Interview: Catching Up With Jim Mahfood
Artist Jim Mahfood has drawn and painted in both worlds of art and pop-culture for well over two decades now. His pen and brush strokes can found on comics, canvases, murals, album covers, and even the human body. Getting his start in ‘zines and mini-comics by self-publishing 40 Oz. Comics, he eventually got a gig drawing the Clerks comic for ONI Press. Mahfood eventually did work for Marvel Comics but found great early success with his cult hit Grrl Scouts. Most recently he helped create Miami Vice Remix for publishers IDW and Lion Forge Comics. IDW also just put out a coloring book of his drawings, and an art volume as well. Jim took some time to chat with us at TuffGnarl.com about a few things, including what he is currently working on, the intersection of art and pop-culture, his still analog style of creating, social media as a tool, and his recent exploration into filmmaking and animation.
TuffGnarl.com: Jim do you think there is still a place for ‘zines and mini-comics in today’s digital world?
Jim Mahfood: Oh yes, definitely. That hand-made D.I.Y. thing will never go away.
How has technology affected or changed your own approach to art?
It hasn’t changed much for me. I still work analog. Everything is done with ink and paint on paper like I’ve always done it. I scan the art so that it can be printed. The main change is using social media to promote things. That’s helped out immensely. Instagram brought me a whole new legion of fans.
Pop art and pop surrealism have arguably become mainstream and started intersecting with the “high art” world. We have places like La Luz De Jesus and Gallery 1988 doing huge events. Shops like Meltdown in L.A. and Tate’s Comics here in Florida blur the line between event place, museum, and store. As someone one with feet planted on both sides of the art world, did you ever expect things to converge this way?
I’ve always jumped around from art scene to art scene, so the mixing of scenes and styles doesn’t surprise me that much. That’s the natural evolution of things. Art takes on new forms all the time. If it doesn’t it becomes boring and dies.
On the flipside, we also see pop-culture mixing with street art (and vice versa). Specifically with people like Invader. Any thoughts?
I’m all in favor or the mixing and overlapping of styles and scenes. I don’t really think of art in terms of the style or if it’s ‘low’ or ‘high’ art. A good image is a good image. A powerful image can come in many, many forms.
Any plans of going back to Grrl Scouts?
Yep! Spent the entire year writing and drawing the new Grrl Scouts comic book series that will be out next year from Image Comics. The first issue hits in May of 2017. It’s gonna be nuts! There are lots of teaser images and behind the scenes videos on my Instagram and Snapchat.
Also, I know a pilot was done for a Grrl Scouts web series. With so many streaming sites now a part of viewing culture, do you think it could make a much (for my part) desired return?
We’re shopping the pilot around with help of Ron Howard’s production company. The hope is to score a TV deal with Netflix or Hulu; something like that. Fingers crossed!
What would be your comic book dream project?
I’m working on it right now, The new Grrl Scouts. Nothing beats writing and drawing your own creator-owned project. Absolute freedom and fun!
How about a dream collaborator?
Are there any comics you are reading these days?
Yeah, everything from Image Comics is on fire right now. I love Saga, Southern Bastards, Empty Zone, Head Lopper, Low, Tokyo Ghost, Paper Girls, Rumble, Huck, Sex Criminals, and all that other magic.
Have you ever thought about branching out and doing some animation, or filmmaking yourself?
Definitely! I made an animated show called D.I.S.C.O. Destroyer with my homies at Titmouse Animation for the relaunch of MTV’s Liquid Television. People can peep it at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zhfYfzWAs88. There are two episodes. I’ve co-directed a bunch of music videos with my buddy Steven Soria, for artists like King Fantastic https://vimeo.com/150356654 and Steddy P & DJ Mahf https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tyz6f7xWog4. And I co-wrote, art directed and did art for the animated sections of the Grrl Scouts live action pilot that we did for Ron Howard’s production company. You can check it out at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y8Gt4Jxn3lk.
How about doing any music?
Possibly in the future.
What tunes are you listening to lately?
The new A Tribe Called Quest. De La Soul, Metallica, Ghost, and Danny Brown are always going. Steady doses of the Stooges, Talking Heads, Good Good Not Bad, Santiago, Miles Davis, Frank Zappa, Alice Cooper, Suicide, Bad Brains, Prince, Bowie, Anthrax, King Crimson, and more are always vibrating the walls of the studio.
Are there any TV shows, movies, or documentaries you have been into lately?
I’m sort of out of the loop with that kind of stuff. There’s so much content out there it gets hard to keep up.
What inspired you to make a coloring book?
That was IDW’s idea. They make great art books and fun stuff so we got together to do the coloring book. They also just put out my brand new art book, Sadistic Magician. It came out insane. I’m really proud of it.
What are you working on next?
The new Grrl Scouts comic series. Alternate covers for Valiant’s Harbinger comic series. Some other top secret stuff I can’t mention yet.
Any parting thoughts for our fabulous readers?
Thanks for reading and checking out my art!
All images copyright and courtesy of the artist’s website.
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