Aug 9, 2013

Boston Comic Con 2013 Monster Haiku

If you missed the previous Boston Comic Con 2013 posts on cosplayers and artists, go check them out! There's some great stuff there.

I'm very excited to bring you an interview with Jason Deeble, one of the artists I met at the con. When you're walking around vendor booths, it's often like a desert marketplace you'd see in a movie. The booth owners are hawking their wares, trying to get you to look at their product. But in this case, I was drawn to the booth by the character art he had on display.

While the art drew me into "pitch distance", the pitcher wasn't one of those people desperate to sell you on his work. He showed us one of his Monster Haiku books and explained the premise. If you haven't guessed, it's a comic strip with cartoony monster kids and is done in haiku. The book my wife was flipping through happened to have one comic with a Duran Duran reference, so she bought it just for that. But I had my eye on something else...

Monster Haiku Jay doll Boston Comic Con 2013

How could I not bring him home to join my Creature collection?

I emailed Jason a few days after the con and he was nice enough to do this interview.

AEIOUwhy: Tell us a little about yourself.

Jason Deeble: I am the creator of the daily web comic Monster Haiku. Also, I make picture books like Sir Ryan's Quest. I have a wife, two kids, and two incontinent cats, I play drums in a band, teach middle school mathematics, and just sold my house. My life is insanely busy.

Did you draw a lot as a kid? If not, was there something that turned you on to art/drawing?

Every kids draws. It's not a matter of being turned onto it.  Usually kids quit drawing when they get into about middle school. At that point they kind of get turned off to the whole drawing thing. They don't like the way their stuff looks or feel inferior to their peers. I just never got turned off.

Most of your projects seem to be aimed at a younger audience, is there something that pulls you in that direction?

Everything I draw comes out looking cute and silly. I've heard such a condition described as a "cuteness curse." Usually, cute, silly things are what we give to younger folks but there's nothing wrong with a little frivolity in our adult lives. (Absolutely not!)

Do you have any favorite music or movies you put on when you work? What things would you say influence your work the most?

I love music to the point of obsession. I'm crazy about traditional, hand-drawn animation too. To a certain extent these things get me fired up to create but, more than anything else, I draw inspiration from normal, everyday life (i.e. conversation, routine tasks, etc.). Our mundane lives are pretty extraordinary if you look at them closely enough.

Your book, Sir Ryan's Quest, is about a young boy's pretend adventures in his house. What kinds of adventures did you go on as a kid?

Childhood is a magical time because everything is an adventure, everything is novel. I played a lot with other kids in the neighborhood, made forts, rode bikes, etc. Pretty routine things, really. But when you're a kid, this is high adventure. This is swashbuckling, rip-snorting fun.

Did you know sellers on Amazon have copies of "Sir Ryan's Quest" listed for $65 and $999?

That's crazy. I sell autographed copies for $17.00. I have no idea what's driving up the other guy's prices. Maybe they include a deluxe edition pot you can put on your head while you're reading it.

How did Monster Haiku come about and why Haiku specifically?

I spent a year as a stay-at-home dad when my daughter was very young. It was mind numbingly boring most of the time so I started making comics to keep myself entertained (They're available at Dawn of the Dad, by the way). I'd always loved comics but never really made my own before that. I wanted to try the basic, four-panel variety but had nothing to write about. I thought maybe I could recast the Peanuts gang as monsters and have them attack each other.

While I was planning my new comic out, I saw a strip in Carousel Magazine in which someone took a strip by Charles Schulz and replaced the dialog with haiku. I guess they were comparing the rhythm of Peanuts to the rhythm of haiku, I can't quite remember. Either way, I decided that was what I needed to do - comics written exclusively in haiku.

Have there been days where you thought "Why did I do this (haiku) to myself?"

No, I've never regretted it. I have an overactive imagination and it's pretty easy for big ideas to get bigger and more unwieldy. Haiku helps me keep it simple.

I love the Creature from the Black Lagoon, so I had to bring Jay home. Any special reason he was given physical form first? Are there plans to do any of the other Monsters?

Jay is a sad sack. He's always down no matter what's going on around him. I think people kind of identify with him. We all have our moments when we feel glum and forgotten. Jay knows all about that. He understands your pain. He kind of became the star of Monster Haiku in the same way Charlie Brown became the star of Peanuts. A dour, hard-luck leading man. He was my first plush doll because he's my star. I want to do more dolls and probably will if things keep growing. Maybe next year.

Any favorite monster movies?

Actually, I don't really like monster movies. I'm not a horror fan. I think monster movies are interesting because they speak to our society's collective fears (i.e. the blob = communism, zombies = survival in the end of days, etc.) but other than that, I don't really like movie monsters. I've always been partial to Chewbacca but I hardly think he counts.

I've found people that draw monsters are usually fans of Halloween. Do you have any special memories of a particular Halloween and/or a favorite costume you had? 

Halloween is the absolute reversal of everything you tell kids not to do. Suddenly they can dress up like freaks, they can go out after the streetlights come on, they can ask strangers for candy. It's like the one night when all bets are off and you can just pig out.

I was never really into the whole monster thing but I loved Halloween and I loved dressing up. My mom indulged pretty much any costume request and made them all from scratch. I was a trash can one year. I was a stop light a little while after that. Looking back, the thing I will always remember about Halloween is how awesome it was that my mom would make me a cool costume no matter what I wanted to be.

What did you want your trick or treat bag full of? What did you *not* want/hate getting?

I just wanted candy. It didn't matter what kind. Someone gave me a toothbrush in my bag once. That was kind of weird. But when I thought about it later, I think I found it kind of cool.

What's the next thing people should be on the lookout for from you?

I do a new strip every weekday at my website I just put out my third Monster Haiku book: a full color compendium of my favorite strips from the 600 or so I've made thus far. That was a real ordeal so I'm kind of taking a break from stuff besides my comic at this point. I always have many irons in the fire, but right now there's nothing coming to fruition any time soon.

Where can people find you/your work online?

Monster Haiku updates at  I post comics and commentary on Facebook each day.  I have a Tumblr which I think translates into tweets.  My website has a lot of content up on it.  Also, Dawn of the Dad is still up and running.

Thanks so much for your time. It was great meeting you and I hope to see more Monster Haiku dolls!

Thank you.

If you want to pick up any of the Monster Haiku books, Jay dolls, or even a hand painted and autographed water painting (like the one shown above), check out the 

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