Justin Peterson is the artist and writer behind the graphic novel series Very Near Mint, a muralist for Tijuana Flats, an illustrator for Mad magazine, and the designer of Maker Faire Orlando’s badges and t-shirts featuring the Orlando Science Center T-Rex, Stan, since last year. He keeps busy, but he found time to give us some insight into his artistic process and what inspires him to create!
What first got you interested in being an artist? Who or what are your influences?
Honestly, I don’t know what made me become an artist! It’s all I’ve ever really been good at. I found out early that drawing was in my blood. Maybe three, four years old, I started drawing all the time. Early influences would have been cartoons, like every kid!
I was really into Peanuts by Charles Schulz, who’s still one of my biggest influences, and other comic strips like Calvin and Hobbes. I started reading comic books in middle school, and fell in love with artists like Chris Bachalo and Joe Madureira, who both drew X-Men comics.
How would you describe your style?
“Angular” was always a word my teachers would use. I think it’s loosened up over the years, though. One thing lots of folks say when they look at my work these days is “it’s really funny!” I try to bring some fun and some energy to my drawings. I went to college for animation, and while it’s easy to bring life to moving characters on a screen, it’s much harder to convey that with static, still images. ENERGETIC! ANGULAR! CARTOONY! FUN!
Tell us about your graphic novel series, Very Near Mint. What’s it about and what’s the creative process like?
Very Near Mint is the story of two guys, Colin and Sam, who own a comic book shop. One day, a new, rival comic shop opens up across the street, and this new shop is out for revenge! Over the course of the books, you find out just why this rival comic shop wants to destroy Colin and Sam’s shop. It’s really a love letter to comic books and to comic book shops.