Northern Californian cartoonist Benita Epstein was a medical and scientific researcher before becoming a cartoonist. She earned a Bachelors and Masters degree in Entomology and then spent the next twenty years studying such things as yellow fever mosquitoes, autism and photosynthesis. She even traveled to islands all over the world collaborating with her husband in ecological field research. Her strong scientific background plays a key part in her cartooning specialties of medicine, science and education. Her cartoons have been published in the highly respected American Scientist magazine. In addition, Benita’s drawings have appeared in hundreds of other publications including The New Yorker, Wall Street Journal, Reader’s Digest and Barron’s. She is a very successful greeting card cartoonist, having been nominated for the Reuben award in the greeting card category. She is one of the “chix” for King Features’ syndicated Six Chix comic strip, being the cartoonist on Fridays. See more examples of Benita's work at her website.
What is your favorite pen to use?
Sakura Pigma Micron Brush.
Do you draw in pencil first and if so do you use a standard pencil or a mechanical one?
Any pencil that's already sharpened.
Do you do your coloring by hand or on the computer?
99% in PhotoShop.
If you do your coloring by hand, what do you use?
What type of paper do you use?
HP LaserJet. It's very smooth.
What thing(s) do you hate to draw?
Cars, bikes, trains, airplanes or anything mechanical.
Do you buy your supplies from big chain art store catalogues/websites or a local one that you physically go to?
I get the pens at Michael's, sometimes online.
Are there any rituals that you do before starting to draw?
Listen to music.
Do you listen to music while you draw and if so what genre?
Did you read comics as a kid and if so what was your favorite?
Not really. They scared me. I was able to handle Casper the Friendly Ghost, though.
What is or was your favorite comic strip?
Cul De Sac, Between Friends and Tina's Groove.
What was your favorite book as a child and do you still own a copy of it?
I had collections of Chas. Addams and Edward Gorey and still have them.
Did you have any formal art training and if so where did you receive it?
I took art in high school and a few classes as an adult.
Do you feel that the Internet is a blessing or a curse?
Absolutely a blessing until the electricity goes off.
Did either of your parents draw?
My mother dabbled in pastels.
Who in your life is/was the most supportive of your art?
My husband, my parents when they were alive were huge fans, my siblings, cousins, friends.
Do you keep a sketchbook?
Yes, mostly to write jokes in.
Have you ever taught cartooning/drawing and if so did you enjoy the experience?
I gave demonstrations to adult developmentally disabled and other handicapped students. It was fun and the people seemed to enjoy it, too.
Do you feel that talent or passion is more important in drawing?
Do you collect anything and if so what?
Not really anymore. Every year I want less and less stuff hanging around.
If you were an animated cartoon character who do you think you would be?
Marge Simpson, I guess.
Are you a righty or lefty?
If you weren't an artist what would you want to do for work?
In one or two sentences describe your drawing area.
I draw at a light table I've had for 18 years. All my art supplies are there, but I really only use a pencil, eraser, turkey feather to brush crumbs away, various Pigma pens and sticky notes.
Do you play any musical instruments?
If you could give one piece of advice to someone who wants to pursue drawing as a career what would it be?
Go to college.
Who is your favorite artist?
Thank you very much Benita!
Cartoonist, animator and game designer, Bob Flynn provides his answers for the next installment of the Cartoonist Surveys.