Artist Jim Mahfood on Moving to L.A., Drawing Tank Girl and Spiderman, and Coming Back to Town for Phoenix Comicon

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It was during those days that Mahfood also hooked up with director Kevin Smith and drew the comic book version of Clerks, got his art into the pages of a few special one-offs and compilations for Marvel Comics, and was one of the stars of the underground comics scene.

The grass has gotten even greener for the funky artist since he put the Valley in the rearview some years ago and high-tailed to L.A. He's currently got plenty of projects in the works, including getting to draw a few issues of Tank Girl (a big influence of his) and working on a cartoon for MTV.

Mahfood's pulling a prodigal son and returning to the Valley this weekend for an appearance at Phoenix Comicon. Jackalope Ranch recently spoke with the artist about living in L.A., what he misses about Phoenix, his current projects, and his reaction to the sad news of Adam "MCA" Yauch's recent passing and the impending closure of Wet Paint.

What are you doing at Phoenix Comicon? I'm signing at the Ash Avenue Comics booth. They're sort of sponsored me coming out. I've got this brand new mini-comic that I'm bringing with me, plus some original art work. I'll also be doing some commissioned sketches for people. Just coming to hang out, really. And then Saturday is the live art party [Secret Wars].

Ash Avenue is where you sold a lot of your comics back in the day? Yeah, for sure. I lived down the street from there when I originally moved out to Arizona in 1997. I just randomly moved to Tempe and I lived four doors up the street from Casey Moore's, the comic shop, and Eastside Records. That was like my neighborhood, my stomping ground. I've known those guys for years. I haven't been back to Arizona in like two years. I usually come back once a year just to visit or go to The Blunt Club or do live art with Dumper. Times been moving so fast that I can't believe its been two years now.

You also hung out at Wet Paint a lot at its old location on College Street? Yeah, that was before they relocated to Ash Avenue, they were closer to the ASU campus. There's definitely a lot of my history in Tempe, hanging out with people that were doing cool shit.

Any reaction to the news that Wet Paint will close by the end of June? Are you serious? Awww...I didn't know that. Shit.

Sorry to be the bearer of bad tidings. No, it's just weird. It's kinda disappointing that the era we live in is extremely unfriendly to independently owned...anything. Mom and pop shops and whatnot. Its just kinda the nature of our fast food world to see shit closing down left and right. I always try and support indie stuff but its just so convenient to be able to buy your music online now and not have to leave your house. I still love actual records and CDs, going to an art store and picking out my own supplies, and going to a comic shop. But I'm in my mid-30s now, like in pop culture terms I'm old, so my opinion and my way of doing things is not the normal way of doing things any more. The normal way is to get it as fast and cheap as possible. It's fucked up, but what can you do?

What do you miss about Phoenix? I definitely loved how close-knit everything was and [how] the community was tight and you didn't have to travel far. When I was living in Tempe, I could literally walk or ride my skateboard to all my friend's houses. L.A. has this weird, fucked up car culture where you drive everywhere, have to find parking, and deal with idiots experiencing road rage and stuff. There was a year or two when I lived in Tempe and didn't even own a car. The scene was smaller and seemed a little bit more intimate, like everybody had each other's backs and supported each other's stuff. I have that out here too, it's just that people are a little more competitive and everyone's trying to make. Whereas in Arizona, it was more for the love of it.

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Benjamin Leatherman is a staff writer at Phoenix New Times. He covers local nightlife, music, culture, geekery, and fringe pursuits.