Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Michael Deforge

Pierre: this is going to be terrible
Deforge: yeah, i'm not very smart

should it be proper grammar? ah fuck it
you can edit it later so we both sound eloquent

well it will be less work if we just do it now i am lazy
god fine

So what were some of the earliest things you remember making?
I've always been drawing. . . I tried to make my own horror comic when I was pretty young. It was called "Ballpoint Pen Comics."I've always been drawing. . . I tried to make my own horror comic when I was pretty young. It was called "Ballpoint Pen Comics."

What types of things were in it? Real stories or just random things?
Pretty much random things. It was because I had some weird EC reprint thing that I got in a dollar bin, and it was pretty different from other comics I was reading. So I thought I'd imitate the model, and make things like a baseball game, but with zombies! Stuff like that. I don't think I ever finished most of the stories.
Did you have a lot of collections? I seem to have nothing but collections.
Yeah, I tend to hoard things. Even as a kid I'd catalogue my toys, arrange them in my closet according to color and size. I spent hours doing stuff like that. Probably because I didn't have many friends?

Did you grow up in the same house all through childhood? I moved around a lot so I needed to shave people out of my life every four years or so, so it was kind of nice to have something to take with me. I was also kind of forced into collecting hockey cards by my dad, I didn't even play hockey.
I stayed in Calgary for most of my childhood, then Ottawa, so I didn't move around. I would just collect things to have them, really. Even things I didn't have much interest in, like rocks and coins. I just like owning things.

What kinds of things have you been collecting these days? What have you been reading/listening to?
I buy a lot of kids books. I try to find ones where the illustrations are a bit scary and weird, like maybe they shouldn't have been made for children. Either because the illustrator was bad, or maybe a bit of a pervert. I also like old workout books. My dad has become really health-conscious and buys ridiculous body building magazines, and I thought they were pretty funny, so started keeping an eye out for 60s and 70s fitness mags. I've started using them for collages. I listen to a lot of country lately, like Webb Pierce and that sort of thing. I think Jay Reatard did my favourite "recent" album, with Blood Visions. Oh, and as far as reading goes, I've really enjoyed the Mourning Star comic and Doodaaa by Ralph Steadman

Does a lot of that kind of stuff (the magazines), with the family connections come into play with your work often?
That's a good question. I think my art is definitely preoccupied with childhood things. But I'm not sure- I mean, for something like the magazines, I use those just because they're funny. The family connection there is pretty much incidental.

It seems like when someone says "That's a good question" it is actually a really bad question that the person it is being asked of can't answer.
Yeah, you're no James Lipton, Pierre. But I did think that was a good question. I just didn't have a real answer for it.

*Laughter* Anyway, do you have any exciting projects you're working on?
Well, I'm serializing a comic called Cave Adventure. It's this silly fantasy thing I do, although I didn't do one this week. I'm also working on a horror book, but it's coming along slowly. I'm also doing a lot of collabs lately. I'm doing a book with Gregory Pizzoli with monsters. And it's also a joke book? I hope you edit this interview to make me seem more interesting. And full of mirth?

Dude its fine! I know you enjoy working collaboratively, who else have you worked with?
About a year ago, I did a book last year with Bongout that I'm pretty proud of. I did the drawings, they laid it out and printed it. I do a lot of drawing jams too. Recently, I've been doing collabs with Nate Duval , Jesjit Gill, Tanxxx. . . Jesjit and I just did a ballet/Bad Brains themed zine, I think he's going to print it soon.
All Screen-printed?
That's the idea. But I'm an idiot with silk-screening, so it's up to him really.

That is pretty exciting, he's a squeegee wizard. What do you like to do when you're not creating art or designing?
I cry a lot. And watch Food Network. I really like Paula Deen.

What recipes has she done lately that made you want to gorge?
Today she showed me how to make Coconut Shrimp.

Do you ever actually make the stuff or just get really hungry?
I usually get really hungry and then end up eating microwave popcorn instead of doing any real cooking. I pick up tips though. Like, oh, maybe I'll add some honey to this sauce! Thanks, Bobby Flay. Chef Ramsey I think is my spiritual guide, too.

Who else inspires you to do things with your life?
I go to sweat lodges and take peyote and Chef Ramsey's floating head comes screaming at me being like "GET YOUR SHIT TOGETHER DEFORGE, STOP WATCHING TV AND DRAW!" There are a few artists I like, whose work I can really get lost in, and I think that's what inspires me. Octavio Paz's writing has done that. Marc Bell, Jack Kirby. Their work just has this wonderful overwhelming quality to it. Saul Steinberg, too.
I get really excited when i see Saul's drawings, I keep taking out the giant book on his New Yorker work from the library. He just has an unrelenting line.
Yeah! I really admire how he has this really specific line, but his work still retains its energy. . . It still seems spontaneous.

Yeah, i really like his collages as well, taking a piece of something and building up an entire world around it is something really incredible when its done right.
Yeah, I've been appreciating collage a lot more. I think my collabs with Jesjit have helped. I'm jealous of people who can do it right, and really nail a composition. Like Jesjit can just throw these pieces together on a page, and really quickly builds up the skeleton to a perfect composition to work around.

I guess it just takes practice or being blessed by the devil.
Yeah. Drawing is easy, but it takes something special to know how to use a space that well.

Totally. Whats a typical day for you like?
Man, this will be depressing. I don't have a job right now, so I basically wake up early, draw until noon. I work on personal projects in the morning, and then after lunch, I do illustration work, which is the stuff I do to make rent. So yeah, I draw all day. I'm pretty much a hermit. I find it helps to work on the personal stuff in the morning though, all the usual stuff about your mind being fresher then.

I think its great to have a routine. It just makes it so much easier to hammer things out.
Yeah, structure is the only way I get any work done. I'm become a pretty terrible human being once I start to lose it. If I don't have anything to occupy myself with, I tend to get really awful and self destructive.

What techniques and materials do you usually use?
I really use anything to draw with. I like using Staedtler pens, but I turn out pieces in ballpoint if that's all I have lying around. I do a fair bit of digital work, so I use my tablet for that

Do you like working analogue or digital more? Be honest!
I'm more satisfied with finished analogue works. . . I trust my hand more. But digital can be a lot easier. I can't imagine coloring without by tablet now. It really does depend on the project though. I think I'm pretty good with my tablet, but sometimes it just doesn't cut it, and I need to to ink something by hand. I know guys who can be really precise with theirWacoms, so maybe it's just me.

You're just trying to retain some cred.
This interview is going to destroy my reputation.

I have this theory that people who alm
ost die when they're young seem to become artists later in life.
Haha, I like that theory.

Did you ever have brushes with death?
Nope. I've never had any real injuries even. I'm pretty unhealthy though, so I'm probably in danger of dying of malnutrition. Have many cartoonists have near-death experiences as kids? This seems like something I should know.

I think its quite a few, i can't remember any specific ones, but not just cartoonists, musicians, painters and others too. Its really weird.
I always assumed cartoonists were just lonely people. . . social retards. Like me, right?

Lots of autobiographical comics have references to childhood though, and traumatic events.

Yeah, that's true

Just start calling yourself a comic artist and you'll be fine.

I never faced any hardship. I was a pretty poorly adjusted kid, I just didn't have a reason to be!

That seems like a good low point to end this. Thanks for taking the time to talk with me, anything else you'd like to add?

You can see more of Deforge's artwork at kingtrash.com.

1 comment:

krisrickb said...

i enjoyed that.
this will be a fun blog i think.