An Interview with J. T. Yost
Photo courtesy J. T. Yost.
Interview with J. T. Yost about his comic books Losers Weepers #1 and #2. Conducted via email June 2010.
1. In the two issues of Losers Weepers I have seen, stories are connected by the "found" objects of trashed or lost notes, an abandoned journal, scribbled scraps. What is the origin of this approach?
Well, as you read in the intro of issue #1, in the mid-nineties I found an incredibly intriguing journal written by a woman dating a man who'd become mentally disabled which paved the way for my obsessive search for other discarded detritus. I pick up anything I find that looks promising, namely anything hand-written. I don't know if it's because of emailing & texting, but it seems to be getting harder and harder to find discarded notes and letters these days (if any readers out there have something juicy, send it my way...you'll get free copies of all Losers Weepers issues if your piece is used!).
Anyhow, fast-forward to a couple of years ago, and I found myself with a mountain of found stuff begging for a purpose. There's a publication called "Found Magazine" that cobbles together such leavings to which I initially intended to submit my collection. I thought it would be more interesting to submit them inserted into comics.
Originally I planned to draw short comics detailing what had happened to me just previous to finding each individual piece. Basically an excuse to tell personal anecdotes, and then I'd reproduce the unrelated find at the end of each comic.
I got through one such comic (which now serves as the introduction for issue #1) before changing tactics. I'd found myself becoming so curious about the people responsible for the letters and notes that I'd create stories in my head as to why they'd written them. I thought it would be a really fun challenge to weave an ongoing narrative around all of these unrelated dispatches.
2. Issue 1 takes place in Richmond Virginia. Did you choose this location only because of the origin of the notes in issue #1, or for other reasons?
3. Issue 2 takes place in New York City. Both books have violence in them, but only the New York issue has any appearance by a restraining authority (the police). Is this an intentional distinction between the two places?
It's funny you point that out. It wasn't an intentional distinction, but in fact I've always felt much safer in New York City then I ever did living in Richmond. I was held up at gunpoint multiple times in RVA. Not that I didn't love it there, but I think there's such a disparity of wealth there compounded by your classic southern racial tensions that violence is a natural result.
4. The central characters in all of the stories are pushed by self-destructive impulses of one sort or another. Was this an established theme when you started, or do the notes themselves dictate that kind of story line?
The story line has been writing itself according to the notes themselves. I knew that I wanted the narrative to be continuous, but beyond that I didn't plan too much beyond the first issue. I was having a tough time writing the third issue (I'm working on it now), but a friend of mine gave me a letter he'd found from a corrections facility that ended up changing the thrust of the story.
As for the self-destructive theme question, yes, this was definitely intentional. I have quite a few friends and family members with drug and alcohol problems, so its a personal issue. It's very easy for any of us (not just those struggling with addiction) to make a rash decision or overreaction that can affect numerous people's lives, not just our own. I empathize with anyone in such a situation, and I implore them to get help. I can't tell you how much Alcoholics Anonymous and Al-Anon has improved my friends and families lives.
That last paragraph makes the story seem overly serious and humorless, but I want to point out that there's a lot of humor in there as well. A lot of these letters and notes are just absolutely ridiculous, and so a dark humor naturally seeps into the story. The homosexual rap from issue #1 kills me. I can't tell you how excited I was to find that one!
5. Do you intend to further the stories on any of the characters from these two issues? For example, issue #2 ends with Ms. Martinez in jail.
Yes, I've just finished writing the third issue which focuses on Ms. Martinez's oldest son. I was planning on wrapping things up in three issues, but after my friend's found letter changed the narrative I've started writing a fourth issue as well. I'm hoping to bring the story full circle, reintroducing characters that dropped out of sight in previous issues.
6. What are your other plans for any future issues? Do you have more notes/letters, etc., to draw upon?
I do have a ton more to draw upon, but a lot of the real gems don't lend themselves to this particular narrative. Maybe if all the issues are collected in the future I can do some short "bonus" comics using them or something. Once I've completed the whole story I'm going to submit it to the guys at Found Magazine to see if they're interested in publishing it as a book.
LOSERS WEEPERS information
See a review of Old Man Winter, by J. T. Yost 2009
Losers Weepers #1 and #2 are available from Birdcage Bottom Books
From the Birdcage web site:
Losers Weepers #1
7" x 7 1/4", 44 pages, $5.00
Green Recycled Cover with B&W interior
J.T. Yost has found a novel way to show off the bizarre and seemingly unrelated detritus he has scavenged from the streets by incorporating found letters, notes and journals directly into an ongoing comic narrative. In issue #1, a newly sober homeless heroin addict relapses after bumping into an ex-girlfriend and her new boyfriend.
Birdcage Bottom Books
Losers Weepers #2
7" x 7 1/4", 36 pages, $5.00
Colored Recycled Cover with B&W interior
Continues the fictional narrative thread woven around real life found letters, notes and journals. A homeless man's family is greatly affected by his accidental murder.
Birdcage Bottom Books
Photo courtesy J. T. Yost.
J. T. Yost
Original page June 2010 | Updated Oct 2012