The Once and Future Cartoonist: An Interview with Caleb Sevcik
Caleb Sevcik is a fun artist with a wicked sense of humor and a really energetic style. I first encountered Sevcik while reading Zap Jones, which was a funny steampunk western back in the days of Keenspace.
He's working on a new comic he's planning to debut next month -- I'm looking forward to Caleb' Sevcik's new project and you should be too! Read on for our recent interview:
Can you tell us a little about yourself?
I'm 35, married with 2 eyeballs and a devil cat. I was raised on whole grains and good lovin... yeah, i'm not too serious... sorry...
What's a typical day for you like recently?
Wake up, work, go home, watch a little tv, have a drinkie-drink, draw, fall asleep drawing, cry, sleep... repeat... so true!
Where are you located these days?
NW suburbs of Chicago, in an abandoned building on the east side of town... the town being Crystal Lake... yes... there is a real Crystal Lake! Jason looms somewhere near.
Do you have another job besides working on comics?
Yes. I am a Postal Carrier. Insert joke here:
My day job is lawyerin'. I will see your mailman jokes and raise you 100 attorney jokes. Are you out on a route?
Yes, I have my own route that I do every day. It is very............ yes, it is! It has it's moments though. I can count all the wonderful ones over the years on one finger!
Do you get any ideas from people you see working every day?
Oh yes! Old people are the elixer of endless comedic possibilities.....especially ticked off ones!
You've got a new comic starting soon. What can you tell us about this project?
Well, like most things I've done... it will start out amazing... then peter out into a total waste of time.
But, at least this time I seem to know my limits. It's more an anthology style comic, yet still all connected. This way I've fooled my brain into keeping interested. There's pink elephants, dramatic doctors, space traveling fashion models, dueling cowboys, hungry superheros & insane word play. Basically everything you could wish for to completely alienate an audience. I'm only concerned about entertaining myself this time around.
It WILL start in June. I PROMISE!!!
You've worked on a number of comics before -- which ones remain your favorites and what do you like and dislike about them?
Robot Barber is without a doubt my favorite. It's pure insanity. I love it! That comic is me. I really should continue it..but, it's fine the way it stands, for now. Zap Jones is my true love....but i can never give it the time it deserves...so, it shall remain unfinished for now. I am a Rocket is a complete mess & was really just an exercise in page layout & design.
Then there's so many others that I've done under other names that are still out there...but, i'll never tell!
Have you ever considered collaborating with a writer or someone else on a project?
YES! I really want to!
It would provide great structure for me! Actually I've a few scripts that have been sent to me that I should draw. Adam P? Are you still interested?! Hehe! I've screwed a lot over the years when it comes to doing stuff for others! But, now I think I'm ready to really try it.
Do you have any long term goals or ambition for yourself in comics?
Yeah! I need to finish one! Seriously! I need to complete one! This new one is designed for that. Anything after that is gravy. Baby steps.
How do you go about promoting your work?
I don't really... at my age, I'm kinda past the whole rock star idea to being a comic artist. Now, I just wanna draw! I might use Facebook as a promotional tool this time around though.
What seems to be most effective at pulling in new readers?
Updating regularly! Hence, no new readers!
What conventions are your favorites to exhibit at?
I love ComicCon! Can't wait to go again some day. But, in Chicago, I've only been to Wizard World. I'll go for one day this year.
What advice do you have for others just starting to show their work at conventions?
Don't be afraid! Look for opinions from everyone! Show anyone who will look at it. Take it all in, and apply it!!!!!!!! But, don't forget that it's your art! Art really is expression, so, no matter what anyone says, if you like it, you're successful! But, critical words help immensly!
Do you have a favorite convention story?
It has nothing to do with my comics, but, I got to meet the guy who does the voice of Space Ghost one year.
Then, meeting & talking to Will Eisner alone for about 30 minutes in San Diego 9 years ago. That was really cool.
Comics wise: People really liking my portfolio... that always felt good. Being 18 & making a comic, getting a table & having no one buy it! That was wonderful!
What is it about comics that leads you to pour your creative impulses into that form as opposed to writing or some other art form?
It's just what I've always known, communicating through pictures. I think it's such a wide reaching art. A picture, when done well, can reach the heart and mind of anyone, anywhere.
When you create a comic, how do you approach it? Do you start with the words and then think about the scene that should go with it or do you start with more of purely visual approach or none of the above?
I've done both. Each comic is it's own monster. I let it all organically happen. Don't really know how else to explain it.
What tools do you use to make comics?
Old fashioned ones! Pencils & Ink!
Can you give us a brief walkthrough of your process?
I find, having the idea in my head, doing some sketches, planning page layouts, having character designs and writing some main dialogue are all very important. From there it's all about motivation. I can't tell you how many comics I've started, but never finished. I need help!!! Then i simply scan it in the Mac, clean it up a little in Photoshop, then post! Paper and ink are important though. You have to use good stuff. 2-ply Bristol and india ink make all the difference in the world.
Did you read comics as a kid?
All the Gold Key & Dell comics, Richie Rich, Archie, some DC as well. Then I discovered The Spirit and my brain exploded. Then I discovered Love and Rockets, Cerebus, Kissy Fur, Watchman, etc, and my brain, while rebuilding itself, exploded again. From there I went mainly indie and read anything and everything I could get my hands on. I also frequented the newspaper funnies constantly.
What are your influences from comics today?
Will Eisner(always), Kyle Baker, Hernandez Bros., Seth, Richard Sala, Kim Deitch, Grant Morrison... a bunch!!!
Other non-comic influences on your art and/or writing?
Many. I think it's important to devour as much media that challenges you, be it books, movies or music. It stimulates the brain and makes you see things in strange and amazing new ways. Many people take so much for granted when it comes to being challenged in their entertainment choices. Being force fed every plot point or emotional reaction doesn't provide anything for you. You need to decide how you want to feel about what you're watching, reading or listening to. That's why I always look for the bizarre and surreal first.
Movies: anything by Tarkovsky, Bunuel or Tati. Books: Pynchon, Suess(Yes, Suess!!), Cervantes (You gotta read Don Quixote!!!!) Also, a lot of non-fiction! That's where the real weird stuff is! Then music: anything and everything. Of course, that doesn't mean I don't enjoy mainstream stuff. Will Ferrell kills me. I laugh like an idiot at anything he does. I love the Office and Lost as well. Was always a sucker for a good Horror movie.
Do you read other comics?
Yep, i'm still addicted! What are you reading online or in print? In print, mostly the old school stuff that's been coming out in really great collections: Walt and Skeezix, Peanuts, Moomin(LOVE MOOMIN!!!), Thimble Theatre.
Also, my guilty pleasure is Amazing Spiderman. Marvel finally got it right with that comic.
Everyone should read Bone and Eightball. Those are probably the best comics produced in the last 20 years.