20 Questions with Comic Artists: Neecko from Joe’s Bar Toons

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We are back once again True Believers with another entry into our world famous segment 20 Questions with Comic Artists.  Today we head over to Joe’s Bar to hang out with Stu & Neecko and basically just hang out drinking root beer all day.  You can check out Joe’s Bar Toons at: https://www.joesbartoons.com/

So let’s crack open a few bottles and get to know the newest member of the Root Beer Party.
Question 1:  What got you started in doing a comic series?

I had been drawing up little funny cartoons for about as long as I can remember.  Once my kids grew up I found I had more time to devote to drawing and from there I began the process of learning and making everything digitally.  It just fell into place.  Almost like it was meant to be!
Question 2: Who was you greatest influence?

Like most, Charles Schulz!  About a year ago I went to Santa Rosa California to the Charles M Schulz Museum and my biggest regret was to find that if I had only visited Santa Rosa 15 years earlier I could have personally met the man.   I am also a big Gary Larson Far Side fan and I believe that Larson is the core reason I try to do the majority of my work within a single panel.  
Question 3: What is your favorite root beer and why?

Barq’s Root Beer, (in the bottle)!
Question 4: What do you hope to accomplish with your comic?

First and foremost I just like to make people laugh and that has always been my initial goal.  My second goal was just to see if I had it in me for the long haul, 4 years later it has become habit.  Lastly I seek recognition.  It would be great to be considered a recognized webtoonist in the e-world of many.

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Question 5: Do you have any other artistic interests outside of comics?

I also like to sculpt wire objects.  I sometimes like to think I am the reincarnate of Alexander Calder.
Question 6: Do you see yourself as a professional cartoonist, or is this just something you do for yourself?

I would love to be a Professional Cartoonist, and make Joe’s Bar Toon a full time project, however at this time it is just something I do for myself and the people who follow the strip.  
Question 7: What type of subject or humor do you consider out of bounds for your strips and why?

The nice thing about Joe’s Bar subject manner is that it is rather open to what I can use in it.  So it will range anywhere from a G to PG to an R rating, but no nudity.   When my Mom calls me up to tell me she didn’t like a toon, I know I have reached the limit.

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Question 8: What kind of equipment or style of drawing do you use? 

I tend to doodle up most thoughts with paper and pencil, but then scan and redraw using Manga Studio and my mouse pad.  I generally can create a Joe’s Bar Toon in about 45 minutes.
Question 9: what sort of training or academic program did you pursue to become a cartoonist?

Just to show you how old I am, I have a Bachelor’s Degree in Commercial Art.  That’s what it was called before the PC and when everything was done by hand.  Actually the year I started college was the same year that the college offered its first computer class in Dos Programming.
Question 10:  What has been the highlight of your cartooning career?

Probably the biggest highlight of my Cartooning career is anytime someone established in the Art Community actually writes me and tells me how they enjoy my work.

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Question 11:  What has been the lowest point in your cartooning career?

No lowest point, because I can only go up from here!
Question 12: Are collections of your work available beyond the web? If So where?

I often do gallery type presentations at the local craft breweries in my area.  A cartoon about a bar generally is well received in a bar!  A great benefit to this is I often exchange a print for a pint or two!

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Question 13: Are there any other web comic artists that you really admire?

I have so many friends now on line that do Webcomics and I admire them all.  A couple in particular that I always enjoy and recommend are Pink & Black on Twitter @PinknBlackComic and Will Henry @MrWillHenry
Question 14: What kind of impact has cartooning had on your life and could you ever see yourself not doing it?

Drawing is my release and keeps me sane, so it impacts my life daily. Everyone needs something to do that they enjoy and mine happens to be drawing.  I have been a doodler from Day 1, at least that is what Momma says, so I believe it is just a part of me and I probably will be drawing until the day I die.
Question 15: Do you have any advice for the Trolls out there who harass content creators?  (no need to keep this answer clean.) 

Any recognition is good recognition, even from a Troll,… just don’t let it eat you up!  When I get the occasional Troll I just ignore them.  They’re not worth my time.
Question 16: Do you set yourself any deadlines or other tricks to keep yourself motivated? 

One thing I do is to review the National Day Calendar for upcoming Holidays and then create something specific for the Holiday.  So as long as I am looking at upcoming Holidays I am basically on a schedule to create something.  Eventually I will have a Joe’s Bar Toon for everyday of the year related to a National Holiday. I then plan on creating a Day to Day Calendar of my work to offer to the masses.  Look for it around Year 2020 🙂
Question 17: Apart from root beer, what is your favorite drink? 

Well that would be BEER! I especially like Stouts and Porters which I then follow up with something lighter like a Pilsner.  Also if I need nourishment I start out with a loaded Spicy Bloody Mary and a Beer Chaser.  Now it should be noted that I do find it amusing that many of my readers think I must be quite the drinker and also that my name is Joe.  That’s the image but here’s the truth, I can’t draw a straight line with a drink in me so I drink very little.  At the most I have a couple beers a week, but if you do see me out and about feel free to call me Joe. 
Question 18: Are you already a member of the root beer party and if not, what is the matter with you? 

Yes, I am a member of the Root Beer Party. (I think)?  (Yes you are, one of the original Twitter bunch in fact.) -Editor

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Question 19: What is the most challenging aspect of cartooning for you?

What I really enjoy is figuring out is how to deliver my humor in just a Single Panel.  How I need to layout the characters, present the dialog and make it work.  Even better is when my finished piece has several layers of humor within that single panel.  I often wonder if the reader catches them all.
Question 20: What are your future plans involving web comics or anything else going on in your life? 

The future’s so bright, I got to wear Shades! I am within 5 years of retirement from my real job, so I do plan on moving to some sunny shore in the near future, continue to draw my toon, and finish my days off with a cold one.

And there you have it True Believers, another entry into our world renowned 20 questions segment.  Neecko has been a member of the Root Beer Party going back to 2013 or so, in fact he has even submitted a signed copy of my favorite classic comic to The Official Root Beer Party Comic Archives:

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So go check out Joe’s Bar over on the corner of Google and Explorer at https://www.joesbartoons.com/ and stop in and say “hi” to Stu & the rest of the gang, even join them for a cold one, and as always True Believers, may your mug always be frosted and your root beer always foamy. 

20 Questions with Comic Artists: Jose Sepi of My Son is A Dog

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We are back once again True Believers with another installment of our world renowned segment 20 Questions!  The root Beer Party has been growing by leaps and bounds as word has spread throughout the world of our mission to unite love of comics and love of root beer into one place.  Never before in the annals of human history  has such an undertaking been attempted, but when life throws out a challenge, we answer the call by sitting down at our drawing tables, cracking open a root beer and remind everyone just how silly life really is.

Today we welcome our newest member Jose Sepi of My Son is a Dog comic which you can read here on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/patosepi/

We got a chance to sit down with Jose recently and chat over a few root beers of the meaning of life, the universe and everything and now we introduce him to you, True Believers, Meet the man behind the legend, the mind behind the comic genius, we bring you Jose Sepi:
Question 1:  What got you started in doing a comic series?

