Sunday, August 13, 2006

Friends of the Fiend 31: Tim Harries


Hello, I'm afraid I took an extended summer hol. I touched upon it on my blog, http://rodmckie.blogspot.com/ let's just say there were extenuating circumstances. Anyhoo,
apopologies to the Cartoon Fiend readers, of whom there are a few, I gather, and to my victims, er interviewees, many of whom supplied me with these details some months ago.
Today's Friend of the Fiend is the very talented Tim Harries. I love Tim's style of drawing because it instantly translates the idea he's trying to get across and it just plain looks good.




CF. Hello Tim.

TH. Hello Mr Fiend. That's a nice hat you're wearing.

CF. (Blush, realizes that large Guinness hat from rugby outing is still on head) Okay, what are your current projects, anything exciting in the pipeline - that you can tell us about?

TH. I quite recently from a week-long 'Cartoon and Children's Rights' project in Turkey, organised by the Cartoon Foundation. I was in the company of some extremely talented cartoonists from the UK and Turkey and it was such an enlightening experience for all of us to work along with the children out there. I believe a book of the cartoons we produced and an exhibition in Ankara and London will follow later in the year, so I think that's a little bit exciting isn't it? No? Ok then ....




Regarding my regular work, the pipeline is pretty excitement-free, but it's always a pleasure to get paid to draw silly things. I've got a daily strip with the South Wales Argus, regular illustration jobs for a variety of computer mags and educational publishers and cartoons for business/corporate clients. I even do a comic strip for a childrens financial paper. I send the occasional batch of gag cartoons off though I have less time for speculative cartooning.





CF.
Did you always want to be a cartoonist, and set out to become one, or was it a gradual process?

TH. I was drawing from an early age, and was an avid reader of the Beano and Dandy, but I didn't even consider cartooning as a possible career 'til my mid-twenties, having already opted for more parent-pleasing office jobs. Like so many other UK cartoonists, I sent my first ever batch of gags to the Sun newspaper, who promptly bought one! 'This is easy' I thought, and then spent the next 3 months trying to get another one in, so it was a gradual process over a number of years building up the workload from part-time to full-time cartooning. Having an understanding wife also helped!




CF. The work you do at the moment, can you tell us something about the process?

TH. Writing: Like young Royston, I write in silence and draw to music. Current favourites are XTC, Ben Folds, Ron Sexsmith and Elbow. If I'm out, I usually take a notepad with me to jot down random scribblings and ideas if inspiration strikes. I'm constantly scribbling much to the annoyance of friends who are careful what they say around me in case it ends up in a strip or gag.

Drawing: I draw my roughs on cheap A4 copy paper, and ink most of the final art on smooth surface cartridge paper. I'm a bit of a night owl and prefer working in the evenings though it's a bit anti-social and I try not to stay up too late.
Delivering the work: I live literally 5 minutes walk away from the paper, so rather than email the strip I just drop them in batches. Every other bit of work I do is sent by email, or uploaded to my website for the client to download. Email is a bit of a blessing and a curse these days. It's very quick to send jobs and saves a bundle on postage, but clients now expect everything yesterday. I've also got several clients I've never physically spoken to, so that can seem a bit strange.




CF. I know you've been asked this a million times, but what tools do you use, and what format do you work to?

TH. I use mechanical pencils and a variety of pens - Faber Castell PITT Brush Pen, Pentell Brush Pen, Staedtler Pigment Liners 0.1 - 0.7, even a couple of cheapo Papermate Nylon Tip pens. I'm not loyal to any particular pen, so I'll use whatever I think is right for the job, be it a strip, illo or gag. However, I do recommend giving the PITT pens a go, they are great fun to use, disposable, fairly cheap and no mess. If Faber Castell are reading, I'd like a box of them for further review!

I'll usually pencil the roughs, whack 'em on the lightbox and ink on a fresh piece of paper. Scan the linework in at 600dpi, add any blacks, erase the numerous mistakes/spilled cake crumbs and add tone or colour in Photoshop. Artwork is reduced to 300dpi and saved in a variety of formats. I use a PC, A4 Wacom Intuos3 and a nice big 23 inch TFT screen. The occasional print I sell is produced on an Epson 1290 A3 printer. That all sounds a bit nerdy, perhaps we should talk about sports.




CF. Is the cartoonist a proper artist? I mean, does cartooning have the same cultural impact as some other artforms, in your opinion?

TH. What's that got to do with sports? Bottom line - I create cartoons primarily for publication and to earn a living, so it's not something I consider too much. I love to see cartoons hanging on people's walls though so perhaps in that context I'd consider them art. Actually, I have no idea what i'm talking about ... next question!



CF. Is there any other area of cartooning you'd like to work in, if you can find the time?

TH. Perhaps the next literary cliche will be "everyone's got one graphic novel in them". If I had the right story to tell that would be something I'd like to tackle. I'd also like to make time to develop a strip and send it to the syndicates, though I'm sure that way lies madness. Oh and I desperately need to update my website which hasn't been touched since September 2004. The shame of it all!

CF. Who were your major artistic influences?

