Jason Overby

Jason Overby is the author of (in my opinion) one of the stand out mini-comics of 2008. It's called "Jessica." This is his website: http://www.discretefunk.com/

Above image is an in progress work from overby.

1. can you describe your drawing routine---how often you draw, how many hour per day---how you break up the day with drawing

I draw in my studio very nearly every day for at least two hours. I'm rarely there more than four hours at a time. I used to only work in coffee shops, and this established the two hour time frame (you feel like a jerk nursing a $1 cup of coffee for longer than that). On days I go to my job I'll either draw immediately before or after work (depending on how early I have to be there.). On my off days I try to get there as early as I can.

2. how much revision/editing do you do in you work?

For my minicomic, "Jessica," I revised a whole bunch. It took about three years to make the thing, and I was constantly fussing with the overall conceptual framework. It ended up being 28 pages, but I drew well over a hundred (including redrawing some pages). I didn't ink the letters until the very last so I would often "rewrite" pages (lots of times having them relate to completely different aspects of the "story."). I changed the order of the pages a lot, also, trying to find the best sequence for clarity/rhythm. I went through maybe five different versions before cutting and restructuring it from around 60 pages to the final 28.

I've been trying to make strips lately without editing so much lately, but I'm not sure it's gonna work.

3. talk about your process---do you write a script or make up the drawing as you go?

Individual pages I'll sometimes script/thumbnail out, but I mainly draw/write at the same time with some idea in mind about the overall story I'm telling. I like for the drawings/text to work together organically, creating a context for the meaning/story as opposed to using pictures as discrete linguistic chunks or hieroglyphs that operate inside the panels like words within sentences.

See previous question for the process of "Jessica."

4. do you compose the page as a whole or do you focus more on individual panel composition?

As a whole.

5. what tools do you use (please list all)?

Mechanical pencils (.3, .5, .7). Hunt 102, 107. Lame brushes. Magic Rub, Tuff Stuff erasers. T-square, twelve inch metal ruler. Dr. Martin's Black Star Matte India ink, various colored Higgins inks.

6. what kind(s) of paper do you use?

Strathmore 400 series 2-ply smooth surface bristol

7. do you read a lot of comics? are you someone who reads comics and then gets excited to make more comics---or is your passion for making comics not linked to any particular love for other comics?

I cycle through periods of reading comics/hating comics. Seeing great comics (like recently a Hankiewicz piece reprinted in Brunetti's first "Anthology of..." about Bellow's "Adventures of Augie March" and a colored Frank King Sunday in the same volume) totally gets me excited about making them.

8. do you make comics for a living? if not, how do you support yourself, and how does this relate to your comics making process

I've yet to make any money from comics (lost a lot printing and distributing minis, though), which might be good because it allows me to be fairly self-indulgent. I work a day job (barista for Stumptown Coffee Roasters, which I really love) four to five days a week, but I always make time to draw.

9. do other artforms often seem more attractive to you?

maybe writing or music. I get frustrated with how conservative 99% of cartoonists seem to be, but I grew up with comics and love them.

10. what artwork (or artists) do you feel kinship with?

Lots. The people who've meant the most to me over the years have been Crumb, Philip Dick, Rauschenberg, Duchamp, Jim Thompson, Frank Black, Donald Barthelme, Will Oldham, Gary Panter, Somerset Maugham, Paper Rad, Kevin Huizenga, Dan Clowes, various Ft. Thunder dudes, Art Spiegelman, Lou Reed, Charlie Kaufman, William Gibson, Sammy Harkham, Julie Doucet, Tolstoy, Dylan Horrocks, Scott McCloud, Alan Moore, Kirby, Ron Rege, J.G. Ballard, Herriman, etc.

11. is a community of artists important or not important to you?

kinda important in that it's nice to not be working in a vaccuum, but not essential to making work.

12. what is your parents/family's reaction to your work?

not interested

13, what is more important to you---style or idea?

I think that maybe the two are inextricably linked.

14. is drawing a pleasure to you or a pain?

While it can be maddening and frustrating, nothing is more satisfying and spiritually fulfilling.

15. when you meet someone new, do you talk about being an artist right away? do you identify yourself as an artist or something else?

I almost never mention it.

16. do you feel at all connected to older comic artists like steve ditko or jack kirby---or does this seem like a foreign world to you?

I love both of these guys. While the subjects and stories they pursue(d) aren't always to my taste, they are both visionaries which is much more interesting than anything else.

17. do you ever feel the impulse to not draw comics?

My wife's about to have a baby, and for the first time in eight years comics have been seeming relatively meaningless.

18. do you draw from life?

Very rarely - usually only if I'm either making a particular conceptual point or if I can't make something look right otherwise. I like to use imagery in comics that expresses an idea or thing in an interesting way, and it doesn't necessarily matter to me whether I'm accurately simulating the way anything looks (whatever that means).

19. do you pencil out comics and then ink? or do you sometimes not pencil?

I pencil the pages and then ink directly over the pencils. I'm really just tracing

20. what does your drawing space look like?