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QRD #73 - Father's Day 2015
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Jason Strutz
Cartoonist Dad Interview with Jason Strutz
May 2015
Jason Strutz
Name: Jason Strutz
Comics: The Cask of Amontillado, The House of Montresor, DeathCurse, Make Your Own Comics, Astronaut Jane
Websites: StrutzArt.com

QRD – How old were you when you first realized you wanted to be a cartoonist?

Jason – I’ve always done art, but didn’t really happen on comics until I found writers to work with. That wasn’t until age 29 or so.

QRD – What are a few highlights of your cartooning career?

Jason – Getting my first comics done & bringing them to a convention & actually being able to sell them. Then, people seeing that & hiring me for other jobs. & now working on The House of Montresor full-length graphic novel & getting great feedback from that.

QRD – At what age did you decide you wanted to become a father?

Jason – I don’t think there was an age I made a conscious decision to be a father, just something I always wanted. It was delayed a bit by my wife finishing various grad schools.

QRD – What are some positive & negative impacts your family has had on your career?

Jason – I work from home & take care of my 2-year-old daughter, so there is necessary time away from work during the day. That can be frustrating sometimes, but also welcome. I have a tendency to work continuously all day if left to my own devices, so she makes me go outside & move around. It has also made me more conscious of what my time is worth & makes me much less interested in low return gigs. It does make it tougher to plan on deadlines & future work & we are planning on having a second child which I’m sure will destroy everything.

QRD – What are some positive & negative impacts your career has had on your family?

Jason – I still work a lot in the spaces I can find, so work comes with me everywhere. My wife usually doesn’t want to bother me while I’m working, because she’s seen The Shining too many times. But I’m usually just trying to use the chunks of time that come up & wouldn’t mind being bothered to do something with her. There is certainly a monetary cost - I could be out at some high paying job, but that would also mean daycare. That would mean a huge cost & lost time with my child, so I view that as mostly a wash. I also go to comic conventions about once a month from February through September to sell comics & network, some are local but most are a drive or flight taking me away for a weekend or more. I also look like I’m having fun in photos taken at cons (Psst... I am) & I’m sure that can be frustrating for my wife. The house isn’t always clean, the laundry waits to be folded for too long, but I always try to make a good dinner & clean the kitchen. Positives include that my wife likes to say she’s married to a comic artist, my daughter often says, “I working!” while she draws, & I like to think I’m a pretty cool dad.

QRD – Has your daughter effected the comics you make &/or read?

Jason – Not particularly, I’ve always been interested in making a range of books for all ages. I do worry about how some of my horror books will be perceived by other parents, teachers, & such; but not enough to stop making them. I’m just sure I’ll need to have an awkward conversation with a principal at some point. I have become a little more squeamish about horror involving babies & I recently had to ask a writer on an upcoming project, Brockton McKinney, to change course a bit. Likewise I have always read a range of books & there are some I share with my daughter & some I don’t. I don’t suppose I would have read Bee & Puppycat without her though.

QRD – Have you had problems with the lack of steady money from an artistic career providing the security you feel necessary in your household?

Jason – Sure, I would always want to be making more, but it’s more down to time available than finding paying gigs. My wife is working her way through a postdoc & applying for more permanent jobs at the moment & once she finds the right place we’ll be okay again. We were able to build up enough while I had the full-time job & she was in school to get through these lean years.

QRD – Given the limitations having a family has on going on the convention circuit, would you have showed more earlier in life if you’d known?

Jason – I came to comics a little late from an illustration background, so I didn’t really have the work to do comic shows. I never had even been to one until a trip to HeroesCon in about 2009 & immediately saw it as a place where I could show & make money, as opposed to art fairs for example. There are only so many shows you can do & stay on track with getting other work done though, so I don’t mind my maybe once-a-month schedule. You can burn out on cons real quick.

QRD – Do you think being a father or a cartoonist has a greater impact on your community?

Jason – We’ve moved a lot, so I make art groups to find cool motivated people in the town we are living in & I like to see those people I have brought together succeed. Being the stay-at-home dad example for many can be fun.

QRD – Would you rather see your daughter eventually become a cartoonist or parent?

Jason – While I probably want grandchildren, that is not up to me. For work, I would want them to do whatever they feel like doing, but growing up with me will certainly affect how they see the world & how you can make your way in it doing something you really enjoy. If you work really hard at it, that is. There will be drawing lessons in any case.

QRD – Both family & comics seem like things that will take up as much of your time as you’re willing to put in.  How do you end up dividing your time?

Jason – My kid sleeps late, so I can get up at 6:30 & work until 9:00. Then it’s breakfast time together; if I have a looming deadline, she can watch some TV for an hour or so for some extra work time for me. We go to library time, or classes during the day so we get out of the house. I can work during her naptime, & after dinner when mom is home from work. Then after bedtime there is another window.

QRD – What does your daughter think of your comics?

Jason – Right now, drawing & comics is what all dads do for work, which is cute. She likes to draw on top of the comic I’m working on, which is why I work digital at the moment, & I have been able to use some of her drawing on my pages.

QRD – Do you think you could ever do a comic project with your daughter?

Jason – Definitely, opportunities for focused work are slim right now though as she’s only 2, but we draw together a lot. I’m looking forward to the day she can be my colorist.

QRD – Any words of advice to young people?

Jason – You can make anything work if you want it enough. Getting good at anything is a long process & putting in the time is the only way to do it.