Today’s Feature – November 23-24: Mitch Roth

November 25, 2008 at 2:34 am (Today's Feature)

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When you read through the interview with out latest feature, Mitch Roth, you may ask yourself the same question I did: “This guy is hilarious… but would I want him as my lawyer??” Not to discredit the skills of Mr. Roth – the guy drives a Mercedes for a reason. But as far as lawyers are concerned, Mitch is one I’d definitely have a drink with at my corner bar.

Truth be told though, Mitch Roth isn’t on PensEyeView.com because of his talents in the court room. He’s also an artist and writer of two comics – “Assholes” and “Law School is Fun School.” Roth talks about how he got into the trade – “So I partially got into comics simply because they are an easier delivery system for my jokes, even though I can’t draw at all, which Law School is Fun School (LSFS) will demonstrate. Shortly after that, my friend Josh Eiserike, who I have known all my life and who has won the Ignatz Award for comics, approached me to do a joint book – so it made sense to do a full graphic novel.”
How LSFS is put together each week is funny in itself – Roth simply uses two saved stick figure characters he made in photoshop and moves them around from week to week. Pretty sweet. And as far as “Assholes” is concerned… well the name just makes sense. It’s all about the stuff you want to say… but probably don’t (for good reason). So when you read some of his work, “expect to be offended. But to laugh A LOT.” Get into the XXQ’s for a whole lot more.

XXQs: Mitch Roth

PensEyeView.com (PEV): Lawyer, artist, short stories, writer… where should I start? Well, we know how most people pursue a law degree but tell us how you got involved in art, comics and writing?

Mitch Roth (MR): I’ve always been involved with creative writing – and have been writing short stories since high school. However, it’s really difficult to get someone to sit down and read a whole short story. You’re like – here’s this thing, and its great – but it’s 20 typed pages and will take 30 minutes of your life. Unless people already like your stuff, or love reading, that can be a hard sell.

But a comic strip or a comic book – that’s something that people can look and instantly get the joke. It’s much easier to digest and much more low effort for the reader. So I partially got into comics simply because they are an easier delivery system for my jokes, even though I can’t draw at all, which Law School is Fun School (LSFS) will demonstrate. Shortly after that, my friend Josh Eiserike, who I have known all my life and who has won the Ignatz Award for comics, approached me to do a joint book – so it made sense to do a full graphic novel.

Also, I have no attention span, so writing text for about 24 pages of a comic at a time is perfect.

PEV: Now calling Baltimore, Maryland home, what kind of writing were you listening to growing up?  Any writers that made you want to pursue a career in writing and in comic strips?

MR: A.M. Holmes and Brett Easton Ellis were definitely huge inspirations on my life, as they are extremely edgier writers who push the envelope and then keep pushing it and pushing it, until the reader is somewhere they never expected to be.  The other interesting thing about A.M. Holmes is that is the adopted daughter of my high school guidance counselor. I was having a session with her, and she said, you look writing, my daughter is a writer – you should read her stuff. And she turned out to be one of my favorite authors. I used to read a few comics when I was a kid, and I like some indie artists like Alex Robinson, but there really aren’t any other comics out there like Assholes – which is why I wanted to write the book that I did.

PEV: Tell us about your creative process… What kind of environment do you have to be in to write?

MR: I am naturally a very social person, so sitting down and writing is actually very hard for me. I literally have to turn off my cell phone and lock myself in my room with a bottle of bourbon for the night – or I write during weekend mornings – early, before any of my friends are up yet.

PEV: Tell us about your comic strips, “Assholes” and “Law School Is Fun School”?

MR:  LSFS is funnier if you’ve ever gone to law school, and is just a ridiculous 2 person talking-head strip with stick figures. And I was too lazy to redraw the stick figures each week, so I just saved them to photoshop and moved them around. There are some pretty good one liners though – the most controversial one was published when Hillary
Clinton was gaining popularity, and one character says: “Do you think a woman will ever be president” and the other character says “No.” Then the first character says: “You’re right, she’ll probably bleed all over the constitution.”

