Interviews

Round 6: pastel interviews json and Jason of Powerjeff!!
skoolmunkee at 7:08AM, March 20, 2009
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This interview is of json, whose comic is Powerjeff! He is assisted by Jason of Powerjeff, who also shows up in this interview!
(interview conducted by pastel!)

Pastel: To start off with, please tell us a bit about yourself. Likes, dislikes, personal philosophies?

json: *my name's json. i'm an aspiring tattoo artist. i like beer, action figures, and bad horror movies. i don't like hollywood, driving, and people with a sense of entitlement.

Jason of Powerjeff: Hi. I'm Json's sometime-assistant Jason. I mostly help with story details and try to remember old high school anecdotes for Json to adapt. Sometimes I write short play-like scripts, and Json improves them and works them into the story.
json: *my personal philosophies can be summed up in 3 quotes: “don't worry, be happy.” “do or do not. there is not try.” “good. bad. i'm the guy with the gun.”

Jason of Powerjeff: And I just have an inflated sense of entitlement.

Pastel: Your sense of humor is projected really well through the comic. What types of films, comics or comedians inspired the PowerJeff-brand humor?

json: *that's actually a good question…..i never really thought about what media helped to corrupt my brain. i like comedy, sci-fi and horror movies, mostly. all of that campy-ness just oozed its way into my personal being. i grew up with a fondness for bill murry and (early) eddie murphy…..and later vince vaughn, dave chappell, and chris rock. there is just something hilarious about comedians that are able to improvise their way through a movie. it's that sort of “you never know what's going to happen next” ideology that found its way into Powerjeff. i mean, there's a guys that's a melted, gooey fart monster!

Jason of Powerjeff: I'm a big fan of Kurt Vonnegut, Douglas Adams, The Catcher in the Rye, The Monkey Island computer games, and Flight of the Conchords; I think they've been a big influence on the writing I've done for Powerjeff.

Pastel: PowerJeff is hilarious and Jeff's fashion sense is a bit strange. What inspired his character
and the rest of this crazy comic?


json: *Jeff's fashion sense is based off the absurdity of early 90s fashion. neon colors and silly “surfer” clothes and that insane rat-tail were all the norm for most teens back then. as for the rest of the gang….a lot of the guys in the story are cartoon charicatures of real life people. so their clothes are a reflection of what people wore: nerdy guys wore collared shirts. will wears soccer jerseys because he loves soccer. json wears head phones most the time because i ALWAYS had a walkman and a spare set of batteries with me as well as this ratty levi jacket that was all painted with band logos.

Jason of Powerjeff: Yeah, and it also had marker drawings of Papa Smurf and Mickey Mouse with bat wings.

json: hey, it was hefty smurf, actually…..and frankenstine's monster and spider-man.

*as for the book itself…a lot of the hijinx and situations are inspired and partially based on real life events. around 1997 i began to really discover my own “style” as an artist, melding a lot of my influences in illustration (M.D. Bright, Donald Simpson, Masakazu Katsura, Jim Lee) to create a cartoony design that became Powerjeff.

Jason of Powerjeff: Json, sorry to interrupt, but what are some of the titles you recommend by those artists?

json: hells yeah! Katsura did “DNA^2” (a sci-fi action romance comedy) and “I”s" (teenage romance comedy) which are AWESOME artisticly. Lee….'nuff said. his take on X-Men is LEGENDARY and his later work on superman and batman brought those books back to a very solid classic, and realiztic style, but with so much pizzaz!
but back to Powerjeff, around 1997, the story really began to take shape, too. instead of just some crazy jokes leading up to a climactic scene….i started to script a more involved story. while still using the crazy randomness and silly characters of the first 50 pages, but writing an actual plot.

Pastel: Jeff's best friend/lover seems to be a chia pet. How did you come up with that?

json: *that credit actually goes to jeremiah……at this point in the story he is the FARTMUTANT. back in freshmen year, he used to draw comics about this guy in his biology class who was a complete jerk, let's call him “jeff.”. in middle school, i was friends with “jeff”'s older brother…….and he was pretty cool back then. but apparently being in high school made him a jerk. so, jeremiah started to draw “one shot” comics about this guy humping chia pets. i saw these comics….and i knew the kid, so i drew a short page strip (that became 4 pages) in defense of “jeff”. you wouldn't believe it, but “jeff” actually started to make fun of me……so, POWERJEFF was born after that.

