Hello All-Comic readers! Webcomic Spotlight once again returns from the deepest corners of the web to show you a new comic strip for your reading pleasure! Today we are joined by cartoonist Jeff Manley.
I first heard of Mr. Manley on twitter through conversations with Nick Pitarra (The Manhattan Projects) and Lance Schibi (Clean Hands, For The Title). Be forewarned those are some not safe for work conversations. After viewing Jeff’s disturbing but well drawn illustrations I found his catalog of work and dove in. The Team caught my attention and Jeff was kind enough to speak with us about his work.
The Team is an amazing journey set in space that, while reminiscent of Star Wars, does not take itself too seriously and allows for a lot of self deprecating humor and thoughtful introspection from the main cast.
Those accustomed to these Spotlights know there usually (always) is a back and forth between the artist and myself. With Mr. Manley’s responses there was little I could do to break it up into small quips. I will present his beautifully written response in full with the introductory strips to his webcomic The Team.
Manley on Manley:
My name is Jeffery J. Manley. I was born and raised in the small town of Scottville MI, best known for the Scottville Clown band (a marching band comprised of town dignitaries dressed as homeless people and women). I currently live in Elk Rapids, Mi, which is pretty much in the middle of nowhere to everyone that knows anything about Michigan. If I were to meet you in person I would point to the space between my pinky and ring finger and say, “ I live here”.
Manley on Reading Comics:
My first exposure to comics was the newspaper, my dad was an avid newspaper subscriber (at times there were three different papers in the house). I ate up Peanuts and Garfield… all those classic early 80s strips. I was in love ever since (even though most are awful). By the time I discovered Calvin and Hobbes I knew that I wanted to grow up and be a newspaper cartoonist. I would spend hours if not days, drawing Broom Hilda and Hagar the Horrible. I even read the soap opera strips. In college I discovered books about the history of comics, I was floored to discover Little Nemo and Pogo. I am still more of a comic strip fan than a comic book fan.
Manley on Making Comics:
My first comic was when I was really little, I couldn’t even write yet. I had heard a joke about a man cooking his breakfast in his pajamas, and thought it was HILARIOUS (still do), I quickly drew it and showed it to my mom, who thought it was an amazing drawing of me making breakfast. She never really got my art. I’ve always drawn. In middle school I drew on every open paper space I could find.
In High School, I even briefly drew some comics for our short lived newspaper. One included a joke about Plumbers Crack. In college I drew a couple of serial comic strips, I was way to serious for gag a day stuff. One was an adventure strip and the other an anthropomorphic strip about the underground railroad. I took a break from following my comic strip dream (thanks to my ex-wife, who thought working on comics was stupid). Then after she went from wife to ex… I started trying to get back into comic strips. It was 1999 and I took a sketchbook and filled it with complete Calvin and Hobbes ripoff drawings.. eventually the drawings looked less like Bill Watterson (not that they looked that much like his work before) and more like my own style. And that has always been important to me, to have my own style. I jumped from failed fold and staple book to other failed fold and staple books… until I started a daily journal webcomic called Manley Days.
I worked on that for over a thousand strips… before moving on to other bigger better things. Including the HIT webcomic Punching the Clock (I say hit because it won second place in the peoples choice award in Comic Buyers Guide), which is still going strong every Tuesday. I’ve also worked on a couple failed webcomics, like Terrorbads (not written by me) and Treasure Hunter (written by me). I have also self-published an all ages Graphic Novel called Gone. Which chronicles the adventures of a rag tag group of ghost hunters. That book took the world by storm, if the world had a population under 100.
My current webcomic, that I write and draw, is called the team. The elevator pitch is, “If the fantastic four had been sent into the star wars universe.” I started the team simply to keep myself busy between other larger projects. I was listening to the podcast Star Wars Minute and learning way too much stuff about Star Wars, and thought of the basic concept for the current story arc of the team. I had originally started the team as a choose your own adventure graphic novel, but lost interest in doing it that way. So, I thought, lets try this idea, and to keep me motivated, I decided to give myself a deadline (by posting it online) and a smaller size (so I could work on it at my dayjob and not get yelled at) instead of my standard webcomic size, each week I post 4 strips as a page.
I want the reader to feel like they are catching up on a weeks worth of newspaper comics ever saturday. I don’t script out the strips before hand, so each strip from start to finish usually takes 30 minutes. That’s including the penciling (blue pencils) and inking (I love a good Zig Writer dual tip pen), scanning and photoshop usually adds another hour to the process (but that is for all four strips), I try to limit the amount of digital work I do on the strip… besides the space background early on.
If you want to start your own webcomic, I say just do it. Draw it because you love to draw. Write it because you want to write… just don’t go into it thinking you are going to be the next Kate Beaton or James Kochalka. The sad reality is, is there is no next big webcomic star, so just make up strips because you LOVE to do it.
Manley After Work:
I am the worst when it comes to reading comics, I mostly only buy old comic strip collections. The only new comics I buy are by my favorite authors. If Alex Robinson has a new book out, I am going to get it. Doug Tenaple? Yup, his too. I can’t get enough of Raina Taglemier. And pretty much anything First Second publishing puts out.
All time favs, Charles Shultz, Bill Watterson, and Sergio Aragones. With out these fine talented men, I would not be the same cartoonist that I am today. I am currently working on a super secret project that is written by a great writer (he won a Top Cow Comics writing contest) that is nearing the pitching stage.
The Team is posted every Saturday over at twoforonecomics.com, which is also where you will find two other comics (in the archives) called Terrorbads and Treasure Hunter. I also work on a weekly webcomic called Punching the Clock with writer Rob Humphry that is posted every Tuesday at punching-the-clock.com. This comics is basically clerks in Best Buy. Also search amazon for any one of my many books: don’t know if this link would actually take you anywhere (Editor’s Note:It does.). And you can follow me on twitter and tumblr. My tumblr is full of stuff I don’t post anywhere else.
Tada! The wonderful Mr. Manley has spoken. The Team continues on TwoforOneComics, the archives are stuffed to the gills with other comics and Manley is both available on Twitter and Tumblr. Join us next week as we bring you more comics from the web!