Born in Ohio and now living in Florida, writer and cartoonist, Nate Fakes attended Wright State University in Ohio. He was the artist and cartoonist for his college newspaper, The Guardian, drawing political cartoons and the strip Break of Day. During college Nate received an invitation from MAD magazine to be an intern. It only took a little over a year before he was publishing articles in MAD. He still continues to provide material for MAD and he has a new comic series, Twisted Toaster Tales, which will start appearing in the March issue, #503. In a couple of weeks he will be launching a new webcomic based on Twisted Toaster Tales. In addition to MAD and freelance work, Nate is also the illustrator for the comic strip, Knocking on Heaven’s Door. He has been collaborating on Knocking on Heaven’s Door for several years with comedian Tommy Blaze. In December Nate and Tommy put out their first book and the first edition quickly sold out. The second edition is now out and available for sale here. Nate’s website is going away, but fear not, he already has a new one.
What is your favorite pen to use?
The most frequently used (and favorite) is my Hunt 513EF pen nib and dip pen.
Do you draw in pencil first and if so do you use a standard pencil or a mechanical one?
I use a 4H drawing pencil. The mechanical ones seem to always give me a hard time.
Do you do your coloring by hand or on the computer?
A little bit of both. Most frequently I use digital color, but for some projects I do it by hand.
If you do your coloring by hand, what do you use?
Watercolors. I used to use crayons back in 3rd grade.
What type of paper do you use?
Strathmore 400 series smooth Bristol board. Nothing else has worked out.
What thing(s) do you hate to draw?
Cars and long legs. I don’t know why that is, either? I can draw them, but I HATE drawing them. Might stem from my childhood when I got my leg stuck in a car (I don’t know if that happened or not, but it’s just a hunch).
Do you buy your supplies from big chain art store catalogues/websites or a local one that you physically go to?
I buy little items locally, but I get the paper, ink and the essentials shipped in after being purchased online.
Are there any rituals that you do before starting to draw?
Coffee first, and if I really want to go full-throttle I’ll scarf down a donut as well.
Do you listen to music while you draw and if so what genre? I’ve got my regulars like Mozart, The Doors and the surprising mix of music on NPR. Hannah Montana is NOT in my collection.
Did you read comics as a kid and if so what was your favorite?
I never (and still have not) got into action/superhero comics. I had Garfield, Calvin and Hobbes and Farside books more than anything else. I’d say they were my favorite as a kid.
What is or was your favorite comic strip?
Calvin and Hobbes and Peanuts are a pretty close tie for first. Of course, I did have my Ziggy-phase for about a day or two (or a couple of minutes).
What was your favorite book as a child and do you still own a copy of it?
I met illustrator Stephen Kellogg as a young kid, and his book ‘How Much is a Million’ was a real favorite. No, I sadly don’t have the book anymore.
Did you have any formal art training and if so where did you receive it?
I took art classes in college for fine arts. Never had any digital training or cartooning lessons.
Do you feel that the Internet is a blessing or a curse?
I don’t really know - a little mixture of a devil and an angel maybe? I kind of miss the days when you would actually submit by mail and read in print.
Did either of your parents draw?
Dad used to paint, but not much at all while I was growing up. My mom didn’t, but she was very musically talented.
Who in your life is/was the most supportive of your art?
Wife, family, and friends.
Do you keep a sketchbook?
Yes, but what I sketch more than anything else is text. I never got into sketching drawings on a regular basis. I learned the most from just diving right into a project, and learning from mistakes that way.
Have you ever taught cartooning/drawing and if so did you enjoy the experience?
I taught at a community center to a bunch of kids in grades K-5. All they wanted to do was learn to draw Sponge Bob, no matter how hard I tried to teach them something better. I enjoyed helping them draw Sponge Bob though.
Do you feel that talent or passion is more important in drawing?
PASSION, for sure – passion! If you’re not passionate about something, it doesn’t matter how talented you are, you won’t get anywhere.
Do you collect anything and if so what?
MAD Magazine is about the only thing. I’ve got to study what is funny a lot.
If you were an animated cartoon character who do you think you would be?
Probably Cap’n Crunch, because I’m always craving those Crunch Berries.
Are you a righty or lefty?
If you weren't an artist what would you want to do for work?
Nothing comes to mind. I’d be miserable.
In one or two sentences describe your drawing area.
It’s organized chaos. I’d describe it as worse than the inside of a woman’s purse. I have everything in a corner of my studio, but all of the loose paper scraps, pencils shavings and ink stains are important to me.
Do you play any musical instruments?
Inspired from the movie ‘Amadeus’, I can play the piano - backwards.
If you could give one piece of advice to someone who wants to pursue drawing as a career what would it be?
Once you think you know everything about the industry, there is twice as much that you don’t know. Stay persistent, because you WILL get frustrated.
Who is your favorite artist?
Pollack, he was a frustrated one!
Ex-marine biologist turned cartoonist, John Hambrock, shares his answers next.