Jason of Powerjeff: I was good friends with “Jeff” back in middle school, but then, mysteriously, on the first day of high school, for no discernable reason other than some weird teenage vicissitude that made “Jeff” suddenly think he was too cool to be friends with me anymore, he started picking on me all the time in biology class, drawing cruddy, stick-figure comics of me having sex with chickens, or calling me names that didn't even make any sense. My lab partner, who was my new friend Jeremiah, saw what was going on, and he didn't like it. He started drawing comics about Jeff in my defense. I think I might have suggested that Jeff should be in a relationship with a Chia Pet, because I thought the endless stream of comics of “Jeff” humping his best friend “Nate” was getting to be a bit tacky. So “Jeff” transitioned to humping pottery animals. And just so no one gets the wrong idea, Jeremiah's “Jeff” comics (called JeffQuest at the time) shortly moved past such prurient subject matter and became much more sophisticated (in a sense) and story-oriented. Some of them were pretty hilarious, and it was really that serious that was the immediate precursor to the Powerjeff of today. I wish Jer hadn't lost all of them. It's a great human tragedy.

json: yeah….i'm still sad that he lost all of his comics. that guy's work is hilarious!

Pastel: In the comic, one character is Jason and another is Json. Is there any difference in pronunciation?

json: *no…..the names are pronounced the same way. at the time, i thought the confusion was pretty funny, and i just didn't think it needed to be changed.

Jason of Powerjeff: Just about any ‘guide to writing’ will tell you never to give two characters the same or even similar names. However, Json and I have been dealing with the confusion that springs from two friends having the same name for more than two decades. People end up calling us “Json #1 and Jason #2” or “Jason and the Other Json”; or they just refer to us by our last or middle names. If there's some comic potential to be gleaned from this similarity, though it hasn't been used much in Powerjeff yet. But stay tuned.

Pastel: The characters are all really quirky and it seems like every single one must be based off a real life exmple. Do you tend to do that or are most characters your own invention?

json: *truth is stranger than fiction!! since the first 2 chapters were written when i was in high school as a joke, i just included characters that were based off people i knew or was friends with at the time. those characters would remain over time. while initially most of the core characters were based off real life people…..the characters evolved over time to have their own personalities that are very different from their real-life likeness.

Jason of Powerjeff: Except for Jeremiah the Fartmutant. He's pretty much exactly like that. Except a lot more pleasant to be around on account of not really being a walking scatological joke.

Pastel: You said that the comic focuses more on Jeff's enemies rather than Jeff himself. Calling the other characters his enemies, would you call Jeff the hero in this comic? Sometimes it's hard to tell with his behavior, lol.

json: *i would say jeff is FAR from the hero…..he is actually more of an asshole. he's this guy that got powers from a ring (twice now!!) and he just uses them to pick on these geeks in his classes that he doesn't like. jeff is, of course, painted as the “hero” of the book in a sense of parody, but he isn't saving anything but his own skin.

Jason of Powerjeff: As will be revealed shortly, Jeff will do a pretty good job of making mostly everyone BELIEVE he's some kind of hero, but Json, Jason, and Jeremiah know the truth.

Pastel: What is Fartmutant's secret weakness?

json: *transformers.

Jason of Powerjeff: In the same sense that cheese is the weakness of Monterey Jack of the Rescue Rangers.

json: pr…pr…pr…prime!!

Pastel: Do you plan out the comics you make ahead of time? If so, how far ahead?

json: *Powerjeff is essentially written to the ending. there is an outline of the plot from start to end, but there's quite a bit of flexibility with the script. (the current fight scene is a great example of that flexibility. originally the transition between the 2nd and 3rd chapters was only 9 pages long and was just thrown together. we felt it would make more sense and be more entertaining to re-write the fight and extend it out to it's own become an entire chapter. so far, it seems to be a lot sillier and is something i'm not regretting making changes to!)

Jason of Powerjeff: Since we live 2000 miles away from each other, Json and I have these long, brainstorming telephone conversations in which we try to think of ways to make the existing story better or tie up any loose ends. Even though Powerjeff isn't necessarily meant to be taken seriously, I think once the comic is completed, people are going to find that it actually has a highly-developed plot underlying all the silliness. At least that's what we're hoping for.

Pastel: How long does it generally take to make a page of PowerJeff?

json: *it takes about 4-8 hours to do a page from concept to finished jpeg. once i sketch out my thumbnails of a sequence, i do a bunch of pencils at once, then just ink one at a time.

Pastel: When you post the old and new versions of certain pages of PowerJeff, it's easy to see you've improved a great deal. How long was the gap between the old and new comic and did your thoughts or goals on art and drawing change during that time?

json: there was a considerable gap, to say the least. when i started the first issue/chapter of Powerjeff, it was 1991. Vanilla Ice was topping the charts and people actually wore hammer pants to school. Jeebus, that was a lifetime ago! while my art has definitly matured over those years, my sense of humor hasn't matured so much. i have a better understanding of illustration's more technical aspects and i've found my own “style” now. certainly makes a difference. i still laugh out loud at the original design of PowerJeff! the oakleys are classic!

