Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Jed Alexander - Cartoonist Survey #170




Jed Alexander is an artist and cartoonist who lives in Davis California. His first comics were published in the solo anthology 'Yellow Baby' published by Alternative Comics. His comic work has appeared in Too Much Coffee Man, The Magazine, Top Shelf’s, 'The Blue Kid' and the anthologies 'Meathaus' and 'No Words'. Jed’s illustration work has appeared in publications such as Nickelodeon Magazine, LA Weekly, The Santa Cruz Metro and The Sacramento News and Review. His originals and prints are frequently on display at The Pence Gallery where he is a children's educator and administrator. This year he was awarded Best of Show at the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators California North/Central Conference. Visit Jed’s website where you can see more of his work and buy his comics, posters and stickers. You should also check out his I Apologize in Advance blog where he has been posting some pretty wild daily sketches.

What is your favorite pen to use?
Vintage Esterbrook #255, because they're flexible and I can get them by the gross pretty easily on E-Bay.

Do you draw in pencil first and if so do you use a standard pencil or a mechanical one?
I use a lead holder.

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

If you do your coloring by hand, what do you use?
I scan in watercolor and pastel textures and apply them using the Photoshop clone tool.

What type of paper do you use?
Bristol board. Or if I do dry brush, anything with a little tooth.

What thing(s) do you hate to draw?
"Hate" is pretty strong. Everything is a challenge. There are things that are hard to draw, but that just makes me all the more determined to draw them.

Do you buy your supplies from big chain art store catalogues/websites or a local one that you physically go to?
Usually I order from Dick Blick.

Are there any rituals that you do before starting to draw?
If I start a new project I like to clean up my space. I keep project folders for each project, so if I'm not working on it, it all goes into a project folder. Sometimes I'll work on three projects in the same day. After I've worked as much as I want to on one, I'll put it away and pour out the contents of another.

Do you listen to music while you draw and if so what genre?
I listen to audiobooks. Lots and lots of audiobooks.

Did you read comics as a kid and if so what was your favorite?
I remember having a lot of Archie and Harvey comics around when I was very little, but found them unsatisfying. When I discovered superhero comics, the whole idea of continuity, of this story that was a part of a bigger story was very attractive to me, so Spider-Man and X-Men were really exciting because I never quite figured out entirely what was going on which made it all seem more fascinating than it was. I really got into Moebius when I was 13, and then as a young teen discovered stuff like Crumb (primarily through Hup) and Clowes, and Woodring, the usual suspects.

What is or was your favorite comic strip?
Windsor McCay, EC War Comics, Jim Woodring, Anything by DeCrecy, it varies. There's so much out there! Always making new discoveries.

What was your favorite book as a child and do you still own a copy of it?
Sendak's 'In the Night Kitchen', but then once I discovered McCay; it kind of lost its shininess. I still have a copy somewhere.

Did you have any formal art training and if so where did you receive it?
I studied illustration at San Jose State University. They did the best they could with the resources they had--the department is a lot stronger now. In the last few years I've really had to fill in a lot of the gaps for myself, fundamentals I didn't learn in school because the art department didn't have its shit together. Again, no fault of the illustration department. They've fixed all that now I hear.

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

Did either of your parents draw?
No.

Who in your life is/was the most supportive of your art?
Mmm, that's a tough one. I still resent my parents for the fact that they never took me to an actual art museum. I was very apprehensively encouraged, but supported, not entirely. I would have to say my wife!

Do you keep a sketchbook?
Not well. I draw every day, but seldom in a sketchbook. I hate having a record of all those bad drawings to haunt me.

Have you ever taught cartooning/drawing and if so did you enjoy the experience?
Yes, I do, and I have. I have a one-on-one student right now who's about 15, and the last two summers I taught classes for kids in comics and illustration at the local gallery.

Do you feel that talent or passion is more important in drawing?
You can be better than people who are more talented if you work harder than they do, so I'd say, passion.

Do you collect anything and if so what?
I accumulate rather than collect, though there are a few things that I'm precious about. My Jim Woodring toys! And for some reason my almost complete set of Thunder Agents comics. They're not even the best comics! Or my favorite comics! It's a completely irrational obsession.

If you were an animated cartoon character who do you think you would be?
The squiggle on Charlie Brown's brow.

Are you a righty or lefty?
Lefty.

If you weren't an artist what would you want to do for work?
I like to write as well.

In one or two sentences describe your drawing area.
Semi-organized.

Do you play any musical instruments?
The harmonica. With my nose!

If you could give one piece of advice to someone who wants to pursue drawing as a career what would it be?
This one comes from Tin Salamunic: Don't decide what your limits are until you've pushed them.

Who is your favorite artist?
John Cassavettes. Hands down. The greatest filmmaker of the twentieth century!

Thanks very much Jed.

Next time on David Wasting Paper, the talented Vanessa Davis provides answers to the Cartoonist Survey.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Alex Robinson - Cartoonist Survey #169




Alex Robinson is a comic book artist and writer who was born in the Bronx in August of 1969. He grew up in Yorkton Heights, NY and graduated from the School of Visual Arts with a BFA in cartooning. After graduating from SVA he started making his own small print run of mini comics…including photocopying and stapling them himself. Alex soon started working on his Box Office Poison comic book series that ran for 21 issues before being collected into the 608 page graphic novel by Top Shelf Productions in 2001. Box Office Poison was nominated for a 2001 Eisner, Harvey, Ignatz and Firecracker award. Although his graphic novel didn’t win first place, Alex himself won the 2001 Eisner Award for Talent deserving of Wider Recognition. In August of 2005 his second graphic novel, Tricked, was released and went on to win both the 2006 Harvey Award for Best Original Graphic Novel and the Ignatz Award for Outstanding Graphic Novel. October of 2007 saw the publication of his 56-page comic, Lower Regions, that is about "a sexy barbarian fighting monsters." Alex’s next graphic novel, Too Cool to Be Forgotten went on to win the 2009 Harvey Award for Best Original Graphic Album. Just in time for last year’s Christmas season, Harper-Collins released his adaption of the Frank L. Baum story called A Kidnapped Santa Claus. Alex belongs to the comics collective, The Ink Panthers, with a few cartoonists including Mike Dawson and Tony Consiglio. The Ink Panthers produce the weekly comic book “lifestyle” podcast, “The Ink Panthers Show." You can listen to these interesting podcasts here or on iTunes. Alex lives in New York City with his wife and their pets, Krimpet and Wrigley. Stop by Alex’s Comic Book Cavalcade website and his blog.

