Jordan Crane

Jordan Crane and Dan Berry talk about letting a story develop organically, working through drafts and cars covered in guns and stuff.

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Dan Berry: This is Make It Then Tell Everybody. I’m Dan Berry. I sat down to talk to Jordan Crane about letting a story develop organically, working through drafts and cars covered in guns and stuff. This is Make It Then Tell Everybody. Hello Jordan Crane.

Jordan Crane: Hi, how are you doing?

DB: I’m good, I’m good. How are you?

JC: Good.

DB: Excellent. Let’s pretend that we haven’t been talking for ten minutes already.

JC: Oh no, I just showed up.

DB: Just showed up, just walked through the doors of the studio.

JC: Just walked through the door!

DB: So you’re a cartoonist.

JC: I’m a cartoonist. It’s true! I confess.

DB: (Laughs). So is being a cartoonist your only job?

JC: Well, right now it is my only job, aside from being a parent. That’s pretty heavy duty as well, but it is my only job. It’s all I do aside from everything else related to parenting, which over the last five years has actually included a massive renovation of the local school, so it’s been crazy stuff, but it’s all settling back, and I’m able to focus more on comics now, so that’s good.

DB: Nice. How did you get into drawing comics? I ask people a lot, ‘how did you get into drawing?’ and people say, ‘Oh, I always drew.’ Are you a person that always drew?

JC: Well, yeah. Yes! I’ve always been a person that drew. I think back on it, and I think that it might have been in first or second grade when the post office had this drawing contest for Christmas, and I won with Batman and Robin delivering packages. They came to my classroom and gave me a bunch of presents. I think that might have been the thing.

DB: The thing that stroked your ego enough to carry on doing it.

JC: I was like, ‘Whoa!’

DB: Presents!

JC: Yeah, I really liked drawing. I was not the best artist in the class by a long way. There was this kid that could draw dinosaurs and strongmen, in second grade! I mean, maybe I’m remembering it wrong, but it seemed like he was just rendering it flawlessly. It was amazing, it was shocking! It was like sitting next to Craig Thompson or something. You’re going, ‘Oh ho!’ But I got this post office drawing contest nonetheless, because he didn’t enter, clearly.

DB: You were sat there going, ‘No, you shouldn’t. No, it’s beneath you.’

JC: I don’t even think he knew. I think it was more one of those things, my mom grabbed something and just brought it home. It was like, ‘Here, draw something for the post office!’ I did, and I won, you know? It was amazing!

DB: Well, congratulations.

JC: Thank you! There was a picture of me in the newspaper and everything, and I think that might have been the initial battery charge. Then after that I just, kind of, well I was one of those kids that, you know, I drew a million of the battle scenes. Just papers on papers.

DB: Tanks and planes.

JC: Yeah, just blowing up!

DB: You have to make the noises while you draw something like that.

JC: Oh totally. Vrroooom! Kaboom! Rat-a-tat-tat! I got really into drawing good looking, cool vehicles. Actually recently I was – having watched Mad Max: Fury Road, and just being like, ‘Whoa, holy shit!’ After that I was like, ‘Okay, it’s time to go back and watch The Road Warrior. I literally have not seen The Road Warrior since I saw it in theatres, and I must have been… I don’t know, I’d have to look at when it was, but that was how long it had been. So I go back and I watch The Road Warrior and everything is there. It’s like watching this charting of the path of my life! It’s all there in seed form, everything! Why was punk rock so awesome? Apparently because of The Road Warrior. Why did I like working on cars? Apparently because of The Road Warrior. There’s just so much stuff that I realise that I was trying to do when I was drawing in sixth and seventh grade, that maybe then I had directly attributed it, or was thinking of that, but I’ve since totally forgotten.

DB: That’s weird!

JC: I had this whole giant stack of folders of concept cars that had all these guns and missiles. It was a secret agent folder, so each car was the name of… they had a code name of XY-12-A. At the time I thought that was really clever, but now I realise it’s just in the order of the alphabet, and it’s really not. XY-12-B, XY-12-C. I’m like, ‘Yeah, this is a great naming scheme!’

DB: (Laughs).

JC: But I worked on this portfolio, making new cars, and they were all very well armed cars with things that would come out and do this and that, and then I moved into helicopters, and I would draw it from the front and the side and the top. I wouldn’t do the orthographic view, because I couldn’t draw that well.

DB: (Laughs).

