Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Mike Cope - Cartoonist Survey #74

Full-time cartoonist and multimedia designer, Mike Cope, lives in Ontario, Canada with his wife and baby daughter. He has done everything from logo and web design to Flash animation and games. Mike has had his cartoons published in magazines, books and newspapers including, Chicken Soup for the Soul and Reader’s Digest. Trained as a high school communications technology teacher, he is currently illustrating NetTrekkers, an educational comic about the adventures of three siblings who travel to different locations in Canada using their magic laptop computer. During their travels they learn about different subjects such as the Great Lakes and digging for dinosaur bones in Alberta’s Badlands.

In 2008 he released his science fiction book, "The Last of the Funnies" which explores the past and future of comic strips,. It takes place in the year 2076 where, due to a worldwide energy and economic crisis, newspapers are no longer printed. For every copy that Mike sells of this book through March of 2014, he is donating $2 (which works out to 85% of the proceeds he would receive) to the Ohio State’s Cartoon Library & Museum. This is in response to a challenge put out by Charles Schulz’s widow, Jean in which she donated $1 million and agreed to match every dollar donated up to $2.5 million. Check out Mike’s website where you can see examples of the different types of work he does and also watch videos of him drawing and inking comics. You can also learn more about his “The Last of the Funnies” book here and follow him on his blog.

What is your favorite pen to use?
Speedball Hunt Globe Bowl #513EF nib in a Koh-I-Noor Corkgrip #127N pen holder.

Do you draw in pencil first and if so do you use a standard pencil or a mechanical one?
Standard 2H ... I like the crunching sound they make when I sharpen them. Reminds me of elementary school.

Do you do your coloring by hand or on the computer?
Technically, both. Pardon my Canadian, but I colour by hand via my Wacom tablet.

If you do your coloring by hand, what do you use?
My right hand :)
What type of paper do you use?
Strathmore Smooth Bristol (300 Series).

What thing(s) do you hate to draw?
WOMEN!!! ... Well, I don’t HATE drawing them; I just can’t draw them as good-looking as I wish I could (or should)!

Do you buy your supplies from big chain art store catalogues/websites or a local one that you physically go to?
I usually shop at a humble little place call Curry’s Art Supplies in Hamilton, Ontario. I like the smell of their rustic-looking, small chain, poorly ventilated, art store. It reminds me of rubber cement ... But seriously, it’s a 45-minute round trip, so how’s THAT for supporting local business?!
Are there any rituals that you do before starting to draw?
Walk into my studio, sit down, crack knuckles ... check my email ... go make a pot of tea ... come back, sit down, crack knuckles ... check The Daily Cartoonist and cartooning forums ... go refill my tea cup ... come back, sit down, crack knuckles ... check my email again ... What was the question??
Do you listen to music while you draw and if so what genre?
I bought a 205-track collection of Glenn Miller songs a while back on iTunes ... I really like listening to those. But, truth be told, I’m a sucker for cartooning podcasts like Comics Coast to Coast and Tall Tales Radio. Maybe it’s Tom Racine’s baritone voice, but I feel like if I listen to him interview some of the top talents in the business while I’m drawing, maybe I’ll harness some of their magic powers through the Apple airwaves and infuse them into my own work. Unfortunately, most of the interviews are so good that I don’t get any work done because I’m not focusing. At that point, I put on a video that I’ve watched so many times that I don’t need to pay attention it ... Or, I turn on my vintage-style 1934 Mickey Mouse radio, which is always tuned to CBC Radio One (Toronto).

Did you read comics as a kid and if so what was your favorite?
I loved reading the funnies as a kid. Through elementary and high school, I used to read my mother’s Peanuts Treasury (2nd print) every night before bed. Eventually, I started reading comic books, but I’d always finish with a few pages from that Peanuts book. In fact, I still crack it open when I need to let my mind unwind before falling to sleep ... It’s funny how doing something you enjoyed as a kid can make you relax.
What is or was your favorite comic strip?
See previous answer :)

What was your favorite book as a child and do you still own a copy of it?
I still own that that Peanuts Treasury mentioned above. Second place goes to ... The Time Machine by H.G. Wells (Illustrated Classic Editions by Moby Books), Adapted by Shirley Bogart, Illustrations by Brendan Lynch, Copyright 1983. ... I was 6 years old when my mother bought it for me. Like the Peanuts Treasury, it’s followed me ever since.

Did you have any formal art training and if so where did you receive it?
Yes, Art Fundamentals and Classical Animation at Sheridan College in Oakville Ontario ... Some of the best and most stressful years of my life. Art Fundies was a one-year certificate, which I barely earned because I'd never studied Art in high school. As a result, I didn't get accepted into the school's popular Classical Animation program due to a "low ranked portfolio" ... I still have the rejection letter, and the vivid memories of the feelings I had when I read it. I ended up studying Multimedia at McMaster University for the next 4 years, and then re-applied to Sheridan on a whim. To my joy and surprise, they awarded me a merit-based scholarship along with my acceptance letter. Thus began two more of the most stressful years of my life ... The funny thing about art school, at least for me, is that I loved cartooning, but my analytical brain had no way of comprehending the "art" stuff that I was being taught. It just didn't click, and I felt REALLY dumb. Even now, I'm still having "Ah-ha!" moments, when things that I was taught years ago FINALLY make sense. I'm just thankful that I never gave up on cartooning.

Do you feel that the Internet is a blessing or a curse?

Did either of your parents draw?
There was one drawing I remember my dad did one night in ballpoint pen of a wooden house and a snowman, but other than that, I think it’s fair to say no … Still, I appreciate them for encouraging and supporting my own childhood doodles.
Who in your life is/was the most supportive of your art?
Again, see previous answer ... But please add my wife to the top of the list :)

Do you keep a sketchbook?
I've bought many sketchbooks, and have drawings in all of them; however, I rarely keep them going ... But I do keep them for future reference.

Have you ever taught cartooning/drawing and if so did you enjoy the experience?
Yes, and a BIG YES! In fact, I’m currently teaching a 10-week animation night class for kids ages 9-13 at a local high school. I’m also visiting elementary and secondary schools throughout the District School Board of Niagara as part of a literacy initiative–an “artist in the classroom” type of program via the English departments. The schools invite me in, and I do some cartooning with the students and give a short presentation/demonstration on creating comics ... It’s been a big success! I taught my first cartooning class at a kids’ summer camp back in 1998 during my first year of university. There were over 75 kids packed in the room for the hour, and we all had a great time ... Even though I was sweating like crazy from the blazing heat (and the nerves)! Throughout university, I taught weekly cartooning sessions at multiple community recreation centres, and ran one-day specials (ex. March Break, Christmas) at local libraries. I also worked for several years for McMaster University’s summer camps programs. I was even the “Intro to Animation” Teaching Assistant for several sessions, so it was inevitable that I’d eventually go to Teacher’s College. When I applied to Teacher’s College back in 2005, I had to tally the number of hours that I had spent as a kids cartooning instructor. The total was in the 100’s, and so, it’s only gone up since then.
The most important thing about teaching cartooning to kids is KEEP IT FUN ... Do that, and you’re guaranteed to have a great time!

Do you feel that talent or passion is more important in drawing?
Someone might be the most talented cartoonist in the world, but if they could care less about drawing cartoons, then they probably shouldn’t be cartooning.

Do you collect anything and if so what?
Dust bunnies ... I like to torture them with the vacuum.

If you were an animated cartoon character who do you think you would be?
Would you believe Mickey Mouse after the previous answer?

Are you a righty or lefty?
I don’t discuss politics in online surveys.

If you weren't an artist what would you want to do for work?
I hate the connotations implied here, but honestly, I’d be a teacher.

In one or two sentences describe your drawing area.
An old, wooden, over sized, surveyor’s drafting table (5’x3’), converted into an animator’s desk with a circular fluorescent tube and Plexiglas disc, flanked on the right by two Ikea bookcases and one larger one made by my Grandfather -- all with shelves buckling under the weight of various cartoon books. To the left is an array of electronic devices, and behind is a wooden table that I eat my lunch at and my childhood desk (also built by my Grandfather). Place looks pretty messy right now too.

Do you play any musical instruments?
Piano … Lately, a lot of Disney music for my baby girl.

If you could give one piece of advice to someone who wants to pursue drawing as a career what would it be?
Draw ... and learn from your mistakes.

Who is your favorite artist?

Define “artist”…

Thanks very much Mike.

Illustrator and cartoonist, Kim Warp is up next with the 75th installment of Cartoonist Surveys.

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