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.
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?