Michael Deforge Really Likes Shoe

By Nick Gazin

Michael Deforge is a cartoonist from Canada whose drawings appear here and there. He's had some stuff in the Believer and some other zines and shit here and there. He's been picking up steam recently and appearing here and there more often. Right now, though, right now he's appearing here Michael's drawings are these inky, oily, sludgy things where everything is greasy and dripping. For no reason whatsoever, he once went and drew all the newspaper comic logos in heavy metal styles.  He recently put out the first issue of his comic, Lose, which is a beautiful comic that changes around but is thematically consistent and an overall amazing first issue that you need to get.  Deforge is part of this new guard (garde?) of artists who all use the world's most antiquated blogging site, livejournal.com. There's Harvey James, Ines Estrada, Lala, and him, all pumping good things onto this withered old-timey printing press with cobwebs everywhere and a 90-year-old man snoring in a rocking chair next to it. It is very inspiring.  It was also great to finally chat with Michael Deforge, Deforgeo on livejournal, outside of a comments section setting.   Vice: Lose #1 is a great comic. Real, real, real, real great. Tell me about how the idea for this came to you and evolved and all that. Michael Deforge: Most of my comics come from one or two stray images in my sketchbook that I like enough to work into a narrative. In Lose, there's a scene where a character first enters Hell and finds himself next to a giant Nancy head protruding out of the grass. That giant Nancy head-mountain was the image that I started out with. I thought it would look kind of funny in a story, and then the rest of the comic worked itself out from there. I thought the Nancy house lighting up was an amazing sequence of images. Thanks! That was my "movie sequence." I drew everything else in the comic in this tight grid, but I wanted that page to look "cinematic" or something. What's on board for Lose #2? I've actually just started drawing the first chunk of pages. I don't think I'm gonna end up using any of the same characters, but it will be a similar format: one longer story, about 18 to 24 pages, with a bunch of short strips and gag panels to accompany it. The main story is going to be my weak attempt at a horror comic. It has two little kids wandering around discovering ugly things. Why do you always have to use a Wacom to draw?  When was the last time you drew by hand? I actually do most of my work by hand, just not my comics or commercial illustration. Comics don't come very naturally to me, so I spend a lot of time reworking pages I draw--adjusting the order of panels or the placement of figures or whatever. If I do it by hand, I end up pasting things over other stuff and whiting things out so often that the final product just looks like an illegible mess. So now I scan in the thumbnails and do a lot of the "inking" with my tablet. For commercial work, I stick with the tablet since it makes it easier to do all the revisions clients are always asking for. With your hair, sideburns, and white t-shirt you kinda look like a rockabilly.  Are you a rockabilly? Oh man, am I? I don't think I am! My hair grows really fast and really thick so I find it's easiest to comb it all back. I also need an insane amount of pomade to keep it in place. I've been counting the number of Murray's tins I've gone through since January and I'm at nine so far. Here, I'll send you a picture of the stack. I used to just shave it off. In high school, I looked like a skinhead: cuffed jeans, Doc Martens, no hair. I used to grease up my head with Murray's but now I just let my hair go like a forest mess.  Who are you liking in comics and drawing right now? Hellen Jo, Dan Zettwoch, Kazimir Strzepek, Mickey Zacchilli, Tim Hensley and the Wowee Zonk guys are doing work I'm really into right now. My buddy Chris Eliopoulos--the Yo Gabba Gabba one, not the Savage Dragon letterer one--just put out a mini called Milky Way Shuffle that I love. I've recently been going through all my old Pogo collections. Also, I've been hunting down Trevor Von Eeden back issues since his Comics Journal interview came out. I particularly like the layouts in his World's Finest issues. Where'd the idea to redraw  comic strip logos as metal logos come from? I do a lot of gig posters and realized most of my posters have superwimpy lettering. I do these big, colorful illustrations, and I get afraid to make the text ornate since it might make the whole thing too busy to read. So I was basically just looking for some text to practice my writing on, and using comic strip titles seemed funny at the time. Were you a graphic design major or something? Tell me about your evolution from person to person who liked art and comics to a person who makes comics and art. I've always been drawing cartoons. I got picked on a lot growing up, so all my early comics were just these dinky revenge cartoons. It wasn't until high school that I realized I could possibly turn drawing into a vocation. I didn't have a fake ID and didn't have any money, so I started doing gig posters as a way to get on guestlists for concerts. After a while, I started to actually charge money. I liked that "Dogs in College" comic where they talk about being exclusively attracted to terriers and why that is or isn't okay in that know-it-all college manner. Thanks man! For some reason I think that tone of voice is one of the funniest things, that condescending tone all kids adopt after one semester of college. We'd feel like we were finally in the "real world" because we'd tried shrooms once and took an Intro to Semiotics course and used it as an excuse to talk like little snots all the time. You see it a lot in theater majors. The smug smirk never goes away. I imagine that when theater majors go to their mother's funeral they are smirking through their tears and looking around at everyone else like they're the only person who "gets it." I think most students learn what's what after a while, but it's always that first time visiting your family again on Christmas break. You get this "In the past three months, I have experienced everything there is to possibly experience!" attitude that you want to show off. What are your favorite things to draw? Monsters, little kids, caves, Cosmo Fishhawk What's Cosmo Fishhawk? He's the main dude in the comic strip Shoe! He's really fun to draw. I never knew that was his name. What's Shoe about again and why do you like it? It's this strip about a bunch of ultra depressed birds who work at a newspaper and spend most of their time at a bar. For some reason I still enjoy reading it, even though the original creator died in 2000 and the jokes are never actually funny. That almost seems beside the point with a legacy strip like that. The daily strip just becomes a placeholder for the properties, and the jokes stop mattering. The character designs are all really funny, though. It's nice to look at. You seem to like drawing drips. What's up with THAT? Yeah, I even find myself drawing them on rocks now. I like the idea of everything "sweating." My linework is generally pretty clean, sometimes to the point of looking sterile, so I rely on textures like that to add that uneasy buzzing feeling to everything. NICK GAZIN

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