What is your name and your current occupation?
My name is Jerry Fuchs, and I am a cartoonist who animates. I am self employed at Fooksie, LLC. I create cartoons, comics,illustrations, and animations,(both Flash and Traditional).
What are some of the crazier jobs you had before getting into animation?
Well, I am 48, so I have had the opportunity to: Worked in high school as a janitor, and in the school’s kitchen, in the summers I drove a dump truck and laid cement, fixed pot holes, pulled dead sheep out of settling ponds, (don’t ask), and did a lot of painting. While attending the Joe Kubert School I worked in a bodega in Dover, being part grocer, part deli-man, and part bouncer. I have worked in the optical field, selling eyeglasses and doing contact lens trainings. I have also taught karate classes.
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What are some of your favorite projects you’re proud to have been a part of?
While working at Stone Mountain Productions as the Art Director I was very proud of the laser modules we created that were shown in Dorney Park, Cedar Point, and the State Fair of Texas, as well as Stone Mountain Park in Georgia. In 2009, my first foray into the Independent Film Festival circuit, “Loser Pays, Winner Stays “, came in second in its division in the DRAGON*CON Independent Film Festival.
How did you become interested in animation?
I have always loved cartoons and comics. Growing up there was an unwritten rule in the house, if there was anything animated during primetime, I had control of the set. My Saturday mornings were filled with Space Ghost, the Herculoids, and Jonny Quest. Plus the Flintstones, my all time favorite cartoon!
Where are you from and how did you get into the animation business?
I grew up in a rural part of central Minnesota. I always had a pencil, marker, or brush in my hand. After taking my SATs in high school, (I scored dismally low in the math portion, but very, very high in the English part), so the idea of going to college was a daunting one. I was thinking of going to the school next to my girlfriend’s college, but then she dumped me.So…one Sunday afternoon, flipping through a copy of “Bizarre Adventures”, I came upon an ad for the Joe Kubert School. I applied, was accepted, and moved to the legendary city of Dover, NJ that fall. After graduating, I did small cartooning and animation jobs,( one of them involved painting 250 animation cels in one weekend), but worked full-time in the optical field. In 1993, I was hired as the Assistant Art Director at Stone Mountain Lasers in Georgia.
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What’s a typical day like for you with regards to your job
First, I answer emails, and get that stuff out of the way. Then I review my day’s schedule to see if I have to speak to any clients regarding current projects I am working on. I also look for future work on the various boards I frequent. Then I get to work. During all of that, I also take my 4 year old to pre-k, make sure my almost teenaged son is ready for school, and squeeze in time to work out. Hopefully my wife has also left a note with what I should make for dinner.I wake up very early everyday to make sure I get a jump on what I have to do.
What part of your job do you like best? Why?
I love designing new characters and then animating them. The problem solving aspect to animation really appeals to me, because if I have a simply designed character, I have to think about how it will move. Something that looks like Bullwinkle shouldn’t move like Bambi. I also like to talk with clients.
What part of your job do you like least? Why?
I hate chasing the money. I do the work, pay me. It;s very simple. I worked for a gaming company that went belly up, they still had me doing work even though they knew they wouldn’y be paying me. What are you going to do? Also, I cringe when I get propsals asking me to ‘whip up’ a couple of drawings on spec, or being told that it should be a real easy job to do this or that for some really small fee. If it’s that easy, why do you need me? YOU do it.
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What kind of technology do you work with on a daily basis?
I work on a pc, (I am mac experienced, though). Programs I use almost everyday are: Photoshop, Illustrator, Flash, Sketchbook Pro, and JASC Animation Shop 3. All of these programs work great on my trusty Cintiq 21 UX. God, I love my Cintiq! I would love to get the new smaller version, although I am in love with the new ASUS EEE Slate EP 121.
What is the most difficult part for you about being in the business?
Finding the work. I find that I spend almost as much time looking for projects as I do working on them. But I work from my home studio, so I can always take a break and see my family, which is nice.
In your travels, have you had any brushes with animation greatness?
Looking back, I have had the fortune of meeting some great people. Starting with the Kubert School, I had Joe as an instructor. Talk about pressure. My head almost exploded when he went over one of my roughs in class. Other teachers I had were Jose’ Delbo, John Belfi, and the man with the driest sense of humor, Stan Kay. He once told us how he liked to shoot rats from his bathroom window, ( he lived adjacent to the M&M Mars compnay in Hackettstown, NJ. My animation teacher was Milt Neil, an amazing animator and artist from Disney. He used to tell us not to be pigeon-holed into only doing animation, but also to develop other skills as well. People forget that he was a master at pastel portraits and backgrounds. I had an interview with Archie Goodwin in the late 80’s. He looked over my samples and said that I could tell a story, and liked my sense of color, and that it was too bad that the last issue of ‘Epic’ magazine was already being printed. I was so disappointed that I walked out in a fog, instead of asking about other work. Don Bluth was a great guy to talk with. I brought a copy of the Kodak Animation Book to a signing he was doing at the now closed Warner Brothers store in Atlanta. He got a real kick out of seeing that blast from the past. I gave Michel Gagne’ a Fooksie mug when I saw him at the Atlanta Comic Con some years back. We were talking about his work, and I was complaining about how I still struggle with anatomy. He started talking about how he didn’t know anything about anatomy, how he just faked it. Pulling out a copy of the “Spore” comic he did for DC, he pointed to the Batman and Superman panels saying that those took the most time. He just kept doing them, over and over until they looked good. He’s a very entertaining speaker, so if you have a chance to hear him, grab it. Which brings me to Ralph Bakshi. I have seen him a few times. The last time was at the 2011 DRAGON*CON panel. After his talk, I went up to try and speak with him about a new venture he’s about to start, and slipped him a promotional magnet from my short,”Space: The Bunny Frontier”. We were ushered out, and two people ran up to me and handed me my magnet, telling me that Ralph had signed it for me. Well, I was happy yet disappointed, but I had to rush to the animation panel I was on. I got to the room, and as people were settling into their seats for the talk, I handed out my magnets. I accidentally handed out the Bakshi signed magnet, so someone in that audience got an extra special bit of swag. I have also had the pleasure to work with some of the best animators in Atlanta: Bryan Capik, Les Harper, Joe Suggs, and Steve Vitale to name a few.
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Describe a tough situation you had in life.
I had a few times in my life where my legs barely worked.
Any side projects or you’re working on or hobbies you’d like to share details of?
I am very pumped to get to work on my next short, ‘Subtile’, an animated tale about the Garden of Eden days, and Adam and Eve being complete morons.
Any unusual talents or hobbies like tying a cherry stem with your tongue or metallurgy?
I play both the accordion and guitar badly, am a second-degree black belt, and can make my kids crack up by looking at them.
Is there any advice you can give for an aspiring animation student or artist trying to break into the business?
Do the work. Don’t get caught up in the technology or software, pc or mac,Toon Boom, Flash, etc. It really comes down to hard work. Unless you are in a studio environment, you will be doing it by yourself. So, if you are bored easily, this isn’t for you. Make sure you get some exercise, too.