Artist Interview: Michael DeForge Is King Trash

The world of child mafias, gooey relatable beasts, funky leathery space dudes, soft bodies, diseased bodies, and crusty bodies, is the world of DeForge. Toronto-based Michael DeForge is running amuck in the independent comic’s scene. He is consistently putting out top-notch work executed in his very distinct style, a style that allows for plenty of room for experimentation while still being immediately recognizable as the “DeForge touch”. At age 24, with just a few years solidly devoted to comics, it’s amazing to imagine what he will achieve in his lifetime. On top of that, he does prop and effects for the wonderful Cartoon Network series Adventure Time. He has the drive. He has the look. He has it all. He is King Trash.

OK. Let’s start with the Deforge physical specs.

I think I’m 5″8? I’m not really sure. I’m probably like 160 or 170 pounds, but I don’t own a scale. I’m 24, my eyes are brown, I have black hair.

Alright, cool…so how’s that Adventure Time job?…character design right?

Mostly prop and effects design, but sometimes characters and other stuff. It’s awesome. I really like working for cartoonists. I work with Andy Ristaino, and he’s really patient with me and all of my screw-ups.

(from Fred Seibert’s Flickr)

Yea, that sounds really rad…tell me about the toronto comics scene, seems really strong.

Yeah, we have a nice group of cartoonists here. I see the Wowee Zonk group around a lot (Patrick Kyle, Ginette Lapalme, Chris Kuzma,) Zach Worton, Johnny Martz, Steve Wolfhard, and a few others. It’s nice that the Beguiling is here, since they’re really supportive of everyone and are the best comics store in the world.

(cover by Patrick Kyle)

Solid group… have you ever not drawn in that very distinct way you draw, it feels like you were born to draw like that way without any hesitation?

I think I purposely try to switch up my style a bit. I think it still always reads as something I’ve done, but something like Incinerator was drawn really differently from the way I went about, say, Lose #2. I like working on multiple projects that are all different from each other. If something is really densely gridded, I’ll want to move onto something airier right after – or if I’m working in black and white for a while, I like having the option of switching to color for something like Ant Comic.

Yea, makes sense…how many comics you got going right now?

Right now, my main projects are Lose #4, Kid Mafia #3 and Ant Comic. I also have some smaller stuff on the side, like my monthly strips and some mini-comics and work I’ve promised to anthologies.

Cool…so how is that 50 cent kid mafia experiment going?…I’m curious about that not so distant future of comics.

It’s going well! Paypal takes 30 cents of every transaction, but I think it at least subsidized the shipping cost of the last batch of minis I sent out. I’m always really late assembling my minis and sending them to stores, so I thought this might be a more efficient way of getting the comic out there for now.

Yea, and you embrace the digital world pretty fully right?…you’re a Cintiq man?

Yeah, I’m scanning my pencils and inking them with my tablet, for the most part. I’ve been working this way a while. If the pages are smaller, sometimes I can lay them out digitally too.

So I’m assuming that you as a comic artist grew naturally out of a lifetime of drawing…when did that happen exactly?

I’ve always been interested in drawing comics, but didn’t really commit to it until a few years ago, before then I was still drawing and did the occasional comic, but was more focused on working as an illustrator and I was pretty directionless with all of it. Like, I knew I wanted to write jokes, and I knew I wanted to draw, but I didn’t know how to put those things together yet. I had a lousy work ethic, too. I’d only draw whenever I “felt like it,” so when I did work on comics I wasn’t really putting my all into it. Anyway, I ended up having a year where I went through a lot of lousy stuff in my personal life, and also realized that I hated all my crappy artwork up until then, and decided to actually double down and try to take drawing comics seriously.

I get the feeling you love science, all the microscopic and interior views of life in your work…this right?

I think I love fake science. I like making things up, and diagrammatic drawings, but I’m actually a big dummy with those things, and lately I intentionally try to ignore information I hear or read about insects, since I don’t want too many actual “facts” to influence Ant Comic.

(for more visit What Things Do)

You got any pets?

I don’t!


Ok…do you have any interest in androgyny? That one comic in Thickness #2, and some of your interests on your Tumblr hint towards that…certain rock stars ‘n such.

I think it shows up in my work – definitely in some of my character designs. I’m not sure if it’s androgyny specifically that I’m interested in, but I’ve drawn comics focused on identity and ornamentation and body transformation, and gender definitely becomes a part of that.

Right on…any comic recommendations to the folks out there?

I really like The End of the Fucking World by Chuck Forsman right now. it is currently my favorite ongoing comic. Lately I’ve also been liking comics by Andy Burkholder, Katie Skelly, Alex Schubert, Patrick Kyle, Noel Freibert, Jane Mai, Edie Fake and Michael Comeau.

Anything you dieing to say right now?…or did we cover most of the Deforge?

Hahaha! Yeah, I don’t think there’s anything like burning inside of me to say!

Cool, that’s that then. THANKS MAN!

Sweet! Sounds good, dude!

Thanks for your time, I appreciate the patience.

Not at all! That was cool, it was nice talking to you!


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  • cool images, nice interview!