I’ve loved cartoons since I was very young. I can’t remember doing anything other than reading cartoons. This love was so big that I remember going to school with comic magazines instead of books, or reading during the night (when the lights had been turned off all over the house) with a little lantern under the blankets of my bed. I think that I was already drawing cartoons by the time I was nine.  At 14 I had the opportunity to publish my first professional strip in a magazine. At 17 I was offered the opportunity to publish a daily cartoon in my city’s newspaper. I created up to 5,000 cartoons over the years. I haven’t stopped publishing in my country, Argentina, since then. I started drawing “My Son is a Dog” for Comics Sherpa as a good opportunity to showcase my work in a different country; it was very challenging.


Question 2: Who was you greatest influence?

The first strip that influenced me was Mafalda, which is created by the cartoonist, Quino. Mafalda is similar to Peanuts by Charles Schulz. Before the internet was available in my country I didn’t have much of a chance to see the great cartoon creators. Consequently, I discovered the important authors like Schulz, Gary Larson, Bill Watterson and even George Herriman only later in life. Even today, many books by these authors are hard to find in my country, and if some are available, they are very expensive. However, truth be told that thanks to the Internet I’m lucky to know many authors; otherwise, it would be impossible. Lately, thanks to my feline curiosity, I enjoy discovering new authors who are on the internet. Browsing Gocomics daily allowed me to discover new authors such as Stephan Pastis and Pat Sandy.
Question 3: What is your favorite root beer and why?

I could quote that famous saying: “What you talkin’ ’bout, Willis?” … I think that it would be cheaper and simpler if a good American friend invited me over to drink a root beer than waiting for it to arrive on these shores. I can almost taste it from here… slurp!

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Question 4: What do you hope to accomplish with your comic?

My objective is to enjoy it and for the people who read my cartoons to enjoy them too. If I manage to make a reader, who is having a tough day, laugh then my mission is accomplished.
Question 5: Do you have any other artistic interests outside of comics?

Sure. I’ve had the audacity to write books and novels over the years. I write them because my imagination flows out of my ears and if it didn’t then it would have shot out of me like a missile.

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Question 6: Do you see yourself as a professional cartoonist, or is this just something you do for yourself?

I’ve been drawing cartoons and single-panel strips for almost 40 years. Therefore, in some ways that makes me a professional. For example, Charles Schulz kept on drawing until his last years. Consequently, we can see the growth of Peanuts over the years. Also it’s true that I do it for myself. What else can I do? I only know how to draw and write.
Question 7: What type of subject or humor do you consider out of bounds for your strips and why?

My target audience is children. I don’t create cartoons for adults. I create them so that they can be read by children and adults alike. Peanuts is a good example, also Calvin and Hobbes and an infinite number of cartoons.

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Question 8: What kind of equipment or style of drawing do you use? 

First of all, I write the dialogue in a small notebook. Then, I use a pencil, a pen and paper. Once it’s been scanned, I color my drawing using the program, Photoshop. I only recently learned how to use this program. Before that, I would paint everything by hand using watercolor pencils. Every now and again I paint a drawing by hand again.
Question 9: what sort of training or academic program did you pursue to become a cartoonist?

In my personal case, I consider myself an autodidact. I’ve never had any drawing lessons. I think that this is a profession that can be learned by copying the style of the greatest cartoonists and then, you should stop holding hands with your teacher and dive headfirst into the pool. Drawing every day at every opportunity and at every possible moment (even in the bathroom) helps you to grow your own style and art.
Question 10:  What has been the highlight of your cartooning career?

Somehow everything starts and ends on a sheet of paper. A song, for instance, is written once, then it’s released and it spreads.  That same thing happens with cartoons. Even though the characters are all the same every day, every day is also different from all the characters. In my particular case, having managed to do what I really love (cartoons) is an important highlight in my career and in my life. If I stopped making cartoons, I’d be a perfectly useless man. Thank God that the cartoon-drawing profession exists.
Question 11:  What has been the lowest point in your cartooning career?

People are always afraid of being rejected but sometimes the rejection makes us do things better. I’ve been rejected more than a thousand times. Rejection letters are harsh sometimes, some comments are sometimes harsh as well. The important thing is to know that you’re doing things well. The great cartoonist, Charles Schulz, wasn’t a successful cartoonist at first, it was hard for him. It also happened to Bill Watterson, Stephan Pastis and hundreds of artists who are well-known cartoonists these days. If one practices with love that which one truly loves, for example, cartoons, at some stage the doors will open and you’ll be able to enter.
Question 12: Are collections of your work available beyond the web? If So where?

My work, besides being on Facebook, can be seen in the Sunday Supplement “Catrasca”, which is published in 41 newspapers in Argentina. You can also see my work in my book “Huguito el rezongón” (only available in Spanish at the moment), which contains more than 100 single-panel strips.
Question 13: Are there any other web comic artists that you really admire?

That’s one great thing about the web, professional and amateur cartoonists are mixed. There aren’t any good or bad cartoonists, they all do the same thing that I love, which is creating cartoons. Pat Sandy, Cathy Law, Amanda El-Dweek, Brad Perri, Bob Scott, Steve Ogden, Dan Thompson, Mike Wilke, Val Wares, Bob Murphy, James Boyd… There’s a lot of them – I know that I forgot to add many cartoonists who may well be saying right now: “He didn’t name me!” – and the truth is that I read all the authors without leaving anyone out. They all have a gift, they all love cartoons and they all deserve my respect and admiration.

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Question 14: What kind of impact has cartooning had on your life and could you ever see yourself not doing it?

My father, who was a cartoonist too, told me once: “You have the hands of a person who is no good for anything other than making cartoons”. Trust me, I’m happy to have these hands. I wouldn’t have liked to have Donald Trump’s tiny hands but I would’ve liked to have his fortune, why not?
Question 15: Do you have any advice for the Trolls out there who harass content creators?  (no need to keep this answer clean.) 

Trolls are like witches, they don’t exist until you bump into them.
Question 16: Do you set yourself any deadlines or other tricks to keep yourself motivated? 

If you don’t have deadlines, you don’t have a job. Deadlines, for an artist, are everything. I think that the way to stay motivated is related to working every single day.
Question 17: Apart from root beer, what is your favorite drink? 

After I’ve tried root beer and it has become my favorite drink, I will stop drinking Coca-Cola. Can I mention brand names in this space? Oh my God, don’t condemn me for this! (Coca-Cola makes Barq’s Root Beer.  Do not worry, Once again Root Beer unites us all. -Editor)
Question 18: Are you already a member of the root beer party and if not, what is the matter with you? 

Not yet, my friend… I’m not a member. Have I already asked what root beer is? Please, I want to be part of the root beer party!!! Someone invite me, please!!!

(You are one of us now.  – Editor )

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Question 19: What is the most challenging aspect of cartooning for you?

The idea is almost everything. If you don’t have ideas, then “you’re out, baby” The drawing is just the tool, it doesn’t really matter if it’s good or bad.
Question 20: What are your future plans involving web comics or anything else going on in your life? 

