So I was chilling at this year’s Boston Comic Con, walking up and down the rows upon rows of artist alley, when suddenly I saw a table filled with wondrous images of adorable kiddos and a certain smiling raccoon friend of theirs. Cute kids and a rodent, now that got my attention! Mesmerized, I made my way to the artist’s table and realized this crazy dude was giving his stuff away. And not just comics- if you were lucky enough to come by this cat’s table on Friday night, he was also giving away prints and shirts (other days, the creator was selling the prints and shirts, but the comics were still free).
After grabbing as much free stuff as I could, I went home to read the comic to decide if I cared to write an article about it. An endorsement from Jay Deitcher(AKA me) means a lot because I hate most everyone. After reading the physical printing of his web comics, I decided that this cat was above decent, very much above decent. He gets two thumbs up with sound effects.
The next day, I hunted the artist down. He is a 21-year old Boston native named L. J. Baptiste. The first thing I did was ask him why the heck someone would give their comics away, and if it was because he was such a cocky maniac that he thought people would become addicted to his work. He stated, rather humbly, that he just wanted to expose people to his art.
L. J.’s web comic, Comixscape, is about “a 12-year old boy named Tyler Wesley and his adventures in his new neighborhood. Along the way he makes friends, enemies and figures out just where he fits in within the madness that is his new environment!” (Yay, I stole that description straight from the comic’s website.) The comic is up to issue #82, and new issues drop every Monday and Thursday. There are also three motion comics adapting the early issues.
When I asked L. J. where he gets his ideas from and who inspires him, he told me his influences include Jeff Smitt (Bone), Butch Hartman (The Fairly OddParents, Danny Phantom), Stephen Silver (Kim Possible, Danny Phantom), Mike Krahulik (Penny Arcade), and Eiichiro Oda (One Piece). He said, like the main character, Tyler, he also moved around a lot as a kiddo. He used the main character’s moving as a plot point to introduce him to the other characters.
I asked L. J. if he also had rodent friends during his youth. Sadly, he did not, but he was a big fan of Mario and had an affinity to the Tanooki suit. When he needed a sidekick for the main character, he decided it had to have the same flare as the Tanooki threads.
L. J.’s comics are appropriate for all-ages, but he said he avoids using that term. He writes for “anyone who likes fun comics.” He never wants his comics to talk down to people the way that many all-ages books do. When discussing the lack of swearing or gratuitous violence in his comics, he said it was because, “I try to keep it a reflection of who I am ‘cause… I am not really a vulgar person. I don’t really swear a lot.”
Check out the web comic and the motion comic here.