The creator takes us back to the beginning of TheOdd1sOut comics and his enormously popular YouTube animation channel and teases his new book.
On June 14, 2012, 16-year-old James Rallison posted the first in a new webcomic on his Tumblr page. It took him 100 comics to gain 100 followers, about a year to settle on a defined style of sketching, and more than two years to make the transition to YouTube. But since these humble beginnings, the now-21-year-old animator amassed a following of more than seven million YouTube subscribers (at the time of this writing) who wait with baited breath for new videos to appear on his channel, TheOdd1sOut.
With a quirky sense of humor and self-voiced characters, Rallison’s personality is at the heart of what makes TheOdd1sOut such a hit — his comics aren’t just funny but also relatable. While videos like “My Thoughts on the Science Fair (I didn’t like it)” and “My Horibal Spelling” evoke childhood nostalgia. Others like “My Thoughts on Job Interviews” and “Things I Do That Other Adults Probably Don’t Do” tackle the most challenging (and entertaining) parts of adulting. Growing up alongside his fans, he’s found a home within the community of YouTube animators. Crixeo talked to TheOdd1sOut’s creator James Rallison about building a digital platform, collaborating with other channels, and how digital platforms ensure that nobody has to feel like the odd one out.
When did you first learn to draw and/or animate?
I didn’t go to any class that taught me how to draw. I always wanted to be a cartoonist growing up, and that motivated me to get into drawing. For my 16th birthday I got a drawing tablet and started drawing. I haven’t stopped yet. I’m certainly not the best, but I have improved.
You uploaded your first comic to Tumblr in 2012. What prompted the decision to start sharing your work publicly, and what made you choose Tumblr as a platform?
I loved humor comics as a kid, and I would read a lot of webcomics growing up. Seeing that other people were posting their works on the internet inspired me to start posting my own. Not knowing anything about web design, I decided to upload my comics onto Tumblr because a handful of other comic artists, like Domics and Owl Turd, were already posting their comics to Tumblr.
In 2014 you made the transition to YouTube. What prompted your move to video? What were some of the challenges presented by this platform vs. Tumblr?
Well, I watched a lot of other YouTube videos as I was creating comics, so I was pretty involved in the YouTube community. Also Domics made the transition to YouTube and I thought, “Hey, maybe I could do something like that.” When I started YouTube I didn’t know what I was doing, so I still had a lot to learn. But as time went on, I got better at making videos and started focusing my time on that.
How long does it take you to make each video? Is TheOdd1sOut your full-time job?
[Each video is] around six to 10 minutes long, and it usually takes me about two and a half weeks to create a video from start to finish. Recently I started adding more backgrounds and frame-by-frame, so it takes longer, but I’ve hired people to help color images. TheOdd1sOut is definitely a full-time job. I probably put more hours into it than a regular full-time job.
You’ve said you draw in Paint Tools Sai and edit in Adobe Premiere, not using any animation software. What are the benefits and challenges of this style of animation?
The benefit is that I’m comfortable with the programs I use. The drawbacks are that it’s very limiting with animation and not good with frame-by-frame animation. It’s probably more time-consuming to do animation my way, but I just enjoy it more.
You’ve done a fair amount of collaborating with other channels, including Jaiden Animations and TimTom. What has your experience been as part of the YouTube community? In a larger sense, what are the benefits of sharing art on a digital platform? Has technology made becoming a professional artist more accessible?
Being able to talk about and share your art with people who share the same interest as you from all around the world is amazing. And, definitely, technology has made art more accessible than ever. If I’d been born 20 years earlier, I wouldn’t have had access to a drawing tablet to start my drawing career. So with new technology, anyone can start drawing and creating what they want.
What can we expect in 2018 and beyond from TheOdd1sOut?
I have a book that’s coming out this year [July 31, 2018]! I’ve been working on it a lot, and I’ll be happy to see the final product.