Meet a Local Cartoonist: A Chat with Jamie Noguchi
Jamie Noguchi is a local cartoonist whose work was just pointed out to me this week. He's worked as a cover colorist on Marvel's Spider-Girl Nos. 50-52, 54-56 and Iron Man No. 59, and on Dark Horse's Chronicles of Conan and Image's Battle of the Planets through UDON studio. He also illustrated the first book of Erfworld, a web comic. Now he's working on his own web comic.
Washington City Paper: What type of comic work or cartooning do you do?
Jamie Noguchi: My current work is Yellow Peril, an Asian American office romance comedy. It's a gray-scale strip format comic that I update weekly online Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.
WCP: When (within a decade is fine) and where were you born?
JN: 1977 in the good old District of Columbia.
WCP: Why are you in Washington now? What neighborhood or area do you live in?
JN: I've always kind of lived in the area. I grew up in Bethesda, went to college in College Park, and now I live in Rockville. I guess I just fear change. I know the rhythms of the area and it just feels like home.
WCP: What is your training and/or education in cartooning?
JN: I was an art studio major with a concentration in design in college. That's as far as my formal training in the arts go. But I've been drawing comic characters and coming up with weird stories as long as I can remember.
WCP: Who are your influences?
JN: Oh, this is a long and disparate list— Hiroaki Samura (Blade of the Immortal), Yukito Kishiro (Battle Angel Alita), Travis Charest (Wildcats, Metabaron), Adam Hughes (cover illustrator), Frank Cho (Liberty Meadows), Jo Chen (cover illustrator), Junji Ito (Uzumaki), Takashi Murakami (Superflat), and Norman Rockwell.
WCP: If you could, what in your career would you do-over or change?
JN: I would have started earlier. I kind of feel like it's taken me a while to settle down and focus on a single project. But I didn't take my art seriously until my last years in college when I switched majors to art. I think if I had to do it again I would have started out as an art major and just cranked through college making comics forever.
WCP: What work are you best-known for?
WCP: I'm not as familiar with web comics as I'd like to be. How did you get started doing the art for this, and why did you leave it? How long did you work on it? Was your cartooning all digital? It looks like there's a book of it being worked on—I assume you'll be credited as the co-author?
JN: Rob Balder had come up with a loose outline for what would become Erfworld years before we met. We were looking for a project to work on so he dusted off his outline and we sort of fleshed it out. That became Erfworld. I worked on it for three years.
By the end of Book 1, it became clear to me that I couldn't maintain a regular update schedule. I was also looking to do something more personal.
All my pages on Erfworld were drawn in pencil and ink. I used Micron pens to do all my Erfworld inking, then I scanned them in and colored them in Photoshop. I'll get a co-author credit on the first book which is nice.
WCP: And on Yellow Peril—how do you do the art?
JN: Yellow Peril is done all traditionally. I've graduated to inking with a brush which is a lot of fun. I letter everything by hand. And I'm now coloring with Copic markers. I used to color in Photoshop, but it's actually much faster for me to color with the Copics.
WCP: What work are you most proud of?
I feel like I should also be pimping another project of mine. A number of us local cartoonists came together a few years ago to start Super Art Fight live art battles. It's like WWE but with art.
WCP: What would you like to do or work on in the future?
JN: I have a few long-form graphic novels that I'd like to get to. I also have plans for an anthology of short stories related to Yellow Peril.
WCP: What do you do when you're in a rut or have writer's block?
JN: I usually have multiple projects going on at the same time so if I get stuck on one, I can move on to another and return when I feel like I'm ready. It's rare that I get blocked up on all of them at the same time.
WCP: What do you think will be the future of your field?
JN: Web comics are here to stay. I think the app culture that is growing around smartphones and tablets is already changing the way comics are delivered to readers. Apps have also breathed some life into the whole micropayment paradigm. I think more and more comics will be read on a digital device of some kind. But I think the dead-tree trade paperback graphic novel will always have a place for comic readers.
WCP: What's your favorite thing about D.C.?
JN: The food and the diversity.
WCP: Least favorite?
JN: Metro. Oh my god, will they get their act together already!
WCP: What monument or museum do you take most out-of-town guests to?
JN: I usually take people to fun places to eat like Chinatown Express or Mandalay in Silver Spring.
WCP: Do you have a website or blog?