Acrossing the Miles: AHMARA SMITH of Beans
In Acrossing the Miles, the Beat’s intrepid Animal Crossing travel reporter Avery Kaplan will leave her home base on Dharma Island to soar across the Dodo skies and visit the finest creators in comics on their respective virtual islands. This week, she’s visiting Ahmara Smith on the rural island of Beans!
On June 30th, 2020, I left Dharma Island to visit Ahmara on the island of Beans.
Arrival on Beans
I was greeted by Ahmara as soon as I arrived on Beans. He explained that although he had planned to wear a cowboy hat for the tour, the headgear had vanished somewhere in their inventory.
“I don’t know where it is! So I put on this sheep head, because it’s still with the theme,” they told me.
Next, we toured several food stands that were set up in a sort of farmer’s market near the Beans Airport. In addition to the cookie cart you can unlock for free by connecting your New Horizons and Pocket Camp accounts, Ahmara has placed several food-themed stalls around the area, each with its own theme.
Ahmara explained that he had played several previous entries in the Animal Crossing series. “New Leaf, Pocket Camp, and then this one,” they said. “I started in New Leaf.”
In addition to a DJ booth and drum set, a pattern on the ground near the Beans beach suggests that the island might have had some additional development in its past.
Ahmara explained that their main source of bells was farming bugs, a practice they’ve bolstered by designing a special area designed to spawn bugs.
“I don’t do fishing, I catch these bugs,” they remarked.
In fact, Ahmara had only planted flowers in the bug area, ensuring that the coveted high-bell insects would appear in the desired area. However, complaints from Isabelle have forced them to grow flowers in other locations on Beans, as well.
“And I didn’t want to, because when you farm bugs, it’s better to just have them spawning in one area,” he said. “But. Whatever! I guess I’ll decorate.”
Ahmara told me that he had been inspired by the themed areas on other peoples’ islands to make some of their own. Ahmara said that they had experienced some remarkable behavior from villagers as he designed new areas on his island.
“As I build, they’ll come over and be like, ‘What are you doing?’ And I’m like, ‘Don’t stand there!’” Ahmara said. “If you build more stuff, their little robot A.I. will go in and look around.”
While the island of Beans has a decidedly rural vibe, including the extremely cute Able Sisters lake, Ahmara’s webcomic Hellbound is set in a version of Hell that embodies a decidedly urban atmosphere. I asked Ahmara what inspired this urban version of the underworld.
“My initial purpose when creating the comic was for practicing,” they said. “So I knew I wanted to draw a bunch of stuff, so I was like, ‘It’s got to be set in a city.’”
They explained that the cityscape in Hellbound was an amalgamation of real-world locales.
“The city is a cross of 1980s New York, and where I live, Atlanta,” he said. “So I can practice with things that I’ve seen, and reference photos.”
Elsewhere on Beans
Ahmara showed me around their museum area, which included several moving fossils on display.
Many of the areas around Beans reflect the more agricultural vibe of the island, including the pottery studio near the island’s northern cliffs.
Speaking of the northern shore, Ahmara has also custom designed a leaf pattern to mark the beach where Redd docks his Treasure Trawler.
Ahmara told me that one of their favorite aspects of the game was taking pictures. “I had ended up taking a bunch of selfies on the islands that I go to,” he said. ““I was like, ‘I’m going to make a ‘zine.’”
Near the northern coast is an open grave, which I couldn’t resist hopping over.
“You disrespected the cowboy’s death!” Ahmara gasped.
On the Eastern shore, Ahmara has an area where he has placed excess materials.
“Up here is my junk and Isabelle is mad because I was building a bunch of stuff,” they told me. “She’s like, ‘The island score dropped!’ And I was like, ‘I know.’”
Further down the Eastern shore, Ahmara has set up an observation deck for scanning the seas around Beans, complete with informational signage designed by one of their friends.
Like many islands, Beans also has a “freebie” area, which included some pretty exciting DIY recipes.
Visiting the Beans Residents
One of Ahmara’s favorite villagers is Drago.
“I bought Drago,” he told me. “I was like, I need him! He was like $5, nobody cared about him. He is so cool!”
Drago’s home is somewhat separated from the homes of the other residents, the rest of whom live nearby one another on the Western shore of Beans.
“This just kind of ended up this way,” said Ahmara. “I thought maybe I would make them like neighborhood-style, but I was going for organic feeling, so.”
Another one of Ahmara’s favorite villagers is Walt, who appears to be an old samurai.
In fact, Ahmara even went so far as to put the spa bath in front of Walt’s house, to encourage him to relax. Nevertheless, Ahmara said the surly attitude displayed by some of the older villagers fit the theme of the island.
“I have like, these angry old men,” said Ahmara. “I like them, they fit the John Wayne kind of theme.”
