Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Cross X-amine: Neil Fitzpatrick, Author of the Comic Neil Jam Gives Us a Look!

Welcome to the Cross X-amine on CrossTopix. For those new to the site, the Cross X-amine is a feature where I interview various talented artists about their works be it musicians, movie makers, or for today, comic artists. With me today is Neil Fitzpatrick, artist and author of his comic, Neil Jam. I met Neil at Anime Central last year and communicated with him again this year. I even picked up a copy of Neil Jam Harvest, a humorous read with a very unique style. Neil agreed to do an interview with my site in regards to what his works are about and more of what makes him passionate about doing them.

STVO: For those who haven’t read Neil Jam, can you explain to everyone what it is about?

Neil: Neil Jam is, quite simply, the brand of cartoony comics that I make. The Neil Jam universe consists of a regular cast of characters, and I’ve been drawing their antics in various forms throughout the years. I’m currently producing a twice weekly web comic at, and I’ve self published a number of comic books as well. It’s a healthy mix of the surreal with the mundane.

STVO: Where did you get the ideas for your characters? Also everyone has big black pupils or perhaps missing eye sockets… what’s the deal with that?

Neil: Well, from the start, I suppose most of the characters were simply comprised of different pieces of me. I’ve added characters through the years, each of them ideally giving the comic an element it lacked.

And yes, they do all have that specific look with the big black eyes. I suppose that is the Neil Jam style. Every now and again someone will ask me "why don't they have eyes?" and I always respond with "they do have eyes, they just happen to be big and black." That's just how they roll in the world of Neil Jam. As to how or why I decided to draw that way, all I can remember in formulating the initial designs way back when was that I wanted it to be unique. That's how you know it's Neil Jam!

STVO: My personal favorite character from Neil Jam was the little bird named Jerry, I felt poor for the little guy who couldn’t make friends. What character is your favorite and why?

Neil: Well of course they all have a special place in my heart. The Neil Jam universe is somewhat vast, but I've pared that down for the web strip that has been running on For that strip I've returned to what I consider the core Neil Jam group, with the characters that have been with me the longest and have helped shape what the comic has become more than anyone else.

I don't think that I could call Jerry (the little bird) my favorite, as that wouldn't be fair to everyone else, but I do find myself coming back to him more and more. Aside from his personality, which I do enjoy, I actually think a big part of the reason he's around so much is because he is such a little guy (literally), and is very easy to fit inside any given panel or strip. His daintiness is quite advantageous!

STVO: At the convention and on your website, I find you often doing homage art towards one of the most famous gaming icons, Mario! Would you say Mario is one of your favorite characters to draw and what other characters besides your own do you enjoy to draw from other cartoons, comics, or even video games?

Neil: One of the staples I tend to have on hand at conventions is a variety of original art pieces featuring a cornucopia of pop culture figures, which I dub "Neil Jam Icons." This includes video game icons such as Mario, who is probably the most popular character in my display from convention to convention. I actually think the most fun group of characters that I draw for these "Neil Jam Icons" would be the advertising mascots. There is something about characters like Kool Aid Man, Franken Berry, the Pillsbury Doughboy, and so forth, that hold a special and unique place in everyone's hearts, whether they know it or not. I don't think there's any way not to have a nostalgic love for those kinds of characters. As for other characters that I love, I'd say that Charlie Brown and Nancy, both of classic comic strips, are two of my biggest favorites.

STVO: What type of comics do you prefer creating: shorts similar to those in the newspaper’s “funnies” section or full-length comics such as Neil Jam Harvest?

Neil: I enjoy infusing Neil Jam into all facets of comics, whether it be short lil’ strips or full length adventures. I have found that the longer I go drawing one type of the aforementioned options, the more I get a hankering to create the other type. One thing I actually find myself doing is merging the two. With the longer comic book adventures, for example, I’ve been known to draw several separate chunks of pages and then ultimately piece them together to form a greater whole. As for the shorter newspaper style strips, like those I’m posting on, they can easily be manipulated into longer story arcs in addition to the short lil’ gags that those kinds of strips are more predominantly known for.

STVO: What are some of the future goals you have with the Neil Jam series? Perhaps a web cartoon?

Neil: My general goal is to simply keep at the comics. I want more and more people to know about and read and enjoy Neil Jam comics! I’d like to build the website with more updates eventually. I’d also like to make more all new and older out of print comic book material more readily available. As for an actual cartoon, I have no experience working with animation. Comics are my main passion, so if animation were to happen, the bulk of the work would have to be done by someone else. If that sounds good to anybody out there in internet land, holla at me!

STVO: Do you remember at Anime Central 2008 when my friend and I saw your ALF drawing and suggested you drew an Ed McMahon to accompany it? Yes, I know that’s a random question, but just thought I’d throw it out. Also, where is your favorite convention that you attend?

Neil: Now that you mention it, I actually do remember having a conversation like that about Ed McMahon! I wouldn’t have been able to tell you where or when I had that conversation, but an Ed McMahon request is something one does not soon forget!

As for conventions, I attend a good mix of both mainstream and indie shows, and I’d say my two favorites come from those two different fields. For the indie shows, the MoCCA Art Festival in New York is quite a happening show. And for the more mainstream shows, I’ve warmed considerably to Wizard World Chicago Comic Con over the years. The funny thing is that considering how very different the audiences are for those two shows, I actually sell almost the same amount of the exact same stuff
at each one. Just goes to show that both fanboys and hipsters can’t get enough of Neil Jam!

STVO: Final Question: What can we expect to see from you at Wizard World and what words would you like to share with fans, potential fans, and the people who read CrossTopix?

Neil: At Chicago Comic Con this August I plan to have a healthy selection of Neil Jam comic books, including a new issue (exact contents cannot yet be confirmed.) And of course, as anyone who has seen me at a convention knows, I will have what will probably be an insane plethora of Neil Jam Icons original art pieces. And there’ll be some other shenanigans to look for as well. So please, come on out and say hi!

As for “final words,” I would simply like to thank CrossTopix for giving me this outlet. I am very relieved to get this all off my chest. Comics are supposed to be fun. I’m a fun guy, and if you’re like me, I think
you’ll dig Neil Jam too. Thanks y’all!


Special thanks to Neil for taking the time out of his day to spend time and conduct an interview with the site. Please visit to catch his weekly strips as well as finding out information pertaining to his upcoming comic book releases. If you’re planning on going to Wizard World Chicago next month, Neil will be on-hand along with “CrossTopix representative/founder” STVO Kage once again dressed as Disco Stu!

As always, follow the Facebook/Twitter/MySpace fan pages for CrossTopix to find out more info about site updates, conversation bits, and more! Not to mention, Neil is also on Twitter, so if you are a fan of his work and are a Twitter-aholic, don’t just sit there, follow his page!

No comments:

Post a Comment