Ohio not only has many comic shops, it also has many comic book artists, and I would like to have an interview with one of them that has been a co-worker, a fellow actor and most importantly a great friend over the years. This artist and creator is Jason Young, the man behind Veggie Dog Saturn and the owner of Buyer Beware Comics. Jason also has played in many local bands and has acted in such films as Werewolf of Ohio 2, Slashers Gone Wild, Bark at the Moon: Scars and many more. He is also one of the only people I know who has the band logo for Poison tattooed on his arm! Now that’s badass! Jason has worked for over 20 years at Mavericks Cards and Comics and is a well-known fixture in the local comic community. Jason also has his best friend Goo The Cat and Uma the Dog who he has lived with for many years. Jason is also a co-host on a podcast called Gutter Trash alongside another amazing artist and friend of mine named Eric Shonborn. In other words, Jason Young is one kick ass guy who is at the top of the list of artists in Dayton. Now that you know Jason a little better, let’s get down to an interview I did with him just for this blog.
Matt: So Jason, who was the first person to really get you into reading comics?
Jason: My older brother. He was probably reading a Woody Woodpecker comic the moment I was born.
Matt: Wow, he must been a diehard comic reader as a child! So growing up, who was your favorite super hero?
Jason: Definitely Batman.
Matt: And how long have you been making your own comics?
Jason: My brother and I made tons of comics when we were kids but the first one I ever printed multiple copies of was when I was sometime in high school… probably when I was 17 or 18 years old.
Matt: My Brother and I also made comics together as kids, sounds like we had a lot in common growing up. What was the first original recurring character you ever drew?
Jason: I had a character named Mr. Death who was a musclebound guy with camo pants and a sleeveless jacket who had a skull for a face. And as if that wasn’t enough, he also had a mohawk and wore sunglasses. He would say funny things and shoot bad guys with his uzis. Pretty awesome.
Matt: Mr. Death should make a comeback in a future Veggie Dog Saturn issue! I also heard you use to draw pictures of 80’s hairbands, did this help you stick with drawing as you grew up? And what bands were your favorite to draw?
Jason: In the ’80’s I was really into bands like Poison and Motley Crue. I would buy magazines like Metal Edge and Circus which had tons of pictures of these weirdo musicians with their outlandish hair and wild costumes which I would try to reproduce as a drawing. I did tons of ’em. It probably helped me learn a little about how to draw faces, hair and clothes. Guns ‘N Roses were definitely my favorite to draw. They had tattoos and top hats and just generally looked grimy and odd which made for fun drawing.
Matt: An Axl Rose a portrait by Jason Young – great stuff! Tell us about your first full comic book.
Jason: The first comic I did by myself and printed up was called Francis, Prom Queen Maggot. It was basically my try at an odd independent comic. Inspired by a mix of Tad Martin comics and Bobby from the TV show King of the Hill. Without getting too colorful, it was the story of an awkward adolescent discovering his sexuality. Terrible artwork but maybe one of the best stories I’ve ever written.
Matt: How did Buyer Beware Comics get started?
Jason: My friend Chris Hoium and I decided to start making comics and needed a banner to put them under. Chris was actually going to redraw Francis, Prom Queen Maggot for our first endeavor but after doing a few pages it just kind of got forgotten.
Matt: That’s a shame, it would have been nice to have read the remake of Francis. So how then how did the Buyer Beware Anthologies come about?
Jason: Dayton has a lot of talented artists and writers so I asked a bunch of the ones I knew if they would want to submit a comic if I would print it. To my surprise everyone I asked said yes and so I had to print it. We did two issues and then I decided to focus on doing my own writing and drawing for a bit (not to mention I wasn’t prepared for the amount of work that orgazing and producing anthologies would involve!).
Matt: At what point did Buyer Beware become more of your company name brand?
Jason: Right after we did the first anthology I slapped the Buyer Beware logo on everything else I produced.
Matt: I saw that you released “Post-Script” by Joe Grunenwald. Is this your first comic to come out via Buyer Beware that was not written or drawn by you, and what lead to its release?
