You’ve seen the 7-page preview of issue #1, you’ve read the heart-warming history of how the book came together, and you’ve even started work on your very own homemade Snake costume — yet you’re just not sure about this Division 18 thing. Well, we’re going to change that. This is part one of a two part interview series, where the creators of D18 reveal their darkest secrets and innermost workings. After reading these interviews, you may still be on the fence about the book… but you will most certainly hate the creators!
First up, the writer of D18, Matt Bergin, aka: me, interviews the Kirby of Costumes, the Ditko of Divisions, the Picasso of Pork Hut – D18 artist Jeremy Donelson:
MATT BERGIN: Division 18 is your first professional comics work of note, but you didn’t just wake up recently and decide to buy some fancy pencils. What path (karmic or otherwise) led you to drawing a fat guy in Zubaz over and over for hours a day?
JEREMY DONELSON: Ha ha “Professional. Of Note.” Good ones. And yes, my pencils are quite fancy.
Basically, you and I decided we wanted to turn our little silly story into a… medium-sized silly story. And I foolishly decided that I should be the one to draw it, since my parents spent all that money on art school. So here I am, making them proud by putting my name on published drawings of a feces-flinging chimpanzee.
MB: So you have no comments on The Mastodons, The Vacationer, or Schmendrick the Barbarian?
JD: Absolutely no comment on The Mastodons. The Vacationer only exists as a twinkle in my eye. And I never even worked on Schmendrick the Barbarian, sadly enough. Now that was a great comic.
MB: Before we hooked up with Silent Devil, you had a nice run blogging about comics as The Pickytarian. How has that experience as a comics critic influenced your work as a comics artist on Division 18 ?
JD: I deifnitely started reading comics more analytically once I was reviewing them for the blog. There are a lot of people who write about comics, and many of them do it better than I ever did. The one thing I had to offer was that I could talk about art. So I think I taught myself how to analyze other artists’ work to see how they solved different storyteling problems.
MB: Obligatory question about your influences: What comics do you currently read, if any, and who are the artists that inspire your work on Division 18?
JD: I read all sorts of comics. Actually I just got done re-reading Peter Bagge’s Hate stories for like the 97th time in those new collections, Buddy Does Seattle and Buddy Does Jersey. Oh man, that’s comedy right there. I wish that stuff would influence my work in Division 18 because the art is so much more expressive than mine while the subject matter is so mundane yet so ridiculous. Anyway, that’s an example of a book that I can’t read analytically because I get so swept up in the story and I’m laughing too hard. Loyal Pickytarian readers – all 6 of them – might remember that I read most of my comics on the subway. Just the other day I looked up from Buddy Does Jersey and realized that I missed my stop on the way to work. I can’t tell you the last time that happened.
Anyway, a small selection of other current artists whose work I admire greatly and whose brushes I could never hope to clean are Jaime Hernandez, Farel Dalrymple, Guy Davis, and David Lapham. But like I say, the list could go on and on and on.
MB: You have a day job and a wife, you put in countless hours penciling, inking, and lettering our book, and you designed and maintain our website, www.division18.com. Do you have any secrets to pulling off this juggling act or words of wisdom about how you keep sane?
JD: I’m the wrong person to ask. I’m not nearly as sane as I should be.
MB: But you also meant to say how you couldn’t do it without the support of your wonderful wife, Amy, who is a talented artist in her own right, yes?
JD: I wouldn’t say “a talented artist in her own right.” I would say “ten thousand times the artist I am.” You can see her work at http://www.amytalluto.com
MB: I’m going to put you on the spot with a question more controversial than the debate over the chicken and the egg: Who do you think is more important in comics — the writer or the artist? ( You have my permission to give a noncommittal answer about synergy through teamwork and what each individual brings, but please elaborate.)
JD: It’s a visual medium. Try to create a comic book without pictures and tell me how much more valuable the writer is than the artist. Let’s face it – I’m carrying your ass.
MB: Hrm. In our case you’re probably right, but I’d have gone with “synergy through teamwork.”