JC: You know, I’m looking back and going, ‘Holy shit, it was all in The Road Warrior,’ all of it.

DB: A prototype, a tiny acorn from which the mighty oak has sprung.

JC: It just completely grew up from that, and then the first comic I drew, the very first comic I drew when I was 15 and I finally realised, I was like, ‘It’s make it or break it time. I’ve just got to sit down, and all I have to do is draw the pictures, and it’s going to be a comic. I just have to draw each picture as best I can, just draw it really good!’

DB: ‘I’ve just got to make it flawless, every single time.’

JC: Yeah, ‘It just has to be amazing!’ Of course it was a post-apocalyptic comic based around… I had a hovercraft in it, and this converted ’56 Corvette, you know? It had all this high power, had a nine-inch rearend and big drag wheels on the back. It was a post-apocalyptic car.

DB: Nice!

JC: This whole thing… another thing when I was a kid, I had this whole bag full of weapons.

DB: Are you sure you want this in the public domain?

JC: (Laughs). I mean, I had been collecting and making all these weapons that were… you know, I had a grappling hook and a boomerang, and then knives and butterfly knives of course. All this other useful stuff that I could MacGyver things together with for apocalyptic times. I’m sure I even had one of those tiny six-inch wrenches that he had hanging from his jacket. I’m like, ‘Oh my god, everything I was interested in, was in that movie.’ I’m watching the movie being like, ‘You fucking idiot! Really? This is the thing?’

DB: This is the keystone!

JC: Like, oh man! No, but I mean it’s a great movie. It’s an amazing movie. So I think that had a big effect, and I remember hanging out with the kids who were really into Star Wars, and would bring all the Star Wars books with the drawings in them, the making of the movie and all that sort of thing. I mean, there was a long time in junior high when I was just drawing engineering drawings, prototypes of cars, basically all that. Cars and weapons. I was a teenage boy goddammit!

DB: Sure, we’ve all been there.

JC: Then, yeah, it was about 16 that I realised, ‘I’m going to make a comic, it’s going to happen,’ because I had been collecting comics the whole time. I moved from Batman. In junior high I discovered Batman, rediscovered Batman. I saw Batman and I had this thing where I was going, ‘That’s something that there’s this whole history behind, and I don’t know any of it!’ I remember also when I was in junior high and I found Time Bandits.

DB: Oh sure.

JC: I was like, ‘Ah, this is this thing!’ because there wasn’t the internet. I just remember when I was five seeing this fucking insane movie. It was just insane, and I thought it was amazing. I would always, kind of, flash back on it. There’s this picture in my head of this giant with a boat on his head, and his face full of mirrors. I don’t know, I may have dreamed it? I was at that time convinced that I knew… like, one night I saw this green hand coming up from the bottom of my bed, just reaching for me. I totally saw it, it was there! So I couldn’t really tell the difference between what I was thinking and something that actually happened, like a movie. So rediscovering in junior high, finding Batman, and going, ‘Ah, this is this thing that is… oh my god! This exists!’ It was really exciting, so I then started collecting comics, and buying them from the drugstore, because that’s where you got your comics, there wasn’t a comic shop nearby. So I was collecting comics, and that was one of the first serious things I did. I realised that, ‘Oh, I can combine some of my loves, and I can draw Batman, but make him a rotting corpse, and that will be the most kick ass thing ever man!’ So that was in eight grade math class, and then I could give them to the girl I liked, so there was that.

DB: ‘Here’s dead Batman. Hey babe.’

JC: (Laughs).

DB: A lot of people have this lull when they get into their late teens, where comics stop being cool and they move away from them, and then they come back to them a little bit later. Did you have the same lull, or was it consistent straight through?

JC: No, I remember actually having the conversation with my grandfather, and I must have been… I’m trying to remember the way I was dressed. Man, people dressed like fucking idiots.

DB: Do you mean teenagers? Teenagers at every time ever.

JC: No, teenagers now, it’s super cool!

DB: Yeah, I’m jealous.

JC: I don’t know, I look at those pictures, I have these Generra shirts. You know, these little tiny paisleys, and these big… you know, the parachute pants?

DB: Yeah, yeah.

JC: Parachute pants! Anyway… I’m going to say it was tenth or eleventh grade that I told my grandfather. I was like, ‘You know, I’m done with these comics. It’s kids stuff, and I’m kind of grown up now. I’m going to get my driver’s license pretty soon.’ Yeah, I was just about to get my driver’s license, and then two weeks later I was buying comics again. I was pretty much consistent from then on out. (Laughs).

