By Leah BouRamia
Tim Jones of Smithfield didn’t realize his comic strip, Sour Grapes was going to take off the way it has, but it has certainly caught the eye of several area papers.
“My goal and my dream is to become nationally syndicated.” While working his day job in manufacturing, Jones got his start with The Smithfield Times, working under publisher John Tassoni. “I’ve really blossomed and I have John to thank. He has been a tremendous support.”
Now, the comic strip appears in 17 area newspapers, including the Sun Chronicle in Attleboro.
“I think it’s kind of funny, I used to deliver that newspaper,” he said. “I guess I have come full circle.”
Other publications include: The Westerly Sun, New Uxbridge Times, Warren Times- Gazette, Warwick Beacon, Woonsocket Call and South County Independent.
“Why sour grapes?” Jones explains the somewhat sour temperament of his main character.
“Aesop is his name. He embodies that idea, kind of a miserable flying dog.” Apparently, after some research, Jones learned that the term “sour grapes” actually came from an Aesop fable, “The Fox and the Grape”. “I had no idea,” says Jones.
How did a guy working in manufacturing get into drawing, comics and writing? Apparently, Jones had a previous comic strip in the late 90s, Every Blue Moon which had Aesop as a character, but was sort of vague.
“I had to put it to bed, it was difficult to develop” Next was a manufacturing-based strip, “Job Shop” in which a noted comedian, and friend did the writing.
“I had the privilege of working with Paul Nardizzi [of Comedy Central],” he said. But in the end, he decided it was best to do his own writing, “comics shouldn’t be a vehicle for a joke.”
How did Jones go from Every Blue Moon to Sour Grapes?
“I was laid off, and I started drawing again, doing some updates [to Aesop], everybody has ‘those days’, it’s very relatable,” he said.
Prior to his career in manufacturing, Jones earned an Associate Degree in Fine Arts (visual arts) from CCRI. Kind of a fascinating jump in fields, but like everyone else, you have to go where the work is. Jones always harbored his talent and his desire to move forward writing and drawing.
“I just had to keep working on [the comic], it takes a long time to be happy with the drawings, any artist will tell you that.”
Is it difficult to get the attention of publishers?
“You have to be a real pain in the neck,” he chuckles, “I guess that is called persistence. “Aesop is a part of me now, and it’s now or never. I have so many friends who have become successful in their respective careers and I’m thinking to myself, you know what? It’s my turn.”
Jones’ two books, “Sour Grapes” and “Sour Grapes: The Daily Doldrums” can be found at www.sourgrapescomic.com or see Sour Grapes in just about any local newspaper you might pick up in Rhode Island or Southeast Massachusetts. Jones will be available at the Rhode Island ComicCon Nov. 11 -13 in the Artists’ Alley. Jones will also be at the Warwick Barnes and Noble on Nov. 5 from 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.