Monte Wolverton is an editorial cartoonist and fine artist who was born in 1948 in Vancouver, Washington. Being the son of legendary cartoonist Basil Wolverton, it wasn’t a surprise that he began drawing early in life. His dad actually built him a drawing board when he was only 7 years old. Monte graduated from Hudson’s Bay High School in 1966 and then moved to California to attend the now-defunct Ambassador College in Pasadena. After graduating from Ambassador College, he studied at the Art Center College of Design in Los Angeles and worked as a freelance illustrator, cartoonist and graphic designer. His first cartoons and comics where published in the magazines, CAR-toons, Creative Computing, Youth and CB Radio.
He moved back to Vancouver in the mid-70s and started Monte Wolverton Associates, an advertising and design business whose clients included the U.S. Forest Service, Peterson Publishing, First Independent Bank and others. He was recruited by the Worldwide Church of God to become design director for Plain Truth so in 1985 he relocated to Pasadena, CA. Monte was in charge of leading a group of over 20 illustrators and photographers in producing three magazines, promotional materials and other publications. In 1994 he earned an interdisciplinary Master’s degree in management and creativity studies from Goddard College in Vermont.
In 1994 he had his first humorous illustration in MAD Magazine and he soon became a regular contributor. Around the same time Monte started drawing political cartoons and posting them on his Wolvertoons website. A few small weekly newspapers began running his political cartoons and in the late 90s, his friend Daryl Cagle asked him to join his new syndicate, Cagle Cartoons. Monte became one of the most widely syndicated editorial cartoonists in the world with his cartoons appearing in over 850 newspapers worldwide.
Recently, he has also been creating fine art. These colorful works, primarily acrylic on canvas, are described by Monte as “neo-psychedelic” or “neo-surrealist.” He states that, "I try to create works that are at once fun, entertaining and mind-expanding – works that draw the viewer into a vortex of shape, color and texture.”
He and his wife Kayte moved to Battle Ground, WA last year with their two American Rat Terriers, Meg and Kirby, to be closer to their family. Speaking of American Rat Terriers, Monte is the president of the Rat Terrier Club of America. He is also a member of the National Cartoonists Society and the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists. Visit his Wolvertoons website and also his fine art website that features music for each piece of art created by San Francisco composer Clasher Von Sin. You should also checkout the archives of his political cartoons at Cagle Cartoons.
What is your favorite pen to use?
Do you draw in pencil first and if so do you use a standard pencil or a mechanical one?
My roughs are in pen or pencil -- whatever I can find at the time.
Do you do your coloring by hand or on the computer?
Depends. My editorial cartoons are colored in Photoshop. Other illustrations may be by hand.
If you do your coloring by hand, what do you use?
Watercolor or acrylic paints. Sometimes airbrush.
What type of paper do you use?
For cartoons I prefer Strathmore Vellum Bristol 500 series -- or 400. Altho nowadays I do most of my editorial cartoons on tracing paper.
What thing(s) do you hate to draw?
Can't think of anything I HATE to draw.
Do you buy your supplies from big chain art store catalogues/websites or a local one that you physically go to?
Either online or Utrecht Art Supplies locally.
Are there any rituals that you do before starting to draw?
Not really. Find a pen and some paper?
Do you listen to music while you draw and if so what genre?
Audio books. Jazz. Bach. TV (Big Bang Theory, 2.5 Men, Burns and Allen).
Did you read comics as a kid and if so what was your favorite?
MAD magazine (was a comic book then). Weird Tales of the Future. Any horror/sf. Tom Terrific.
What is or was your favorite comic strip?
Right now? Cul de Sac. Or maybe Pearls Before Swine. Or maybe Mother Goose and Grimm. Can't think of any comic strip that I don't like/haven't liked. Even the lame ones are funny because they're lame, in the same way that Ed Wood was one of the best directors ever.
What was your favorite book as a child and do you still own a copy of it?
“They Knew Too Much About Flying Saucers”, by Gray Barker. It's still on my shelf along with just about any other book I have ever owned. And any book my parents and grandparents ever owned.
Did you have any formal art training and if so where did you receive it?
Art Center College of Design -- Pasadena (altho it was in Los Angeles at the time).
Do you feel that the Internet is a blessing or a curse?
Blessing! But nearly anything can become a curse.
Did either of your parents draw?
My dad. Now, my wife and daughter.
Do you keep a sketchbook?
Sometimes I have. Not right now. I sketch things on scraps of paper, scan them in and save them for future use. So, yeah, I have sort of an electronic sketchbook.
Have you ever taught cartooning/drawing and if so did you enjoy the experience?
Yes. Taught elementary-age kids drawing and cartooning -- and taught art history as part of a high school art class. Yeah -- it was fun. Especially as some of them have become pros -- or at least highly creative.
Do you feel that talent or passion is more important in drawing?
Both equally important. Even if drawing is a problem -- one's passion can drive one to establish a style. But to make the style consistent, one must develop some kind of drafting technique.
Do you collect anything and if so what?
Have a very small collection of comic art, including some of my father's work. Have kept family antiques, books, ephemera.
If you were an animated cartoon character who do you think you would be?
In one or two sentences describe your drawing area.
Otherwise spacious studio crammed with bookshelves, paintings, Stratocasters, two dogs, Macs, audio equipment, old reel-to-reel tape deck, TV, drawing boards piled with stuff, strange sculpture and three paintings in progress on work table, chairs from studios of Basil Wolverton and Carl Barks. View of woods.
Photo credit: Steven Lane
Do you play any musical instruments?
Guitar. I have a keyboard, a vintage-spec Strat, a twelve-string Strat, a classical guitar and a horrible old bass that I got from a pawn shop. I play old Byrds songs, mostly.
If you could give one piece of advice to someone who wants to pursue drawing as a career what would it be?
Have another (possibly related) profession to keep you going -- and then don't give up. Be original. Doggedly pursue your own vision. The world has too many knock-offs.
Who is your favorite artist?
That's hard. James Ensor, Salvador Dali, Edouard Monet, my dad, Hieronymus Bosch, Wally Wood . . .there's so many . . . Chester Gould . . .
Thanks again for your time Monte!