20 Questions with Comic Artists: Jon Esparza of Bubblefox

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We are back again True Believers and we are delivering big time today.  We have received countless comments demanding an interview with one of the most influential comic artists in the world today.  Jon Esparza
Jon is the creator of not just one, not just two, not just three, but four comic series which you can read on the web.  There is Bubblefox: http://bubblefox.thecomicseries.com/
There is Peppertown: http://peppertown.thecomicseries.com/ and then we have Mike & Mindy as well as Mushrooms Which can be found on his blog here: http://jonscrazystuff.blogspot.com/
As if this wasn’t enough, Jon is also a founding member and Co-President of the Root Beer Party. He has several collections of his work available in print, you can get his first collection of Bubblefox on Amazon here: http://www.amazon.com/Classical-Gas-Bubble-Fox-1/dp/1508525668/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1465255320&sr=8-1&keywords=jon+esparza
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Jon is also a constant presence on Twitter, you can find him at @JonCrazyTweets and follow all the tweeter antics of the Root Beer Party, but enough of the preamble, let us give the True Believers what they came here for, Jon take it away:
Question 1: What got you started in doing a comic series?
I just wanted a way to tell my stories and get my goofy vibes out of my head. I had a degree in film but no means to make movies. Comics just seemed like a natural next step. It also helped that MAD Magazine told me to bugger off and all the other humor mags were already dead by that point!
Question 2: Who was you greatest influence?
So many blazed the trail that led to CRAZY. Don Martin, Gary Larson, Akira Toriyama and Jack Davis are pretty much tops as far as art influences go. Tim Burton, David and Jerry Zucker, Jim Abrahams, Mel Brooks and Harold Ramis all had big impacts on me too. Hell, that first Batman movie in ’89 was the exact moment I knew I wanted to be a writer. Above all though, it’s Jim Henson that I admire the most, not only as an artist, but as a human being. I try to follow his example as best as I can. It’s as a tribute to Jim Henson that my characters have the large eyes and spindly limbs that they possess.
Question 3: What is your favorite root beer and why?
There are some that will find this controversial, but I am a Barq’s man! It’s got a strong bite to it and isn’t overly sweet! I will say though that there’s a brand out there called “Darn That’s Good” that makes a butterscotch root beer that comes pretty damn close!
Question 4: What do you hope to accomplish with your comic?
More than anything, I just wanna make folks happy. Comics are fun to me, and if I can spread that joy through a bunch of silly drawings, then that’s even better! An Eisner or Ruben would be nice too, but, I’m realistic!
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Question 5: Do you have any other artistic interests outside of comics?
Quite a few! As a kid, I always wanted to work for The Muppets, so sometimes I build puppets in my spare time. I also do resin art, build models and cook! Yes, I consider cooking an art form!
Question 6: Do you see yourself as a professional cartoonist, or is this just something you do for yourself?
(Laughs) Given that I’ve been paid to draw, and have booked conventions and been on a couple panels, I’d say I qualify as a professional. I get into comic cons for free even! That’s gotta count for something!
Question 7: What type of subject or humor do you consider out of bounds for your strips and why?
Nudity, violence, excessive cussing or gratuitous bathroom humor are out of bounds. I will never draw anything R-rated or worse. I’m not opposed to adult themes or some language or violence, but there’s gotta be a reason for it. Too many jump straight to shock value these days, forgetting why shock value exists in the first place.
Question 8: What kind of equipment or style of drawing do you use?
I use Strathemore paper and a mix of Pentel and Staedler pens for my inks and scribble them down with PrismaColor Col-Erase pencils.  I used to ink straight from my pencils, but my pens kept getting gummed up, so I trace from a lightbox now.  What can I say?  I love working analog!  That and I’m poor!
Question 9: what sort of training or academic program did you pursue to become a cartoonist?
I have no formal art training. I just ran with a lifelong hobby. I do use my film school training somewhat. I try to compose certain panels the same way I would a film shot, a fact Tom Richmond picked up on once!
Question 10: What has been the highlight of your cartooning career?