What is your favorite pen to use?
I use a combination of Japanese brush pens, microns and a regular brush to fill in blacks.

Do you draw in pencil first and if so do you use a standard pencil or a mechanical one?
I pencil first using a good ol' #2 pencil.

Do you do your coloring by hand or on the computer?
I don't color any of my comics.

If you do your coloring by hand, what do you use?
When I do color artwork I usually use colored pencils.

What type of paper do you use?
9" x 12" Borden & Riley Bristol Plate. I like my paper to be as smooth as possible.

What thing(s) do you hate to draw?
Cars.

Do you buy your supplies from big chain art store catalogues/websites or a local one that you physically go to?
Living in New York City I have access to a lot of art supply stores so I usually wind up buying stuff in person.

Are there any rituals that you do before starting to draw?
I insist on procrastinating as long as possible. I cannot draw if I think anyone has posted anything on my Facebook page.

Do you listen to music while you draw and if so what genre?
I rarely listen to music while I draw. I'll either put in a DVD or, most commonly, listen to a podcast. I don't listen to any comic’s related podcasts.

Did you read comics as a kid and if so what was your favorite?
The first comics I remember reading were the Sunday comics and stuff like ARCHIE and MAD. I think they've all had an influence on my work.

What is or was your favorite comic strip?
The usual suspects: CALVIN AND HOBBES, THE FAR SIDE, BLOOM COUNTY, PEANUTS. I loved DOONESBURY but haven't read it in years. Since I don't read any newspapers I'm at a loss as to what is currently running.

What was your favorite book as a child and do you still own a copy of it?
I loved Richard Scarry's books, and have bought some of them as an adult. WHAT DO PEOPLE DO ALL DAY and CARS AND TRUCKS AND THINGS THAT GO are fantastic.

Did you have any formal art training and if so where did you receive it?
I went to School of Visual Arts from 1989-1993.

Do you feel that the Internet is a blessing or a curse?
It's a little of both. It certainly makes a lot of things more convenient but it can also be a tremendous time suck. One thing I do like is that it has enabled people to find other people with similar interests. Artists, musicians, etc can reach an audience they couldn't have a decade ago.

Did either of your parents draw?
Not really.

Who in your life is/was the most supportive of your art?
This one is kind of complicated. My parents were sort of supportive in that they paid for my art school but I don't think they've ever read my books or "get" what I'm doing. I think they're glad I've achieved a certain level of success but are kind of baffled by it.

Do you keep a sketchbook?
These days I pretty much only use my sketchbook to work on whatever story I'm working on.

Have you ever taught cartooning/drawing and if so did you enjoy the experience?
I did a lecture once at the Center for Cartoon Studies. I couldn't tell you how it went. I was very nervous, since I don't think of myself as a good artist in the technical sense. I felt like Britney Spears teaching a singing class at Julliard or something.

Do you feel that talent or passion is more important in drawing?
Boy, I really don't know. I've started answering this question five times now and every time I waver, so I can't say. If you're limiting it to "drawing" instead of "cartooning" I might lean more on talent.

Do you collect anything and if so what?
I used to be a toy collector and still have a ton of SIMPSONS and STAR WARS figures boxed up in my closet but I lost interest after awhile. I think these days if I collect anything it would be graphic novels and mp3s. I'm obsessive about my music collection.

If you were an animated cartoon character who do you think you would be?
Eeyore.

Are you a righty or lefty?
Righty.

If you weren't an artist what would you want to do for work?
Something in the movie business. Either special effects or maybe the person who picks out music.

In one or two sentences describe your drawing area.
Escapist dungeon.

Do you play any musical instruments?
No. I've tried learning the guitar a bunch of times but I get too frustrated with the learning curve.

If you could give one piece of advice to someone who wants to pursue drawing as a career what would it be?
I can only talk about my area of expertise so: write and draw what you really love, because you won't make any money.

Who is your favorite artist?
Dave Sim was a big influence.



Thank you Alex.

Up next is Californian artist and cartoonist, Jed Alexander.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Richard Sala - Cartoonist Survey #168




Cartoonist, illustrator and comic book creator Richard Sala was born in Oakland, California. He grew up in the Chicago area where as a kid he spent many hours roaming the halls of the Chicago museums. After spending a few years in Arizona he moved to the Bay Area and earned his Master of Fine Arts Degree in painting from Mills College. Once Richard graduated from college he worked at a university library while also working part-time doing illustration jobs. He switched to full-time freelancing once he started to make more money from his illustration work than the library job. In 1984 he self-published a book of his drawings and text titled Night Drive. The book was well received and soon he was creating work for Art Spiegelman’s RAW and Monte Beauchamp’s BLAB. He was also contacted by Colossal Pictures who hired him to animate one of the stories from Night Drive called "Invisible Hands". This story was expanded into a 12-minute story and ran on MTV’s Liquid Television Show.

