Interview with Jason Murphy
Jason Murphy’s first memory of drawing was rendering images of bloody vampires in his christian kindergarten class. He went on to to found a drawing society within the summer programming at his local Boy’s Club. Inspired by the then brand-new-and-all-the-rage Spiegelman/Newgarden brainchild Garbage Pail Kids cards, drawn by John Pound, they’d amassed walls covered with “disgusting drawings”. Murphy has been creating art for over 30 years now and after taking a break from sequential art and book making for about two decades is back with some very strong work in the 36 page riso-printed ‘zine me Nut Nut Nut.
GW: What is me Nut Nut Nut?
JM: “me nut nut nut” is actually one of my daughter’s first words. It’s how she pronounced peanut butter. When I was trying to come up with a title for my book, it just felt right.
GW: Would you describe some of the ideas that you’re putting into this work and your motivation behind it?
JM: I try to approach each page as if it were a singular piece of art. Like in my paintings, I try to withhold from myself any sort of preconceived idea and just begin. The picture often ends up being some sort of awkward scene that tells an absurd story of fear or incompetence. I’m not sure why I am motivated to create images that exist in that world, and I’m not too interested in finding out really. I kind of embrace how it all comes from some ambiguous place within my consciousness.
GW: What is subferior?
JM: Subferior is the publishing/print editions effort of my good buddy and brother-in-law Brendan Danielsson. He is the founder of the ARTDORKS collective and an extremely talented artist. He bought a risograph machine recently and we printed “me nut nut nut #1” together as a debut title.
GW: Would you describe the printing process and any goals for subferior and or yourself with ‘zine making?
JM: Working with the risograph has been both extremely frustrating and extremely gratifying. I used newsprint for the pages of this book so it was jam city usa. But I labored through it, and I am extremely happy with the end result. Subferior has a few things coming up. B is currently working on Gregory Jacobsen’s book and we are planning a print edition with Patrick Kyle. I myself am in the middle of drawing “me nut nut nut #2” and plan on releasing that as another Subferior title. I will be in the Leah Wishnia edited Happiness Comix 4, and an upcoming collaboration with Matt Crabe. I have also agreed to work with a couple of underground comics publishers next year. I really am trying to embrace any opportunity that comes my way at this point.
GW: Why paper and not just online?
JM: When I decided to get back into drawing comics for the first time in 20 years, I was motivated by what it must feel like to hold my own book and smell the pages. That was it. That’s also why I used newsprint. That smell is so deeply connected to when I discovered comics as a kid in he early 80s.
GW: What is the experience of making drawings for and putting together a ‘zine like ?
JM: It’s exciting! It’s also interesting because when I began working on comics I was sort of using my artwork as motivation for ideas. I would create a scene for a painting and then I would take that scene and elaborate on it sequentially. Now I almost find myself doing the opposite. I will grab scenes from my comics and make paintings from them. It helps for me to think of both endeavors as one. My paintings have almost become like snapshots of this world I have created in my comics.
GW: How is exhibiting work in an art ‘zine different from galleries and other ways of displaying art to an audience?
JM: To me, there really isn’t much difference because in order for me to be comfortable with my work, I almost have to disregard the audience completely. Ugh, it’s hard to say that without sounding pretentious, but it really does rattle me if I begin to consider how my work will be perceived and I fear it could lead to stifling consequences.
GW: What do you hope readers will take away from this work?
JM: Joy, confusion, fear, laughter, sadness, inspiration, nostalgia, hatred, the heebee jeebees, anxiety…anything but indifference. Indifference is the worst.