Kenneth: I'm here with the fantastic FemJesse, well known for being one of the greatest artists out there for the Futurama web community. With over 140 pictures hosted at our site alone, FemJesse has got a dedicated fanbase that almost equals that of the show itself, which is why many fans were saddened when she retired from Futurama arting. And why there were so many cheers from happy fans when she returned to the fray earlier this year, and I'm happy to have her here with me now for one of three premiere interviews for FM:TLZ. FemJesse, thanks for agreeing to this.
FemJesse: No problem!
Kenneth: When did you first get into with Futurama, and how?
FemJesse: I saw the pilot when it first aired, but I never really kept up with it. I got obsessed with it when it aired on Adult Swim on a regular schedule, and started watching the new episodes on Fox since then.
Kenneth: Interesting. What other shows do you like to watch?
FemJesse: I like the Showtime series "Dead Like Me," I like "Family Guy," sometimes I watch "Case Closed on Adult Swim." I really liked the pilot of "Tom Goes to the Mayor."
Kenneth: Do you have any favourite famous artists?
FemJesse: Famous artists as in the masters or as in fellow fan artists?
Kenneth: Or both
FemJesse: As far as fine art goes, I like Dali, Duchamp, and Caravaggio. They weren't afraid to try new things in their times. The Voices is my favorite fan artist.
Kenneth: Nice. How long have you been drawing for?
FemJesse: 19 years.
Kenneth: Wow, a long time. Got any upcoming pics in the works you're planning on?
FemJesse: I don't do a lot of fan art anymore, I find it stressful and that people expect you to retain a high production rate. In my own art I've been doing strange deformed people enjoying themselves, like winning contests or having parties. Sometimes I draw animals, and give them human emotions. I think I might do more art of Aesop's fables.
Kenneth: Sounds interesting.
Kenneth: Do people sing "It's a Long Way to Tipperary" in Tipperary?
Kenneth: Just a random silly question. Look out for those ones. :)
Kenneth: Hehehe. Your art is generally regarded as some of the best stuff out there. How easy is it to come up with a good picture, and what do you think makes one?
FemJesse: I think concept and emotion makes the picture. You could have three continuous lines on a page, and depending on how they're placed and how they curve, they'll set a mood. As far as concept goes, I try to tell all my friends that I don't draw something if its not funny or cute, and a lot of things that are funny and cute come up in life. Everyone's lives. People know those feelings from experiencing them. I don't want to ostrisize anyone by creating something that makes the viewer unsure how to feel.
Kenneth: Wow, that's a very in-depth look at it. Thanks for sharing that. What kinds of things inspire your imagination?
FemJesse: I'm really inspired, sort of sadly, by the things I don't have time for or by the things I feel like I cannot acomplish. At a NYC meetup this past weekend, everyone agreed that I'm in my "Jabba the Hut" period... meaning that lately, I'm giving my creatures weird tails/growths that make their bodies look like the character from Star Wars. Everything I observe kind of mingles in my mind, and its my hands that communicate to other people the strangeness of it all.
Kenneth: What do you consider your best piece of art to date?
FemJesse: Well, my best fanart is either "Kiss the Bride" or "Dinner at Elzars." As for my personal pieces, I like "Hortis and Toks Playing Chess" the most right now.
Kenneth: Ah, thanks for the link. I was about to ask :)
Kenneth: What's the sound of William Shatner eating a tribble?
Kenneth: What sort of tools do you use to create art, both physical and computer related?
FemJesse: Okay... this is fun. I use mechanical Bic pencils which my peers and teachers frown upon... number one: GUM ERASER. Sometimes I smudge using my right pointer finger, then I use my spit to wash it and my pants to dry it off so I can make another clean smudge... But everytime I do, I scribble a thin layer on top of it again because "Smudging is fudging." In some of my cartoonings I would use micron pens to ink them, I wind up scanning everything on my canoscan lide 20. Then using Photoshop to enhance and resize my drawings for print or the internet.
FemJesse: Oh yea sometimes I use watercolors.
FemJesse: But I don't like color.
Kenneth: There we have it readers, a behind the scenes look at the fanart mistress at work.
Kenneth: Is there anything tool you'd consider essential to a fan-artist to make quality art?
FemJesse: Imagination. You have to see it in your head before you can translate it for others.
Kenneth: Excellent pointer there.
Kenneth: What is your general feelings towards Shipper fanfic stories, and what is your take on the Fry and Leela relationship?
FemJesse: Well I think the sexual and romantic tension between Fry and Leela is what holds (held?) the show together. Even though I'm a shipper, I understand that its important that they remain apart for that reason. If Fry and Leela did all the things in all the fanfictions, the show would turn into The Simpsons pretty quickly... and I don't think any of us really want that to happen. I also think its good to leave it up to viewer imagination. Look at all the shippy fanart that's produced as a result of the uncertainty...
Kenneth: That's some very good points. Some of which leads to my next questions: Firstly, how do you feel about the way Fox treated Futurama, and do you think there's a chance it'll return via Cartoon Network?
FemJesse: I feel Fox "treated" Futurama unjustly. I don't hate fox, I like a lot of their other programming, and I'm not prepared to rant about them just because they make poor programming choices. If that is really so, and enough people think it, then that will be their downfall. I really doubt that Futurama will ever get revived. I don't see it recieving the same amount of attention as Family Guy, and honestly, the fan base is just not as big.