DB: Just your grandfather shaking his head. ‘He promised me.’

JC: Yeah, ‘Ah, that kid with his comics,’ but the thing is, after that lull, I think it was more that I was just getting bored with the comics that I was reading, because after that lull I must have been thinking about it, and going, ‘There’s got to be more to comics than just Batman.’ I didn’t really like G.I. Joe, so that’s when I first went to a comic book shop, and was like, ‘Oh shit! There’s a tonne of Batman!’

DB: All different kinds of Batman!

JC: Yeah, and there was also all these other comics, and I remember one of the very… I have a very specific visual memory of looking up on a high shelf and seeing a copy of Love and Rockets, and going like, ‘Oh, those are the dirty comics!’

DB: They’re up out of children’s reach.

JC: Yeah, ‘Those are the adults only comics. That one looks fucking…’ thinking, ‘Whoa, I can’t wait to get my hands on that one!’ I thought that was amazing. So I couldn’t get those comics yet, but that’s when it expanded that, yeah, there’s a whole bunch of comics. At that point I started buying the weirder comics. I started off slowly with Cadillacs and Dinosaurs and a lot of the Eclipse stuff. So then I started liking the funny books. You know, there was Ralph Snart, and then I also finally cracked open Sandman and started reading that, and was like, ‘Oh, this is pretty good.’ So after that two weeks, I went back and found a whole bunch of other comics, and that was amazing. So then I was totally locked in, and at that point I was going to make my own comic. I got three pages into this. Really, for my age, I’ve got to say, the drawing was really good, but man, each panel took forever. Forever! And it has ever since.

DB: And that’s the end! There we go. Thank you for listening everybody.

JC: (Laughs). I’ve gotten a little faster, but Jesus Christ. No, I really laboured over those first panels.

DB: Can I ask you a question? This first one you did, was this a neat, self-contained, nice starter project, or was it the huge space opera, the big, big, 900 page epic?

JC: Space opera, for sure. I had all these ideas for it, and, you know, like I said, three pages.

DB: (Laughs). That seems to be a rite of passage for a lot of people, get in those three pages and then quitting.

JC: Then after that, I still drew and everything, but when I went to college I then realised, like, the second day I was there, I looked at the school newspaper and saw that they had a comic section and went, ‘Ooh! Okay!’

DB: ‘I’ll do that!’

JC: I remember, stand up comedy was really popular on TV, so I used to watch it a lot. I guess it still is, but it was really starting to… it was that whole, in the ‘90s there was that, kind of, burgeoning stand up. There were all these stand up shows, so I took one of the jokes from there, and made it into a comic. I submitted it, and they published it, and ‘Oh gosh!’ Then I got to make comics for the school newspaper, and that was totally amazing. The deadline and the comics were awful, and I of course was super far-reaching, instead of just trying to tell a joke, it had to have… because I was, of course, as a young freshman in college, was really into existentialism.

DB: (Laughs).

JC: Nihilism and all the other good ‘isms’. So it was a pretty complicated four panel comic.

DB: You’re shaking your head.

JC: But, I have to say, being into existentialism at the time, it was great because that was just about the time that Schulz started going into the late stage overdrive, where his comics were fucking, just brilliant. Like, maybe best era of Peanuts ever, and I’m over here just being like, ‘I’m going to do this.’ It was hard. Anyway, I loved it, and I did it, and I did lots of it, and then was the editor of the school comics section for four years, and I studied animation and all that shit, all while doing engineering. I was at school for engineering.

DB: You were there to build gun cars?

JC: I was actually there to do environmental engineering, which turns out to be waste management. I was thinking ‘air quality’ and ‘save the planet’ and ‘do all the good things’, and recycling is a component, but it’s mainly just…

DB: Pipes.

JC: Sewage treatment, and the mafia, because the mafia’s apparently super highly involved in waste treatment, because there’s a lot of money I guess.

DB: I guess so.

JC: But I got terrible grades, so it doesn’t matter.

DB: So it worked out okay for you.

JC: But I did lots of comics and lots of animation, and took a lot of film classes and writing classes and, you know, failed miserably as an engineer.

DB: Oh man! So how has your process changed from then to now? What’s the process of putting ink onto paper to make things happen? Has it changed significantly since then?

