Jason Lutes: For the past year or so I've been in love with the work of Christophe Blain, a French cartoonist who has a couple of books -- Isaac the Pirate, and the must-read Western Gus and His Gang -- currently in translation. His stories are playful but grounded, built on real history and extensive research, but full of life and whimsy. My other favorite cartoonists are my students at the Center for Cartoon Studies, who amaze and inspire me on a regular basis.
I have drawn scripts written by other people, small things for DC Comics and some lesser-known indie stuff. For the most part they were unsatisfying experiences because I the writers and I had different approaches to the medium. However, The Fall, a crime story written by my old friend Ed Brubaker, drawn by me, and published by Drawn & Quarterly, was a satisfying collaboration in every respect. Sadly, it's currently out of print.
741: Berlin, like many comics, is a serial work that is also being collected into trade paperbacks along the way. Do you think there's any benefit to reading the work in one format or another: isssue-by-issue or in collections?
741: Berlin is coming to a close in the not-too-distant future. Do you have any projects in the queue?
741: During your talk at our Comics Fest last year, you mentioned that Herge's Tintin books have been a great inspiration. What other cartoonists and comics have influenced you?
JL: My biggest, earliest influences were Herge and Marvel Comics of the 1970s. Later, in my twenties, my ideas about comics were profoundly impacted by the work of Art Spiegelman, Chester Brown, David Mazzuchelli and Ben Katchor. Art showed me how to bridge my childhood love of the medium with my adult concerns as an artist, and Chester showed me how to achieve subtlety and nuance with comics.
741: You've been teaching at the Center for Cartoon Studies (CCS) for some time now. What subjects do you teach there?JL: I teach Cartooning Studio (our signature "boot camp," Comics 101 class), a writing class, and the senor thesis seminar. My approach is to take what I have found useful about my own practice, and find a way to make it useful to my students. For each class session, I try to follow a three-part recipe: one part didactic, one part experiment, and one part entertainment. The classes I teach are publication-based, which is fun, because that means everyone gets copies of everyone else's assignments. By the end of the spring semester I literally have a stack of 100 different comics -- from 8-page minicomics to 32-page, full-color comic books -- all produced during the previous nine months.
741: Any rising stars from CCS that we should keep an eye on?
741: Do you have any suggestions for those of us who are just getting started making comics? Any advice you'd give, for example, for someone working toward admission to CCS?
Portrait source: http://www.imgd.wpi.edu/speakers/index_2010s.html