Assholes is the story of two friends going on a binge-drinking/trying to get laid adventure, across  the US, Mexico and Canada; very much in the vein of Tucker Max and Wedding Crashers. Although, I like to think that I’m not as more good natured than Tucker Max, and push the envelope way more than Hollywood ever does.

PEV: What can readers expect from these strips?

MR: To be offended. But to laugh A LOT.

PEV: How are they different from other out right now?

MR: I don’t think anyone else’s stuff, aside from Tucker Max, is as far over the line as my stuff is right now. And I don’t think there’s ever been a comic book like this before – a Rated R comedy, that is meant for people who have never read comic books before, and is mostly about sex and drinking. I want to do for comics what the Simpsons and South Park did for cartoons.

PEV: Tell us about your first stories and works of writing. How have you changed since that first pieces to where you are now?

MR: Oh wow, I think back in high school I thought I could write a short story that could change the world and really inspire peoples’ emotions. Now, I just want to make people laugh and write stuff that is entertaining.

PEV: You pursued a career in law as a result of comics and short story
writing not being the most guaranteed of careers. So tell us, what it is like trying to get a strip launched or a story published?

MR: I think it is nearly impossible to get a strip launched or a story published in any reputable place. Newspapers want strips like Marmaduke, and like 3 national magazines publish short stories and they only want well known authors. That’s why we put the entire first issue of Assholes online for free; we just want people to read it.

PEV: What’s one thing we’d be surprised to hear about you?

MR: I really love Romantic Comedies.

PEV: You said your life as a lawyer is pretty dull. What’s the best and worse part about being a lawyer?

MR: That I have to sit and read the fine print of contracts that no one else in our society wants to read. The best part is that I drive a Mercedes and get to drink expensive coffee.

PEV: What one word best describes your comic strips?

MR: Inappropriate.

PEV: Give us an average day in the life of a lawyer.

MR: It’s mostly dealing with clients and seeing what’s on your plate that day. Drafting various legal documents like corporate articles or minutes, reading contracts, doing legal research, learning about new areas of law, making sure that contracts are drafted right, drafting memos. Sometimes, there’s an emergency and I’ll have to research something really fast. That’s about as exciting as it gets.

PEV: PensEyeView.com is a arts and music magazine, so what kind of music are you into?

MR: I love indie rock – I listen to Left of Center on Sirius religiously.

PEV: How have all your friends and family reacted to your comic strips?

MR: My family hates them, they can’t understand why I can’t just be a nice Jewish Lawyer and do PG rated comedy on the side. My friends all have the same sense of humor that I do.

PEV: What can we find you doing in your spare time, aside from writing and practicing law?

MR: I have a motorcycle – that I’m really good at falling off of. I also play a lot of social sports, but mainly because I like going to the bar afterwards with a bunch of people that are all wearing the same color t-shirt as me.

PEV: If you could sit down to dinner with one writer, alive or deceased, who would it be and why?

MR: Hemmingway maybe? Just because it’s fucking Hemmingway.

PEV:  Is there an up and coming band or artist you think we should all be looking out for now?

MR: For local music, I love Caleb Stine. Oh, and I’m still waiting for Cat Empire to blow up, even though I’ve been listening to them for years.

PEV: If you weren’t a lawyer and writing wasn’t in the picture, what would you most likely be doing for a career?

MR: Something in the advertising field.

PEV: Where do you see your career – both in law and in comics – ten years from now?

MR: I would love to be have a more creative day job – not sure if that will involve law at all or not. As for comics, I’m hoping that Assholes and my writing will have built a loyal following by then. I’m probably not going to famous, but I totally want to be.

PEV: So, what is next for Mitch Roth?

MR: Another sad day at the office.

For more information on Mitch, check out: www.mitchroth.net, www.assholescomic.com, www.josheiserike.com

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