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.


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