Monday, January 28, 2008

Cream City Conversations with Jon Sloan

Hello. Guess who's back with another 'conversation'.

I'm really stoked about having the opportunity to introduce people [who don't know] to this next creator. Besides drawing and writing and publishing his book, "Sa-Bom Jim"... Jon is a practitioner/Instructor in the Korean combative art of Tae Kwon Do. Bud Burgy and I have been fortunate enough to include demonstrations by Jon at our M&F release parties as well as include his work in our series.


CCC: For those who don't know, Name and location?

Jon Sloan, I live in the north-west Minneapolis Metro Area.

CCC: How did you become interested in creating comics?

I have always been a huge fan of cartoons and comics. I first learned to draw by copying the comic strip characters, especially "Peanuts". I had always been weary about submitting material to syndicates and large publishing houses because I thought my material wasn't up to par. This changed in the Spring of '03 when I met Bob Lipski ("Uptown Girl" creator) and saw that I could do this sort of thing on my own.

CCC: What was your first published work? Did you self-publish that work?

Aside from a few small projects I did here and there for high school flyers and programs, my first published work was "Sa-Bom Jim #1". It was entirely self-published.

CCC: If you self-publish, what do you gain from that experience?

A huge amount of respect for people who are able to publish more often than myself! The one thing I believe it continually teaches me is what I need to do to improve my writing, artwork, and storytelling. I'm sure a lot of people would agree that while that first-ever issue looks all impressive when you see it for the first time, you tend to cringe a little when you look back on it years later thinking "My God! How did I let this thing see print???"

CCC: If you've been published by other publishers, compare the experience to self-publishing.

I love the results that other people have turned out with publishing my work so far ("Muscles And Fights" 1, 2, soon 3 and "Uptown Girl Presents" #2). Yet, it's a lot different when someone else handles my work besides myself. There's a small feeling of detachment when you hand over your pages to someone else and simply have to wait and see what the end result is. Self-publishing for me is a bit more personal, and I get to see the finished result sooner due to the low-budget way I put my book together.

CCC: Give us a list of your published works (self-published or otherwise)?

Ok, to start it from the top: "Sa-Bom Jim" #0-6, "The Koffee Klutch" #1, Contributor to "Muscles And Fights" vol. 1-3, "Uptown Girl Presents" #2 (contributed a 24 page Walrus story), "Alley Cat! Cats On Bikes (With Ninjas!): A Tribute To Eric Lappegard" (contributed a 2-page story).

CCC: Describe the art scene where you live. If you've lived elsewhere and were producing art there, compare those scenes.

I am still exploring the Minneapolis art scene. So far, I am enjoying it quite a lot. The feeling of community with The Int'l Cartoonist Conspiracy is wonderful! This is totally different from when I was living in Duluth and especially in Mankato, MN. There was not much as far as an art scene in Duluth or Mankato that I was aware of, much less anyone that was known locally who were doing comics.

CCC: Do you belong to any online or 'real world' art groups? If so, list them and describe what that/those group/s benefit you.

As was mentioned before, The Int'l Cartoonist Conspiracy! The monthly jams (when I can get to them) are wonderful... I appreciate the networking and news about various projects that I find out about through them. A great group of people and I look forward to working with them in more projects/events in the future.

CCC: What is your ultimate or immediate goal in creating comics?

To tell stories and be creative. I had always wanted to be a cartoonist growing up and this gives me a chance to put my material out to the public. I figured that I had spent enough time on the sidelines and I wanted to be a contributor... not just another spectator.

CCC: What do you think is lacking from the underground art scene? If you had the power, what would you do to address that void?

Mostly exposure. I feel a lot of people give indy/underground comics a bad rap simply because they don't have one of the logos from the "Big Two" slapped on the cover. I would give equal print space to advertise indies as well as mainstreams and promote more local book events within stores to let folks know that there's more to choose from than the flying spandex books their inundated with.

CCC: Do you blog? MySpace? ComicSpace? If so, what kinds of things do you communicate through it and what is your ultimate goal in using that site?

I blog on my MySpace page as well as Blogspot. In these blogs, I usually vent about issues that are bothering me or something exciting is coming up... more or less your usual whiny/angsty stuff.

CCC: Do you read any other creators' blogs? If so, what do you think of them?