Kenneth: Even if Futurama has more of a cult, Star Trek-like following than Family Guy?
FemJesse: I don't think it has anymore of a cult following then Family Guy.
FemJesse: It all depends on who you talk to and what sites you visit.
Kenneth: Then do you think the show *should* make a comeback if possible, or is it best left alone in case it falls the fate of Jumping the Shark?
FemJesse: That's tough, I think It might have already jumped the shark, but did so near the end that nobody noticed.
Kenneth: Really? You think some of the final moments weren't as good?
FemJesse: Well a show that has jumped the shark can have *some* good moments, but I feel that a lot of the jokes were drier in the fourth season.
Kenneth: Ah. You mentioned The Simpsons earlier. What is your opinion regarding Futurama's older yellow-skinned cousins?
FemJesse: I think they jumped it in season four.
Kenneth: Wow! That far back, huh?
Kenneth: Most generally say about Season 9 or 10 you see...
FemJesse: I just haven't been enthused to watch it! The Simpsons hasn't been cool to me since I was 11.
FemJesse: Maybe it stopped being cool because I was allowed to watch it.
Kenneth: Hehehe, no longer forbidden.
Kenneth: Forbidden things are always cooler.
FemJesse: Especially apples.
Kenneth: Back to Futurama, do you think fanworks are doing a good job at keeping the show alive?
FemJesse: I think that people are giving their own take on how the characters would interact, but I think the actual show is fading away in everyone's interest. The Voices was the person who made me really jealous and want to start drawing fan art of the show. I like the spin and the competition in the fan art community. Its like nothing is out of bounds.
Kenneth: Just as an aside, FM:TLZ's visitors are actually at an all time high at the moment, more than a year after the last episode aired. Take that to note
FemJesse: I think Adult Swim is a bit religious with the Fox pair. They are responsible for this madness!
Kenneth: Hehehe, I'd have to agree.
Kenneth: You also dipped into writing slightly with "Against All Odds." Planning on doing so again?
FemJesse: No because it sucked!
FemJesse: I write haikus though...
Kenneth: They say you should be your own harshest critic don't they.
Kenneth: Got a haiku for us?
To fart quietly
Lean slightly while pressing down
Silent but deadly.
Kenneth: Additionally to your art, you did the skinning for the UT2004 Leela model. How was that compared to standard work?
FemJesse: It was different. I had to think in terms of making a "wrapper" for Scott's candy... er... frame.
FemJesse: I have a Fry one, but I'm being stingy with it.
Kenneth: I was about to ask about that. How is that coming along?
FemJesse: Well I'm done the most I can do right now, I'm just too busy to upload it to Scott's server for him to adjust the frame and tell me what needs fixing. To tell the truth, it was more effiecient when him and I were IMing each other the files through file transfer.
Kenneth: I'm sure gamers will be looking forward to it.
Kenneth: In the future, will there be robots like those on the show?
FemJesse: Yes but they won't be allowed to have emotions
Kenneth: What about animated human heads in the future for real?
FemJesse: Not unless they can fit a heart in there somehow...
Kenneth: Got a favourite episode and character?
FemJesse: Well my favorite character is Fry, because he's my ideal man... (don't ask) And my favorite episode is Parasites Lost.
Kenneth: If you had a reformatted robot and could pick any celebrity to download into it, who would you pick?
FemJesse: Sean Connery.
Kenneth: Hehehe, he's cool.
Kenneth: If nobody cares that Jimmy cracks corn, why does he keep doing it?
FemJesse: Because corn is addictive.
Kenneth: Fair enough answer. What people and websites would you say have helped keep the online community so alive even over a year since the final episode?
FemJesse: CGEF, Leela Zone, Peel, Deviant Art.
FemJesse: I'm kinda partial to Peel right now.
Kenneth: How do you think Futurama Madhouse: The Leela Zone can continue to keep the show alive for years to come?
FemJesse: I hope so. This is something I want my kids to know about... when they're old enough... when I have them...
Kenneth: Here's a fun one: If you could kill one person without getting in trouble with an item from a toolshed, who would it be and with what tool?
FemJesse: Al Gore, weed cutter.
FemJesse: Seems appropriate.
Kenneth: Not as much of a fan of the former VP as the writers were, huh?
FemJesse: Apparently not =)
Kenneth: Let's do some word association: What's the first thing you think of when the following 12 words are mentioned (one at a time):
Kenneth: Steve Irwin
FemJesse: just kidding
Kenneth: Sexy Sex
FemJesse: French fry
Kenneth: The Voices
Kenneth: Before we wrap up, is there any advice you can give to new artists out there who want to draw their first pics?
FemJesse: If the first thing you think of when you think of Leela is not Magnesium, then forget about it... =) nah just kidding. Draw a few pictures of the characters to get how they feel and how they're proportioned before you finalize one good one for the internet. Also, don't be a scan artist.
Kenneth: There we have it, advice from the goddess of Futurama art herself. Thanks for doing this Jesse, and good luck
FemJesse: Thanks for interviewing me. I feel important now... or something!