BRITAIN: Comic Illustrator Johnny Trip – Funny, provocative and sometimes pervert

By chance I came across the funny short comic strips of Johnny Trip, which he posts on Instagram at regular intervals. Mostly one shots, sometimes a few more, often funny, sometimes disturbing, but always holding the mirror up. Johnny Trip paints about the things nobody wants to talk about, puts them into characters and lets them act in the comic. And in this world it’s no problem, it’s just a comic. But Johnny’s comics often have it in them and go way below the belt. He provokes where necessary, mockes incompetent statesmen and horrible dictators, or skillfully packed criticism of religion and politics into his colourful creations. But often it is just the ordinary human quirks that we all know.

In the meantime some antologies have been created, short thematic series for example „Eden was full” where the demon Baal, who has grown old, is stressed by his family and going through a midlife crisis. Johnny is also a big comic fan himself and has a few superheroes wrapped up in his strips, especially from Marvel. Apart from that there are countless monsters, zombies, witches, scrotum guys, talking shit heaps, smoking toilet paper and a totally depraved Jesus.

Johnny Trip is represented with his comics on Instagram, but also has a shop at Red Bubble and a Patreon Account. In an interview, he tells us about his drawings, how the ideas for them come about and introduces some of the characters. Here is the podcast, unfortunately the connection was always bad in between, sorry for the audio quality. The interview is also written down in the following and peppered with Johnny’s comic illustrations.

When did you start making comics?

I just started doing comics properly like around 2018. Before I have been doing a lot of illustration work, mostly for myself, mostly personal and I decided that it would be better to compile the work into like sequential pieces. And I started making comics.

I love comics. Since I´m a little kid I read them, later I started with super hero stuff and as well animes and mangas. I imagine you are as well a comic fan yourself?

Yes, and it was exactly the same process. It started with super hero comics, mostly DC and Marvel. And I gravitated that more to complex comics the older I got. And then as well manga of course.

You have a very nice humor, which I like. Let´s say it´s about some issues which are going on in the society and on the world or sometimes there are just some normal random things which happen every day. And you put this in your characters and you make like this little comics, mostly a one shot picture. Do you make as well longer comics or stories like with a few pages?

I started working on a graphic novel on boxing day last year. And I finished it in January. It´s currently on sale. That´s a longer form work and it´s 54 pages long.

People can as well find on your Instagram a link to Red Bubble.

Yes, there is stuff on Red Bubble. But the comic is on Adsee. There it is on my Johnny Trip account, with the same spelling. Jhnny Trp. I am not sure what the link is but if you go on Adsy and you search for Jhnny Trp I´m sure I´ll pop up.

Tell me a bit more about how you do the comics. There are a lot of different ways how to make it. You can start writing it or start drawing it on paper and then you put it on the computer. Some people meanwhile start directly on the computer, some make a mix. How do you do this?

I wanted to design my own characters. I do it old fashion and I still draw with a pencil. Then I take a picture with my phone of the drawing that I made and I send an email to myself. Then I work on it with Adobe Illustrator at first for the inking. If I am doing it in black and white then I work slowly on Adobe Illustrator, but if I am going to color it I use Photoshop. But it always starts with a pencil and paper drawing.

I have your Instagram here now and I am watching the little comics. There is the guy with the ball head, the other guy is fucking the world. A lot of time these pics make me really laugh. You are at work or sitting in the subway and then you see some of those pieces, it really made me smile.

Thank you!

There are some characters which pop up more often. It´s like you make your own stories with them. For example like the witch or the ball head guy.  Would you say you have a meanwhile a whole team of characters?

I would say that. I would like as well to print an anthology with some of the one shots I´ve been doing, because I´ve been doing these regularly. I´ve been trying to do issues, but I keep getting bored and start jumping onto a new concept. But I would like to compile a lot of the one shots, just the single issues into of a compilation of kind of an anthology series. Then I would print that at some point if there is enough interest for it.

Let´s introduce some of your characters. For example the red devil with the glasses.

Ah that´s Baal. As you can tell he is just a childish dude, but he used to be a badass when he was younger. But now he is married and he has kids, he has pets and he just wants to enjoy himself and you know, fuck his wife and make sure his kids don´t destroy the world. That´s kind of the concept I have for him.

I love that, because I mean he is literally the devil. And he knows how he was when he was younger. So he was devilish. But now he grew older and started thinking about life. For example here is the one where he is asking his wife “Why I am always naked in your dreams” and she answers “Shut up and just fuck me”.

Haha, yes. But that´s actually his ex-girlfriend. And she starts popping up into his world.

So the devil who was used to be an asshole became older and started concerning about stuff.  Ok, and what about the witch?

Oh yes, the witch. What should I say about the witch. And which one? Because I did like two series with the witch.

The one with the green face and the red hair. And for example the one where she says “Who needs a new face?”

Ah ok. She is just a fun loving character. She is kind of inspired by this other comic, that´s why I stopped doing it. I was a bit too much inspired by another comic called Megan Mugg and Owl, by Simon Hanselmann. It´s an Australian comic book artist and writer. I was a bit too inspired by that. So I dropped it. But that´s a really good comic if you are looking for one to read.