I read Paul Taylor's (Wapsi Square) Livejournal entries and have just started reading entries of Ryan Dow. I enjoy them and it gives me a little bit of comfort that other folks have stuff going on in their lives that bothers them to no end just like I do.

CCC: What kinds of books do you enjoy reading?

Well, as far as actual non-comic/non-graphic novels go, any good books on Art, artistic techniques, or art history/biography are good for a decent read. I am always on the lookout for books about the "other" John Sloan, who was affiliated with "The Ashcan School" in the early 20th Century. Martial arts books about technique or philosophy are good, such as Sun Tsu's "Art of War" and especially Musashi's "Book Of Five Rings". A good book on Japanese swords and swordsmanship will hold my interest for a great while. I do read some science fiction and I have made it a goal to read some of the classics by authors such as H.G Wells, Asimov, Bram Stoker, Mary Shelley, and Gaston Leroux. F. Scott Fitzgerald is also a favorite writer of mine.

CCC: What kinds of standards and/or expectations do you place on a comics purchase?

After the comics implosion of the early '90's, I became a bit more fussy about who/what I read. The experience kinda soured me on superhero titles, so I focused more on humor and alternative titles instead. When I look for a particular title the story has to grab my interest. If the story can't keep me going, then, I won't bother anymore with a book. The book has to have an original slant on an idea for me to notice it and give it a look.

CCC: What is your favorite indie publisher?

I guess... I try to focus on the individual book than who is publishing it. Another habit I've kicked since the early "90's. I want to see the book and not who's putting it out.

CCC: Who is your favorite creator/writer/illustrator?

As far as nationally know people: George Perez (DC/Marvel/Ind.) has always been a constant favorite, John Kovalic (Dork Tower), Scott Kurtz (PvP), Frank Cho (Liberty Meadows, Marvel/DC projects), Aaron Williams ("Nodwick", "PS 238"), Jolly Blackburn ("Knights Of The Dinner Table"). Local talent: Bob Lipski, DANK!, Kevin Cannon, and other members of The Conspiracy.:)

CCC: Give us a short list of indie creators you believe are sort of shaping the future of comics (indie and/or mainstream)?

Alan Moore for writing, definitely. I just wish the Hollywood idiots would stay true to his books when they make movies of them. I think Neil Gaiman and Frank Miller helped turn a few heads in the 80's as well as recently to different writing and storytelling that have jump-started many an indy comic creator. The list grows due to more and more artists that I see. I think a lot of indy folks are shaping the way we look at comics simply by turning out more and more indy comics (Yeah, I know that's pretty vague, sorry!)

*Note: I really don't find that answer vague... at all. Change should come from the inside out... any other way is temporal... a fad. Every indie creator actually publishing AND pushing his/her work is shaping the future of comics. That is why it's so critical we steer clear of inbred-style writing and illustrating.

CCC: If you could change one thing about the modern comics 'industry' what would it be?

Sorry, this has to be TWO things.

Firstly: Knock it off with giving us multiple books about the same crap! I'm sure everyone else can agree with me that the X-Men were a lot more interesting when you could number all their books on one hand and still have a couple fingers left over. Really, their stuff has gotten so derivative that it's no wonder that they see turning their characters into ZOMBIES as a novel approach.

Secondly: They truly need to see beyond the idea that superheroes, manga and top names in the business are the only things worth printing. If they would open their eyes to the immense creative market that is outside their blinders, maybe, they would take more of a chance on something new.

*Once again, we are the system. If we don't evolve ourselves AND, in turn, change the way the system operates, who will?

CCC: Give a shout out to any site and/or underground comic you think people ought to be checking into.

Bob Lipski


Paul Taylor

Ryan Dow

Bud Burgy

There is a ton more people that I can't think of off-hand. Like I said before, the more people's art/comics I see, the longer the list grows!

And so it does...

Thanks, Jon!


**I'd like to give special mention to a creator I've only, sadly, discovered recently. Fortunately, classic... quality... spirited work never grows stale. Jordan Crane is, in my opinion, one of the most exciting voices in modern comics. The palette he implores as well as the general subject matter, dialogue, layout and visual style in his work is something to aspire to. A big thanks is due to Fantagraphics for publishing The Clouds Above. Crane is the designer of FB's MOME anthology in addition to having his own small press shop, Red Ink: