Today I am joined by Jay P. Fosgitt author and illustrator of, "Bodie Troll", "Dead Duck" and "Necronomicomics." (feature in Rue Morgue magazine.) Jay has been nominated for multiple awards and is a member of the national cartoonist society. I recently met Jay through social media and was given the opportunity to review the first issue of his new series, "Bodie Troll: Fuzzy Memories." Jay will be at Comics & More, May 6th at noon with his new release of Bodie! Located at 28059 John R. Rd., Madison Heights, MI 48017.
Let's dive into your history! How did you come into making comics? What were some of your initial works?
I knew I wanted to be a cartoonist when I grew up by the time I was five. My goal took many forms throughout my youth, from drawing a syndicated comic strip to designing Muppets for Jim Henson to creating my own comic books. My first published comic work was back in 2006 in the pages of my college newspaper, where I drew two weekly comic strips--"CHICKEN STRIPS" AND "HIGH SCHOOL: PART II". I'd go onto draw comics for several other college papers before I graduated, my most popular ones being 'WASTE PRODUCTS OF A WARPED VISION" and "MOTHERS GOOFS", drawn for Central Michigan University's school paper from 2001 to 2004. By the time I was done with college, my goal had finally focused on comic books, when I created my first published comic book work, "DEAD DUCK", published by Ape Entertainment in 2009.
What have been some of your influences for your style?
The creators of newspaper comic strips were my earliest cartooning heroes as a kid, particularly Charles Schulz (PEANUTS), Johnny Hart (BC), Berke Breathed (BLOOM COUNTY), and Bill Watterson (CALVIN AND HOBBES). Comic book creators such as Sergio Aragones (GROO THE WANDERER), Kyle Baker (WHY I HATE VENUS) and Stephen DeStefano ('MAZING MAN) were also very influential. Both TV and film animation inspired movement, performance and roundness in my art, particularly the works of Bill Melendez (director of the PEANUTS specials and movies), Don Bluth (THE SECRET OF NIMH), Ralph Bakshi (WIZARDS), Brad Bird (THE IRON GIANT), Eric Goldberg (animator of the Genie in ALADDIN), Chuck Jones (LOONEY TUNES), Richard Williams (animation director of WHO FRAMED ROGER RABBIT), and Chris Sanders director of LILO AND STITCH). But my greatest influence and lifelong hero has always been Jim Henson and his creations THE MUPPETS.
What are some of your methods for your work? Do you use hand drawn techniques, photoshop or both? What are some of the tools you rely on most?
I draw all my comics by hand--I sketch out my pages on sheets of bristol board using soft lead pencils, and I ink them using a mix of Zebra and Kuretake brush pens and technical pens. I scan my pages into my computer and color them in Photoshop using a Wacom tablet, and I upload my finished pages to my various publishers' ftp sites. I always try to carry both a sketch book and note book with me, to collect ideas for characters and stories for my comics. When writing finished comic scripts, I type them out in Word on my computer, using a form similar to how plays are written.
Do you have any blogs or instructional videos on your work? Have you participated in any panels?
I've occasionally taught cartooning classes in the past, but never felt I was an effective teacher. I had to find my own way into cartoonist processes through trial and error and pure instinct, and I don't feel I can teach that to anyone. I do sometimes talk to classes or groups about my career, and have sat in on a couple panels at comic cons. I'm used to public speaking because of my training in theater, and it's always a joy to talk with my peers in the industry in front of an audience.
Bodie is a lively character. How did you settle on him? What is the history behind this comic?
Fairy tales have always played a significant role in almost all my comic creations, but they were usually parodies, like "Shrek" or "Fractured Fairy Tales". My dream was to create my own fairy tale that wasn't self-referential or a satire on the genre, but as legitimate as "Peter Pan" and "The Wizard of Oz". That became the blue print for "Bodie Troll", though it was a crooked path with many forks that got me there. The troll came first--I had pitched a short Hellboy story I'd created to comic creator Mike Mignola, where kid Hellboy has his first crush on a girl troll. Mike liked the story but had no place to put it at the time. I decided I liked the troll character I'd created too much to just shelve away, so I developed it further. Gradually, the troll took on more and more of my personality, so she became a he. The name "Bodie" came from a long list of names I'd compiled--Bodie just sounded bouncy and had good alliteration. So I took this fuzzy little runt and teamed him up with a handful of older characters I'd created for other comics that never went anywhere, and this became the cast of "Bodie Troll". I placed the action in the fairy tale village of Hagadorn--a name I borrowed from a street in East Lansing that I frequently drove in on when visiting friends at Michigan State. I had the first issue written, but only had the first four pages illustrated when I thought about pitching the comic to publishers. But it was enough to get the job done--I took those pages with me to San Diego Comic Con in 2012, met the publishers of Red 5 Comics, and plans were made pretty quickly for us to publish "Bodie Troll" together. Three years later, we've put out the first four issue mini series, a trade paperback collection, two Free Comic Book Day issues, "Bodie Troll" was nominated for Best Comic Book in the 2014 National Cartoonists Society Awards, and we're starting the new mini series on May 6th.
Where will you be at for signings and appearances with the new Bodie Troll?
To begin, I'll be signing copies of the "Bodie Troll" Free Comic Book Day issue at Green Brain Comics in Dearborn, Michigan on Saturday, May 2nd. This is an all new, stand alone story, and not part of the new Bodie mini series, which comes out on May 6th. That series will be called "Bodie Troll: Fuzzy Memories", and I'll be signing copies of that first issue at Comics and More in Madison Heights, Michigan on May 6th.
What other titles do you have available?
I've been one of several illustrators working on the "My Little Pony" comic for going on three issues, and I'm looking forward to working on more issues to come. I also recently ended a four year gig drawing "Necronomicomics"--a single panel comic parodying horror movies--for Rue Morgue Magazine. I also contribute art to other comics, such as "The Amazing World of Gumball" and "Adventure Time" for Boom Studios.
What is next for you? What do you hope to accomplish throughout the next year?
I have so many more stories I have to tell within the world of "Bodie Troll", and I look forward to creating those. I also have a new all-ages graphic novel concept that I'm kicking around to possibly be distributed by another publisher. I'm also touring the convention circuit promoting my work--I've already been to Toronto, Seattle and Chicago, and plan on fitting New York, a couple Michigan shows, and a return trip to Toronto into my tour dates.
You can find more on Jay at www.jayfosgitt.com
If you'd like to hear more on independent creators visit www.digitalnerdage.com for my podcast, "The Mistresses of Mayhem and Chaos," with my partner Michelle.
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