I’ve had a few good ones. Turning a profit at WonderCon 2015 ranks pretty high, but the big one for me was getting recognized by some fans at Long Beach Comic Con in 2014! It was such a trip because as a cartoonist, a web cartoonist especially, I really fly under the radar. So when someone spotted my name badge and asked me if I was the “Crazy guy who draws Bubble Fox,” I was in Heaven!
Question 11: What has been the lowest point in your cartooning career?
This is gonna open up some old wounds. I’d say the period between February and May 2014 were about as rock bottom as I got. Kim Belding and I did a Kickstarter for an animated project that failed miserably and on top of that, I did very poorly at WonderCon just as the campaign was limping to its end. It was really rough. About as close as I ever came to drinking. I’ve had some spectacular failures in my life, but have always been able to laugh them off. Those two in particular just hurt.
Question 12: Are collections of your work available beyond the web? If So where?
As it just so happens, there are! The first three years of “Mike & Mindy” and “Mushrooms” are all available in collected volumes as is the first year of “Bubble Fox!” They can all be found on Amazon too! You’ll also be happy to know that “Bubble Fox” year two and the first “Peppertown” collection are also currently being worked on!
Question 13: Are there any other web comic artists that you really admire?
Don’t think there’s enough space on the web to cover this one! I consider Mark Stokes to be the King of the Mountain in our industry. No one’s done more to bring respect to web comics than Mark. Dawn Griffin and Vince Dorse have also done a lot to shine the spotlight our way and, like Mark, have mentored so many. Kim Belding and Warren Frantz are my crazy Canadian brothers and Tim Green, Scott Warren, Joshua Hauke, Jamie Cosley and Jason Platt are just plain awesome. I consider Austin Verburg to be the future of web comics. I know I’m forgetting many here, so I highly recommend y’all just go exploring because web comics have so much to offer!
Question 14: What kind of impact has cartooning had on your life and could you ever see yourself not doing it?
I may not be here were it not for cartooning. I’ve had a lot of rough patches in my life in recent years. 2011 was a really bad one as my health took a nose dive along with everything else around me. It was making comics and and coming up with blog posts that kept me going and got my mind off of bad things. Could I do something else? Probably. I did before, but I probably wouldn’t be a happy camper if I didn’t draw. Me and art are symbiotic!
Question 15: Do you have any advice for the Trolls out there who harass content creators? (no need to keep this answer clean.)
There’s a steep cliff. Feel free to thin the herd.
Question 16: Do you set yourself any deadlines or other tricks to keep yourself motivated?
Oh yes! I try my best to make the 2-3 middle weeks of each month my cartooning/posting weeks. Not always easy as the day job’s picked up a lot in the past two years, but it does help keep me on my toes.
Question 17: Apart from root beer, what is your favorite drink?
I’m a sucker for Dr. Pepper! He’s the only doctor I trust! But his bastard brother, Mr. Pibb, is a total scumbag! I also like cherry anything really, especially (Sorry Kim!) Cherry Vanilla Pepsi! Mexican Cokes also hold high value with CRAZY as they still use sugar and are bottled in glass!
Question 18: Are you already a member of the root beer party and if not, what is the matter with you?
Is this rhetorical? I’m a founding member!
Question 19: What is the most challenging aspect of cartooning for you?
Coming up with fresh ideas. It’s not always easy to find new and creative ways to inflate a hapless cartoon fox!
Question 20: What are your future plans involving web comics or anything else going on in your life?
Mostly to just keep plugging away until I run out of ideas. Peppertown’s on hiatus, but I got ideas for it coming up. Bubble Fox certainly had some big moments recently and I got a few more coming soon! I think I’m in a good spot right now. I still wanna branch out into animation and some live action projects, but for now, I’m pretty happy with things. The future is bright… And CRAZY!!!
And there you have it True Believers, the man himself, Jon Esparza in his own words.  How will we top this interview you ask?  Well, True Believers, just stay tuned as we continue to celebrate the world of comics and root beer.  Until next time, may your mug always be frosted and your root beer always foamy.
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