So basically, Jim Mahfood is the shit. His graphic novel work includes” .40 Oz. comics”,” Clerks“, the best issue of the Brian Michael Bendis-penned “Ultimate Marvel Team-up“, and “Grrl Scouts“. His art has been featured in the “I am 8-bit” art show, in the restaurant on “The Sarah Silverman Show“, and on Colt .45 billboards and cans across the country. Recently, Max had a chance to talk to Mahfood about his new book, live art, and of course, malt liquor.
You have a very distinct style. Who and what are some of the influences that helped you develop it?
I was really into Steve Ditko as a kid. I collected reprints of all of his Amazing Spider-Man stuff. That’s still the best era of Spidey in my opinion. Eastman and Laird had a big impact on me with their original B&W Ninja Turtle comics. That stuff was the shit before it became a huge hit cartoon and all that crazyness. Then I discovered Crumb, the Hernandez Bros., Evan Dorkin, Dan Clowes, the indy-style dudes. Discovering Jamie Hewlett‘s work in 92-93 had the most dramatic impact on me. His style and flavor just blew me away and I wanted to draw like him so bad. I basically went thru a phase where I was just biting his shit as hard as I could. These days I’m looking at lots of non-comics guys: Anthony Lister, David Choe, Dondi White, Retna, Basquiat, Ralph Steadman, Kent Williams, that sort of stuff.
If it’s fair to say, live art seems to be a passion of yours. What is it that you like so much about the medium?
It’s really loose and fun. It’s a nice contrast to comics and illustration work. With that stuff, there’s lots of careful pre-planning and figuring it all out before you go into the inking phase or the finishes or whatever. With live art you have a brush in one hand and a beer in the other and you just throw paint around and have fun and fuck around. There’s no rules, no set way of doing it, and each artist can come to the plate with his or her own thing that they do. I just make the shit up as I go along and hope that the finished product comes out badass. But basically, I just want to wreck shit, get dirty, catch a buzz, talk trash with my friends that are painting with me, and rock out to the loud music.
I had this cat named Fat Max and he was a pretty tough little dude. So Carl is sort of based on him. I met Jon Gibson from Nerdcore years ago and we have done art shows and stuff together. So when he told me that they were into publishing a comic of mine, I told him that I had this idea for a book called Carl, the Cat That Makes Peanut Butter Sandwiches. It was basically just a joke, but he seemed to think it was funny, and everyone I told about it seemed to think it was a funny idea, so I just thought, “fuck it”, and decided to make it into a real comic book. It took me two hours to write it and I drew the whole thing in about 3 weeks.
Your work has been featured in both independent and mainstream comics with books like Clerks and Spider-Man, on television in The Sarah Silverman Show, and on billboards and cans for Colt .45. What is is it about your work that you think makes it so popular in so many different forms?
I dunno, I like to draw hot chicks and robots and bugged out shit and maybe most people are into that stuff or can relate to it on some level. My work is the visualization of music, the attitude of funk and other styles of music, and maybe people can see that in it. I have no idea, actually…
Arguably the most important question, does Colt .45 give you free beer?
Yes. Yes, they did.
What upcoming Jim Mahfood projects can fans look forward to?
My new artbook, Sparrow, just came out last week. It’s 48 pgs of funk, designed by Ash Wood, and published by IDW. My other new artbook is Mixtape #3, published by Image Comics. You can buy Carl at www.totallynerdcore.com. My ongoing autobio strip, “Los Angeles Ink Stains” can be seen on a somewhat regular basis at:www.foodoneart.blogspot.com. You can buy skate decks, prints, and other merch with my art on it at www.artsprojekt.com. My new art show is at the Enve Beauty Salon in NY at 121 Ludlow St., NY NY 10002. The closing party is on March 14th. I have a bunch of other stuff in the works but it’s too soon to talk about any of it. The best way to stay up to date on my work is thru my blog.