Some ideas are too good to throw away.  Jay Fosgitt, comic book writer and artist, knows this.  He first conceived of a character named Dead Duck when he was fifteen.  Now, twenty years later, he has a book worth of material, and on Novemeber 25th, Ape Entertainment of San Diego, CA will publish it.

The book came to be when in 2006 and 2007 Fosgitt drew a handful of the comics and took them to Wizard World Chicago, a comic convention.  There he was able to show Ape Entertainment his work, and within a few months he was signed to a contract to produce Dead Duck as a graphic novel.

The story itself follows the adventures of Dead Duck and his sidekick Zombie Chick, as the two collect recently deceased souls to return to their boss J.P. Yorick, aka Death.  Fosgitt explains, "The deaths are always outlandish, dealing with deceased gods, toy action figures, pirates, mythological figures, TV cartoon characters, and endless other possibilities.  My aim is to laugh in the  face of death, and it is much easier to do that when the deaths are fantastical or ridiculous."  Dealing with mature themes, it's clear these comics are not aimed towards children.  "Though I feel Dead Duck is for anyone who can enjoy macabre humor, it's safe to say the jokes and themes run on the adult side.  College age readers and older audiences are probably my key demographic."

Fosgitt, a Shields native, has always been drawing.  "I first began at age two, and I was showing a knack for it by age four or five.  It was then I started telling anyone who'd listen that I'd be a cartoonist when I grew up," he says.  Taking early cues from the newspaper comics he was surrounded by, Fosgitt began drawing comics that sometimes featured his own characters and other times used established characters like the Muppets and Popeye.  "I'm still influenced by the same guys who influenced me in my childhood: Jim Henson, creator of the Muppets; Charles Schulz, creator of Peanuts; E.C. Segar, Creator of Popeye; and Sergio Aragones, cartoonist for Mad Magazine and creator of Groo the Wanderer." 

However, as Fosgitt matured, he also found more influences.  "Now, Hellboy is my favorite.  Flaming Carrot is an obscure favorite of mine.  I tend to read a lot of comics where the humor and mood are similar to what I write, but the art is on the far side of the visual spectrum from what I create."  Fosgitt explains this visual spectrum: "Most people who draw in my cartoony style tend to write for kids, and most guys who draw in a more illustrative style tend to write for adults.  I kind of ride the fence, drawing in a cartoony style but writing with more adult sensibility in humor and subject matter."

Since Dead Duck was accepted for publication, Fosgitt was able to join the ranks of some of his heroes, through membership in the premiere organization for professional cartoonists, the National Cartoonists Society.  "It isn't a union or anything like that," says Fosgitt.  "It's basically a fraternity for professional cartoonists, strictly a nation-wide social club."  Its members have included the previously mentioned Schulz and Argones, as well as Jim Davis, creator of Garfield; Eric Goldberg, animator of the genie in Aladdin; Greg Evans, creator of Luann; and Dave Coverly, creator of Speed Bump and winner of the NCS's prestigious Reuben award for most outstanding cartoonist of 2009.  Fosgitt plans to enter Dead Duck into the NCS's next competition.

The Swan Valley High School graduate honed his art skills at Delta College, where he completed an Associates degree in art, and Central Michigan University, where he completed a Bachelors of Applied Arts degree in art with a minor in theater.  He now lives in Ann Arbor, where he keeps busy as a full-time freelance artist, drawing caricatures and advertising art, and working on comic books, greeting cards, and other projects.  Additionally, he is writing and drawing a comic called Little Green Men, which was conceived by his publisher and follows three tiny aliens as they explore our world.  Little Green Men will later be published as a graphic novel but can currently be read online here.  He also plans on doing a follow-up graphic novel for Dead Duck, and he has ideas for other comics featuring new characters. 

Dead Duck will be available for purchase on November 25th, and Fosgitt will be in the area to do book signings.  On November 27th, he will be at Coy's Comics in Saginaw, and he will be at Delta College on November 30th.  Please check his blog for his complete schedule:

© Gina Myers, 2009