Welcome to Independent Comics In Focus, a new feature here at Word of the Nerd where we talk to independent comics creators about their work, their process, and independent publishing. Today’s guest is Jason Young, author and creator of Veggie Dog Saturn.
Can you tell us a little about yourself as a comics creator? Have you always wanted to make comics?
Growing up in the midwest meant lots of time to read comics. My brother and I were fans from a pretty early age. We also liked to write and draw our own comics on notebook paper (most of which I still have!) and did so all the time. I guess I just never stopped drawing little comics, but these days the difference is now there’s actually more than just the one copy of each floating around in the world.
What can you tell us about your comic series Veggie Dog Saturn?
My brother was into all sorts of comics while I was still reading Marvel and DC stuff as a kid. He’s five years older than me so he’d buy Cerebus and The Tick and things like that before they were in the limelight and turn me onto them. But I think it was when he showed me some Chester Brown autobiographical comics from Yummy Fur that I realized I could do this sort of thing. I made a couple of autobio comics when I was a kid just about our friends playing basketball and things like that. Then in 2008 I started Veggie Dog Saturn as an outlet for stories that I felt like sharing (some fun experiences and some not so fun). So far I’ve done eight issues and it’s been a blast to do! I’ve gotten some pretty positive feedback, which is super encouraging. I’ve also met some great cartoonists that I’ve ended up collaborating with on other books and that’s just the best! Getting to work with artists whose books I love has by far been the best part of getting into the world of small press comics. It’s such a great community of supportive and creative minds who continually inspire me to keep going.
Where can savvy Word of the Nerd readers buy it, or any of your other books?
I sell my comics mostly at small press shows and by sending them to indy friendly shops on consignment. There are some truly great stores out there who do a lot for small press comics. There are quite a few in Chicago that carry my books and recently Copacetic Comics in Pittsburgh added me to their stock, which was flattering! But if anyone would like to order them directly from me they can go to buyerbeware.guttertrash.net for more info. It’s just a blog but if you poke around you’ll find ordering info and see some artwork you might enjoy as well.
You have worked at a comic book shop for a long time. Has that experience influenced the way you approach comics? If so, how?
Not really, I guess. I love working at the comic shop and being a retailer has turned me onto all kinds of artists I’d probably have never seen otherwise… but as far as making comics I feel like I’ve just had a natural progression starting with the ones I mentioned earlier that my brother and I made when we were young. I’ve never really tried to follow and trend of something I see as a hot seller or anything. I honestly think if I had grown up to work as a bus driver or something I’d still be making the same comics I do now (my dad was a bus driver)!
Have you always known you would publish your comics independently? Is that the plan moving forward?
The idea of self publishing is very romantic to me. It’s great to have the freedom to put whatever you want out there without having to worry about someone else determining if it’s going to be marketable. Also, you can print things under the radar that some people might shy away from for fear of lawsuits (I’ve published mini-comics where I’m dressed as Batman or Robin more than once and didn’t have to have anyone tell me that’s not such a good idea). I’m not saying it wouldn’t be thrilling to get picked up by First Second or Top Shelf or somebody. . . but I’ve certainly got no problems with doing it myself and will most likely do so until I’m in the ground.
What advice do you have for new creators? Is self-publishing the way to go?
The thing I see most often with new creators (writers and artists both) is this mindset that they want to get everything right before they put anything out there. Every line needs to be perfect or they don’t want it out there . . . and that’s just crazy to me. You can’t think like that and expect to get your work out there for people to see. Look at early published work by Chris Ware or whoever and it never looks like the artist they are today. You see hints of who they’re going to become but it certainly isn’t their best work. We all get better as we do it and just getting the ball rolling is the first step. Don’t be afraid to publish! Once you do you’ll see what mistakes are on the page and improve on them for your next comic. It’s natural to feel intimidated by what people might think but you’ll never improve if you don’t try. So get out there and do it already! I believe in you!
You can check out more of Jason’s work at www.buyerbeware.guttertrash.net.
To find a comic shop near you, visit www.comicshoplocator.com or call 1-888-comicbook.
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