Jason: A couple other books by other artists came before Post-Script. Chris Hoium did a comic called Monkey Gives It Up and then my pals Pat Kain and Adam Eckley each did one with the Buyer Beware moniker.
Matt: Of your Buyer Beware releases, which has been your favorite to work on and why?
Jason: I’m partial to Veggie Dog Saturn as it’s what I’ve wanted to do in comics ever since I first heard of autobiographical comics when I was a teenager. They are without a doubt my favorite kind of comics to read as well as to write and draw.
Matt: They are mine as well. How did the Veggie Dog Saturn series come about?
Jason: As I said I’d wanted to do an autobio comic for awhile and (after a couple of failed attempts) when I was going through a particularly rough patch of life I decided what better way to work through it then to spill my guts on the page… and it totally helped let me tell you.
Matt: Do you find it hard to write about your own life?
Jason: Not at all. They say to write what you know and if you don’t know yourself… well… then you can just make stuff up that makes you seem interesting.
Matt: So far what has been your toughest issue to write?
Jason: I think I always have a hard time with the endings. Every issues I usually end up rewriting the ending a half dozen times but other than that they’ve all just kind of poured right outta me like water from a faucet.
Matt: What’s your favorite issue of Veggie Dog Saturn?
Jason: I like the one I’m working on now (#6) which is about the first time I visited Chicago when I was a teenager. It’s about a time in my life when my older brother was finally starting to not be annoyed with me (as older brothers are prone to be when you’re a kid).
Matt: Have any of your comics won awards?
Jason: Issues three and four of Veggie Dog Saturn have both won 2nd place for best mini comic at the Small Press and Alternative Comics Expo (SPACE) in Columbus in 2010 and 2011.(I’m shooting for the #1 slot in 2012!).
Matt: What artist inspires you to continue to be a comic artist?
Jason: Tons of them… James Jean, James Kockalka, Jeffrey Brown, Carrie McNinch, Chester Brown, and Jason Martin… the list goes on and on.
Matt: You also do sketches for OK-Panic, how fun is drawing for that?
Jason: It’s a great deal of fun and really challenging for me. The other three artists involved are immensely talented fellas and I have to push myself to keep up with them every time… which is a great way to get better as an artist.
Matt: Besides Ok-Panic, you also do a Podcast called Gutter Trash along side fellow local artist Eric Shonborn, tell us a little about it.
Jason: We basically just review movies and comics and then talk nonsense for an hour or so. Eric and I have some similar tastes in comics and film but it’s nice to be exposed to some things that I never would’ve seen or read if it hadn’t been for some of his picks. Everyone should check it out (as long as potty mouths don’t offend you).
Matt: Many people don’t know that you have also directed and acted in low budget films. What has been your favorite one to do?
Jason: As far as I can remember I’ve only directed one short film which was pretty fun to do… but my favorite is to act. I guess I don’t really have a favorite I just like to put on a costume and pretend to get stabbed to death or eaten by werewolves. And who wouldn’t I ask you?
Matt: I know what you mean oh too well! So tell us about your Fantastic Four Project?
Jason: The Fantastic Four No. 9 Project is an endeavor I started back in 2006 that is nearing completion now. I’ve been commissioning comics artists to each recreate a single page from the 1963 Fantastic Four #9 (by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby) until the entire issue is redrawn! It’s really fun to see how people interpret Jack Kirby’s vision and as a comics fan I love having original artwork by so many awesome artists (Jim Woodring, Anders Nilsen, Jeffrey Brown, Chester Brown and oh so many more) hanging up in my home.
Matt: What is one of the better main-stream comic series you have read lately?
Jason: Kirby Genesis from Dynamite has been really good. So has Batman and I guess you could consider Sweet Tooth (from DC’s Vertigo line) a mainstream comic… it’s probably my favorite comic on the market right now.
Matt: What about your favorite recent independent book?
Jason: I really like a comic called King Cat. It’s an autobiographical mini comic by John Porcellino in the same vein as Veggie Dog Saturn (only much, much better).
Matt : What’s your favorite kid-friendly/geared comic from your childhood?