TH. From an early age, I was a fan of the Peanuts collections my parents had, so Schulz is a great influence. I also remember spending many hours slavishly copying Reg Smythe's Andy Capp strips from the paper, complete with ciggy hanging from bottom lip (Andy, not me), and even more hours poring over the detailed depictions of valleys life by Welsh cartoonist Gren Jones in the South Wales Echo. Other Brits who's work I enjoy are Jamie Hewlett (Tank Girl, Gorillaz) Pete Dredge and Roger Kettle - Pete's linework always inspires me and Roger's economy with words is something I'd love to achieve. Current American cartoonists I admire are Jeff Smith, Peter Bagge, Stephan Pastis and Darby Conley. Kazu Kibuishi is also a favourite - I've got a couple of his Copper prints on the walls and they look fantastic.

CF. Who was/is your favourite cartoonist/writer, of all time?

TH. If I look at my obsessively large comic book collection, Bill Watterson seems to crop up the most. He had it all; superb writing, absolutely brilliant art and a big 'tache.

CF. There's a lot of talk about a new 'paper-less future' and 'new digital reading habits', do you think this will affect cartooning, at some point.

TH. Yes, newspapers and books will dies out and the internet will take over everything. Large groups of big 'tached robots will rule the world and worship Bill Watterson.

CF. If you had the time, and you were helicoptered in to work on anything you chose, any publication, strip, panel, character, book, show, what would you like to work on?

TH. Anything to do with Wallace and Gromit.

CF. Is there anything you'd rather be?

TH. A lumberjack.

CF. Thank you for visiting with us.

TH. No problem.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Friends of the Fiend 30: Matt Buck



Matt Buck, a former UK Young Cartoonist of the Year, spent his early years in reporting and then working in newspaper infographics. He finally abandoned the daily drudge (thankfully) and turned his talented hand to full-time cartooning, winning a place on a unique cartoon exchange with young South African cartoonists. An experience he describes as 'a magnificent learning experience'.
I like political cartoonists like Matt because, as I think is evident from the caricatures above, which he created for Sky News, he combines the right amount of love for his subjects, with a healthy dose of venom for those who have abandoned their ideals as they make the climb up the greasy political pole.


CF. Hello, Matt.

MB. Greetings Fiend.

CF. Okay, what are your current projects, anything exciting in the pipeline - that you can tell us about?

MB. I've always got dreams fiend - the problems tend to come turning them in realities. But, at the moment, the most exciting thing going on is the chance to draw caricatures of the bad and the evil at the Cannes film festival.
Shrewsbury cartoon festival was also great fun this spring.

CF. Did you always want to be a cartoonist, and set out to become one, or was it a gradual process?

MB. A mixture. It suited both my character and my interests, although it took me a while to work out exactly what this combustible mess meant. The unpalatable consequences are becoming clearer year by year.



CF. The work you do at the moment, can you tell us something about the process?

MB. Um. I'm woefully undisciplined and my working methods are a bit prone to erratic turns, but broadly, I like drawing best and so, when I'm reasoning well, I tend to concentrate on this and do less colouring or messing about with the line.
I had an unhappy period when I drew entirely on the computer and although the stuff was fine, over time, I felt it lacked character and so now, I tend to use the computer only as a finisher and a colouring box.
Re-reading this, I realise that I've only talked about the technique here - and the important bit is really the writing. Tea, staring into space, extreme tiredness, running, rage, bile and suppressed childhood trauma all help fuel the actual creative process.

More Matt Buck cartoons here at Matt Buck. Com.


CF. I know you've been asked this a million times, but what tools do you use, and what format do you work to?

MB. Pentel brush pens - I love the flexibility of line it gives. Any number of pencils (blunt), photoshop and a lot of patience. Formats tend to depend on clients. Although in a typical week I'll work on anything from single column gags to page holding A3 drawings. I like a challenge. Scanner, Mac, email, storage facilities etc,etc...

CF. Is the cartoonist a proper artist? I mean, does cartooning have the same cultural impact as some other artforms, in your opinion?

MB. Yes, it is an art form and it does have an impact - although typically I can't think of any quantifiable way to record it. I guess the best way is still the laugh and the occasional - You can't say that! Impact is entirely subjective but I think it's best to try and avoid too much critical opinion. Cartoonist Royston Robertson made a nice acid aside about this on his blog, in which he noted the shock horror newspaper story of an art critic actually going to learn to draw.

CF. Is there any other area of cartooning you'd liketo work in, if you can find the time?

MB. Oh yeah - pretty much all of it - but sculptural cartooning I think might be fun.



CF. Who were your major artistic influences?

MB. Not sure about influences, people I admire would include a bizarre range from Edward Sorel to Sempe, passing through Telnaes, Fleming, Bell, Calman, Brown, Brodner and Trog plus others too numerous to list.

CF. Who was/is your favourite cartoonist/writer, of all time?

MB. Mel Calman - for his sense of humour... his famous Women's Lib drawing - one cross looking woman holding a sign - FREE WOMEN! - smaller man ... can I have one please?

CF. There's a lot of talk about a new 'paper-less future' and 'new digital reading habits', do you think this will affect cartooning,at some point.

MB. Yes and I think it already is, but there will always be a need for jokes.

CF. If you had the time, and you were helicoptered in to work on anything you chose, any publication, strip, panel, character, book, show, what would you like to work on?

MB. Eek - um, dunno. Something that reminded people that we're more than just economic units.




CF. Is there anything you'd rather be?

