A normal human gal who loves baking finds herself on a competitive cooking show — in space??? I got to sit down with Natalie Riess, creator of Space Battle Lunchtime, to talk about food, space girlfriends, and making a card game that’s as fun as the comic it’s based on.
Rachel: I love the premise of SBL! What inspired you to create a story about a competitive cooking show in space? Are you a big fan of cooking shows and space settings?
Natalie: I originally made up SBL as an idea to entertain a friend who loved cute cooking content (I think at the time she was reading Kitchen Princess and watching baking videos) and also horror/sci-fi fiction (Alien, The Thing, etc.). I realized the idea had some potential to it, drew out some characters and wrote up a story for them.
I also like cooking shows and sci-fi a lot! I grew up reading a lot and watching Food Network with my family, and like a lot of other people I got really into the Great British Bake Off and Bon Appétit in the past few years.
Rachel: In the back of volume 2, you talk a bit about how you used different color palettes based on the setting and the feeling of a given scene. Can you tell us a bit more about how you approached color with SBL?
Natalie: Color is really important to how a scene “feels”, so I like to try and match up the colors I use to the feelings and emotions I want to evoke in the reader. Clashing bright colors for intense sequences, appetizing golden colors for food (sometimes, haha), pastels for romance/big emotion and jewel tones because I like them.
It’s a lot of work, but my end goal for SBL pages is for them to look very prismatic and jewel-like when possible. I LOVE when people tell me they want to eat my art!
Rachel: SBL has a great cast of characters so this might be a tough question, but who’s your favorite? Who’s cooking would you most want to try?
Natalie: Hmm… I love all of the characters, so this changes all the time! I think Peony is my favorite to write, Neptunia is my favorite to design outfits for, Melonhead is my favorite to figure out the “acting” for and lil Magicorn is my favorite to draw (the cutest one!). I’m also very proud of Jacques’s design.
Natalie: For food, I think Peony’s desserts would be tasty and safe to eat but I would love to eat one of Melonhead’s horrible glistening space steaks.
Rachel: What was the process of making the SBL card game like? How did y’all pick which things from the comic would make the most fun card game experience?
Natalie: I was only really contacted to playtest the game and do illustration work. Daniel Solis and the Oni Press/Renegade Games team did a great job getting into the spirit of the series, though! The game is very inventive, and fun!
Rachel: For fans of SBL, what do you think they’ll enjoy the most about playing the card game? I loved how certain aspects of the game added more layers to the lore of the comic — like, of course Owline’s flavor speciality is sour!
Natalie: My favorite part of the game is the names on the food cards. They’re extremely funny and made me laugh when I read them in the playtest version.
Rachel: If you could make another SBL game for folks, what kind of game would it be? I think an SBL-themed role-playing tabletop game sounds like it would be a blast.
Natalie: That would be really cool! I asked my partner about this and she said I should make it a fighting game… I guess you could do flavored combos to impress the judges, while also having to survive your opponent? I think that would be a lot of fun to work out the animations for!
Now that I think about it, there’s not much stopping me from making a little spacey kitchen and Peony cosplay in my Animal Crossing town…
Rachel: I would 1000% play that game!
Rachel: So Space Battle Lunchtime Vol 3: A Dish Best Served Cold is coming out in October 2020 — what can readers look forward to? What does the cosmos have in store for our favorite culinary space girlfriends?
Natalie: It’s a murder mystery! There’s twists! Drama! Revenge! Crowded ballroom sequences! A spacey croquembouche! Plant people! All sorts of fun, flavorful toppings. I also got a lot better at drawing and painting between the original two volumes and this sequel, so I think people will at the very least have some good egg pictures to enjoy.
More seriously, in this book I also get to dive more into character relationships; now that Peony and Neptunia are together, what does their relationship look like? How do they get along? Have they learned a lot about each other? And, most importantly, how good are they at sword fighting?
I wrote this comic as an extension of an idea I had about what Peony’s space food future would look like, and some scenes I wanted to make about these characters that I couldn’t get out of my head in any way besides putting them on paper. I hope readers will enjoy looking at it as much as I enjoyed writing it. : )