Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Frank Roberson - Cartoonist Survey #155

Phot credit: Jessica Ruskin Click strips for full-size.

Frank Roberson has been drawing cartoons since he was a little kid and has always dreamed of producing a syndicated strip. He attended the Art Institute of Seattle from 1991-1993. He has worked in politics as a campaign manager and a congressional staffer. Frank has also been playing professional golf for many years. His strip Maximus is about the “adventures of an imaginative eight year old boy who lives through the superhero inside of all of us to overcome the loss of his mom and keep his father safe." A single dad, Frank lives in Sacramento, CA with his teenager and a bloodhound named Gracie. Read Maximus here and be sure to leave some feedback as Frank loves to hear from fans. There are also some great videos on YouTube that show the process he uses to create Maximus.

What is your favorite pen to use?
This is a good question; I typically use four different tools to produce Maximus. My favorite is my Windsor Newton Series 7 #2 round brush. I also use a Gillette 1290 nib draw lines, Hunt 513 EF for background line work and Speedball C-4 for the hand lettering.

Do you draw in pencil first and if so do you use a standard pencil or a mechanical one?
I do draw in pencil first. I use the Prismacolor Color-Erase light blue pencil. It goes on the paper a little darker than non-photo blue but scans the same, invisible.

Do you do your coloring by hand or on the computer?
I actually struggle to color my strip so I have a colorist that I send my Sunday strips to have colored. They do great work.

If you do your coloring by hand, what do you use?
When I do a personalized strip for someone, I use Prismacolor markers, including the colorless blender and add accent color and shading with Prismacolor color pencils.

What type of paper do you use?
I use Strathmore 300 series Bristol, size 19x24 since I draw my originals so large.

What thing(s) do you hate to draw?
I don’t hate drawing many things but trees and bushes are not my favorite. I am working on it though.

Do you buy your supplies from big chain art store catalogues/websites or a local one that you physically go to?
I used to buy my supplies for a mom & pop store in Reno when I lived there. When I moved to Sacramento I didn’t have that option so I get my supplies from Utrecht. However, I prefer to support a locally owned store, if only I knew of one.

Are there any rituals that you do before starting to draw?
I sacrifice a bucket of Popeye’s spicy southern chicken. KIDDING! I loosen my hands up by drawing big circles, which is the main shape I use for all my characters) I draw some action lines to see how I am going to have Max and the gang move.

Do you listen to music while you draw and if so what genre?
I do listen to music. I love to draw with the tunes going. I don’t have a specific genre but love listening to Signature. Lately, Journey, George Strait and some Bochelli have been on a lot.

Did you read comics as a kid and if so what was your favorite?
I read Born Loser, Dennis and Peanuts. Peanuts being my favorite when I was a kid.

What is or was your favorite comic strip?

What was your favorite book as a child and do you still own a copy of it?
My favorite book when I was a kid had to be Superfudge by Judy Blume. I wish I had a copy of it.

Did you have any formal art training and if so where did you receive it?
I went to the Art Institute of Seattle 1991-1993 and in 2007 went back to school to work on improving Maximus at the Academy of Art University.

Do you feel that the Internet is a blessing or a curse?
The Internet is a double edged sword. Weighing the pros & cons, I think it is a blessing for the most part. Without it we would all be struggling to find other areas to show our art. There are negatives in everything, but the benefits far outweigh the alternatives to not having the Internet.

Did either of your parents draw?
I grew up with my grandparents and my granddad was a great landscape and still life artist. My great Grandmother was even better and my inspiration.

Who in your life is/was the most supportive of your art?
My Great Grandmother, Stella was the most supportive of my art. She is the one that persuaded me to go to art school and do something with my abilities.

Do you keep a sketchbook?
Yes, I keep a sketchbook. I use it mostly when I am figuring out a new character, and tricky action pose and lay out issues. I love taking the sketchbook with me to the coffee shop and drawing.

Have you ever taught cartooning/drawing and if so did you enjoy the experience?
I have helped some kids draw a little but nothing formal.

Do you feel that talent or passion is more important in drawing?
I believe both are very important when doing comic strips. You must have passion to draw comics every day; you can’t do that if you don’t love it and have the passion. On the other side, you must have talent as a writer to make it in comics. You don’t have to be a talented artist. There are strips in newspapers across the country that are well written but the art is not great, but very few, if any strips where the art is fantastic and the writing is average.

Do you collect anything and if so what?
I collect a couple things. I collect original art and have a collection of original strips from Mike Peters (Mother Goose & Grimm), Ray Billingsley (Curtis), Brian Crane (Pickles), Bob Thaves (Frank & Ernest), Chuck Jones (Looney Tunes) and others. I also collect Bloodhound stuff.

If you were an animated cartoon character who do you think you would be?
Honestly, I created Maximus from my desire as a kid to be a superhero and save the world. I would have to say that if I had the opportunity to be an animated character it would be Maximus.

Are you a righty or lefty?
I am a righty.

If you weren't an artist what would you want to do for work?
Playing golf.

In one or two sentences describe your drawing area.
I can sum up my drawing area in one well known statement that since I was a kid people have told me is not true. I don’t know who originally said this. “A messy desk is the sign of a genius”.

Do you play any musical instruments?
Nope. I played the fiddle when I was a kid but couldn’t play a lick now.

If you could give one piece of advice to someone who wants to pursue drawing as a career what would it be?
Don’t give up. This field is so subjective that it can crush your confidence in a single email from an editor. Persistency and consistency is critical. If you keep putting out consistently good work and accept constructive advice and critiques and use them as positives to improve, you will put yourself in the upper shelf of cartoonists.

Who is your favorite artist?
Chuck Jones

Thanks Frank!

New Yorker cartoonist, Joseph Farris is next.

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