MB. No - how lucky is that ...

CF. Thank you for visiting with us.

MB. It was a pleasure Fiend.


Matt Buck, Cartoonist www.mattbuck.com Tel: UK +44 (0) 1962 840216

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Friends of the Fiend 29: Dan Collins



Dan Collins began his cartooning career in 1976. Before that he attended Ohio State University's College of Art for two years followed by a year at Columbus College of Art and Design. Thousands of his cartoons have been published in magazines, newspapers and books in the United States and around the world. He has drawn magazine gag cartoons, newspaper editorial cartoons, comic strips, greeting cards, illustrations and caricatures that have delighted readers of all ages for nearly three decades. He is an on-staff cartoonist for Larry Flynt Publication's Hustler magazine and has been since 1977. From 1996 to 2004 he was the editorial cartoonist for the Delaware Gazette of Delaware, Ohio. Until 2004 the Gazette was the country's oldest daily newspaper continuously owned by a single family for 170 years. Being the artist for this distinguished news daily in it's final years as an American icon is a point of pride for him. Dan is currently working on a comic strip called Funny Paper as well as greeting cards that can be found in the U.S., Canada, Australia and New Zealand.




CF. Hello, Dan.

DC. Hello.

CF. Okay, what are your current projects, anything exciting in the pipeline - that you can tell us about?

DC. My collection of the Captain Hard-On comic strips just went off to the printers in Singapore they tell me for the book Fantagraphics is doing. I'm working on a stand-alone line of cards for Noble Works Inc. and I want to finally get the Funny Paper strip ready for a submission to the syndicates.




Click image to see larger copy of Funny Paper, by Collins



CF. Did you always want to be a cartoonist, and set out to become one, or was it a gradual process?

DC. I always wanted to be one but never thought I would actually get the chance. I didn' think I was good enough compared to the artists I saw but I figured I could always mess around with it for my own amusement. Now after 30 years of doing it full time I think I just might be good enough. We'll see.




CF. The work you do at the moment, can you tell us something about the process?

DC. I try to think of something funny and then I draw it. I send it off to the magazine and they call back and tell me I must get funnier or they will fire me. Or they tell me I am a genius but still must be funnier or they will fire me.




CF. I know you've been asked this a million times, but what tools do you use, and what format do you work to?

DC. I use most everything; markers, pens, brushes, pencil, watercolors, computer coloring stuff...I bounce around in styles so I can't really settle on one thing.




CF. Is the cartoonist a proper artist? I mean, does cartooning have the same cultural impact as some other artforms, in your opinion?

DC. It has always played second fiddle to the formal arts but people give it so much power that you have to consider it as a bona fide genre. It's an artform for the masses so the upper crust tend to sneer down at us while we look up at them and laugh.

CF. Is there any other area of cartooning you'd like to work in, if you can find the time?

DC. It has been my dream to have a newspaper strip ever since I can recall. I don't know why, it just struck me as the thing I would most like to do. I remember laying on the living room floor with the funny pages every night reading the strips from the mid sixties; Peanuts, Lil Abner and so on. They would take you to a special place outside this world for a brief moment and the power to do that took hold of me. I wanted to live there. I wanted to take other people there with me.





CF. Who were your major artistic influences?

DC. All the usual suspects. We're all influenced in some way or other by every one of them. Schulz taught me how to write a strip. Capp taught me what to aspire to in drawing. Crumb ruined me for life in my first year of college in 1972. Searle showed me the art in comics.

CF. Who was/is your favourite cartoonist/writer, of all time?

DC. I can't think of one who displaces the others. They all are a part of my cartoon experience. Sorry.

CF. There's a lot of talk about a new 'paper-less future' and 'new digital reading habits', do you think this will affect cartooning,at some point.

DC. Not really. You can read a computer screen only so long before eye strain takes over. It's not 'real' either (physically). To hold that thing in your hands makes it yours. You can look as closely as you wish and see even deeper into the cartoon. See it's tiny little dots on the paper, see the fibers of the paper. It's all part of a cartoon. Of course it has affected cartoons and taken them into a new exciting direction which is good. People like to deal in absolutes; this is the way of the future and the old way is dead. It's a natural inclination but nature is never so pure.





CF. If you had the time, and you were helicoptered in to work onanything you chose, any publication, strip, panel, character,book, show, what would you like to work on?

DC. I would like to be the host of Saturday Night Live. I would suck but don't half the hosts? Or I would like to be a guest to fish with Hank Parker on his Saturday morning fishing show.

CF. Is there anything you'd rather be?

DC. The all powerful master of time and space.

CF. Thank you for visiting with us.

DC. Thank you for inviting me. Are you suggesting that our time is over and I should go now? Sure...fine...pick my brain and then kick me out the door. If I was the all powerful master of time and space I bet you'd want me to stick around! Yeah. I bet you'd laugh at all my cartoons then! OK I'm going.

Friends of the Fiend 28: Brian Fray





CF. Hello, Brian.

BF. Hey, there, Fiend!

CF. Okay, what are your current projects, anything exciting in the pipeline - that you can tell us about?