I really love it as well to stroll through your stuff, because you see some of the characters appearing again. Like the one here or the witch there again. And she is always provoking the others especially the zombie and the corps. And then suddenly there is this one, the background is pink and it´s like in the red light district. And there she has theses high heels, but she still looks like incredibly ugly, but she boobs. And the zombie guy just shouts “Yeah, boobs!” And that´s a good introduction to the next one, the zombie guy.

The zombie guy, the blue one. He is just a fun loving dude. Most of them at that point where like that. I was working on sex comedies. So I was just trying to be really outrageous and I don´t know, I was trying to be funny. But at the same time I was as well trying to be really outrageous. I put ridiculous ideas out there, so I was trying to be as fucked up as I could be. And that was where the zombie came from. He is just a fun loving dude. Most of the time he is just wearing his underwear and he is skateboarding, as well he likes art. He is an art collector. So I guess he is rich. He doesn´t has to worry about money and he just lives his life. Like most of my characters. He was kind of also inspired by Baal.

Really cool, but I don´t think the phrase “He lives his life” is a good description for a zombie.

Haha. Yes. I didn´t even think of that now, yeah, that´s funny!

There is another one which is popping up more often. This strange screaming ugly fish guy. Or how should I describe it?

Oh, that´s actually a woman. Yes, it´s a woman. I was going for it, but yeah, let´s call it creature. I don´t know what she is. She was born from my imagination. I was working with a lot of characters like this and was trying to create non-human but human ones. Like horrific and monstrous. I was going for something like that.

There are aspects of humanity and every human being which are not nice. We all have a lot of bad parts. And in some way they are there and you want to show this bad parts in human being in general and you put them into this characters. So they are all symbols for some bullshit which we are all doing every day.

Yes, exactly. I felt as well a lot of resistance within myself when I was trying to pick these characters as like human beings. Either because of race or religion or something, I didn´t feel comfortable. So I decided to make them into monsters. No matter how bad you make a monster, you know, it´s always going to be a monster. I guess you judge less harshly in my imagination. That was my thinking.

It´s as well a very easy way to get the information to other people. Because sometimes a bit of color and little gimmicks, characters and figures are more easy to consume.

Yes, that´s it.

Like you said all the little characters are monsters. And I agree, really. They are all monsters and they are not human. Because at the moment I am looking on the Donald Trump one. And I agree, that´s definitely not a human being.

No, not at all. I think this one was called Grump. I refused to draw him for a lot of years, because I just fucking hate him. But I finally had to overcome the hatred and put it down. And I am happy with what I did.

Thank you very much for putting this stuff out. Because come on! He is just staying there and putting his fingers like “Everything is alright!” It´s not even bad. The other one is with the Twitter sign, this one here with the gun. It´s a funny comic and people who are older can think more about it. Of course you give the right message. It´s even like a caricature and that´s your way. It´s a kind of expression of how you observe it. And I think that´s a way how artists and cultural interested people communicate. Doesn´t  mean that looking at these pictures starts a new protest, but it´s a little message you maybe send to somebody else on the other side of the world and the person looks on the photo, has to laugh and thinks nice! You transport a lot of stuff with just these little pieces.

Thank you!

Which character next? There is as well the Black Jesus or Jesus Bride or Black Jesus Bride with the dorn crown here. And here with the red eyes. And here puking. Or here taking pills. Well, must be some kind of holy person.

Haha. Yes. His name is Harold.

Ah ok, first I wasn´t sure if it´s a guy. Because this here could be a beard, but before I thought it´s a woman who ate a cake and the mouth and face is full of chocolate. But ok, it´s a beard. So that´s Holy Harold.

Yes, I guess you could say that. Holy Harold. He is a guy that dresses up as Jesus. As like a performance art. But at the same time I couldn´t decide if he would be the real Jesus but reborn or something like that. Or like a second coming. It was a bit too complicated so I dropped that. But I do like the concept.

There are just heaps of characters which are a lot of times only there once. There are the Turtles, the farting robots, or here the Joker. Could you say like ten percent you are using more often and the others appear only once. How do you get to the characters, explain this a bit more? Do you see something in your surrounding which makes you think or is touching you or you are angry about something and then you put this in a new character?

Yes, in some way. Some of the characters are a continuation of the evolution of another character. Like for example the zombie. The chilled zombie was a continuation of how I was feeling growing older. Also I started there with the demon Baal. The zombie was just a continuation of that. But at the same time I decided not to focus on that anymore. You went really far down in the gallery.

Yes, I went far down. Now here I found the little Hitler. Very nice, really cool! That´s the way how you have to treat that. And it´s a difficult question. How should you deal with such stuff? But one answer is always not to speak about it or not trying to thematise it is definitely not a way. This here is a nice way to put it down and to make fun out of it. I think there is a power and every artist has a power. And you use it, you are working with passion and by heart and you try to use it as well to give people good vibes, some love and some smile. But at the same time there is much more, there is as well a mission behind that.

