INTERVIEW | A Chat With Portland Artist Ross Jackson Before The YVR Comic Arts Festival

May 17, 2017.

Ross-Jackson

by Thalia Stopa | Ross Jackson is a Portland-based comic artist, writer and pizza delivery man who occasionally teaches children’s comics classes at the Independent Publishing Resource Centre. I’ve been acquainted with Jackson for over five years and we’ve shared some epic Portland adventures — he was the one who drove me to the hospital after I broke my wrist falling off the Portland Esplanade during a drunken night bike ride…and then he drew a mini comic about it on my sling. Jackson will be crossing borders on May 20th to participate in the fifth annual Vancouver Comic Arts Festival. In the meantime, he was happy to avoid working on his new book to answer some questions about VanCAF, Portland, and beer, of course!

What neighbourhood do you live and what makes it home? I don’t know what my neighbourhood is called exactly. It’s Powelhurst adjacent, but I don’t think it’s 100% actual Powelhurst? The parts of my neighbourhood that make it home are the hidden hiking trails on Kelley Butte behind my house and the Roman Russian Market down the road where the best and freshest bread is made.

Cats or dogs? I am very much a dog person. I like dogs a whole lot. I am allergic to most cats, but some of them can get it.

The best thing about teaching kids? Kids have super weird stretchy brains and they come up with stuff you could never think of in a million years. I’m constantly surprised and charmed by the stories and characters kids come up with.

The worst thing about teaching kids? Lots of references to YouTubers. Also, nuclear war comes up in a lot of stories.

What makes you sad? Kids making comics about nuclear war. It’s important to process those feelings through art, but it does bum me out. There are so many beautiful things in this world and I don’t want any of it to go away.

What, without a doubt, cheers you up? I like to people watch. Whenever I catch someone blissing out on their own private world in a public place, it really brightens my day.

Tell me a joke or funny anecdote. I was delivering a pizza the other day and saw a little girl, maybe 8 or 9 years old, fully armoured up in a bike helmet and pads. She had dragged a stool out from behind some bushes to the base of her window. From there, she proceeded to practice climbing into and out of what I assumed, at the time, was her house. I’ve had a lot of fun trying to make sense of that moment.

What was your weirdest source of inspiration? My comic “Way Out Here” contains a scene that was partially inspired by a story my friend Brianne told me about a film she had worked on while employed at a custom fetish video studio. In the film, a woman in a tight latex dress is constantly farting as she prepares for an evening out on the town. She farts to the vanity to apply make up. She farts to the kitchen to fix a snack. She hears a strange sound from the laundry room and farts on over to investigate. Upon opening the washing machine, a little demon with garden shears jumps out and chops her head off.

How long have you been making comics for? About six years now.

Describe your day (today) in a haiku.

Draw scan stir crazy
Holy moly take a walk
Fam in town tonight!

How are you getting ready for VanCAF? Anxiously trying to finish a book, reprint another, make t-shirts and look for a new car because mine just broke down!

Name your three icons. Daniel Handler, MF Doom, and Chetna Makan.

If you could only eat one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be? Is it okay to say sushi and have that answer encompass an infinite variety of sushi?

Best Portland meal? Sushi at Saburo’s or the vegan mezze platter at Nicholas Restaurant.

Favourite place in Portland? Definitely the Independent Publishing Resource Center. It’s how I found a home in this city.

Best Portland brewery and beer? I really like the Oblique Coffee Blonde and the Honey Ginger Lime Sour at Cascade Brewing.

The three places in Portland that you’d recommend to a visitor? Besides what I’ve already mentioned, I love the Japanese Gardens, Floating World Comics, and Clinton Street Records.

The thing you are most looking forward to visiting in Vancouver? My Canadian friends who I haven’t seen in too long. In my limited experience, Vancouver is a city teeming with truly lovely people.

The dish you are most looking forward to eating in Vancouver? Last time I visited, I had a salmon sashimi rice bowl with pink rice from some spot in New Westminster. I wouldn’t mind eating that again.

Favourite beer of all time? I don’t have a firm answer for this, but sometimes I find myself thinking about the Chipotle Sour from Point Ybel Brewing and the Export India Porter from The Kernel.

If you could visit anywhere in the world, where would it be?
Kamikochi Japan. Have you seen photos of that place? It’s like the Swiss Alps but the river banks all have sandy beaches!

What’s the title of your future comic memoir? American Elf 2.

What tunes get your creative juices going? Lately I’ve been really into the single “It’s All Good” by Superorganism and the new Kendrick Lamar record.

If you could inhabit any comic universe, what would it be? I want to live in The Far Side, but I also want to be cute.

Tell me your dream collaboration. I would love to see more Masaaki Yuasa adaptations of Taiyo Matsumoto comics, specifically “Sunny.” Those stories are so sweet and human and they overflow with all that exhaustive energy kids seem to have. Yuasa would do such a good job with that material.

If you suddenly lost use of your hands for some reason, what would you do? I’d probably try to draw with mostly wrist action like John Callahan or I’d dictate stories to a robot who would inevitably misunderstand me. I would count my blessings lest I lose my wrists and voice.

You make first contact with extraterrestrials and must create a comic for them…what’s it about? It would probably be about an inanimate object with a complex inner life projected upon it by the humans it comes into contact with.

How do you want to be remembered? I would love to be remembered as someone who was constantly observing and sharing small moments of beauty, and also knew the most effective time to deploy a good fart joke.

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