Comic Collection Review – The Devil & Mr. Gandhi by Pat McCuen

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Once more we make our way down the well worn tunnels to the vast, cavernous library that houses The Official Root Beer Party Comic Archives.  Hidden away in a maze of treacherous underground tunnels lies the bunker in which we preserve the greatest works of human history, the true legacy of the great human endeavor, our comics.

The shelves stand like monolithic slabs in the shadowy depths of the seemingly infinite cavern.  It is as if the works of Jorge Luis Borges have been brought to life and the library of infinity expands and spirals all around us.  Gleaming colors stand in stark contrast to the shadowy atmosphere as a small army of Root Beer Monks scuttle around maintaining the vast organizational system that controls the spiraling shelves of infinity.

Housed in the sealed Mylar bags along the shelf in the independent section lies today’s masterpiece of comic art.  Today, we look at The Devil & Mr. Gandhi by the Root Beer Party’s own esteemed member Pat McCuen.

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The Devil & Mr. Gandhi reminds me of the old underground comics of the 1960’s and 70’s.  The age when Wally Wood, Bill Griffith, R. Crumb & Gilbert Shelton were publishing their own works in defiance of the comics code authority and really expanding the boundaries of what we call comics.  Many people may not recall that comics had gone through a rough period where they were essentially reduced to gag a day newspaper comics and superheroes.  These pioneers broke the mold and reimagined a world where any kind of story could be told through sequential art.  They found a way to make it happen and Pat McCuen is following in that tradition and making his own masterpieces through his own publishing company, Ink Puddle Press.

The Devil & Mr. Gandhi, to me is the essential and never-ending moral debate between good and evil.  What is right?  What is wrong?  One can easily distinguish these things and yet no one can define them.  This timeless debate is set in an entertaining world of humor and along with Pat’s amazing artwork adds to the ongoing moral identity crisis established by Nietzsche in Beyond Good and Evil.

Here, the Devil plays his own advocate and Mr. Gandhi is the long suffering straight man to the Devil’s impulsive whims, but as we discover, the actions of all humanity come from the same whims and impulses whether perceived as good or evil.  Despite the high minded underlying theme, the Devil & Mr. Gandhi delivers a “Hell” of an entertaining story and premise, as we follow them through the perils of pop culture and even a story in issue #2 where we travel through the history of modern comics as well.

vicious_circle You can check out this great comic here: http://www.devilandgandhi.com/ and buy a copy of the comics for yourself.  You will not be disappointed.  In this comic you can find many things, you can read a lot into the pages of dialog and sequential art about the great metaphysical debate or you can just enjoy it as an incredibly funny and inventive comic.  It succeeds as both.  Pat McCuen has created a true masterpiece in this work and I hope to see it continue for a long time to come.

Now, I carefully return the comics to the Mylar bags and hand them over to the nearest Root Beer Monk to be resealed and returned to the spiraling shelves.  I gaze upwards into the blackness of infinity above as the towering shelves reach beyond my sight.   I turn and leave the hallowed halls of mankind’s greatest achievement.  The boundless treasures of the history of humanity are once again left in the hands of the scuttling Root Beer Monks who have a taken a vow to maintain this irreplaceable collection and preserve it as the only true legacy of mankind.  Just as the shelves spiral into infinity, so too will the great works be protected ad infinitum for posterity.

As I emerge from the tunnel system the smell of vanilla, fennel and sassafras are caught in the wind from the flowing fields, ripening under the sun to make the ingredients for the elixir of life, root beer.  I make my way to the brewery, sectioned away on the palatial estates of the Root Beer Party to sample today’s brew.  There is nothing better after a long day of reading comics.  So until next time True Believers, may your mug always be frosted and your root beer always foamy.

Comic Collection Review: Boston Metaphysical Society by Madeline Holly-Rosing

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So now we once again tread the well-worn steps carved into the granite bedrock, down the ancient tunnels, the walls lined with primitive markings of prehistoric relevance.  This is an ancient, and sacred place.  It’s winding path depicts the wonders of the art through the history of mankind, and hidden away at the end of the tunnel is a labyrinth filled with the greatest works in history.  This the home of The Official Root Beer Party Comic Archives.   