Jason: Super Goof was probably my favorite. It was the one where Disney’s Goofy could gain Superman like powers when he ate a handful of peanuts. So fun and bizarre but kid friendly too.
Matt: What toy line/cartoon/TV show/celebrity would you have liked to see Star Comics release a comic series about?
Jason: Hmmm… that’s a tough one…. maybe Thundarr the Barbarian? Or Ed Grimly. Either of those I guess.
Matt: Oh wow, Thundarr would have been amazing, and Grimly could have made for a silly good read. In closing can you tell us any new projects you are working on?
Jason: I’m simultaneously working on issues 6 and 7 of Veggie Dog Saturn as well as a Veggie Dog Saturn Special of short stories written by me and drawn by other artists. Other than that I’ve got some ideas for a couple of fiction comics that I’d love to make the time to draw. That’s the hard part though is MAKING the time. When I hear people say they can’t seem to FIND the time to work on whatever it is they’re working on I want to grab ’em and say, “You can’t FIND time! You’re not just gonna stumble over a big pile of time! If you want something in this world you’ve gotta MAKE the time to do it!”. But I don’t do that cause I’d just get beaten up.
I would like to thank Jason Young for his time and giving me this great interview for this blog. With that, I thought it would be nice to do some quick mini reviews for his Veggie Dog Saturn series. I will skip the normal 1-4 stars and just talk a little about each issue.
Veggie Dog Saturn # 1
Released in 2008 Cover Price $2.00 Buyer Beware #1 of Ongoing
Jason has broken up with the girl of his dreams, Mindy, but he is trying to get back on top and has a crush on a woman from his college class named Kristin. One day with the help of his friends Doogie and Pat, he attempts to make his move on her during Yellow Springs Street Fair. But when she has already left the event, his day is still going well until he and Doogie run into Mindy and her new boyfriend that just so happens to also know Jason! Drama, comedy and sadness is the best way to sum up this touching comic.
This is a great first issue to kick off this story and follows Jason’s sad heartbreak and is packed with raw emotions. This comic is truly from the heart, and you really do find yourself feeling for him during this time. It also brings out a little anger towards Mindy for breaking his heart. The only thing I can say is that I wish Jason would have gone a little more into his background so we get a feel of who he is. This issue is well written and the story is well told and makes for an amazing read for fans of true-life comics. This is what all mini comics should try to be like!
Veggie Dog Saturn # 2
Released in 2008 Cover Price $2.00 Buyer Beware #2 of Ongoing
In this issue Jason takes a break from his job at the comic store and decides to help one of his brother’s friends who owns a limo business during prom season. His night is good as he drives to a bad part of town and makes a young couple’s night magical. But after he drops them off and picks up a pack of rich suburban kids, things get a little crazy taking Jason all over Dayton and possibly chased by the cops. What happened to make the cops come after him? How much money did he make? All these and so many more questions are answered in this issue.
This one is one of those issues that could have slipped into being an average issue with not much going for it. I mean who wants to read an issue about a guy being a limo driver for a night? Well Jason breaks that type of thinking and turns out a funny little true-life adventure that is sure to put a smile on the reader’s face. The thing about this issue is that once more Jason learns something about life and himself. Over all this is another good issue.
Veggie Dog Saturn # 3
Released in 2009 Cover Price $3.00 Buyer Beware #3 of Ongoing
In this issue Jason finds himself thinking way to much about death. It’s to the point where he is not even enjoying life and is dreading is 31st Birthday. While at Christopher’s (his favorite local restaurant), he speaks to friend and waitress Lauryn, and she invites him on a trip to Toronto, Canada and to clear his mind. He decides to go alongside his pal Doogie, Lauryn’s best friend Katy and Max. They all get on a Grey Hound headed up north. While in Canada, Jason and friends have many adventures that include a nude bike ride,lost tickets and passports, public masturbation on a beach, friendly strangers and so much more. Does this fun time away from Ohio help him forget about death? Read this autographical comic book and find out.
