• Equestria Daily Interview Series: Interview with IDW Artist Jay P. Fosgitt

    Believe it or not, The Goonies is actually a film I have never seen all the way through in one sitting. This, however, cracked me up so much that I plan on remedying that as soon as possible!

    Once again, I had the distinct honor of interviewing a member of the IDW My Little Comic book team. This time it’s a new artist to IDW’s stable: Artist Jay P. Fosgitt! The artist for the soon to be released 11th issue of My Little Pony: Friends Forever! Featuring Rainbow Dash and Spitfire!

    So, who was Jay’s favorite pony to draw? How did he end up working on the comic? And why does a runt of a troll and an undead duck keep popping up everywhere I look up this guy’s name?

    You can find out all of that, and more, after the break!

    I usually start these interviews by asking who your favorite pony is, but I think I’ll change things up a little bit. So, to start: how did you end up working on My Little Pony: Friends Forever

    I've been friends with Katie Cook for the past six years, as long as I've been working in the comic industry. Katie was kind enough to recommend me to her editor, Bobby Curnow, who liked my artwork and put me to work MLP almost immediately.

    Having now penciled and inked issue eleven of Friends Forever, were there any challenges that came with drawing a cast of equine characters?

    The biggest challenge was remembering to draw wings on all the Pegasus'! Fortunately, Bobby has a keen eye, and always let me know if I left one wingless before we went to print!

    How did you first get started with art?

    I started drawing when I was two, and I showed an aptitude for it, I'm told. By the time I was five, I decided--and proclaimed to anyone listening--that I was going to be a cartoonist when I grew up. I spent the rest of my life fulfilling the prophecy!

    Who are some the major influences on your art?

    My biggest influence is Jim Henson, creator of The Muppets. We corresponded when I was twelve, and his art and personality continue to influence me to this day. I'm also very influenced by animators, particularly Chuck Jones (Loony Tunes), Eric Goldberg (The Genie from "Aladdin"), Ralph Bakshi ("Wizards") and Chris Sanders (creator/designer/co-director of "Lilo and Stitch" and "How To Train Your Dragon").

    What was the big take away from your time in college and how does that apply to your art?

    While I had some very influential art courses and art professors, the best education I received was through working on my school newspaper. I was the staff cartoonist, but I also learned the basics of newspaper production, and got my first taste of using Photoshop. All of this figured largely into my work in comics today.

    Out of every artist I’ve interviewed thus far for the series, you have one of the most interesting entries I have ever seen listed on your resume. And it’s something that you’re still doing after twenty years. So, how did you start doing party caricatures?

    When I was a senior in high school, a local talent agency called my art teacher to see if any of his students could draw caricatures for a corporate Christmas party. As a burgeoning cartoonist, I was the most qualified of my peers, even though I'd never drawn caricatures before. I landed the gig, and it became a sideline that's served me well for over twenty years now.

    You must have some interesting stories to tell after 20 years of doing that. What is one of the more memorable parties you’ve done either positive or negative?

    Years ago, I drew caricatures for a middle school event. This little girl came up to be drawn and told me her name was Charlie. I drew her caricature very cute, with long hair and big curly eyelashes. She looked at it confusedly, and walked away. Three more little girls came up, and the little red haired girl in the middle says to me, "Just so you know, I'm a boy. I just don't want you making the same mistake with me that you did with Charlie." That was embarrassing!

    In December 2009, Ape Entertainment published a one shot trade paperback of what would become one of your most popular web comics two years later. So, how did you create this version of the Grim Reaper known as Dead Duck?

    When I was fourteen, I came up with the idea of a duck who worked as a minion for the grim reaper. I gradually developed this concept over the course of several years, and in 2009, "Dead Duck" became my first published graphic novel.

    Any particular moment stand out as either the most challenging of the series to work on, or as the most memorable?

    While working on "Dead Duck", I contacted cartoonists who I admired, asking if they'd contribute pin-ups in the book. A pin-up is another artist's rendition of your characters, typically used as a back-up feature in a comic. I heard back from Chris Sanders, creator of "Lilo and Stitch". He was the nicest guy, telling me how much he enjoyed my work, and he agreed to do a pin-up. When I received his art--a drawing of my Dead Duck's sidekick, Zombie Chick--it was so beautiful that I was in tears just looking at it. The neatest thing was that Chris didn't have time to complete the background, and asked me if I'd mind drawing a tombstone for Zombie Chick to be leaning against. So not only did Chris Sanders contribute art to my book, but I got to draw his piece with him!

    Any word on when the world will see his return?

    I'm pretty preoccupied with "Bodie Troll" and my other comic work, so it won't happen anytime soon. But I'm sure Dead Duck will rise again one day.

    After Dead Duck was released by Ape, you released a small trilogy of creator owned titles for Little Green Men.  What can you tell us about these literally little green men?

    Ape had an idea they wanted me to develop--three aliens based on The Three Stooges who would try to invade Earth, but discover that Earthlings are giants compared to them. They gave me the character names and some sample artwork to use as a jumping off point for their designs, but I had a free hand to create the book my way. We did three volumes, and it was good training for the all-ages comics I'd produce in the years to come.

    How big of a jump was it going from working in a macabre fantasy to something more science-fiction in nature?

