Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Questions 18: Joe Keatinge

Joe Keatinge started working at Image his primary job was PR &  Marketing.   Image doesn't hire editors, but he did end up editing the projects he brought to Image while working there.  He eventually left Image so he could concentrate on PopGun and his own projects full time.  Popgun is an award winning comics anthology.   The driving concept behind Popgun is a mixtape of graphic short stories that cross the borders of all genres.   In addition, he's contributed to anthology titles such as Negative Burn and The Next Issue Project#1: Fantastic Comics #24 with artists Mike & Laura Allred.    Currently Joe is also a contributor to Neon Monster blog.   He is a member of Tranquility Base shared studio of illustrators and cartoonists.

Doug Dorr:   What Accomplish are you most proud of?
I'm most proud of PopGun bringing a ton of exposure to a lot of new artists, writers and cartoonists. I've had editors from every major publisher tell me they use every volume as catalogs for creators. It's great to know the books doing what we intended them to.
DD:   What projects are you working on currently?
I'm mostly focused on writing, primarily with three creator owned series I hope to have out by this time next year. There are also several things featuring characters I don't own, like the upcoming jam comic closing out the first wave Twisted Savage Dragon Funnies. It's an eight pager written by me and illustrated by Dean Haspiel, Simon Fraser, Joe Infurnari, Michael Cavallaro, Tim Hamilton, George O'Connor & Savage Dragon creator Erik Larsen. Our aim with having so many people involved was to tell the equivalent of a mega-crossover series with multiple tie-ins, but in just eight pages. Furthermore, I'm especially stoked since this marks Erik drawing his first solo Dragon story by another writer.

Of course, I'm working on the future of PopGun. We'll officially announce what this is after the new year. Not only is there a fifth volume in the works, but we're also developing the next stage of the anthology's evolution. Other than that, we're keeping things mum.

Besides all this I'm doing more cartooning and illustration work than I have in years. While at Image Central I let my art fall to the wayside, so it's something I'm working on now more on than I have in a long time. This publicly kicks off with Moonstone's Bedtime Stories for Impressionable Children #1, which features an eight-page story I illustrated, written by Jim Kuhoric. It's certainly the work of a rusty artist, but it has got me going again. I'm also looking to expand out of comics as before Image I illustrated/designed a number of album covers for bands like Northern State & Alex Arrowsmith and look forward to doing more soon.

There's also some Not Comics, like my ongoing columns at Neon Monster. I've been doing more along these lines and enjoyed it, so I don't doubt there will be more on the way.

DD:   What is your Artistic Process?
It depends on what I'm doing.

When it comes to drawing, my process resembles old, dead cartoonists. I like drawing on toothy bristol paper with pencils, pens and brushes. This is done at a desk I hunch over until my back hurts. Tablets haven't entered the equation for me yet. Stylistically I'm more inspired by people like Herge, George Herriman, Floyd Gottfredson and Winsor McCay so I'm prone to emulating how they worked.

Writing and editing are both the same and wildly different. More or less, I procrastinate for awhile, then sit down at a desk until I can't work anymore.

In all cases, I take notes and mull over things for a long time, then it all comes pouring out when I sit down and do it.

I will say the procrastinating part has died down considerably since joining up with the Portland, OR based comics studio, Tranquility Base. I now find myself waking up, checking e-mail, returning calls then heading down to the studio as soon as I can. Once I'm there there's not a lot to do other than work on comics. So I basically just sit at a desk until I'm done.

What Comic/ Trade would you recommend?
Every single volume of Tintin by Herge. They're all good. The very early stuff like Tintin in the Land of the Soviets and Tintin in the Congo is rough, but worth seeing where a master cartoonist started. My personal favorite books is the two-part moon story, Destination Moon and Explorers on the Moon. I suppose if you just had to buy one to go with either Blue Lotus or Red Rackum's Treasure. Lotus is widely accepted as his masterpiece, but Red Rackum's Treasure is a great primer for the series as a whole.

Furthermore, if you want to make comics, you need to be reading more Moebius. The guy's work is currently very hard to locate, but it's also what all your favorite artists have been inspired by for the last thirty years. Luckily, the new iteration of Humanoids is bringing in some of his work with writer Alejandro Jodorwsky, specifically Incal and Madwoman of the Sacred Heart. It's good stuff, but the work he's done on his own is great. If you have the tenacity to seek it out, I highly suggests Epic's nine-part Moebius reprint series. Again, it's extremely hard to piece together, but well worth it.

