Hey folks! Today is special. We have to admit we're quite excited to welcome one hell of a guy, one who can draw the most expressive stick figures and who has the kind of humour that can entertain you for hours. Yes, Tom Fonder, creator of Happy Jar, is truly one of our favourite webcomic artists out there. You'll see how fantastic his comics are, the kind that make you go, "That is so true. And funny." Let's start this interview and get a chance to know him!
-What's your name? Do you have a nickname?
-My name is Tom Fonder and that’s exactly what I go by online. I don’t have any other aliases or nicknames because I’m a pretty boring guy.
-How old are you?
-As of two weeks ago I am, unfortunately, 25.
-Where do you live?
-I live in London, UK. To be clear though, I live in a part of London that is more akin to a small village and populated almost entirely by people over the age of 60. I find this arrangement beneficial as I, too, like to shake my fist at today's youth and their infernal dubstep musics.
-What’s your job?
-At the moment my job is scraping together money wherever I can, be it freelance projects or otherwise. I guess in that sense Happy Jar could be considered my job as well. I’m mostly just lucky to have a partner who knows where she wants to be heading career wise and that allows me to pursue any flight of fancy I may have.
-Tell us more about Happy Jar.
-When I think back to Happy Jar’s inception (which was in 2007 if you can believe it), I actually remember having very little interest in the project at all. A good friend of mine at the time wanted to make a webcomic based on the little doodles we had been passing around in chem/physics class and I agreed to help essentially because it would be super easy to trace his stick figures with a tablet. I came up with the name Happy Jar and we started by uploaded them to his personal blog with many of the initial strips just being little in jokes that were only intended for close friends to see (some of these have been removed from the archives entirely at this point). A few comics in I started to get more involved in the writing and at some point thereafter I believe there was a notable shift in trying to give Happy Jar a more distinctive style than just generic stick figures. I’ve stopped and started the strip many times since then as life got in the way and the original co-creator left, however just recently decided to pick it back up again. I’ve been fortunate to have been met with a very positive response this time around and so I hope to continue for quite some time.
-What are your inspirations?
-Wow, hard to pin down, really. Just life in general, I guess. I think the everyday mundanities of life and its harsh realities play a huge role in what inspires me. People’s beliefs, actions, and societal values can be equally fascinating. Anxieties, fears, consciousness, death, and existence all play a part. But mostly I’d say it’s just cats and dick jokes.
-Do you read webcomics? If so, which ones?
-I’ve started to check out more as of late, but prior to doing Happy Jar the ones I’d visit more regularly were Penny Arcade, Whomp!, Chainsawsuit, Perry Bible Fellowship, and Nedroid. Junior Scientist Power Hour is also great… Hark A Vagrant… xkcd… I guess I actually follow quite a few. Of course, the problem is that the more great artists I discover, the more inadequate I start to feel about my own work.
-How do you work?
-Nowadays I like to try and keep a good buffer of strips ahead of me. I find that this helps particularly when I have ideas for longer form strips where I can spend a bit more time focusing on details rather than having to rush it out the night before. Generally I’ll just scribble down the basic blocking of the panels on a notepad rather crudely until I have an idea of the pacing/dialogue and then start drawing directly into Photoshop with a wacom tablet. Nothing fancy.
-Why did you choose this FML story?
-Oh man, where to start? It just has everything. It’s that kind of story you hear on the internet that is almost certainly complete bullshit and yet just plausible enough that you want so badly for it to be true. The whole scenario is just utterly absurd and the description - to me - conjures up imagery that is at once both hilarious and mind numbingly terrifying. It reminds me of that ‘goat man’ news article from a few years back. You’re forced to wonder what the mindset is behind a person like this and that rabbit hole runs deep. Secondly, it features Nicolas Cage who might just be one of the most bizarrely entertaining actors ever to have been committed to film. This man can take the simplest line of dialogue and deliver it in a way that you never in a million years would have imagined. I can’t think of a single performance in any other movie that makes me laugh as hard as Nicolas Cage in Vampire’s Kiss. Were Nic Cage’s face not on that mask this story would have been both less entertaining and far, far less horrifying. Finally, it features cats. And as anyone who reads Happy Jar already knows, I can’t get me enough of them cats.
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!