Interview with “Cartoon Called Life” creator, Juri
Where are you from?
I come from Slovakia, where I spent my entire childhood before moving abroad as a young adult ten years ago. I spent 9 years in France, first in Lyon and then in Paris, before moving to Belgium early last year.
Could you tell us a bit about your background? Family, childhood, how you get interested to start drawing?
I’m a kid from the 80’s, born in former Czechoslovakia, which was going through big political troubles back then, which of course had a strong influence on my daily life. As a kid you don’t really feel or see it, but now that I look at it with more distance, I see how particular my childhood actually was. On top of it, as in many other countries, Slovakia was not a gay-friendly country back then. When I was young I didn’t even know what the word ‘gay’ meant. We had no internet or social media back then and it was impossible to get to some information, and it obviously didn’t help me to understand what I was going through. I was just confused about myself. Therefore, as a teenager, drawing became my escape from reality. I spent hours and hours in my imaginary world, drawing and painting, instead of facing the real world. I believe my passion for drawing definitely comes from there.
Do you have a favourite cartoon or cartoon figure?
As a kid I was a huge fan of Cartoon Network TV. My favourite cartoons were Cow and Chicken, Powerpuff Girls, Dexter’s Lab…. Actually, there were so many I loved! I didn’t even understand English back then, but I was fascinated by those colourful cartoons, all drawn in the traditional “old-school” way, with black outlines. I believe it has been an important influence for my work.
Who is that rabbit? Have you ever had a real one?
The story behind the rabbit is very simple actually. I’m not particularly big fan of pets, never even had one. It all started with my first boyfriend, who gave me the nickname “my little bunny”. I started to draw the first doodles for him. The boyfriend is long gone now, but the bunny remains, and he became sort of my alter ego, who lives his own life in the world of “Cartoon Called Life”, chasing handsome bearded guys.
The quotes on your illustrations are most of your personal „loves and problems” or just generally about being gay?
The main part of the situations I’m depicting in my comic are the situations and stories from my own life, or from people surrounding me. Growing up as a gay person, I quickly understood that the only way how to not let people making fun of you because you are different is to make fun of yourself before they do. So even nowadays, when something “bad” happens in my life, I always try to remain positive, and I tell myself “Oh, you got stood up by a guy, but hey, that’s gonna make a cool story for the comic!” (laughter). Cartoon Called Life is about making people smile, with easy, light jokes, that everybody can relate to. I believe the best way to deal with our little and bigger life problems is humour.
Do you have any big plan with Cartoon called life for 2017?
Yes! Actually 2017 is going to be an important year for Cartoon Called Life! After 4 years of drawing this comic and publishing it online, I will self-publish my first book this autumn! I’m obviously super excited about this project as it has always been my ultimate dream to publish my work. It’s sort of a dream that finally becomes true, thanks to the help of my dear friend who is also now my business partner.
As I want to keep my artistic freedom and my independence, I have decide to publish this book without any established publisher. For that reason, I’m launching a crowdfunding operation on the platform Kickstarter to finance this project. The crowdfunding will start on the 15th of June, and last for 30 days. We propose to everyone who is willing to help us many interesting rewards. So, if you like Cartoon Called Life, go visit our project on Kickstarter, check out the rewards, make our choice and spread the word!
About the book:
“Cartoon Called Life – The Book” will be self-published in autumn 2017, in collaboration with Laurent Fierens Gevaert, and will be offically presented to the public on a book launch party in October 2017 Brussels.
…and any big plan in your personal life?
I hope not (laughter)! I’m still recovering from the moving from France to Belgium and this amazing project is taking most of my time!
What do you do in your spare time?
As a matter of fact, Cartoon Called Life is my “spare time activity”. I’m a designer of fabrics for fashion designers in my “real life” and my comic is what I do when I have time, usually early in the morning before I go to work. Some people work out, I draw. You should see my 6-pack on my fingers! (laughter)
Your Instagram looks like a huge fan of beards. What else are you looking for if you date with someone?
I’m not going to hide the fact that I have a slight beard obsession, as my own beard doesn’t grow at all, so that is definitely a thing I don’t compromise on, but more than anything else, I always fall for guys who can make me laugh.
After the interview in 3 of days, seems like the kickstarter project is really succesful, so we asked Juri about it.
You are just about to finish your first succesful Kickstarter campagne. What do you feel now, in a few weeks you will publish your first book. How is that?
I’m beyond excited! To publish a book was my dream since a was a little boy when I was creating little paper books and pretending they were real deal! Little did I know, four years ago, when I made the first doodle of the bunny, that it will be thanks to this little beard-obsessed creature that this dream will come true. Yet, I had no idea when we launched kickstarter that we would have such a positive feedback from our fan base! I am thankful for every single person who supports our kickstarter, and helping us making this dream come true. If we achieve more then our initial goal, we are adding extra pages to the book! So please keep on supporting the project and spread the word around you.