Category Archives: poll

Garey McKee interview

In past polls, I have asked for the webcomics everyone reads, and suggestions for artists to interview. I do read your answers, and I do act on your suggestions, as I also contact artists that know me (and are more likely to answer back right away). One such request was for Garey McKee, creator of Batch Rejection, on Comic Sherpa.

BC: Garey, please introduce yourself.
GM: My name is Garey Mckee and I’m a cartoonist and writer.


(The first Batch Rejection in the GoComics archives.)

BC: What personal details do you think are relevant to readers to know about you?
GM: I’m from Newark, Delaware. I spent the last 20 years in Philadelphia, PA, and have just recently moved back to Delaware.

BC: Do you consider yourself a cartoonist, an illustrator, an artist, or something else?
GM: I identify as a cartoonist and a writer. Although I think cartooning implies writing.

BC: How did you get your start as a cartoonist?
GM: Starts in cartooning are ambiguous things. I’ve always drawn cartoons on the backs of tests papers in grade school, middle school newspapers, and then underground zines in high school.


(from Police Limit)

BC: How long have you been working as a cartoonist, and what do you think your biggest breaks were?
GM: I started drawing a comic strip called Police Limit in 1996 as a sort of cathartic release from a job I had working in the Philadelphia Prison System. The realization that most of the stress in criminal justice jobs comes from top heavy management rather than any sort of criminal element was, and is, the central theme of the strip. The overwhelming response from those working in law enforcement spurred me on to continue the strip. I still draw Police Limit weekly for Praetorian Digital Publishing and their PoliceOne.com website. Writing this now makes me realize I have been drawing the strip for 21 years. Definitely time well spent!

BC: Do you still work in the criminal justice system, did you change fields, or are you now cartooning full-time?
GM: I was a teacher in the Philadelphia Prison System in the 90’s. After that I drifted around all sorts of jobs, usually orbiting around media driven work. Right now my main focus is cartooning.

BC: What led up to your starting Batch Rejection, and do you have any other pokers in the fire right now?
GM: Batch Rejection has its origins in a few different thoughts. I have always loved older newspaper and magazine cartoons from the early to mid 20th century. Accomplished illustrators and humorists like Charles Dana Gibson and H.T. Webster fascinate me. They were the forerunners of cartoonists who shaped magazine cartooning like Helen Hokinson and Peter Arno. I thought how sad it was that we don’t see those types of cartoons anymore. Cartoons that were published in papers like the New York Tribune don’t seem to exist anymore. So I began thinking of a feature expressed in early to mid 20th century style, yet relevant to modern readers.

GM: When first starting Batch Rejection I had to “go back to school” so to speak. It’s not enough to lean on one’s own inherent abilities. I pushed myself with Batch Rejection. I went back and refreshed myself on figure drawing and composition, with a special eye toward dynamic symmetry. I think this effort shows in the end result. I think it’s very important for cartoonists, or any artist, to push themselves beyond what they are comfortable doing.

BC: Who is Philo Calhoun (mentioned in several strips)?
GM: Philo Calhoun was a friend of HT Webster. Webster’s style of cartooning was a starting point for me when first designing the look of Batch Rejection. Frank Casey is another friend of Webster’s whose name also appears a few times in Batch Rejection. Frank Casey was the art director for the old Life Magazine. More importantly, they are names that have a resonate quality of the time period. So that helped me, at least in my own mind, establish the early/mid century spirit I wanted to capture in the feature.


(from Batch Rejection)

BC: Which of your works are you most happy with, or proud of?
GM: I like everything I’m doing right now with both Batch Rejection and Police Limit. Although I view success as a day to day ebb and flow. If one day I produce something I think is concise and focused then I am very proud. Other days if I produce something that seems forced then I’m not so proud.

BC: Do you have any collections on the market yet? Where can readers find them?
GM: There is a book of Police Limit cartoons available entitled Police Limit: The First Cluster. There is also a book of Batch Rejection cartoons available entitled Batch Rejection: New Century Modern. Both are on Amazon.


(from Batch Rejection)

BC: How do you approach that blank sheet of white paper when you decide to start your next strip or panel?
GM: I can’t stress enough how important writing is. Cartooning is writing. You have to write, write, write! If you sit down at your desk and think, “Hmmm, what am I going to draw?”, then you are unprepared. I spend a lot of time writing ideas. Sentences. Thought fragments. Scenarios. Anything and everything. Listening to other people’s conversations is a good way to write, too. My notepad app is full of little writing files. If you don’t write, you can’t draw.

BC: What is your process for creating both strips? Do you start with pencil on paper, then scan and do touch-up on the computer, or are you strictly digital?
GM: Batch Rejection was built from the start as a digital feature, which I thought ironic given the early magazine/newspaper nature I was trying to obtain. I draw with a stylus and use Photoshop. I even like to use older Adobe software like PhotoDeluxe. That may seem weird but I just really like that software. It turns out there is a whole little community of PhotoDeluxe users out there. Who knew?

GM: I used to draw Police Limit with pencil and ink and then scan the strips and clean them up. But now, like many others, I have moved over to digital production on Police Limit as well.


(from Police Limit)

BC: If your strip had a soundtrack, what would it be?
GM: Batch Rejection’s soundtrack is definitely Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme.

BC: Who are your favorite artists/writers?
GM: Again, cartooning is writing so it’s important to read. My reading list includes writers who are particularly good with dialogue. Elmore Leonard, Alice Munro, James Reid Parker, Emily Kimbrough, Anton Chekhov, John Cheever. The list goes on and on.

BC: Do you follow any other comic strips right now?
GM: Well like everyone else, I read Peanuts. I like Richard Thompson’s work. Especially Richard’s Poor Almanac. Those expressive scratchy lines captivate me. I like Stephen Beals’ Adult Children. The idea of adults who are largely unprepared for what the world has to offer is a great concept. I enjoy Dark Side of The Horse by Samson. The visual humor there is universal. I love Theresa Sheppard’s Snow Sez. Her gentle, almost greeting card-style of cartooning makes me smile.


