Monday, December 20, 2010

Something something webcomics part II - An interview with Josh Greathouse, creator of Scotty Odyssey

You know how some of your friends are more attractive, talented, and smart than you? (Well, I honestly don't often have this problem, but I hear some people do). Josh Greathouse happens to be one of those friends. He was lucky/awesome enough to go to Savannah, Georgia to major in sequential art, aka comics drawing/writing. He has been pumping out comics since he started school and his latest is Scotty Odyssey. From my own interpretation, it seems Scotty Odyssey is a family-friendly adventure webcomic that feels a little James Bond crossed with a Saturday morning cartoon crossed with Jeff Smith's Bone. In other words, it's totally awesome. Here are some questions from a recent interview with the comics creator.

ALD Graphic Novels: Is it best to start at the beginning to read Scotty Odyssey? If not, where is a good place to start? Is there anything the reader should know from the outset?

Josh Greathouse: I try to do all my comics so anyone can pick it up and enjoy it, for the joke or the art. All you really need to know is, it’s about a boy and his pet having adventures around the world with his family. I feel that most comics are too complex and need to know a million things before you can enjoy the first page. My goal is you can read the entire comic or just one and still have an idea of what it’s about.

ALDGN: What inspired you to write Scotty Odyssey? Any particular comics artists or writers?

JG: Actually a couple of artists did inspire Scotty. I just got my copy of Chris Sanders’ Kiskaloo in the mail and was reading it. I love his style and storytelling. I have missed doing more playful and fun like I use to enjoy as a kid. Well, I decided to just doodle a cat close to Chris Sanders style however not drawing his character. I own a print of Brian Stelfreeze called King Cheetah. So why not draw a cheetah? I did a couple and after drawing him playing with a laser I decided to maybe try and come up with a story for this little guy. I just saw or was looking at Skotty Young’s blog a couple days earlier and saw a picture of him. I figured out later I based my character Scotty off of him, with the same hat and increased his ears and noise, then added some freckles. I like the two kids but what kind of story would they have. Also, why would a kid have a pet cheetah? Then I thought of the Venture Brothers, which made me think of a childhood favorite...Johnny Quest. After watching the entire original cartoon, I decided to do a story that had Johnny Quest adventures with these kids, then have some random normal kid stuff between. Like bully at school, homework and just a normal life. That in a nutshell is how this comic was born.

ALDGN: What comics are you reading now? What are some of your favorites?

JG: Um let’s see, I’m reading Invincible by image, The Marvelous World of Oz by Marvel, Usagi YoJimbo by DarkHorse, Xenozoic (love that book) by Mark Schultz, Skull Kickers by Image and rereading Calvin and Hobbes. I kind jump around things. Oh I forgot, Akira and One Piece as well.

ALDGN: Are you a trade graphic novel man or do you collect single issues? Neither?

JG: I do everything. I read from the apps, single issues and graphic novels. The main thing depends on timing and coast. I’ve been trying to save money, so I’ll try and buy more things in graphic novel. One is saving money and two you get to enjoy more at once of that story. However, there are some comics I want to support and see more of, so have to buy the monthlies. Also, there are artist I know and love their work, so there are times you have to pick up a single issue they worked on. I just got into the reading off the apps for the companies and find it’s some of the most entertaining way to read comics. They do panel-to-panel and cheaper and easier to find older issues. So for Oz, Usagi Yojimbo, Invisible and any Manga I do graphic novel. Hellboy, mini series’ from artist I like or know personally, the Goon, Skull Kickers. For the apps, Elephantmen and some old marvel stuff.

ALDGN: What kind of weird questions do you get at conventions?

JG: I’ve gotten a couple but the worst was. I did a print of Scott Pilgrim, my version of the comic. At DragonCon in Atlanta, a lot of people would ask me if I did the comic and movie? Some would just congratulate me on the movie. Then there was the awkward moment of telling them… that wasn’t me.

ALDGN: You went to school for sequential art in Savannah, one of the only places that it's available. How was the experience? Did the classes help or do you think just spending all of that time drawing and not going to school would have been better?

JG: The experience is too hard to some up into words. Going to Scad, I went from liking comics to creating and understanding comics. Scad Seqa program is amazing and also trying to improve on itself. However that said, you still need to work on your art outside of class, trying to improve it any way. If it weren’t for Scad I wouldn’t be living in Atlanta and knowing the professionals I know, going to cons or doing a webcomics. I had the opportunity to go to Tokyo with Dexter Vines, Sanford Greene and Mark Schultz. There is so many great experiences cause I went to Scad.

That said, my art has improved so much more out of college since I now know where my weakness are. Scad helped me with understanding comics, the basics of creating comics and contacts in the professional world. So yes, every class helped since they opened up a world of knowledge and help me understand this medium. Then I had to take what I learn and push it farther for my own needs. Art college isn’t for everyone but it was what I needed. Also, getting advice from pros is something every artist should be doing, that helps a lot more then one thinks.

I don’t know if I did that argument justice but I recommended reading this if you are thinking of art school.

ALDGN: Is there an end in mind for Scotty Odyssey? Have you had a general outline of what's going to happen throughout the series?

JG: I’m hoping to make Scotty something I do for a long long time. I do try to think of major story ideas that will lead the comic along. I then like to do a couple short and sweet ones in between the major ones. Just to lighten the mood and keep it easy to read. It’s a balancing act really.

ALDGN: What are some of your favorite webcomics?

JG: Abominable Charles is on the top of the list. Then Kiskaloo, I believe that comic is over but it is an amazing short run. I hope he makes more. Girls with Slingshots is some of the best writing and acting I have ever seen. Sinfest is a fun and just enjoyable comic. Oglaf is not at all safe for work but some of the funniest I’ve seen. Pvp is one I’ve looked up to and have read every one. Sheldon and Drive just are good clean fun. For the rest just look under my links.

ALDGN: Are there any other projects you're working on that we should keep an eye out for?

JG: Nothing really right now I can talk about. I’m hoping to have some news about it in the next couple of months.

ALDGN: Anything else on your mind?

JG: Just want to thank you for taking the time to ask me. I’m also glad to hear a library is doing this and more with comics. We are really in a great time to be with comics. Things are growing and the medium is always changing. I’m curious to see the next twenty years with comics. Also check out the site, Monday, Wednesday and Friday for updates at Thanks again!

There you have it, folks. Make sure and check out Scotty Odyssey, keep updated with it, and keep your eye out for whatever other comic awesomeness Mr. Greathouse pumps out next.

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