Interview: Jeph Jacques on ‘Questionable Content’

Rick Marshall

Rick Marshall was Online Managing Editor for ComicMix before joining MTV's SplashPage. Previously, he was Online Content Manager for Wizard Entertainment. He has written for several daily newspapers, alternative weekly newspapers, trade magazines and online media, and was named "Writer of the Year" by the New York Press Association in 2005.

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27 Responses

  1. mike weber says:

    Cadillac also used Joan Jett and her producer/writing partner/impresario Kenny Laguna in a short film (originally on the Sundance Channel) – talking about how before Joan hit it big, they would drive from gig to gig in Laguna's Cadillac and sell records out of the trunk after the show; i didn't consider that a betrayal of my roots, because it was mostly a piece of rock history tied to the brand.OTOH, i can understand his reaction to that other Cadillac commercial – i remember how i felt a few years ago when AT&T started using what sounded like an actual clip of the Ramones' "Hey Ho – let's go!" i tnehir radio spots…

  2. Ed Gedeon says:

    I don't recall who pointed me toward QC (one webcomic mentions another, which mentions another … a whole chain of comics later, here I find myself). I will say that I have had more laugh-out-loud moments reading QC than almost any other comic. (My personal favorite was when Marten was talking with Dora's dad, and Marten mentioned his mom was a model … and Dad's response … and Marten's comeback. "Touche, kid.")I'm also amazed by the vast improvement in Jeph's art over the years. It gives me hope that my own chicken scratchings may, with time, become something worth looking at.

  3. Anonymous says:

    I never really liked comics coz Im a girl. But a friend of mine was all about QC and got me into it. Ive been a fan ever since. I love Faye – I relate to her the most. Hanners is hilarious.My favorite comic was the dream sequence with Dora and Martin where she turned him into a bunny. The little punch at the end had me in stitches. Keep up the great work and never ever end this comic!

  4. pip says:

    Excellent interview! I've been a QC fan for about 3 and a half of the 5 years, and am eagerly awaiting it's birthday! Great job asking the perfect questions for Jeph, and really giving us QC lovers a behind the scenes look at one of my favorite webcomics. Now go tackle Randall!

    • Rick Marshall says:

      Many thanks for the kind words. I've been reading QC for about 3-4 years now, ever since I discovered it was set just an hour away from where I was living at the time. It's good stuff, and Jeph's a very decent guy.As for Randall, I'll certainly send some questions his way!

  5. Anonymous says:

    I love the comic. Partly it might be because I'm a former massachusetts native and I giggle every time I recognize a street or pick up on a reference. That bar they go to called "The Horrible Revelation" or whatever it was called is actually an excellent bar/restaurant called The Dirty Truth.

  6. Rei says:

    Since the day I found QC, I was… absolutely addicted.Besides giving me some hope for my own art, it actually gave me some insight on actually relationships completely unique to the comic world.///rEI

  7. mike says:

    dude, awesome interview. i first started reading qc abouit 3 years ago when i was holed up in my house after knee surgery. i think i found it while i was reading nothing nice to say, but i dont remember. anyways i spent the whole time i was racked out reading the entire archive from the beginning tot end. so thanks for the great interview, i enjoyed it.

