The Thinking of Speaking
Issue #29 September / October 2017
In Others's Words
In Others' Words
Malachi Rempen
by Erik Zidowecki
September / October 2017 | 

When travelling the world and learning other languages, funny situations and adventures are bound to happen. One man has taken those and used them as the basis for a comic.

In this issue, we will be talking with a man whose comics of travel and language have entertained our community for years now, Malachi Rempen, the creator of "Itchy Feet". Welcome!

Thanks!

You have done several interviews which discussed how you got into languages, what inspires your comics, etc. What I am interested in for this one is your recent past and your recent future (past perfect future?). You married your Italian girlfriend, then in the past year, you added another traveler, complete with his own tiny passport, to your team when your wife gave birth to a son. How has having a wife and child affected your travels and comics? Do you see the places differently now that you have two people to share them?

 

Well, travel has gotten more expensive, that's for sure! It's also definitely a new challenge traveling with a baby. But we are trying to build new habits and new patterns so we can still globetrot as much as possible. As for seeing places differently - not really! I've never really liked traveling solo, I always prefer going with friends or family (or both). So now I'm just bringing a new friend along.

I've seen some of the Itchy Feet comics referencing having a baby, including one in which it is dubbed a "Super Power" allowing you to get on airplanes ahead of others. Will we be seeing more of your comic echoing your life in this way? If so, is it possible the characters may even start having and using individual names, like in one of your other projects, The Adventures of the Merry Mariner?

Traveling with kids will certainly affect the comic, yes. It's a whole new world, and a funny one at that. I'm just grateful for new material. Perhaps I subconsciously had a child to avoid running out of ideas for comics. But no, I don't think they'll ever have names or follow a story, at least not in the near future. I prefer to keep everyone anonymous so that anyone can relate.

The young Russian polyglot, Bella, is making the rounds showing off her language skills. At age five, she speaks eight languages. Do you have similar plans of language learning for your son?

He'll definitely learn three just growing up normally - English from me, Italian from his mother and German in school. But as much as I'd like to cram him full of languages, I think a better use of my parenting time is probably cramming him full of other useful skills, like music or reading or crapping in the right place.

Your most recent endeavor was the creation of Itchy Feet: The Travel Game, in which you led a very successful Kickstarter campaign for. When and how did you decide to build a game around your comic?

It was suggested by a friend of mine, and I thought it would be a fun side project. It was WAY more work than a little side project, let me tell you that! But it was also a LOT of fun. I'm seriously considering doing another.

Did you expect such a successful Kickstarter campaign?

Not at all. I thought I'd get a bit of early momentum thanks to Itchy Feet, but actually 60% of the backers just found the game through Kickstarter and had never even heard of the comic. So I don't know what happened there, honestly! If I were to guess what I did right, I think a big factor was having it really clear in the title of the game itself. "Itchy Feet: the Travel Game" tells you what it is even if you've never read the comic. We also worked really hard during development to make the game as simple as possible. We wanted to lean away from Monopoly and more towards Uno.

Seeing language and travel in a comic is already rare, but having it in a game is Seeing Bigfoot Rare. How is the game played?

Every player races to be the first to "travel" to the country card at the center of the table. But first each player must travel through their own country cards. Each country has certain requirements (to go to Mexico you'll need stuff for Adventure, Party and the Beach, for example). Your hand is you backpack, and you have to gather the items you need to get to each country, and hang on to your very important Passport card. Players can trade, steal and do all sorts of fun things to each other to try to stop them from being first to the center. It's fun!

For those who were unable to subscribe to the Kickstarter campaign, will the game be available from other places? How can people get a copy of it for themselves?

If you missed the Kickstarter, quickly sign up here: http://eepurl.com/c081Nr. We'll be sending you info on how you can grab a late copy.

Do you have similar Itchy Feet projects planned for the future, like a live action film? If so, what actor or actress would you like to see playing the main protagonist?

I've never yet said anything about this to anyone, but since my professional background is as a filmmaker, I've been noodling some ideas for a live action Itchy Feet-style web series, or possibly film. I don't think it would be Itchy Feet branded, but it would definitely involve travel or language learning or expat life, or all of the above. I've got a few ideas brewing, some of which are actually pretty decent. We'll see which ones bubble to the surface!

Thanks again! This was fun.

 


You can find Malachi at Itchy Feet: The Travel & Language Comic (http://www.itchyfeetcomic.com/)


 
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In Others's Words - Malachi Rempen
Writer: Erik Zidowecki

All images are Copyright - CC BY-SA (Creative Commons Share Alike) by their respective owners, except for Petey, which is Public Domain (PD) or unless otherwise noted.

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