K. Thor Jensen Chats With SBC
Posted: Tuesday, May 23, 2000
By: Darren Schroeder
So, anyway, I was asking around, trying to find something new and worthwhile in the world of small press to read. she said to me I picked up K. Thor Jensen's Gag Reflex at SPX and really liked it. I took her advice and sure enough Thor does some nice work. I decided to ask a few questions....
Darren Schroeder: What is your full name?
K. Thor Jensen. The K stands for something secret.
DS: Favourite web site?
DS: Were comics a big part of your childhood or did you discover them at a later stage?
KTJ: Big big part, I was named after the Marvel Comics character. I still have the issue of The Mighty Thor that was on the stands when I was born, my Dad saved it for posterity. Comics are in my blood.
DS: Was/is art an important part of your education?
KTJ: I don't have any formal art training, a fact that is constantly upsetting to me. The visual aspect of my comics is the thing that I am most consistently disappointed with and working to correct or hide.
DS: What was the first comic you published yourself and how did that come about?
KTJ: I had gone to a signing at Fallout, Seattle's best comics shop. Jim Woodring, Pete Bagge, Julie Doucet, Mary Fleener. I got to thinking about mini comics that night. The first issue of Posthumous Warnings was drawn that very night, xeroxed the next day. I was 16.
DS: Where did the title come from?
KTJ: Honestly, I don't know. I think it's just two words that I liked that went together somewhat ironically. I liked the connotations of being warned about something after you were already dead. I was still reading a lot of Vertigo crap back then so there was an element of pretentiousness to it as well.
DS: Was there much interest in your early comics from the other kids at your high school?
KTJ: Not at the start but by the last few issues (#14 which had a color cover,#15 which was the last one) I had established a little fan coterie and wasselling about 100 copies to my classmates.
DS: Is there any common theme to your work?
KTJ:Mistakes. I like writing about good people who do bad things, whether by intent or accident. My autobiographical comics usually follow that theme as well, except I'm not good people.
DS: What is the worst mistake you have made?
KTJ: I'm not going to answer this question; there's too many.
DS: Do you think people have the freedom to choose to be good or bad people?
KTJ: Yes. Uh, yes. I'm no Calvinist.
DS: How did you distribute your comics?
KTJ: Badly. Some stores carried them but I blew off sending them to distributors or whatever (I was only in my teens and knew no better).
DS: What is the worst experience you have had with printers/photocopiers?
KTJ: Photocopying comics sucks, especially when you're doing the 64-page giants that I was in high school. I used to be too poor to actually pay for the copies so I'd make about 1000 copies, tuck them into my pack and dash like a maniac from the copy shop. Once a guy chased me nearly a mile through Seattle's industrial district.
DS: So comics are worth risking trouble with the law for?
KTJ: Yes yes yes yes! Or at least if you're a 17-year-old with little respect for personal property. I'm a bit slower now so I don't know if I'd try that anymore.
DS: What materials and equipment do you use when drawing your comics?
KTJ: I've progressed from sharpies on note paper to all sorts of crap. It really depends on the work; I'm still enjoying experimenting with lots of different tools.
DS: Who do you see as the target audience for your work?
KTJ: People who like to read and my immediate family.
DS: What comics have you read recently? Why did you like/dislike them?
KTJ: I'm reading a lot of Manga like most cliched American cartoonists were three years ago. Adolf by Osamu Tezuka was great, 1500 pages of perfect comics storytelling.
DS: If a film was made of your life, who should play you?
KTJ: A combination of claymation and puppets.
DS: Are the people who call comics art out of their minds or what?
KTJ: No, just deluded that anybody else will accept that. Comics aren't art, or literature, or music, or anything. They're COMICS. Let's make that mean something.
DS: From the work of yours that I've looked at I get the idea you have a very black sense of humour. Do you think this is a fair comment?
KTJ: Yeah, that's fair, although I'm also an impossibly misty-eyed romantic and stuff, too. I'm a mystery wrapped in a riddle wrapped in a fluffy buttermilk pancake.
DS: What is the state of the comic community in New York?
KTJ: It's different than Seattle, I am very hermit like so I don't schmooze much which seems to be a big thing here. I'd rather be at home trying to draw my comics than out drinking and talking about them.
DS: Did your interest in comics have any part to play in you getting your new job as Comics & Animation Editor for UGO?
KTJ: Oh, yeah. That was the deciding factor, my passion for the medium.
DS: Why is much of your work is created for display on the web?
KTJ: It's not, honestly. It just sort of ends up there. I did a weekly "A Short And Happy Life" strip for a year and a half in the Stranger, a free weeklypaper in Seattle, but since then, print work has been scarce.
DS: What work have you been doing recently?
KTJ: Lots of grandiose failures. Every time I talk about an "upcoming project" I fuck it up, so I'm going to keep mum at the moment. Short pieces in "Top Shelf: Under The Big Top" and several issues of Roctober magazine.
DS: How did you get involved with doing work for Top Shelf?
KTJ: I am friends with Tom Hart who was in the first issue; I sent a short story,"The Robot," that was printed in #5. Brett Warnock is one of the most supportive guys in comics, and I thank him for allowing me to soil his pristine pages with my doody.
DS: They seem to be a mover and shaker in the world of alternative comics at the moment, how have you found them to deal with?
KTJ: They're a great new publisher, I hope that they last a million years. They're really committed to putting out as much good work as possible
You can contact Thor at kthorSTOP-@-SPAMrocketmail.com
or via: PO Box 250593, New York, NY 10025, USA.
If you have any questions, post them to us ))HERE((
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