Friends for six years, Cameron Reed draws the comics and Jake Vaughan helps with ideas, dialog, and marketing. Cameron Reed and Jake Vaughan make quite the team, and a funny one at that.
Placing third for the 2014 Oregon Newspaper Publisher Association’s Best Cartooning for college papers, Reed and Vaughan are accomplished teens. Not only are they weekly artists for The Commuter but they are regulars in the Lebanon Express.
Reed has been creating various characters since 5th grade but when he teamed up with Vaughan in High School it was then Vaughan who got them the gig with the Lebanon Express. The Commuter came second.
“[Lebanon Express] keeps us on a tightrope there. It’s basically politics about Lebanon,” said Vaughan.
“We use [The Commuter] for our funny ones,” said Reed.
They’re first creative venture together was a band that included Vaughan’s brother Adam.
“If we could play it we’d call it a song,” joked Vaughan. “We used to be known as the guys with the band, now we’re the cartoonists.”
Their inspiration comes from everyday situations such as a cougar sighting in Lebanon that got Reed thinking about the other kind of cougar, older ladies. Thus a recent strip featured a punch line incorporating the idea.
“I work in the food industry and there’s some funny stuff that happens there,” said Reed.
Both are fans of “Family Guy” and “South Park.” Reed enjoys The Far Side and Calvin and Hobbs.
They credit each other for inspiration in their comic strip Adventures of R.J. and James.
“We use each other to look at the joke and give us a bigger range of humour. It’s fun for us, we hang out and talk,” said Reed.
Reed graduated from Lebanon High last year while he was dual enrolled at LBCC. He plans on continuing in the graphic design program. His hope is to design products for a large company.
Vaughan is a sophomore at Lebanon High but plans on continuing his education at LBCC after graduation. He is undecided what he wants to pursue.
“I’m still working on a band,” he joked.
Their success in the Lebanon Express and The Commuter have brought them a small dose of hometown fame.
“We get feedback all the time at my school. Since they’re political, the teachers say something,” said Vaughan.
“I’ve gotten feedback from people at work. ‘You’re the guy that does cartoons’ they’ll say,” said Reed.
The duo plans on expanding their readership to other local papers this summer. The New Era in Sweet Home and the Albany Democrat-Herald are next on the list.
The works of Reed and Vaughan can be found on their Facebook for R.J. and James Cartoons or on The Commuter comics online.
Graduating spring term with an emphasis on computer science and digital arts, he plans on transferring to University of Oregon or University of Washington.
Creating comic strips is a new hobby of his. He’s been reading them since a kid, like Batman, for example and his current favorites include Penny Arcade and the webcomic XKCD.
“They’re witty, they’re smart. It’s high-end humor,” said Knudsen.
During his time with The Commuter he has yet to create his own character series but he finds inspiration around him. Crediting Gary Larson’s The Far Side and “Star Wars” for some of his humorous depictions, he also finds influence from fellow staffer Jason Maddox who does Three’s a Crowd.
Something as simple as observing a fight over a crossword puzzle can inspire him to create a strip (like a few issues ago). Music also plays a part. He likes to listen to music with no words when he writes and let’s it influence his art.
“I’m working on a piece really epic right now so the music I listen to is epic,” said Knudsen.
He hopes to create his own comic. His ideal plan is a graphic novel, that’s fun, original, a little crazy, and probably doesn’t have any boundaries.
“The only thing I’m good at is being honest,” said Knudsen.
As humble as he may be, Knudsen has inked some impressive works for the paper thus far. Noting that he has always been a creator, drawing seems to soothe his mind.
“When I get done drawing something late at night I’m relaxed. If I don’t draw I don’t sleep,” said Knudsen.
Knudsen is open for feedback from his peers.
“I’d even settle for hate-mail! I want to see what’s good and what can be improved.”