Jesse Todd Dockery was born and raised in Gray Hawk, Kentucky, in the shadow of the foothills of the Appalachian mountains.
Dockery self-published countless zines and over twenty collections of writings and artwork in the mid 90s through the early oughts, most of which were released under his now retired Hanging Dog Productions small press imprint (including collaborations with British outsider artist/musician Sexton Ming).
He is working with author Nick Tosches on the Spud Crazy graphic novel. A thirty page excerpt of this work-in- progress was released 2/3/11 along with a soundtrack disc in a limited edition published by Institute 193 to accompany an exhibition of the original art; the book also features an introduction by Richard Hell and an essay by Bob Levin. Institute 193 also exhibited the work at the Outsider Art Fair NYC 2013.
In collaboration with Brine Manley (of the Smacks! and other music/soundtrack projects), they recast the Faust myth as a hillbilly yarn, Creekwater, as yet unfinished, but was serialized in excerpt in North of Center.
After forays here and there, including a stint in White River Junction, VT, Dockery currently hangs his hat in London, KY.
How long does it take you to create a comic?
If I were guessing a finished 11 by 14 page could be finished in one or two days if all my pistons are firing and there are no major interruptions from outside my studio or a lack of discipline on my part. That said, if you count all the living, thinking, reading, and practice of trying to draw better into the equation there is a lot more time surrounding what gets me to that finished page.
Where do you get you inspiration for your comics from?
For all creative art forms, I think it's a combination of studying the form (be it reading comics, watching films reading prose books fiction or non fiction), practicing one's craft (in my case, drawing, or, for instance, a musician practicing his or her instrument), and living life, in general (something we all do, artists or not). When those three aspects are synchronized in one's life, if one's life is dedicated to creative forms, then I think inspiration almost become a minor point. The larger focus is on the craft and self-discipline to bring ideas/inspiration that comes in a flash and work that into a piece/collection of finished work that brings the idea and/or ideas into the finished form which (ideally) translates that to the viewer/audience.
Beyond that, if we are talking about influence, my influences come from everything from American film noir of the 1940s to the pre-Socratic philosopher Heraclitus to the paintings of Hieronymus Bosch's from the 1400s or the newspaper strip comics of Winsor McCay from the late 19th and early 20th century. A list of influences/inspiration like that could go on and on and on and on.
My primary inspiration is to create narratives that are meaningful to me (however particular and peculiar, if not bizarre, what is meaningful to me might be) and, as a consequence, hope that my set of skills are developed enough to make the graphic narrative meaningful/translate it to the reader.
Just tell us a little about yourself? Your background how you got into art?
Some of my earliest memories are of drawing as a child. I can't particularly recall a time in which I wasn't involved in drawing. Luckily, growing up in rural eastern Kentucky, I did not have parents who dissuaded me from the habit, but, rather, put crayons in my hands and encouraged it as a positive thing to do as a I got older (although I think I became more obsessed with the process of drawing than they ever would have hoped, as being an artist is not the most viable "career path"). Of course, reading comics (I can recall "reading" comics before I could actually read the text as a child) was my earliest and most profound influence. As I got older, I became aware of and interested in art history in a wider sense (which includes the history of comics and literature and film and music, etc.), so I bring much of that back into the comics that I draw now, which I see as nothing more or less than a synthesis of all these things back into the form we call comics, or sequential art, or narrative art, or graphic novels (which is really just nothing more or less than a long comic book), etc. etc.
Tell us about your process?
I'm largely self-taught as a cartoonist so it took me a long time of figuring out what pens and brushes and inks and what type of illustration board works for me, which is specific materials, and, relatively speaking, hard to find. I stick with the older, traditional ways of drawing (no disposable pens, or brush pens as opposed to brushes, etc.), using rapidograph technical pens and sable hair brushes and nibs for dip pens and india ink, for finished work drawing on 2 ply plate finish bristol board. I always keep and draw in a Moleskine sketchbook apart from finished work. Much of what is drawn in the sketchbook, which is usually just free associating and doodling of a sort, ends up becoming the seeds for larger narratives and/or moments within narratives. If an idea reveals itself to me and a story starts to shape, at some point I will begin writing/typing in a word processing file on the computer what is in essence a "script" for myself. When the script is finished or close enough to finished that I feel like I can begin work on the story I am drawing in comics form, I lay out the image in pencil, loosely, and then begin to draw in ink, which is my most favorite part of the process.
The other part of the process is the publishing aspect, in a wide sense, whether the piece I am working is for a self-published book, or a story meant to be sent off to be included in a collection with other cartoonists by a publisher, or any project for another publisher, even if it's self-contained, or if I'm merely making something I intend to scan and share on one of my blogs for free, etc. Scanning and working with the computer, connecting with publishers and other artists, and whether I'm just posting work to sharing via social media, or creating files that need to be print ready: all of that is important once the art is finished. However, unlike many modern cartoonists and other types of artists, I do not use any programs to augment my work digitally. When my comic pages and/or stand-alone illustrations are finished, they are self-contained complete works in which the scanner is, in essence, a photograph of the work, of a type.