I have ideas all the time, creating characters, trying to improve my strip “My Son is a Dog” every day. Sometimes, when I go to sleep, I dream of having the opportunity to see my strip in an important newspaper in the USA… Then I see a huge guy wearing a tight, biker-leather-jacket that says “syndicate” and he is pointing at my nose with a shotgun while he tells me “Hasta la vista, baby”. After that, I wake up and keep drawing cartoons…

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And there you have it True Believers, another member of the Root Beer Party has joined our ranks.  Welcome to the party Jose, and we need to get some root beer down to Argentina as soon as possible.  Thanks for the great interview Jose and everyone, check out his work over on facebook and spread the word.  And as always, may your mug always be frosted and your Root Beer always foamy.

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20 Questions with Comic Artists: Pat Sandy of Next Door Neighbors

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We are back once again True Believers with another entry into our world famous segment: 20 Questions with Comic Artists.  The Root Beer Party has been growing by leaps and bounds over on our Facebook page and one of our newest members sat down with us to tell us all about the magic behind the scenes of his comic. You can read it for yourself here: http://www.gocomics.com/next-door-neighbors/2017/01/02

So pop open a bottle of your favorite root beer and settle in for a peek at a comic genius at work.

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1. What got you started in doing a comic series?
The sheer love of the medium. I grew up with it…absorbed it…and always wanted to do it. I pitched a lot of properties to the syndicates over the years, and finally, NDN got their attention. It was, in fact, my 8th pitch over 25 years – and a reboot of my 4th pitch years prior. How’s THAT for tenacity? The Deweys have been rolling around my noggin in some form or another for 20 years, and the material was really already there.
2. Who was your greatest influence?
Wow…there are SO many, it’s hard to limit it. But I would have to start with Charles Shultz. I adored Peanuts and always will – to me, it was perfect. After Peanuts, it would be Doonesbury and The Far Side.
Another huge influence was Johnny Carson. Yeah, you probably don’t hear that very often, but I LOVED The Tonight Show, and I used to transcribe his monologues from a cassette recorder into a notebook when I was a kid. Clearly, I didn’t have much of a social life…:)
That said, I’ve been very, very fortunate to have highly influential people in my life over the years. In the late 60’s, my mom used to work for The Akron Beacon Journal, and I managed to get the opportunity at the ripe old age of 10 or 11, to start hanging around their art staff on Saturdays. I mean, think about it, these seasoned artists were allowing me to watch them work and the learning experience was incalculable. In particular, Chuck Ayers – soon to be full-time editorial cartoonist there, and later, the artist on the comic strip Crankshaft with Tom Batiuk (another influence) and illustrator Art Krummel took me under their wing when they really didn’t have to. They clearly had work to do, and it may have been glorified baby-sitting, but they allowed this little kid to hang around every weekend and watch what they do. I learned SO much from them, not the least of which was what vending machines in the building had the best snacks. All kidding aside, that experience was life-changing for me.
3. What is your favorite root beer, and why?
A&W.
The gold standard, baby.
4. What do you hope to accomplish with your comic?
Interesting question…First and foremost, to entertain myself. There are just certain things…conventions…characters…storylines etc…that make me crack up, and I like to get ’em down on paper. If others enjoy it. that’s the icing on the cake.
5. Do you have any other artistic interests outside of comics?
Yes, I  have a band, The Rhythm Syndicate, and we’ve been playing around the Cleveland area for close to 20 years. We do blues, swing, jazz, soul and we have 2 cd’s out. It’s an excellent way to break from the art stuff. If you’re ever in town, and we’re playing, stop out and say hi! I’ve also been a huge collector of comics over the years as well as baseball cards (50’s Bowmans).
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6: Do you see yourself as a professional cartoonist, or is this just something you do for yourself?
Definitely both. I’ve worked as a cartoonist in the social expressions field for over 34 years both as a designer and in art direction, and I’ve created/written/art directed or drawn thousands of cards. I’ve also sold cartoons in the magazine field (Playboy, Wall St. Journal, Woman’s World and others etc.) and I’ve illustrated a few children books with Lerner Publishing in Minneapolis, most with writer Brian Cleary.  Prior to that, in college I was the editorial cartoonist at The University of Akron newspaper, The Buchtelite – another very critical experience that taught me – very early on –  what deadlines were all about…lol! 
 
Question 7: What type of subject or humor do you consider out of bounds for your strips and why?
I’m pretty wide open as long it’s funny and make sense with the characters. My style of humor leans a little dark or caustic, so I’m probably more liberal in that area, anyway. It’s really more about whether the subject matter warrants attention – can I write it in a way that’s true to the character. That’s huge for me. 
 
I like anti-characters…side characters…the kind of characters that fascinate me are riddled with flaws of some kind. I could find far more material in, say,  an angry, loudmouthed, failed dogcatcher who lives with his mom and works a part-time job as a rodeo clown,  than a very nice, 30-something couple with a beautiful house and two cute kids.  But that’s just me. 
 
Someone once told me my characters needed to be more likable, but I’m not so sure about that. Flaws are funny.  You can have a character that’s unlikeable and they’ll still have a human side…a relatable side…and in any event, with a comic strip, the characters evolve over time, so I think it’s somewhat myopic to assume that they’ll stay static over the life of a property (and no one knows what the life of a property will be while it’s extant). 
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Question 8: What kind of equipment or style of drawing do you use? 
Oh, man, I’m pretty old school. Pigma pens and bristol board. I work on a light board off of very tight roughs , then I scan the inked version, and do the coloring in p-shop. Pretty basic. I’m a creature of habit, so it works for me…although, I have to say,  a Cintiq looks very tempting. I write endlessly, and for the most part, I write in steno pads (Field Notes brand – great paper) and only with 7mm HB/lead Bic pencils, which I also use to create the roughs I work off of. I can’t write or draw with anything else…it’s weird…Wapner at 5, and all that, y’know?
Question 9: what sort of training or academic program did you pursue to become a cartoonist? 
I got a BFA in Graphic Design at the University Of Akron (’83),  but outside of some elective courses,  there really wasn’t a cartooning curriculum of sorts. You kind of had to make your own way in that regard – so that, and aside from absorbing the medium growing up, I’d say 4 years of doing editorial cartoons for the school newspaper, The Buchtelite,  really helped from a self-discipline perspective…the training is disciplining yourself to write…to ideate…to tell a story or develop a character…in real time,  on deadlines…that’s where the real training process occurs. I think anyone can create stuff if you have, say, a year to do it, but work under any kind of consistent deadline, and you’ll find out quickly what you’re made of.
 
