mid-life by joe ollmennJust reading this great lengthy interview with Joe Ollmann about his work, the evolution of the industry, all kinds of stuff with Derek Royal on The Comics Alternative blog. The podcast Darek and Andy Kunka do is very thoughtful, so in acrod this is an in depth and enjoyable conversation about all kinds of things; A swath on the unique language dynamics of the Canadian comics scene; his publisher Andy at Conundrum; Our generally amiable dispositions here in the north!

At least, most of the time, from the safety of our studios. But get us in a bar and watch out!

“Canadian cartoonists, like most cartoonists I’ve met in other countries, are all pretty friendly, even the well-known ones. I like to talk to other cartoonists and publishers because you can talk about all that comics bullshit, and they understand. They’re also pretty supportive with technical questions and questions about money/contract stuff. If you want to answer a lot of correspondence, ask a question about pens or markers or Bristol board on Twitter or Facebook. You will get support, holy shit!”

seabrookThey really get into it at length about process in general and on his current project, the biography of William Seabrook.

“Beside freelance comics that keep me alive, I’m only working on the Seabrook. It’s a big, big task. A lot of visual research and elaborate scenes. I actually break out of my nine-panel grid and draw big panoramic scenes in this. I just passed the halfway point of 300 pages, but there’s a lot more to do, and then I have to add duotones and edit and scan pages. It could be another year and a half before it’s done. (It’s probably a lot longer than that, but my sanity can’t allow me to say that outside these parenthesis.) Oh, another cool thing I’m working on is doing the covers and introductions in comic form for Dover Publications’ new line of Seabrook reprints. They’re planning on releasing all of his books, starting with Asylum, his documentation of his stay in a mental hospital to cure his alcoholism. It’s a great book! I’m really excited that his books are finally back in print, and Dover is really invested in getting Seabrook’s books back in readers’ hands.”

And here, a some of his parting thoughts on the old “making it” thing…

JoeOllmenn-the-future“What I am realizing, or rather re-realizing — if that is a real word or not, you will get my meaning — is that the only reason to be making comics is because you love it and because it’s a compulsion. If you have any ideas of “making it” in comics or making a lot of money or even making a living, it’s pretty rare, so for me, the main thing is to be doing the work with no ulterior motives. Ulterior motives mess with your head and affect the work. The only other thing I always suggest to young people is to read everything, all the comics, all the books, watch all the movies and animation and learn from them, good and bad, to make your own work better by the study. And work hard at it. Comics are hard, but you see the young cartoonists I like that do great work and constantly get better, and they work at it all the time. Noah Van Sciver, Michael DeForge, Laura Park, Dakota McFadzean, Dustin Harbin (and a lot of others that I can’t think of), all the young cartoonists who produce a lot and are always getting better: they are constantly working, and the dedication pays off, as I see it.”

Read in full here in full on The Comics Alternative!

More Joe links! : The wagpress blog + Joe Ollmann’s page on graphicclassics.com + Conundrum Press + D+Q + Joe tweets.

The Comics Alternative is a weekly podcast and blog focused on the world of alternative, independent, and primarily non-superhero comics. (There’s nothing wrong with the superhero genre…we just want to do something different.): Derek Royal is a the editorial director of the Brown Books Publishing Group as well as a comics scholar. His writings on comic studies, American literature, and film topics have appeared in a variety of journals and book collections.