By Leo Link, Eastside News
Over the years, Madison has produced its share of artists and writers of comics, and there’s a new artist putting himself out there creating comic books and event posters. This artist is East High School student Moritz E. Junker, and the senior is making a name for himself creating comics.
“I’ve been drawing comics since I was a little kid, but I started publishing them a little less than 3 years ago,” Junker said. “I’ve always been very interested in drawing and storytelling, and have always done it for fun.
“I want to continue making comic books and do it professionally someday. I’m applying to colleges for art right now, so I hope that works out.”
Junker has been publishing Thrills of Mediocrity since 2021. The stories usually follow four main characters, Mediocre Guy, Cranium Carl, Arthur Pole and Jane. The tone of Thrills of Mediocrity has changed since its start. Instead of straight-up ridiculousness (like a man’s life changing due to watered-down soda) its plots are now more plausible and slowly devolve into insanity.
That tone is most apparent in Thrills No. 7, where Mediocre Guy and his friends go to Arthur Pole’s cabin, but after arriving, everything falls apart. Issue No. 8, released in February, follows the aftermath of the trip to Pole’s cabin.
Junker began self-publishing comics to emulate the cartoonists he looked up to.
“Recently my biggest influence is either Daniel Clowes or Chris Ware. I enjoy Clowes (creator of the graphic novel “Ghost World”) because of his humor and his ability to perfectly capture very specific, strange people,” Junker said. “I enjoy Ware (creator of the graphic novel ‘Jimmy Corrigan, the Smartest Kid on Earth’) because of how well he conveys feelings using visuals and space, as well as how bittersweet and beautiful his stories are. When I was younger, I also really enjoyed Jeff Smith and Matt Groening’s Life in Hell.”
Smith is best known for the Bone comic series, and Groening is best known for creating “The Simpsons.”
One noticeable aspect that sets Junker apart from the major comic publishers, is that he self-inks every page. Apart from the cover, everything is in black and white.
Unlike the typically creative process followed by major companies (developing a plot outline, followed by a script, then finally creating the art for the comic), Junker does things differently.
“I don’t write any kind of script. I usually have a general idea for what’s going to happen, but I decide what’s going to happen on the page once I actually go to draw it,” Junker said. “Usually, I get my ideas for comics from things in my life or things I just think are interesting. I usually have a few random ideas I think are really good and then try and form a story around them.”
Starting this fall, Junker has begun taking commissions for concert and event posters. If you’ve seen recent Wristwatch or Whippets posters, Junker did the art. His most recent commission was for Madfest Juggling, which took place Jan. 13 at the Barrymore Theatre.
Thrills of Mediocrity No. 8 and the available back issues are sold at Graham Cracker Comics, MadCity Music, Isotope Comics in San Francisco and on his website. He usually sells between 50-100 copies per issue.
“But recently that (number has) been going up.”
For more information, visit junkercomics.com.
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February 1, 2024
Art by members of the Madison Art Guild