Friends of the Fiend 5: Stephanie Piro.
SP. Hi Cartoon Fiend!
CF. Okay, what are your current projects, anything exciting in the pipeline - that you can tell us about?
SP. I have a new book coming out in the fall called "My Cat Loves Me Naked", 70 cartoons in a current title "Love Me or Go to Hell", and I just finished a mini-comic called "The Night Tom Never Called". Plus, of course, there's my contribution to Six Chix.
CF. Did you always want to be a cartoonist, and set out to become one, or was it a gradual process?
SP. I loved cartooning as a kid, and ALWAYS wanted to be one. It's a dream come true, except for the wealth and great riches part I thought went with it!
CF. The work you do at the moment, can you tell us something about the process?
SP. I write, then draw. I need quiet, sometimes hard, with a country karaoke bar player next door!
CF. I know you've been asked this a million times, but what tools do you use, and what format do you work to?
SP. I use a Koh-i-noor Art Pen. The old, original 1970's versions with the yellow or black barrel. They were the perfect pen, so, of course, they were discontinued.
CF. Is the cartoonist a proper artist? I mean, does cartooning have the same cultural impact as some other atforms, in your opinion?
SP. Cartooning is a wide and varied artform. You have fine artists like Dan Piraro, the Hernandez brothers, web cartoonists, people who write graphic novels and comic books. Yes, I think cartoonists have a big cultural impact. Look at the Mohammed cartoons, or many editorial cartoons. Charles Schulz, for one, contributed to the general culture with many iconic images and characters. Animated cartoonists like Mike Judge with Beavis and Butthead and King of the Hill, and the South Park guys have huge impacts on the culture.
CF. Is there any other area of cartooning you'd liketo work in, if you can find the time?
SP. I'd like to find the time to develop a strip. I did a strip called "TheTerrible Tea Time," which was too offbeat and abstract for syndicates in the80's. It would be fun to do something similar. I'd also like to getinvolved with animation, though I think I'd like to work with an animator rather than trying to do it all on my own. I'm not enough of a techie.
CF. Who were your major artistic influences?
SP. There were so many! Charles Schulz, Ronald Searle, Walt Kelly, Walt Disney's films like Bambi and 101 Dalmations, Edward Gorey, Archie comics, Charles Adams. I used to regularly read Brenda Starr, Dennis the Menace, Rivets, the Wizard of Id, B.C. I loved pen and ink artists. The whole black and white world. Plus color Sunday supplements.
CF. Who was/is your favourite cartoonist/writer, of all time?
SP. I guess I'd have to say Charles Schulz. As a kid, we lived closer to the airport than to any other bookstores, so my parents would go there to buybooks, and my Mom would always buy the Peanuts books there. This was beforeI could even read, and before they appeared in our local papers, and she would read them to me. His beautiful drawings were deceptively simple butvery expressive. He was a brilliant writer, too. He was the whole package and then some.
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.
SP. I think there are already people walking around who are growing up on online comics. But I hope that there will always be newspaper and magazine cartoons, as well. There's a difference, too, in the fact that many people create cartoons with a computer instead of pen and ink. There's a warmth to pen and ink, a richness that I don't find in many computer created cartoons. That may just be my preferance.
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?
SP. I'd love to see my work in the New Yorker. I'd love "Fair Game" my panel, to find a new home with a syndicate. Self marketing is just too damn hard.
CF. Is there anything you'd rather be?
SP. I can't think of anything more rewarding (spiritually, anyway) than cartooning. I've met some of the most talented, and kindest most generous people I've ever met in the cartooning world, and through the Wisenheimer.
CF. Thank you for visiting with us.