The GoComics “Meet Your Creator” series brings you firsthand insight into the lives and careers of your favorite cartoonists. Each week, we hand over the keys to one of our talented creators, who share their inspirations, achievements, creative processes, studios and more! Read on to hear from this week’s featured cartoonist: Juba of Viivi and Wagner
How did you begin your career as a cartoonist? When did you start cartooning?
I started reading and drawing comics very young, mainly because there was nothing else to do. As a kid, I lived in a small town in northern Finland. Comics were the best way to escape reality – cheap and fast.
I soon realized that I could make money with this stuff. I started selling comics to newspapers and magazines. I worked for the Finnish edition of MAD Magazine, for example.
It wasn’t until Viivi and Wagner became popular that I could make a living only by drawing comics. This was in 1997. Before that, I did all kinds of work to pay the rent: advertising, illustrations, drawings for book covers, lettering comics – even political cartoons.
What inspires you?
I don’t use inspiration. I just show up and start working. Sometimes it’s fun and easy, sometimes it’s hard and tedious. But I always do it.
Chuck Close once said, “Inspiration is for amateurs.” He may be right.
What were your favorite childhood comics? What comics do you read today?
I used to read all kinds of American and European comics when I was a kid: Donald Duck, Tintin, Asterix, Tex Willer, Johnny Hazard, Lucky Luke, Superman, Batman, etc.
I even read Robert Crumb’s stuff at the age of nine (I’m sure my mother would not have approved, had she known).
I still read a lot of comics. Since I speak English, French and Spanish, I don’t have to rely on translations. I just finished reading the second compendium of The Walking Dead comic. Great stuff!
I’m a friend of Gilbert Shelton. I love his stuff: The Freak Brothers, Fat Freddy’s Cat. When I lived in Paris, I used to hang out in his studio. I learned a lot from him.
Do you have any upcoming projects or appearances?
I try to do the Viivi and Wagner strips fast, so I have time for other things. I have a weekly strip to do, too.
Viivi and Wagner has been running for 18 years now, so all other projects are a break from my daily routine. I do oil paintings, scribble in sketchbooks and do longer comics for kids. I have a couple of graphic novels in preparation.
What is your studio/workspace like?
Although I have a studio, I don’t necessarily work there. I might just spend some time there and play my bass. Then I go out and sit in a park and draw. I just need a piece of paper and a pencil and I’m on my way. I work in cafes, busses, trains, libraries – anywhere.
I use old-fashioned tools: dip pens, brushes, indian ink, paper. I like the sound the nib makes when it scratches the paper.
I don’t like to sit in front of a screen. I have a colorist who does the coloring for me on a computer.
I spend winters away from Finland, in Spain, mainly (look at the picture of my car so you understand why …).
I study academic drawing there in Barcelona. I always wanted to learn how to draw realistically. Here’s a picture of mine done with charcoal from life:
Also a photo of me with Gilbert Shelton in his studio in Paris:
Read Viivi & Wagner here.