Arts Desk

Meet a Local Cartoonist: A Chat with Jack Dorsey

Newcomer cartoonist Jack Dorsey got his minicomic 2080: Rad City into Big Planet Comics' Vienna store, which is where I found it. He describes the plot of the manga-influenced comic as "In the distant future, three awesome teenagers will band together to save the known universe. The year is 2080. The place is Rad City, USA."

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

Jack Dorsey: I am a first-time comic author, and freelance filmmaker. I storyboard short films and have my own comic series. My main gig is working freelance on TV and movies.

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

JD: I like to marry the mediums. I like the control that pencil and ink gives me in the initial stages of the comic. It really feels like I’m creating something—you can hear the sounds your tools make, smell the ink drying on the page. Yet when it comes to coloring, Photoshop all the way. I can experiment with the final product without risking the original pieces. I already had a scare when a drop of coffee hit one of my original pages. I nearly had a heart attack there and then.

WCP: When and where were you born?

JD: I was born in '88, so I’m a late '90s kid. Raised on Saturday morning cartoons and Nintendo 64.

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

JD: Washington is a wonderful city, but alas I have never lived within its marble walls. I live in South Arlington, off the 395. Hopefully I’ll be living up by 14th and U one day.

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

JD: I initially attended the Savannah College of Art and Design for Sequential Art but wound up switching my major to Film halfway through.  Since then I used that training to storyboard my own short films.

WCP: Who are your influences?

JD: Growing up I wanted to be Bill Watterson. In high-school I wanted to be Bruce Timm. In college I wanted to be Brian K. Vaughn, and now I want to be myself, only making more money.

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

JD: The only thing I would do differently would be to start earlier. I think the hardest thing to overcome as an artist is yourself. It’s way too easy to say “oh I’ll write it someday.” You turn around and you’re 25 without a single title to your name. The guys who make it are the guys who literally “make it.”  Just get out there and create. The worst thing that can happen is somebody doesn’t like your work. But hey, at the end of the day they still picked it up and that has to count for something.

WCP: What work are you best-known for, or what work are you most proud of?

JD: I am known for only one comic so far. 2080: Rad City, and I’m pretty darn proud of it.

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

JD: 2080: Rad City is a fun, dumb escapist book, meant to entertain and do nothing more. For my next series I’d like to focus on a more meaningful story. I have a couple of ideas but until my first series is done they’ll stay on the back burner.

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

JD: Read. If you don’t know where to go, read something completely different than what you’re working on. Give your brain a break and normally some pretty great stuff will come out. Failing that. Scotch, lots of scotch. And if the scotch fails, you’re doomed. Doomed I tell you. (Fun fact: I don’t drink for inspiration, I just like scotch.)

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

JD: My only goal is to create stories that entertain people and give them a tiny escape from their life. Whether or not I make it in the comic industry doesn’t really matter. That fact that people are reading my work is the most important thing to me.

WCP: What local cons do you attend? The Small Press Expo, Intervention, or others? Any comments about attending them?

JD: I was unable to attend Awesome Con but heard about it from my guys at Big Planet Comics. I'm hoping to have my own table next year along with original work. I'm just glad that D.C. is finally getting its own convention.

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

JD: D.C. is the one city that doesn’t stare down at you. New York is a jumble mess of metal and glass, trophies saying, “Here is where capitalism has won.” In D.C. you can see the sky, the only things that stare down at you are the statues of men that have influenced our history. I love the promise the city holds. Promise that a lot of American cities have lost.

WCP: Least favorite?

JD: Traffic.

WCP: What monument or museum do like to take visitors to?

JD: I really dig the Hirshhorn. Contemporary art has more of a personal connection to the viewer than older art forms. If I’m going to take someone around the city, I really want them to have an experience.

WCP: How about a favorite local restaurant?

JD: Taqueria El Poblano. Duck Tacos, my friend. The one in Del Ray is easily the best but it fills up pretty quick.

WCP: Do you have a website or blog?

JD: I am still working on getting my own website up, but people can find news and information on 2080 on Facebook.

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