Entombed in this vast library are the greatest works ever known in sequential art.  Shelves of Papyrus and stone tablets mark the beginnings of our journey, but today True Believers, we go to the more modern section to the very epicenter of the collection.  This is the members only section of the library, where we house our most sacred of all treasures, the works of Root Beer Party members.  

These irreplaceable masterpieces are protected from light and air in a sealed vault embedded into the granite bedrock, preserved for all time against the ravages of war and weather.  And if you want your own copy you can get it here: http://bostonmetaphysicalsociety.com/steampunk-shop/buy-comics/

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First we are introduced to the Boston Metaphysical Society of Alexander Graham Bell, Thomas Edison, Nicola Tesla & Harry Houdini.  Each one of these genius’s seek their own path to uncovering the secrets between the world of the known and the unknown.  But they are not the only group working on this mystery, there is another,  Samuel Hunter, Caitlin O’Sullivan & Granville Woods.  They are a more practical team, sort of a steampunk ghostbusters looking to find “The Shifter” and destroy it.

The comic is very well plotted out with multiple story arcs and character development.  This is not your internet’s version of Tesla.  He is not the hallowed brilliant saint that revisionists have made him out to be.  Each one of the Boston Metaphysical Society has their own motives and ideas concerning The Shifter and what they hope to do with it.  Good and evil are not clear cut and motives are revealed which bring a level of excitement and wonder to fit in magnificently with the steampunk motif.

This comic creates worlds within worlds, where people are bound together by their own selfish means and ends.  There are no shining knights and cookie cutter characters to simplify the world into black and white, this comic is a commentary on many facets of life, from the elitism of the great houses, to the individual ends of the characters which sometime conflict with each other and even the main goal of containing The Shifter in a world of social unrest.

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This trade paperback is the beginning of a series which is intriguing from start to finish.  It is a modern day masterpiece in suspense and a master class in character development.  It captures the flavor and wonder of the steampunk genre in a way few others have ever accomplished.  Steampunk is often a genre over exposed to amateur scribblings and cookie cutter efforts to cut and paste a subgenre onto yet another simple minded storyline, but Madeline shows her true talent and understanding of plot and character driven storylines to make a modern day masterpiece.

So Back upon the shelf and into the vault it goes once again to protect it for posterity.  The handwritten signature glistens on the gloss cover of the book as it disappears into the cavernous vault filled with the treasures of the Root Beer Party.  We turn and gaze upon the greatest works of human history which line the walls of the great cavern, an amazing scene, as history literally unfolds before us and all the secrets of the art are spilled forth from the shelves.  This library is the greatest endeavor in history, the repository of all that is good and great about the world.  This is The Official Root Beer Party Comic Archives. 

So climb the steps once again True Believers, and ascend to the world above for a cool refreshing mug of the elixir of life, and as always, may your mug always be frosted and your root beer always foamy.  

 

Comic Collection Review: The Untold Tales of Bigfoot: Crossing Paths by Vince Dorse

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Once again we transverse down the ancient staircase, the dim illumination of torches flicker from the wall sconces casting macabre shadows that play and dance upon the rough walls cleaved by hand from the granite rock bed.  There are unknown sounds that echo through the tunnels as if originating from nowhere that only heighten the senses and feelings of fear as we proceed down into the bowels of the earth.  Far above the bountiful fields of sassafras, vanilla and fennel are long forgotten.  With unsure step, we trod upon the well worn stones feeling the pressure of gravity shift with every movement.  We persevere, because beneath us lies the greatest treasure in all the world.  At the end of our quest lies the Official Root Beer Party Comic Archives.

Today we look upon one of the Root Beer Party’s own.  Vince Dorse has been a long standing member of the Root Beer Party, one of the select few who have access and know about the secret society of the Root Beer Party.  Our mission is to collect and preserve the great works of sequential art, as well is the elixir of life itself, root beer.  Vince was brought into our fold due to his amazing talent and with help and encouragement from the Root Beer Party, Vince has released his first graphic novel, The Untold Tales of Bigfoot: Crossing Paths.  You can buy a copy here:  http://vincedorse.storenvy.com/

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The story is about the discovery and budding friendship between Bigfoot and his loyal friend, An abandoned dog named Scout.  Bigfoot is the last of his kind, and he leads a lonely existence.  We soon learn about his past as it is uncovered with almost cinematic precision by Dorse.  It is not surprising considering his plethora of awards from The National Cartoonist Society and the Slate Book review and Center for Cartoon Studies.