Once Richard appeared in Raw magazine, he became a regular feature in Escape, Rip Off Comix, Buzz, Twist and Drawn & Quarterly. Two collections of his comics, Hypnotic Tales (1992) and Black Cat Crossing (1993), were published by Kitchen Sink Press. From 1993 to 1995 he drew a number of full-color comic strips for Nickelodeon Magazine. Next came his horror-thriller comic, The Chuckling Whatsit, that was later collected into a single 200-page volume by Fantagraphics. The Chuckling Whatsit was followed by Richard’s twelve issues of the comic book, Evil Eye; Peculia, which is a collection of fairy-tale like horror strips and a collection of long out-of-print short stories, titled Maniac Killer Strikes Again! 2005 saw the release of his second epic horror-thriller, the 200-page Mad Night. Other projects have included a collaboration with author Lemony Snicket for the children's anthology Little Lit, and 70 illustrations for a rediscovered screenplay written in the 1960s by Jack Kerouac titled “Dr. Sax and the Great World Snake”. His comics have appeared in many mainstream publications including The New York Times, Esquire and Playboy. Richard’s latest book, The Hidden comes out in December of this year. He presently lives in Berkeley, CA. Make sure you checkout more of his work here at his website and also on his blog.

What is your favorite pen to use?
Hunt #108

Do you draw in pencil first and if so do you use a standard pencil or a mechanical one?
Yes, I draw (and re-draw!) in pencil first using a good old Dixon Ticonderoga #2.

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

If you do your coloring by hand, what do you use?
Watercolors.


What type of paper do you use?
For color work, Arches Hot Press watercolor paper, because it's smooth for pen work. For work to be printed in black & white, Strathmore Bristol.

What thing(s) do you hate to draw?
Horses! I don't know why but drawing horses makes me feel as though I'm back in a beginning art class. They always come out looking like giant, deformed dogs. I suppose if, over the years, I had to draw a lot of them (or if I was obsessed with them) it might be a snap by now. But I haven't ever had to draw a lot of them (and I'm not obsessed with them either!) so it still can be a chore. Deers, too!

Do you buy your supplies from big chain art store catalogues/websites or a local one that you physically go to?
There are two local art stores that I go to for supplies. However, when I need to use a lot of paper for a big job (say, a graphic novel) I've found that it's much cheaper to buy paper in bulk online. Dick Blick is the online store I use.

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

Do you listen to music while you draw and if so what genre?
It depends on what stage of the art I'm at (penciling, inking, lettering, painting). I listen to music (all kinds) while penciling (allows ideas to flow) and lettering. While inking at the drawing table for long (long) periods of time, I've found it's helpful to listen to audio books or old radio shows (some people like talk radio, but I can't take the commercials) -- anything to keep you glued to the drawing table and focused on the tedious, mindless inking and not over-think it. For the painting, I can actually have the TV on. playing movies or DVDs, because the kind of painting I do requires taking breaks and not rushing (which can lead to overworking the art). So it's good to have something playing that you can look up at occasionally & distract you while the paint dries or you clean off your brushes.

Did you read comics as a kid and if so what was your favorite?
Yes. I guess it was a combination of newspaper strips, Jack Kirby comics and a stack of old hardcover Tintin books that got me hooked.

What is or was your favorite comic strip?
When I was a kid, they were still running the original Dick Tracy, by Chester Gould. People today wouldn't believe what was in there in daily & Sunday papers for us kids! All kinds of bloody violence and death and gruesome villains --- I loved it!!

What was your favorite book as a child and do you still own a copy of it?
There are way too many to single out just one. But since we're talking about drawing, I loved all the Charles Addams "Addams Family" books and I still have all those in hardcovers. (A couple I had to upgrade over the years since the original copies were falling apart!)

Did you have any formal art training and if so where did you receive it?
Yes. I am way over-qualified. I have a BFA in drawing from Arizona State (hey, they had a good art department!) and a Master's Degree in painting from Mills College in Oakland. I originally planned to be a painter/ teacher with gallery shows, etc. -- but I found it a lot more fun & rewarding to make comics, so after a while I just concentrated on that.

Do you feel that the Internet is a blessing or a curse?
A blessing! If I told you what we had to do to do research or find cool things before the Internet - and how much time we'd spend doing that - you wouldn't believe me. That being said, I think if I had had the Internet when I was a kid, I might not have become an artist. Wanting to be an artist, for me, was always motivated by a certain yearning for things I didn't have or couldn't find anywhere. These days you can find almost everything on-line, so I wonder if I would have been as inspired to start making my own work.... On the other hand, the Internet kind of inspires me to want to make movies -- and maybe I would have done that. I guess if the creative impulse is there, it will find its way out.

Did either of your parents draw?
Yes. My dad drew and I remember being in awe of that.

Who in your life is/was the most supportive of your art?
Besides friends & colleagues, I was lucky to have two great long-term girlfriends in my life (one later became my wife) who believed in me and encouraged me. I mean, I would have done what I do without them in my life, probably, but it sure meant a lot at the time!

Do you keep a sketchbook?
Yes -- I have stacks and stacks. But they are also filled with writing, story ideas, technical info, etc. etc. They are work books -- not lovely objects of beauty, unfortunately!

Have you ever taught cartooning/drawing and if so did you enjoy the experience?
I was a teaching assistant in a drawing class and a print-making class when I was a graduate student. That meant I actually did teach the classes for about a year and the real teacher would just look over the work and (sometimes) grade it. I liked teaching drawing the most. But I wonder if I was all that good at it, because I often found really bad art to be entertaining. Sometimes I could barely hide my glee at seeing a particularly awful drawing -- that's not something you want in a teacher!

Do you feel that talent or passion is more important in drawing?
Passion leads to talent! Talent is never enough.

Do you collect anything and if so what?
I love old books and paper stuff (like old trading cards).

If you were an animated cartoon character who do you think you would be?
There used to be an old cartoon on TV when I was a kid about a funny looking detective called "Q. T. Hush" that nobody remembers. So probably him.