JC: Yes, it has changed. Right now it’s a lot more like writing a story. Before then, back in school and after, for a long time when I was starting out, I would just try to wrestle the idea to the ground as best I could, and it was really frustrating and awful. I still do that a lot, but it’s tempered, or it’s changed in the respect that I realise a story is this living thing. It’s actually something you have to go through and experience, and it happens in the writing, and in the drawing, rather than in the planning. So I do a lot less explicit planning. I realised that the planning actually has to be in the execution, so you actually have to just sit down and write, or thumbnail. Thumbnailing’s acceptable, but you have to sit down and…

DB: Capture the story first.

JC: Yeah, make it, rather than going, ‘Okay, I think I’m going to do this, and this, and this,’ and you know, sometimes capturing it is actually just writing down the scenes, bit by bit by bit as it unfolds, but it’s not the sort of thing that you can say, ‘I want my story to have this, this, this, this and this in it,’ and then mash it all together and have that be exactly what you envisioned. It’s taken a long time, but realising that you can’t actually just… or I can’t I should say, actually just say, ‘This is the story I want to write. Now I’m going to write it.’

DB: Yeah, that’s never happened to me.

JC: It becomes dead when you do that. It’s more like a conversation, in the respect that there’s a response. You’re responding to what is going down, and you’re being changed by what’s going down on the paper. It’s that process of you going through change that really is the interesting story.

DB: It’s a bit like getting to know a new person, and your first impression is, ‘Ah, this person’s like this, and I understand. I understand this person completely.’ Then you experience stuff together, and you realise, ‘Oh, this person acts in a different way to the way I thought they would under this circumstance,’ and you have to readjust this model of what this person is as you go along. I think that this has been my experience of working with stories, is you have this first impulse, like, ‘Ah, this is the fun story!’ or, ‘This is the, whatever, story.’ My experience has been that as soon as you think, ‘Right, I know what this is,’ it changes.

JC: Right.

DB: Which is frustrating, but great as well.

JC: And that’s the thing. I guess I’m trying to not be frustrated by it, and just let it, kind of, happen more, because that’s when it really gets to be fun, when a story has actually taken off and being this thing that you’re… things are happening in. You’re making things happen, and then responding to those things happening. It’s like moving little things around, little toys around. I guess what I’m saying, I’ve come to respect the organic nature of creativity a lot more, but it’s not like it’s any easier necessarily, but I recognise that when it is organic, that’s when it’s at its best. You have to put in the work to make it… I’ve found that I have to sit down and focus on making that story, rather than writing down all the cool shit I want to put in it. That’s the difference between planning and doing, so you sit down and you do the story. The thing I like about that, is that I get that thrill of, ‘Ooooh!’ Kind of, a little bit of a roller coaster thing. Things are happening, and I’m not quite in control, and that’s really fun. That’s a really good feeling to have, rather than being the, ‘I’m just a scribe. I’m just taking the notes down and recording the events,’ which is… ehn. It’s not as fun.

DB: Yeah, in filmmaking that would be just following someone around with a camera.

JC: Right, and it is that kind of thrill. While it’s nice to have that thrill as the writer, and it’s really exciting, I think it’s the same thing though… you know how when you’re putting down a line, a lot of how you’re feeling comes across in that line, just in terms of… if you’re not in that drawing headspace, it just looks kind of meh. But when you’re in that, when you have that ‘erk’, when your brain clunks down into that right headspace, it has that bounce to it. It has that feel to it that comes across, and it’s great. It looks so good, you know? It’s very satisfying to look at. After Jack Davis really started going, probably about ten years in, his stuff has that crazy bounce to it. It’s there, you know?

DB: Yeah, it’s got some life.

JC: Yes, so I really think that that same thing, it comes across in writing as well, which took me a while to realise. I thought of writing as this ‘making of a house’, you just put it together. It’s a story, you construct it. It has certain needs. The doorway needs to be seven feet tall so people can fit through it, etc., so you just construct it, like design. I mean, after college I did a whole lot of design work, and I was a designer for a long time, so I approached stories from that, ‘I’m going to design it well,’ and I think that was probably very frustrating, because it took a lot more effort to put the life into them, than if I had just let the stories unfold a little more naturally. And slower, I think it was a lot slower too, because I think I was probably searching for that life, but in a very roundabout way, rather than just…

DB: Letting it find you.

JC: Letting a story unfold, yeah.

DB: So what’s your process now? Wait, wait, first of all, before we get the process, Jordan, where do you get your ideas from?

JC: (Laughs). You’re kidding, right? (Laughs). No, seriously, that’s the classic question! You said you weren’t going to ask any clever questions. Seriously?

DB: Yeah! Where do you get your ideas from?

JC: Oh my god.

DB: I understand this is the worst question. I know that this is the hackiest, nastiest question you could ask an artist, but I think it’s also the best. It’s the easiest way to get into the stuff, the creative stuff. I’ve tried to find better ways of phrasing it, this is the most efficient way of asking this question. Where do you get your ideas from, Jordan?

JC: (Laughs). Okay. Okay.

DB: That was the correct reaction that you had, by the way. You should treat that question with scorn.

JC: It’s a combination probably of ideas and experiences that I’ve had that I would like to somehow convey the same sort of feeling. Well, maybe there’s some sort of feelings that I want to… gah.

DB: Oh, do you start with something that you want to try and find, and then you go looking for it, or do you wait for divine inspiration to, sort of, lightening strike onto your head?

JC: It usually starts with images where I’ll have some sort of image in my head, and that image is usually something I find compelling. A story I’m working on finishing up, I’m doing the second draft of right now is about this guy in a vast desert of black sand. I really liked that idea. If I thought really hard about it, I could definitely start putting it together in terms of what that’s supposed to mean, and all that sort of thing, and great, and that’s cool, but mainly the image was really striking to me. I thought, ‘Okay, let’s start with that. This guy is in a small house in a giant expanse of black sand, and let’s see where that goes,’ and I did. At first it was a more… I had a very first version of the story that was clearly about me trying to figure out what the story was. (Laughs). You know. I thought, ‘Okay, well maybe we’ll try for something a little more than a story about me trying to figure out what this story’s about, because meh.’

DB: (Laughs).

JC: I had another shot at is, and it unfolded differently, was a lot more fun, and at that point I tend… not fun, but to make it was a lot more interesting and engaging for me. So I followed that one through.

DB: So the process of this looks like drawing on paper?

JC: Well, I’m trying to say it, because there are a couple things. I usually will start with the beginning, and that is usually a drawing. Yeah, it’s a thumbnail on paper, and I’ll start pushing into the story, but before too long I’m generally just starting to thumbnail on the actual comic paper. It’s a combination of, I’ll have regular printer paper that I’ll be writing notes on, and oftentimes I’ll do a basic page, like a really simple page, literally the size of my thumb, just to help me remember how I’m thinking the story will unfold. I can’t really see the story very clearly until I actual draw it, so I’m trying to keep the fairly tight drawing at the forefront of the story. Fairly tight, not necessarily finished, but tight enough that I know what’s going on, and I can see how everything works together, and I can feel how it goes from panel to panel. So I’ll push forward in the story that way, and I’ll just do that every day until I get through to the end of the story. In the case of the story I’m working on right now, the first draft of that story, which is to say the first finished version of that story, was when I got to 16 pages, because I was going to finish it and bring it to the Los Angeles comics… LACA, Los Angeles Comic Arts? I don’t know.

DB: That sounds right.

JC: Yeah, it does. I don’t know if it is though. So I was going to bring it there, so I had my deadline which, oh god, it’s so helpful. It’s awful, it’s stressful as hell, and I tend to really pull super late nights when I’m trying to hit a deadline, but it gets it done. You know, I’m working on becoming more of a steady worker, but there’s too much going on. There are a lot of different responsibilities that I’ve got to take care of, and blocks of time tend to be more useful than 30 minutes here, 30 minutes there to me.

DB: Yeah, I agree, same.

JC: Especially with writing, but I have that deadline there. So I finished the first draft of it, which was 16 pages. I knew exactly how many pages it needed to be, and that helped me to realise when it’s time to wrap it up, and then I’m done. That’s the first draft though. It’s very easy to be like, ‘I’m done with this,’ make a little mini comic out of it, put a cover on it and sell it. It’s good, it’s a finished story. It has to be finished, right? But I’ll also think it can change. This is version one, this the kind of version that it’ll be, and it might change.

DB: The prototype.

JC: Yeah, and it’s also the deadline, to get the bulk of it done. Now I’m going back and I’m tightening it up. I’m adding this, putting that in. It turns out the story works better with some words, I’m putting words in here and there, doing the writing and putting some new panels in, changing some beats, and just making it a better, stronger comic. I feel like that is a big improvement in my process, where I’ll let there be a second draft, which has been great. People do it with writing and I thought, ‘Geeze, you know, it would be nice to do that with comics,’ because I’ll look back at some of my comics and just go, ‘Yeah, you could have done that a little bit better.’

DB: Close enough!

JC: Yeah, I mean, trying not to make it too laboured, so I’ll finish it, and then wait a couple of months if possible, and then do the second pass, the second draft.

DB: Ah, so you’ve got a fresh brain to look at it.

JC: Yeah, so I’m reading it as like, it’s not my story anymore.

DB: That distance is really important, isn’t it?

JC: Yeah, exactly. So I can read it and go, ‘I wish it had more of this. I wish it had more of that,’ and I can read it as a story rather than ‘something that I have wrought with my own hands’.

DB: (Laughs). Yeah, I know that feeling.

JC: Which is how it feels at first, and then ‘something that I have wrought’ sucks!

DB: Oh god! Yeah, I’ve been there.

JC: Or ‘something that I have wrought’ is so magnificent that, holy shit, it’s unimpeachable, which it’s not that either.

DB: No, no.

JC: So that is more or less the process. Push it through on the page as much as possible.

DB: Then perform some quality control.

JC: Yeah. So there’s the rough, then there’s the tight pencils, which are fairly close together, and then it changes a little more through inking, just a little. Then you finish the first draft, and then second draft, or just revisions, corrections, and then finished.

DB: Then it’s done. It’s drawn and it’s finished. So what do you use for the final line work then?

JC: Well, I’ve stared using a tablet.

DB: Oh, okay.

JC: Although I will say that I’ve actually started going back again to drawing, because it turns out drawing is so much nicer than drawing on a tablet. I’ve been using my tablet for comics and drawings, and just acclimating myself and becoming more comfortable with it. I really like it for many, many, many reasons. Mainly it’s because I like to use huge areas of black, and good god, it’s so nice to just click on something and have it fill with black.

DB: Zoop, zoop, zoop, and it’s done.

JC: Oh yeah, and then I can cut white back out of it without waiting for it to dry, and without having a shitty white paint, which I could never find a good paint that was reliable and I could actual draw with like I could draw with black. When I could find it, it would take a whole lot of alchemy to get it the exact right consistency and all that. There are drawbacks to drawing on a tablet, especially at this point. I’m sure in five years it’s going to be so much better, but the parallax and, I mean, monitor resolution is terrible compared to the resolution of paper.

DB: Sure.

JC: You have to zoom in to get the details and draw, so you’re not drawing the same style, because you’re making bigger lines, so it has more trouble capturing those really fine motor… I mean, on paper I use a 00 brush, so that’s what I’m used to drawing, and that’s the size I’m used to drawing at. It’s a lot different drawing on a tablet in the sense that you have to draw a little bit bigger just so it doesn’t look… it just doesn’t capture the super fine motor… the detail in your fingers as well. It will, but anyway, whatever. I’m not going to pretend that I’m Michelangelo over here or anything. I’m just doing the best I can.

DB: (Laughs). ‘I’m just a guy.’

JC: Yeah. It’s not exactly going to… really I haven’t noticed a whole lot of difference, and one of the things that I really like about it, is you can do complete circles instead of having to stop halfway around the circle and draw it around the other way, which actually is not good for circles, because it turns out it’s better to stop halfway and do that for circles, but it’s really great for ‘bloop-de-bloop’ lines. You know, like bushes and stuff, where you can go woop, woop, woop, woop. Oh, I love doing that, and you can only do that with a Micron, and I never used Microns. I would always use pens or brushes, and that’s impossible with either one of those things. So I can do a lot more ‘bloop-de-bloop’ lines, which is just lovely.

DB: ‘Bloop-de-bloop’ sounds great. I’m going to steal that and describe things that I do as being ‘bloop-de-bloop’. So can you explain what What Things Do is? People may not have heard of it, maybe they have, but it’s a very lush, well designed webcomic.

JC: Well, yeah. So years ago I put out an anthology called NON, and I really liked it. I think it’s… probably I had a similar experience to that as you’re having from your podcast, where you get to meet and talk to, and express your appreciation for these artists who you admire. So I got to do that with NON, and it was amazing. It was a reason for me to interact with these people who, you know, to my way of thinking I’d just be like, ‘Uh, I really like your work. I wish there was something I could do about it, but, uh, I’m just this guy that likes your work. So what?’ Then I got to be this guy that was like, ‘I really like your work. I’m going to publish it!’ and that was cool.

DB: That sounds awesome.

JC: I did that, and it was fun, but it got to a point where I was a publisher, and I wanted to be a cartoonist. I was spending a whole lot of time filling orders, and especially the last issue of that, I was spending a tonne of time assembling it. Anyway, got out of that, but there was that thing where you get to talk and work with artists that I liked so much, and I couldn’t stay away for a super long time, and that’s basically what What Things Do is. It’s just, kind of, another excuse to work with artists and talk to them, and put their work up. So I put a lot of comics up there. There are a lot of comics. It’s nowhere near where I’d like it to be. I have a list as long as my arm of people who I really… it was essentially like, I wasn’t trying to do anything other than make a good comics website, and then fill it with… like, a comics website where comics were nice to read, were just enjoyable to read. Where you get your laptop and just like, ‘I’m going to sit down and take a few hours here,’ where you just could dig in. Then, essentially after that I thought, ‘Well, I’m going to put everything I like up here. If there is something I think is great, here it goes, and then I’ll just…’ Once that happens, it’s so much work, because it turns out I love so many comics that… so that, it ended up being…

DB: I feel your pain!

JC: Yeah, and the thing is, I feel bad too, because all the stuff I don’t have up there, you know, I’m like, ‘No, but I love it, it’s so good, but holy shit this is killing me!’ To put them up there it would be… you know, I would get the comics, and then I would have to format them. Every single one, it’s like your radio show. Every single one has to, da-da-da-da, and compounded with also, as you know, the joys of parenthood, it’s so much. So right now what it is, is a website that’s chock full of a lot of comics that is about a year and a half since I’ve updated them, except for Steve Weissman, who continually updates his, which is awesome. I’ve let it sit for a while. I’ve just been using it as a web store for right now. But it’s just all these really great comics that I filled it up with, my own included. It’s just everything I like, like a big comics anthology.

DB: I like it. I like it a lot.

JC: Thank you very much.

DB: You’re welcome. So if people want to buy your books, or follow you on Twitter, or go to the website, do you have web addresses and things you want people to do right now?

JC: Well, my website’s whatthingsdo.com, and I believe I’m @Jordan_Crane on Twitter, although I don’t have much to say!

DB: It sounds great!

JC: I won’t clutter up your timeline, I swear!

DB: (Laughs). Excellent. So you can buy books on What Things Do?

JC: Yeah, you can buy books on What Things Do, and that’s where I generally put my minis and screen-prints that I do upon occasion, and I’ll have the next issue of Uptight, which I’m finishing up right now, and is coming out later this year, which will be like 104 or 112 pages.

DB: Wow.

JC: It’ll be a nice big… hopefully, I’m really… honestly, I’m trying to make it look like an Ikea catalogue as much as possible. I just want it to be this big, thick… you know, on that thin paper. Anyway, I’m excited.

DB: So what do you recommend right now? What should people go and buy right now?

JC: Right now? Well, I have a risograph mini comic. Two colour risograph with a screen-printed cover of this first draft… sorry to say. I mean, it’s going to change a little bit, not very much, but of the story The Dark Nothing that is going to be in the next issue of Uptight. Hey, that one!

DB: This one? This is what it sounds like, (pages turning). Mmm, smells good.

JC: It sounds exactly like that, except for the satisfied noise at the end. That’s something that…

DB: The reader brings to the table.

JC: The reader will just bring satisfaction, and then it will be perfect. The cycle will be complete. I have a few more of those, and other than that, there’s not very much of mine up on the site. It’s all pretty much sold out, although I have prints. I have screen-prints, and that’s delightful, but that’s the brand new thing. That’s a month and a half old, and it’s the first time I’ve ever done anything in risograph, and it was just fun. It was great, and I love the risograph. It’s just amazing, so I’m looking forward to doing more of that.

DB: Nice. Well Jordan, thank you very much for speaking to me.

JC: Well, thank you for having me. It’s been great. Man, I talk a lot.

DB: (Laughs).

JC: I would have liked to hear more about you.

DB: Well, don’t you know, we’ll do this again sometime.

JC: Okay, alright. Cool!

 

Read Transcript by Renée Goulet

One thought on “Jordan Crane

  1. stevesubg says:

    I love Jordan’s work and this was a great interview… also very excited to hear mention of Steven Weissman – one of my favourite cartoonists and surely a potential episode in the future?

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