BF. I have a lot of on-going work, such as my editorial cartoon for the local paper, a small gag panel I do called Fray's Way and several trade magazines I work on. Something different always seems to be coming in. I do lots of stuff for restaurants and breweries and various government agencies. At the moment I'm working on a series of cartoons for The World Bank. Also, I've just completed two books, DeVil's Riddle and Chef Pierre's Fresh Sheet. Too early to tell how they'll do, but hopefully OK.





I'm Trying to find the time to get a DeVil's Riddle website up and running to create interest in the book.

CF. Did you always want to be a cartoonist, and set out to become one, or was it a gradual process?

BF. I always wanted to be an artist of some sort from the time I was old enough to hold a pencil. I studied fine art at university and I started out as a painter, but decided the starving artist route wasn't for me. So, I tapped into my humourous side and haven't looked back.



CF. The work you do at the moment, can you tell us something about the process?

BF. Pretty basic. For gags, I write, sketch and doodle first and reject the duds. Then I pencil, ink and scan. Clean up and colour on the computer and e-mail. For other more complex illustrations, I sketch in pencil, ink and colour with watercolurs, gouache and coloured pencils, then scan, clean up and send. Then I send the bill...my favourite part.

CF. I know you've been asked this a million times, but what tools do you use, and what format do you work to?

BF. Depends on what I'm working on. I have a couple of different styles. If I'm doing gags, I draw with a Staedtler Permanent Lumocolor marker on sheets of matte coated stock that I purchased from printer. I scan and colour/clean up in Photoshop. If I'm working on an illustration for a story, I work with a Crowquill pen on Bainbridge 80 board and Windsor & Newton India Ink. I colour with gouache, watercolours and coloured pencils. I work on a Mac G4.


click for a larger version

See more of Brian Fray's work here, at BrianFray.com


CF. Is the cartoonist a proper artist? I mean, does cartooning have the same cultural impact as some other artforms, in your opinion?

BF. Absolutely! Cartoonists are definitely proper artists. I've been on both sides of the fence, as a cartoonist and "fine artist". Is something any less valid because it is humourous? I know a lot of fine artists, painters and sculptors, who are much less disciplined and skilled than many cartoonists. Cartooning involves not only drawing skills, but in many cases, writing skills, as well. Cartoons have a huge impact on society and culture. "DOH!" is firmly embedded in our modern vocabulary, to give a silly example.The nasty business with Mohammed and the Danish newspapers is anothernot-so-silly example.




CF. Is there any other area of cartooning you'd like to work in, if you can find the time?

BF. I'd love to work on an animated film. But more on the character development and creative director side. Leave the repetitive technical stuff to the techies who are way better at it.

CF. Who were your major artistic influences?

BF. As a kid, I loved Don Martin's off-the-wall work in Mad Magazine. Also Kliban, Walt Kelly, the old Warner Brothers Looney Toons cartoons and a lot of Disney's earlier stuff. I also love Ronald Searle, Ralph Steadman and Brian Froud.

CF. Who was/is your favourite cartoonist/writer, of all time?

BF. That's a toughie, because I admire so many of them. I guess I'd have to say Kliban.

CF. There's a lot of talk about a new 'paper-less future' and 'new digital reading habits', do you think this will affect cartooning, at some point.

BF. Everything changes, but I think the creative process will remain the same. The media through which we preceive things is evolving, and the tools that we create with are evolving, but talent is still talent. Good drawing and writing will still rise to the top. The human touch is still essential. That won't change.

CF. If you had the time, and you were helicoptered in to work onanything you chose, any publication, strip, panel, character,book, show, what would you like to work on?

BF. I'd like to write and illustrate a series of books based on my DeVil's Riddle characters, which would spin into a movie...on which I would be the creative consultant.



CF. Is there anything you'd rather be?

BF. Taller, thinner and younger...with more hair.

CF. Thank you for visiting with us.

BF. It was my pleasure and honour. Thank you for inviting me.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Friends of the Fiend 27: Dave Blazek


Dave Blazek is the creator of Loose Parts, the panel and strip, syndicated by Tribune Media Services. Dave previously wrote for the comic Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist, for Comedy Central. Dave came to cartooning later in life after a career as a writer, graphic artist, director and standup comic. He learned to draw in his '40s, just six years ago. Amazingly enough, even to him, he actually has a degree in journalism. Loose Parts is now seen daily in papers all across America, and in one very perceptive Malaysian newspaper. Dave has produced three books compiling his cartoons. The latest, two hundred some odd cartoons came out in 2006. Dave is a ninja. He also lives in Valley Forge, PA, USA with his wife and two teenage daughters. He's just had his large and small intestines removed and replaced with two medium intestines.




CF. Hello, Dave.

DB. By the way, I just had the word 'hello' copyrighted. You owe me $50 just for using it.

CF. Okay, what are your current projects, anything exciting in the pipeline - that you can tell us about?

DB. Well, when you're syndicated, that's pretty much your current project all the time. I'm always working on Loose Parts. It's just part of my life. But I am involved in some other interesting things. The most interesting is an animated TV show I'm co-writing. Some friends and I were approached by a company with an established TV record to create a new animated show. I can't tell you who they are but you'd recognize the name of the show ... and the motion picture that came from it. So I'm spending a lot of my non-cartoon time on this project, and bopping up to New York now and then. The pilot script should be done tomorrow. Funny thing is, I'm certain they have no idea I'm a cartoonist. They think I'm a writer.