Are you a righty or lefty?
Right-handed.

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

In one or two sentences describe your drawing area.
An L-shaped arrangement of big old desk with lightbox next to drawing table next to another smaller table stacked with plastic watercolor palettes & tools, facing bay windows looking out onto a bustling street below.

Do you play any musical instruments?
Guitar (and a little piano, since we had one in the house when I was a kid), but I found playing & practicing could keep me from drawing and I had to make a choice to concentrate on drawing. That was a very important (and hard) decision for me.

If you could give one piece of advice to someone who wants to pursue drawing as a career what would it be?
Only do it if you really, really love it and are really interested in it. If it bores you even a little or seems tedious or too much work -- it's either not for you or you are approaching it wrong. Find the part of it that you most enjoy and concentrate on that.

Who is your favorite artist?
There have been many over the years, but it's probably still my childhood hero, Chester Gould.



Thanks again Richard!

Coming soon are answers from the Eisner, Harvey and Ignatz award winning cartoonist, Alex Robertson.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Larry Johnson - Cartoonist Survey #167




Larry Johnson is a cartoonist, illustrator, fine artist and sports talk show host. He was born in Boston, MA and graduated from the Boston Museum School of Fine Arts. In 1969 he became the Editorial Sports cartoonist for the Boston Globe and The National Sports Daily. His sports cartoons have also been featured on ESPN.com and WEEI.com. Since Larry is also a fine artist and commercial illustrator, he has illustrated many books and had his original paintings purchased by individuals and corporations including Vernon Jordan, Adams Mark Hotel and Oprah Winfrey. He co-hosts the Mustard and Johnson Show on sports radio WEEI in Boston; talking about my beloved Bruins, Patriots, Red Sox and Celtics.

Last December, his second book of illustrations, “Out of My Mind” was released. Combining his sport cartoons with writings from some of the country’s top sportswriters, “Out of My Mind” is a celebration of Larry’s career. A member of The Society of Illustrations in New York, he has also illustrated over 20 children’s books. On top of his art and radio work he spent over 25 years as a youth minister, helping kids make the right decisions in life. See more of Larry’s work here, here, here and here. You can listen to him on the radio, weekends on 850 AM, 103.7 FM or streamed live on WEEI.com.

What is your favorite pen to use?
Micron. They come in different nib sizes. I prefer .5 and .8.

Do you draw in pencil first and if so do you use a standard pencil or a mechanical one?
Pencil first and then the pen.

Do you do your coloring by hand or on the computer?
Right now by hand, but I would like to master Photoshop better.

If you do your coloring by hand, what do you use?
Inks and markers. Remember, in most instances you are under a deadline so you can't waste a lot of time.

What type of paper do you use?
Believe it or not, regular Staples copy paper.

What thing(s) do you hate to draw?
It's not so much hating to draw anything as much as having the time to do it.

Do you buy your supplies from big chain art store catalogues/websites or a local one that you physically go to?
I prefer the smaller stores. Many times when you go in an art store you think of things that you normally would overlook on the Internet. The other problem is if all of the Mom/Pop stores go out of business the larger chains can create a Monopoly.

Are there any rituals that you do before starting to draw?
I think most artist see it in their minds first and teach their hand to respond to what they see.

Do you listen to music while you draw and if so what genre?
Interesting question. If it's a sports cartoon I have sports radio on. When I do a fine art painting I prefer something like jazz, Johnny Mathis. Streisand...

Did you read comics as a kid and if so what was your favorite?
I think every artist loved Superman, Batman and the ability in which they were drawn. People assume that an artist can draw anything and in most instances they can, but it's very hard to switch styles like comic book art.

What is or was your favorite comic strip?
The Wizard of Id and B.C. They were both drawn by Johnny Hart. The drawings were great, but his wit was even better. Like me, he too was a Christian and often had a quiet message in the strip.

What was your favorite book as a child and do you still own a copy of it?
By far, Grimm’s Fairy Tales. I loved the stories. Great to illustrate and for bringing the words to life in a picture I loved.

Did you have any formal art training and if so where did you receive it?
The Boston Museum School of Fine Arts. No matter where you go to school, nothing beats practicing when you don't have to.

Do you feel that the Internet is a blessing or a curse?
Like anything else in life it can be both. From a marketing standpoint I think being able to create a website that you can send to someone quickly is great: zhibit.org/illustrator.

Did either of your parents draw?
No. Actually, my father was a famous musician who was the lead trumpet player for Quincy Jones, Duke Ellington and Count Basie.

Who in your life is/was the most supportive of your art?
My mother was always supportive. But my high school art teacher, Donald A. Quincy helped me to find my purpose in art.

Do you keep a sketchbook?
I used to. Most artists will tell you there's a part of art that you do to make a living. I LOVE doing fine art (Sargent, Monet) but I always have to put that passion aside to pay the bills.

Have you ever taught cartooning/drawing and if so did you enjoy the experience?
The only reason I never did would be the process of telling people how to get there. I could teach the process of a concept and how to arrive at the idea. As you know art is subjective, so the drawing part I would never try to get someone to execute the way I do.

Do you feel that talent or passion is more important in drawing?
I think talent gets you on the bus and passion gets you to your final destination. In all fairness, I may like to sing, but if I don't have the God given talent then it doesn't matter how much passion I have. The problem with art is most people love to draw and they will find plenty of people to tell them they are good. The litmus test however is when people start paying you for your work.

Do you collect anything and if so what?
I used to collect matchbooks from every place I traveled until people started using them to smoke...now I collect in my mind.

If you were an animated cartoon character who do you think you would be?

Bugs Bunny. Probably because he seems to have it all figured out.


Are you a righty or lefty?
Righty. They say Rembrandt could draw with his right hand and shade with his left at the same time...