Vince really has created one of the modern day masterpieces of comic art with this series.  I would not be surprised to see this made into a film or a cartoon series in the near future.  The story is perfect for adaptation into that medium.  The growing friendship as well as the unfolding past history of a creature learning to adapt to being the last of it’s kind.

The comic does more than focus on the history of Bigfoot, it also goes into the history of the woodland in which he lives, as well as the humans who have transversed it for decades.  It really is about the crossing of paths.  The animals, the humans and even the environment all play a factor in this story of brotherhood in the wilderness.  A lonely dog and a lonely bigfoot find each other and find a unique friendship that undergoes all sorts of adventures and surprises.

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This comic has a lot going for it and I hope to see it continue for many years to come.  It is a story that needs to be told in the modern era.  When we strip away the modern conveniences of the world, all we are left with is the primitive notion of brotherhood and friendship the vast array of paths that we cross to achieve it.

Once again we return the volume to it’s shelf and reemerge in the world above.  The fields of fennel toss in unison as the winds flow along the fields releasing the scent of licorice into the air.  We look out from the ancient estate and marvel at the friendship and brotherhood which has brought the Root Beer Party together and kept it going for all these millennium’s.  It is a tale told endlessly through the ages and it gets better with each retelling.  So until next time True Believers, May your mug always be frosted and your root beer always foamy.  

Comic Collection Review: Classic Andy Capp by Reg Smythe

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Once again we travel down into the catacombs, into the ancient cellar filled with it’s casks of vintage root beer, beneath the vineyards with it’s waving plains of  Sassafras and fennel, past the brewing center with the root beer monks silently toiling away in their holy mission to make the perfect root beer, until we come to the very bottom.  The tunnels which are hand carved through the solid granite rock bed and at the end of these treacherous winding tunnels is the vast cavern that houses the Official Root Beer Party’s Comic Archive.  In hermetically sealed perfection, a multitude of volumes lines the shelves which stand like towering monoliths.  A small army of specially trained root beer monks tend to the volumes to preserve them for posterity.  In full sealed body suits they gingerly handle the volumes and scribe them by hand into the great leather bound ledgers.  

From this library which only the Root Beer Party members have access to, I now examine the volumes of Andy Capp.  

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In these politically correct time, one has to wonder how such an anachronism such as Andy Capp can exist.  Well, it has changed over the years, he is still the drunken lay about, but he is no longer the celebrated wife beater he was from his first inception.  The name Andy Capp is actually a pun if you happen to posses an English accent.  Without pronouncing the H, his name is translated to H’andycapp.  While the subject matter of the strip has always seemed odd, it does speak to a certain part of the population in much the same way as Married with Children or other such shows spoke to a population that is often marginalized and unrepresented.

Reg Smythe actually based the strip on the relationship between his mother and father.  A father he rarely ever saw once he left for good.  Flo is actually the name of his mother and was the original title of the comic until he came up with the pun to use as the name for the strip.  While much of the comic is taken to light hearted, it is based upon a very real situation and a part of life which is often overlooked, or goes unspoken in the modern world.

There may be some sociological study based on the works of Reg Smythe that has been done, but if there are, they are not readily available.  But Andy Capp is a humorous look at a very sad and even painful situation and I think it is the reason for it’s continued success.  People can marginalize it as some sort of anti-woman propaganda, but anyone who has read deeply into the comic series can see that Flo, Andy’s Wife, is not only the center of the comic, but the protagonist as well.

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It wasn’t until around the 1970’s that Flo began to actually win the fights and subsequently the physical fighting has all but disappeared in the modern comic.  Once in awhile Andy will fight in the bar or on the field, but there is no longer any physical fighting between him and his wife.

So is Andy Capp an anachronism?  We should ask: has this sort of domestic situation been eliminated in the world?

Smythe, through levity brought attention to a very real part of our world and a very personal part for himself.  Andy Capp has brought attention to a very real situation and should be seen for it’s contribution to the world.  It has been toned down over the years to fit into the modern politically correct attitudes of the world, but is that, in and of itself a problem?  Should we sanitize the very comics that are bringing attention to these issues?  Will that make the problems go away or simply leave the unspoken?