CF. Did you always want to be a cartoonist, and set out to become one, or was it a gradual process?

DB. No, I never wanted to be a cartoonist. I lived my life for forty some odd years with the thought never crossing my mind. I worked as an advertising creative and at newspapers ... specifically The Philadelphia Inquirer and the Philadelphia Daily News. The cartoon editor was just strange enough to think I was funny and would run comic submissions from syndicates past me for my opinion. I kept saying, "I could do better than these." He finally said okay, do better. Matter of fact, be bugged me to try for, like two years. Then finally, I wrote about 30 samples and an artist friend drew them up. The editor showed them to a guy he knew at the LA Times Syndicate. The next thing we knew, some VP flies east and signs us to a contract over lunch. I had the fish. So we start Loose Parts. Soon after they ask me to write for Dr. Katz. So things are going cool. The the roof falls in. Dr. Katz is cancelled by Comedy Central to make way for South Park and I lose that gig. Then the guy drawing Loose Parts gets cancer and tells me he's pulling out. So rather than risk losing a toehold in the syndication world, I asked the syndicate if I could take over drawing Loose Parts in addition to writing it. They asked if I could draw. I said, no, but I could learn. They said okay. I went on a crash 30-day effort to learn to draw and six years and two thousand cartoons later, here I am. I know, I know ... someone begging me to get into cartooning ... a contract after 30 samples ... learning to draw in 30 days ... that sound you hear is striving artists hitting the floor. I can't explain it. But, hey, I wasn't a total neophyte. I spent years as a comedy writer, comedian and graphic artist so the form wasn't that strange to me. And since I spent years working at newspapers and in advertising, the deadlines of a syndicated cartoon seem normal to me.





CF. The work you do at the moment, can you tell us something about the process?

DB. I write for an hour or two, two or three nights after work. Then I draw and ink Saturdays and Sundays. I always, absolutely positively, don't go a week without having drawn and inked seven cartoons. Then once a month I crush a few long nights to scan and color and do separations and all. Then I repeat. Oh, and there's beer in there somewhere. But I work way ahead. Right now, my syndicate has all the Loose Parts for three months from now. And I have another 40 drawn but not put together. And I have another 20 or so written but not drawn.






CF. I know you've been asked this a million times, but what tools do you use, and what format do you work to?

DB. Pretty basic tools. I draw using a simple mechanical pencil. I work on 8.5 x 11 copy paper I buy at Staples. Then I ink the lines using Pigma Micron pens. Then I erase. That's my weakness. I'm a really bad eraser. If you look closely at Loose Parts cartoons, you can see lines I missed all the time. Then I scan the images into my Mac G4. I then use Photoshop to add tones and shading. I've worked hard to use some pretty harsh shadings on the edges of my people. It gives them a roundness and depth I find pleasing. I do have an office at home but I prefer to draw at the dining room table. That puts me in the midst of my family and makes me feel like I'm not locked away from life. I also like drawing outside on a wooden board I haul out to a table on my deck. I live in the woods so it's quite peaceful and lovely doing it that way.



CF. Is the cartoonist a proper artist? I mean, does cartooning have the same cultural impact as some other artforms, in your opinion?

DB. I honestly don't know. I think I haven't been part of it long enough to say. I will tell you that the cartoon world was so much more than I thought before I got to be a part of it. For instance, I thought that a comic should be funny and that's it. I was stunned to see the impact of serial strips, comic novels and other forms of comics and the strong bond between those comics and their fans. But I still remain stubbornly biased. I think a comic should be funny. I don't think there's enough of it on the comics pages these days. Don't get me wrong. I think there are good comics in the comics; I just don't think there are enough that fall into the joke-a-day category. That's hard: writing a good joke a day. I'm proud to take on the challenge. I want my cultural impact to be that I made people laugh. That's it.



CF. Is there any other area of cartooning you'd like to work in, if you can find the time?

DB. I'd love to give that New Yorker white whale a harpoon one of these days. I'd love to submit panels for that baby. But you know what? I'm not ready. I'm not good enough yet. I need a few more years. This cartooning thing is much much harder than it appears. The first level might be easy to hit. The small inceremental steps to get to the top just take time. I need to hone.

CF. Who were your major artistic influences?

DB. Well, a lot of my influences come from other corners of the comedy world. Your Woody Allen's, your Robert Kleins, your Monty Python boys, your Christopher Guest movies. Right now, I'm positively immersed in the stuff of a comic named Mitch Hedberg. Sadly, he died about a year ago but I urge everybody to go get his CD Strategic Grill Locations. That cat thinks like nobody else. Of course, there's Gary Larsen and the Far Side and before him, Kliban and Gahan Wilson. Lately, I'm spending of of time looking at New Yorker anthologies and just bathing in how much better all those people are than I am.



CF. Who was/is your favourite cartoonist/writer, of all time?

DB. Gotta be Larsen. Our brains seem to be wired the same way.

CF. There's a lot of talk about a new 'paper-less future' and 'new digital reading habits', do you think this will affect cartooning, at some point.

DB. Oh yeah, absolutely. In that playroom in the back of my brain, I'm always wondering how you could easily turn a daily panel into a daily little animated thing that would stream over a phone or welcome someone to a website. And for any advertising media people out there, I'm open to product placement in Loose Parts. Just remember, I hate to draw cars, but I think I could manage a Jaguar.