What Comic/ Trade would you recommend to someone new to comics?
Without question, JM Ken Niimura and Joe Kelly's I Kill Giants, published by Image Comics. Its become my go-to book for anyone who asks me what the whole comics thing is about. The only prerequisite to enjoying it is to be a human being with a soul. You're in for a real treat as long as you've got that going.
With your experience in illustration and design, do you contribute to the look and feel of the books you publish/edit?
While I've never published a book, my editorial philosophy is to find the right people for the right project and let them do whatever the hell they want. I feel it's best to act as a support system, not to make changes to sound effects or character motivation. If you can't trust the talent you've brought on to make their own decisions, then you shouldn't have hired them in the first place.

What skill would you like to learn?
Right now I'm most actively working on becoming a better cartoonist. While working at Image I still wrote the small thing here and there as well, but for the most part I let my art fall to the wayside. There was one lone exception - Kelly the Cop from The Next Issue Project #2: Silver Streak Comics #24 - but otherwise I only drew in my sketchbooks from time to time. As I said when I mentioned Bedtime Stories for Impressionable Children, I have gotten pretty rusty. However, I'm working hard on getting it to where I want to be again through a combination of life drawing, studying artists from all sorts of mediums and reading Andrew Loomis books.

What's the most important thing you've learned?
The best advice I've gotten on life in general I received from my Dad, who got it from Joseph Campbell: Follow your bliss.

I've found life to be a lot better experience when I know it's focused on pursuing what makes me happiest. Whenever I've diverged from it, because it was safer or whatever, I've always been displeased with the results. That said, following a bliss can be a tough path. Blisses don't always come with a paycheck and sometimes they seem impossible and depressing, but in the end I'd rather be doing what I want to do than something I don't. Life's too damn short. 

Do you have a collection?   If so, what is one of the items you're most proud of?
Yeah, I have a pretty massive library of single issues, tradepaperbacks, hardcovers and art books as well as some original art. Right now the thing I'm most stoked about is this spinner rack Between Gears artist, Natalie Nourigat, gave me. I filled it with all the comics which made comics my life pursuit in the first place. It ranges from Moebius to Mickey Mouse in Air Pirates Funnies to Chris Ware's Floyd Farland to 70s Jack Kirby and a slew of others. 

What is your favorite genre of Comics?
I used to say superhero comics with the caveat of thinking the vast majority of superhero comics don't utilize what I like most about the genre. People really tear into it, but I think it has so more much potential we have ever fully realized. It's a genre in which anything makes sense, where nothing is impossible, conveyed in a medium where there are no limits. How cool is that?!

We've seen glimpses of what I want to see in works like Flex Mentallo, Madman, Bulletproof Coffin, Savage Dragon, Casual Heroes, Daniel Clowes' Deathray, among others. I think it's capable of more than most people ever give it credit for.

These days I've been most excited about Fusion Comics, in which multiple genres merge to create something new. For example, there's Brandon Graham's King City, where you could argue it has superhero elements - to me the Catmasters are the 21st century's Green Lantern Corps - but to classify it under said genre isn't accurate. It seems to be the genre equivalent of Paul Pope's theory of World Comics, where since artists had more exposure to work around the planet, their styles would become more diverse than ever before.

Do you have an Ipad?   If so what do use it for the most.
I certainly do.

At this point I primarily use it as an e-reader for novels, comics, magazines, newspapers and whatever else. What I've found is it doesn't act as a replacement for any of those things I was already reading, but rather a supplement. I still go to the comics shop every Wednesday; I even go out of my way to purchase the new issue of Empire whenever it hits the states. That said, I'm discovering a lot more than I would have ever have before. There's a number of international magazines on fashion and design I would never have thought to check out, but am now enthralled by. The proper distribution wasn't there before. Now it is and it's making me seek out more.

As a guy who travels with some frequency, its been a Godsend. In the past I would always pack way too much reading or viewing material, now I just load it onto my iPad. It's nice to shift from The Girl Who Played With Fire to All-Star Superman to Inglorious Basterds just by brushing my finger.