Reg Smythe brought a sense of levity to a situation that was beyond his control.  Maybe it was the only way he could have gotten through it and maybe it was the only way he knew how to communicate it to the world.  This is a comic which can be read many ways, but Smythe made sure, through his immense talent, that it could always be enjoyed as a comic first.  You can read Andy Capp as a sociological study, or a comment on the oppression of women, or even just as a comic on the funny page, but we should all read Andy Capp because however it may speak to you, it is a comic with a lot to say.

So now, we return the vintage volumes to their rightful place upon the shelves as the garbed monks make haste to attend to their rightful position and order along the shelf.  We head back up to world to attend to our duties as members of the Root Beer Party.  To spread the word of the root beer and comics to the entire world.  From our vast estates, we perfect the recipe for the elixir of life and preserve the legacy of sequential art.  From the cave paintings of our primitive ancestors, to the pixilated masterpieces of the digital age, we seek out the best and brightest masters of the art and bring them to you, the True Believers.  So until next time, may your mug always be frosted and your root beer always foamy.  

20 Questions with Comic Artists: Eric Salinas of Something About Celeste

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We are back once again True Believers with another entry into our world famous series.  20 Questions .  Today we have invited Eric Salinas of Something About Celeste to the palatial Root Beer Party compound for an interview.  As we sit overlooking the Sassafras fields, we sip on a frosty mug of A&W and welcome our new member into the ancient and venerated society that is the root Beer Party.  

You can find Eric’s comic on his webpage here: http://www.somethingceleste.com/

So let us begin and welcome our newest member into the party.  

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

When I was 11, my older brother had a birthday party at our house, and one of his gifts was a Calvin & Hobbes book. I wasn’t invited to participate in the birthday festivities, so I pilfered the book and read the whole thing within the weekend.  After that, I knew I wanted to become a cartoonist. My first comic was about a bratty, spiky-haired kid named ‘Kevin’. Yes, I know, not very original. 

I drew my ‘Kevin Comics’ throughout middle school and high school, showing only my family and friends. In college, I submitted my comics to the university student publication. Because I was too emotionally invested in ‘Kevin’ at that time and I knew I couldn’t handle any sort of constructed criticism, I created a new comic with a bunch of throw away gags that I could draw within 15-30 minutes. That way if the editor didn’t like any particular comic, it wouldn’t be a crushing ordeal for me.  It was weeks after I created the comic that I decided to finally give a name to my protagonist. I thought ‘Celeste’ was a nice sounding name. But I was embarrassed that it was a ‘feminine comic’ so I used the pseudonym “Paige Zuniga”. Later I did other comics under my own name while in college, but ‘Common Ground’ (the comic with Celeste) was the most popular comic. Ironically, I was jealous of Paige because her comic was so much more popular than the comics under my name. 

My last year in university, I created a new comic strip ‘Soliciting Celeste’ (I have no idea where I came up with that awful name) that I planned to send to all the major syndications. After two years of failure, I revamped the strip with the new name of ‘Something about Celeste’. But by 2005, I gave up trying to get syndicated and by 2007 I stopped drawing comics all together. I only restarted drawing my strip when I started to post my comic to Sherpa GoComics in 2015. So long story short, I have been cartooning for over two decades but I have been an amateur webcartoonist for only two years. 

Question 2. Who was your greatest influence?

Oddly enough, I hated reading the comics section in the newspaper because there were too many syndicated comics that I hated, and reading the newspaper only made me angry. Instead, I would just buy the books of my favorite artists and read them and reread them at my leisure. I had all the ‘Calvin & Hobbes’ books, most of ‘Bloom County’, and a smattering of ‘Foxtrot’, ‘Mutts’, ‘Zits’, ‘Rose is Rose’, ‘For Better or For Worse’,  ‘Get Fuzzy’ and ‘Sinfest’ books. 