(from Batch Rejection)

BC: What do you look for when you read someone else’s strips?
GM: I like character-driven humor. I like the idea of truth in fiction, where a character earnestly believes what he or she is saying at that moment, no matter how ridiculous it is to the reader when taken out of context. Conversely, I DON’T like cheap gags or obvious visual puns. Staged vaudevillian humor does the artform a disservice. I usually skip any features where the words zany, offbeat or crazy appear in the description.

BC: What do you think makes for a good comic?
GM: See above! Character driven writing!

BC: Do you use Patreon or Kickstarter?
GM: I do not use those services. I don’t know how I feel about them. Yes, I want to support artists and their work. But I also don’t want to have a tin can shaken in front of my face, digital or otherwise.


(from Police Limit)

BC: Do you have any projects coming up?
GM: Things are on the horizon but it’s too soon to reveal anything. Cryptic of me, I know. But please feel free to check out Batch Rejection and Police Limit both currently on the Sherpa side of GoComics. And consider giving the books a gander.

BC: Is there anyone you want to give a shout-out to?
GM: YEAAAHYYUUUUUHH!!! HOLLA AT MY CREW!

(All artwork here has been reproduced with the permission of the artist. Copyright Garey McKee © 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: Have you ever been involved with law enforcement?

 

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Sam Hurt interview

I read. I read a lot. I read so much that sometimes I can’t remember exactly when I first encountered a particular title. I know that when I lived in Dallas, TX, that I’d see Sam Hurt’s Eyebeam in the Austin Statesman when I made occasional drives down to Austin on a weekend. I enjoyed the surreal elements, like Sally’s hair continuing through every panel, and Eyebeam’s “hallucinations”, as well as the artstyle as a whole. Eyebeam has a quirky, polished look that supports the activities taking place within this universe. I was very happy to see Eyebeam show up on GoComics and I’m beside myself (literally – the left me is typing the letter keys, and the right me focuses on Alt, Shift, Backspace and moving the mouse around) to have Sam here now.


(Eyebeam)

BC: Sam, what personal details do you think are relevant to readers to know about you?
SH: I was born in Austin, TX. Grew up in West Texas (Odessa/Midland), near where Roy Orbison and Buddy Holly lived. I used to joke that it was like spending 18 years in a sensory deprivation tank. Moved back to Austin in 1976 to attend University of Texas, and stayed for Law School. Then I just stayed. I’ve been here in Austin most of my life now. As a cartoonist, I’m an autodidact, having studied Liberal Arts and Law instead of art. But more accurately, I learned from the cartoonists I loved to read. (R. Crumb, Dr. Seuss, Quino, Schulz, Gilbert Shelton, Geo. Herriman, EC Segar, to name a few.)

BC: Do you consider yourself a cartoonist, an illustrator, or an artist?
SH: Cartoonist, former illustrator, painter.


(Sam Hurt painting – Lefty.)

BC: How did you get your start?
SH: Drawing for fun since an early age. Copying stuff I really liked. Padding thank-you notes to aunts and grandparents with drawings. Cartooning for my high school newspaper. Then cartooning for the UT student paper (The Daily Texan) which really took off and put me on the map later when I was in Law School.

BC: Some time back, I was following Eyebeam when I was still in the U.S., and I know you’ve been at this for a long time. What have your biggest challenges been? Your biggest breaks?
SH: First the breaks: After struggling for years to appear more regularly in The Daily Texan, there came a time when someone at the paper was a big fan and wanted me to contribute every day. (By then I was in Law School, 1980.) Then a year or two later, after Eyebeam had become established as a campus presence, I participated in a prank of sorts, where an Eyebeam character named Hank the Hallucination ran for student government president. Somehow this brought lots of press and attention, and one result was that the Austin’s daily paper, the Austin American Statesman asked to include Eyebeam on their comics page, which brought the strip out of the campus fishbowl. One challenge was after I graduated Law School and passed the bar exam, and drawing Eyebeam went from the thing I did to escape from studying to the thing I was supposed to do as a job. Somehow it became more of a chore. Also, I realized at that point that a campus strip has the advantage of having a very defined audience who all share a frame of reference, making it relatively easy to find common ground.

SH: Then another break – in 1990, United Feature Syndicate syndicated a spin-off of Eyebeam called Queen of the Universe. Then a challenge – the strip was dropped after two years. I was pretty confused about where to go from there, and tried to do everything at once; animation, cartooning, illustration, teaching, and just about anything else I was offered. (Oh, yeah – practicing law…) Eventually, I settled on weekly cartooning, and painting. (I got out of the practice of law before I did any lasting damage.)


(Eyebeam)

BC: Did Hank the Hallucination win the student government president election? Would he be able to win the national election if he ran now? What would his platform be?
SH: Voters had to write in Hank, because he did not appear on the ballot. (Arguably appropriate, since, being non-existent, he does not actually appear anywhere.) He received more votes than any two human candidates, for a strong plurality. It gets a little fuzzy at this point, but Paul Begala won the runoff, and served as the next president. (In my opinion, he achieved this by use of political acumen that served him well in his later careers.) I don’t think Hank is crazy enough for this current election cycle. His platform would probably be “Get real.”


(Eyebeam)

BC: What led up to your starting Eyebeam, and do you have any other pokers in the fire right now?
SH: I think I covered the first part, what led me into Eyebeam, above. Other poker in the fire is the “fine art” (as in art for people’s walls) I’m doing now: paintings, ink drawings, silkscreen prints.

BC: Which of your works are you most happy with?
SH: I’m really happy with a lot of the old daily Eyebeams, when the strip became sort of a sit-com sci-fi soap opera. Robots and time machines, and love triangles. I’m also happy with the book Eyebeam Returns, which is some of my post-daily work, and includes some autobiographical works, but also reprises ongoing characters from Eyebeam and Queen of the Universe (particularly the League of Slime characters.) And I’m really pleased with some of the paintings I’ve done in the last 10 years. I’m really enjoying the open-ended aspect of paintings, which don’t require tying the tidy bow of a punchline, and allow the viewer to participate in the narrative.


