Monday, April 17, 2006

Friends of the Fiend 2: Chris Browne.

Chris Browne's bio' at Lambiek

CF. Hello, Chris Browne!

CB: Hello, Comics Fiend

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

CB: I am continuing to draw Hagar the Horrible and I am writing and drawing several children's books and graphic novels. It's all very hush hush!

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

CB: It was genetic in my case. I got the fat gene and good hand-eye coordination in one package. I love to draw and I think it was always in the cards that I'd do something like this but I was tempted by screenwriting - in fact I wrote the treatment for a Columbo episode that aired. Evan Hunter like my writing so much he once asked me to be his apprentice. And I was almost an actor, did some rural theater work when I was thin and spry. And I have written articles for magazines. Cartoonists are easily distracted.

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

CB: Well, I'll talk about my process in working on Raising Duncan, because that's how I like to work. (Raising Duncan was a comic strip I wrote and drew from 2000 to 2004. It still appears on-line at I would carry a sketchbook with me, write gags and character development and story arcs as I thought of them, drawing largely from life. Then I would edit those in my studio, select the best, and then scan those into my Mac. Then I would draw and redraw again and again until I felt good about it. I had the most fun artistically with Monday and Sunday pages where I could cut loose! Then I would send the work in digitally, by e-mail. I loved that!

Hagar is done by three people, a gag writer, penciler (me) and inker, on paper, sent by Fed Ex. Ideally, I prefer to work alone, like Charles Schulz and my dad did. That is how you achieve any sort of truth in your work.

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

CB: I use Black Warrior F and 2H pencils, Black Magic india ink, a variety of pen nibs, most of which you can't buy in an art store - you have to go to antique shows. Or Gillot 170’s and crowquils. Sometimes permanent markers on gag cartoons. But on my graphic narrative work- I do features in this style for Sarasota Magazine- I do those with a Wacom Tablet and my G4 Powermac and Photoshop 7.

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

CB: Cartooning is what it is... Hollywood steals or ruins so much of whatever they touch. Comic strips have generally been getting ruder and nastier, so I guess the culture is impacting the comics. I tried to bring something warm and accepting to the comics page with Raising Duncan. Readers liked it but editors didn’t give it a chance. A cartoonist can be an artist and an artist can be a cartoonist but it’s not a given. Cartoonists have to work and care and challenge themselves to be their best.

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

CB: Yes, graphic novels, children's books, painting, sculpture and animation in that order. And I'm working on it.

CF. Who were your major artistic influences?

CB: My father, my brother, R. Crumb, William Joyce, Fieffer, Gahan Wilson, Kliban, Elder & Kurtzman, Tenniel, Kley, Lautrec, Schulz, Watterson, Kirby & Lee, Arnold Roth, Mel Lazarus, Johnny Hart, Mort Walker, Claire Bretecher, Herge, Mike Peters, Cathy Guisewite, Lynn Johnston, Dedini, Blechman... pant, pant...

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

CB: My dad. The world just doesn’t know how great he was.

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.

CB: Everything effects everything. life is a rhythmic chemical sea. I suspect it will find it's own level. If it doesn't, creative people will move on to other venues. when art becomes a closed club, artists move on.

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?

CB: Part of me would like to be a writer on LOST. And I’d like to have a desk at Pixar, just to be in their energy field. It’s better to serve in Heaven than to rule in hell. Milton was wrong. The sap!

CF. Is there anything you'd rather be?

CB: Younger. I was once, but it didn't last.

CF. Thank you for visiting with us.

CB: In the word of Mel Gibson, the pleasure was Mayan!

For Raising Duncan goodies, go here.


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