20 Questions Tuesday 219: Scott Johnson

This week I get to ask a guy who has his fingers in many things internetty.  Scott Johnson is a web comic artist, a podcaster/pocast mogul.  Scott has a voice built for radio and a sense of humor that is meant to be behind closed doors and laughed at with hands covering mouths.  He is not on radio and he puts his humor out there for everyone to see and partake.  I became aware of the good Mr Johnson through his podcast Current Geek (with Tom Merritt).  Current Geek was a my gateway drug to all things Scott Johnson and his Frogpants network.  Current Geek led to Fourcast which led to Hypothetical Help, and so on… He is a regular host on a boat load of existing podcasts and a frequent contributor to even more. I often find myself giggling at his online cartoon, My Extra Life, and he is a hoot on the twitters.  So without further ado, my 20 questions with Scott Johnson.

I was born in Oklahoma City, OK, moved to Montgomery, AL on my third birthday, then lived just northeast of Birmingham, AL for 13 years when I went off to school in Kent, OH for 5 years.  I followed my fiance down to Columbus, Ohio where I married her and have been living ever since.  I got my MA in geography and love maps and stories of geography.  Question 1:  What is your geographic story?

I was born in Salt Lake City, Utah, and have lived there and around there most of my life! Most of my life I spent in a small suburb of SLC called Sandy City, and went to high-school there as well.  I spent a couple years in the south, specifically Mississippi, Louisiana and a small part of Arkansas.  But for the most part, despite some travel here and there, I’ve called the Salt Lake valley home my whole life, and I love it here.  I met my wife in Mississippi, but we both went to college out here in SLC, so it was an easy choice to settle down here.  I have three kids, ages 12, 15, and 18.  All of whom are amazing.  I now live in a town just southwest of SLC called Eagle Mountain.

Well that does seem very Utah-centric.  I get this question all the time about my collegial choice, since it took me so far from the deep south.  Question 2: why did you venture south for a few years?

I went on a 2 year mission for the LDS church, typical for 19 year olds who grow up in the church.  Most of my time was spent helping people deal with flooding, poverty situations, and other such service style stuff.  Was a great experience. Taught me a lot about what it means to do help people with zero expectation for pay or personal gain.  I count that time as pretty invaluable.  I think I’m probably a better father and husband as a result.  Before I went, I was kind of a self-centered waste of space.

I was not sure if you were LDS or not, and I wasn’t going to make that assumption based on your locale.  A really good friend of mine from HS is LDS, and he got to do his mission trip to, I think, Andorra, between Spain and France.  Of course we were already in Alabama, so I guess they couldn’t really send him to experience something new in MIssissippi, but I do think he lucked out.  He is now happily married and active in the LDS church in the SLC area and we trade quips to each other ocassionally about our respective MLS soccer teams.   I actually got to visit him once when my wife had some work out in Sundance… gorgeous area.

Question 3: Cake or Pie?  Which kind, specifically, and why, specifically?

Often depends on the quality of the cake or pie in question, but generally, I will go pie if I can.  The right cake can sway me though. :)

Quality really always is a trump card.  But if I am reading you correctly, it is a win for the pie column.  I might need to find some kind of widget to tally the votes…

This is a question I typically ask my graphically artistic 20 Questioneers.  Usually this question has been used on comic book artists, but I will modify it to include humorous online comic artists. Question 4: When did you realize that you were good at drawing? Specifically, when did you realize that you were especially talented at visual story-telling?

This sounds trite and stereotypical, but this happened when I was 6 years old.  I drew Burt and Ernie on a chalkboard, and everyone around me thought it was amazing.  That feeling never left me:  Specifically, that I could draw things, and people would think that was cool.  It pretty much evolved from that.

That doesn’t sound trite at all.  I realized that I was adept at the drawing when I was 5 and drew a pilot’s head in the cockpit of the jet I was drawing.  It was in the basement of a Presbyterian church… in many ways it was predestined…. (oooh a joke for religious scholars… I am comedic genius) Question 5: Did you get formal training in graphic arts, or are you just that damn naturally talented?

Loads of what I do now comes from trial and error, constant attention to a daily sketchbook, and “trying” stuff.  But I did take a load of graphic design and illustration courses in college as well.  My college Life Drawing class still benefits me in very specific ways all these years later.

I know, I constantly refer back to the fundamentals that I learned in Drawing 1 & 2.  I should have done more design classes, but I was a studio art major and design classes were frowned upon by the studio advisors.  Would have been way more useful than some of the courses I took.

