I love Christian Meesey. After spending most of his childhood in St.Louis, Missouri, drawing mini-comics and caricatures at the local Six Flags, and refusing to grow up, Christian Meesey relocated to hurricane alley–Miami, Fl. In South Florida, Meesey earned his BFA in Computer Animation. He almost blew that because he spent his time drawing and painting in the Fine Arts Department, which is fine, because this led him to publish his first graphic novel, Motley, with Brook Dorsch and the Dorsch Gallery. He completed two more installments in the Motley Comics series before heading to Los Angeles. In Southern California, he is an animation freelancer and draws caricatures at Universal Studios. He shares a house with his lovely girlfriend and her adorable daughter, and 2 slightly less adorable dogs in beautiful Santa Clarita. Every once in awhile he actually finishes one of the comics he says he is working on. I contacted Meesey for an interview because I like his drawings. Plus, he is a nudist. Well, that was a lie. Seriously. Enjoy my interview with Mr. Meesey.
Almost Dorothy: Were you born an artist (or graphic novelist) (or however you define yourself) or were you molded into one?
Christian Meesey: A bit of both. As an only child I often had merely a stack of blank computer paper and some markers to hang out with. And once I saw MAD magazine, I was off to create my own version. With a little bit of Voltron thrown in.
AD: I’m totally in love with Voltron. Even though I have no idea who Voltron is, I’m sure he’s electric. In your opinion, what’s most important—words or images—and why?
CM: Hard to pick one, as they are certainly complimentary. It’s like the 1 + 1 = 3 comparison. The best comics create a new experience when the two are combined effectively. That said, some excellent comics (Mobius, Lewis Trondheim) do exist using pictures only.
AD: What is a story? And what makes a story ‘good’?
CM: An appealing character tries to get what they want, and goes up against as many obstacles as they can handle, and then more than they can’t possibly handle, and then they either triumph or don’t. What makes it good for me is when authors take something “normal” and make it sublime (A Serious Man) or show us something new and incredible (Wall E).
AD: Tell us about Motley and the Motley Comics series. What was your motivation and impetus behind the project?
CM: It was initially materialized as loose caricatures based on a couple of fellow artist friends, but the characters have since taken on lives of their own. Now it’s a bit of my personality split in half between Motley and Harvard. The id and the super ego. It evolves as a comic intuitively, a page here or there. But I’ve been working on new material recently and more will be showcased in Knucklehead.
AD: What’s your biggest challenge when it comes to communicating your message through your art to a mad mad world that’s gone madder?
CM: Staying true to the art or specific piece, and letting it develop organically. It can be challenging to listen to the ether and not try to force an idea or direction for a story or individual work.
AD: Quoting from Motley, “what do you want to be when you grow up” and what don’t you want to be?
CM: I want to make a significant contribution to the medium of Sequential Art. Still a long long way to go, but I’m committed for life.
AD: I’m committed, too, to an asylum! What’s your favorite curse word?
AD: I like combos. Would you talk to us about Kuncklehead and do you have any excerpts you don’t mind sharing?
CM: Knucklehead is my approach to an “Eightball” style anthology, though it will occasionally feature contributions from a few talented friends to keep things fresh. It’s me basically throwing my hat into the comics creating ring, to attempt a semi-monthly output.
AD: In your illustration “Evolution chART”, man evolves from fish to Mr. Money Bags. Can art ever be unhinged from Mr. Money Bags or is it an inevitable consequence of consumerism?
CM: There are ways to navigate in cooperation with Mr. Moneybags (The Coen Bros., Dan Clowes, R. Crumb), or to become Mr. Moneybags yourself without selling your soul. I enjoy Johnny Cupcakes and Banksy’s approach.
AD: I love cupcakes, too! Are you still a small fish or have you moved up to that big apartment in the sky?
CM: There was a cool bit in Finding Nemo, where the school of small fish combine to create a larger, more imposing fish. So, I’m definitely a small fish, but with family and friends combined love and support, we can do many big things. Again, I’m thinking of Voltron’s influence.
AD: Define the true artist for me.
CM: Bill Watterson. Never compromised, created work loved by millions.
AD: Biggest influences and greatest works.
CM: Bill Watterson: Calvin and Hobbes; Tom Richmond (caricature artist extraordinaire and mentor, Yoshihiro Tatsumi: A drifting Life; Jordan Massengale (painter and mentor); Peter Deseve; T.S. Sullivant; David Mazzuchelli: Asterios Polyp; Milt Kahl, Kyle Baker; Pablo Picasso, etc, too many to name.
AD: Final question: If you could be any character in the world, fictional or real, who would you be and why?
CM: It’s a toss up between, yes, Voltron and Indiana Jones. Got to go with my gut on this one: Voltron. Three of the many reasons being: 1. He’s a giant ass-kicking robot. 2. He battles against cool giant alien monsters for all the right reasons. And 3. Intergalactic!
Check out Christian Meesey’s intergalactic bad-ass Meesimo Sketchbook and his forthcoming work, Knucklehead, which will be presented online at www.amusedom.com and in print as limited editions with Lulu.com early in 2011. The Meesimo Sketchbook is a collection of selected art pieces from the last few years of sketchbooks and random projects. Knucklehead is a new Comic anthology showcasing a variety of Christian’s comic work, including short stories as well as serialized graphic novels.