    At first, "Little Green Men" was supposed to be an edgier comic, with humor akin to "The Simpsons", which wasn't too dissimilar from how I wrote "Dead Duck". But after the first volume, Ape decided they wanted it to be more kid friendly, so I had to tone down some of my bawdier comedy instincts, which was tricky. Switching from macabre to sci fi wasn't too difficult, though I'd never been much of a fan of sci fi, and frequently found myself putting the aliens in non-sci fi situations just to keep myself entertained.

    2012 saw the release of two more creator owned titles from you and Ape Entertainment, Dino Duck and Old McMonster's Haunted Farm. What inspired these two characters?

    Ape had ideas for two more  all-ages comic--one that saw a tribe of prehistoric ducks battling for evolution supremacy with apes, and another that took the classic Universal Horror Monsters and re-imagined them as cartoon animals. As with LGM, I was given the character names, but I was left to conceive the books' plots, locations and character designs myself. In the case of all three Ape titles, they owned the concepts outright. I was just a hired hand, though I did most of the development on the books myself.

    Speaking of new properties, a trade paperback came out back in March for Bodie Troll. How did you originally come up with the idea for a troll who is too cute for his own good?

    I had met "Hellboy" creator Mike Mignola back in 2010. We became friendly enough that I felt comfortable submitting some work to him--I had written and drawn a two-page story about Hellboy as a kid, where he traveled to Norway and experienced his first crush, who was a girl troll. Mike and his editor liked the story, but there hadn't been a Hellboy anthology in awhile, so they had no place for it. I liked the troll character I'd created for it, and decided to develop a comic around it. As I crafted this fairy tale world for it, the character took on more of my personality, and eventually became a boy troll named Bodie. Bodie's cast of characters were hand-picked from older or uncompleted concepts of mine, and refined to fit the fairy tale mold.

    Is Bodie a fully grown troll who just happened to get very “unlucky” with his genes or is he still a young kid growing up in the world?

    Bodie is as physically grown as he'll ever get, though he is certainly a runt by troll standards. Emotionally, Bodie is a ten year old in a troll's body.

    So far, four issues have been released of Bodie Troll, and I cracked up during all of them. The first two issues were one shots with the last two being a two part story. Which issue did you have the most challenges putting together?

    Issue one was the biggest challenge. When I pitched "Bodie Troll" to Red 5 comics in 2012, I'd had a full script written for the first issue, but only had the first four pages completed, which were drawn by me, and colored by Evan Shaner. Once Red 5 signed me on to produce the comic for them, I had very little time to complete that issue. Harder yet, I couldn't afford to hire anyone to color the rest of the book, so I had to teach myself very quickly to color similarly to how Evan had done it so the book had a consistent look. It was a trial by fire, but it taught me a lot, and I'm still very proud of that first issue. 

    Was there any sequence in these issues that stood out as particularly memorable? The various plays in issue two always get a good chuckle out of me.

    I love the action sequence in issue four, where Bodie and Baby Fat Scott escape the villages by floating up into the sky. The humor of Baby Fat Scott farting played simultaneously with the peril of Bodie dodging falling objects, and I think it was a fun and unique result.

    I know at New York Comic Con [NYCC] that you were having a very interesting sort of advertising campaign going on for Bodie. Or rather, he ran into you at NYCC promoting himself, right?

    I have the best friends you could ever ask for. My friend James Wojtal, who is an extremely talented puppet builder, created a Bodie puppet for me, and delivered it to my hotel room in time for opening day of the con. And my friend Kelly O'Hara, who is also a very talented painter, dressed herself as Cholly, and carried the Bodie puppet around the con, and greeted people coming to my table. It was a one-two punch of promotional ingenuity, and James and Kelly were the main reasons for its success.

    In September you announced that Bodie will be getting a second mini-series, published by Red 5 Comics, and that he will be the headliner for Red 5’s Free Comic Book Day [FCBD] issue. Is there anything you call tease to us about either of those two projects?

    The Bodie FCBD issue will find my troll in the most torturous event of his life--a five year old girl's tea party! And issue #1 of the new "Bodie Troll" mini-series will put Bodie in even greater peril, as he's pursued by a tribal monster hunter!

    How does it feel knowing that your work is going to be given out for free on FCBD 2015?

    It feels wonderful! I'm thrilled to be putting Bodie in the hands of fans for the third year in a row--and this year, Bodie will be the headliner of Red 5's issue, and will finally be featured on the front cover!

    And that brings us back to working for IDW on My Little Pony. Having drawn the issue by now, which character ended up proving to be the most fun to draw?

    Spitfire was my favorite! While most of the ponies have long, flowing manes and are kind of regal looking, Spitfire is much more of a tomboy, with her short, spiky mane and hip aviator goggles. That's the kind of character I enjoy drawing the most!

    On page one of the issue (as shown in the itunes preview) you managed to throw in a cameo of Planet Express’s lovable janitor Scruffy. Would it be safe to assume that other pop culture references might crop throughout this issue?

    I have to confess, the janitor pony wasn't based on anybody, and I didn't slip in any other cameos within the issue. However, on the variant cover I drew for the book, you'll notice the violet Pegasus eating Spitfire's mane has a cutie mark resembling a familiar little troll...!

    You can find Jay Fosgitt online on:

    His website: www.jayfosgitt.com

    You can follow Jay Fosgitt on: