Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Greg Evans - Cartoonist Survey #229

Born in November of 1947 Greg Evans is a cartoonist and the creator of the syndicated comic strip ‘Luann’. He grew up near Disney Studios in Burbank, CA and had dreams of working for Walt. He earned a BA in Art from Cal State University at Northrop in 1970 and taught high school art in El Centro, CA until 1972 when he and his wife Betty moved to Australia. They lived in Australia for two years and then spent a year traveling through Asia and the Middle East. When they moved back to the States they settled in Colorado Springs, CO. Greg was unable to find a teaching job so he went to work at a local TV station as a cameraman and worked his way up to Corporate Promotions Manager. During this time he continued to work towards his dream of becoming a syndicated cartoonist by freelancing as a magazine cartoonist and submitting ideas for strips to the major syndicates.

One day while watching his six-year-old daughter he came up with the idea for a strip about a teenage girl. He ended up selling the strip and “Luann” debuted on St. Patrick’s Day 1985. The strip centers on the main character Luann DeGroot and how she deals with school, love interests, family and friends. Greg has been praised for the way he touches on the real issues that affect teenagers such as puberty, cancer, drug abuse and drunk driving. He states that his aim is, “to touch readers’ hearts as well as their funny bones, to enlighten as well as to entertain.” Still going strong for over 25 years ‘Luann’ appears in hundreds of newspapers. After six nominations, Greg was awarded the National Cartoonist Society’s highest honor, the Reuben Award for Cartoonist of the Year in 2003. He was previously nominated in 2002, 2001, 1999, 1997 and 1994.

There are several book collections of the ‘Luann’ strips including, “Luann 25 Years: the Fascinating Behind-the-Scenes History and Trivia You're Dying to Know.” The “Luann 25 Years” book is available for order here directly from Greg, complete with autograph and CD of the ‘Luann’ musical. That’s right there is a ‘Luann’ musical called, “Luann: Scenes in a Teen's Life”. Greg wrote the musical in 2006 with the help of arranger and orchestrator Justin Gray and it has been performed at many theatres and schools. If Luann doesn’t appear in your local paper you can read it at GoComics. Greg currently lives in San Marcos, CA with his wife Betty. Visit his pages here at The Cartoonist Studio where you can see more of his work and more pictures of his studio. Greg also has a blog page at The Cartoonist Studio where he posted a great essay he wrote titled, "So You Want To Be A Cartoonist..."

What is your favorite pen to use?

For the past 3 years, I've drawn digitally on a Cintiq. So the answer here would be "a stylus." Prior to that, when I drew pen-on-paper, I used Faber-Castell Pitt pens.

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

I sketch on a Photoshop layer, ink on a new layer, then delete the sketch layer.

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

Computer, using Photoshop.

What thing(s) do you hate to draw?

Brad's hair. It never looks right. Also cars. I tend to make them too real instead of all cartoony fat and squishy.

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

When I buy art supplies, it's online. There are no art stores near me.

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

Yes. I amp up my motivation and energy by looking at my deadline calendar.

Do you listen to music while you draw and if so what genre?

I mostly listen to NPR. When I'm sick of bad news, I put on some Sinatra or Beatles.

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


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?

I had one of those Walter Foster "how to draw cartoons" books that I loved. It got tossed when I went off to college.

Did you have any formal art training and if so where did you receive it?

I majored in art at Cal State Northridge.

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


Did either of your parents draw?


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

My wife of 40 years, Betty

Do you keep a sketchbook?


Have you ever taught cartooning/drawing and if so did you enjoy the experience?

After college, I was a high school art teacher for 4 years and I hated it. Since then, I've done occasional one-time lessons, from little kids up to college age and even adults. What I've found is, I have no idea how to teach cartooning.

Do you feel that talent or passion is more important in drawing?

The best artists have both. Some say if you have enough passion, you can develop the talent. I don't buy that. I believe real drawing skill is something you're born with and that can be improved with practice. It's the practice that requires passion.

Do you collect anything and if so what?

Only memories. And those are getting harder to hold onto.

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

Superman! Oh, "would" be, not "want" to be. In that case, Charlie Brown.

Are you a righty or lefty?

Lefty (I assume you're not asking about politics).

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

Be some kind of creative writer - novels, screenplays, musicals.

In one or two sentences describe your drawing area.

A desk with a laptop hooked to a Cintiq. I stand when I draw, so there's no chair.

Do you play any musical instruments?

A smidge of piano.

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

Find a secure day job first. Then hone your craft in your spare time. Build an awesome portfolio that's better than anyone else's. Then go look for jobs. I guess that's four pieces.

Who is your favorite artist?

Norman Rockwell.

Here's a video of Greg discussing the making of a comic strip. Hat tip to Mike Lynch who posted this video a couple years back.

Thanks again Greg.


Jeff P said...

I want to ask Greg how he likes his Cintiq. If I'm not mistaken, that's the smaller, more portable version? I've heard some criticisms of the pen scrolling near the edges. I really would like to get one, but would like a true cartoonist's opinion. Thanks!

David said...

Here is Greg's response to Jeff's question...

I love the Cintiq. I have the large one, the 21UX, and I've had nothing but an outstanding experience with it. Yes, it's big, it's heavy and it's expensive, but if you do a lot of drawing and coloring, it's a real time and effort saver.

Jeff P said...

Thanks, Greg and David!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this great interview! I enjoyed reading it and learning about Greg's personal history, and his drawing process as well.

I've been reading Luann since its inception (or at least as soon as the San Francisco Chronicle picked it up, which was pretty early), and now my 14-year-old niece is hooked on it too.

She wants to write Greg an email -- with a plot suggestion, of course! -- but I cannot find any way to contact him. He does not, apparently, have a website of his own, and links that purport to be related to him are dead.

Would you know of any way to get his email address? (Or snail mail?)

Thanks very much in advance.

David said...

Hi lmorland,

I'm glad that you enjoyed the interview. Unfortunately I don't have present contact information for Greg. I do know that he is on Facebook, so maybe you could message him there.

Take care,


Anonymous said...

Sure would like to see Luann and Quill take it to the next level.