(Eyebeam)

BC: Is the Eyebeam GoComics page going to go from weekly to more frequently? Are these new works, or reprints? Are you interested in rerunning the older Eyebeams on GoComics?
SH: I haven’t produced a daily comic strip since the end of Queen of the Universe’s run. After that, I started producing strips on a weekly basis. The current Eyebeam feature collects those strips, and will continue on a weekly basis. (Although you will spot occasional re-runs of the old daily strips among these.) I am working to prepare all the old daily strips (thousands of them!) for GoComics, to be released as an alternate feature. We will probably call it “Eyebeam Classic”, and it should be up in the next few months. Readers will have the option to read it daily, as if it were being produced that way.


(Eyebeam)

BC: Where can readers find your books?
SH: Try my new Etsy store

BC: How do you approach that blank sheet of white paper?
SH: One approach is to just start doodling. Then the next time you look at it, you can become an editor, which is so much easier than pulling something out of nothing. Other times, something from real life, or a wisecrack or an observation will provide the seed of an idea.

BC: If your strip had a soundtrack, what would it be?
SH: The music of Brave Combo would work nicely.

BC: Who are your favorite artists/writers? Have you met any of them? Got any dirt on them?
SH: Shel Silverstein, Benjamin Franklin, Kurt Vonnegut…
SH: Writers I admire and also know: Matt Groening, Steve O’Donnell, Mark O’Donnell, Chris Ware, Shannon Wheeler, Mike Judge, Berkely Breathed, Lawrence Wright, Cornell Hurd, Carl Finch, Steve Adams, Chan Chandler, John Hawkes. (No dirt. They’re all squeaky clean, like me.)


(Sam Hurt painting – Read and Unread.)

BC: Do you follow any other comic strips right now?
SH: I’m terrible about that for some reason, and don’t read comics regularly. When I do, I look for Baldo, Pearls Before Swine, Get Fuzzy, Perry Bible Fellowship, Doonesbury, Outland, For Better or for Worse

BC: What do you look for when you read someone else’s strips?
SH: I guess I’m not looking for anything because I want to be surprised. Of course, with someone like Trudeau or Breathed, I’m interested to see what they’ll do with current events.

BC: What do you think makes for a good comic?
SH: You just blew my mind. I’m gonna have to meditate in the dessert for a few weeks and get back to you on that. (Not desert. Dessert.) Actually, I think there are several different ways a strip can work well. Strong characters whose dialog come from their particular personalities rather than them just being gag-sources. Good, unexpected gags that you don’t see coming. Beautiful, intricate art, or art that’s deceptively simple.

BC: Do you want to plug your site?
SH: I’m trying to figure out how to get more traffic to my GoComics page.


(Sam Hurt painting – and For Worse.)

BC: If Eyebeam were in the room right now as part of the interview, what question would he ask you, and how would you answer it?
SH: He would ask “Why did you make my hair so weird?” I would answer “Just be grateful you exist at all. You’re welcome.”


(Sam Hurt painting – Canopy.)

(All artwork here has been reproduced with the permission of the artist. Copyright Sam Hurt © 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: Do you turn your eyebeams off at night?

 

Michael Jantze interview

I used to do a lot of business travel back 10-12 years ago, and I always bought the papers of whatever city I was in to check out the comics pages. It amazed me, the variety of the comics that would appear in one paper, and not another. Along the way, I discovered THE NORM, which I liked for the self-deprecating humor and comments directed to the reader. Unfortunately, I’d go to another city and wouldn’t be able to follow along with any longer-running story arcs. When I started reading GoComics, I was very happy to find THE NORM there, but that was about the point where the creator, Michael Jantze, decided to retire the strip. I contented myself with the re-runs.

However, Michael started up a new series, initially mixed in with the older strips, that eventually moved to its own site on Feb. 23rd, 2015. Called THE NORM 4.0, updating on Mondays – Norm is older, wiser, but no more grown-up than before. The artwork is extremely clean, the jokes are sardonic, and family life seems to suit him. I’m extremely happy to present Michael here.

BC: Who are you?
MJ: Michael Jantze.


(from THE NORM 1.0)

BC: Where are you from, what is your background?
MJ: I was born on the East Coast, raised in the Midwest and live on the West Coast, that means I’ll probably die in Japan. I live in Marin County, north of San Francisco.

BC: Do you consider yourself a cartoonist, an illustrator, an artist, or something else?
MJ: I always tell people I’m a writer who draws. But that’s what a cartoonist is by definition.

BC: How did you get your start as a write-drawer?
MJ: I studied film and writing in college. One of my film professors, Ben Brady, encouraged me towards writing and I learned so much from him on structure and character. Once out of college, I freelanced in L.A., doing everything from animation to documentary and educational film making and illustration, you know, a hand-to-mouth kind of creative existence. I started cartooning my old college strip in my spare time and eventually self-published a book and sent some of the strips off to the syndicates.

BC: How long have you been at it, and what do you think your biggest breaks were?
MJ: I think for artists, we’ve “always been at that”, so much of our personal experiences seep into our work so that when the big breaks do show themselves, we’re ready to act on them. Most young artists plan on their futures coming to them one day, instead of working on them today. My big breaks only showed up because I imagined myself in that role and then did the things TODAY that that role would one day require. I’ve had a lot of job titles, but basically I’ve always done the same work: I use character and story to connect people to the world.


(from THE NORM 4.0)

BC: What led up to your starting THE NORM, and THE NORM 4.0?
MJ: Like most cartoonists of my generation, I grew up on Charles Schulz’ Peanuts. By the 1970s, I had rediscovered Pogo in book reprints and worshiped Garry Trudeau’s Doonesbury. So in high school, I wrote and drew editorial cartoons for the school paper and then did that at college, too.

