Thursday, April 1, 2010

Jules Faber - Cartoonist Survey #104

Cartoonist, illustrator and caricature artist, Jules Faber lives in Coffs Harbour, Australia. He grew up in a large family and has been drawing ever since he was a little kid. Jules graduated from Southbank Institute of Technology in 1999 where he studied animation. Shortly after graduation he started working for an animation house in Brisbane inking backgrounds, working on layouts and doing in-between animation for the Disney Channel’s ‘Proud Family’ series. At the same time he was teaching comic book illustration and scriptwriting at his Alma Mater.

In 2003 he started writing reviews of DVDs for the website DVDnet, writing over 550 reviews in a little over a year. He moved on to the magazine ‘What DVD’ writing reviews, illustrating articles and drawing the magazine’s comic strip ‘Kung-Fu Video’. 2004 saw him starting his own freelance illustration business and also releasing his first solo book, ‘Exhibits 1 Through 33’ which contained poetry, short stories and autobiographical comics. In 2005 he created his science fiction comic book, ‘Golgotha: Book One’. Jules was also co-editor and a major contributor to the Australian comic anthology ‘Sporadic’, which featured many Australian cartoonists. When his daughter was born in 2007 he moved his business from Brisbane to Coffs Harbour.

On May 19, 2008 he became the daily editorial cartoonist for both The Daily Examiner in Grafton and the Coffs Coast Advocate, his hometown paper. A full member of the Australian Cartoonist’s Association since 1996, Jules was elected President of the ACA in late 2008. He is currently the Cartoonist In Residence and a member of the Board of Directors at The Bunker Gallery in Coffs Harbour. The Bunker Gallery, housed in an underground WWII bunker is Australia’s only dedicated cartoon gallery. As a caricature artist, he has drawn well over 15,000 caricatures at over 500 events. If that isn't enough, he is also the cartoonist for the award winning comic strip 'MiBraine' (the design in the title of 'MiBraine' is an ambigram - if you tip it upside down it says the same thing as right side up). 'MiBraine' is available here on Comics Sherpa and is coming up on it's one year landmark. To learn more about Jules visit his website here. Check out the Australian Cartoonist’s Association here.

What is your favorite pen to use?
I have a variety for different jobs, but the most common I use is the Artline 200 Series. Nothing spectacular, I'm afraid, but it came of a need to have access to pens I knew well wherever I was in Australia (should I run out on a job). These pens are accessible in just about any news agency.

Do you draw in pencil first and if so do you use a standard pencil or a mechanical one?
I use standard pencil, but being schooled in animation I use Col-Erase erasable colour pencils. They cost a little more, but don't smudge and have good even-weight 'lead'.

Do you do your coloring by hand or on the computer?
I used to paint more but now, of course, it's all digital. Faster and cleaner and easier to erase errors. With deadlines looming daily, it makes sense (to me).

If you do your coloring by hand, what do you use?
When I did I had to train acrylic to do what I wanted, as Gouache wouldn't.

What type of paper do you use?
Garden variety copy paper, though I'm particular about brand. I use Double A 80gsm for my most common jobs, but the weight and texture varies when I do other jobs.

What thing(s) do you hate to draw?
The backs of heads. Very difficult to give expression to something you see yet interact so infrequently with in life.

Do you buy your supplies from big chain art store catalogues/websites or a local one that you physically go to?
It's a chain store I visit locally.

Are there any rituals that you do before starting to draw?
No. Some days I dislike drawing, so maybe if anything, I'll procrastinate (which never helps).

Do you listen to music while you draw and if so what genre?
Most genres. I love music very much (but can't play it). Love Tom Waits, Nick Cave, Tool, Bob Dylan, Tex, Don and Charlie. Anything that will tell me a great story but doesn't give the ending away.

Did you read comics as a kid and if so what was your favorite?
I became interested in being a cartoonist because of comics. My first stand-out comic in the country town I grew up in was Grendel by Matt Wagner and the Pander Brothers back in the late 80s. Couldn't believe comics could look like this and tell such adult tales. Much different than the Phantom and Spider-Man comics I'd read to that point. However, since I was a kid I'd been a huge Judge Dredd fan (and still am) and then moved into graphic novels as I got older. Still love Watchmen and Maus. I also read, funnily enough, The Further Adventures of Indiana Jones which came out through Marvel. It's OK in hindsight, but I loved them at the time. They differed a bit from the movies.

What is or was your favorite comic strip?
I believe it will always be Calvin and Hobbes. I'd always had difficulty making friends in my youth and related to Calvin a lot. An overactive imagination that can't help but create a friend for you when you have no real ones. The Far Side too as I got older.

What was your favorite book as a child and do you still own a copy of it?
In my adulthood I've had the opportunity to go back and discover all the books I never got the chance to read as a kid. We came from a big family so while I read a lot, we didn't have a lot of picture books. I read mostly text-based books. In my adulthood, I discovered Where The Wild Things Are and I know if I'd had that as a kid, I'd still have it now. Now I have a little girl I'm doing all the stuff with her I never got to do with my own parents - reading books, telling stories, drawing together.

Did you have any formal art training and if so where did you receive it?
Not at first but eventually I took myself to college and studied animation at Southbank TAFE in Brisbane, Queensland. When I graduated and was working in animation, they asked me to come back as a Comic Book Illustration teacher so I did that for two years.