CF. If you had the time, and you were helicoptered in to work on anything you chose, any publication, strip, panel, character, book, show, what would you like to work on?

DB. Well, I work on a lot of different things in my day job. As a matter of fact, twelve hours after I write this I'll be on a soundstage directing three TV commercials. I've worked on short films and on radio shows so I've had a taste of most everything. There's a whole world of people out there who only know me as an ad guy or a director or a writer. They have no clue I'm a syndicated cartoonist. I remember once shocking a particlarly prickly newspaper columnist who told me I had no idea how hard her job was by informing her I had, like, ten times as many daily readers as she did. That was satisfying. But I'd like to try writing for TV. In fact, I am trying that right now. And I do have a comic novel in my head. Check out some of Streve Martin's novellas. I think I could grow into doing something like that. Then I wake up and realize I'm an idiot ,and that puts a damper on things.


CF. Is there anything you'd rather be?

DB. I'd love to do standup comedy again. I dabbled in it for about five years but quit just as I was getting good. Raising young kids and going to comedy clubs didn't mesh well. Like cartooning, standup is way harder and more nuanced than it appears. I find the instant feedback rewarding. In fact, I count the lack of instant feedback, or feedback of any sort ­ as the thing I like least about cartooning.


CF. Thank you for visiting with us.

DB. Visiting? Heck, I'm moving in. Where do you keep the chips?

Monday, May 29, 2006

Friends of the Fiend 26: Malcolm McGookin


McGookin is one of those annoying people who are good at everything, you know, not only can he write and draw gag cartoons, but he can also turn his hand to editorial cartoons, illustrations, comic strips, character designs, and animation. I ask you - is that fair?



CF. Hello, Malcolm.

MM. Hello. Sorry, couldn't come up with anything pithier.

CF. Okay, what are your current projects, anything exciting in the pipeline - that you can tell us about?

MM. OK, current projects....er...I'm working on a book about Bunyips (mythical Australian creatures), giving them a solid historical and zoological background, as though they were real. I also just finished a commission for a Sydney ad' agency which was a pain-in-the-butt but which paid a lot of bills.

CF. Did you always want to be a cartoonist, and set out to become one, or was it a gradual process?

MM. Always WAS a cartoonist, but always wanted to be a pro footballer (soccer). Tragically my playing career was cut short in my early twenties after I was diagnosed as crap.

Click for larger image

Find out more about Malcolm's Eve strip here.


CF. The work you do at the moment, can you tell us something about the process?

MM. I work from home, which I have come to loathe. Sorry if I'm ruining some peoples' dreams, but after five years I was getting cabin fever and I've been a home-based cartoonist since 1997. I'm well on the way to the nut-farm. In fact they've reserved me a jacket. I need to get out and get a real job.
Process? Right. Pencil rough an idea, ink the drawing using a separate piece of (ordinary typing) paper on a lightbox. Scan into Photoshop for colouring, email to client.


CF. I know you've been asked this a million times, but what tools do you use, and what format do you work to?

MM. I mentioned I only use ordinary typing/photocopy paper, right? Well, make sure you use good quality stuff to eliminate the "bleed" problem, folks. I don't hold with all that fancy Bristol board or Strathmore whatever it is. Too expensive. I draw my cartoon strips on A3, (two to a page) and my gag cartoons on A4, using an ordinary dip pen and black ink.





CF. Is the cartoonist a proper artist? I mean, does cartooning have the same cultural impact as some other artforms, in your opinion?

MM. Is the cartoonist a proper...? WHAT??! I've killed men for less than that. Look, there are two types of cartoonist. Those who can draw properly (i.e. can draw landscapes, portraits, design porticos, etc) and those who just can't. The fact is cartooning is about writing. It doesn't matter if you're an Oliphant or a Callahan, we're all the same sad bunch of eejits suffering the same psychotic illness.

CF. Is there any other area of cartooning you'd like to work in, if you can find the time?

MM. This is where I distinguish cartooning from cartoon illustration or comic art. Cartooning is about the writing, as I said, but cartoon illustration is mostly about the drawing. I'd love to draw Spiderman. I did draw him under licence for a computer games company in about 1999, but that wasn't the real deal.
Actually, I'd like to come up with my own comic book hero. I experimented with Captain Drunky some years back, who defeated bad guys with various bodily functions, but it was before its time.





CF. Who were your major artistic influences?

MM. That's a difficult one. I've had almost no artistic training (like many cartoonists), and as a kid I eschewed the British comics scene in favour of the Yanks, so the early Romita Snr stuff would have seeped in. His was themost effective style with seemingly the least effort. I also read many "how to" books by American artists who I can't name. Mostly I studied "proper" drawing, not cartoons. Anything from Da Vinci through Rembrandt to Rockwell.

CF. Who was/is your favourite cartoonist/writer, of all time?

MM. I think the greatest living artist is a cartoonist, Ralph Steadman. However, I don't draw like him, though I tried to. It just wasn't me. My favourite cartoonist is in my opinion the best editorial artist ever, Sir David Low. I also have a grab bag of others who very few people have heard of, such as past masters like Bud Neill and Dudley D. Watkins, as well as better known artists like Wiley Miller, Stan McMurtry (Daily Mail, UK) Mike Lester and others who are all "up there". There's also a legendary gag cartoonist in the UK called Sax who deserves a mention.