But by far, the greatest influence was Bill Watterson. I would emulate his work so much during my teenage and early adult years. I think that, now in my 30s, I have finally found my own voice. My favorite thing about the comic was how Calvin escaped into his fantasy world and I often have Celeste doing similar things in my comic. Another thing that I liked was how a mischievous 6-year old (a boy always playing pranks, playing in the mud, and collecting bugs) also had a lexicon of a grad student. I thought that was funny. A comic that I would laugh at when I was a kid because it had a visual gag, I would revisit as an adult and find that the joke really had a play-on-word pun.  Watterson’s comic worked on so many levels and that was the thing that I have tried to emulate the most. 

Question 3. What is your favorite root beer, and why?

I rarely drink any sort of soft drinks, but when I do have an ice cream float, I drink A&W. Also, there is a root beer called ‘The Best Damn Root Beer’. I don’t know if they sell it everywhere or only here in Texas. It is $10 dollars a six pack because it has 5% alcohol per bottle (I think it’s whiskey with the root beer). I have only had it a few times but it has an interesting taste.

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

Artistically, I hope to learn how to draw one day and not be so dependent on my Photoshopping skills.

Professionally, I hope that I could garner enough readers and subscribers that I could finally open a Patreon account and have some sort of ads on my website. I’m not greedy, I just want enough money that I can pay off the expenses of operating my own website. 

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

I have learned how to ‘paint’ (but only on Photoshop). I have done  few acrylic-like paintings and hope to learn how to make water color-like ones as well. As for the real thing, with real brushes and paint, I have very little skill in that. 

Also, I am not an adept polyglot, but I do like learning other languages. I am not proficient in any other language outside of English and still consider myself monolingual, but I do know the main words and phrases of several languages. Because of this, I have worked to make a few translated versions of my comic, such as Greek, Turkish, Dutch, and Czech. 

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

I don’t get paid to be considered a ‘professional’, but I work too hard and too long on my comics for it to be considered a ‘hobby’ either. I’m somewhere in the middle. I wouldn’t mind becoming semi-professional and earning some money from my art.

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

Very little. When I was trying to get syndicated, I would self-censor my ideas. When I gave up on my syndication pursuits, I revisited ideas that I thought were funny but might have been considered taboo for the newspapers. Now, for the internet, I use any idea that I think is funny or interesting. My material is PG-13. I have done sexual innuendo jokes, but I try to make the joke as subtle as possible. I can show the same comic to my 10-year old and 16-year old nieces. The 16-year old will get the joke and laugh, but the joke is so subtle that it flies over my 10-year niece’s head; however she will still laugh at the visual gag (remember how I said I try to emulate Watterson working at multiple levels). But for the most part, my comic is not sexually obscene (I have done partial nudity but nothing too racy), overly violent (cartoon violence is fine), or have swearing (again with a few exceptions, but then I make two versions. The clean version goes to Facebook and other websites I am on; and the dirty version goes straight to my personal website.) I write for an adult audience.

The only thing I avoid is politics. I am not an apolitical person, but I don’t want to make anyone angry by reading my comic. Anything too polarizing, I think should be left for editorial comics. I do touch on religion topics, but I try to be as respectful as possible.

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

In the early 2000s, I used to draw on paper and then scan it into the computer and finish it up on Photoshop. I would clean the lines, write the text, do the shading, creating the panels, placing and reorganizing the art into their proper place, and color my ‘Sundays’ all on the computer. It was a 20% by hand and 80% working on the computer. 

Now, I do everything on the computer and my drafting table is left messy in the corner collecting various items on it. 

I work solely on Adobe Photoshop, and I do research on Pinterest or Google Images to help me find simple sketches of body postures, backgrounds, and other visual effects. 

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

I studied Advertising in college. But besides my internship, I never worked a day in an advertising agency. However, I was required to learn Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, and Quark. It was in college that I learned to have a critical eye to layout. Most cartoonists are conscious about their art and their writing, but I think layout is equally important. I am consciously aware of all the little placements within my panels and I try to direct the reader’s gaze in a certain chronological order as it glances over my comic. 

But besides that, I am self-taught by reading all the comic books I collected. I don’t think there is an academic program out there that can teach how to be a cartoonist, but if there was, I would like to teach it. 

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

I have two high points. The first was when I was in high school. The local Children’s Museum had a month-long exhibit of my comics. I did two interviews with the local TV news stations on the day before and the night of opening night. The second was when I was in college. My hometown newspaper decided to publish my comic twice a week. They ran an article of the week I was about to debut. After that, it has been all down hill since. 