Question 10:  What has been the highlight of your cartooning career?
Every day is a highlight. I know – lame answer, but I really don’t know how to do anything else but cartoons and design work. I’d be out of luck otherwise. I’m not even very good at hanging stuff on a wall. As an aside, whenever I’ve been asked what I do for a living, I’ve always said, I do what I did when I was ten, but I don’t have nuns hitting me. So, that’s kind of a nice bonus.
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Question 11:  What has been the lowest point in your cartooning career?
I don’t know about low points necessarily, but rejection slips/letters/notes certainly qualify.
Question 12: Are collections of your work available beyond the web? If So where?
Well, I’m definitely going to be bundling a book of NDN together – my big ‘project’ for 2017…
Question 13: Are there any other web comic artists that you really admire?
Definitely…I’m more of a fan than anything, and I have quite a few that I enjoy…favorites include Cathy Law (Claw), Danny Fry (Vigo The Vampire), Amanda El-Dweek (Amanda The Great) , Will Henry (Wallace The Brave), Brad Perri (Pirate Mike),  Bob Scott (Molly and the Bear), Steve Ogden (Magnificatz) Dan Thompson (Harley and so many others) Ian Jones (Bushy Tales), Scott Ebisch, Eric Lance Scott (Breaking Dad, 1 and Done), Mark Stokes, (Zombie Boy), Jim Horwitz (Watson), Tim Jones (Sour Grapes), Jose Sepi (My Son is a Dog),  Eric McCurdy/Mark Lester (Experiment 42), James Boyd/Saad A (Sunnyside Up), Mike Wilke (Watermelon Bones), Charles Brubaker (Ask A Cat/Fuzzy Princess), Dan Collins (Looks Good on Paper), Wayno (Waynovision), Dee Parsons (Life with Kurami), Ambrose Quintanilla (Life & Times), Mike McDonald (Cat and Cat), Jason Curtis, Mert Art (Sunday Morning Funnies), Steve McGinn, Larry Warren (Cooper)I know I’ve missed some favorites – there’s just SO much great stuff out there. 
Question 14: What kind of impact has cartooning had on your life and could you ever see yourself not doing it?
Cartooning is everything to me as an artist. At the end of the day, it’s all I know how to do! So, I could never see myself not doing it – only doing it more. 
Question 15: Do you have any advice for the trolls out there who harass content creators?  (no need to keep this answer clean.) 
They’re a fact of life on the internet and social media, unfortunately. It’s everywhere, and it’s tough to ignore, but you have to. Engaging may be the worst thing you can do, because it validates the attention they crave. 
Question 16: Do you set yourself any deadlines or other tricks to keep yourself motivated?
I’m always writing…jotting stuff down…so that really never stops. Deadlines are all the motivation I need. I’ve learned that in every aspect of my working life. 
Question 17: Apart from root beer, what is your favorite drink?
Diet Dr. Pepper. I think it tastes better than regular…I could guzzle the stuff all day. 
Question 18: Are you already a member of the root beer party and if not, what is the matter with you? 
I am not, nor have I ever been, a member of the root beer party – but I’m willing to join.
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Question 19: What is the most challenging aspect of cartooning for you?
Ideas and writing. That’s pretty much it.  Writing is such a focused discipline that it requires an almost constant vigilance. Sometimes a simple word can make all the difference in the understanding of a gag, and I can spend the better part of a day gnawing on it. Not kidding. Or, I’ll have 2-3 different ways of saying the same thing and get caught up in the mechanics of it. I probably sound crazy…LOL. 
The comic strip medium is like writing a novel and only being allowed to publish one or two sentences a day. Think about that. Your readers get only a tiny piece of the overall story each day (or whatever cadence the property is being published on) and whatever plans you have for your characters…whatever storylines you’re thinking of…have to be doled out in tiny fragments. That’s a pretty interesting tightrope act.
 
Question 20: What are your future plans involving web comics or anything else going on in your life?
I’m one of those guys whose brain never shuts off, so I have tons of ideas…I’ve been developing other characters for NDN, and that keeps me busy – Norm’s mom showed up over the holidays and she’s been a lot of fun to work on, so she’ll likely have a more prominent role in the future. 
(And now a word from our sponsor:)
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And there you have it True Believers, another entry into the Root Beer Party archives and a look behind the scenes at one of todays top comic artists.  So go check out his comic and pester him to put out a collection soon, and as always may your mug always be frosted and your root beer always foamy.

20 Questions with Comic Artists: Howard Stacy of Pesky Gremlins

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We are back once again True Believers with our most popular segment 20 Questions!  (Crowd goes wild!) Calm down people, you have families! Today we introduce you to the newest member of the Root Beer Party Elmo Glitch, or Howard Stacy in real life.  Elmo was a simple man with a simple dream of restoring and remodeling a dream car, what he didn’t realize was that the car he bought was infested by Pesky Gremlins which want to inhibit his valiant efforts to restore his car to perfection.

We have all been there, we have all had that piece of machinery which never quite works right.  Well, Elmo has now shown us why.  In the world of minor demons, these guys break the cake.  We have:

Lucas – Oldest and smallest gremlin of the trio. Wears thick glasses.

Snafu – Cranky Gremlin with particularly bad teeth.

Fubar – Largest and strongest gremlin of the group. Has a broken horn and is a little slow.

You can follow the exploits of the Pesky Gremlin gang here: http://www.peskygremlins.com/

Now lets meet the man behind the mayhem, Howard Stacy

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Question 1: What got you started in doing a comic series?

That’s a long and convoluted story.  I’ll skip to the most recent part. I didn’t even know what a web comic was until a couple of years ago.   I was involved with a website that dealt with the restoration of an old Jaguar.  Jaguars are beautiful but quirky things and gremlin jokes came naturally.  I started drawing gremlins into the websites pages and eventually the gremlins kind of took on a life of their own.  So, another website was spun up to accommodate their adventures and the Pesky Gremlin web comic was born.   I now have a much better idea of what a web comic is.

Question 2: Who was your greatest influence?

My father, who was a talented artist, encouraged me to develop my abilities.  He tried to teach me the basics of art, but I wasn’t a particularly good student.   When I finally decided, I wanted to learn how to be a cartoonist, I discovered the works of Will Eisner.  I collected many of his books.  My favorites are his The Spirit comic books.  What he could do with just black and white is simply amazing.

Question 3: What is your favorite root beer and why?

I like most root beers but if I had to pick one it would be A&W.   I like A&W mostly for the fond memories that I had as a child of going out with my family to get a root beer float.

Question 4: What do you hope to accomplish with your comic?

I would like to create characters and stories that are interesting enough to have people eager for the next installment of Pesky Gremlins.   Also, I would like to have something that is visually distinctive.

Question 5: Do you have any other artistic interests outside of comics?

I know the correct answer here is to say yes…  But, honestly, I don’t.   I don’t really think of myself as especially artistic or creative.  I find the comic creation process both challenging and satisfying.  So, I don’t feel the need to invest time in other artistic endeavors that would take away from the cartooning.  Most of my other interests involve taking things apart and putting them back together.  I am much better at taking them apart.

Question 6: Do you see yourself as a professional cartoonist, or is this just something you do for yourself?

At this point, I am strictly an amateur.  I admit that I aspire to be a professional cartoonist but that would involve making money and I have not put any effort into that.  Yet, another area I know very little about. (Check out the Webcomic Alliance Podcast hosted by our very own Root Beer Party members Dawn Griffith and Byron Wilkins for everything pertaining to comic making, webcomics or otherwise here: http://webcomicalliance.com/category/podcast/ -Editor)

Question 7: What type of subject or humor do you consider out of bounds for your strips and why?

The usual stuff, I avoid politics, religion, and vulgar topics.   There is an abundance of sources for those topics.  I can also live without the conflict that those subjects tend to draw.  Also, since gremlins have a hand in spectacular catastrophic mechanical failures, I have to steer clear of tragedy.  I have heard it said that tragedy + time = humor.  But how much time?  I think that I can reference the Hindenburg, which blew up in 1937, but definitely not the more recent space shuttle disasters.