What is your favorite TV show/ movie?
My favorite TV show of all time is, without question, Patrick McGoohan's The Prisoner. I don't think there's been another show nearly as radical or ground breaking since. At the moment I'm hopelessly addicted to Mad Men. A friend lent me his DVDs months ago and I sat on them until last week. Now I'm halfway through Season Three.

Movie wise Hal Ashby's Harold & Maude has been my favorite flick since I was 16 and I can't imagine it ever being dethroned. The new movie I've been most taken with was Anton Corbijin's The American. It was a huge surprise, especially since I didn't see a trailer beforehand. All I knew was a buddy wanted to go and I enjoyed the design aesthetic of its one sheet. The end result was stunning, as the flick had more in common with 60s and 70s thrillers like Le Samourai than anything coming out today. 

How does the Portland comics culture shapes your work
The community here is amazing. Living around so many insanely talented writers, artists and cartoonists definitely keeps me motivated.

Even beyond the creators here, to live in a city filled with amazing comic shops like Floating World Comics, Bridge City Comics, Cosmic Monkey and Excalibur, to name a few, as well as a fantastic show in The Stumptown Comics Fest helps my drive. It's like living in Dylan Horrocks' Hicksville.

I mentioned them before, but I can't stress enough how much I love working with the folks at Tranquility Base. While everyone here does such wildly different work, working together in the same room results in all working harder and better than we might otherwise. At least that's what it's doing for me.

What was your first comic convention?
I don't remember when I first went, but it was definitely one of the Los Angeles Comics and Science Fiction Conventions at the Shrine auditorium. I do remember Brian Pulido was working really hard to push Evil Ernie while it was published by Eternity so it was definitely a long time ago.

What is your favorite part of comic conventions?
Each convention is sort of like summer camp for creators. Every time I go to a con, I get fired up about comics just by hanging out with friends I'd otherwise never get to see.

I also love meeting new artists and seeing what they're doing. It's always inspiring to find out what's motivating the talent of tomorrow.

If you weren’t doing comics what would you do?
I hope I never have to know. Before I worked in comics I made my living at video stores which have all gone extinct. So, I don't know. Washing dishes?

Do you have a favorite restaurant that you would recommend?
I'm still figuring this out since I'm relatively new to being in Portland. The closest contender is probably McMenamins Blue Moon. I certainly go there the most.

During my first tenure in Portland I became pretty fond of McMenamins, but since coming back I've discovered most people don't seem to like it. Something about them expanding too much or the service not to expectation. However, my love for them is rooted in seven years ago so I'm still a fan. I also went for years without being able to drink my all-time favorite beer - their Hammerhead ale - so I'm a happy dude now.

Carts wise, the easy winner is Big Ass Sandwiches down on Southwest Ash and 3rd street. They make, hands down, the best sandwich in the city.

How long have you lived in Portland, what made you choose Portland?
I've only been living in Portland this time around since June 2010, but I did live here several years ago for a short while. After parting ways with Image, I took a tour of various places I considered living in and it only took a few hours of being back in Portland to know it was the town for me.

The comics community was huge for me, but it's more than that. I like big city living in a place which is comparatively small to its equivalents across the country. I'm also not a driver, so it helps to be able to get around without a car. Furthermore, I made a lot of friends in my first time out here who I've missed a lot over the years. It's very nice to be around them again.

What is your favorite part of Portland?
Tranquility Base. The studio is like sharing the Bat Cave with six awesome artists. Plus Floating World and Ground Kontrol are within stumbling distance. It's hard to complain when a fine funnybook emporium and a place I can play Ms. Pac-Man or Bad Dudes at while drinking Miller High Life are so close by.

Where in Portland/ Oregon would you most like to visit?
I haven't been to Astoria, where my grandmother's from, in years so I'd like to roll over there and see what's up.

Would you like to write/Illustrate for another media?  What would you explore?
Absolutely, but whatever gig I'd get would have to leave time for comics. I lose interest the moment it becomes something where working on comics is an impossibility.

Screenwriting and teleplays has its appeal, but it would have to be the right fit. Also, like every writer of all time, I'm also working on a novel. Basically, I'm way down for whatever as long as it's allowing me the freedom to create what I want.

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