Thursday, November 19, 2009

Larry Gonick - Cartoonist Survey #3

Today we hear from the creator of the very successful, Cartoon History series of books, Larry Gonick. He has published Cartoon Histories of the Universe, the Modern World, the United States, and also many Cartoon Guides to science books. If you haven't checked out his series of books you are really missing out. Make sure you stop by his site at, and buy something!

What is your favorite pen to use?
For the Cartoon History series, I used a brush. Winsor Newton Series 7 number 2. Best brush ever. Springy, excellent point. Until recently. The last few have had an irritating tendency to fork. I don't know if this is bad luck or a trend. For everything else I use a dip pen, but the nib is too encrusted with ink for me to read the model number. And I've always loved Speedball nibs.

You missed the big question, though: what ink? It's been really hard to find a deep black, permanent ink lately. Everything seems to be made for technical pens now, so it's runny and thin. Pelikan isn't available any more. Sennelier is good for a while, but it turns to sludge. I've started using some Chinese stuff somebody gets for me from an Asian stationery store. It smells a little funky, but it does the job.

Do you draw in pencil first and if so do you use a standard pencil or a mechanical one?
Yes, pencil. I used to use Dixon Ticonderogas. What a great pencil, with a great eraser. Here again, things are going downhill. They've started using some horrible wood (probably too young) that splits when you sharpen it. Completely useless. So I've switched to artists' pencils, Prismacolor Turquoise, F.

Do you do your coloring by hand or on the computer?
Computer. PhotoShop.

If you do your coloring by hand, what do you use?
N/A. I have used Dr. Martin's synchromatic dyes in the past.

What type of paper do you use?
Strathmore Bristol, Series 5, 2-ply. Plate finish for pen work, Vellum for brush.

What thing(s) do you hate to draw?
Anything with right angles.

Do you buy your supplies from big chain art store catalogues/websites or a local one that you physically go to?
Lately, from web sites.

Are there any rituals that you do before starting to draw?

Do you listen to music while you draw and if so what genre?
Something with drive. Rhythm and blues.

Did you read comics as a kid and if so what was your favorite?
My favorites as a kid were Uncle Scrooge and Little Lulu. In college, I went for Marvel. (That was the age of the modern, and very trippy, Jack Kirby/Stan Lee masterpieces. "I am EGO, the Living Planet!")

What is or was your favorite comic strip?
Pogo, but only when collected. It's much better when it runs together as stories. I also love Dilbert.

What was your favorite book as a child and do you still own a copy of it?
I can't remember! Maybe Asimov's Foundation. But I don't think I ever owned it.

Did you have any formal art training and if so where did you receive it?
Just high-school art classes, and one excellent summer drawing class at the Westside Jewish Community Center in Los Angeles.

Do you feel that the Internet is a blessing or a curse?
Blessing. I love Wikipedia.

Did either of your parents draw?
My father was a "Sunday painter."

Who in your life is/was the most supportive of your art?
My agent.

Do you keep a sketchbook?

Have you ever taught cartooning/drawing and if so did you enjoy the experience?
I've tried teaching cartooning, and I'm not sure it's even possible.

Do you feel that talent or passion is more important in drawing?
Drive is more like it.

Do you collect anything and if so what?
Accumulate would be more like it. I have a lot of books. Also a select assortment of figurines, including some prized dinosaurs from my childhood.

If you were an animated cartoon character who do you think you would be?
Was "Oblomov" ever animated?

Are you a righty or lefty?
Righty. Very.

If you weren't an artist what would you want to do for work?
I'd probably be a math professor.

In one or two sentences describe your drawing area.
It's comfy like an old shoe. Drawing board in one corner with a side table covered with ink, paper towel roll, and pens. Computer diagonally opposite. Huge bookshelf on one wall. A very worn leather easy chair where I think, write, and nap. Mostly nap.

Do you play any musical instruments?
Piano, rarely any more.

If you could give one piece of advice to someone who wants to pursue drawing as a career what would it be?
Make sure you have a source of ideas.

Who is your favorite artist?

Who will be next in the Cartoonist Survey? It could be you! Just send me an email at .

1 comment:

P.L. Frederick said...

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