Basket Case continues to support the artists at Comics Sherpa as they ply their trade on their way up the ranks. I’m happy today to introduce Davy Jones, creator of Charmy’s Army. Davy –
BC: Who are you?
DJ: I am the creator of the comic strip Charmy’s Army. I am also the most determined amateur cartoonist you’ll ever meet. If I am not writing or drawing my comic strip, I am creating sketch covers, sketch cards or prints for my next comic con appearance.
BC: What do you want readers to know about you?
DJ: I have dreamed of being a syndicated cartoonist since I was seven years old. I always knew in my heart that I would make a living at this. I was a stupid kid. lol. After I grew up, I spent the next 30 years chasing this dream. I spent 15 years in the toy industry designing toys and toy packaging. It was fun, but it was not my dream. I want to make people laugh so hard they blow coffee out of their noses.
DJ: Recently, I have joined the Texas Branch of the National Cartoonist Society, which was my childhood dream. Until recently, I did not feel worthy. I landed my first paying newspaper gig six months ago in The Weekly Bulletin in Texas’s Brazoria County. The paper lands in 11 cities. Once I hit that six month mark, I joined the Texas Chapter of the National Cartoonist Society. I am hoping this is another huge stepping stone for my career.
BC: How did you get your start drawing Charmy’s Army? Did you work on anything else before that?
DJ: I labored on one strip for the past thirty years. It was called Okrapolis. I developed a few other strips along the way that went nowhere. Then one day I was in a nasty Chinese restaurant. As I doodled away, wondering if the food I was ingesting was going to make me sick, all I could think about was the kitchen and the hundreds of roaches that must be living there.
DJ: With that horrible thought on my mind, I began doodling a cockroach. I figured that maybe there was a cool cartoon character here. When I finished, I thought it looked more like an ant… so I drew an army helmet on him and made him an army ant. I immediately thought up the name Charmy’s Army and the little guy had a name… and my strip was born. Within a few months I had a few thousand followers on Facebook and the rest is history in the making.
BC: Do you have any collections on the market yet?
DJ: I get asked this question at every show I attend. People want a book! I did create an e-book a few years ago which was available online for free. I took it down though once I relaunched my strip. Currently, I am assembling a collection of my strips from the past 6 years into a book I will call “Basic Training”. This will chronicle my journey over the lifespan of Charmy’s Army. I will breakdown how my strip has developed and improved over time. It will be entertaining and enlightening. I want to have these published so I can sell and sign them at my comic con appearances.
BC: How do you approach that blank sheet of white paper?
DJ: Oh man, I have one heck of a system. Every cartoonist has their “thing”. My process all begins with the gags and the storyboards. This is so easy for me. I wake up in the morning with a gag or two in my head. I wake up in the middle of the night with a gag in my head. I have to write these down as soon as they pop into my brain though or they are lost. I write on my lunch breaks at work. When I don’t have an idea for a gag, I simply draw four rectangles at the top of the page and start daydreaming. I stare at the first panel I just drew and things start popping in my head and I just write down what’s happening. Writing a strip just happens. God has Blessed me with this amazing gift. It is Awesome.
DJ: Drawing my strip has it’s own unique method as well. The finished product is a piece of hangable art! I do it all OLD SCHOOL. I hand letter and ink the entire comic strip on Bristol board. It looks amazing. I sell my original “art” at my comic con appearances. For $50, you get the original art, the original sketch and you get one heck of an investment. These strips will be worth a ton on eBay when I finally make it big. And I am going to make it big. $50 is so cheap!!!
BC: If your strip had a soundtrack, what would it be?
DJ: Oh that is easy!!! Go to okracomics.com and click on the Videos tab. I wrote and recorded the music on the animation… which I also created and did the vocals on. The soundtrack would sound exactly like the bumper music I perform!!!! Oh, the girl’s voice is not mine. I am not that talented. Oh course, if I could afford it… the sound track would sound like Cheap Trick. I freaking LOVE Cheap Trick. If I could afford to hire them, the soundtrack would sound like a Cheap Trick album…. either like their first self-titled album or like their new album “Bang! Zoom! Crazy! Hello!!!” I would have Robin screaming like a mad man and Rick jamming uncontrollably while Tom spazzes out on his twelve string bass. Since Bun E is no longer with the band, I would have Daxx pounding away on the drums. It would be awesome and SO much better than the mess I recorded.
