Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Bill Griffith - Cartoonist Survey #14

“Are we having fun yet?” Zippy the Pinhead’s creator, Bill Griffith has been a mainstay in the cartooning world for 40 years. Beginning in the late 60’s with the Underground Comics movement, his work has been published in the National Lampoon, The New Yorker and The Village Voice just to name a few. He also designed some of the Wacky Packages stickers that I stuck all over the place as a kid.

For all things Zippy, go to Bill’s site; http://www.zippythepinhead.com/ . The Zippy Store (first donut at the top of his website) has many great items for your holiday gift giving needs.

What is your favorite pen to use?
I use a Hunt's #100 pen point for most of my inking. I use .025 and .035 Rapidograph pens for cross-hatching.

Do you draw in pencil first and if so do you use a standard pencil or a mechanical one?
I pencil first with a mechanical pencil using HB leads.

Do you do your coloring by hand or on the computer?
For the Zippy Sunday strip: I do a hand-colored coloring guide with colored pencils on a Xerox copy. The final color is then done in PhotoShop by my syndicate, King Features. I also do some coloring myself by computer. The color you see on the daily online Zippy is done by my syndicate without any input from me aside from the "standard" colors of Zippy's and my other main characters' outfits.

What type of paper do you use?
I use Strathmore Bristol 2-ply plate.

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

Do you buy your supplies from big chain art store catalogues/websites or a local one that you physically go to?
I buy supplies from online and real stores.

Are there any rituals that you do before starting to draw?
I do a few work avoidance things like looking at email.

Do you listen to music while you draw and if so what genre?
I listen mostly to NPR while I pencil and ink. While I write, I need silence.

Did you read comics as a kid and if so what was your favorite?
I loved (and still do) "Nancy". I also read Pogo, though as a kid I rarely understood it. And Uncle Scrooge and Mad magazine.

What was your favorite book as a child and do you still own a copy of it?
"Wind in the Willows" by Kenneth Grahame. I still have a copy. Great illustrations by E.H. Shepard (the inspiration for my character, "Mr. Toad").

Did you have any formal art training and if so where did you receive it?
I attended Pratt Institute Art School in Brooklyn NY for two years (1962-64).

Do you feel that the Internet is a blessing or a curse?
The Internet is a huge boon to comics. Many more readers can now see their favorite comics and discover new comics easily. My own website is responsible for a big part of my income.

Did either of your parents draw?
My mother drew a little (she was a writer), but neither parent was an artist. My great-grandfather was a photographer and artist.

Who in your life is/was the most supportive of your art?
My mother and my next door neighbor in Levittown as I was growing up. My neighbor was a professional sci-fi illustrator named Ed Emshwiller.

Do you keep a sketchbook?
Yes, but I use it mostly on my travels. I keep a notebook in my pocket at all times to jot down strip ideas.

Have you ever taught cartooning/drawing and if so did you enjoy the experience?
I've given a number of "Master Classes" at different colleges, but I've never taught steadily anywhere.

Do you feel that talent or passion is more important in drawing?
Talent can come naturally (example: R. Crumb) or it can come through years of hard work. Either way, it's very important. More important than "passion" in my opinion.

Do you collect anything and if so what?
I collect toad and frog statuettes a little. I'm not a big collector. I also have hundreds of old American magazines from the 30s-50s.

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

Are you a righty or lefty?

If you weren't an artist what would you want to do for work?
A traveling salesman for combs and brushes.

In one or two sentences describe your drawing area.
I have a studio in a separate building from my house. My commute is about 75 steps. I draw on a big drafting table under a skylight.

Do you play any musical instruments?
I play guitar and ukulele, strictly for relaxation purposes.

If you could give one piece of advice to someone who wants to pursue drawing as a career what would it be?
Work hard, get a website and wait for the big call.

Who is your favorite artist?
Ernie Bushmiller and Reginald Marsh.

Thanks so much Bill. I am honored be able to post your answers.

Check back tomorrow to see answers from Nick Downes.


P.L. Frederick said...

This is awesome! Imagine, little old me, reading the very words spoken/written by Zippy's creator, here, on the blog I frequently frequent. (That last part rolls off the tongue.) And David, you are a very good interviewer. Great post!!!

ej said...

Ernie Bushmiller? Really? Not a goof?

Anonymous said...

Zippy...an interesting and enlightened career! Thanks for this Q&A survey David Wasting Paper.