Meet Your Creator: Joey Alison Sayers of 'Joey Alison Sayers Comics'by Caleb Goellner
It's been a year, so far, hasn't it? Plenty to think, yell, cry and cackle deliriously about. But not all laughter has to be delirious! Joey Alison Sayers Comics -- by one, Joey Alison Sayers, we should note -- are here to deliver the kind of catharsis that comes with remembering there's still some humanity to go around.
A mix of brand new comics and tried-and-true material from her storied social media archives, Sayers' several-times-a-week-updated serial brings it. Whimsy upends the mundane. Deadpan reigns in the overwhelming. Silly high fives silly for silliness squared. Her comics are good and real and real good.
We asked Sayers how she's accomplished these kinds of comics so consistently in a way that works for her -- particularly in the throes of 2017.
Read our full Q&A with Joey Alison Sayers below.
GoComics: Your comics contain social and political commentary and we are living in a decidedly volatile era. How are you handling the climate? Has it had an impact on your mindset or your ability to do what you do best?
Joey Alison Sayers: Everyone said, "Oh this political nightmare will be such a boon to humorists and other creative types." Not me! I'm freaked out all the time! I have to spend at least 3 hours in the hot tub so that I'm relaxed enough that my drawing hand stops shaking. Seriously, though, all the crazy politics of the last year have steered my comics toward a more reactive angle. I still like straight-ahead gag strips, but I feel a pull to let loose some "big ideas" in my comics too. It's a nice change of pace, but I wouldn't mind if the world settled down a little bit again.
GC: Life's not always fun or funny and communicating humor to others is never particularly easy. Do you ever struggle to balance having a point while remaining funny?
JAS: To me, humor is the whole point. I've drawn scant few comics that are not at least intended to be funny (even if sometimes I'm the only one who laughs at them). But it is a delicate balance. If you're actually trying to make a point, the danger is getting it muddled in with the joke so that the reader isn't sure what the point is. You don't want to make a comic attempting to skewer jaywalkers only to make your readers think that (perish the thought) you are in support of those law-breaking, mid-street-crossing, terrible human beings!
GC: On top of being a prolific cartoonist, you're also a mom with a day job. All of those things require patience. What is your secret to maintaining patience? Diet? Exercise? Meditation? Please tell us!
JAS: Ha! Patience? I'm currently running on all cylinders and using all spare moments in my workday to draw comics and running home and eating dinner and giving the kids a bath and drawing more comics and getting a few hours of fitful sleep then waking up and doing it again. I'm pretty sure everything is going to unravel in 2-3 days and the next time anyone sees me I'll be running naked through the woods.
GC: You've worked traditionally and digitally over the years. What's your workflow like these days and how do you think it contributes to your finished product?
JAS: My comics have evolved into an analog/digital hybrid that works really well for me. I draw all my comics in pencil on bristol and then go over them in inks. This lets me work on them on the go - at work or anywhere I have a free minute. Then I scan them in and clean up the inks on the computer. Once those look nice I drop the colors in digitally. I used to color everything manually with colored pencils and the like, but it was time-consuming and the finished look wasn't really satisfying. The silly, cartoonish nature of my strips lends itself to bright, blocky colors. I'll always have some analog aspect in my comics, but I've learned to embrace the digital side as well.
GC: You publish comics in a variety of places in print and on the web. What do you like about publishing through different outlets and how does your series on GoComics fit into your wider body of work?
JAS: A lot of my comics end up in niches, like political comics sites, and historically in small alternative newsweeklies. What I like about niche publishing is the chance to work in a very specific voice for a specific audience. But it has it's limitations as well. GoComics is a chance to showcase a greater breadth of work (different styles, sizes, topics) and reach a more diverse audience.
GC: You bring up video games on Twitter occasionally. Are you still playing games, or are you simply remembering a time in your life when you actually had the time?
JAS: Video games are fun, but I don't have any time for them in my life anymore. The only games I play these days are board games with my kids. There's one about collecting up baby chicks and bringing them back to the barn. I kick ass at that game and would probably be able to go professional with it, should the opportunity arise.
GC: You live in Oakland, where the sun shines bright and the BART is delayed daily. What do you like about your neck of the woods and how much do you think your location finds its way into your work?
JAS: Oakland is such a wonderfully diverse city. I talk to people from all different walks of life, and people from all kinds of different countries every day. I learn about all sorts of people and experiences and I try to bring that into my comics. I didn't grow up in a big city and there are things I miss about smaller town life. But there is a vibrancy and excitement to living in such a beautiful, busy place. It's inspirational!
GC: You've mentioned enjoying things like the Hamilton soundtrack on Twitter -- what's some cool art you've enjoyed lately?
JAS: I'm a big fan of TV and movies. I loved the movie Hunt For the Wilderpeople. It's hilarious, beautiful and sweet. I'm an absolute nerd for TV period dramas. Downton Abbey, of course, but also Call the Midwife, The Get Down, Bomb Girls. Give me a couch and a character-driven serialized drama, and I'm good to go!