If you weren't an artist what would you want to do for work?
Musician. Mostly because, unlike art you get instant reaction. The sad part about art in most instances by the time people acknowledge your work...you're dead!

In one or two sentences describe your drawing area.
A space in need of order; and yet I know where everything is.

Do you play any musical instruments?
No.

If you could give one piece of advice to someone who wants to pursue drawing as a career what would it be?
Learn the various computer programs. People can say what they want but until you are making enough money to support your family it is very hard to travel both roads. I have found if you can find something in the art field that you like and you can pay the bills without being mentally drained then you can buy time to still chase your hearts dreams. Go on some of the job sites and you will see that most job offers are dealing with computer based programs.

Who is your favorite artist?
Can't give just one because I am a Cartoonist, illustrator and fine artist: Cartoonist, the late Jeff MacNeely. Illustrator: Bernie Fuchs. Fine Artist: tie, John Singer Sargent and Monet.



Thanks again for your time Larry.

Up next is comic book creator, cartoonist and illustrator, Richard Sala.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Robert Sergel - Cartoonist Survey #166




Robert Sergel is a cartoonist who was born in Boston in 1982. As a child drawing his own strips and comic books he knew that he wanted to be a cartoonist and actually had his first comic published when he was only 13. In his late teens he switched his creative endeavors to photography and went to NYU’s Tisch School of Arts. Halfway through his studies Robert realized that he really wanted to be making comics. In 2005 he graduated from college with a BFA and has been making comics ever since. His comics have appeared in publications such as the New York Press, Noo Journal, Zine Arcade, Free Comics NYC, The Wellesley Townsman and many others. His first book Eschew was self-published and is available for sale on his website. The second issue of Eschew was recently published by Sparkplug Comic Books in Portland, OR and is also available from his website. Besides drawing comics, Robert also plays in the band, The Channels. He lives and works in Cambridge, MA. Visit his idiot comics website to see his comics and photos. You can also follow him here on his blog.

What is your favorite pen to use?
Micron 03.

Do you draw in pencil first and if so do you use a standard pencil or a mechanical one?
I do pencil first, and I use a mechanical one.

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

What type of paper do you use?
Cheap computer paper from Staples.

What thing(s) do you hate to draw?
Trees.

Do you buy your supplies from big chain art store catalogues/websites or a local one that you physically go to?
I physically go to either Utrecht or a place called Artist Supply. They are both on Mass Ave in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Are there any rituals that you do before starting to draw?
Not that I’m aware of.

Do you listen to music while you draw and if so what genre?
Sometimes, but I usually listen to podcasts or documentaries on Netflix.

Did you read comics as a kid and if so what was your favorite?
I did. My favorites were Spider-Man, Calvin and Hobbes, The Far Side, and Punisher War Journal.

What is or was your favorite comic strip?
Calvin and Hobbes.

What was your favorite book as a child and do you still own a copy of it?
It was a book called “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.” I probably still have it somewhere.

Did you have any formal art training and if so where did you receive it?
I have a BFA in Photography & Imaging from Tisch, which is a part of NYU.

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

Did either of your parents draw?
My mom draws and paints. She’s very good at it.

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

Do you keep a sketchbook?
Not really. I have a computation book that I work stuff out in, but it’s barely legible.

Have you ever taught cartooning/drawing and if so did you enjoy the experience?
I haven’t. I wouldn’t know what to say.

Do you feel that talent or passion is more important in drawing?
I would say passion because it’s something you maybe have some control over.

Do you collect anything and if so what?
Records, comic books, and old photos.

If you were an animated cartoon character who do you think you would be?
A young Mr. Magoo.

Are you a righty or lefty?
Righty.

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

In one or two sentences describe your drawing area.
It’s a large piece of wood held up by cinder blocks.

Do you play any musical instruments?
Drums, guitar, piano, and glockenspiel.

If you could give one piece of advice to someone who wants to pursue drawing as a career what would it be?
I would advise them to ask someone more qualified than me.

Who is your favorite artist?
Chris Ware.

Thanks very much Robert.

Editorial/Sports Illustrator, cartoonist, fine artist and sports radio talk show host Larry Johnson shares his answers next.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Bill Holbrook - Cartoonist Survey #165




Born in Los Angeles in 1958, Bill Holbrook is a comic strip and webcomic artist and writer. He majored in Illustration and Visual Design at Auburn University in Alabama. While at Auburn U. he was the Art Director of the student newspaper, producing a weekly comic strip and drawing their editorial cartoons. While still in college, Bill was also being regularly published in the Huntsville Times and the Monroe Journal. Bill graduated in 1980 and became an editorial staff artist for the Atlanta Constitution. When Bill visited some relatives on the West Coast in 1982 he got the chance to meet Charles Schulz. Good Ol’ Sparky gave him advice and encouraged him to create his own strip. After a few attempts at syndication, he succeeded with his On the Fastrack strip which debuted on March 19, 1984 in 150 newspapers worldwide. In October of 1989 Bill was able to get a second strip, Safe Havens, syndicated. Six years later he started Kevin & Kell, his third strip. Kevin and Kell is about Kevin Kindle a rabbit and Kell Dewclaw a wolf who meet online and despite their predator/prey dispositions fall in love and get married. He recently illustrated the comic Duel In The Somme. Written by Ben Bova and Rob Balder Duel In The Somme is a comic about the romantic rivalry between a computer-simulation designer and his boss. Bill lives in the Atlanta area with his wife and their two daughters. Make sure you check out his Bill Holbrook Store.

What is your favorite pen to use?
Rapidograph 00,0 and 1.

Do you draw in pencil first and if so do you use a standard pencil or a mechanical one?
Standard pencil.

Do you do your coloring by hand or on the computer?
Terrance and Isabel Marks color "Kevin & Kell" on their computer.

