You might think you know the members of Phoenix hardcore band Royal Monsters by listening to the band's lyrics. Guitarist Jeff Owens gives fans (and comic book freaks) an even more intimate look into his life with his autobiographical comic, Screw Jeff Owens, found at www.screwjeffowens.com.
Owens (also a member of local metal band Satan's Monk) updates his online comic daily, with single-panel looks into his life, touching on everything from his relationship with his bands, to what he's eating for lunch and movies he's seen, to his opinion on world events. Some are serious, some are funny, but all are extremely simple and cute -- sort of like an online diary with cool illustrations.
Owens talked more about what his plans with the comic, which has been around since 2007, are. He's currently selling an anthology of the 2007 panels, titled Screw Jeff Owens Year One, which is available online and at local comic stores.
New Times: How did you come up with the idea to do the comic?
Jeff Owens: I was working at Samurai Comics at the time with my friend Brandon Huigens, and he started doing some mini-comics. His drawings and suggestions that, "Anyone can do this," really inspired me to start doing my own comics. I did some strips here and there for the following few years, and then finally took off with it in 2007.
NT: How has it evolved in the past 3 years?
JO: I wish I could say it has evolved a bunch, but I've only changed a couple of things. Mostly, I try a lot harder and put a lot more time into it these days. This year, I've made the size of the original drawings a little bigger, so I have more room to fit the words in (which was a suggestion from my friend Dave Dell'oso, who is a much better artist than myself), and I've made each panel about one event, instead of about my whole day. I also try to make it humorous more often, when it makes sense to.
NT: Is there any stuff you don't share on the comic?
JO: Yes, but I share a lot more than I used to. When I started, as silly as it may sound, I was always really worried about what my mom would think while reading it. I quickly got over that, and these days, there aren't a lot of things I specifically keep out of my comic, but lots of stuff still gets left out by default, since I'm doing one event per panel.
NT: Do you have any formal training in art?
JO: Not really, no. I took standard elementary/middle/high school art classes and one community college art class, which I felt I deserved a low grade in but magically walked out of with an A.
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NT: Is it hard to manage balancing work, your comic and your band? How do you do it?
JO: It's practically impossible. Between work, Satan's Monk, Royal Monsters, having a girlfriend, Screw Jeff Owens, Bong Otter (a comic collaboration with Huigens) and wanting to actually take the time to see movies, read or do other various recreational activities, I sometimes want to blow my brains out, or at least pull my hair out, but I really wouldn't have it any other way. How I do it is by not getting anywhere near enough sleep, ever.
NT: Do you have plans to release more collections besides just the first-year one you have? Where is that available for purchase?
JO: I plan to release a book for every year I do it. I'm about to begin work for my second collection (2008), which I would like to have out in November or December of this year. The third collection will probably be released about six months after that, at which point I plan to analyze how the collections have done and decide if I should do a larger collection of the first three years. You can buy Screw Jeff Owens Year One direct from me, or from Lulu, which is the site I used to publish it. Locally, it's at Ash Avenue Comics, Samurai Comics, and Eastside Records, and it's $12.