Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Jed Alexander - Cartoonist Survey #170

Jed Alexander is an artist and cartoonist who lives in Davis California. His first comics were published in the solo anthology 'Yellow Baby' published by Alternative Comics. His comic work has appeared in Too Much Coffee Man, The Magazine, Top Shelf’s, 'The Blue Kid' and the anthologies 'Meathaus' and 'No Words'. Jed’s illustration work has appeared in publications such as Nickelodeon Magazine, LA Weekly, The Santa Cruz Metro and The Sacramento News and Review. His originals and prints are frequently on display at The Pence Gallery where he is a children's educator and administrator. This year he was awarded Best of Show at the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators California North/Central Conference. Visit Jed’s website where you can see more of his work and buy his comics, posters and stickers. You should also check out his I Apologize in Advance blog where he has been posting some pretty wild daily sketches.

What is your favorite pen to use?
Vintage Esterbrook #255, because they're flexible and I can get them by the gross pretty easily on E-Bay.

Do you draw in pencil first and if so do you use a standard pencil or a mechanical one?
I use a lead holder.

Do you do your coloring by hand or on the computer?

If you do your coloring by hand, what do you use?
I scan in watercolor and pastel textures and apply them using the Photoshop clone tool.

What type of paper do you use?
Bristol board. Or if I do dry brush, anything with a little tooth.

What thing(s) do you hate to draw?
"Hate" is pretty strong. Everything is a challenge. There are things that are hard to draw, but that just makes me all the more determined to draw them.

Do you buy your supplies from big chain art store catalogues/websites or a local one that you physically go to?
Usually I order from Dick Blick.

Are there any rituals that you do before starting to draw?
If I start a new project I like to clean up my space. I keep project folders for each project, so if I'm not working on it, it all goes into a project folder. Sometimes I'll work on three projects in the same day. After I've worked as much as I want to on one, I'll put it away and pour out the contents of another.

Do you listen to music while you draw and if so what genre?
I listen to audiobooks. Lots and lots of audiobooks.

Did you read comics as a kid and if so what was your favorite?
I remember having a lot of Archie and Harvey comics around when I was very little, but found them unsatisfying. When I discovered superhero comics, the whole idea of continuity, of this story that was a part of a bigger story was very attractive to me, so Spider-Man and X-Men were really exciting because I never quite figured out entirely what was going on which made it all seem more fascinating than it was. I really got into Moebius when I was 13, and then as a young teen discovered stuff like Crumb (primarily through Hup) and Clowes, and Woodring, the usual suspects.

What is or was your favorite comic strip?
Windsor McCay, EC War Comics, Jim Woodring, Anything by DeCrecy, it varies. There's so much out there! Always making new discoveries.

What was your favorite book as a child and do you still own a copy of it?
Sendak's 'In the Night Kitchen', but then once I discovered McCay; it kind of lost its shininess. I still have a copy somewhere.

Did you have any formal art training and if so where did you receive it?
I studied illustration at San Jose State University. They did the best they could with the resources they had--the department is a lot stronger now. In the last few years I've really had to fill in a lot of the gaps for myself, fundamentals I didn't learn in school because the art department didn't have its shit together. Again, no fault of the illustration department. They've fixed all that now I hear.

Do you feel that the Internet is a blessing or a curse?

Did either of your parents draw?

Who in your life is/was the most supportive of your art?
Mmm, that's a tough one. I still resent my parents for the fact that they never took me to an actual art museum. I was very apprehensively encouraged, but supported, not entirely. I would have to say my wife!

Do you keep a sketchbook?
Not well. I draw every day, but seldom in a sketchbook. I hate having a record of all those bad drawings to haunt me.

Have you ever taught cartooning/drawing and if so did you enjoy the experience?
Yes, I do, and I have. I have a one-on-one student right now who's about 15, and the last two summers I taught classes for kids in comics and illustration at the local gallery.

Do you feel that talent or passion is more important in drawing?
You can be better than people who are more talented if you work harder than they do, so I'd say, passion.

Do you collect anything and if so what?
I accumulate rather than collect, though there are a few things that I'm precious about. My Jim Woodring toys! And for some reason my almost complete set of Thunder Agents comics. They're not even the best comics! Or my favorite comics! It's a completely irrational obsession.

If you were an animated cartoon character who do you think you would be?
The squiggle on Charlie Brown's brow.

Are you a righty or lefty?

If you weren't an artist what would you want to do for work?
I like to write as well.

In one or two sentences describe your drawing area.

Do you play any musical instruments?
The harmonica. With my nose!

If you could give one piece of advice to someone who wants to pursue drawing as a career what would it be?
This one comes from Tin Salamunic: Don't decide what your limits are until you've pushed them.

Who is your favorite artist?
John Cassavettes. Hands down. The greatest filmmaker of the twentieth century!

Thanks very much Jed.

Next time on David Wasting Paper, the talented Vanessa Davis provides answers to the Cartoonist Survey.


Robin Cain said...

Awesome as usual. Thanks for posting such wonderful interviews. I always learn something new!

David said...

You are more than welcome Robin. I'm glad you are getting something out of them. I've been following your progress and your cartooning is getting really good.

You should enjoy the next cartoonist's work (Vanessa Davis). She does autobio comics like you do.

Jed Alexander said...

Glad you're interested Robin, and thanks David!

Robin Cain said...

Thanks David... I made a commitment to draw every day no matter what and it's made all the difference in the world. But it's not hard, I love it.

Jed, I loved seeing your work! Inspiring! Thanks!