(editor’s note: thought I had a Question 6, but clearly I don’t, let’s assume I asked “Do you know the cure for cancer?” for Question 6.  His answer was “Sadly, no.” )

Question 7: As many reader’s (there are like 5 people who read this) I have adopted my Mother-in-Law’s saying, “Don’t let the fuckers get you down.” Do you have any sayings, mottos, credos, adages etc… that you adhere to and, if you do, where did they originate.

I do actually!  One in particular: “The only absolute in life, is that there are no absolutes.”  I love that one.  Alternatively, I like the refrain, “watch out where the huskies go, and don’t you eat the yellow snow.”

I love that “absolute” one.  I also love “There is nothing permanent other than change.”  Seriously though, yellow snow is bad whether or not it is due to huskies.

Question 8:  Fill in the blanks: A: I feel that I am mostly _______. B: Others feel that I am mostly ______.

A: I feel that I am mostly scatterbrained. B: Others feel that I am mostly chill and collected.

Question 9: What do you think is the cause of that discrepancy? “Scatterbrained” is nothing like “chill and collected.”

I’m not entirely sure.  I am always so driven to create stuff that I forget to breath, relax, and take the time I need to recharge.  I think people see my output, and my ability to mask my business, and see that as calm and collected. :)

You do have multiple outlets to create.  To my knowledge you have copious amounts of audio content that you create through your podcasts and mountains of visual content that you create through your art.  Question 10: Is there another media that you are looking forward to give a go? Have you ever wanted to tell stories through film or to write or sculpture, etc…?  What is the Scott Johnson untapped creative endeavor? “3 questions in one?” you ask.  My blog, my rules Mr Johnson, this is my dojo.

hehe.  Film and video for sure.  I have some ideas coming soon. Also, I would LOVE to finally make the children’s book I’ve had in my head for more than a decade. Hopefully all of that will see light soon!

I think you would be a great author for an age 8 to 12 children’s book.  Your art is well done and has a bit of a quirky style,  you are capable of tapping into younger senses of humor, plus you seem to be a rather virtuous dude.  I hope there is not anything truly holding you back from this, because you could very well create something crazy good.

Enough ass kissing on my part…  Question 11: You, admittedly, have a crappy left-eye.  How/why did you get into visual arts with a crap eye?

My right eye REALLY wanted it. :)

Ha!  Brilliant.  It is good that your right eye told the left eye what’s what.

Question 12: Since you are a burgeoning downloadable media mogul, how do you see the state of entertainment consumption in the next 5 years? Have you noticed any data within your own feeds and subscriptions that indicate and potentially predict any significant growth in the independent “on demand” audio and video podcasts?

The biggest change is the proliferation of handheld devices, and their ability to grab content at will.  Cloud services and over the air syncing, and streaming are the fastest growing part of the content I build.  I suspect that will be the norm coming soon.  Way less of people consuming content via computers and notebooks.

I imagine that we are only beginning to see what the mobile and streaming space is capable of consuming and what creators need to generate.

Here we are at unlucky 13.  Question 13: Do you have any superstitions (salt over the shoulder, etc…) or rituals (calming or centering techniques to get you ready for an activity) in your life? If so, where do they originate?

Not really.  Maybe I need a few.  I find myself at Nerdtacular, ready to go on stage, and feeling like I could really use a ritual. :)

Little processes to clear one’s mind are often very helpful.  That is about the only way I use ritual anymore.

Clearly, podcasting is an addiction of which you suffer greatly.  It seems that when the opportunity to podcast presents itself, you cannot help yourself and just have to podcast.  Question 14: What else in you life can you not keep yourself from participating in, if the opportunity presents itself?

This might sound a little odd, but if presented with a giant foam pit, I am getting in there no matter the cost or consequences.  If I could add one to my current house, I would.

That. Is. Brilliant.  You should most definitely add a room to your house that contains both a trampoline and a foam pit.  You would be the most popular person ever.

Question 15: Do you consider yourself primarily a podcaster by profession or do you generate most of your personal income via your art and graphic design work?  I have no idea of how economically viable podcasting is as a profession.

Right now it’s about 50/50 for me, but it seems to ebb and flow some months. Honestly, I think I can probably attribute my little slice of success from being able to do both.  They complement each other, and make me more flexible than others trying to do just one or the other. I’d really be miserable if I could only do one honestly.  That sounds weird, but I really feel that way.