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Question 8: What kind of equipment or style of drawing do you use?

I use a little bit of everything, which has led to perhaps the world’s most inefficient cartoon workflow.   I start out with an old fashion pencil and sketch pad and scan my roughs into my computer, clean the images up with Photoshop, arrange the images with Clip Studio Paint.  When I am happy with the roughs on the computer, I convert everything to non-photo blue and print it out on Bristol board.  I then ink it the old fashion way with an assortment of pens (Faber Castell, Staedler, Pentel).  When the ink is dry, I scan it all back in and add lettering and shading/color with Clip Studio Paint.  I should probably do all this digitally, but I seem to lack the eye-hand coordination necessary be successful with my Wacom tablet, even with Cntl Z (undo).

Question 9: What sort of training or academic program did you pursue to become a cartoonist?

I have an Engineering degree, so I did get some technical drawing classes while in college.  However, other than that, I have no formal art training.  As I mentioned before, my father tried to teach me the basics and I guess some of that stuck with me.  From an informal training standpoint, I tend to read about the subject quite a bit.  I have a whole bookshelf near my drawing table loaded with art how-to books.

Question 10: What has been the highlight of your cartooning career?

I have only been doing this since March of 2016, so there hasn’t been a great deal of ups and downs.  All things considered, I would have to say being interviewed by the Root Beer Party would be the highlight.  By the way, do I get a membership card?

Question 11: What has been the lowest point in your cartooning career?

I would say that deciding whether to go forward with Pesky Gremlins was the lowest point.  I had to consider did the world really need ANOTHER webcomic.  Clearly, the world’s answer is a resounding NO!  However, I am a terrible listener.  All kidding aside, I really wondered if I could come up with enough material to go a whole year and if I could draw the cartoons fast enough to meet the three-times-a-week goal I had set.

Question 12: Are collections of your work available beyond the web? If so where?

Why, yes I do!  My collected works are contained in a box that sits under my drawing board.  Admittedly, access is a bit of a problem for everyone but me.  I am still new to this and have no idea how to put a book together.  I suppose that I should add this to my To-Do list.  If any of you have suggestions, please let me know. (Amazon’s create space has options for printing your books on demand for free – Editor)

Question 13: Are there any other web comic artists that you really admire?

Until about 2 years ago, I had no idea what a web cartoon was.  A close friend filled me in on what they were and where they could be found (surprisingly, the web).  The first one that I found that left an impression on me was Dave Kellert’s Sheldon.  After that I was hooked and looked for more. Here is a quick list of the some of the ones that I follow:

Bug Pudding by J. P. Keslensky – beautifully drawn and very funny

Floyd by Allan Tracy – Absolutely hilarious, wish it was more than once a week.

Flatt Bear by P. J. Day – Another very funny and especially lately, wonderfully illustrated.

Petri Dish by John Sutton – What can I say, I love robots

Dust Bunny Mafia by Bret Juliano – Truly unique, dust bunnies as criminal masterminds

Sunny Side Up by James Boyd and Saad Azim

Bubble Fox by Jon Esparza

Question 14: What kind of impact has cartooning had on your life and could you ever see yourself not doing it?

Hmmm, I buy more Bristol Board now?  Since I am still relatively new to cartooning, can you check back with me in a year or so?

Question 15: Do you have any advice for the Trolls out there who harass content creators? (No need to keep this answer clean.)

Being relatively new, and let face it, obscure, I have not had to deal with Trolls.  Being unknown does have its advantages.

Question 16: Do you set yourself any deadlines or other tricks to keep yourself motivated?

I have had to deal with some sort of pressing dreaded deadline most of my adult life.  So, meeting a deadline while doing a cartoon is sort of a treat.  The inking process can sometimes be long and tedious, so I take lots of little breaks.

Question 17: Apart from root beer, what is your favorite drink?

Coffee.  I drink way too much of that.  If the lines on the cartoons look a little jittery, it’s because I am inking while drinking coffee.  Probably not a good practice

Question 18: Are you already a member of the root beer party and if not, what is the matter with you?

I think so, but I have not received my official membership card and secret decoder ring, yet.  Do you know when I can expect those? (The card is in the Canadian Mail along with a coupon for A&W Root Beer, so 10-15 years from now it should be there, the decoder rings and walkie- talkie wrist watches are for Officers of the Root Beer Party only. -Editor)

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Question 19: What is the most challenging aspect of cartooning for you?

It would have to be the social media activities.  I truly stink at social media.  My facebook page is a mess, it pains me to look at it.  Twitter is a little better.  I guess that I am somewhat like Otto Messmer, the creative genius behind Felix the Cat.  Otto did most of the creative work for Felix the Cat but almost no one heard of him because he wasn’t very good at self promotion.

Question 20: What are your future plans involving web comics or anything else going on in your life?

I look forward to finishing my first year as a web cartoonist.  At this writing, the one year milestone is only about 5 weeks or 15 postings away.  I also want to polish up the website, flesh out several of the pages and fix some underlying technical issues.  Finally, I need to spend some time figuring our social media.

And there you have it True Believers, a peek behind the scenes with the man behind the curtain.  be sure to check out what those Pesky Gremlins are up to and give a shout out to Elmo/Howard for all the work he’s putting into a great new webcomic. So let’s all raise an A&W Root Beer for Howard and welcome him to the party.  Stop by our page on facebook and join in the fun.  Until next time True Believers, may your mug always be frosted and your root beer always foamy.

 

 

 

Comic Collection Review: Dust Bunny Mafia: Meet the Family by Bret Juliano

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Welcome back True Believers, as we once again descend into the vast underground catacombs that house the immense collection of The Official Root Beer Party Comic Archives.  Today we have the pleasure of checking out a collection from one of our very own members.  Bret Juliano and the Dust Bunny Mafia.

Meet the Family is the fist collection offered by Bret and can be gotten on Amazon Here: https://www.amazon.com/Meet-Family-Bunny-Mafia-Collection/dp/153701966X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1486220449&sr=8-1&keywords=dust+bunny+mafia

The book opens with the discovery that Dino has been stealing from the DBM Inc.  There is no turning back from this point forward, you will be hooked on the fast paced exploits of the Dust Bunny Mafia from Page 1.  The Dust bunny mafia offer you every kind of service you could ask for.  From Racketeering to computer help, there is really no job too small for DBM Inc.

I first began to follow the Dust bunny Mafia on Bret’s webpage http://dustbunnymafia.com/live/ and even pushed him to release a book back in the early days.  Fortunately the DBM listened and released this volume and it is really great to see all the comics in their original continuity.  It is often difficult to run a continuity comic from the internet as people don’t often check in on a regular basis to keep up to date with the latest ongoing story and that is why this book is such a great addition to the Dust Bunny Mafia legacy.

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Here we see the whole gang, they hardly ever are all in the same place at the same time, alibis are critical in their line of work.

The Dust bunny Mafia exist along with two other mafia’s all fighting it out for the domination of crime.  We have the rats, the crows and the DBM Inc. crew.  The storyline called “Game of Bones” where the DBM invade the Rat’s lair is still one of my favorite comic storylines of all time.  It is also included in the volume.

