Arts Desk

Meet a Former Local Cartoonist: A Chat With Josh Eiserike

Recently, I was organizing some of my Washington, D.C.-produced comics and ran across some of Josh Eiserike's minicomics. Eiserike had sold these to me at SPX in 2008, but I didn't recall seeing him at 2010's event. A quick e-mail exchange reveals that he's now on the other coast, still  making comics while studying film. Anyone but Virginia, which Eiserike writes and Zac Crockett illustrates, is being adapted into a student film, Volcano Girl. The two just funded the fifth issue of the comic book through Kickstarter.

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

Josh Eiserike: I used to do a comic strip for the University of Maryland student newspaper, The Diamondback, titled "Liberal Crap," then got lazy and moved into single-panel editorial cartoons (much less to draw). Now I'm much more interested in apolitical long-form storytelling though—so comic books, definitely. I've got a few books—the one-shot Class of '99, the miniseries Assholes with Mitch, and what will be a collected trade paperback titled Anyone but Virginia. I'm also working on my next book at the moment, which will probably wind up as a trade as well, but I'm not sure.

WCP: How do you do it? Traditional pen and ink, computer or a combination?

JE: It's an ever evolving method, but right now I sketch in blue mechanical lead (I like the control of mechanical pencils), ink with regular micron pens, then blow out the blues and touch up the inks (and sometimes color) in Photoshop.

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

JE: 1981, Washington D.C.

WCP: Why aren't you in Washington now?

JE: I was working as a newspaper reporter living in Arlington, but have since decided to go back to school—at the moment I am studying film production at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. Not sure what awaits me after school but one thing is for sure—D.C. will always be my home!

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

JE: Nothing formal, but sitting in the back of classes passing around crude caricatures of my teachers really helped. Plus, the Diamondback strip forced me to sink or swim.

WCP: Who are your influences?

JE: Brian Michael Bendis, Jim Mahfood, Chris Bachaelo, Aaron Magruder, Brian K. Vaughan and Alex Robinson, to name a few.

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

JE: At the moment nothing—I've never had a full-time career in comics, but have had a blast so far!

WCP: What work are you best-known for?

JE: Probably Assholes. It's been my most successful book to date.

WCP: What work are you most proud of?

JE: My freelance stuff for MAD Magazine. Which gives Josh Eiserike, age 10, great validation.

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

JE: I'm interested in continuing to do some R-rated comedies in comics. Assholes was fun—but it doesn't say much. At this stage of my life it's the genre I'm most interested in. There's really no Apatow-type comics, and I think the medium could offer a lot to the genre. The best movies of this genre have more than just (awesome) toilet humor; they actually say something. This is the kind of thing I'd like to explore in comics.

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

JE: I draw when I don't want to write and write when I don't want to draw. Which is kind of helpful, either way.

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

JE: I'm not sure, but as long as there are hoverboards it'll be cool.

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

JE: So many to chose from. The Uptown theater. Biking along the GW Parkway. The original Ledo Restaurant in College Park. When I was a kid the HFStival, (but as I knew it, that's extinct now). The Black Cat. Galaxy Hut. Brickskeller... I could go on and on.

WCP: Least favorite?

JE: Beltway traffic. Red light cameras.

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

JE: At night, just about anything. It's a spectacular side of D.C. that I love to show off- the monuments, the reflecting pool, the Mall.

WCP: Do you have a website or blog?

JE: Sure: www.josheiserike.com

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