Words by Marissa Bucci. Photo by Frederator.
James Kochalka is a versatile cartoonist who’s projects range from works for kids to shows for adults. He’s also the Cartoonist Laureate of Vermont, an amazing honor. “It’s like being the state flower,” quips Kochalka. For 14 years, he was the creative mind behind the cartoon strip American Elf, which ran both online and in the Seven Days newspaper.
His current show is a YouTube sensation called SuperF*ckers, which started initially as a graphic novel. Kochalka was content with it remaining that way, but the independent production company Frederator approached him to turn it into an animated series, and he couldn’t say no. The experience has been considerably different than anything Kochalka had ever participated in before, but it has been an immensely positive experience. “It’s just that with SuperF*ckers I had a ton of really talented people at my disposal to help me make it just the way I wanted,” he says. In terms of the animated series, some of the episodes are based off of events from the SuperF*ckers book, but they are often radically changed to suit the new medium. “Basically, it’s superheroes living in a clubhouse in a kind of college-dorm type situation,” is how Kochalka describes his show. While his characters are not based off of anyone in particular, their situations are often based on experiences that James himself had in high school and college—“of course it’s very very fictionalized,” he’s quick to add.
When he’s not working on SuperF*ckers, James draws for other childrens books, as well as drawing comics for the SpongeBob SquarePants comic book, creating a new line of video games, doing a new comic strip for a local paper, and working on a new book series about Glorkian Warriors. As if that weren’t impressive enough, Kochalka also has a show of 143 of his own paintings at a gallery in Los Angeles, raises his two children, and is also in a band called James Kochalka Superstar.
James Kochalka is passionate about everything that he does: his band has been in existence since his freshman year at UVM (though then it was called Jazzin’ Hell), and he has been drawing comics since he was a young boy (his father was an editor at a paper in Springfield, VT). His work is both witty and hilarious, so definitely check out his show on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLiX4Vdj0hSkRMvZrvuzY_M7_drTKc6m0Y! Kochalka himself plays the characters of Grotus and a newly invented character called Sh*tstorm. On the subject of the latter, all Kochalka has to say is “Sh*tstorm likes to party.” Enough said.