BC: Who are your favorite artists/writers?
DJ: As a kid, I loved reading Peanuts, Ms Peach and Henry when I was seven years old. I had a few Peanuts paperbacks that I read over and over and over again. I had the book “The Parables of Peanuts” which I read over and over again. I would read the Sunday funnies a few times over the course of the week, studying the strips. I would draw the characters over and over again. I wanted to be a cartoonist so badly.
DJ: As a teenager I discovered three things that totally warped my mind. At the age of 12, I purchased my first Mad magazine and discovered Don Martin. Oh my freaking gosh!!!! Talk about pure awe-inspiring talent. If you look into the eyes of Charmy, you will see Don Martin’s influence on my drawing style. I would draw his characters over and over again throughout my teenage years. I purchased every treasury Don Martin ever published. Then one day “the big three” emerged and swept me off my feet. Bloom County, The Far Side and Calvin and Hobbes had me once again determined to be a cartoonist. I was obsessed with Bloom County and it inspired me to write my own strips. I was finally a writer!!! I was a very BAD writer, but that is okay. No one is a good writer when they begin.
BC: Do you follow any other comic strips right now?
DJ: Nope. As I just told Bill Hinds the other day, I do not read other comic strips. I want to only be focused on my characters. Reading other strips is a distraction. I write better when I have a clear head. I want to lead the pack…. Not follow the pack. To be a leader, I need to stay focused on my own path..
BC: What do you look for when you read someone else’s strips?
DJ: On the rare occasion I read another strip, I look for strips that look like they are drawn by hand. If every panel looks identical, I won’t read it. If the lettering looks like a font, I won’t read it.
BC: What do you think makes for a good comic?
DJ: Art that looks hand-drawn. That and originality.
BC: Do you have any projects coming up? Appearances scheduled for conventions?
DJ: I have one last appearance scheduled this year. I will be in Artists Alley at Oni Con in Galveston October 28-30, 2016. I will be selling Sketch Covers, Sketch Cards, original strips and prints. This table was expensive! The show is an anime convention so I am taking a huge risk. I have a bad feeling I am going to bomb, but I figured it was worth a try.
DJ: Next year, I will do Comicpalooza and Amazing Comic Con in Houston. Those will be my only Houston shows. I try doing these little tiny shows that pop up and I lose so much money. Next year will be all about focus. I am going to focus on what is working. I may try a show in San Antonio called Alamo City. Everyone tells me I need to do that one. I would also like to try Staple in Dallas… but I am leery on spending so much money until I see how well I finish the year after Oni Con in a month.
DJ: I will be working on my first book, Basic Training over the next six months. I hope to find a publisher for this. If I cannot, I am going to look into Kickstarter.
BC: How did the charity event go? Did you have a chance to talk to Bill Hinds?
DJ: What a great day! I got to cartoon along side of the great Bill Hinds… albeit only for a few minutes before the sky opened up and drowned us. This was my first opportunity to impress one of the greats in this industry I so passionately want to pursue… and mother nature broke up our pairing as soon as the fun began.
DJ: I did get to spend about an hour talking with Bill. He was so extremely cordial. I was humbled just to be in his presence yet I felt like I was on his level of genius. I was not of course, but he made me feel as though I was as successful as he was.
Thanks for the interview!!! You are awesome and I appreciate everything you have done for struggle cartoonists wanting to live out their dreams.
BC: My pleasure.
(All artwork here has been reproduced with the permission of the artist. Copyright Davy Jones © 2016.)
(This interview is the copyright © of Curtis H. Hoffmann 2016. It may not be reproduced in whole or in part without the permission of the author.)
Poll: Should army ants make love, not war?