Julian Lytle was born just outside the city in Prince George’s County. 2010 was perhaps the start of his breakthrough to a bigger audience—-he was featured in May’s Heavy Metal magazine, was nominated for a Glyph award as a Rising Star of comics, and was featured in podcasts and a couple of substantial web interviews by Mark Ruffin and David Brothers. Lytle became interested in comic books at the height of the 1980s boom, and lists Jim Lee‘s artwork on X-Men No. 1 as a major influence. He started his biweekly web comic Ants in April 2009 and he continues to infuse the comic with an eclectic mix of videogame, comic book, and African-American culture merged with political commentary.
Washington City Paper: What type of comic work or cartooning do you do?
Julian Lytle: I like to actually change my style depending on the type of comic I am making. So Ants, my webcomic has a scratchy, messy style with some sloppy zip a tone shading. My other main style is a more realistic ink style using flat colors. I haven’t done many comics with that style that I have put out.
WCP: When (within a decade is fine) and where were you born?
JL: I was born on April 9th, 1980. The ’80s were great except for crack, crime, Reagan, recessions, and some questionable fashion choices made by the fashion industry.
WCP: Why are you in Washington now? What neighborhood or area do you live in?
JL:I moved into the city for ease of use of the Metro. I had to catch a bus to get to the metro while I lived in PG. I have lived in the Washington, D.C., area my entire life.
WCP: What is your training and/or education in cartooning?
JL: I have a B.F.A. in Communications Design from Pratt Institute. My focus was in illustration. So I have classic art training. Lots of drawing classes and painting classes. A lot of what I know about cartooning I learned from reading and reading a lot of comics.
WCP: Who are your influences?
JL: Aw man, there are so many. Andy Warhol, Robert McGinnis, Bob Peak, Eichiro Oda, E. C. Segar, Milton Caniff, Masashi Kishimoto, Akira Toriyama,Street Fighter and Capcom, Jack Kirby, Osma Tezuka, John Romita Sr., David Downton, Rene Grau, Katsuhiro Otomo, Aaron McGruder, The Coen Brothers, Dave Chapelle, Bill Cosby, Tom Ford, Jeff Koons, Chuck Jones, Bruce Timm, Darwyn Cooke. Those are just a few.
WCP: If you could, what in your career would you do-over or change?
JL: I would have not waited so long to put something out. I was being too self-conscious about my comics for too long. I probably would’ve tried to break in when I was younger and went to conventions when I was in college. I would be less cynical about comics now, if maybe I got in younger; I wouldn’t see OZ behind the curtain some much.
JL: Right now it’s my webcomic Ants. It’s the first time I’ve done a continuing comic for a long period of time. I’ve also managed to stay on schedule and not miss a week since I have started. I’m also pretty proud of my Guns N’ Honey art series. Those have gotten good responses over the years.
WCP: What would you like to do or work on in the future?
JL: A whole bunch of things. I have ideas for other webcomics that I plan to make in the future. Some are different levels of progress. I want to continue to push Ants. I really like doing digital comics I want to explore that more and more.
I’d love to work on a video game and probably do more in the fine art world.
WCP: What do you do when you’re in a rut or have writer’s block?
JL: Well, being that my webcomic goes in between adventures and topical satire, the news itself always gives me something to talk about. So I never really have writer’s block.
WCP: What do you think will be the future of your field?
JL: I don’t know. It seems to be comics overall is in a weird place of flux. It’s hard to get people to buy comics that aren’t already into them. And in webcomics it’s hard to make it a profitable endeavor. But I think whoever figures out how to transition comics digitally for the masses will change the industry.
WCP: What’s your favorite thing about D.C.?
JL: The fact that right now it’s a major city, but it’s not too fast and there is a lot of good scenery. I like being about to see all the nature that is around and a part of the city itself. I like the people that I meet and all the influx of new people from all over the country as of late. I think it is breathing new life into the area.
WCP: Least favorite?
JL: The divide in the city. It still feels like there is a black half and a white half. It still feels like the black side is poorer overall.
WCP: What monument or museum do you take most out-of-town guests to?
JL: I don’t really take anyone to these things. I’m not a big museum person—-art school kind of soured me on them. I went to them all the time so now I really don’t care for going. I get bored and feel like I’m studying again. But I do go to the American Art Museum from time to time.