Wow, 50/50 is not a bad distribution at all.  Honestly, I don’t think needing both aspects of your work to fulfill you workwise is odd at all.  I need to find the correct components to my work, because it is seriously unbalanced at the moment.  You should also try and figure out a way to monetize falling into a foam pit from a trampoline.  You do that, and the path to heaven is paved in gold, my friend, gold.
umm… Question 16:  Is it just me, or did the whole “my friend” aside above seem a bit presumptive?  Maybe just a bit too early… Should I have used the aside of, “my enjoyable Internet acquaintance” instead?

hehe.  No, friend works.  Funny you should ask that.  It’s one of the things that I love about the Frogpants community.  It is so much more than a one to many arrangement, where I don’t get to know anyone out there.  Some of the most important friendships I have in my life sprang from all this.  Incredibly grateful for that surprising benefit to independent creation. :)

It is amazing, especially with this 20 Questions Tuesday thing.  I have had deeper and more meaningful conversations within the framework of doing a 20 Questions with someone I do not know at all.  I know more about Tom Merritt from my 20 questions with him than the “angirest man in the world” with whom I work with daily.  I have visited my friend from Nova Scotia (who I met through blogging) more in the past 5 years than most of my family.  The Internet is a wondrous thing.

Question 17:  So, you have a mellifluous voice, do you have a favorite word to say?  Aside from you saying something, do you have a favorite word to hear, just because of the sound of the word and not the meaning behind the word? I like the word “squad” repeated about 4 times… “squad, squad, squad, squad…”

I have a favorite phrase, that I have to say as straight faced as possible:  ”It burns when I pee.”

Well, I, for one, hope that you are choosing to say that and not required by medical predicament to say that.

Well, turnabout is fair play, so… Question 18: Other than “what do you do for a living?” do you have any questions for me?

What do you WISH you did for a living?  ;)  Kidding. Here’s a real question:  How do you come up with these questions? They were all quite good.

I will entertain both questions, because they do fold together nicely.  I wish I were able to actually do interviews like this for a vocation.  I like asking questions that people don’t often get asked.  It allows me to see more than just their canned responses.  As far as where I came up with these questions… well, some are from conversations I have had with my friends growing up and some are just things I am genuinely interested in.  If you read through my interviews, you will see that many of the questions are the same.  Geographic story, the fill in the blank, cake or pie, the superstition one, this question and the next two.The rest of the questions I try to come by organically.  Usually the typical questions are good seeds for more in depth conversations.

Question 19:  What are you taking away from these 20 questions that you did not bring in with you?

I like how these questions remind me of why I am motivated the way I am.  At least in certain ways.  It’s a nice way of stopping the crazy train for a moment, and looking a little deeper at what I am and why I do what I am doing.

Then my work here is done.

Okay, the final question… Question 20:  What is next for you?  Be as concrete or as vague as you want to be.  Be as realistic or philosophical as you want to be as well. 

Next?  Oh man.  Who knows.  I plan about a week ahead these days. My kids are growing up so fast, that honestly the big next thing could be the crazy sounding idea of being a grandfather sooner than later. This could be a reality for me in the next 5 years or so, and it
completely freaks me out, especially because I am still young! I just re-read all that, and I am even more freaked out.

Hopefully between now and then, I will record a lot of podcasts, and draw a lot of stuff to help sooth the pain. :)

Well, I want to thank you so much for taking the time to do these 20 questions.  I have enjoyed the hell out of this and I am really happy to have met you and chatted with you so in depth.  You are a delightful person, and I love you work.

Follow Scott on Twitter with @scottjohnson and check out his breadth of work via his website hub frogpants.com.  Podcasts, Live Streaming almost daily, and Webcomic.  Do it!  Hell, he even has a channel on the Roku.

To recap:
This was amazing
Scott is amazing
I am halfway done with my fist class for my second grad degree
Soon, my pretties, I will be crazily over-educated
And under employed
Oh well
Seriously, a crap-load of reading again this week
I mean, come on!  I read a shit-ton last week
Cthulhu monsters for the Ten Ton Studios sketch challenge this week
Should be awesome
Wife heads out of town tonight
She will be back this weekend
Bonus 20 questions might be coming up tomorrow… might
Because I care
Ohio Comic Con is this weekend
I will be hanging with the creator of The Infernal Fyre-Dragon and the Silver Bullet
It will be teh awesome
Have a great weekend all