MJ: I was always drawing, but in junior high school, I traded an old 12” inch G.I. Joe doll for an 8mm movie camera, and then American Graffiti and Jaws came out in theaters and Monty Python was on TV and I was hooked. I made miles of movies and studied all the old films I could check out on 8mm film at the public libraries in Bloomington-Normal, Illinois. I was always trying to put enough people together to make “bigger” movies and animation projects but most folks weren’t as into it as I was. So film got in the way of the cartooning for a long time, but post-college, I reconnected with it because I liked that I could “make movies” alone, without budgets and trucks and crews.

MJ: I really liked the raunchiness of Bloom County while I was in college, but I think when Calvin and Hobbes debuted I saw a new golden age of comics may be coming. The first strip I submitted to the syndicates was a continuation of my college strip and I wanted it to be a continuity strip but the syndicates said they couldn’t sell anything but gag strip. I got off track with an original DC Comics project (unpublished) and didn’t really know much about the business of comic syndication, so it took a while to learn to write short-form gags. I got there with the help of several syndicated cartoonists. I had mailed them my syndicated submission and asked for any tips on the writing and drawing and proper next steps. Surprisingly, all of them wrote back!

MJ: By the time I met my wife, I had gotten a bit lost on my goals. I was busy as a newspaper graphics editor and was renegotiating with DC on the book format and had had an unsuccessful development contract with a syndicate. I was “close” but couldn’t figure out what was next. So I took some time off, kept a journal, got married and just relaxed a bit. The drawings in the journal became THE NORM, just everyday observations about love, life and work. I broke the fourth wall because I always admired that in Woody Allen’s Annie Hall and The Gary Shandling Show. I sent a batch of strips in and two syndicates offered me contracts. THE NORM 4.0 is the same idea, except now there’s four of them. It’s weekly, it’s my fun thing to do every week. It’s my selfish project.

BC: Which of your works are you most happy with, or proud of?
MJ: I don’t have that many works published, just THE NORM, really. But I do have more stories for Norm and other stories I’ve tinkered on. My other stories are either bigger stories or really smaller stories. As an animation director, I’m enjoying the educational animation I’m doing for Cengage Learning, it’s classic cartoon animation in the spirit of Disney educational films and UPA.


(from THE NORM 1.0)

BC: Where can readers find your books?
MJ: The books are all out of print except “THE NORM IN COLOR”, a collection of Sunday strips from THE NORM’s ten year run in papers. But there are ebooks and print on demand books on Amazon Kindle and iTunes Bookstore. KNOCKED OUT LOADED, a graphic novel featuring THE NORM, is available as an ebook and the limited print edition is in China currently being printed. It was a benefit for the Indiegogo campaign I ran on it two years ago.

Direct youtube link

BC: How do you approach that blank sheet of white paper?
MJ: I write in sketchbooks, it’s not as daunting. And I use a piece of advice I got from Charles Schulz, just draw your characters doing things. It really works! I annoyingly made a hashtag for it called #drawriting.

BC: If your strip had a soundtrack, what would it be?
MJ: Definitely jazz, but I really really like music, so it’d be a mess of a mix.

BC: Does Norm have an actual personal philosophy, or is he pretty much “go with the flow”?
MJ: It’s a serious world, someone has to make fun of it.
BC: (I knew that.)

BC: Norm seems to be a big baseball fan. Or, at least, he likes to play back-lot ball himself. Is this a reflection of your own interests?
MJ: I think baseball is the perfect definition of humanity in sport. It’s a team game filled with so many opportunities for an individual to be better than themselves and to add to the excellence of the group. The pace of the game allows the players and the spectators to engage in conversation. And then there’s the dirt and grass. I love a well-tended garden.


(from THE NORM 1.0)

BC: Most of the Norm 4.0 strips have centered around Norm. In the original series, Rene took over as a guest host for a week or so. Will we see something like this in 4.0 with Reine, the kids, or The Dog?
MJ: ALL of the strip are centered around Norm, except for the two week series you mentioned. I only did that to give the viewer a peak into Reine’s motivations for the year-long plot in “My Friend Reine” – currently in reruns in 2016 on gocomics.com/thenorm – I felt folks might think her a bit too “flat” and it gave me a chance to dance with that idea.

BC: What spins would each character put on the strip then?
MJ: I don’t know. I haven’t ever thought about that. It’s Norm’s world. I like that we have to see his experiences only through him. And, to be honest, I LOVE that he lies to us sometimes. He’s not an angel.

BC: In the original THE NORM, you had the Norm calender pages and the variations on the old children’s books. Is this something you may return to in 4.0 some day?
MJ: Those were fun Sunday additions I did during print syndication with King Features. I love the old E. C. Segar THIMBLE THEATRE Sunday strips from the 1930’s that had all kinds of activities across the top of the feature. I did the “One Month at a Time” Calendars for a few years just to have some fun working outside the Sunday format, and to ruin calendar sales worldwide. I was 1 for 2 on that plan. Ha.

BC: Have Norm’s other psychoses completely faded away, or are they waiting for the children to get old enough to play with?
MJ: I still use SuperNorm and Boy Norm (his inner child) as they translate well in the family dynamic. I’ve had an idea for a new alter ego, but haven’t written the right gag for it, yet. So, they’ll be back…

BC: Can you talk about what you were going through at the time you retired THE NORM? Did that have any impact on your decisions when you returned with THE NORM 4.0? And what were you going through when you did start introducing new content in with the re-runs?
MJ: That was a big leap of faith to stop doing one thing and go back to another. I had signed a development deal for a TV show and really didn’t want to take my syndicate along for the ride as they had no experience in that sort of thing at all, and, in fact, had botched an early deal. I also was back to working in film and animation on odd jobs and the daily strip was just too much to do to get any traction – more importantly, keep promises for deadlines – so with the term break in my syndicate contract, I decided to ask for them to triple my guarantee. They wanted to continue distributing the strip but not with the promise of more income. And that’s not all they’re fault, either. No one was “quitting” their strips in 2004. Another cartoonist friend and I sat down and counted the “missed” opportunities of strips like Peanuts and For Better Or For Worse going into eternal reruns… it was thousands of new sales that the syndicates would never make.

