20 Questions with Comic Artists: James Florence of Jay Unplugged


We are back once again with our world famous segment here at the Root Beer Party, It’s time for 20 Questions.  (Crowd goes wild)  Yes, that’s right, you demanded it and once again, we deliver.  Today we bring you the embodiment of the Evil Dead himself James Florence of Jay Unplugged which you can check out here:


Here we have a man who has serious issues with his computer so we’ll get right down to business:


Question 1: What got you started in doing a comic series?
I’ve been interested in doing comics for pretty much my whole life; as a kid, I used to daydream about having my own little studio with the drawing table and everything. Alas, by age 30, that dream had still not come to fruition. It wasn’t until a couple years ago, when my wife took me to see a special screening of the documentary “Stripped,” that I realized I needed to buckle down and make it happen. I had these characters I’d conceived of a couple years prior—a guy, his laptop and radio—so I picked them back up and the rest is history.
Question 2: Who was you greatest influence?
Without a doubt, my number one influence was and still is “Calvin and Hobbes”. I spent countless hours reading it during my childhood, and still revisit it regularly. In particular, I admire how Bill Watterson uses the comic medium to express not just humor but deep emotion and profound truth. His depth, versatility and tonal balance are what I strive to replicate in my own work.
Question 3: What is your favorite root beer and why?
Usually, I go for good old Mug root beer. I also remember Henry Weinhard’s being really good, but it’s been a while since I’ve had it.
Question 4: What do you hope to accomplish with your comic?
My goal is to build an audience and get as many people as possible to read my stuff. Heck, I’d like to one day do it for a living, of course. However, in the end, I think my personal satisfaction in my work is the most important thing.
Question 5: Do you have any other artistic interests outside of comics?
I love music and movies. Before I got into comics, my main artistic outlet was music: I’ve played both guitar and drums in several bands and even produced my own solo album. I still enjoy jamming with friends and hope to do more recording in the future.
Question 6: Do you see yourself as a professional cartoonist, or is this just something you do for yourself?
Definitely not a professional. Maybe when someone offers me a large sum of money to do this, I’ll consider myself a pro.
Question 7: What type of subject or humor do you consider out of bounds for your strips and why?
None, really. I generally keep my strip pretty clean, just because I prefer it that way, but I also don’t mind pushing the envelope if the joke is there.
Question 8: What kind of equipment or style of drawing do you use?
I draw on a large 14”x17” pad, starting with non-photo blue lead and ending with black ink. I use two pens for inking: a 0.8mm Uni-Ball Vision Elite (I like the hard tip) and a Micron 0.25mm for finer lines. I draw my boxes with a 1.0mm pen. I also use an Ames guide for lettering, so the lines are straight. I do all my coloring in Photoshop.
Question 9: What sort of training or academic program did you pursue to become a cartoonist?
None whatsoever.
Question 10: What has been the highlight of your cartooning career?
Recently, I had the opportunity to be featured at the Charles M. Schulz Museum in my hometown of Santa Rosa. While I was there, Jeannie Schulz (Charles’ window) stopped by to say hi and asked me for the lowdown on the world of webcomics. It was quite a treat for me; I even got to give her a signed print.
Question 11: What has been the lowest point in your cartooning career?
About 3 or 4 months after I started “Jay Unplugged,” I hit a dry spell. I thought it was all over, and I moped and whined about having no good ideas and how I was doomed to fail at everything I attempted, blah, blah, blah. About a week later, I was back on the upswing, working on an inspired three-part arc. This taught me a crucial lesson about creating art: there will always be ups and downs, floods of inspiration and dry spells. The key is to hold on and ride through the tough times. Never give up.
Question 12: Are collections of your work available beyond the web? If So where?
Currently, no, but I’d love to do a print collection one of these days.
Question 13: Are there any other web comic artists that you really admire?
Oh yeah, a bunch, too many to name. Some of the stand-outs would be Poorly Drawn Lines, Lunarbaboon, Awkward Yeti, Fatherhood. Badly Doodled., Fat Bassist Comics, and Dogs, Ducks & Aliens.
Question 14: What kind of impact has cartooning had on your life and could you ever see yourself not doing it?
After dreaming for years about being a cartoonist, it’s very fulfilling for me to actually be doing it. Can I see myself not doing it? Sure. Would I be happy? I doubt it. While it’s often challenging and frustrating, in the end, making comics just makes me feel good – like I’m doing something, you know?
Question 15: Do you have any advice for the Trolls out there who harass content creators? (no need to keep this answer clean.)
Go find something you love.
Question 16: Do you set yourself any deadlines or other tricks to keep yourself motivated?
Keeping a regular update schedule is helpful, but I don’t give myself a hard time if I miss. The fact is, I’m not getting paid to do this and I have a lot of other responsibilities, so I’m not going to make a big deal about staying on schedule. One of the best motivators for me is having a continuing story arc, because the story kind of propels itself. Other than that, I just do my best to put out content regularly, whether once or twice each week.
Question 17: Apart from root beer, what is your favorite drink?
Regular beer—preferably a craft-brewed IPA.
Question 18: Are you already a member of the root beer party and if not, what is the matter with you?
I think this questionnaire is my initiation. So… yes, yes, I am. I would’ve gotten to it sooner, but hey, I’m a busy guy.
Question 19: What is the most challenging aspect of cartooning for you?
Well, I’m not much of an artist, so it’s probably just drawing in general. Especially if I have to veer outside of conventional motif of Jay standing in front of a counter.
Question 20: What are your future plans involving web comics or anything else going on in your life?
I’m just gonna keep at it, and we’ll see what happens next.
So there you have it True Believers, you heard it here first.  We have introduced you to the newest member of the Root Beer Party, so check out his comic and make him famous so he can work harder and make more comics and possibly afford more root beer.  We here at the Root Beer Party know that nothing pairs better with root beer than comics, both are things that make us all happy, so thanks to James for this introduction and welcome to the party.  And as always True Believers, May your mug always be frosted and your root beer always foamy.

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