We also visited the Nook’s Cranny on Beans, which Ahmara positioned on the shore. While the decorations around the shop are already cute, Ahmara told me they were a work in progress, informing me that the blue trash bin would soon be upgraded.
“I ordered a brown one just to replace it!” they said. “It’s blue. It’s got to be brown!”
After showing me around Beans, Ahmara and I visited his home.
“I just got the one million bell loan,” he said. “I’m taking my time, getting around to paying it off.”
Ahmara noted that the cat accessories were actually for their pet turtle.
When I noted that many of the islands I’ve visited have been designed to appear more developed, Ahmara has cultivated a different atmosphere on Beans. “I noticed that,” he agreed. “It doesn’t seem common to do rustic style.”
Another one of the rooms in Ahmara’s house had previously been something of a junk room. However, as they unlocked additional storage space, the spare furniture has been put away and the room has developed into something of a workspace.
Perhaps one of the projects Ahmara has been working on in his workspace has been the illustrations for the upcoming nonfiction graphic novel Identity: A Story of Transitioning, written by Corey Maison and published by Zuiker Press. I asked Ahmara to tell the Beat a little bit about the project.
“That one was something that my teacher put me onto, actually,” Ahmara said. “I just did the pencils, so someone else inked it and colored it. I was really excited to draw it, because she has a really cool, interesting story!”
Ahmara explained that the graphic novel is an autobiographical story about Corey as she undertakes her personal and professional journeys.
“She’s trying to be influencer, so she moved to LA and goes to high school there,” they said. “I think it’s interesting that they’re having a whole educational-style imprint of stories written by kids.”
Ahmara has used the log wallpaper to give the bathroom a more rural atmosphere. “It honestly looks a lot more country,” they remarked.
However, they noted that they relied on the contrast between the log wallpaper in the bathroom and the farmhouse-style wallpaper in the main room to establish the aesthetic of their home as country-style, rather than allowing it to veer too far into “cabin” territory.
Upstairs, Ahmara has a bedroom, which is nicely tied together by a beautiful blue and gold rug.
While Ahmara hasn’t had the basement added to their home yet, he has already planned for the additional room.
“I have like the wall and the floor ready for the basement,” said Ahmara. “I was just going to do like a really country-style basement and put all my tools and stuff down there.”
The Beans Café
On the way to the Beans coffee shop for our interview, we stopped by the Beans Plaza to admire the flag, which Ahmara designed.
“Before it was a bean – just the bean,” Ahmara explained. “But everyone was like, ‘Oh, it’s – something else.’ I forgot what everyone kept saying it was… It was not a bean though!”
Fortunately, the redesign proved successful: “I made the can, because everyone gets that.”
We arrived at the café for our interview, and Ahmara explained that they had used unconventional furniture pieces to construct the shop. “These are all wooden chests, so like, if I press A, it will activate them,” they said.
I asked Ahmara whether or not they were missing comic conventions.
“I don’t really go to conventions! At this point, they’re always a loss for me,” he said. “Usually I only do Free Comic Book Day, because the table is free.”
Ahmara had one story about a particularly frustrating experience. A local con invited them to table, but parking for exhibitors was not covered. To add insult to injury, on the third day of the con, a nearby soccer game caused the price of parking to skyrocket.
However, he was disappointed that a particular con would not be taking place this year.
“This was the first year I was going to go to Heroes Con, just because literally everyone I know was going to go,” they said. “So we didn’t go but they saved our spots. They said we can’t get a refund, so we’ll save your spots for whenever we come back.”
Ahmara told me that he had been working at a hospital gift shop between jobs at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“COVID happened and for a few months the administration was like, ‘Nobody wear masks or else it’ll freak out the guests,’” said Ahmara. “And every single person that came in was dead-eyed: ‘I guess we’re going to die.’ And then they come in like, ‘Do you have Gatorade.’”
According to Ahmara, the shop’s location was part of the reason it stayed open. “We had to stay open because the entrance to the pharmacy was through the gift shop,” he said.
Fortunately, Ahmara has since been put on furlough at the hospital gift shop.
Do you want to bring the taste of Beans to YOUR island?
Are you looking to bring the rustic charm of Beans to the shores of your Animal Crossing island?
One way is music.
“One of my coworkers introduced me to LP, and it’s like… if you’re into country rock, she’s a really awesome, queer country artist,” said Ahmara.
“I also want to plug Adia Victoria,” he said. “I love her music. It’s really emo, but it’s country style. She’s a Black artist, and I like Black country artists, because, I don’t know. People are like, ‘Black people don’t listen to country music! It’s not out there!’ But it totally is. What about that one song everyone listens to, Wagon Wheel?”
Do you want another way to bring some country charm to your island? These cute country outfits!
Use these custom design codes to download some of Ahmara’s rustic styles and bring a taste of Beans to your Animal Crossing island!