Jim Mahfood aka Food One is an illustrator/comic book artist/muralist/live art rocker residing in LA. He is the creator of the art style known as Visual Funk: a hybrid mix of comix art, graffiti, manga, street art, and funk culture. Jim single-handedly introduced Live Art to the American comic book scene. Food has worked for every major comic book publisher and his list of comics credits include Clerks (with filmmaker Kevin Smith), Grrl Scouts, Stupid Comics, Felt, Bad Ideas, various Spider-Man books for Marvel, One Page Filler Man, Kick Drum Comix, Carl, the Cat That Makes Peanut Butter Sandwiches, and more. His illustrations have appeared in magazines like Playboy, MAD Magazine, Star Wars Gamer, URB, BadAzz Mofo, BPM, and so on. He’s painted murals in such locations as the Spike TV building, Munky King toys, IGN.com, and the Sarah Silverman Program on Comedy Central. Jim’s ongoing, autobio comic strip “Los Angeles Ink Stains” appears regularly right here! His popular podcast, The Beat Bee Sessions (with co-host Jane Dope) can be downloaded for free at: http://thebeatbeesessions.libsyn.com. His website is here
We where lucky enough to catch up for an interview.
HST: Carl the Cat that Makes Peanut Butter Sandwiches, published by nerdcore, is one of the tightest comics I have ever had the pleasure to read, and I seriously mean that. It’s a perfect mix of humor, seriously Horney hip hop honeys and eskimo gangsters. Carl has to hold a personal spot in your heart, right?
JM: Ha ha, yea, thanks! That was definitely the most fun I ever had doing a comic book. I did the book on a dare. The Nerdcore guys dared me I couldn’t do an entire book in two weeks and I said, “Fuck you”, and turned in Carl. Fun stuff.
HST: Shit, I tell ya man, if carl ever gets fed up with his woman (uki), you give her my details. Was she based on a real person, both mentally and physically?
JM: All my characters are loosely based on various people I have encountered throughout my life. I have lived in four different cities now, and traveled a lot so, I’ve been really fortunate in meeting some of the most interesting and exciting people. They seem to find their way into my work one way or another. Every straight dude or lesbian girl has asked me if Yuki is based on one single individual girl and I always have to say, “You wish”.
HST: Haha, glad im not the only one – you invented the perfect woman dude. I like to think of it [carl] as a Hip Hop remix of the classic Jamie Hewlett joint, Tank Girl. Do you have any artists that have inspired you? Not only artistically, perhaps you draw inspiration from music or film. You got a muse?
JM: Jamie Hewlett is at the top of my list as far as inspiration goes. I take cues from him and other comic guys, especially Jack Kirby, from the fine art world, from street art to music, the James Brown stylings, all that. Lots of various sources go into my art. Too many to mention, really.
HST: You mention Ralph Steadman as an influence, especially behind the erratic and sporadic brush strokes behind your inking styles. Being free with the actual process of art is one thing, but you also have that freedom with your narrative and characters. Is there a process or do you just smoke a shed load of weed?
JM: The process is always different depending on the project. And the booze and drug situation…sometimes it’s present, sometimes not at all. It always varies. But in the last two years I have developed more of a free, spontaneous, attack- first-ask-questions-later approach to doing art. You can convey more energy and emotion that way, I have found. It’s more exciting to do and it’s more exciting for the viewer to look at. I don’t like things that are stiff or boring.
HST: How much is the porn scene a part of your life. Is it just the vibe or are you a collector? Maybe its got nothing to do with porn and your just a huge fan of the female form?
JM : Porn is cool, I’m a guy so of course I’m into it or whatever, but I am more just a fan of women in general. I like cool, smart, badass girls. It’s as simple as that. I like to draw them and write about them in my comics and stuff. Women are way more fun and interesting and challenging to draw than men. It’s always an exploration of sorts, trying to figure it out. There’s way more things you can do with women’s hair, clothing, fashion, attitude, and anatomy than you can do with dudes. It’s just fun.
HST: I have heard you be compared to Bode and Schultz. Thats not your average run of the mill dudes there. Bode is a personal hero of mine. What’s your thoughts on that? No pressure, right?
JM: Bode is a hero of mine, too. He was a genius. I love his stuff. I was fortunate enough to be able to hang out with his son, Mark, a couple times. He even drew a dope Cheech Wizard in my sketchbook! Schultz is, of course, the man. His influence would be most present in my Los Angeles Ink Stains comics, which appear to be drawn in a crude, super simple style, but hopefully once you get in there and start reading you realize there is something a bit more layered and complex (and funny) going on in there.
HST: Any of the street heads taken a liking to any of your strips and plugged em around the city in paint, the same way the world of graff embraced Bode’s Puk and Cheech wizard?
JM: Years ago some dude in Brooklyn painted a sic mural of the Grrl Scouts on a wall out here and a bunch of people sent me photos of it. Not so much of that kind of thing has happened lately.
HST: Didja draw as a kid Jim, whats changed from then to now, aside the obvious. Even industry wise.
JM: Yep, I started out young and out hooked on drawing right away. Comics were my main thing and I focused on that. But once I got in and realized that the American comic book industry is sort of this half-assed machine, and super heroes dominate 95% of the biz, I branched off and began pursuing other styles of art.
HST: You ran the art works for the Clerks Comics, that must have been a shit load of fun, having free reign after the film to fuck around with Randle and the lads.
JM: Yeah, that was blast to draw. Kevin Smith wrote super-tight, super-professional scripts for me to draw from, so it was a real pleasure and a real challenge that early on in my career. I was still a rookie when I did that stuff, it was a great launching pad for a career, for real.
HST: You ran the Colt 45 advertising campaign in 2008, you a fan of the drink, please tell me your not a straight edge, with a hook up like that!
JM: I got so much free beer from that gig! It was amazing! That whole time I was working for Colt, they would sponsor all of our art shows and live art events…so they would send crates and crates of that shit to whatever venue we were at and everyone would get trashed off of free malt liquor.
HST: Sounds pretty close to heaven man, not much better than free booze. Jennifers Body was also a comic you were involved in, right? Gotta admit I never got a chance to cop a look at the sucker, was that before or after the film?
JM: It was before the film, I think. I can’t remember. I just drew 12 pages or something like that for the book. It was cool. The best thing that came from it was I snuck me and my friends into the Jennifer’s Body Party at San Diego Comic-Con in 2009 and we drank and ate for free all night and Megan Fox was there and everything. It was wild.
HST: Your life just keeps sounding better and better, im actaully choaking on my own jelousy right now dude, better keep this short, haha. Whats next? Carl ever make a come back?
JM: Carl had his come back last year in Heavy Metal Magazine. I did a ten-page story about Carl and Yuki going into outer space. As for right now, I’m currently illustrating Ziggy Marley’s comic book, “Marijuana Man”. My buddy Joe Casey is writing it and we are having a damn good time doing it. I’m also doing my own comic/zine called “Scum of the Earth”. It’s an on-going thing. My thing. Me having fun and doing whatever I want. The first issue is sold-out and the second one is available here: 40 oz Comics.