This one’s a fun time for those who know and don’t know Jason. I mean we have all thought about our fate and when our time is going to come, and Jason does an amazing job of describing how you feel when you’re no longer in your 20’s and now must face your 30’s. Plus it’s nice to see Jason buddy around with Doogie and others and have a good time with many funny stories that are worth a chuckle. This is a solid issue and is a nice mix of humor and drama and next to issue one is the best so far! This one also has my favorite cover and is clearly based on an old DC Teen comic.
Veggie Dog Saturn # 4
Released in 2010 Cover Price $2.00 Buyer Beware #4 of Ongoing
This issue is a little different and has many short stories instead of one major one so let’s get a quick rundown: Jason as a youngster goes to the park and is hit in the head by a rock, how he and his brother used plastic spacemen as money to trade for other items, about getting his Poison band tattoo, being young and hanging with a young African American girl named Regina and how an old bank his mother had may have chased her away, having a bathtub accident before church and becoming a man when he bought a swimsuit magazine from Krogers.
This one is a fast paced issue that has many stories; some are funny and some make you think. The first of the three main life stories is about the time he and his brother traded space men for other items like comic books and toys and how his fortune was ruined when his brother no longer needed the toys as payment. This story is well done and is something most people can identify with if they have a sibling that’s close in age. The second one is about Regina and is more of a thinking piece as an old bank that could be offensive to some could have been the reason Jason lost his “future wife”. This one is also kind of sad as the bank was an old toy his mother had in her youth and never looked at it that way. The third is about the magazine and is more of a coming of age story that is filled with chuckles. The rest of the stories are fun quick reads that are all well told. I like the issue and had fun reading it, but wish that in the next issue he would go back to one solid story. I will also say that this is my second favorite cover.
Veggie Dog Saturn # 5
Released in 2011 Cover Price $3.00 Buyer Beware #5 of Ongoing
Issue five stays with the multiple short stories format, and this time around has Jason doing more strange and off the wall real life stuff like eating three salads and leaving a present in the sink at the buffet, being a youngster and going to a cemetery to see his own mausoleum, thinking about the concept of the top 10 records on a Island talk, a VCR tape of boobs he and his brother made, what made him stop shoplifting from grocery stores and finally his meeting with Country Music Superstar and the prank that went along with that meeting. All are fun stories, some better then others.
The real life stories in this issue are all pretty much done in a funny nature with the big one being his meeting with Kenny Rogers. Reading this story is fun but not nearly as epic as hearing Jason tell it in person. The Cemetery is a twisted odd story that you can’t help but laugh at. Plus the salad bar story is so true if you ever ate at Ponderosa back in the 80’s and did tend to leave you doing what Jason did in the bathroom sink. While the stories in this one are good, they just seem to be lacking slightly from the past issues making this a great solid read in the so far amazing bio comic of Mr. Young. I truly think I like it best when Jason does one story instead of many smaller ones.
Veggie Dog Saturn # 6
Released in 2012 Cover Price $3.00 Buyer Beware #6 of Ongoing
In this issue Jason is 16, and he and his brother Joe with a couple of friends head out to Chicago to attend a comic convention filled with many back issues and lots of comic stars like Jim Lee, Stan Lee and Neil Gaiman. This marks the first time he was able to leave town to a major city without his mom’s supervision. On his trip Jason gets drunk, meets his favorite comic artist, pukes off a balcony and annoys one of comic industries top talents!
This issue is a lot of fun and almost any reader can relate to being a youth and having that first taste of freedom and doing something that at the time seemed like the most epic adventure you would ever have. Jason builds up this issue with a fake bomb threat that was called in at the shopping center where he works and how this kickstarts his trip to his first out of town comic convention. The adventure he has is really fun and reminded me of the first horror convention I ever went to and all the cool celebrities I meet and how magical it felt. Jason does a good job of spicing up his experience and his drunken rampage that leaves one comic artist pissed off. This is a good issue that’s well worth a read.
I hope you enjoyed the break from our normal look back at Star Comics/Horror/Marvel and have learned something about our featured artist Jason Young. With our next update, we will be looking at IDW’s “IT! Terror From Beyond Space,” or I might do a quick update that looks at Innovation’s 3 issue movie adaptation of “Freddy’s Dead” or even yet go to the movies with Marvel Comics! So until then, have a fun time and make sure to read a local comic!