Yes, I think just generally going to places that people wouldn´t usually go. Like the things that would make you uncomfortable. The things that would make you cringe, I try to showcase it in my art and in my stories. Because they are real. And pretending it doesn´t exist doesn´t make it go away. So that´s why I want people to look at it.

It´s fantastic and it´s as well the kind of medicine you give to the world society. Just for example the Hitler ones. Let´s say there are some fascist people and they have this guy and the pictures from one hundred years ago in their head. They are working on these pictures and live on these pictures. Now, they have seen one of your pictures. Now they cannot get it out of their head anymore. So it fucked up the super stable picture of that horrible person.

Haha, yes.

So the brain has to absorb it. Like you made the Hitler in high heels or here in a ping dress cleaning the room. Just nice, it´s there now and others have seen it. You are making the horrible things which have too much power, you make them less horrible and you take just with your little nice funny pictures power away from these things or persons. I think this is just fantastic.

Yes, thanks. That´s an interesting way to look at it.

Yes, I think this is one of the effects your comics have. In some way in your face, but as well it´s taking power away from bad entities. I have to think as well about the Simpsons. When I was around five years old and watched them the first time, I liked it, but understood it like a comic. Ten years later I started understand a lot more of the jokes and liked it even more  and now with around 30 years old I am understanding them again differently.

I know and I love the Simpsons and that you brought it up as an example. That´s as well a big influence on me. The same way you grew up with it, I grew up with it as well. And I would say South Park as well. They have a big influence on my art. The taught me how to be a reverend and how to just say “Fuck you everybody”. Not necessarily in a rude hateful way. But just because you say I shouldn´t talk about this doesn´t mean I am not going to talk about it.

You had these ideas and you want to show it. I think it makes you as well stronger when you see there is a whole team, they are doing a show and they are using exactly this kind of art. Yes, it´s a kind of art but as well a way of communication in which they transport very important issues.

Yes, I agree.

So what would be your message?

Say it! Do it! Don´t hold back! Your only limitation is your imagination. And even with your imagination, you know, push it to the limit. Go as far as you can. Say as much as you can and do as much as you can. Just never say no!

Did you get any bad feedback or like angry bullshit emails?

That´s funny, no, not at all. I won´t say there is a lot of positive feedback, but there is little to no negative feedback at all. I think I am causing just under the radar at this point that nobody really cares. Except you.

Haha, thanks, I think it´s great. And yes, people think, it´s “just” a comic. But that´s the very intelligent and hidden power of that. Yes, it´s just a comic. Like South Park. The say as well, come on, it´s just a comic. Who takes a comic seriously, it´s only a comic. But South Park is very tough there and showing stuff with the finger deep in the wound. What do you think about the Simpsons nowadays?

I don´t really watch them anymore to be honest. I watch every couple of episodes. Every season I watch a few episodes but I don´t watch the whole season anymore. They went kind of down and I got a bit bored.

There were these phases and periods, a lot of changed with the concept of the Simpsons and they went down a lot. Time changes and now there is Family Guy.

Yes, they went down. And there is Family Guy now, there is Rick and Morty.

And then there was South Park, which went really in the front, ten times harder than Simpsons. But they didn´t want to go into a competition with South Park, instead they didn´t keep the level and went to a mellow and slowly stage. They are not that provocative anymore.

No, they are not. They went a lot warmer. I think they are on the same network and I was thinking, maybe it was for the network.

How do you feel like an artist and how would you react? If you would be in the situation one day, you are producing for a big company and they tell you not to draw some of the figures like the Hitler anymore because of the money.

I would sooner die. Yes, I would sooner die than stop.

The Simpsons were good and they made their deal about the money and they forgot how they started.

Yes, they forgot their roots. They forgot where they started from and think too much what about the funds.

I have as well here to think about Star Wars, there happened the same. Disney fucked it all up.

I think once you blow up to that scale it´s not even about one creators point of view anymore. It´s like a room full of executives deciding what comes next. And then giving that creatives some money like facilitate that idea. I don´t think George Lucas would be able to make another Start Wars in this age like how the things are right now. I think a lot of things have changed.

Maybe this is as well an idea for a new character. You have to make compromises and more compromises and after a while you have to make so many that the whole idea which you started firstly isn´t even there anymore in the end.

Yes, exactly. I hope that´s not what would happen to me but at the same time what I said  about new shows like Rick and Morty, you can see that there is still hope.

I found another character here, I am not sure if it´s a pink cloud or a pink poop. And this pink whatever is a lot of times talking to some angry shit.

Oh, that´s a brain.

They comics with those two are funny as well. I think they are both in my head, as well the brain and as well the shit.

Yes, I think they are both in my head too. I think I am being both of them to be honest.

So in your “head parliament” are there all these characters as well?

All of them are me. All of them are part of me. So can see that I have thousands of those characters in my head depending on events.

That´s what I thought. A lot of different perspectives how you see situations and the world. Very nice and funny messages!




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