Hello everybody! First let me wish you a verry merry happy New Year - last time I saw you, we were in 2013, remember? Did you gain weight? Never mind. Let me introduce you to our artist of the day: behind the guinea pigs and giggle, you'll see how inspiring he is. Yes, I mentioned guinea pigs. Come on, what's not to like about them? And thanks to Jeff Mumm, they're not only adorable, they're incredibly funny at the same time. Let's not waste a minute more and get this interview started shall we?
-What are your name, surname, and nickname? -My name is Jeff Mumm. My old screen name I used to use was “Wald Flieger.” I don't use it anymore except on Newgrounds, just because I don't want to change the account there. I actually stumbled upon the name randomly, when I was trying to name a character I was creating. I got “Wald” from “Oswald” and “Flieger” just popped into my head. Later on I realized that the name means “Forest Flier” in German. Since I was taking high school German at the time, I must have subconsciously taken two German words that I didn't consciously remember. That's probably why it sounded “right” to me.
-How old are you?
-Where do you live?
-What's your journey?
-I started drawing comics about my pet guinea pig Joe in the 4th grade, and started my website JoeGP.com in the 7th grade. I drew and published Joe comics online until my senior year in high school. After that, I started experimenting with various comic series while I studied graphic design for a couple years in college. I didn't really like graphic design, and comics was what I had always really wanted to do, so I went to the Center for Cartoon Studies, a small school in Vermont for comics. Even though I'd always put comics at the center of my life up until then, going there really forced me to step up my game. I learned not to be so easily satisfied with my own work and to push myself to create more content than I had previously even considered possible. After I left CCS, I worked a full time data entry job for a couple years, trying to make a go of my graphic novel comedy project I had developed there about guinea pigs from space and 19th century Russians. The amount of work I demanded from myself was killing me, and I only got about four hours of sleep per night. Eventually I got burned out and realized I needed some more options. So I went to the Academy of Art in San Francisco to study traditional animation, which had always been a dream of mine. I went there for a few years and learned way more about my craft than I had ever even imagined possible. That really opened my eyes to just how much you can learn and grow as an artist. A year before I finally got my diploma (after about a total of seven years in school), the loan company I was using stopped supporting AAU and I wasn't able to secure another loan. So I went back to live with my family and started working on a massive Kickstarter project based on my webcomic that I hoped could at least finance a year of my life while I got my series off the ground. The project was a very involved platformer/adventure video game that I worked about sixty to eighty hours a week on for six months. I launched the Kickstarter and barely made 20% of my relatively modest target (in comparison to similar projects). That was easily the biggest wake-up call I've ever had in my life. It made me learn two extremely important lessons that I was too stubborn to accept up until that point. 1) Just because you spend massive amounts of time on something and invest yourself completely in it, doesn't mean anyone will care about it. 2) After over a decade of publishing comics online, I still had a LOT to learn. The aftermath of that was a pretty dark period in my life. It made me question everything I was doing and everything I thought I could do. But it turned out to be the most important thing that could have happened to me. It made me humble. It made me ready to push myself even further and grow more than I ever had before. It made me realize that no matter how far you come, there's always so much more to learn. Looking back, I'm actually incredibly grateful for that experience. I feel like before that happened, I was asleep, and I'm now finally awake.
-So basically you're trully an inspiration but what are yours?
-Brian Tracy has become a huge inspiration for me. His approach to personal growth and goal setting is amazing, and has really been what's helped me turn a dark time in my life into something extremely positive. Cartoon-wise, I've always been inspired by Calvin and Hobbes, the Tick, Sam and Max, Dexter's Lab, Spongebob. Animation-wise, old-school 2D Disney animation has become incredibly inspirational.
-You created your own but do you read webcomics?
-I actually don't really read webcomics anymore. I used to love reading them, though. I think at this point I sort of don't want to think about webcomics on my time off. But my favorites used to be Dinosaur Comics, Chainsawsuit, Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal, the Perry Bible Fellowship, Sam and Fuzzy.
-Now, tell us more about thos guinea pigs of yours.
-After doing my graphic novel series fTGP, I had been fooling around with a copy-paste comic using my old pet guinea pig Joe as the main character. It was really just a joke comic meant to be stupid and became a way for me to create comics without being stressed out. After a while, it became clear to me that there was something really raw and genuine about my sense of humor in that format that I had never been able to achieve before, so I kept developing the series. It's become my main focus. I've recently started making the comic art more involved than it used to be, and I'm making an animated web series based on it. I'm trying to make the animation as high quality as I possibly can. I'm basically just trying to create an awesome series now.
-How do you work?
-I try my best to stick to a daily eight hour schedule I've set for myself. I prioritize my work and make extensive use of lists to organize all the steps for the various projects I'm working on so I can clear my head and focus on one thing at a time. I make my comics and animations in Adobe Flash with a Wacom Intuos4 tablet.
-And last but not least Jeff, why did you choose this FML story?
-This seemed like the most fun one I could draw. It also immediately clicked with me as something my character Joe would do.
If you want to be the next published artist, send an email to alice [at] fmylife.com including a link to your website/blog/DeviantArt. But DON'T send your illustration right away! You need first to get in touch with me, and I'll tell you what you have to do!