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John Pham wants you to go to Linda’s Nail Care

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Hi John! Tell me a little about the illustration you did for 826LA. You had sort of sad, yet odd story. How did you approach the illustration?

I wanted the art to really reflect the sort of innocent sincerity of the story, and so I used that children’s drawing style. It was also about how military families are affected in wartime, so I added a lot of the anti-war, anti-weaponry imagery in there. On the other hand, I didn’t want it to necessarily be anti-soldier, so I made sure the father was in uniform.

Did the story move you? It seems an almost appropriate story for the times we are going through today. Is there anything you want to tell the young author?

Yeah, the story was genuinely moving because it was apparent the kid was writing from his own experience, from the heart. Good writing should be honest above all else, right? So I’d like the author to know that the story was beautiful, honest, and emotionally affecting. I’d like him to know he did a good job.

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We’ve known each other for a couple of years now… I think the first time we met was at karaoke! Since then, we’ve been wanting to collaborate and this is the first opportunity with your busy schedule. Tell us about what you do. You are a storyteller, cartoonist, designer, and also do work for art exhibitions. Do you also have a full time job?

Yeah, sorry I just haven’t been able to get it together to be able to collaborate earlier. I’m kind of disorganized. You’ve pretty much listed all the stuff I do for a living. I also do a great deal of commercial work. As a matter of fact, I’ve been on this one commercial gig for the last four months. So I can’t wait to get back to work on volume 2 of Sublife, I’ve got lots of crazy ideas. I’d very much like to work further with you guys too.

No worries about collaborating earlier. You are busy!! How do you juggle everything you do?

Not very well.

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Tell us about your latest book with Fantagraphics. What is it about, the inspiration, how long you have been working on it? Is the story ongoing and something that will continue with them?

The new book is an omnibus of graphic art and comics, published hopefully bi-annually, with lots of self-contained stories and strips alongside some longer, serialized works. If you’re familiar with other one-person anthologies like Eightball, Acme Novelty Library, and Optic Nerve, then you’ll sort of know what to expect with mine. So far there are two serialized stories I’m planning on featuring in Sublife: 221 Sycamore St, and Deep Space. The series will be a balance of weird, experimental strips, gags, fiction, autobiography, genre narrative, etc.

A book signing is coming up at Family in Los Angeles. Is this a first, official launch? I know that you also introduced the book at San Diego Comic Con this year. Once published, how do you promote your book, how do you get your work out there? Do you find many hurdles being a cartoonist, getting your book out to the public,  or is the support solid?

Yep, this is sort of the first real, retail launch. As far as promotion, Fantagraphics does a really good job. They really are a dream publisher and my experience with them so far has been amazing. Just really, really positive. I do try to do what I can to sort of supplement the PR they’re doing for the book. I’m planning on going on a signing tour later this year, sort of riding on the coattails of Sammy and the Kramers Ergot book tour. I’m tagging along and bringing some books to spread to readers and stores who may not have heard of it.

You have your studio at Family as well. Must be amazing to have so much inspiration and cool books around all the time. Do you find a lot of inspiration being there, or can you really be anywhere? How do you find inspiration for your stories and ideas? Where does the process begin with you?

Yeah, it’s a great environment. The books and art and events they have there are really amazing. I especially like the people who own it and work there, all quality folks, and that makes for a pleasant working environment. Aesthetically, I think it may be a good influence on my work, though to what extent I’m not sure. And as far as where I generally get my inspiration: this is a tough question! So I’ll beg off on answering it for now, since the answer itself may be a bit too long and boring for whatever readers have browsed this far.

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What’s next for you? Any project coming up that you can talk about?

I’m about a month away from being done with that commercial project I mentioned earlier. Then it’s back to work on Sublife 2. I’ve got a few miscellaneous projects I’ll be working on concurrently (prints, group shows, some more commercial crap) but Sublife will remain my focus. Also, if I can plug my mom’s nail salon, it’s called Linda’s Nail Care, the address is 8322 Wilshire Blvd, call 310 657 6078 for appointments!

Check out all the wallets from Poketo + 826LA.
Visit John at www.substitutelife.com.

Tagged with: 826LA Interviews

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