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

There is no one defining low point, just several small low points. So many. Lately, I have channelled that dark energy to make comics of a different nature than what I usually do. Instead of silly, light-hearted comics, I have made a few introspective, philosophical, and bittersweet comics. I don’t use Celeste for those comic, but instead, I use my other main character, Paige. These are a sort of spin-off comic within a comic that I call ‘Something about Paige’.

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

No, not yet. I have created some pdf files that I will use someday to self-publish a book. 

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

There are so many webcomic that I read. Mainly, I just follow on Facebook the rest of the other Sherpa cartoonists. Let me name a few: Gravy, Amanda the Great, Pridelands, Speckticles, Candace and Company, My Son is a Dog, In-Security, C. Cassandra,  Smith, Draw Write Play, and so many others. I apologize if I forgot to mention some. 

But I do want to focus on one, as it has influenced my current work.  Christopher Grady’s ‘Lunarbaboon’ is interesting. It shows that you don’t have to try to be funny all the time. His is a bittersweet take of mental illness and depression.’ Lunarbaboon’ has influenced my making of ‘Something about Paige’ to a small degree. 

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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?

I gave it up for 8 years. I thought it was a chapter in my life that I had filed away, but wanting to tell stories (however silly as they are) is something that comes back. I know now that even if I never became syndicated, this is something I would do for the rest of my life.

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

Where are these trolls? I must be so minor league that I don’t have any trolls. I would welcome the harassment of trolls as it means that my comic has reached a wide audience as it has aroused the jealousy a few. If I had trolls, then I can finally tell myself that I have “made it”.

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

I try to make comics between 2-3 months in advance. But I have taken a few sabbaticals in order to catch up. I try to be ‘quality over quantity’ (since I am not paid) and I try not to sweat over my own personal deadlines. Of course, I would have a different attitude if my income was derived from my comics.

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

I like fruit-flavored water. Dobra Voda is my favorite, but they only make it in the Czech Republic. I also drink a lot of sugar-free energy drinks, like Monster, to help me focus while I spend hours at a time sitting and working on my computer.

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

I’ve been a member of this shindig for about a week now. I’m just waiting for my cases of root beer to come in the mail.  (All root beer is made on site by our root beer monks and never shipped, you must visit the palatial estates that house the Root Beer Party to enjoy all the root beer you can drink, but you are a member now, so stop on by anytime.  The Root Beer Party never stops.  -Editor)

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

Sitting for hours at a time while working on the computer. 

Also, I try to tell my story in as few words as possible while still being funny or keeping its meaning. It is called ‘The Economy of Words’. I think many new inexperienced cartoonists tend to get overly wordy, and I think with more and practice I am able to edit my writing to make it as ‘streamline’ (for lack of a better word) as possible.

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

Like I said earlier, I hope to self-publish a book or two sometime in the near future. I just hope it is not too expensive as all my ‘dailies’, and not just my ‘Sundays’, are all in color now. I worry about production costs. I have enough material to make two books, but I don’t know if there are enough readers out there willing to pay for a ‘Something about Celeste’ book. So we’ll see. 

And there you have it True Believers, another member has joined the world esteemed comic community that is the Root Beer Party.  Welcome to the party Eric, get yourself another root beer, and the butler will fetch you another frosted mug.  So check out his webpage and check back every now and again to join the party.  Until next time True Believers, may your mug always be frosted and your root beer always foamy.  

20 Questions with Comic Artists: Anthony Camarota of Plan C

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Welcome back True Believers to the Root Beer Party.  We are back once again with one of our world famous, award winning segments: 20 Questions!  Today we meet one of the newest members of the Root b\Beer Party Anthony Camarota of Plan C.  we invited him to the palatial estates of the Root Beer Party for an interview with a Hires Root Beer so he can fully appreciate the greatness that is Root Beer. 

You can find Anthony’s comic Plan C here: http://www.plancomic.com/

Now let’s meet Anthony and find out how the magic of comics happens.

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

I’ve wanted to be a cartoonist since I was a kid. In high school I made a comic for my senior art class and did a weekly comic for my college paper when I was an undergrad. When I went to grad school for Fine Arts, I thought I was done cartooning but I always felt that itch to keep going. In my second year of grad school, I watched the comic strip documentary “Stripped” and it really lit a fire in me. The thesis of that movie was “There’s nothing stopping you from doing this but yourself.” I think that was April 2014 and I launched “Plan C” a month later.