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The last days of Dino the Bookie.  The DBM Inc. will stop at nothing to extract information, this goes way beyond waterboarding.  This collection is a great introduction to one of the best and most original webcomics out there.  Check it out and pick up a copy, or stop by Bret’s webpage and join the family.  Now I must return to the vast labyrinth of underground catacombs which keep the Official Root Beer Party Comic Archives safe from any threat or danger and place this collection back along with it’s peers.  Until next time True Believers, may your mug always be frosted and your root beer always foamy.

Comic Collection Review: Mandrake the Magicians Vol. 1 by Lee Falk & Phil Davis

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Welcome back True Believers as we once again go into the official Root Beer Party Comic Archives and check out one of our classic volumes.  Today we have a new collection brought to us by Titan Comics.  This is the first collection of daily strips of Mandrake the Magician by Lee Falk and drawn by Phil Davis.

This collection covers the first six adventures of Mandrake or 650 daily comics from 6/11/1934 – 7/18/1936, the first 2 years of one of comics most influential and classic adventure heroes.

We begin with Mandrakes first adventure where he confronts one of his most deadly villains, the Cobra.  The Cobra would appear many times over the course of Mandrake’s career.  He would become his most enduring villain and the mastermind behind many of the adventures that Mandrake would embark upon.

Here we see Mandrake as he was originally conceptualized.  He was a magician who could basically do just about anything.  In later life Mandrake would come to rely on Hypnosis as his main power, but in these original tales, he could do just about anything that the adventure required of him.  Some of the “magic” is a little far fetched by today’s standards of believability, but in the era before superheroes, Mandrake was his era’s equivalent to Doctor Strange.

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His companion Lothar is a bit of a historical anachronism in these comics, but taken in the context of the time, it was not an unpopular depiction of his faithful manservant.  Lothar would evolve over time into a progressive hero in his own right, but some people may be a little taken aback by the original concept of his character.

In the second adventure The Hawk, Mandrake has his first encounter with Princess Narda, who would become the main love interest of Mandrake later on.  As with most comics of the era, the beautiful damsel in distress was a common theme, but Narda would soon develop her own character and evolve into more than just a foil for Mandrake’s heroics.

mandrake_strip2The third adventure is The Monster of Tanov Pass.  It sets up a lot like Dracula but quickly turns into a Frankenstein style story.  Mandrake is confronted by a Mad doctor who has placed a human brain inside a giant ape and created a monster.  It sounds a lot like what would become a B movie serial from Universal Monsters and plays out in a similar fashion.  A bit predictable by today’s standards but unique for it’s time.  The ending where the Doctor learns from his evil deeds seems a little rushed, but redemption in a comic is not something that needed to be dragged out and tortured over like it is in today’s comics.

The forth adventure we meet Saki, the Clay Camel.  This is a great mystery tale about a thief who can take on any disguise to carry out his crime.  Princess Narda returns in this adventure and advances the storyline between herself and Mandrake.

In the fifth story The Werewolf, Mandrake uncovers a great mystery and even alludes to what the series was originally conceptualized as .  Mandrake is a magician and Lothar is a strongman.  They are taken from the old circus sideshows.  In this adventure he comes to the aid of another beautiful woman who is being tormented and frightened in order to drive her away from her family legacy.

The collection’s final tale involves Saki, the Clay Camel, once again.  In this one the thief takes on an amazing ability to change characters at the drop of a hat.  I think it was done in order to challenge Mandrakes immense growth in power at this point in the series.  It seems there is nothing Mandrake can’t do.  He draws the attention of Jane who is enthralled by his adventurous lifestyle, and in a rare play into humor, Mandrake finally sets her straight and she returns to her fiancé Ronald.

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All in all there is a lot of ground covered in the first two years of Mandrake the Magician.  The main characters and storylines which would stretch on for decades were all originally mapped out in these first few adventures.  If you like the modern magical stories of Doctor Strange or Harry Potter than you might like to see where it all began and check out this collection.  The high adventure of the 1930’s comics are really hard to beat for fast paced action and drama.

Mandrake was Lee Falk’s first creation and is considered to be one of the first superheroes in comics.  He would later create another iconic hero in The Phantom, but Mandrake was his original masterpiece.  So check this collection out, it really is well presented and is a great publication of one of the most influential comics of it’s era.  You can find it here at Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Mandrake-Magician-Dailies-1-Cobra/dp/1782766901/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1485660473&sr=8-1&keywords=mandrake+the+magician+the+dailies+volume+1+-+the+cobra

So now we return this volume into the vast catacombs of bookshelves of The Official Root Beer Party Comics Archives, we hope that you will check it out and until next time True Believers,  may your mug always be frosted and your root beer always foamy.

Sunnyville Stories Special Volume 1 By Max West

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We are back again True Believers to let you know that the Sunnyville Stories Kickstarter starts today.  For just $10 you can obtain your very own copy of the Sunnyville Special #1 by supporting this Kickstarter.  It is a bargain price for this exclusive collectors item.  If you are like me and want to keep your Official Root Beer Party Comic Archive complete than this is an opportunity you can’t afford to miss.

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with a goal of only $350 dollars this exclusive print run will be sought after for decades by comic collectors everywhere.  For the $10 you will get a signed and numbered copy sent to you anywhere in the world, you can also get the PDF version for only $5 and even get your name in the list of contributors for only $1.  You could be immortalized forever as a Sunnyville Stories fan and impress your friends for years to come.  This is a limited time offer which ends on February 7, so add your voice today and get your copy of Sunnyville Stories Special #1 Here: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/504828384/sunnyville-stories-super-special-1?ref=thanks_share

So join in the fun and support great comic artists you know we have already reserved our copy so don’t be left out.

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Support the Root Beer Party.  We are here to share all the best that comics have to offer, from insider interviews to exclusive news and opportunities like this one.  So spread the word and tell your friends and join in the Kickstarter yourself for this exclusive collector’s item.  And as always True Believers, may your mug always be frosted and your root beer always foamy.

20 Questions with Comic Artists; Saad Azim of Sunny Side Up

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We are back once again with our world famous segment 20 Questions with comic artists.  Recently one of our own members James Boyd, Ambassador of the Root Beer Party took on a partner to his strip Sunny Side Up which you can check out here: http://www.boydcomics.com/sunny-side-up-comic-of-the-day

Today we have broken the cone of silence and gotten a peek behind the curtain of Sunny Side up to see for ourselves what is really going on behind the fastest growing cultural phenomenon in web comics today.

