Arts Desk

Meet a Local Cartoonist: A Chat with Trickster‘s Jacob Warrenfeltz

TricksterJacob Warrenfeltz drew "Rabbit and the Tug-Of-War," a story about a rabbit outpulling a bison, for the new Trickster anthology, which features many local cartoonists. Here he answers our usual set of questions.

Washington City Paper: What type of comic work or cartooning do you do?

Jacob Warrenfeltz: I try to do a wide variety of work, which allows me to expand on my style.  Last year I had four main projects see publication; a chapter of Rafer Roberts Plastic Farm, a story in the Matt Dembicki-edited anthology Trickster, where my work was selected for the cover, and the DC Conspiracy crime anthology, for which I contributed an interior story as well as the cover, and the cover image for a middle school yearbook.  The fun thing about working on different projects that are going out to completely different audiences, and to an extent also due to my own anonymity as an indie artist,  is that there are no expectations for my work. It's liberating.

WCP: When (within a decade is fine) and where were you born?

JW: I was born in 1975.  Actually, I read at some point that I was born the exact same day that George Lucas began filming Star Wars.

WCP:Why are you in Washington now?  What neighborhood or area do you live in?

JW: My wife and I live in Takoma Park, Md.  We relocated to the D.C. area about six years ago following new job prospects. So far so good!

WCP:What is your training and/or education in cartooning?

JW: Aside from taking art in high school, I've never had any sort of formal art training.  I wouldn't discredit an art education, as sometimes I'll get hung up on something like color theory. I will say, though, that you can overcome a lack of education with talent and a lot of work.

WCP: Who are your influences?

JW: Steve Bissette drew the first comic I ever bought (Swamp Thing, during the Alan Moore-written run), and I've been in love with his work ever since.  Rick Veitch has always been a big influence for me, as well as Berni Wrightson.  Over the past few years I've really developed a love for Jack Kirby's work, and Warner Bros. animator Chuck Jones' natural lines are a big inspiration.

WCP: If you could, what in your career would you do-over or change?

JW: Well, I'd like to have drawn twice as many pages as I have, but otherwise I'm pretty happy with what I've done.  I think my earlier work stunk, and my newest work stinks less, but that's natural, right?  You're supposed to progress as you get stuff done.

WCP: What work are you best-known for?

JW:Probably my work in Trickster, which I'm grateful for since it's more recent work.  Before that, it would likely have to be the story I drew in Plastic Farm No. 3, where I got to draw a guy who could pop his belly button out on command.  Disturbing imagery seems to stick in people's minds.

WCP: What work are you most proud of?

JW: I'm proud of all my work... mostly because I finished it.  I think right now I'm most proud of the DC Conspiracy's crime anthology cover.  It's rare for me that my finished work turns out exactly like the initial inception.  That piece came together pretty quickly, and looked almost exactly like the initial sketch I drew on a sticky tablet at my day job.

WCP: What would you like to do  or work on in the future?

JW: I'm working on a new graphic novel now called Villains Galore, which is something that I want to be able to do for an extended period.  I think I've been doing short stories and fill-ins for long enough now that I really relish the thought of having a single book to focus all my efforts on.

WCP: What do you do when you're in a rut or have writer's block?

JW: Usually I'll have a few pieces in various states of completion, so if I feel blocked and can't think to thumbnail a layout for a page, then I'll jump into the inks on something else, or start watercoloring the graytones on something else.  If all else fails, I'll pick up something by an artist that gets my juices flowing and read for a while.  As of late I keep Charles Burns' Black Hole and Paul Chadwick's Concrete on my art table at all times.

WCP: What do you think will be the future of your field?

JW: I think that the digital revolution is something that seems to really be taking hold of the comics world.  I know more and more artists who don't draw their work conventionally anymore.  For a lot of artists it's Wacom tablets and Photoshop.  I think in 10 years to find someone like me, who does all his inking with a brush, will be even more of a phenomenon.  I think it's a little sad, watching hand-drawn cartoons disappear, but ultimately it's good for my art, as my "old-fashioned" techniques will stand out against all the digital work.

WCP: What's your favorite thing about D.C.?

JW: The Metro.  This is the first metropolitan city I've ever lived in, and I have to say that I love the freedom of being able to walk two blocks to the Metro stop and then taking the train just about anywhere in the city. It's fantastic.

WCP: Least favorite?

JW:The traffic!  I ride a motorcycle to work, as its location is not Metro friendly, and the idea that a five mile ride takes me forty-five minutes is extremely frustrating at times.  Also, people in the city tend to have a short fuse, and riding my bike through angry traffic is a bit nerve-wracking. It does provide a good bit of high impact training, though.  I'm probably a better motorcyclist than Steve McQueen, what with dodging all the SUVs, cabs, and metro buses.

WCP: What monument or museum do you take most out-of-town guests to?

JW: The Spy Museum has to be one of the coolest places I've been to since I've been here.  There's something fascinating in there for people of all ages.  My kids love it there, as well.  I am pretty jazzed about checking out the Newseum.  I've heard some great things about it.

WCP: Do you have a website or blog?

JW: Nope.  I have tried from time to time to keep a production blog or website running, but I don't really get excited about the whole 'interacting with your audience' as much as a lot of other creators do.  I just see it as more work, and the work I'd rather be doing is on the table.  I have a Facebook page with a bunch of art on it, and an email address that I answer whatever requests or complaints that come through.  That's enough for me.

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