CF. There's a lot of talk about a new 'paper-less future' and 'new digital reading habits', do you think this will affect cartooning, at some point.

MM. Short answer: Yes. Longer answer: We don't yet know how the digital revolution will develop. It's a mess. There is a thing the media geeks are calling "convergence",which means that eventually content presently destined for your TV will haveto be configured so that it can appear on your mobile phone - or the digital chip you get implanted in your brain at birth. Unlike the world that the syndicates and newspapers have created, the Web won't allow stuff nobody reads to stick around for years pulling in a wage, but Web influences will eventually help displace the garbage which presently squats like a collection of old warty toads in our newspapers. Not quite yet, unfortunately, but whereas the word "blogger" was initially a term of contempt, it has now acquired a certain cachet. Good cartoonists, if they are web-savvy, can now use the web as a launching pad, where even as recently as two years ago that was just wishful thinking. Whichever way the Internet does influence print media, newspapers will stay.




CF. If you had the time, and you were helicoptered in to work on anything you chose, any publication, strip, panel, character,book, show, what would you like to work on?

MM. Spongebob. The Simpsons. Family Guy. As a writer, obviously, because we now sub-contract virtually all our animation to Asia. Glen Keane is widely acknowleged as one of the great Disney 2D animators. Last I heard he was re-training as a computer animator. Very sad. Message to Disney: Your drawn animation was fine, idiots. It was your storytelling that stank.

CF. Is there anything you'd rather be?

MM. I'd like to be the guy who does genital piercings on women. You notice those gigs are never advertised.

CF. Thank you for visiting with us.

MM. Is that it?

Friday, May 26, 2006

Friends of the Fiend 25: Mark Anderson


I didn't much like Mark Anderson's cartoons when I first saw them. My wife did, but I didn't, until I saw one in colour and it was only then that the penny dropped. In colour, I could see, and appreciate the all important element in his drawings, his use of space. The cartoon that opened my eyes was one he drew years ago for King Feature's New Breed, it featured two trick or treaters talking about the fact that they were encouraged to talk to strangers at that time of year, and it made quite an impression on me.
These days I find myself popping over to his website every so often, just to laugh out loud at those 'Andertoons', and whilst I still really enjoy his colour work, I appreciate his black and white cartoons even more.


CF. Hello, Mark.

MA. Hey! What's shakin', bacon?

CF. Okay, what are your current projects, anything exciting in the pipeline - that you can tell us about?

MA. always doing my gag work, but lately I've been doing a lot of custom cartoons for advertising, and a fair amount of greeting card work. Also I'm working on my own race of atomic supermen.

CF. Did you always want to be a cartoonist, and set out to become one, or was it a gradual process?

MA. My range of career goals were/are as follows:

Age 4 - Running the cash register at the meat market
Age 6 - Fireman
Age 9 - Luke Skywalker
Age 12 - Luke Skywalker
Age 15 - Princess Leia (It was a confusing time for me.)
Age 17 - Cartoonist
Age 18 - Music teacher
Age 19 - Tombonist
Age 20 - Jazz trombonist
Age 24 - Screw salesman by Day, jazz trombonist by night, cartoonist on my lunch hour.
Age 26 - Anything but selling metal coil
Age 29 - Anything, please God, ANYTHING! (After some downsizing.)
Age 30 to current - Cartoonist

CF. The work you do at the moment, can you tell us something about the process?

MA. I Read a lot of newspapers and magazine looking for little germs of stuff to make fun of. I daydream, write down some jokes, let them stew in a box on the shelf for a while, and then draw up the ones I like sometime later. From there I send them out and wait to see if anyone thinks I'm funny.



CF. I know you've been asked this a million times, but what tools do you use, and what format do you work to?

MA. American Natural pencils, Faber-Castell Pitt Artist brush pens, Pigma Microns pens, & cool grey Prismacolor markers on Borden & Riley bleedproof paper. From there it's into one of my Macs, touched up in Photoshop with a Wacom tablet and into the mailbox. I don't keep to any standard dimensions, but I work really small.



CF. Is the cartoonist a proper artist? I mean, does cartooning have the same cultural impact as some other artforms, in your opinion?

MA. Yes, yes and yes! (I put in an extra "yes" for emphasis.) I could rant on this for a good 10 pages, but I'll spare you.

CF. Is there any other area of cartooning you'd like to work in, if you can find the time?

MA. Animation. I bought Flash some time ago and I'm still trying to find the time to teach myself to use the damn thing.

CF. Who were your major artistic influences?

MA. Peter Arno, George Carlin & Spiderman.

CF. Who was/is your favourite cartoonist/writer, of all time?

MA. Oh goodness... Probably Bill Watterson. Honestly, every panel is genius through and through.

CF. There's a lot of talk about a new 'paper-less future' and 'new digital reading habits', do you think this will affect cartooning,at some point.

MA. Traditional media's going to be forced to redefine itself in any number of ways online sooner or later. It's just a fact. The delivery method is always morphing, but the good news is cartoons fit pretty much anywhere.



See lots more 'Andertoons' on Mark's website.


CF. If you had the time, and you were helicoptered in to work on anything you chose, any publication, strip, panel, character,book, show, what would you like to work on?