  8. BriFace says:

    Hm… yeah, I'm going to have to say that QC is just about one of the worst webcomics I've read.Not just because the writing is terrible; not just because the characters are all, every one, depthless clones of the same frustrating archetype; not just because the artist has made the deadly mistake of finding a 'comfort zone' with his art, causing his style to deteriorate rather than improve.Not just because of the frustrating and inaccurate generalizations that make up what little depth there is to the characters (Savannah, GA is apparently backwards, conservative, General Lee-worshipping hillbilly trash OHWAIT NO IT'S A DIVERSE COLLEGE TOWN BUILT AROUND A HUGE ART SCHOOL and don't get me get near the psychology soapbox).Not just because, in the world of QC, no one is older than thirty, no one has melanin in their skin, and no girls are over a size eight because it's totally acceptable to constantly berate anyone with a marginally fuller figure until they have deep-running and crippling body issues.Oh wait I guess that IS why QC is terrible. But mainly this: the elitist, condescending attitude of the readers and the artist. QC is a terrible comic, but mention that to a QC fan, or *shudder* try to post a critique or pose a question on the forums, and they tell you to get a life, or, god forbid, the classic "let's see you do better" line.And the fact that Jacques rarely has anything to say for himself other than "I draw what I feel like drawing" really says all there is to say about how he feels about his readers and his art — giving it the bare minimum to keep the t-shirt money coming in.Yeah, kids, everyone I know who is an artist, or a least gives a slight bit of a damn about sequential art, kind of writhes in pain a little at the very mention of QuestionableContent. Jeph Jaques is the SnapeSnogger of webcomics.BUT YEAH It's not like my standards are impossible to meet or anything, don't get me wrong. And I think that Jacques obviously has what it takes to make a great webcomic, he's just gotten too comfortable to give it anymore, or something. I didn't always hate QC. I don't know. I know this comment will be deleted, but I've wanted to say this for a while.That is all.

    • Devon says:

      Haha someone is a little upset… but why? Give the guy a break, he took something he had never done before and got better at it over time. I think the reason people respond so well to the comic is because he did it to have fun, not to win prizes or respect from these "artists" you speak of. He did it to have fun and it worked out in his favor. Stop taking it so seriously.

    • Anonymous says:

      I disagree with you on many points, BriFace. I know I can't change your mind on any of them, but I will argue just two, because I think they're somewhat worth defending.1. "no girls are over a size eight." Yes, they are. The artist does seem to tend towards a skinnier body type for girls, but not all. I myself usually wear a size 8-10, and I can tell you — if these chars were real and they happened to be my height, Faye would be maybe a 16, Raven probably a 12, and several other side characters are also not size 8. As for the skinniest ones: Dora is routinely teased for being skinny. Hannelore has a million phobias, so why wouldn't she be a neurotically picky eater, too? 2. White people under 30 — the comic is about one social group in a mostly Caucasian town. I can think of 5 or so parents of chars in the strip, all over 30, and Jimbo is most certainly also older. Many people under 30 hang out mostly with people their own age, so this is pretty representative. Many groups in mostly Caucasian areas are mostly Caucasian.And yes, the reason I bother to defend J. Jacque's choices on these matters is because I'm a fan of the comic… but it's fair to assume that people posting on a forum related to a comic are fans.

    • Anonymous says:

      Do you actually know what a comic IS?

    • Anonymous says:

      Seriously, talk about issues. We don't all get offended if someone pokes fun at the south or people's eight sometimes. If I had to guess from that comment I honestly wouldn't put you down as anything other than an overweight southern guy who uses the word 'liberal' as an insult.Goddamnit, if this kind of stuff bothers you that much, just go make an account on a sex and the city forum and start flame wars about the negative effect the show has on young girls' self image.

    • Anya says:

      I think the problem you may be having with QC fans is that you are saying "QC IS a terrible comic", not "I THINK QC is a terrible comic".That is all.

  9. Anonymous says:

    I just have to assume that Briface's comment is completely facetious. When I read it, i thought it was hilarious. Seriously, no who hates something would ever take the time to write that deeply about it. I mean, think about how much QC a person would have to read to to be able to write so definitively on the topic! BriFace must have read a ton of QC (if this were real, that is). That being the case, love it or hate it, BriFace significantly contributed to QC's readership. But again, this is way too funny to be real – it had to be posted by one of Jeph's friends, and is thusly damn hilarious. :-)

    • mzanders says:

      It was actually written by Angus, professional strawman, hired by Jacques himself.

  10. Andrew says:

    Great interview! when i first saw the size of it, i thought, *uuugh. it's huge there's no way i'll finish this, but whatever*I finished it, and i'm glad I did; it was nice reading his answers to some well thought out questions.Oh and I agree it appears that some people take this a bit too seriously, its a great comic. no comic is perfect and lots don't include all factors of life. I dont criticize Jim Davis because his comic showcases a talking cat, and that he has a HUGE franchise…. whatever. its a comic. just enjoy it and/or move on, yeah? :)

  11. Anonymous says:

    I came across this strip a few months ago and read a thousand of them in about three days. To me, the breakaway from the more music-focused side of things seemed completely natural (and necessary) to development, and I kind of wanted the Marten/Faye thing to stop, and I could probably go on to no particular point. Fantastic strip, and great interview.

  12. Anonymous says:

    A webcomic's no great work of art, BriFace. If it's impressive artwork (and for a comic, QC's pretty damn good. The facial expressions can be spot on and often add invaluably to the humour) then that's a plus, but the real aim's to /entertain/. Y'know, to draw a few laughs?That's why it has such a large fanbase, of which you complain so vehemently, and so many people I know singing its praises. The punchline-based style makes it easy to read on a daily basis rather than all in one sitting, which is more or less how a good webcomic should work. It's not a novel. How can you say it's 'bad', say it's 'not successful', when you complain of people jumping to its aid against you? It's fulfilled everything it should be.Of course, you have to appreciate the humour. Anyone who gets hooked up – "frustrated"! – over a simple comic for being "elitist", "archetypal" or not conforming to their "standards" (god forbid!), worrying about its style because it's not a balanced segment of the world's population…they're just going to hate any trace of the word.So I'm suspicious. I'm guessing no troll would take the time to write out 9 paragraphs of self-deprecating rant, so I've written this just in case. But I doubt you really care that much. :P

  13. Anonymous says:

    I find this comic so amazing. I really enjoy it. I've reread it from beginning to end multiple times. While I can understand BriFace's concerns about the age and size of the characters, I must argue that he has done this on purpose. He's focusing on a specific group of people. He's taken the "indie" stereotype and fleshed it out a lot, and I think he's done a wonderful job building the personalities of the characters, which makes them really easy to relate to. Also, if you're angry about the jokes about Faye's weight, remember that this is a COMIC. Meaning, it's founded on JOKING. He also makes fun of every other character. I find it kind of funny that you're that upset about him poking fun at a fictional character. Also, what is condescending about making funny jokes, which are accompanied by awesome artwork?Oh, and you're wrong about a couple of claims you made. Remember Tai and Amir? I seem to remember both of them having melanin… And Veronica Vance? She, Sven's father and Faye's mother are all quite a lot older than thirty. If you're going to criticize something, at least get your facts right.Also, while I guess I can understand your concerns about him falling into a "comfort zone", I seriously disagree. I feel that Jeph is constantly changing things for the better. All artists and writers have to change some things to accommodate their readers. And I still find his story lines hilarious. QC is the only comic I've continuously read. It's the first thing I check on my computer. I really appreciate the hard work that Jeph puts into this comic, and I think it's wonderful that he can make a living doing something he loves. I'm looking forward to many more years (hopefully!) of QC.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Several months ago I stumbled across QC. I don't even remember how. I read the entire archive over the space of a couple of days and rarely go more than 24 hours without checking to see if there's a new one out there. I have no idea why I'm so addicted and love it so much. I am a 39 year old woman with 2 young children and don't identify with any of the themes or characters. I still just can't seem to stop reading. I think it's clear Jeph can attract a varied audience with his talents.

  15. Kati says:

    Like the above Anon reader, I stumbled on QC… about a year ago, I guess. I literally Stumbled it, and thought it was really great. I read the entire archives in about a week (my boyfriend would get annoyed cause I would read it while I was supposed to be visiting with him!), and have been reading it daily ever since. I recently made it my home page, cause I love reading it before delving into the morning's news. Even a news junkie needs something light-hearted every once-in-a-while. This interview was also very inspirational. I didn't realize that Jacques was making a living off the series, I guess I just figured he was doing it after work or something. I've been toying around with the idea of starting my own, decidedly different, web comic for a while, so this gives me some hope that it could really take off into something that you can support yourself on. Thanks for the great interview!

  16. Anonymous says:

    This is BriFace. I can't log in with my email… thingie. I tried doing the password resubmit thing and it didn't work, but whatever, okay, that's irrelevant, moving on.My comment wasn't facetious, Anonymous. I'm sorry that in your reality, everyone who doesn't agree with you must be joking or a troll. Or maybe I'm not sorry; that must be an awesome reality.And yes, I know what a comic IS. And yes, I take them pretty seriously. Comics and comic art are a pretty major part of my lifestyle. And, not to sound pretentious, just to explain why, it's because I am a student in sequential art (comics, storyboards, all that) and while drawing comics isn't my career goal, it's just a big part of my life. I mean, maybe you know a film student. You probably can't stand to go to the movies with them, because they have a need to overanalyze and rip apart every detail of every movie they see. It's much the same for me and comics.And yes, I have read QC. It used to be one of my favorite comics. I liked it for all the reasons you guys do– because Jeph took something he never did before and became incredibly successful with it, and I found that inspiring. He improved drastically for a while, and then kind of… stopped.That's my beef with QC, that the artist has gotten too comfortable. It's understandable because QC has such a huge fanbase — he's found what people like, and just kind of goes with it because it doesn't make anyone upset– but it's a dangerous trap for any artist to fall in to, and it's what makes great things fade off into obscurity.I'M BORED. I think I've typed enough.

    • Anonymous says:

      Honestly, I think you just shot yourself down with that comment. For starters… a student in sequential art? Seriously? You're doing that course, and wrote that sort of comment, and you had the nerve to call jacques elitist?!On top of that, if your main point here is that he's too comfortable… I can't be bothered even putting my argument into words here. It's too easy.Besides, 'someone is WRONG on the internet' etc.

    • Russ Rogers says:

      BriFace, I appreciate some of your comments and arguments. I think: "I used to be a fan, but now QC has gotten to repetitive and I'm bored. QC used to seem dangerous and now it seems comfortable and complacent. The art had drastically improved for a while and that was exciting, to watch the development. But now that has leveled off and QC seems to have developed it's own set of clichés." All of that is arguable and defensible.Your arguments about the attitudes of the readers seems more like a critique of QC message boards (and comments on pages like this) and less about the comic itself. This is the stuff that seems designed to incite argument. It's inflammatory, just there to get a reaction from the fans here.I can appreciate that a sequential arts student would have higher expectations for a comic. But I don't think you can blame an artist for getting comfortable or finding a "sweet spot" in their writing. Just because it bores you, that doesn't make it bad. Obviously QC has a growing fan base. What's the point in seeking out a forum where fans are expressing their love for the comic just to put in your two cents about how you think it's terrible? Instead of just ranting on and on about what you hate and why you hate it, mention something that you LIKE instead.The "Snapesnogger" link you provided is completely out of context. Very rude. Crude and seemingly racist. Seriously offensive. Not funny. I didn't bother to delve into it that much. But why you would link your comment to THAT kind of page? It reflects poorly on what you have to say. You damn yourself by association. It makes your other arguments about QC suspect.In short, BriFace, if you don't like QC, if you are bored, vote with your feet. Don't read it! Find something worthy of your time and interests. Don't rain on the parade. You won't improve QC with your snarky comments about it or it's fans. If you have nothing polite or constructive to say, just move on. Say nothing. Especially before you degenerate into the shallow, racist, personal attacks of your Encyclopedia Dramatica "Snapesnogger" link. That was uncalled for. Your linking that shit to this page was rude.