MJ: I had launched in 38 papers and ten years later I was in about 68 total. It was time to move, do the hard thing and not be the one to turn out the lights. I didn’t think the strip was ever destined to be a “huge” success, and maybe it’s my predetermined thoughts that created that.

MJ: The jump was a bit easier as a freelance job creating some animation for a hotel turned into one job after another and I decided to open Jantze Studios as a think-tank cross-platform awesome shop. Some personal things were also going on with my family and there was a need to be the sole breadwinner again in 2008, so it ended up being the right decision for the four of us…


(from THE NORM 4.0)

MJ: Returning to THE NORM 4.0 was, or is, just a weekly fun thing to do. I am so busy these days producing and directing animation that I wanted to “tinker with something”. I thought of starting a new strip, but it seemed easier for me and anyone following my work to just fire up Norm plus three, hence THE NORM 4.0

BC: If Norm ran for President, what platform would he run on?
MJ: The iOS platform, of course.

BC: Who are your favorite artists/writers?
MJ: I think Jerry Scott is an amazing comic writer. I’ve always marveled that he could write about subjects he hadn’t “lived”. When he started Baby Blues, he didn’t have a baby! His partner Rick Kirkman did and they wrote it from Rick’s stories. I’ve known Rick and Jerry for over thirty years, they’ve both been such wonderful mentors; they were both so kind to a young rube. I like all the obvious choices in comics, but I really admire Gary Larson’s Far Side. It still cracks me up. I think there are so many really great comics out there right now, the problem is exposure.

BC: Do you follow any other comic strips right now?
MJ: I read a handful each day. I’m not a big fan of “more comics is better”. I never believed anyone who said they liked all the comics on the funnies section, that’s just someone who has no taste.

BC: What do you look for when you read someone else’s strips?
MJ: A gag is recommended, an idea is required, unfortunately most don’t have one.

BC: What do you think makes for a good comic?
MJ: A clear voice, I think comics should say something, even just something silly. A lot of comics are just illustrated gags. I think the great comics push the uniqueness of the form: the interdependence of text and image.

BC: Do you use Patreon?
MJ: Yes, I have a Patreon page.

BC: Do you want to plug your sites?
MJ: Jantze.com has links to GoComics, Instagram, Facebook, Patreon, Twitter. But these days, with so many mobile users, I’ve basically set it up that everything pushes out from Patreon to Instagram, FB, Twitter, etc. The comics are at: THE NORM 1.0 and THE NORM 4.0

BC: How do you think they are changing the face of webcartooning?
MJ: I think social media has killed advertising for online creators. People are reading content through so many portals and platforms, and work is being forwarded (without the ad that ran next to it on a creator’s site) that it’s changed how creators stay economically alive. Hence, Patreon. If folks want to support me, the ads on GoComics.com/jantze and my Patreon page are the only chunks of income I see from cartooning. When no one wants to pay for content, the quality of the content will degrade. It’s happened before as long ago as the late 1800’s with the penny dreadfuls.

Direct youtube link

(THE NORM READEO.)

BC: Is there anything you want to say to promote THE NORM readeos?
MJ: Good question.

MJ: It’s my personal brain project, trying to figure out if there’s a way to mix comics with film, reading with experiencing, but not going so far it becomes a “bad” film, just an enhanced comic. With THE NORM READEOS I’ve stripped it all down to comic language, film form and audio. The camera movements (meant to simulate a viewer’s eye tracking) and the audio shouldn’t be noticeable, except to add to the reader experience. Turn off the audio and you can still read the comics full frame, cut out the minimal film language (cuts, zip pans and little else) and you can STILL read the comic. The reading experience is first, all else supports it.

MJ: By doing this it does two things: One, it keeps the comic as a comic at the center, no running off and turning it into its prettier cousin (animation). Comics and film grew up together in the early 20th century, my idea is to use only what enhances the comic reading experience, and leave the 800-lb gorillas out of the experience. No voice over, no theme music, no animation, very little motion, no synchronous anything. Secondly, removing so many of the production “values” keeps the time to produce a comic readeo to a minimum, something that even the comic creator could do on her own with a bit of practice.

BC: Do you have other any projects coming up? Appearances scheduled for conventions?
MJ: I’m too busy and too shy for any of that. I am writing some projects in fits and starts, but I think they’re a few years from anything being public. The animation is keeping me very busy.

MJ: And I did my time at comic conventions 15 years ago. I like meeting people, but that’s a really crappy way to do it and I think the “meet the author” exchange is awful. The “fan” has to pretend to like me, and I have to pretend I’m important. Blech. If folks want to “hang out” with me, that’s what my Patreon page is for… there’s a monthly online studio hang out.

(All artwork here has been reproduced with the permission of the artist. Copyright Michael Jantze © 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.)


Do you own a turtleneck?

 

Isaac Wooten Interview

As mentioned before, Basket Case supports the artists at Comics Sherpa as they ply their trade on their way up the ranks. Today, I’m happy to introduce Isaac Wooten, creator of The Magic Forest. Isaac, the floor is yours.


IW: Drawing comics is something I knew I wanted to pursue from a very young age – My introduction to making them came from a young man I knew at the age of six or seven named Michael Ledingham. He worked as a volunteer at a makeshift daycare center that was run out of a large house belonging to a neighborhood mom. He drew a weekly strip based on the daily goings on of the actual house full of kids. Every kid and adult involved in the center was represented in crude caricature as greatly exaggerated versions of themselves. Michael told me that making comics was easy – all you had to do was draw a sequence of squares or lines to represent or divide panels, make words, and draw pictures.


