Interview with Jed Collins
You all like sports, right?! I mean, who doesn’t? That’s why we’re super stoked to bring you an interview from Jed Collins, who plays fullback for the Detroit Lions! Number 45, woooooo!!! How does he do it? Well, read on to discov—
Oh wait. My sources are telling me that there are in fact at least two dudes named Jed Collins, and I guess we interviewed the one who makes art, which sort of makes sense. A quick google of his name provides no useful information whatsoever, so Jed Co. (the artist, not the football guy) had to do all the hard work and fill in the blanks for us. I guess this is how things were done before the Internetz?
Read on to get the scoop on Jed’s experiment in not drinking, his drawing routine, and how having a kid makes him cry while watching commercials.
Interview by Natalye for Silver Sprocket
How did you get wrangled into having your comics in As You Were?
I noticed a post on Facebook or Tumblr from Mitch Clem that said he was looking for cartoonists for the anthology, I think. Or, maybe I just emailed him and asked him if I could be in it. Mitch’s comic, My Stupid Life, was one of the first comics I ever followed online, so that’s why I knew who he was. He said I could be in it; that’s how he wrangled me.
Aside from the fact that you share a name with some NFL dude, what else should the general public know about you?
Oh, man. I hate that guy. It’s a real bummer trying to google yourself, only to see some famous hunk that’s not you. About me? I recently had a kid with my girlfriend, Marseille. The kid’s name is Iggy. We’re into him. We live in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, where I make a living as an illustrator/graphic designer, and by buying and selling computers on Craigslist. Though we may not be here much longer, since our building is being sold. We’ve been lucky enough to have cheap rent for a while, but now that that’s about to be over, we may leave the city. We’re thinking about Cleveland, since we’re both from Ohio. We’re also considering getting an old RV and moving into it, but I think maybe that’s a really stupid idea.
What’s the backstory to Champ? When and why did you start the comic? Where do you get material for it?
Champ started Jan. 1, 2010. It was initially called Champ 2010, and the premise was a daily comic for the whole year, documenting my not drinking. I was drinking a lot before then, and was miserable in general. I started drinking again on Jan. 1, 2011, though not so destructively (though still annoyingly). Now, Champ is just the title for my autobiographical comics. I came up with the name because there [are] tons of comics out there with self-deprecating titles, and I was trying to think of my own self-deprecating title. Then, I decided to go the other direction. I think first it was going to be called Chump 2010.
In addition to your Champ comics, you seem to collaborate quite a bit, whether it’s designing album covers or illustrating things. What other sorts of things do you do art-wise? What mediums do you enjoy working with the most? Are there additional things you’d like to do but just haven’t got around to yet?
I illustrated a book that my pal Caroline Knetch wrote, called The Rock ‘N’ Roll Exterminator. It’s about being broke and getting rid of rats and cockroaches and stuff like that. You should buy a copy. I’ve also done various other illustrations for companies and bands and people. I recently worked for a company, Red Marble Media, on a TV show for the H2 Channel. I did these simple whiteboard illustrations for them, where they recorded my hand drawing things. The show is called “How 2 Win,” and I think it airs this fall. I’d be happy to do more stuff like that.
I mostly work with a fountain pen or a brush and ink. Sometimes I color things with watercolors. I usually clean stuff up in Photoshop. Sometimes I get drunk and make stupid paintings on canvas, usually with acrylic, and usually of fat people, or drunk people, or fat drunk people. I also work with my pal, Chris Monday. He recently put out an anthology, My Stupid Raygun. The title comes from me making fun of one of his drawings one night, I think. I have a comic in that. We also used to do an advice comic called Bad Advice for Bad People. I ended up moving to New York, and the advice comic sorta dwindled away, though it was funny, and really fun to work on. That was during the year I was sober, and he’d come over and we’d stay up really late writing the advice. It was fun, and sorta like being a kid, when you get really excited about hatching some kind of scheme with your pal, and all your ideas seem hilarious, because they are. I hope we pick it up again someday. You should read some of his comics.
As for things I’d like to do, I want to make a comic book. I’ve made minis in the past, and I printed a collection of the Champ 2010 strips. But I want to make a comic book. You know, not a collection of strips or a bunch of little stories, but one big story. A comic book!