Do you feel that the Internet is a blessing or a curse?
Definitely a blessing. Evolution isn't finished - as humans and as technological minds. It was as inevitable as any other change. In terms of publishing, it's been fantastic for everyday folks to promote themselves and find an audience whereas they may not have had that chance in the world as it existed before. That being said, it also throws a lot more piranhas into the tank! But if we share the experience with each other and help each other, there's more than enough opportunities for everyone.

Did either of your parents draw?
My dad is a watercolour painter but he claims I surpassed him in talent in my early 20s. He still sells more paintings than I do though, so I dunno. I wrote a book which sold steadily but then he wrote one and outsold me pretty much overnight, so I guess I'm lucky enough to have inherited a fraction of his talents, if not his sales ability.

Who in your life is/was the most supportive of your art?
Probably my dad. He understood because his whole life he'd been a frustrated artist, working to support the family in other fields. He understood it was what I wanted to do, regardless of what I had to go through to get there (even though I had no discernible talent for it) and was there with moral support when I needed it. At my first exhibition in my mid-20s I was living in North Queensland and he had scoured the countryside from Brisbane (about 1300 miles) on the phone to track down a number that he could call me on at the launch to wish me well. I had no family there so it was a pretty big boost. I only learned later just how difficult it had been for him not to be there and how hard he'd worked to find the number of the fairly out of the way place the exhibition was in.

Do you keep a sketchbook?
No. Haven't done for years. I've worked professionally so long that it bores me a little to sketch. I know I should. It'd help me draw the backs of heads better!

Have you ever taught cartooning/drawing and if so did you enjoy the experience?
I have and I did. I frequently hold workshops for people of all ages and am taken to various places in the country to teach workshops. Plus, as mentioned, I spent two years in the TAFE (Technical and Further Education) system teaching 'Comic Book Illustration' and 'Storyboarding and Scriptwriting'. I did enjoy it and helping young people find their path, but I never teach people 'how to draw'. I merely show them the path and let them walk down it themselves. I really don't want a bunch of people out there who just draw the way I taught them to because it's such a personal experience, drawing. It's why I have difficulty with the kids who just draw Manga style all the time - they have their own voice and should draw that first, then move into a style they like - be it Manga or whatever.

Do you feel that talent or passion is more important in drawing?
I'm the Cartoonist In Residence at the Bunker Cartoon Gallery in Coffs Harbour, Australia's only Cartoon Gallery and the work we have in our collection doesn't just come from professionals. It comes from the People and although some are fairly crude renderings, the passion is evident in how hard people have worked on something. Cartooning was the first art form, it was there on the cave walls and everyone has had a go at it throughout history, whether professionally, as an amateur or just doodling on the phone. It's seen in every nation on every Continent on Earth. It will be the last art form and it belongs to everyone. There's no other art form that can say it was there at the beginning and will be there at the end. Cartooning is the first voice of Humankind expressing itself for all time and I'm pretty passionate about it. Far more so than my ability to draw reflects! So yeah, talent helps but passion is way more important, regardless of result because art is firstly and most importantly for the individual creating it. If it's good enough to impress others and make a living from then that's a big bonus.

Do you collect anything and if so what?
I used to collect comics but haven't done so in ages. I also collected trading cards for a while but now I collect cartoons for my private collection. I prefer to trade than buy or just have them given to me. It's more personal to trade I think and shows mutual respect for each other.

If you were an animated cartoon character who do you think you would be?
Whilst he's not animated, I wanna say Rorschach from Watchmen, but because he definitely IS, I'll say Bender from Futurama. In reality though, I'd be more like Fry I think. Sigh.

Are you a righty or lefty?
I'm right-handed but see that more as a schooling thing (where it was 'encouraged'). I'm left-handed for many things I do and am central-brained, so it wouldn't take much to be ambidextrous. I just don't have the time (nor inclination) to work on it. Though a spare hand would come in 'handy'.

If you weren't an artist what would you want to do for work?
I used to have a list in case this cartooning thing didn't work out. In order of preference: Fiction Writer, Event Organiser, Stuntman, and Hired Assassin.

In one or two sentences describe your drawing area.
I tend to set my stuff up for practicality rather than good looks. I like aesthetics, but being central-brained, love straight lines and order as well.

Do you play any musical instruments?
No. Sadly.

If you could give one piece of advice to someone who wants to pursue drawing as a career what would it be?
Never let it go.

Who is your favorite artist?
I have many (many!) and for various reasons, but at the top of the list I might say Salvador Dali. When I saw his work for the first time I saw there's a whole other world beyond the visible. And where most single words have multiple meanings, so too could images. It was one of those revelations when you suddenly want to see an artist's entire body of work because you don't want to miss anything they've done and because you know every piece will move something in you. After I saw 'Guernica' I was the same for Picasso. Then Norman Rockwell, Emil Mercier, Norman Lindsay, Bill Leak, Gerald Scarfe and Charles Addams. The list continues and would take up pages, but off the top of my fingertips, that's a good representation.

Thank you very much Jules!

Coming soon are answers from Dave Blazek, the creator of the comic panel Loose Parts.


Willem Wynand said...

=) great interview =) thank you and congrats on getting this list over a 100 =) its defnitly an intresting read and a big achievment =)

David said...

Thank you for the kind words Willem. It's a lot of fun doing it.