Queries Quintus

Interview conducted and written by Corissa Poley

This is the first in the Queries Quintus series with WHALE; interviews with artists and writers containing five (quintus, in Latin) basic conversational queries.

Our very first guest is none other than the talented illustrator and animator Vince Mascoli, of Portland, OR. Vince has been drawing since he can remember, and has led projects such as Amanda Palmer/Evelyn Evelyn’s Sandy Fishnets music video since he graduated from UArts Philadelphia in 2009. His video animation Dear Dad, Love Maria was featured on various LGBT and trans, and media sites such as Yet Another Magazine. We’re glad to have him on Queries Quintus today, and we’re going to ask him questions about comics and his new webcomic, Boy & Terrence Marmalade.

Vince

Vince currently works in retail during the day and nighttimes as a comic artist and animator. He also likes to hang out with his fiancee Mallory and his pit bull Tippi, and regularly drink delicious red ales. Sometimes, he gets rad on rollerskates and goes to the skate park. You can view his portfolio here. Let’s get started.

(1) How did you come up with the idea for Boy and Terrence Marmalade?

Vince: Basically an entire summer of doing nothing but reading Neil Gaiman novels and listening to the Chronicles of Narnia on radio-play. One day I just drew a derpy unicorn, like a fat, derpy unicorn like this and was just like, “What’s a name for this?” and “Terrence Marmalade, that sounds like a great name!” Then two years of stewing over this, and I had a sort of script going and hadn’t really done much. I just started playing around with it and thought about The Horse and His Boy and that’s basically my favorite of the Chronicles of Narnia stories. It’s funny because it’s my dad’s favorite and it used to never be my favorite. But listening to it again,  it’s such a great adventure story that I thought it would be fun to kind of lampoon it, or at least take the basic premise behind it where a boy is escaping slavery and make it ridiculous.

Terrence MarmaladeI got tired of making things that made people cry. I wanted to do things that made people laugh. So I found that just sending the script out to people that a lot of people like it, find it really, really funny. The dialogue in it and the narration and stuff, which I’m really happy about, because I really enjoy silly, tongue-in-cheek narration. Like telling a story about unicorns where unicorns are not much more than these shetland pony style things.

Then, imagine these things being born from a rainbow and crashing down and destroying things they land on, just because they’re kind of haphazard. This whole country has nothing but these unicorns that are not magical in any sense of the word, other than they are born from a rainbow. I don’t really know what happens to the other unicorns, though. I have not figured that out yet. There are unicorns that show up demonstrating how they are born… So, it seems like a common thing that there are these piles of unicorns. Maybe most of them evaporate, or something? Unless someone takes them in… Like Terrence Marmalade.

Basically an entire summer of doing nothing but reading Neil Gaiman novels and listening to the Chronicles of Narnia on radio-play.”

I just really enjoy telling silly stories and making people laugh. The immediacy of putting out a webcomic is really nice. For the most part, if I get a comment, I can see it right away and gauge reactions. It’s been pretty cool, my webcomics experience in general. When I was doing my old comic, that was a pretty good primer in seeing that I could actually do a webcomic. I had been planning on doing Terrence Marmalade as well, but life happened and I didn’t want to work on anything, or do anything other than move at that point. But now, where I’m at in my life, something clicked and I thought, “Oh! I should work on that. I haven’t done anything.” I need something to work on so I don’t feel like I’m just wasting my life in retail.

WHALEBeing in the right place in life really facilitates creativity. Being able to center yourself.

Yeah, it usually takes massive depression for me to write anything. It’s almost like what if Conor Oberst got married and had kids and was super happy with his life. He couldn’t create the same stuff. So, it’s good to find out that I can actually create shit that makes me happy, without having to be unhappy in the first place.

(2) What about comics inspires you?

V: I’ve always loved drawing, I’ve loved art in general, and I’ve loved telling stories. It’s become a means to an end, because I enjoy telling stories but I don’t always enjoy working with other people. I get to work by myself and define more of what I get to do and less having to deal with conforming with someone else’s schedule. (Although that’s fun, too – I’ve done a little bit of animation work where I’ve gotten to work in a group and it’s interesting to see the differences.) But I’m used to working on my own, it’s nice. Also, they’re just fun to read. I read webcomics pretty much all the time. I have an RSS feed that’s only for webcomics and stuff like that.

I’m watching Strip Search right now, which is the Penny Arcade reality show that’s online and it’s pretty funny, and one of the artists that’s in it – there’s actually two from Portland, and I just got to meet them at Stumptown Comics Fest this weekend. The one I met before and she’s really nice and really funny.

