J. Axer is one of the best Furry/Sonic artists around, and he recently was given a job at Archie working on the Sonic Comics. The Sonic Stadium managed to get an exclusive chat with the Archie artist about his job and his roles in the community. You can check out J's stuff by going to his website, Axer Industries.
TSS: Hey, Andrew here with another Sonic Stadium interview. I'm here with J. Axer, one amazing guy, tell us why your so amazing Mr. Axer.
JA: Most likely because you got me mixed up with someone else, I would assume.
TSS: Well to make sure I'm talking to the right person, tell us who you are and why you're important to the Sonic community. Just tell us before I have to give you mouth to mouth from looking at that Sonic icon too long O_o.
JA: I am J. Axer, a graphic artist and I was semi-recently made an addition to the Archie Sonic comic team.
TSS: And I am here to bug you with some very annoying questions ^_^ Secondly, how did you get a job working on the Sonic Archie Comics recently?
JA: Well, I initially received an email from Karl Bollers asking if I was interested in working with him on the book. He also asked if I had heard of it. I used to pick up the comic back in the day, so I had heard of it however i was unsure if Karl was for real or not.
Apparently he had seen my artwork somewhere, and was interested due to that to bring me on the book since they needed an additional artist. I spoke to Justin to discuss it via phone and decided I would do Sonic in my spare time.
TSS: First they have contests, now they just call people up from the blue. Next they'll email me and ask me, but naked stick figure guys... How did you become an artist? Have you always had this special skill, and when did you find out?
JA: Well in regards to hiring me, I think it was a special case as they were caught shorthanded in regards to the new book format. As far as becoming an artist... I pretty much have been drawing since about 1995 or so, regularly.
TSS: How did you start out? Did you just pick up a pencil and piece of paper one day and start drawing stick figures, or were you excellent at it right away and got better over time?
JA: I kinda sucked when I started out. I initially began drawing a lot because of boredom in school... So I had paper and pencil there already thus the margins became my victims for doodles. Over time with practice I got better. I'm just getting started, really.
TSS: Are you looking to use it as a major career in the future?
JA: Well technically... it has been a major career for the past 2 and a half years or so. I have been professionally working in regards to being a graphic artist for that long now. I don't plan to stop anytime soon, situation willing of course.
TSS: So what you're saying is, you're for hire? If I put out the $$ I can get you to draw me or create a certain graphic I want?
JA: Well technically I am not for hire anymore. I used to do commissions, back when I was doing ad work and various company work... currently I tend to be too busy to take on additional work. As I mentioned, I'm doing Sonic work in my spare time... For going on a year now I have been doing larger production jobs, such as game design, other comic projects I am not supposed to mention, etc (I'm not going to list it out, since I am explaining and not bragging...) So I actually have a full plate which keeps me from accepting too much extra work currently.
TSS: What goes on with your job at Archie working on the Sonic Comics? I talked to Dawn Best not too long ago and she kinda ran down the list of what she does. So what do you do?
JA: Well as freelance, I don't work AT Archie... I work from my home in CA. Currently I do frontispieces and comic art... so for frontispieces that involves pencilling basically a poster-esque picture... for the comic pages... I do layouts, which is interpreting the script into sequential art, determining what will go where, etc... basically arranging the pages.
Then I measure out the panels and pencil in the pages. Frontispieces get shipped to Archie HQ, and comic pages get shipped to Jeff Powell to be lettered. For the most part, that is what I do.
TSS: So will you be getting different jobs besides what you're doing as of now? Like, will Ken Penders give you a new job to do later on for the Sonic Comics?
JA: Well I have the option to accept extra work if I so desire. Hypothetically in the future I may do work on the main story, etc. I am not supposed to speak about some things in advance, heh. However I will most likely be adding to my duties or changing them around now and again. I was initially going to ink my own work, however I decided to allot that time to other projects that require my attention. Thus far it isn't as likely that I will work with Ken as it is, I will work more with Karl or Benny Lee. Ken's bag is Knuckles, which is Dawn's territory.
TSS: Let's get off of the comic subject and onto you. How long have you been a Sonic fan? How did you get hooked on the Blue Blur?
JA: Way back in the day, man. First thing I remember about Sonic was that gaming magazine ad they had a two-page spread with a blue and red blur spanning across it... said something like "he's coming!"... probably something wittier than that, though. Eventually you would reach another spread that showed Sonic and had the ad for Sonic the Hedgehog. I thought it was kinda weird and was interested. So I couldn't wait to play it...
They also had that funny little comic that explained how Sonic used to be normal and brown till he broke the sound barrier or whatever. After playing the game I really loved it. Sonic became one of my favourite games... albeit I had a lot of favourite games since I grew up on video games. I find it great when someone hits on a concpet that is essentially very simple, but has great draw and potential... like Sonic... Mario... Klonoa, etc.
TSS: So you still buy Sonic games? Have you recently picked up a copy of Sonic Advance or Sonic Adventure 2: Battle and what are your thoughts of where Sonic is heading now?
JA: I picked up Sonic Adventure 2 when it came out for the DC. I played Sonic Advance but don't own it as I have no plans of buying a Game Boy Advance. I rented Sonic Adventure 2: Battle but the differences from SA2 were not great enough to warrant buying it a second time... I enjoyed the games, though, I probably always will. I think Sonic games are headed in a good direction. They are fun and keep the style and flavour most are accustomed to, in my opinion.
TSS: What do you think of Sonic on a Nintendo system? Also, earlier today I posted a rumor of Sonic in Mario Kart for Gamecube in my news section, what are your opinions on that?
JA: I think it simplifies things - Sega making games on a Nintendo gaming system. I never understood standing behind only Nintendo or only SEGA... I always liked both. Sonic is obviously not inhibited on a Nintendo system as SA2:B has proven, and hopefully has a bright future there. Perhaps the icy fans who have a need to display hatred towards one another (SEGA and Nintendo sole-company enthusiasts) can learn how to get along a bit easier now.
In regards to Sonic in Mario Kart... currently I would believe it's only a rumour, but the idea of Sonic in a party style game is appealing to most, I would think... be it the Smash Bros. series, or Mario kart... even Mario Party. It only adds to the potential of fun to be had with such games.
TSS: Let's go on to your website, Axer Industries. How long will it be closed down and when it opens what will you have in store for us?
JA: Haha... I have been trying for some time to get the time to measure out the site design I came up for it. I can't give an exact time of when it will be open again, but hopefully soon. Artwork and info on some of my projects is generally what is in store. I post my various types of art, and some project previews when I am able, since I am working on so much currently that i can't post anything on.
TSS: So it'll be just a place to go if, let's say, I'm a big fan of J. Axer, and I wanna see all his juicy art and projects?
JA: Or if you are a fan of furry art, gaming art, anime art, etc. However yes, it consists of my work as Axer Industries is just a classy name for my graphics business consisting of only myself
TSS: Whats the J stand for anyways?
JA: Jeff... my first name.
TSS: Thats been bugging me for a while now... Well its been a blast interviewing you Mr. Axer. Take care of yourself and thanks again.