(from The Magic Forest.)

IW: Obviously it was a very a simple explanation of a very sophisticated medium. Comics are of course not only an art form, but in many ways, the form they take becomes a language. Anything can be communicated through comics, from rudimentary instructions about setting a table or donning a life jacket, to great long stories that require effective communication of ideas, emotions, thoughts and conflict. I was taught this over the course of my adolescence by Bill Watterson’s classic strip, Calvin and Hobbes. Comics never meant superheroes and spandex to me as a child. Comics meant Calvin and Hobbes, Dilbert, Baby Blues, Zits, and short 1 x 3 rectangles stacked near each other. Newspaper comics were read daily in my household.

IW: My mother bought me most of the comics I read at that age. Rather then investing in Super Hero comics and material she deemed too violent, she instead picked out several titles that you might find in the “Alternative” section of a comic store. These included Spiegleman’s Pulitzer prize-winning “Maus,” Peter Kuper‘s adaptation of Kafka’s “The Metamorphosis,” and a few anthologies containing work by Alison Bechdel, Roz Chast, Ivan Brunetti, Gilbert Hernandez, and Peter Bagge. While these books weren’t always violent, (they often were, not to the knowledge of my oblivious mother) they did carry very adult themes. Here I was at 10 or 11 years old reading stories about rape survival, the holocaust, Lust, Greed, Sin, drug use, watching your parents slowly decay and die, and a million other things.


(from The Magic Forest.)

IW: I love comics. They’re such a huge part of my childhood, my adolescence and newly found adulthood. Their blend of word and image allow them to carry all the mysterious beauty of poetry and written narrative and the brilliance, detail, and imagination of a great drawing. They take two of the most respected forms of expression and fuse them into one form capable of articulating just about anything. There’s really nothing like them.

IW: Comics are incredible and possibly one of the greatest art forms there are, with oceans of potential and tragically unrecognized talent.


(from The Magic Forest.)

IW: And all of mine are incredibly silly and arguably stupid.

IW: I’ve always loved making people laugh in any way I can, and I’ve always been in love with gag cartoons and newspaper comics. My strip is called “The Magic Forest” and is currently run online via Universal Uclick’s Comics Sherpa service. Maybe I’ll start a Tumblr or blog where I’ll post them later, but for now they’re up right next to a whole lot of other comics drawn by similar people with similar aspirations.


(from The Magic Forest.)

IW: “The Magic Forest” gets its name from a spot in the woods in northern Seattle’s Maple Leaf neighborhood. If you go down 106th street you’ll find a spot where a trail begins and leads through tough brambles and branches into a little clearing with a creek and pretty scenery. The neighborhood high schoolers would often gather here to smoke pot, take hallucinogenics, drink stolen beers, and act cooler than they really were. They spray painted “The Magic Forest” on tree branches and while they did their fair share of littering and destruction of property, they always loved the forest and treated it as a sanctuary where they could live out their vices.

IW: Working with characters that happen to be animals allows me to make jokes and exercise humor about very real and controversial human topics. I did a story in the comic once that offered thinly veiled opinions on the gun control debate, a strip about the death penalty, the current election season, and I’ve done more than a few jokes about alcoholism, drugs, divorce, and addiction. Someday, I hope to tackle race relations, the war on terror, and police brutality. I’ve always believed that there is nothing at all that can’t be laughed at, and ESPECIALLY nothing that shouldn’t be laughed at. The more serious a subject is, the more a subject makes us scream, and the more a subject makes us cry out and feel mad, sad, or hopeless, the more we need to be able to laugh at it. Humor helps us process things logically and in a lot of cases can even help us find solutions.


(from The Magic Forest.)

IW: My characters are extremely flawed individuals. Their logic is always wrong, their decision making skills never seem to work, and they’re never aware that they’re making things worse. They’re set in their ways, they never mature, they never change, they never learn, and because of this, the humor and jokes are never ending.

(All artwork here has been reproduced with the permission of the artist. Copyright Isaac Wooten © 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: Have you ever been to the Seattle Magic Forest?

Melissa Lomax Interboo

I was surfing through the GoComics index of strip titles when Melissa Lomax’s Doodle Town caught my eye. This is not your regular run-of-the-mill comic strip, in that it’s more a series of doodles with accompanying text. The doodles are whimsical, and often are autobiographical. Additionally, Melissa will make comments on other strips that she likes, which is a lot more interactive than most other artists get. She started running Halloween-themed drawings during October, which figured in perfectly for the Oct. 31st interview.

BC: Who are you?
ML: Hi! My name is Melissa Lomax. I’m a full time greeting card artist and have been working in the industry for almost twenty years… wow, I really can’t believe that! However, my first and longest creative-passion is illustration/doodling and the art of story telling. On a personal note, last October my boyfriend, Christian Patchell, and I got married! We’ve been together for a long time and I feel very blessed because he’s the love of my life as well as one of my best friends. In my personal-comic ‘Doodle Town’ he is affectionately referred to as ‘Patch the Pups’. Patch is also an artist and cartoonist, which makes spending time together that much more fun!

BC: What personal details do you think are relevant to readers to know about you?
ML: I’ve been living in Philly since I graduated from the University of the Arts with my BFA in Illustration. When I moved into the city I found it to be very creatively inspiring and energizing. I still consider myself a bit of a ‘country mouse’ because my sister and I were born in Nebraska (mom was midwestern) and later my family moved to North Carolina (dad was southern). I’m not sure why that’s so important… I guess both places are beautiful in their own unique ways and made an impression on how I see things today. I’m also an ‘old soul who’s a kid at heart’ and I look back at my childhood with a lot of nostalgia and gratefulness. I’ve been drawing, doodling and cartooning since I was a very little girl. I found that by being creative I could “make my own fun,” and because of that, there would never be room for boredom! I also tend to have a positive-outlook on most things, and Patch and I try to find the ‘Silver Linings’ when times get tough. On that note, unfortunately, I lost both of my parents early in life. I do feel like they live on in our memories, our actions and now though my artwork. Whenever I get the chance, I like to write and draw about the people who mean the most to me! It’s an honor to have a place like GoComics to share these personal stories.