What type of paper do you use?
I pencil on ordinary drawing paper, and then ink on tracing paper placed over the pencils.

What thing(s) do you hate to draw?
I can't think of anything offhand.

Do you buy your supplies from big chain art store catalogues/websites or a local one that you physically go to?
Both; it depends on what I'm buying.

Are there any rituals that you do before starting to draw?
No, not really.

Do you listen to music while you draw and if so what genre?
Classical music while I'm writing; Rock while I'm drawing.

Did you read comics as a kid and if so what was your favorite?
"Peanuts."

What is or was your favorite comic strip?
Still, "Peanuts."

What was your favorite book as a child and do you still own a copy of it?
I can't pick a favorite as I read a lot.

Did you have any formal art training and if so where did you receive it?
I received a B.A. from Auburn University in Illustration and Visual Design in 1980.

Do you feel that the Internet is a blessing or a curse?
For me, it's been a blessing.

Did either of your parents draw?
No.

Who in your life is/was the most supportive of your art?
My parents have always been supportive.

Do you keep a sketchbook?
Since I do three comics, there's no time unfortunately.

Have you ever taught cartooning/drawing and if so did you enjoy the experience?
I've never done that; I'm not much of a teacher.

Do you feel that talent or passion is more important in drawing?
Absolutely, passion is the most important. No question.

Do you collect anything and if so what?
No. Cartooning is my hobby.

If you were an animated cartoon character who do you think you would be?
That's hard to say. Although none of my characters have been animated, I invest part of my personality in every one.

Are you a righty or lefty?
Lefty, as are every one of my characters.

If you weren't an artist what would you want to do for work?
I can't imagine not being a cartoonist.

In one or two sentences describe your drawing area.
A small 10x10 room in the basement of our house.

Do you play any musical instruments?
No, my sister got all of the musical talent in the family.

If you could give one piece of advice to someone who wants to pursue drawing as a career what would it be?
I was lucky enough to meet Charles Schulz in 1982. He gave me the following advice: sit down and draw fifty strips. Of those, maybe five will be funny. Build on those and throw out the rest. Do fifty more. Now perhaps ten will be usable. Repeat this process again and again.

Who is your favorite artist?
Charles Schulz

Thanks again Bill.

Next up is Boston cartoonist Robert Sergel.

Craig Yoe's, Felix the Cat's Greatest Comic Book Tails

I picked up Craig Yoe's wonderful, Felix the Cat's Greatest Comic Book Tails yesterday at my local New England Comics. All I can say is WOW, this stuff is great! Like all of the IDW Craig Yoe books the Felix the Cat book is beautifully designed with great quality reproductions of the comic pages. The characters in these comics, drawn by Otto Messmer and Joe Oriolo, are really fun to look at; being all round and squishy. If you are a fan of the comics at all, especially the classics, you should pick this one up. Thanks to Sherm Cohen (Cartoonist Survey #120) for uploading the pictures below to Amazon.




I also highly recommend Craig Yoe's, The Complete Milt Gross Comic Books and Life Story.

Happiness Is A Peanuts Moleskine

Celebrating the Peanuts 60th anniversary, Moleskine is releasing limited edition Peanuts themed notebooks.

They will be available in the pocket and large size with ruled and plain pages. You will be able to purchase them individually and as a set with all four notebooks.

These would make a great gift for any fan of the comics...hint, hint.

Thanks to The Daily Cartoonist for pointing this out.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Jesse Reklaw - Cartoonist Survey #164





Cartoonist and painter Jesse Reklaw was born in Berkeley, California in 1971. He received a BA from Santa Cruz and a Master’s Degree in computer science at Yale University. While working towards a Ph.D. in artificial intelligence at Yale, he started self-publishing his dream-themed comic series Concave Up. Jesse was also self-syndicating his weekly strip, Slow Wave at the same time. Once Slow Wave started to take off he decided that he couldn’t do both computer science and art, so he left Yale to be a full-time cartoonist. Slow Wave is “a collective dream diary authored by people from around the world." People email their dreams to Jesse who then breaks them down into a few sentences and creates a four panel comic out of them. A new strip is uploaded every Saturday. The Slow Wave strips have been published in alternative newspapers and on the web since 1995 and have been collected in two anthologies; ‘Dreamtoons’ and ‘The Night of Your Life’.

His work also appears in self-published minicomics and small-press anthologies. You can purchase many of these comics at Global Hobo, a small press comics distributor that Jesse co-operates. In 2008 he won the Ignatz Award for Outstanding Minicomic for his Bluefuzz the Hero. In addition to drawing comics he also teaches and is currently at the Independent Publishing Resource Center in Portland, Oregon. Visit Jesse’s Slow Wave website here and then head over to Global Hobo to buy some hand-made and hard-to-find comics.

What is your favorite pen to use?
Speedball A-5 nib.

Do you draw in pencil first and if so do you use a standard pencil or a mechanical one?
Yes, I use a 0.7mm HB lead in a mechanical pencil.

Do you do your coloring by hand or on the computer?
Both. I prefer watercolor, but it can be more time-consuming (or at least it's easier to do a quick job on the computer and not have it look too sloppy/unfinished).

If you do your coloring by hand, what do you use?
My watercolor palette is ultramarine, burnt sienna, yellow ochre, alizarin, and sap green. Occasionally I'll use cerulean, viridian, cadmium red & cadmium yellow.

What type of paper do you use?
Usually 2-ply smooth Bristol for pen + ink; for watercolor I use hot press (Fabriano). I've had trouble with Bristol lately -- used to just use the Strathmore 200 series, but that has been progressively worse over the years (and it never was that great). Lately I've been using basic Utrecht 2-ply with the vellum finish, which isn't too bad. I have enjoyed 1-ply smooth Bristol (cut down from parent sheets) in the past, because it's so easy to see through with a lightbox; but it can get expensive. Sometimes I watercolor on crappy Canson student-grade watercolor paper if I'm doing something with bold monochrome washes. It really depends on the project and how much I can afford to invest in it. For example, if I'm doing quick commercial work I'll just ink on copy paper.

