Cameron Callahan

cameron callahan
cameron callahan
scrambled circuits
scrambled circuits

how would you describe what you do?
I doodle comics with the unabashed fury of a five year old.

I do cartoony and slightly autobiographical short comic stories where everyone is a robot or tentacly monster under the title SCRAMBLED CIRCUITS. Currently I have a 36 page minicomic that collects nine stories and a short, quarter size, 8 page holiday minicomic.

what are you currently working on?
Currently I’m compiling the stories for my next full length minicomic that should be done around March or April as well as working on some other unrelated, self contained short comics. I’m young, I don’t feel the need to plan ahead too much. I want to make about three ~30 page Scrambled Circuits collection through 2010 and in between work on individual stories and projects as they come.

what has had the greatest influence on your work?
Tons of stuff. The late 90s movie DARK CITY (and all three commentary tracks on the director’s cut DVD) has been a gigantic blob of inspiration and I find myself watching it over frequently. The Martin Scorsese movie BRINGING OUT THE DEAD is another I love to no end.

Matt Wagner has been a huge inspiration, too. MAGE, SANDMAN MYSTERY THEATRE, GRENDEL… Grendel, especially, is a small obsession. I have nearly every single issue (Both Dark Horse reprints and Comico originals), trades in both paperback and hardcover, Grendel statues, posters, shirts… old Comico Checklists with Grendel covers, magazines with Grendel covers… promo ashcan comics… a Grendel Prime trading card from an old Wizard magazine, fridge magnets… I cannot really verbalize how important this comic series is to me. The sheer scope of the series, the amount of collaboration, ridiculously inventive and ever changing narrative techniques… I don’t know, I just think everything about it is beautiful. Whenever I read something
about Grendel all anyone ever says when trying to sum up the series in a single sentence is that it is a study of aggression. Really, though, I think Grendel is about how people and their words can affect the world.

AMERICAN SPLENDOR was probably the most directionally inspirational to Scrambled Circuits. I love that Harvey Pekar comes off as nothing but sincere. I love that he’ll write a comic that is just his cartoon manifestation giving a monologue. I love the  different artists on each story. I love the way he writes dialog. I love it all.

also: OLD TIME RADIO. Seriously. http://www.archive.org/details/NightWatch This guy named Don Reed strapped 60 pounds of equipment to him so he could follow Culver City police around at night and record them in the 50s. This is one of my

favorites, some truly terrifying stuff. Domestic disputes, kidnapped kids, lost kids, gambling raids, murder cases, suicides… It’s jarring and scary and, oh god, HUMAN.

archive.org has a whole OTR section with some very great stuff. Fibber McGee and Molly is hilarious, X Minus One is great dramatizations of sci-fi stories, CBS Radio Workshop is a bizarre and captivating collection of unrelated stories, Information Please is a quiz show from the 40s that is funny, entertaining, and has some very cool guests on it (Alfred Hitchcock, Boris Karloff, CS Forrester, Groucho Marx…)

In this age of podcasts and everyone listening to them while walking or commuting or whatever, it amazes me more people don’t look to the past at these radio shows.  Some are shit, sure, but so many of them are worth it.

what is the greatest misconception about you or your work?

I dont know if I really know. As far as my comic doodling goes, I go out of my away to not ask people what they think. Sometimes people buy it or read it and that’s all I know, and sometimes they contact me to give their opinion. So far all the feedback has been unexpectedly positive, more than I could have hoped for. I’ve had people tell me they started writing and drawing their own comic after reading mine, and some other similar things. I’m certain there are people who maybe
actively hated it, or whatever, but I can’t say I have an accurate enough view of what people actually think to pick out a misconception.

Which is fine by me because all I want to do is doodle comics. Give me your opinion or don’t. Make judgments, assumptions, whatever. Either way I’m still going to be doodling comics.

what do you see as the main strengths and weaknesses of the medium you work in?
The low entry barrier is the greatest strength, I would say. It doesn’t take a large group of people with various specialized skill
sets, it doesn’t even have to take a ton of money. You can take typing paper and a ball point pen if you want. In fact, there is a whole community of people that will read or even pay for a copy of your awkwardly hand made minicomic you drew in blue pen on notebook paper. You won’t get rich but there are people that will be interested in your comic no matter what you think of its production values. Maybe it’s like that way with other story telling mediums and I just don’t realize it because I’m not looking in their direction, but I can’t think of another medium where a single person can create something with literally zero budget and still be able to create something that can entertain, touch, or educate people.

Weaknesses? I am blinded and can’t really answer. Comics are different from a lot of things, but that’s not to say they are weaker or less (or better) than those things. Maybe I’d say the general perception of comics the public has. I remember driving up to visit relatives and I was reading Matt Wagner’s MAGE. My father looked over to me and he said: “Don’t you ever read any real books?”

Heh.

how has technology impacted upon the work you do?
Twitter, facebook, message boards, etc etc etc. I have sold my silly doodle books to people in Ireland, Israel, London, Australia… and I live in a small desert town in southern California. Sure, technology helps with the actual production of
comics tons from digital lettering/coloring, print-on-demand technology, and other things but, really, since I’ve started making
comics I’ve met a lot of people from other places of the world that also make comics. Some of them I correspond with regularly, some of them have said incredibly flattering things about my work, and some of them I’ve been lucky enough to have been inspired by their work. So the best thing that technology has done for me and my work? People.

what’s the greatest piece of advice you would like to pass on?
Jeez, have I earned the right to do that? Probably not. However, if I can pretend I do momentarily, I guess I’d just say don’t be afraid. There are tons of people out there that not only are willing to help you but are actively looking to help you. Whether you make music or write poetry or make sock puppets, there are people who want to teach you, who want to talk about you to their pals, who want to pass links along, and want to love whatever it is you are doing. So just do it and if you take the time you’ll find people who will encourage you to improve your craft.

where can we find you online?
http://twitter.com/sgrsickness
http://cameroncallahan.net
and my silly doodle books can be found at
http://www.cameroncallahan.net/comics/scrambled-circuits-1/
You can buy a physical copy or download a PDF or CBZ for free to read.

what are you reading at the moment?
I have a giant box of 40 and 50 year old sci-fi paperbacks I am slowly working through. A lot of Fritz Lieber, A.E. Van Vogt, Bradbury… I usually have one of those I go through and currently I just started reading THE GREKS BRING GIFTS by Murray Leinster.

Also, I am reading THE PHANTOM CHRONICLES, a collection of short prose stories centered around Lee Falk’s THE PHANTOM comic character. I love The Phantom and am enjoying this.

As far as comics go, I’m re-reading my DMZ trades and it is somehow even better than I remember. Brian Wood is pretty awesome. Also I have two of Image’s POPGUN anthology glaring at me that I need to crack open soon.

what are you listening to at the moment?
My MP3 player currently has various albums by: Jesus and Mary Chain, Joy Division, Sage Francis, Tori Amos, PJ Harvey, Marilyn Manson, Eels, Buddy Holly, Sisters of Mercy, Manilla Road, Ayreon, Neko Case, and God is an Astronaut.

anything else we should know?
If you have any interest in making comics you should listen to this:
http://artandstorypodcast.com
If you want to read an incredible comic book series: http://thesoulstealer.com

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