Interview: J.T. Yost Discusses New Food-Based Anthology DIGESTATE

In the world of comics we don’t see a lot of discussion about food. Until now. J.T. Yost has compiled some of the best cartoonists and artists in the business to craft a new anthology entitled Digestate. The book covers all topics in and around food and is build by vegans and carnivores alike. Yost recently took time to discuss the anthology, what the Kickstarter features, and everything that makes up Digestate.

Aaron Long: Can you discuss how Digestate came to be?

J.T. Yost: No.

Well, okay.

I started noticing that there were quite a few fellow vegan cartoonists at the indie comic conventions that I attend, which is surprising since it’s a sub-culture within a sub-culture. There are also a lot of cartoonists who celebrate being carnivores (omnivores, if you want to be technically correct). I thought it’d be interesting to put together an anthology that was half vegans and half carnivores, the two extremes of the eating spectrum. Once I started putting together my list of artists I wanted to invite to contribute I realized that I would have to either exclude a lot of talented people or loosen the restrictions up a bit. I guess the pool of artists is now a more accurate cross-section of American dietary habits!

AL: Food is not a topic often seen in comics. What, in your opinion, makes comics the perfect medium for the content of Digestate?

JTY: I think food may be featured more often in foreign comics (Japan, especially), but it’s not typically front-and-center here in America. That’s surprising seeing that it’s such an important part of everybody’s lives. I tend to draw a lot of comics about food (or, more specifically, how the food arrives on our plates) and so I notice when others spotlight food in their own comics. To answer your question honestly, I don’t know that comics ARE the perfect medium to discuss food. But, I love comics and I love food, so why not give it a try?

AL: Digestate has a TON of collaborators. Can you discuss how all these people came together to create this book?

JTY: I put together a list of artists that I admire, and I asked them if they’d like to contribute to my anthology. I’d say about half were willing (although I had to pester some a few times!). Many artists wanted to contribute but were too busy. Only a small handful declined because they had no interest in the project.

AL: Digestate is a Kickstarter campaign. Can you discuss some of the pledge levels and what backers can get as rewards?

JTY: A few years ago I received a Xeric grant to self-publish my first book. I set up a small press called Birdcage Bottom Books and used any profits from that book to fund subsequent releases. Unfortunately, the recession and raising my daughter has dried up any reserves I once had. Kickstarter seems to be a great tool to overcome this lack of funds.

The lowest pledge level is $20 for a physical copy of the book when (if) it’s published in September. Beyond that, there are a lot of opportunities to get original artwork and hand-made mini comics from the contributing artists. Some of the artists are offering up custom drawings or paintings of favorite foods, favorite dead animals, cows, chickens, anthropomorphic food, people with tacos or burgers for heads and more. Others are donating mini comics, books, silk screen prints and even original art made for this anthology.

I want to acknowledge that the generosity of the artists involved is what makes this Kickstarter campaign so great. I’m trying to pay them back by promoting their artwork and projects as much as possible (you can see individual spotlights on each artist on my blog:

AL: Any final words for Comicosity’s readers regarding Digestate?

JTY: Anyone involved in publishing knows that anthologies don’t generally make a lot of money. I’m not hoping or even expecting to make any money from Digestate, but I do hope it will introduce readers to some great talent. I’m hoping to draw people in with some of the bigger names and have them stumble on cartoonists they weren’t previously aware of. Most of the contributors are self-publishers themselves, and I think as a community we can all help each other survive to self-publish another day!

The Digestate Kickstarter can be found here.


Related posts