What thing(s) do you hate to draw?
Cars & celebrities.

Do you buy your supplies from big chain art store catalogues/websites or a local one that you physically go to?
My partner and I often do a Dick Blick order together if we have a lot of supplies to refresh at one time. Otherwise I just pick things up at the closest art store. I like to go to Asian stationary stores too (like Kinokuniya or Uwajimaya) to get Sakura stuff. The gel pens are cheaper there, and a lot of places don't carry their nibs or erasers for some reason, which is too bad since that Sakura white eraser is the best.

Are there any rituals that you do before starting to draw?
Get a beverage. Getting up to pee reminds me to take breaks.

Do you listen to music while you draw and if so what genre?
Must have music to draw. Rock n roll.

Did you read comics as a kid and if so what was your favorite?
I started when I was 8 with DC stuff, went on to Marvel, then independents. Nothing I remember that well now, or enjoy anymore. Except maybe memories of my What If...? collection.

What is or was your favorite comic strip?
Lately I've been liking Dinosaur Comics, but obviously not for the art. Underworld is always original. I also enjoy The City, Troubletown, Maakies, Tom the Dancing Bug, and other alternative weeklies; but I don't seek them out if they're not in a paper I'm reading or something.

What was your favorite book as a child and do you still own a copy of it?
I liked those wordless Mercer Mayer tiny books "A Boy, A Dog, and A Frog" or something like that? I think I have one or two of those tucked away somewhere.

Did you have any formal art training and if so where did you receive it?
BA from UC Santa Cruz 1995. My focus was figurative acrylic painting, but sometimes I found a cool teacher who would let me do comics for class.

Do you feel that the Internet is a blessing or a curse?
Both? I guess I'm not very religious.

Did either of your parents draw?
I have some goofy acid drawings my dad made. Mom got into art after the divorce, but I don't remember her exercising her creativity when I was a kid.

Who in your life is/was the most supportive of your art?
Me!

Do you keep a sketchbook?
Just disorganized scribbles and notes, nothing fancy.

Have you ever taught cartooning/drawing and if so did you enjoy the experience?
I currently teach comics at the Independent Publishing Resource Center (iprc.org) in Portland, Oregon. It's a pretty powerful feeling to communicate with people and feel like you're helping them. But it doesn't always happen.

Do you feel that talent or passion is more important in drawing?
If you want to make a career out of it, passion. If not, I guess it doesn't matter.

Do you collect anything and if so what?
Ailments.

If you were an animated cartoon character who do you think you would be?
I'd be some weird background character in a Felix the Cat cartoon that isn't in-betweened very well because there was never a solid model sheet.

Are you a righty or lefty?
Right.

If you weren't an artist what would you want to do for work?
Electrical engineer / hobo.

In one or two sentences describe your drawing area.
A treacherous swamp bog teeming with life.

Do you play any musical instruments?
Guitars, voice, drums, keyboards. A little of everything I guess.

If you could give one piece of advice to someone who wants to pursue drawing as a career what would it be?
Maybe that you don't choose drawing as a career, it chooses you? Or: keep at it and eventually you will succeed. Which is both the most inspiring and most disheartening advice.

Who is your favorite artist?
I can't pick favorites -- there's way too many! But have continued to be enriched by the work of Art Spiegelman.



Thank you Jesse!

Answers from cartoonist and writer Bill Holbrook are coming up next.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Jim Keefe - Cartoonist Survey #163



Illustrator and cartoonist Jim Keefe was born in January of 1965. He graduated from Joe Kubert’s School of Cartoon and Graphic Art. Jim started his career working as a colorist in the bullpen of King Features Syndicate. As a colorist he worked on such strips as Beetle Bailey, Hagar the Horrible and Blondie. He also spent a short while “ghosting” for his friend and mentor George Evans on the Secret Agent Corrigan strip before being hired as the writer and artist for the Flash Gordon comic strip. Jim’s tenure on Flash Gordon ran from January 1996 to March 2003. Since then he has provided graphic art for syndicated features and companies including King Features Syndicate, Jantze Studios, Manuscript Press and Viz Media.

He has taught and guest lectured at the School of Visual Arts, Hofstra’s UCCE Youth Programs and most recently at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. Jim is presently working on a graphic novel that will chronicle his father’s service as a member of Patton's Third Army during World War II. There is a lot to see at his Keefe Studios website, including his Vault page featuring interviews with greats such as George Evans, John Cullen Murphy and John Romita Sr. There is also a page devoted to research on his dad’s Infantry Company. Click here to purchase some of Jim’s original Flash Gordon artwork.

What is your favorite pen to use?
Gillott 290 (prefer brush though).

Do you draw in pencil first and if so do you use a standard pencil or a mechanical one?
Standard pencil to start out with, mechanical for small details.

Do you do your coloring by hand or on the computer?
Both, depends on the project.

If you do your coloring by hand, what do you use?
For color guides, Dr. PH. Martin's transparent water color. For finished color that's scanned for print, Winsor Newton Artists' watercolour.

What type of paper do you use?
2-ply Bristol - varied brands.

What thing(s) do you hate to draw?
Anything on a tight deadline.

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

Are there any rituals that you do before starting to draw?
It's nice to get a good night’s sleep and all items organized and ready for use.

Do you listen to music while you draw and if so what genre?
I like to listen to books on tape - history, documentaries etc.

Did you read comics as a kid and if so what was your favorite?
Spider-Man

What is or was your favorite comic strip?
Spider-Man

What was your favorite book as a child and do you still own a copy of it?
As a pre-teen I used to buy anything by Robert E. Howard. Don't have the copies I had back then.