MA. Right now, probably The Daily Show. That's some consistently smart/ funny stuff!

CF. Is there anything you'd rather be?

MA. Good God, no! Drawing pictures in my polar bear jammies for a living is pretty much the pinnacle for me.



CF. Thank you for visiting with us.

MA. Tune in next week! Same Mark time, same Mark channel!

Monday, May 22, 2006

Friends of the Fiend 24: Paul Giambarba


I am, I think, a little awed by Paul Giambarba. For a start that's a cool name, but it's the way he paints that I envy somewhat. He also draws today, as he did decades ago, with an almost angelic lightness of touch. His blogs are terrific, particularly his 100 years of illustration blog, and he has the most fabulous photograph of Edward Gorey on the photography section of his website.
Not content with just creating illustrations, cartoons, and strips, Paul was Polaroid Corporation’s first art director and continued with them in a very active role as a creator of product identity and as a design consultant for more than 25 years. His work has won awards from the Ad Clubs of New York and Boston, the American Institute of Graphic Arts, and Gold Medals from the Art Directors Clubs of New York and Boston. He has lectured on Graphic Design at Cornell University and Wellesley College.




CF. Hello, Paul.

PG. Just got back from Italy so I'll say "Ciao." Thanks, for inviting me to participate as a fellow cartoon fiend.

CF. Okay, what are your current projects, anything exciting in the pipeline - that you can tell us about?

PG. I like print-on-demand publishing so I'll be putting together some illustrated books just for the hell of it, with no intention of selling them.I published a compilation of caricatures I did of the Clinton years, In Your Dreams, Ken, and was delighted to have been able to produce a few copies in full color, something we would not have thought possible a few years ago. It's a major technological development that I think we all ought to take advantage of.


CF. Did you always want to be a cartoonist, and set out to become one, or was it a gradual process?

PG. I have wanted to be a cartoonist ever since my grandmother taught me as a child to draw cats. She drew them in the style of Steinberg, who had studied architecture in Milano. He, Riccardo Manzi, and my grandmother draw cats in a similar style. When I asked her why her cats all had their tails up in the air, she said it was to show their number plates. (She had a droll sense of humor.)

CF. The work you do at the moment, can you tell us something about the process?

PG. I like the way a black Prismacolor pencil feels on Rives BFK print paper, but I sometimes use a medium grade tracing paper for its tactile feel, too. I'll use the BFK for watercolor that I will wash over the pencil line. I'll add Photoshop color to the line drawing on tracing paper after scanning the art. I use Photoshop to touch up scans made of the watercolor art in the way we used to touch-up a final illustration.



CF. I know you've been asked this a million times, but what tools do you use, and what format do you work to?

PG. For the most part, a black Prismacolor pencil #935, WInsor & Newton artist's watercolors, Rives BFK paper or perhaps a sheet of Fabriano or Arches. However, I've used burnt wooden matches dipped in India ink when asked to do so by an art director.


CF. Is the cartoonist a proper artist? I mean, does cartooning have the same cultural impact as some other artforms, in your opinion?

PG. Yes. Why not? I don't see much art in our culture. I see plenty of scribbles, sketches, and very few paintings -- and a lot of stuff that I would describe as pretentious garbage. It seemed to me to be almost as bad in Switzerland and Italy as it is in the USA as I looked around for inspiration during the last couple of weeks. Fifty years ago in those countries there were amazing poster hoardings, graphics and industrial design that can only be described as brilliant.
Those were the Golden Years of Leupin, Searle, Savignac, Peynet, Andre Francois,Tomi Ungerer and their colleagues.

CF. Is there any other area of cartooning you'd like to work in, if you can find the time?

PG. I have always liked the challenge of caricature so I would like to do portraits that bridge the gap between cartoon and illustration.




CF. Who were your major artistic influences?

PG. There were many and each were of a different time, I guess. Milton Caniff's original Terry during WWII; Earl Oliver Hurst directly thereafter; your namesake Roy McKie whom I replaced in a Boston studio when he left to go national -- so to speak; then Lyonel Feininger and Max Beckmann when I got more serious about subject matter and techniques.

CF. Who was/is your favourite cartoonist/writer, of all time?

PG. There are a lot of them: Ton Smits, whom I met in Eindhoven. Tom Henderson, Peter Arno, Charles Barsotti, Eldon Dedini, and - of course, Roy McKie - just to name a few.

CF. There's a lot of talk about a new 'paper-less future' and 'new digital reading habits', do you think this will affect cartooning, at some point.

PG. Yes. I think that Bob Staake is one of the pioneers in the way his digital images appear so vivid and powerful in print, too. We are not going paper-less and are, in fact, using up more of the forest than before the digital revolution arrived.

CF. If you had the time, and you were helicoptered in to work on anything you chose, any publication, strip, panel, character, book, show, what would you like to work on?

PG. The old Punch, and some of the Italian publications after WWII - Giovannino Guareschi had one of them called Candido. Leo Longanesi ("Two stupid people are two stupid people. Ten thousand stupid people are a historic force.") was another genius who was involved with his own publishing house and several very witty journals.



CF. Is there anything you'd rather be?

PG. No question about that. I'd rather be a musician.

CF. Thank you for visiting with us.

PG. My pleasure, Fiend. Congratulations on a great concept.