Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Michael Jantze - Cartoonist Survey #242

(Click strips for a larger view.)

Cartoonist, filmmaker, animator, newspaper journalist and college professor, Michael Jantze was born in Middletown, New York in 1962. He grew up in Normal, Illinois and graduated with a B.A. in film studies from California State University, Northridge. While at CSUN he drew editorial cartoons and his own strip called ‘Normal State’ for the school’s newspaper. After graduating he freelanced in the film industry for a few years before taking a job as an art director. Not enjoying his job very much, Michael started concentrating on getting a comic strip syndicated. While pursuing syndication he freelanced Web Design, worked for three daily newspapers and PC World magazine.

In 1996 King Features launched his strip ‘The Norm’, which features Norman, a laid back graphic designer who has an affinity for gadgets and new technology. ‘The Norm’ ran in newspapers for nine years until Michael pulled the strip from syndication in 2004. During this time the strip was also collected in the quarterly The Norm Magazine. After pulling the strip Michael was inundated with requests from fans of ‘The Norm’ to bring it back. This outpouring inspired his wife to create a subscription-based feature on the Jantze.com website in 2005. ‘The Norm’ ran online for two years until it was retired to GoComics.com.

At the same time that ‘The Norm’ was launched, Michael was offered a job at George Lucas’ Industrial Light & Magic. He accepted the job and returned to California to work for ILM where he was an art director on such films as "The Mummy," "Curious George" and "The Hulk.". Michael is now Principal and CEO for his Jantze Studios which “develops character-based animation and comics for traditional and new media projects.” He also teaches animation and sequential art at the Savannah College of Art and Design, with classes ranging from Comic Book Scripting to Digital Cel Animation. A member of the National Cartoonists Society, Society of Illustrators and the Graphic Artist Guild, Michael has won many awards for his writing, design and animation. He lives in Savannah, Georgia with his wife and two children. Visit his Jantze Studios website and read archives of 'The Norm' here on GoComics.com. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter and watch some animation shorts on the Jantze Studios YouTube channel. Michael also has a page over at the Cartoonist Studio website that you should check out.

What is your favorite pen to use?

These days I use the Pentel Brush pen for inking.

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

I use a Col-erase "Blue" pencil, but I also have some blue pencil lead (.7mm, I think) that I use when I travel, then I don't have to sharpen it.

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

Mostly on the computer. But I'm looking for people with my sensibility who can do it for me.

If you do your coloring by hand, what do you use?

Watercolors, guache, acrylics....more acrylics this past summer.

What type of paper do you use?

I'd draw on bristol more, but it makes me nervous. So I work on a printer's stock similar to the old Zellerbach Starwhite Vicksburg...60 to 80lb. And for most of my animation and film work, I'm just going through copy paper 20 lb. Nothing fancy...

What thing(s) do you hate to draw?

Buildings. I don't know why anyone ever invented them...and architecture is just a Ponzi scheme!

Do you buy your supplies from big chain art store catalogues/websites or a local one that you physically go to?

I head downtown to one of the stores near the Savannah College of Art and Design. I used to mail away for the Pentel brush pens...first to Canada and then WetPaint in Minneapolis...but now they're showing up at Kroger in the checkout lane. So I get them while I'm buying alcohol and cough medicine.

Are there any rituals that you do before starting to draw?

Everything on my "to do" list and the laundry and the gardening.

Do you listen to music while you draw and if so what genre?


Did you read comics as a kid and if so what was your favorite?

Comics were verboten in the Jantze household. I mostly read comics at my friends' houses. About the only time comics entered our house was on long car trips...so they weren't really IN our house. Brands were Harvey, Dell, Golden something something and a few DC. No Marvel, the stories never ended in the same issue...so I had no idea what was going on or how it ever ended. I still don't know who Spider-Man is...but I'm thinking it's either the editor guy or Aunt May.

What is or was your favorite comic strip?

"Peanuts" for the longest time. Then "Doonesbury" and "Pogo" book reprints. Then "Bloom County" and then "Far Side" and "C&H".

What was your favorite book as a child and do you still own a copy of it?

Yes. I still have all my "Peanuts" Fawcett trades. Some are now signed by Sparky.

Did you have any formal art training and if so where did you receive it?

I learned art at the public library...

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

I think it's more good than evil.

Did either of your parents draw?

Yes, there's a lot of that kind of talent in my family. My mother is an amazing interior designer and quilt-maker. My father took some art classes when he was working on his college degree and I remember how good he was at it. I always used to have him draw horses and tractors for me.

Who in your life is/was the most supportive of your art?

Who cares? The only person that needs to love what an artist does is the artist himself.

Do you keep a sketchbook?


Have you ever taught cartooning/drawing and if so did you enjoy the experience?

I'm a professor of sequential art and animation at SCAD here in Savannah.

Do you feel that talent or passion is more important in drawing?

Passion, probably. But man, talent is an awesome shortcut.

Do you collect anything and if so what?

Old cameras and film projectors. If you have one, send it to me post-paid.

If you were an animated cartoon character who do you think you would be?

Norm Miller.

Are you a righty or lefty?

T: Right, B: Right, D: Right.

If you weren't an artist what would you want to do for work?

I wouldn't exist.

In one or two sentences describe your drawing area.

Ridiculously clean. Two words! Nailed it! Crap, that was three phrases.

Do you play any musical instruments?

Piano, guitar and harmonica.

If you could give one piece of advice to someone who wants to pursue drawing as a career what would it be?

Go to SCAD. It's amazing here.

Who is your favorite artist?

Woof. That's a hard one. I don't have just one, so I'm going to chicken out and not answer and pretend it's out of awesome respect.

(Watch this short video of Michael drawing Norm and Chris the Wookie.)

Thanks again for your time Michael!

1 comment:

Galantz said...

Excellent interview!
I like "The Norm"