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One-Shots Mon May 02 2011

One-Shots: Jeremy Sorese

Although a recent graduate of Savannah College of Art and Design, Jeremy Sorese is already an accomplished illustrator and comicker, bringing his dense, detailed drawings to publications large (Oni Press) and local (Newcity). Rich with lines and color, his work brings to mind Walt Kelly's Pogo and Craig Thompson's Good-bye, Chunky Rice, with hints of Will Eisner in his writing and placement of text. These elements play into a unique style that we're lucky to have -- Sorese recently made the move from the East Coast to Logan Square. We talked about our chance meeting at C2E2's Webcomics Pavillion, how his work has changed since coming to Chicago, and what epic adventures he has planned next, both in comics and otherwise.

You can purchase Jeremy's comics at Quimby's, or online.

Name: Jeremy Sorese
Job: I work at Easel Art Studio on Milwaukee, a kids' art studio where we teach simple art history lessons and hands-on crafts. Our students start at around 10 months old, so if you have little ones it's definitely a wonderful place to be/work. I also teach a class on comics at Challengers Comic once a month.
Age: 22
Education: I have a BFA in Sequential Art from the Savannah College of Art and Design. I graduated last June.
Location: Logan Square
Hometown: Stafford, Virginia
Favorite place in Chicago: Hands down, it's the Cultural Center. The two stained glass domes are absolute marvels, I love those crazy horned wall sconces, and that huge sign in the lounge that says "SILENCE" is so silly, I couldn't help but fall in love. Close second, the University of Chicago campus.


What brought you to Chicago?
I didn't have a job after I graduated. I'd been in Chicago the summer before thinking maybe I'd come here, but I think the final moment was when I did a Newcity cover back in March. Trubble Club is based out of here (you know Aaron Renier and Laura Park) and they emailed me. They thought I was a resident of Chicago already. They were like you should come hang out with us, but I was still in school with four months left until I graduated. They said if you ever come to town, we'd love to hang out. And I was like, maybe I should give Chicago a shot.

Have you always liked comics?
Comics were always sort of in my world, but they were not the main focus that they are now. Now that I've gone whole hog with them, I don't think I could ever go back to being Comics Light again.

How did they become your focus?
I think school was a big influence...when I went into SCAD, I was into illustration, I read comics on the side. But I fell into a group of comics kids, very like-minded and very influential on what I liked and was interested in. I started taking more and more sequential classes and getting really into the Sequential department, hanging out with pretty much only sequential kids.

I think it boils down into comics being such an important thing for me right now, to be very focused in what I'm doing. Also, I used to do illustration work for Newcity, but my main goal in life was nowhere near, I have to draw the cover of Time magazine. It's not really up there on my list of what I want to do.

Was it ever on your list?
I think so. At one point I was thinking about doing New Yorker covers, and labeling for wine bottles for stuff seemed so awesome, so wonderful. But the way the market is now, I'm being more realistic about what I can achieve, what I can't achieve.

Are there any comics you've started since moving here?
When I first got there, I was working on a bigger project -- it's very American, a tale about the Midwest and relocating. I started it when I was in Savannah, and when I got here, it \ kept getting bigger and bigger and bigger, and I really...I'm still going to do it, but I hit a snag when I was writing it. I was just like, I'm not mature enough to write this yet, I don't know enough to do it properly.

What's the book you started here called?
It's called In the Parlor Room. It's an older story I came up with years ago, but I restructured it and drew it completely in Chicago.

Page 1 of In the Parlor Room

You can also read In the Parlor Room on your website, right?
You can either wait to read it as I install it twice a week, or you can buy the $10 42-page edition of it. It was this weird thing, I fought the Internet for so long, I thought webcomics are stupid, they're not good.

How come you thought that way?
I did that really bad thing where...people that are outside of comics do it all the time, they assume that comics are a genre, because they assume that only certain people make comics. There's very much distinct camps. With webcomics, it's a very distinct camp. Webcomics people are really bad about it because at conventions now, there's the Webcomics Pavilion, which is not what we need to be doing. It's good because it's being recognized, but it's not being recognized as a book, it's being recognized as a webcomic, this separate entity removed from "book" comics. And webcomic people are distinctly webcomic people.

Sometimes I feel like there's not a lot of overlap.
Not at all. I was reading this interview today with this artist named Emily Caroll, who's not a webcomics artist, but she puts comics online. But it's so different. Emily gets recognition for her comics being online, and they're not webcomics. She's about to start a webcomic, and she's also talking about that weird distinction.

I fought it, because I don't draw comics about ninjas, I don't draw animals. It's not a video game spoof comic, it's none of those things, so it's like why even bother. And I finally realized I should because that distinction's really awkward, so why not give it a shot. It's not like my comics aren't slice-of-life, they're their own beast. And everything now's so web-based, might as well slowly inch towards the future and throw my hat into the ring.

Definitely. Getting back to In the Parlor's subject matter, is it also an American story?
I think a lot of it stems from moving to Chicago, there's so much stuff, it's very visually overwhelming, and I think that's been going into my work a lot: big buildings that are very ornate, a lot of stuff going on all at once. Because I'm very much a small-town kid, and all my stories now are big, everything's big. I think it's a by-product of my relocation.

In the Parlor Room

Do you want to do more full-length works?
Yeah. My next story's this sci-fi romance story, it's going to be in three 100-page chunks.

That sounds pretty epic.
I know, I know. I just realized I'm going to be working on this thing until I'm 25, which is no big deal. It's just going to be 3 years of my life, no biggie.

Mermaid commission

But what a good way to celebrate a quarter-century.
Yeah, exactly. I'm always breaking it into 100-page chunks, so I can create the optical illusion that it's not as bad. I'm super excited about it though. When I was in school I was creating these five-page dense things that were really hard to read, and...not good. Little short stories. I don't know why I was to crunch so much into five pages, but I think I can finally just have that five pages be so much more substantial and easy to to read. In the Parlor Room started off as six pages. It was not the same amount of story, but it was still 6 pages of a lot. A lot in your face.

Preview page from The Title

It sounds like what you're putting out now is a lot more opened up.
Yeah. I've gotten better about it, but the problem with the my artwork is that I visually try to pack a lot in, so that now my goal's negative space, air, taking the time. Because comics already read so fast, why rush them along.

For the upcoming science fiction epic, is it the kind of sci-fi that's a shade away from reality, or like deep in space, with aliens?

No, it's not -- there's no aliens. I was thinking about it today, but it's actually based off of a personal relationship I had. There's that weird thing, I was talking with somebody about it a little awhile ago...because of all the distinct camps, there's not a lot of crossover, and superhero people are very distinct, they like cool stuff. And then really emotional indie kids like heartbreak and stuff. And there's not a lot of overlap where you can have all the fun of drawing all the really amazing stuff, with all the heartfelt emotion. It never happens, and so I was trying to combine what I love from all those different things, and put them into one thing. Trying to have really heartfelt relationship troubles and all that stuff, but the topical stuff that sci-fi can be about: there's a lot of stuff about the war in Iraq and the energy crisis and stuff, but it's also combining the last three years of my life into one book.

When I was in school, all my teachers were like what is your demographic, who are you making comics for. I was like I have no idea, I don't know. And they would say you need to know, and when I was doing that roller derby thing, the movie Whip It came out. Everyone was like yeah, you're the Whip It generation. I said no, my goal is not drawing comics for 14-year-old girls that love Drew Barrymore, but I don't know what it is. I'll just do it, I'll just make what I love, and sort of ignore party lines.

Newcity cover (March 2011)

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