[Editor’s Note: This is the fifth in a series of some of my favorite webcomics creator interviews that previously ran on WizardUniverse.com and were a part of the site’s archives that are no longer hosted there. Jon Rosenberg’s Goats is one of those webcomics that could really have only been born in webcomics. He’s also one of my favorite individual creators in the webcomic world. Hearing that the strip is getting released in 2009 in a series of print volumes from Del Rey made me really happy. This interview was originally posted on September 25, 2006.]
Jonathan Rosenberg’s webcomic Goats has been raking in the hits since he first launched it 1997. Nine years later, the creator is making a living off of his surreal fantasy strips that shift settings and characters as often as he pleases and long ago dumped his daily journal format for outer space, demonic chickens and extra-dimensional exploits.
BRIAN WARMOTH: Goats started off as an autobiographical strip and morphed into something else all together. What changed along the way, and why did you change creative gears so drastically?
JONATHAN ROSENBERG: One of the things I hate about newspaper comics today is how static they are, how unmoving the styles and characters and plots can be. An audience can tell when an artist is uninterested in their work, when they’re phoning it in. So you’ve got to keep the work interesting, keep creating fresh challenges for yourself. If you’re not learning and growing then it becomes this repetitive, pointless exercise. After ten years I’ve found a way to integrate change into the nature of the strip, so that it becomes a part of how the strip functions. These characters have a literally unlimited universe to play in and/or kill each other. Anything can happen. It’s always new for me, so I’m having fun with it, and I hope that makes it more fun for a reader as well.
This isn’t the sort of thing that would fly in a traditional newspaper environment, but as an independent artist I don’t need to appeal to the same aunts-and-uncles demographic that a newspaper does. Aunts and uncles always want to see the same thing on their comics pages. They feel safe from Soviet attacks when they see good ol’ Dagwood eating one of his large sandwiches. They love consistency above all.
My life is far too boring for me to take the sort of interest in it that a daily comic strip would require. It would mostly be a strip about me running out of breakfast cereal. I prefer fictional autobiographies to the real ones.