BC: Do you consider yourself a cartoonist, an illustrator, an artist, or something else?
ML: I guess because I like variety, I don’t totally define myself, but overall I’m mostly an illustrator and a cartoonist. It seems like all of the artistic things that I do for a living and for enjoyment inspire one another!

BC: How did you get your start as an illustrator?
ML: A year after I graduated from college in 1997, I landed a job in a greeting card studio where they primarily designed Christmas cards. I agreed to the interview thinking that they only needed an intern but was thrilled to find out that it was a paid full-time ‘junior artist’ position! This is the company where I also met Patch and we became best friends. It was definitely a life-changing experience for me! Ever since that job, I’ve been illustrating/designing greeting cards in some form or another.

ML: My career as a cartoonist took flight when I discovered ‘Doodle Town’. It started as a Valentine’s Day gift for Christian aka Patch. I doodled myself as a cat, Patch as a dog, and tried to capture some of our funniest and sweetest moments together. A year later, the gift sparked an idea for a handmade book called “Summer with You.” Patch and I took the book to the Small Press Expo in Baltimore during 2013, where Shena Wolf (the Acquisitions Editor at Universal Uclick) visited our table and took an interest in my work! I knew something “magical” was about to happen, but I wouldn’t fully realize the potential until I was posting biweekly on the GoComics site!

BC: What led up to your starting Doodle Town, and do you have any other pokers in the fire right now?
ML: (Since I spoke about my start to Doodle Town I’ve included some other fun-things currently happening.)
Along with posting Doodle Town twice a week I’ve also been doodling creepy-cute artwork for #inktober, which is posted each day of the month in October. You can see all of this artwork on my Instagram: melissalomaxart, my site, or my FaceBook. It’s been really fun because I’m coming up with all sorts of weirdo-characters. Patch and I put together a book several years ago based on drawings like this called ‘Pretty Creepy‘. We plan on making a second book with our Halloween doodles called ‘Pretty Creepy Too‘ in 2017. Also in December, stay tuned online for my cheery Christmas doodles under the hashtag #decemberdoodle

BC: Which of your works are you most happy with, or proud of?

ML: It felt really nice to be able to capture a bit of the magic we experienced as children in this piece.


This comic makes me giggle because it highlights my ‘affair’ with coffee… there’s no stopping our love!


I enjoy illustrated collections, this piece makes me happy because it’s a ‘collections of moments’…


This piece has received a lot of attention, so obviously I’m not the only one who loves food drawings!

BC: Do you have any collections on the market yet?
ML: Not at this time but funny you should ask, recently I’ve been thinking about collecting Doodle Town into a book!

BC: How do you approach that blank sheet of white paper when you decide to start your next doodle?
ML: Luckily I keep a folder that’s filled with idea starters. A lot of my concepts are thoughtfully written out on sheets of paper but I also have random post-it notes with two or three words scrawled on them as reminders! Sometimes a concept will come to me in the middle of the day, on my drive home from work or as I’m getting into bed. Because my comic is based on the ‘everyday’… inspiration is everywhere!

BC: If your strip had a soundtrack, what would it be?
ML: I grew up on a wide range of music! So I would hand select tunes from… 1940’s swing-bands, 1950’s Oldies, 1970’s Classics, 1980’s everything, 1990’s Old School Rap & Grunge as well as some Indie Music from the last few years!

BC: Who are your favorite artists/writers?
ML: I’d like to take this opportunity to mention two children’s book artists that I found extremely inspirational as a child and that still motivate me to this day!

ML: Beverly Komoda illustrated a magical book called Jellybeans for Breakfast.’ Her whimsical style fits the story perfectly and in all sincerity, that book made me want to become an illustrator! To boot, Beverly and I have become FaceBook friends… it’s like a dream come true for the seven year old me!

ML: My other longtime favorite is the children’s illustrator, Richard Scarry. I thought it was so neat that he used animals instead of people to tell stories. And within books such as the Best Storybook Ever he illustrated short stories that felt like mini-comics to me. He also drew cross-sections of buildings and houses… I always loved seeing what was happening ‘behind closed doors’!

BC: Do you follow any other comic strips right now?
ML: I’m following a lot a great artists on the GoComics site. A few of my favorites right now are:
Sarah’s Scribbles by Sarah Andersen. I like her loose style and honest self-deprecating humor!
‘Poorly Drawn Lines by Reza Farazmand. This comic is a little odd-ball and it almost always makes me laugh out loud!
Winston by Andrew Hart. Andrew is a friend of mine and a fellow member of the Philadelphia Cartoonist Society. I like to think of his strip as a dark comedy and I find myself smiling every time I read it!
Jim Benton Cartoons is amazing, his artwork so up my alley and his sense of humor and irony are unparalleled!

BC: What do you look for when you read someone else’s strips?
ML: When I read someone else’s strip I like seeing a unique perspective and fun style… also I’m a total nerd for puns, so that always helps!

BC: What do you think makes for a good comic?
ML: I enjoy reading all kinds of comics but my favorite stories are either personal-comics like the works of Craig Thompson (among many others) or all-ages adventure and mystery based stories like books by Aaron Renier. I’ve met both of these guys at conventions and they were super-nice. That always makes the comic that much better for me!

BC: Do you use Patreon or Kickstarter? How do you think they are changing the face of webcartooning?
ML: I’ve been considering a Patreon or a Kickstarter lately. I think it might be a good way for me to slowly grow my audience and down the road, be able to do even more of what I love to do the most! I like the idea that the public can support what they are passionate about and receive special bonuses and personal offers from artists that they appreciate. Since my comic started as a gift… I would love to keep that going!

