your parts- by R3 we managed to fit together in such a way that one of us could start something and the other would finish it for the entire comic, which helped a lot of project fatigue. Sick of working on the script? Hester comes in with a perfect suggestion to complete the scene. Tired of drawing after doing the thumbnails? I have drawn and inked all of Act 3 while you were at work. I don't think there's any part of it that you could pick out as solely being one of us.
I was quite worried about how much work Hester ended up taking on (hence me doing most of the drawing in R3, after they did the lion's share in R2), but I think we managed that pretty well because of how close + communicative we are. Im sure they were absolutely sick of me calling them to yell about comics instead of having normal date nights but i was absolutely living for being all in on a project... sorry babe it is absolutely going to happen again lol

Sleepy:  The obvious benefit was learning how to work better with my partner-- the tournament environment helped us get past hurdles that might have held us back in a non-competitive environment. You just don't have the luxury of time to be sheepish or deferring about things. Also having someone that can make up for your own weak points-- Sarah is great at seeing 'the big picture' and being able to tell when a story element is going to cause problems. That kind of thing takes me days or weeks to figure out on my own. She's also an incredible editor and really funny, and made working on the comics great fun. You could say that killing people brought us closer!!!
Stress is unavoidable in settings like this though, and I can't say it wasn't tough seeing my partner feeling the pressure and knowing I was a part of it. I gave a lot of myself to the tourney, too, and my weekends of intense comic work were often longer than my workdays. Some of our date nights did turn into comic talk nights out of necessity– we're comics nerds though, so we still had fun!! I think checking in with each other and being honest about the tough times kept us going through it.


Sometimes there are scripts, concepts, sketches and pre production art that hits the cutting room floor. Any you’d like to share?

Plaid: I know Hester is covering the goofy jokes in this section, so I get to talk about dropped plots! my fave.

We had a few in the last round- originally val was going to be dating other people and getting distracted by memories of mercy, like a little ghost following her around. There are flashes of that in the final comic, and the same thing happened with another dropped plot point- jade's jacket. We wanted to echo round one where the girls took Tony's incredible lady killer jacket to wear, and have val bring it to mercy in act 3 as a peace offering? but in the end it undercut the bittersweet ending, so it got skipped and jade taking the thing off before she fights val briefly looks like she's about to seduce some information out of her. In my heart mercy gets to wear the lone wolf fit in whatever epilogue they have together.

We also toyed with the idea of val's act 2 section being a series of letters to mercy, revealed at the end to be unsent- her working through what went wrong in their relationship, and how much she realized they needed each other. That ended up scrapped in favor of bringing in more characters and action, though.... if I had the time I'd love to do a longer director's cut, but I think I'd drive myself insane that way haha.

Sleepy: Oh jeez-- we made so many jokes while brainstorming. Half of them are incomprehensible, I'm sure-- jokes reliant on timelines that never happened. Here’s a couple that make a minor amount of sense, though, though:
This was made very early on, before we even finalized the characters. Amusingly, we had initially planned for the girls to have magnetism powers, and in a smooth brained moment I thought Isaac Newton invented magnets. This dumb thing changed the girls' whole trajectory


What offsite socials and/or personal websites would you prefer we use in your article feature?

Plaid:  I go by @plaidcushion pretty much everywhere! twitter/bluesky/tumblr is where I'm most active.

Sleepy: My twitter handle is @worm_woman, but I don't really post anywhere lol.




Well deserved and such a wild ride from beginning end! Glad Rivana and I got to organize this little peek behind the curtain as to everything that went into this hard won victory

Author Picture
Recent News
Current Comics
Cast Your Vote and Share Your Reviews Today!
Recently Archived
Check out the community reviews and view the results.
Upcoming Comics
Hop aboard the excitement in the Comments Section.