You also mentioned that you’re in the middle of launching a new comic project. Can we get the inside scoop on that?
Like I said, I make money buying and selling computers on Craigslist. I’ve been doing that for a few years. With that and the illustration and design gigs I get, I haven’t had to have a real job for over two years (and the last real job I had was delivering weed on my bicycle in Manhattan, so maybe I haven’t had a real job for more like three years). Anyway, I run into some weirdos doing that, and I’ve started to make some comics about it. You can see the first official one here.
In 2010, you didn’t drink all year and instead focused your energy on making comics. Could you share more about that experience, e.g. its inspiration, if you really abstained from drinking the whole time, what you learned from it?
I really did abstain the whole year, except for some generic Nyquil with alcohol in it when I was sick (which I document). I think I may have taken a shot of that once or twice when I wasn’t sick too; I can’t remember. I was drinking way too much before I started Champ 2010, and I needed to stop. I was a fan of journal comics—James Kochalka's American Elf in particular—and I had been thinking of trying to make my own for a while, with a few false starts. When I knew I needed to dry out, I thought it would be a good idea to make a comic about it. I also thought putting it all online for people to see would motivate me to follow the rules (#1 draw a comic every day, #2 don’t drink) and possibly garner some attention, which I’m a fan of.
The experience, summed up, was good. It was a change in that most of the problems I had during that time were just normal money issues, or hating one of my three jobs. I no longer had problems like, “I need to avoid Jim because last night I got drunk and told him I hate him, and even though that’s true, I don’t want to deal with him knowing that.” Or, “I shit my pants last night.”
I also met my girlfriend that year. We would not have started dating if we had met while I was drinking all the time. I moved to New York, following her, which was a really nice change from my life in Athens, Ohio. At some point, it dawned on me that I could have a good time without alcohol. Even though I started drinking again once the year was up (these days I only drink on the weekends, as a strict rule, which I’m guessing is the last grasp at normalcy for a lot of drunks), I still have a lot of fun sober. I really enjoy doing things sober, which wasn’t the case before 2010.
Your contribution to As You Were is about a big change in the form of bringing a child into the world. In what ways has having a kid changed your life, your relationships, your thoughts, your art, etc.?
I think I’m still in shock that he’s here, and it’s been a year. A year of shock. I got sappier immediately upon his arrival. TV commercials affect me differently (by getting me to have strong, emotional responses) if they’re relating to kids, or having kids, or protecting or doing a good job by your kids. It’s also a lot easier to be less selfish because of how guilty I feel when I’m being selfish. I feel obligated to make better comics and drawings and work toward sustaining us financially while doing something I like. I’d like him to see it’s possible to enjoy the way you make a living. I’m trying to learn things about drawing that I should have learned around the time I dropped out of art school.
Do you stick to some kind of art-making schedule, or do you simply create when inspiration hits? Do you have a designated spot or studio where it comes together, and if so, what’s that like?
I like to draw in our tiny kitchen, even though there are four other rooms available. It’s an inconvenience for the rest of the family, but I really like drawing in the kitchen by the window, which looks out to the back of all the buildings on our block, and there are some trees out there, and it’s usually quiet. I used to draw in another room at the other end of the apartment, but the window in that room looks out to a red brick wall, covered in pigeon shit, bearing the weight of the BQE.
I like to draw in the morning, which can be difficult with a small child, but I get to draw some most mornings. I usually have a few comic strips written, or mostly written, so I’m not waiting for inspiration to hit; I’m just waiting for the ability to sit down and draw to hit. It can be hard. I’m easily distracted. I like to write or sketch with the TV on sometimes, because then I’m not fully committing myself to the task. It’s like a compromise, so I’m sorta tricking myself into getting work done by allowing myself to watch old episodes of The Simpsons that I’ve seen 40 times before.
If you could do anything for the rest of your life and have all your basic needs provided for, what would it be?
I’d like to be a scientist that is well-respected because of how brilliant and handsome he is.
If you just can’t get enough of Jed Co., check out his comix, or follow him on Tumblr, or both. Bonus pro tip: if you haven’t already, you can get yourself your very own copy of As You Were #3 from our store.