Pastel: Would you name any other comics (“irl” or online) that are similar to PowerJeff if someone wanted to read more stuff like it? Or do you think your comic is in its own league?

json: while Powerjeff is pretty insane, i'm not ego-maniacal enough to think it's in it's own league. if people were looking for really absurd and humorus comics, i'd suggest:
Bear Verses Zombies! it's about a bear that fights zombies! it's very random and equally hilarious. the action sequences are really dynamic and silly at the same time.
Tozzer. this whole book is ridiculous! i freaking LOVE it!
the Hub. the artwork is simply amazing! i reccomend the hell out of this book.
Yo! Comix. this is one of the first comics i started reading on DD. the story is all over the place and fairly light-hearted with lots of laughs.
the Fifty Peso Ninja. a great black and white adventure. i actually spit out beer i laughed so hard.
the Adventures of Puttobot: this book doesn't exist anymore…..it's probably floating around somewhere (i hope) but it is a classic Transformers fan fic.

Jason of Powerjeff: I think this is a bit of a stretch, but I've heard Powerjeff compared to Steve Purcell's Sam And Max comics, which I happen to love. I think the only things they really have in common are the bizarre sense of humor and the amount of detail puts into the art, but I highly recommend them anyway. The comics are a lot funnier than the video games or cartoon series based on them.

json: Sam and Max? really? damn….that's awesome!

Pastel: Do you ever think about making other comics in the future?

json: *yup! i'm always thinking of stupid ideas for books. i'm actually working on a gritty horror/action comic that's TOTALLY different from Powerjeff in every aspect - art, style, design, script. i'm sure it'll end up here once i drive the stake through the heart of Powerjeff.

Pastel: Any last words to readers?

json: thanks for the interview. it was fun, even if i get longwinded. keep drawing and reading. guh huh.
  IT'S OLD BATMAN
last edited on July 14, 2011 3:42PM
Hyena H_ll at 8:40AM, March 20, 2009
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Haha! Awesome interview! I'm glad both json and jason were on board. :D Makes it twicest as good. And thanks for the shout-out, too. ;)
last edited on July 14, 2011 12:52PM
amanda at 9:02AM, March 20, 2009
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You… you mean people don't wear hammer pants anymore? *sigh* I should probably go change.
last edited on July 14, 2011 10:51AM
zaymac at 10:02AM, March 20, 2009
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joined: 12-29-2008
Nice interview guys.

I hope people finally realize after this interview that you should not be rooting for PowerJeff! He is a douchebag!

I mean anyone who has a rat tail is obviously an evil person!

I also forgot to say thanks for the shout out. ;)

It's a Grizzly Bear battling Zombies. Do you need to know more?
DOLLAR STORE HAIRCUTA daily webcomic of unfunny.
last edited on July 14, 2011 4:55PM
Hyena H_ll at 12:29PM, March 20, 2009
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zaymac
I mean anyone who has a rat tail is obviously an evil person!
Oh, c'mon. Tell me you never had a rattail! Or, a 'tail as they was called.
last edited on July 14, 2011 12:52PM
zaymac at 1:18PM, March 20, 2009
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Hyena H_ll
zaymac
I mean anyone who has a rat tail is obviously an evil person!
Oh, c'mon. Tell me you never had a rattail! Or, a 'tail as they was called.

Nope, I never had the priveledge of growing up in a trailer park as a kid.

I do remember wanting the barber to shave steps in the side of my head. That's the one time I've been thankful for my mom not letting me do something. :)

It's a Grizzly Bear battling Zombies. Do you need to know more?
DOLLAR STORE HAIRCUTA daily webcomic of unfunny.
last edited on July 14, 2011 4:55PM
Hyena H_ll at 2:33PM, March 20, 2009
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posts: 1,568
joined: 11-13-2008
zaymac
Hyena H_ll
zaymac
I mean anyone who has a rat tail is obviously an evil person!
Oh, c'mon. Tell me you never had a rattail! Or, a 'tail as they was called.

Nope, I never had the priveledge of growing up in a trailer park as a kid.

I do remember wanting the barber to shave steps in the side of my head. That's the one time I've been thankful for my mom not letting me do something. :)
Ha. Everyone I knew had one, basically. But then again, I grew up in the rural South- where people still have mullets and ‘tails like it ain’t no thing. ;)
last edited on July 14, 2011 12:52PM
Mushroomcomix at 2:50PM, March 20, 2009
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Great interview! I am a BIG fan of this comic! And I actually did have a rat tail in the early 90s but I was in Elementary School ;) No hammer pants though.

Thanks for the shout out! Much appreciated!
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:09PM
Jason of Powerjeff at 5:26PM, March 21, 2009
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I actually DID live in a trailor, but I swear I never had a rat-tail, duck-tail, mullet, or anything in that family of hairstyles. I did get talked into getting a flat-top once though, and I had to comb in this pink, goopy stuff every morning to get it to stick up in front.
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:07PM

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