I just really enjoy telling silly stories and making people laugh.”

(3) Who’s your favorite cartoonist?

V: Yeah, in terms of comics as far as overall storytelling goes, I’m really into Questionable Content. It’s by a guy named Jeph Jacques. He is pretty awesome. It started out as this kind of snarky indie-kid comic, in the way that it was themed around indie music, he made jokes about Arcade Fire and stuff. The first time I read it I was in college and he had like a thousand comics in his archive, yeah it was around a thousand at that time. I read them all in a single night while I was pulling an all-nighter. It was completely insane the next day, because I just started talking like all the characters.  They would try to be really quick, and I thought I was being really quick but looking back on it, shit, man, I was not quick at all…

Otherwise, comic artists… I’m really into Meredith Gran’s work. She does Octopus Pie, and she did the Adventure Time Comics, Marceline and Scream Queens. I met her at the Fruit Stand once and she was really nice. Another guy I just got to meet, Ben Dewey, does this stuff called The Tragedy Series. He does these really awesome drawings that are super nicely, beautifully done, and then have a tragic thing or something kind of non-sequitur with it. Here’s one I bought this weekend. (Sheriff Puppy drawing.) He was a very nice guy, I got to meet him this weekend, he’s super cool. And of course, he drew Sheriff Puppy. Anyone that draws Sheriff Puppy can’t be a terrible person at all.

(4) What drew you to… Well, drawing?

V: I’ve always done it, I don’t know. I’ve drawn ever since I was a little kid. That was like, what I enjoyed doing all the time.

I had uncles that were artists and making livings as artists, so growing up it didn’t seem to be an outlandish thing to want to be an artist, which is good. I didn’t want to starve, but now of course I’m starving. It was a good lesson, in that I could do what I liked and didn’t have to worry about people saying, “Oh, you can’t do that! That’s dumb!” My parents didn’t do that, though my mom wanted me to be a writer. She doesn’t know that suicide rates are higher in writers than they are in artists in general.

This kind of bridges that gap, because I do love writing, and it’s partially why I just enjoy comics too. But to circle back, I’ve always done drawing and art. It’s become much less therapeutic now that I’ve had to do it for work, but it’s really good to go out and hang out with people that draw and draw with them.

(5) Tell us about Portland, Oregano.

V: I really like it. The winter is a little hard sometimes because a lot of people start getting symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder. I know once it starts raining I have to start taking Vitamin D to compensate. Like, I’ll just grab a handful of it and shove it in my mouth.  But the positive side is that it never fucking snows. That was the best thing about moving off of the East Coast. It always fucking snowed and it was horrible. And it’s cold as hell! Here it never gets colder than 35 degrees. Everything shuts down when there’s a half an inch of snow on the ground.

I know once it starts raining I have to start taking Vitamin D to compensate. Like, I’ll just grab a handful of it and shove it in my mouth.”

Terrible drivers, though. I’m used to people that are aggressive drivers. People in Oregon and Washington are passive-aggressive drivers, in that they just don’t pay attention or they try to be so polite that it fucks up everything and everything is terrible in traffic. Thankfully, I don’t have to drive but my fiancee does, so she deals with that and I get to hear those stories.

W: Sounds like a good place to ride a bike.

Bikes are good here. It’s not as much of a full contact sport as it is in Philadelphia. But I really don’t do it as often because I am a wimp and don’t like riding in the rain, and don’t feel like spending all the money for the supplies you need to properly ride in the rain without getting wet.

Otherwise, bars are great here. Beer, very good. I had to learn how to drink things that weren’t lagers, and once I learned I started drinking IPAs and red ales. Now I’m just a huge beer nut, and so is Mallory. It’s a big soccer town as well. We have the Portland Timbers, the MLS team, as well as the women’s Portland Thorns. I went to a drink and draw recently, also.

Parting Words?

V: Please read my comic because it’s awesome! It’s really fun. This chapter is pretty straightforward and explanatory, with some fun moments. After that, we get to see rabbits that fly and shoot lasers out of their mouths.

We get to see rabbits that fly and shoot lasers out of their mouths.”

Thanks for joining us, Vince! The story of Boy and Terrence Marmalade has an excellent narrative and enough silliness for plenty of laughs. Don’t forget to check it out, and connect on Facebook or Tumblr. You can also follow him on Twitter.

Below you’ll see a soundless video of Vince drawing Terrence Marmalade for his most recent page.