Did you have any formal art training and if so where did you receive it?
Atelier Lack summer programs as a teenager (Minneapolis).
The Joe Kubert School of Cartoon and Graphic Art.


Do you feel that the Internet is a blessing or a curse?
Blessing for research, curse as a distraction i.e. your email ;)

Did either of your parents draw?
No.

Who in your life is/was the most supportive of your art?
Growing up it was parents and relatives, now it's my wife and family.

Do you keep a sketchbook?
Yes but I use it far too infrequently.

Have you ever taught cartooning/drawing and if so did you enjoy the experience?
I'm currently a Visiting Artist at MCAD in Minneapolis and enjoy the experience immensely.

Do you feel that talent or passion is more important in drawing?
They're dependent on each other. Passion leads to more talent.

Do you collect anything and if so what?
Original art (mostly by trading as I can't afford it).

If you were an animated cartoon character who do you think you would be?
If it's 3:00 am and I'm on deadline, Ren Höek.

Are you a righty or lefty?
Is this political? Will I get in trouble for this?

If you weren't an artist what would you want to do for work?
I don't know, what do ya got?

In one or two sentences describe your drawing area.
Cramped but an organized use of space.

Do you play any musical instruments?
1st Trombone in Middle School - can't play a note currently.

If you could give one piece of advice to someone who wants to pursue drawing as a career what would it be?
Get an education so you're not flailing in the dark.

Who is your favorite artist?
John Romita

Thank you very much Jim!

Cartoonist and painter Jesse Reklaw, creator of the comic strip Slow Wave, is up next.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Ed Smith - Cartoonist Survey #162




Cartoonist Ed Smith, "The Caricature Guy", got his start drawing caricatures in Boston's Faneuil Hall while attending the Massachusetts College of Art in the late eighties. He worked for awhile traveling with other artists doing caricaturing gigs at colleges and universities across the country. He then spent several years slinging ink for the famous Building #19 circular. (Other Cartoonist Survey participants who have worked for Building #19 include, Bill White, Cartoonist Survey #1 and Mat Brown, Cartoonist Survey #2.)

Ed now has his own successful caricaturing business, The Caricature Guy. He is also the Vice President of Creative & Marketing Communication for the golf outlet website, 3balls.com. You can see some of the cartoons he has created for 3balls.com here. Check out Ed’s, The Caricature Guy website and if you live in the South Shore area of Massachusetts, click here to book The Caricature Guy for your next event.

What is your favorite pen to use?
The digital pen attached (albeit relationally) to my Wacom tablet.

Do you draw in pencil first and if so do you use a standard pencil or a mechanical one?
When drawing caricatures I dive right in with ink. Digitally I adjust the opacity of the layer to replicate a pencil sketch.

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

If you do your coloring by hand, what do you use?
Chartpak ad markers.

What type of paper do you use?
Bristol vellum, or a crisp Photoshop layer.

What thing(s) do you hate to draw?
Sports utensils (because I'm ignorant of how they look).

Do you buy your supplies from big chain art store catalogues/websites or a local one that you physically go to?
Local Art Warehouse-type store.

Are there any rituals that you do before starting to draw?
Doing caricature gigs, I always show up first.

Do you listen to music while you draw and if so what genre?
I listen to a lot of NPR, old time church sermons and unusual folk music.

Did you read comics as a kid and if so what was your favorite?
Comic books: X-Men, The Tick, Comic Strips: Calvin and Hobbes

What is or was your favorite comic strip?
The Far Side

What was your favorite book as a child and do you still own a copy of it?
I loved the entire scratch and sniff genre. No point in keeping 'em because eventually they just smell like paper.

Did you have any formal art training and if so where did you receive it?
No, I attended Mass College of Art.

Do you feel that the Internet is a blessing or a curse?
A Blessing (that will probably prove to be a curse come the apocalypse ).

Did either of your parents draw?
No.

Who in your life is/was the most supportive of your art?
The salesman from the "Draw Tippy the turtle" correspondence art school.

Do you keep a sketchbook?
I do, but I keep it in a drawer with the best intentions of starting to use it again one of these days.

Have you ever taught cartooning/drawing and if so did you enjoy the experience?
Yes, I loved it.

Do you feel that talent or passion is more important in drawing?
Yes I certainly do.

Do you collect anything and if so what?
I have a quite extensive collection of disparate items with seemingly no connection to one another.

If you were an animated cartoon character who do you think you would be?
I always wanted to be the leader of the scrubbing bubbles gang. Those guys always resonated with me for some reason.

Are you a righty or lefty?
Righty.

If you weren't an artist what would you want to do for work?
As little as possible.

In one or two sentences describe your drawing area.
My studio space is a room in my 19th century New England farm house. Wide plank floors and a working fireplace create a nice mood. I have a simple old wooden table with cups full of pens, a bottle of Pelikan ink (which I never use because my laptop and Apple cinema display put them out of view.)

Do you play any musical instruments?
I play guitar and sing.

If you could give one piece of advice to someone who wants to pursue drawing as a career what would it be?
Keep on keepin' on.

Who is your favorite artist?
Norman Rockwell. (seriously)

Thanks again Ed.

Illustrator Jim Keefe will be next.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Back from Vacation

I'm back from a very restful stay in Maine. Special thanks to Mike and Trish who let us stay at their beautiful house right on a lake.

If you are ever up in the Sebago and Long lake area, I highly recommend the food and home brewed beers at
Bray's Brew Pub and the baked goods from White Wulff Farms.



While in Maine Patti and I celebrated her birthday with a trip to Bray's for their chili nachos, home brewed beer and my favorite, their lobster stew. We went back to the house and finished it off with a big piece of White Wulff Farm's triple berry pie....Good Stuff!