BC: Do you have any projects coming up? Appearances scheduled for conventions?
ML: It’s been pretty busy lately but it’s a dream of mine to start collecting some of my Doodle Town comics and random doodles into a book. I’d love to be able to tell some longer stories and maybe include some activities as well. I guess I’m hoping if I put this in writing, it will commit me to making it happen!

ML: Because we were planning a DIY wedding last year, conventions were pretty hard to fit in but Patch and I are looking into some smaller conventions and craft shows for 2017. I’ll keep you up to date on events on my GoComics page and will definitely be posting these shows (once scheduled) on social media.

ML: Thank you for the opportunity to do this interview, it was a pleasure and you were a wonderful host!
BC: [blush…]

(All artwork here has been reproduced with the permission of the artist. Copyright Melissa Lomax © 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: Did you get enough candy for Halloween this year?

Jim Benton Interview

Back in 2014, GoComics started carrying Jim Benton’s strips, and the editor’s blog focus in announcing the new title was Death showing up at an old woman’s front door on Halloween, and giving her a free pass. What else can you ask for in a joke? (see below.)

Jim has several book series out, including “Dear Dumb Diary,” “Franny K. Stein,” and “The End (Almost)“. I’ve read The Invisible Fran, which is a great kid’s book about a mad scientist school girl whose science is a bit more than she can control just yet. The artwork is cartoonish, which is what you want in a cartoon, but it’s clean, consistent, and supports the jokes (or stories) perfectly.

A few weeks ago, I mentioned that I’d been lucky with the GoComics contests in the past, but not since they changed their entry system last year. Right after that, GoComics had a contest on their Facebook page to celebrate the release of Jim’s newest book, Man, I Hate Cursive. I won a signed copy of the book, and it is really funny. Quite a few of the panels originally ran on Jim’s GoComics page, but there are still many comics that I hadn’t seen (or didn’t remember), too. It’s a big, beautiful book, and the humor alternates between crippling, biting, and heart warming. Some of the language may not be appropriate for small kids, but otherwise it’s highly recommended for anyone that likes The Far Side, Gahan Wilson and “what ate Waldo” (if that last one isn’t a real book, it should be).

BC: Who are you?
JB: Jim Benton.

BC: What personal details do you think are relevant to your readers?
JB: I’m here in Michigan where the temperatures make it very easy to stay inside and practice drawing for three months every year.

BC: Do you consider yourself a cartoonist, an illustrator, an artist, or a happy rabbit?
JB: All of those, plus a writer.


(from Jim Benton Cartoons)

BC: How did you get your start then?
JB: I worked in high school, little jobs: painted a sign here and there, did a drawing for a newspaper or something. My first full-time job as an artist was at a t-shirt shop.

BC: How long have you been at that?
JB: I’m still designing t-shirts! But that’s where I realized that you could draw it once and sell it a thousand times, and that seemed like a pretty good strategy. I’m sure that’s what set me on a course to pursue licensing.


(from Jim Benton Cartoons)

BC: What led up to your starting Jim Benton Cartoons, and Dear Dumb Diary?
JB: It’s hard to come up with a chronology. While I was drawing shirts, I was also doing more magazine illustration. In college, I was freelancing from my dorm room. My licenses got more and more successful and eventually People magazine did an article about me. I started expanding my thinking and I created a series for Fox Kids, and pitched a few book series – Franny K Stein, Dear Dumb Diary… Ten million books and a movie later, I’m still writing them.

BC: Which of your works are you most happy with?
JB: The biggest commercial success is It’s Happy Bunny. It’s sold more than 3/4 of a billion dollars at retail. But I get email from parents telling me that my books launched their child’s love of reading, and that’s impossible to beat.

BC: Do you have books out, and where can readers find your books?
JB: Lots. Amazon has most of my stuff, and a new collection of cartoons just came out. It’s called MAN I HATE CURSIVE.

BC: How do you approach that blank sheet of paper?
JB: Different ways. Sometimes an idea will just come to me, and other times I’ll give myself an “assignment” like, do a cartoon about spiders.


(Doing one about spiders. from Jim Benton Cartoons)

BC: If your strip had a soundtrack, what would it be?
JB: Hopefully every strip would be different. Some rock, some klesmer, some awkward finger strumming…

BC: Who are your favorite artists/writers? Got any dirt on them?
JB: I’m kind of a big dumb fan of everything. But let’s see….dirt….well, R.L.Stein, author of Goosebumps, is actually a really funny guy. Dav Pilkey and his wife Sayuri are incredibly sweet and generous. This doesn’t really qualify as dirt, does it?

BC: Nope. Do you follow any other comic strips?
JB: I read everything I can find the time for. I hate to mention any in particular, because then I feel bad about the ones I didn’t call out.

BC: What do you look for when you read someone else’s strips?
JB: Just a laugh, or a fresh observation.

BC: What do you think makes for a good comic?
JB: I think the artist has to truly believe in it. Readers can tell if you’re faking it.

BC: Do you use Patreon or Kickstarter? Do you want to plug your sites?
JB: I don’t use either one. I have a Patreon, but I’m always concerned that it looks a bit like begging. My site is JimBenton.com, and you can see my stuff on gocomics.com and reddit where I post as /u/JimKB.


(from Jim Benton Cartoons)

BC: Do you have any projects coming up? Appearances scheduled for conventions?
JB: My new book MAN I HATE CURSIVE, a chapter book series called VICTOR SHMUD, and new It’s Happy Bunny stuff at Hot Topic. That’s right, he’s back.

(All artwork here has been reproduced with the permission of the artist. Copyright Jim Benton © 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: Do you own any It’s Happy Bunny goods?

 

Davy Jones Interview

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.


(from Charmy’s Army.)

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.


(from Charmy’s Army.)

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..


(from Charmy’s Army.)

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.


(Bill Hinds and Davy Jones, charity event.)

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.

DJ: CONCLUSION
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?