Jimmie Robinson is the Oakland, California, artist and writer currently best known as the one-man force behind Bomb Queen, a not-for-kiddies romp from Image Comics. His previous credits include CyberZone (self-published), Amanda & Gunn (Image), Code Blue (Image), Evil & Malice (Image), Avigon (Image), Comic Book Tattoo (Image), Wolverine, and What If? (Marvel).
Question 1: When did you first decide that you wanted to create your own comics for a living?
I got in late, so somewhere in my late twenties and early thirties. That would be somewhere in the 1980s. I wish I had started earlier, but I got married young, started a family and all that. I held off from comics until my daughter was in school and I would have the time alone. But even then I wasn’t thinking of making a living or a career. I just wanted my comic on the shelf.
Question 2: Who has had the biggest influence on you outside the comics industry, and how did they affect your life?
My daughter and marriage was one, it leveled me out and gave me a tiny bit of early maturity, I’d also say the writings of Joseph Campbell’s comparative mythology helped me out, as well. But I’ve kept to myself for so long, and I don’t do much outside of my sphere.
Question 3: Who has had the biggest influence on your comics career, and how has that person changed your work?
Jim Valentino because he gave me the break and the freedom to do things my way. Some folks talk about how people have shaped them. For me it’s the opposite, it’s how I’ve been allowed to roam without shape. Sometimes that gets me in trouble because I don’t play by the rules. I got into comics really late so a lot of the legends and names are off my radar – not to say I don’t know and respect them, but I did not grow up with them. I think Valentino saw that and didn’t even try to hammer my square peg into a round hole. He gave me a break, warts and all. From there I grew up “in public,” making my mistakes and learning the craft “in print.”
Question 4: What do you do to recharge your creative batteries?
Sleep. I swear, there are times I think I only have so much creative power in me per day. Without sleep I won’t even get that.
Question 5: Describe your typical work routine.
Get up and check email from the editor and publisher, check the news of the day and then eat. If I’m not leaving the house and if I’m on a deadline I won’t even shower or get dressed. Then I put on talk radio, usually NPR or the BBC. However, thanks to the porn style of election coverage I have migrated over to music radio. Lately I’ve been sticking with that — even with the looping playlist and commercials. It helps me keep somewhat in tune to popular culture. I use headphones to get into my creative space. Then I just do the work, no matter what it is. Writing, pencils, inks, coloring, lettering, whatever. That’s the curse of being a one-man-band.
Question 6: What writing, drawing, or other tools do you use?
I’m on a Mac, I have an intuos Wacom tablet. I’m using Photoshop (old version), for color work, or Office Word for writing. For my art I have a huge drawing table I purchased from a friend for $50 bucks. It came with a Drafting Machine arm, too. I draw in blue pencil so I don’t have to erase and lighten my ink lines. I use a mechanical pencil (o.5) and it’s a Hello Kitty Sanrio pencil. I use Cali Ink and art brushes. I can’t do Crow quill pens. I used markers once, but that had problems. I also have an array of templates and French curves. Lately my static / straight line work has comes from rapidiograph pens. I like the *real* ink and it doesn’t fade like pens / markers.
Question 7: What element of your work gives you the most personal satisfaction?
Since I create/write/draw I can’t pick between them. But creating something really out there always makes me happy. With Bomb Queen I really put out as much as possible. It’s designed to be dangerous. A book about a villain and the society that loves her makes for some rather messy and sticky situations. I can’t show everything I’d like to so I’ve been rather creative and I’ve come to really appreciate the satisfaction of pulling the rug out from someone, or going over the top without spilling the beans, or pulling off some crude antics without crossing the line. But that’s just with Bomb Queen. The creative aspect applies to all my books. Each has a special satisfaction.
Question 8: What has been the most rewarding project in your professional career – in or out of comics – and why?
I’d say my all-ages book, Evil & Malice (Image). I really liked making a comic that kids could read, and it was rewarding to see kids at conventions. Later the property went into TV animation development and my agent got me signed on as the principle art producer, so I was not only drawing the book for comics, but I also had the chance to draw the TV version, as well. It was rewarding to see my work move from one medium to another and for me to still have a solid hand in the process. Sadly, it never went all the way in TV, but I still liked the experience and it all stemmed from my creation.
Question 9: We’ve all met very talented newcomers who are trying to get their first professional projects. What’s the best advice you’ve ever heard given to a promising new creator?
To just do the work, and then do it again. Nobody gets anywhere with just one project, one book, one time (well, okay there might be a few lucky ones), but seriously the best I’ve heard is to keep at it – especially if the creator’s style doesn’t match the designs of various publishers in the direct market. Having an off brand style makes everything an uphill battle. The only way to overcome that is to just hammer away at that wall – or change the style to a marketable range (which I hope people don’t do). I’d rather see diversity out there. So my advice is to be yourself and stay that way.
Question 10: Time to get philosophical: What’s the most important “big idea” that you’ve learned in life – in or out of comics – and why is it important?
That there is no accounting for another’s taste or desire. What one person likes, another will hate. Thus, I’ve come to this stage in my life where I don’t say if a book is crap — because it’s not up to me. Sure I personally may not like it, but if we’re talking about the big picture, the big idea/ideal, then it goes beyond a single person’s opinion. I have the right to my opinion, but sometimes people listen to what I say, and I’m not going to influence others that way. So I’ve becomes very tolerant of things. Comics, movies, books, whatever. I’ve learned to get closer to the middle. Play both sides of the coin. Appreciate the view of others. Open my mind to new ideas… and it all starts with tolerance.
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