Friends of the Fiend 4: Randy Glasbergen.
RG. Are you talking to me?
CF. Okay, what are your current projects, anything exciting in the pipeline - that you can tell us about?
RG. It's something different everyday. One day I might be writing/drawing somecustom work for an advertising project, another day maybe a calendar projector something for someone's book. My career is pretty diversified with custom work and reprints for a pretty wide assortment of clients worldwide. That's what I like best about what I do...every day is something different and every day has the potential to bring in something new and exciting.
CF. Did you always want to be a cartoonist, and set out to become one, or was it a gradual process?
RG. I was one of those kids who was always drawing. I was addicted to Popeye cartoons on TV and probably influenced by a steady diet of Jay Ward stuff.When I got a little older, I started writing letters to my favorite cartoonists and they wrote back with lots of valuable advice...these letterseventually became the inspiration for my book "How To Be A Successful Cartoonist". Around that time, a cartoonist sent me a Jack Markow book aboutcartooning and that's when I started submitting gag cartoons to magazines. Imade my first professional sale at age 15 (1972) and have gradually built upmy career since then, little by little, stacking one small accomplishment ontop of another, year after year.
After two semesters of college, I left school to freelance full time at age19...it was a good choice because I could afford to live very simply with no family to support. I moved into a genuine slum apartment in Utica NY for $60a month. I was able to earn a living at that time selling mostly tomagazines like The Wall Street Journal, Good Housekeeping, New Woman andothers.
Since then, I've continued to diversify to more markets and in 1982 I started doing The Better Half (first for The Register & Tribune Syndicate,later for King Features). Putting my work on the internet turbo charged my freelance career in ways I never could have imagined ten years ago.
CF. The work you do at the moment, can you tell us something about the process?
RG. Write, draw, submit. Write, draw, submit. Repeat. It's pretty much as simple as that. I try to write about 10 gags a day and draw 5 or 6 each day. In a typical six-day work week, I'll do about 35-40 new cartoons, including 11 each week for The Better Half (6 daily, 5 panels on Sunday). I write all my own ideas. My favorites go up on my web site as my featured cartoon of the day and everything eventually gets put in the mail to magazines and other clients I submit to. I do most of my creative work in the morning, and afternoons are mostly spent on the computer handling the business end of things (answering e-mail and selling cartoon rights from my web site catalog).
CF. I know you've been asked this a million times, but what tools do you use, and what format do you work to?
RG. I draw on 8x11" heavyweight bond paper. First I pencil, then I ink over it with a plain ordinary Flair pen from the drugstore. I have a good Xerox machine, heavy-duty Mac, scanner, color laser printer, etc. I think it helps to have the best tools you can afford, so I don't skimp on technology.
CF. Is the cartoonist a proper artist? I mean, does cartooning have the same cultural impact as some other art forms, in your opinion?
RG. I'm not doing "art", I'm running a business. I try to do good work and if my gags are insightful or have some kind of worthwhile message, that's a nice bonus. But the bottom line is, will it sell? I try to create cartoons that others can find useful in their PowerPoint presentations, newsletters, seminars, self-help books, etc. I want readers to enjoy my work, but I also want the cartoons to have commercial value globally, that's how I earn a living and take care of my family.
CF. Is there any other area of cartooning you'd like to work in, if you can find the time?
RG. I'm pretty happy with what I'm doing now. I really enjoy the variety. I'm involved in many different kinds of work already: syndication with The Better Half, magazine cartoons, greeting cards, advertising and special projects, I also contribute business and technology cartoons to many newspapers around the world. I'd love to see my style animated for a TVcommercial sometime...I think that would be cool.
CF. Who were your major artistic influences?
RG. When I was starting out, Russell Myers, Dik Browne, Mort Walker influenced my drawings. In magazines, Henry Martin and Sam Gross were humor influences. I think I'm still influenced by all kinds of cartoons and cartoonists,whenever I see something I really like.
CF. There's a lot of talk about a new 'paper-less future' and 'newdigital reading habits', do you think this will affect cartooning, at some point.
RG. I began self-syndicating "Today's Cartoon by Randy Glasbergen" on the Internet about ten years ago. It's been more successful than anything I ever did in print. The web isn't an alternative media, it's completely mainstream. Its impact on my career has been revolutionary. The internet is not "the wave of the future" for cartoonists...it's here and now and today.
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?
RG. I would choose to keep working on the stuff I do now. At home in my studio,up on the third floor of my creaky old house. In bare feet and sweat pants, listening to XM radio, drinking too much coffee. I'm always amazed at the stories my wife tells me when she comes home from work, the meetings she goes to, the 50-page grant she had to write...she's such a grown up! On the other hand, my day to day, stay at home lifestyle is much more similar to that of my two year old granddaughter.
CF. Is there anything you'd rather be?
RG. Taller. Thinner. More hair. I think it would be nice to look more like Ricky Ricardo and less like George Costanza.
CF. Thank you for visiting with us.