Today we speak to the man himself; Saad Azim

Question 1: What got you started in doing a comic series?
Goofing around. James & Mike (Bromage, of Dust Piggies) were discussing hamsters stealing either James’, or Sunny’s camera. I thought it’d be funny to draw something based on that, and share it with them. One thing lead to another, and, well, here we are making jokes in binary.
Question 2: Who was your greatest influence?
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I have to agree, but I always liked Sergio’s other creation the best Groo. – Editor
Sergio Aragonés. Come to think of it, he still is. Reading Sergio Aragonés Destroys DC, and Sergio Aragonés Massacres Marvel were a defining point in my life. Pre SADD/SAMM, I wanted to be a comic book artist. I loved comics, I liked art, it seemed kind of obvious. However, something just clicked when I read those comics in 1996. My art took a sharp 90 degree turn from trying to emulate the styles of popular comic & manga artists of the day; to something a lot more cartoonish. (Kinda’ wish I still had some of it to show.)
Question 3: What is your favorite root beer and why?
To quote James, “I drink A&W but I like all root beer.” Except this one weird local brand I tried in Kolkata, which tasted like a mixture of sugar, water, and soap.
Question 4: What do you hope to accomplish with your comic?
The usual things. Fame. Fortune. A lifetime supply of cheese dip. (Groo Joke – Editor) But seriously though, the comics are made to make ourselves laugh. Like I said, for me, it began with sending James doodles based on things we were chatting about.
Question 5: Do you have any other artistic interests outside of comics?
Well for starters, art in general. I still sketch figures, gestures, expressions, light & shading studies, etc. whenever I can. I’ll also throw lettering into the mix, which is disturbingly under appreciated. Aside from drawing related bits, I’ve posted a few short stories in my long neglected blog. I also like to fiddle around with a guitar every now & then; but that’s more of a once-in-a-blue-moon type thing. Last but not least, does programming count as an “artistic” interest?
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Question 6: Do you see yourself as a professional cartoonist, or is this just something you do for yourself?
Oh definitely something we do for ourselves.
Question 7: What type of subject or humor do you consider out of bounds for your strips and why?
Anything supporting discrimination, for the obvious reasons. Personally, politics & religion are usually no-no for me. But then again, we just posted a pair of comics about Santa a few days ago.
Question 8: What kind of equipment or style of drawing do you use?
The comics are drawn on plain paper notebooks I, with a mechanical pencil, and a cheap fountain pen. Style-wise… I think it’s a matter of settling into a groove through repetition. Early on, I was trying to emulate how James drew the characters. But at this point, it’s developed into something on it’s own.
Question 9: what sort of training or academic program did you pursue to become a cartoonist?
A BBA in Computer Information Systems. Half of it was business related courses, and the other half was IT. Most of the business classes were incomprehensible to me, so I’d end up drawing in my notebook instead. Four years of drawing on a daily basis will take you pretty far if you want to be a cartoonist. Admittedly, my career as a systems analyst never got very far.
Question 10: What has been the highlight of your cartooning career?
Once again, to quote James “Meeting so many wonderful people. I have a lot of friends I would never have had if I didn’t make my own comic.” Well, except it’s not exactly my *own* comic. But still.
Question 11: What has been the lowest point in your cartooning career?
At this point, I think the lowest point was the initial bit anxiety when I came on board. So thankfully nothing too bad. Well, so far, anyway.
Question 12: Are collections of your work available beyond the web? If So where?
Uhhhh … my sketchbooks… ?
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Question 13: Are there any other web comic artists that you really admire?
Lots. The aforementioned Mike Bromage of Dust Piggies. He was my gateway of sorts to quite a few other web comics. Brad Perri of Pirate Mike. Wesley Hall of Nameless PC. Joe Flanders of Ninja and Pirate. Megan McKay of Doodle for Food. John Vogel of Skitter. Jonathan Yazzie Murdock of Dungeon Hordes. Neil Brun of Fat Bassist Comics. Chris Gabrowski of Poorly Drawn Thoughts. Matthew Paul Mewhorter of Cancer Owl. Mike McDonald of Cat and Cat. Ryan Stoker & Brian Ponshock of Pridelands. Diana Huh of Lonely Vincent. Reyn of … er … Cartoons by Reyn. Mark Stanley of Freefall. Trudy Cooper and Doug Bayne of Oglaf. Uhhh … Mr. Dork and Mr. Sausage of League of Super Redundant Heroes. I’m pretty sure I’m still missing quite a few.
Question 14: What kind of impact has cartooning had on your life and could you ever see yourself not doing it?
As far as impact goes, cartooning has let me meet & interact with a ton of people I would’ve never met otherwise. In fact, my social media interaction went from a few comments & replies here & there, to basically exploding since I became involved with Sunny. As far as not doing it again, I doubt it.
Question 15: Do you have any advice for the Trolls out there who harass content creators? (no need to keep this answer clean.)
Now look … I am VERY flattered …
Question 16: Do you set yourself any deadlines or other tricks to keep yourself motivated?
I try to maintain a discipline of one comic a day. The fact that I’ve managed it so far is a surprisingly good motivation. That and the only other “rule” I have is that it has to be *something*. One time, I couldn’t figure out what to draw, so I just drew a silhouette of Sunny playing bass.
Question 17: Apart from root beer, what is your favorite drink?
At the risk of sounding a little pretentious, water.
Question 18: Are you already a member of the root beer party and if not, what is the matter with you?
Um … how does one become a member of the root beer party?
Question 19: What is the most challenging aspect of cartooning for you?
Telling a good story. The funny thing about drawing cartoons is, I know the setup. I know the joke. I know the punchline. And it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking the reader knows it as well, because it’s *SO* obvious. So I need to look at the comic from the POV of someone who has no idea what’s going on; and trying to tell that person the joke I think is so funny through the comic.
Question 20: What are your future plans involving web comics or anything else going on in your life?
James & I have talked about making a game based on Sunny Side Up. Let’s see how that goes. Personally, I’d LOVE to work comics full-time. At the moment, it’s a balance between managing freelance projects (graphic design & IT), working commercially on a comic (I’m coloring The Axeman Cometh, by Darrell Smith, with art by Pete Davis, and letters by Rob Jones), and making Sunny Side Up. My general goal for 2017 is to get involved with a few more comics, commercial or otherwise.
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So now we know what is going on in the dark recesses of the Sunny Side Up comic strip.  You heard it here first True Believers.  Welcome to the party Saad, pull up a chair and have a mug of A&W (Picpak Dog is pouring it) and make yourself at home and as always True Believers, may your mug always be frosted and your root beer always foamy.

20 Questions with Comic Artists: Mike McDonald of Cat and Cat Comic

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We are back once again True Believers with another installment of our world renowned interview segment 20 Questions.   Today we meet the newest member of the Root Beer Party Mike McDonald of Cat and Cat Comics.  You can check out his site here: http://www.myimaginarypals.com/

Mike has just begun putting his comics on line this year and has already made a huge impact in the webcomic world.  the chief Ambassador of The Root Beer Party James Boyd took notice and made the call.  To misquote James: “This is someone we need to watch.” So after perusing the archives of Cat and Cat comics we made the offer to Mike and his response was: To misquote Mike: “What the %#&* is a Root Beer Party?”

