TCJ 300 Conversations: Jaime Hernandez & Zak Sally

Posted by on December 22nd, 2009 at 5:47 AM

 


From “Tuesday is… One More Day?” in The Education of Hopey Glass, ©2008 Jaime Hernandez.


Hernandez:
One time, when Gilbert and I were on this comic signing tour that we did back in ’92 and we went to the College of Comic Book Knowledge —

Sally:
[Laughs.] I — I was —

Hernandez:
Were you there?

Sally:
I was in a car with Gilbert at some point, drunkenly harassing him —

Hernandez:
That’s right. Well, when we did that, somebody came up to us with this folder that he collected the names of all these artists and cartoonists that came from Minnesota.That was amazing. It’s kind of like something you guys got there, that breeds [laughter] these crazy, talented people.

Sally:
Curt Swan.

Hernandez:
There you go! He just had this list of all these cartoonists that came from there. It was amazing. I wish I would’ve kept the list.

Sally:
I wish I could see that. I know some that pop up here and there.

Hernandez:
You breed ’em, man.

Sally:
Let’s hope so, huh?

Hernandez:
[Laughs.] Like Wisconsin with their serial killers.

Sally:
[Laughs.] And their cheese curd. You know the Minnesotans hate the Wisconsinites, right?

Hernandez:
I kinda figured. The closer together you are, the more you gotta have that rivalry.

Sally:
Speaking of ’92 and that movie and all that stuff, back then, there was kind of this group — or it felt like there was this group of guys — before there were all the cartoonists there are today, back then it felt like there was, say, you and Pete Bagge, and Dan Clowes who were really the center of this new thing that was happening in comics.

Hernandez:
That was the only time I’ve ever felt that kind of pack mentality.

Sally:
Was it a good feeling?

Hernandez:
No, it was a great feeling! I remember just liking to be in the company of these guys, and women too, that were doing stuff at that time. I just felt this strength, this power, this “hey, we’re conquering the world” kind of thing. You know, “this is the only place in the world this is happening,” kind of thing. It was a cool feeling. The thing I thought was interesting is that each of us lived in a different state. [Laughs.] I don’t know how the rest of the world saw it. I’ve gotten hints from people thinking we’re this closed club that nobody was allowed in, this exclusive thing that we just thought we were hot shit. Well, we did think we were hot shit, ’cause we were doing the work.

But to me, I just liked having people around who thought like me, and who could produce. Back up their interesting thoughts. I really, really liked that. I wasn’t trying to exclude anybody, just if I wanted to talk about something and not have to explain my whole life story, there they were. It’s kind of like when your kid starts going to school and you start meeting these parents, and you find yourself explaining what you do 20 million times. I’ve been doing comics for almost 30 years, and here I am telling these people, “No, it’s not a cartoon — it’s a comic book — but it’s not like Spider-Man — it’s more like for adults — but it’s not sex, but — !” I just find myself doing that constantly, still.

Sally:
That might be what I was talking about earlier. The feeling of what am I doing? Is it weird? I know what I’m doing, but to the rest of the world, it’s… you’re still making funny books.

Hernandez:
And then my wife will make fun of me because someone at the school, one of the parents will go, “I know who he is. I love Love and Rockets,” or whatever, and she’ll start making fun of me for my swelled head, and I’m like, “No, I’m just happy somebody knows what I do!” [Laughter.] It’s a good feeling.


From Ghost of Hoppers, ©2005 Jaime Hernandez.


Sally:
I think the first time we had any words at any length was at San Diego. There were people lined up — I know it’s a comics convention, but you guys were busy the whole time you were doing that signing. It was — you could tell there were people who had been reading Love and Rockets for a long damn time, and it meant a lot to them. Or at least I could.

Hernandez:
And them coming means a lot to me. I like — [Laughs.] I like meeting people who know what I do. Period. Where I don’t have to explain myself. You know, and that’s the only time I get to meet people face to face who like my stuff.

Sally:
Right.

Hernandez:
I just wanna be loved. [Laughter.]

Sally:
That early ’90s group of cartoonists you were talking about earlier, those folks that you felt like you were a part of it with them, do you still feel like that at all?

Hernandez:
I’d like to look at us more like old friends. We don’t see each other that much any more. It’s almost like our comics have gone different paths. I never wanted to look at it as competition, like, “Oh, wait, he’s getting popular, he’s gotta make a movie, oh shit. He’s gonna be too good for us.” I never liked to look at it that way, but it does — you kind of drift apart. And you see each other 10 years later and you’re still the same old buddies, and that’s always a good feeling.

But, you know, it’s just so spread out. And then the whole industry and the whole alternative market itself is just so fragmented. You’ve got the world’s greatest cartoonists living over here, and then you’ve got the world’s greatest cartoonists living over there, and then the greatest group of cartoonists, well they started over here. It’s hard to keep track. Pretty soon it does feel like competition. No, our cartoonists are better than their cartoonists, or something like that. And it’s silly, but it really separates us. Everyone’s trying to find their place, so it does start to get that way. I don’t know. Maybe it’s just the way I see it, being alone in my little studio. That’s just how it feels sometimes.

Sally:
I have my couple of cartoonist friends, and I go to conventions and there’s tons of people I like to see, and at the same time there’s often this level of, like the small pool of cartoonists: like it’s such a small pie that that kind of snarkiness — it can be kind of crazy. So, with that said, most of the folks I do know in comics are pretty great people. There’s some total assholes. In the old days of the Journal we could talk about them, but now we can’t. ‘Cause the Journal‘s nice. [Hernandez laughs.] I think, right?

Hernandez:
The Journal‘s nice?

Sally:
Is it?

Hernandez:
There you go. There’s something else to talk about.

Sally:
Well, heck.

Hernandez:
What’s that?

Sally:
I don’t know. [Laughter.] You got any words of wisdom?

Hernandez:
Let’s see.

Sally:
Still, I feel like — I’m about to turn 38.

Hernandez:
And you’ve been doing comics almost as long as I have.

Sally:
Are you — no!

Hernandez:
Didn’t you say your minis were back — how far?

Sally:
Oh… well… yeah… Yeah, but they all sucked!

Hernandez:
But you were doing them! And you were doing them fearlessly!

Sally:
[Laughs.] No, I was doing them fearfully.


From “At the Scaffold,” ©2009 Zak Sally.


Hernandez:
Yes, but you were doing them. There’s a difference. You were getting your ass out there. You were putting your ass out on the line. You were putting your feelings, your body, your soul — I hope you were.

Sally:
Probably too much.

Hernandez:
— out there. You can’t get any bolder than that. My comics — I’m putting my whole fuckin’ soul out there, so if somebody dismisses it and says it’s just old and shit — shit, of course it hurts my feelings. Because I’m putting my ass on the line every time, and I’m not hiding. I don’t know what brought that up: self-pity. [Laughs.] Anyway, I was just saying about your comics. You were putting your ass on the line early on, so I don’t really look at you as a young buck.

Sally:
I can’t either.

Hernandez:
[Laughs.] But words of wisdom? Well, first of all, I’d say you’re too far into your path, that I can’t talk to you like a teacher-to-student, or anything, but — words of wisdom. Mean it. Everything you do, because if you’re a fake, they’ll find out. [Laughs.] Those are the only words of wisdom I think. And maybe stayin’ angry. [Sally laughs.] Stay hungry. Just a little hungry. You can feed yourself because you’re tired of starving, that kind of thing. But just keep enough left where you’re still hungry, where you’re still out there making your statement. Making your — Goddamn it, here I am. And the anger helps.

Sally:
I got that. [Laughs.]

Hernandez:
Well, see, there you go. And if it comes out in the work — there’s good anger and there’s bad anger. But I think you can pull off the good anger. In other words, things still suck out there, I’m gonna show you how it can be done good. That’s all I got to say. [Laughs.]

Be Sociable, Share!

Pages: 1 2 3 4

Tags: , ,

Comments are closed.