After our usual long discussion we finally convinced him who we were and told him about the legions of True Believers all across the globe who depend on us to introduce them to the best that webcomics have to offer.  So after a few hours and a lot of root beer.  Mike agreed to join us in our quest to bring together the cream of the crop of webcomic and comic creators into a one stop shopping site for all the latest news and reviews.  So let us introduce Mike McDonald

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Question 1:  What got you started in doing a comic series?
I had been doing a comic weekly or so and decided to start posting daily doodles.  One of the doodles, that I called “Cat and Cat” (For lack of a better name) did fairly well on social media.  I decided to do a week’s worth to see how it was received.   I have been doing it since.
Question 2: Who was you greatest influence?
I don’t have any one influence.  I kind of look towards other comic artists for advice.  Some comics that have helped me a lot have been Sunny Side Up, Dust Piggies, Poorly Drawn Thoughts and Pirate Mike: Maladjusted Suburbanite (to name a few).
Question 3: What is your favorite root beer and why?
My favorite root beer is probably A&W — mostly because that’s all I’ve ever really drank.  I may need to start dabbling on other kinds.
Question 4: What do you hope to accomplish with your comic?
I just want to make people smile.  I’m hoping that even if it’s only for a second each day, it’s something people can look at and at the least go “heh”.
Question 5: Do you have any other artistic interests outside of comics? 
I love film, audio and animation.  I don’t get a lot of time for the other hobbies due to my hectic schedule, but hopefully that’ll change someday.
Question 6: Do you see yourself as a professional cartoonist, or is this just something you do for yourself?
I just do it to amuse myself.  If others want to come along for the ride, they are more than welcome to!
Question 7: What type of subject or humor do you consider out of bounds for your strips and why?
Vulgar humor.  It’s not that I don’t like it or wouldn’t mind doing it, it’s just that my mind doesn’t work that way when it comes to writing jokes.
Question 8: What kind of equipment or style of drawing do you use? 
I currently use a Wacom Intuos Pro with a combination of Manga Studio 5 and Photoshop CC.  I’m in process of upgrading to a Surface Book i5.
Question 9: what sort of training or academic program did you pursue to become a cartoonist?
Does reading the funnies count? (Yes!  It’s the most important field of study in comics – Editor)
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Question 10:  What has been the highlight of your cartooning career?
The community and meeting so many people from all parts of the globe.  There’s a lot of good people who like to just forget about their days and have some fun.
Question 11:  What has been the lowest point in your cartooning career?
No lows so far *knock on wood*.  I’ve had people knock me on some of the sites I post but usually I just joke around with them and it works itself out.  Even if people are trolling, I feel they just need an outlet to voice their frustration/anger with their everyday lives…to that I say “I’m here for you”.
Question 12: Are collections of your work available beyond the web? If So where?
Not yet, but I hope to do a 1 year collection book of my strips for Christmas release next year.  I’ll keep you posted.
Question 13: Are there any other web comic artists that you really admire?
Of course the ones I listed above who really took me under their wings when I first started.  Nick Seluk from the Awkward Yeti also gave me advice when I first started and what he’s accomplished with his comic is awesome.
Question 14: What kind of impact has cartooning had on your life and could you ever see yourself not doing it?
It’s a great outlet and a way to take my mind off the workday for a bit.  I think I’ll probably keep with it until it stops being fun (although I don’t see that happening anytime soon).
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Question 15: Do you have any advice for the Trolls out there who harass content creators?  (no need to keep this answer clean.) 
I should have read this before question 11.   I more-so have advice for the creators.  Let the trolls be trolls, they are people who are taking the time out of their day to acknowledge your comic!  If you are at a point in your work where someone else’s opinion matters more than your own, you may need to reevaluate why you are doing it.    For the trolls…say whatever you want to me, just please don’t be too gross or vulgar, in case there are younger readers out there.
Question 16: Do you set yourself any deadlines or other tricks to keep yourself motivated?
I do a daily comic and make sure every day to wake up at 4:30am to work on it (before my day job).  I text myself ideas during the day and my motivation is seeing how far ahead I can get in my strip.
Question 17: Apart from root beer, what is your favorite drink?
This is going to be really boring…water. (Don’t knock water it is a key ingredient in Root Beer.  – Editor)
Question 18: Are you already a member of the root beer party and if not, what is the matter with you? 
I just joined with this questionnaire!  Sunny (James Boyd – if that is his real name. -Editor) recommended I join but I was busy working on my new strip.  I guess multitasking isn’t my strong suit.
Cat and Cat
Question 19: What is the most challenging aspect of cartooning for you?
Overcoming artist ADD.  By that, I mean that every time I see another artist do something cool I’m instantly like “Woah! I need to get good at that!” sometimes that can derail me from practicing my own strengths and getting better at my day to day stuff.  I’ve gotten better though.
Question 20: What are your future plans involving web comics or anything else going on in your life?
I’d like to get a book out there.  I’d also like to start selling merchandise to donate to various animal shelters and nonprofits (I do this now but would love to help fund some of it with art).  I would like to use my art to give back in a positive way.
(And now a word from our sponsor:)
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And there you have it True Believers, the newest member of the Root Beer Party:  Mike McDonald.  You don’t need to be a published artist with a national syndicate behind you, the Root Beer Party is open to everyone, even those who just love comics and enjoy a behind the scenes peek into how they are made.
Welcome to the party Mike, pull up a chair and pour yourself a nice frosty A&W.  Check back with us for more adventures in comics and with comic creators and as always True Believers, May your mug always be frosty and your root beer always foamy.

 

 

It’s official! Zombie Boy has won best web comic of 2016!

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Voted on by a jury of his peers, Mark Stokes has won the most prestigious of all webcomic awards.  The Root Beer Party award for Best Web Comic of 2016.  It has been quite a year for Zombie Boy.  First marking his 900th comic and then being nominated for the Harvey Award and now 2016 has finally given him the top prize!  Congratulations Mark!  Zombie Boy is the best.

What can we say about the man who practically invented web comics?

Zombie Boy began back in ancient times, back in the 1980’s.  Mark was a visionary who was 20 years ahead of his time.  Working on the independent comic scene Zombie Boy comics made his comic debut in 1987.

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But it wasn’t until 2015 that we finally got the culmination of his work in printed form with Zombie Boy:  Some Kind of Horrible, the first volume of collected comics from Zombie Boy’s transition from comic book icon into the field of webcomics.

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Mark’s influence goes well beyond the medium of artist.  There are very few comic creators who have been so supportive of their time and talent to helping others in the field.  As we are ever expanding the rank and file of the Root Beer Party, in interview after interview, when asked about an important influence, Mark’s name seems to always come up.  He encourages people and offers them the advice from years of being in the business and he knows all the pitfalls and traps that he has either helped people avoid or helped them through.

If there was a patron saint of the webcomic world, Mark would be canonized by the voodoo  priests who brought Morgan McCorkindale back to life on his fateful family vacation to Voodoo Island.

We look forward to another year of Zombie Boy comics and if Mark keeps it up, we may find history repeating itself again in 2017.  So we raise our mugs of root beer tonight in honor of Zombie Boy and Mark Stokes!  We hope the party of the undead never ends.  Congratulations on the award Mark, you deserve it.  (There was a large cash prize that went with the award, but we spent it all on root beer, sorry.)

You can read Zombie Boy here: http://www.zombieboycomics.com/

You can order your copy of Some Kind of Horrible here: https://www.amazon.com/Zombie-Boy-Some-Kind-Horrible/dp/0986440302/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1474158402&sr=8-1&keywords=zombie+boy+some+kind+of+horrible+by+mark+stokes

Until next time True Believers, may your mug always be frosted and your root beer Always foamy.