Question 2: Who was your greatest influence?

Hands down, Bill Watterson. As a kid, I read and drew “Calvin and Hobbes” compulsively. I remember spending hours drawing those strips, trying to get my pencil lines to look exactly like Watterson’s brush strokes.  Calvin and Hobbes has the perfect balance of everything you need in a comic strip .  They’re hilarious, meaningful without being pretentious or preaching, and are visually stunning.

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

I’ll drink anything, I’m really not brand specific. With that being said, I did give up soda a few years ago so I’m more of a seltzer person now…

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

I’d love to be able to do this professionally but I know how rare that is. With that in mind, I’d love to be able to build up enough of an audience where I know people are getting something out of my comic. A little bit of money on the side wouldn’t kill me though.

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

I got my MFA in Fine Arts with a concentration of Drawing and Painting in 2015.  Since then, I’ve moved to a different city, got a new job, and now I’m engaged and planning a wedding, so there hasn’t been much time for other projects. I’m still very passionate about my fine art and would love to get to the point where I can work on that and the cartoon at the same time but there are only so many hours in the day. If anybody is interested in seeing any of that work, you can find it at anthonycamarota.com. It’s actually very heavily influenced by comics (shocking, right?).

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

At this point I do it for myself. I would love to be able to call myself a professional but I’m just not at that point.

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

I usually try to keep the comic pretty light. I tend to naturally veer away from any topics that seem taboo or out of bounds, as I feel like I don’t have anything worthwhile to contribute to the conversation.

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

Manga Studio 5 and I switch between an inutos drawing tablet on my desktop and the surface pro 3. I’ve never drawn digitally before starting Plan C so it’s a really new experience. At first I thought I would always go back to pen and paper but I’m starting to appreciate digital as its own medium and really love it for that. The ability to edit on the fly has become a fairly integral part of my process.

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

Like I said before, my undergraduate degree is in art education and I went to grad school for drawing and painting. It’s shocking how little that helps when cartooning though! It feels like an entirely different style of art which has to be developed independent of other training. When I started the comic I felt like I was going back to square 1.

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

Any time somebody goes out of their way to say “Hey, today’s comic was really funny.”  I’m also getting a spotlight in the Comic Strip Cartoonist Magazine, which is pretty exciting.

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

The days where I think the comic that day is real a winner and I get some rough comments or down voted to oblivion on Reddit. When those days come consistently enough, you start to wonder whether you’re any good at this.

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

Not yet, but I’m thinking about doing a book compiling the first few years. All the archives are on the site.

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

I think Neil Koney, who does “The Other End” is unbelievable. He somehow does a hilarious comic 7 days a week and does these outstanding and detailed illustrations (often in full color). Any time I think about how tough it is to do a black and white strip 3 days a week I remind myself that there are guys doing over twice as much as that.

Also, John Cullen’s “NHOJ Comics.”. He also works 7 days a week and does some of the most surreal and boundary pushing comics out there. It seems like he’s really interested in dissecting the comic making medium and putting it on display, which I love. And they’re visually stunning.

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

Cartooning is more stressful than I thought it would be. I feel like I’m always stretched by a deadline or looking for a new joke. That being said, it’s an incredibly rewarding process.  There’s something special about thinking up an idea and then turning it into something tangible and putting it out there for the world to see.

I could see myself not doing cartooning specifically, but I’ll always be making something.

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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.)

Find a hobby you like, we’ll all be better off for it.

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

I’ve gone back and forth between two and three updates a week and I’m starting to get more comfortable with just updating when I have an idea. Having a constant deadline of 3 comics a week stressed me out and had a really negative impact on the work, so now I just try to focus on putting out good work.

As far as motivation, I’m trying to be better about just following my interests. If I want to do a comic that doesn’t take place in Plan C’s “world” I just do it. If I want to write a fantasy storyline, I just do it. I think keeping things fresh is essential to the process.

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

I drink a lot of beer and I’m starting to get into wine. I know absolutely nothing about it, which actually works to my advantage as I can drink the cheap stuff without knowing the difference. I also got a sodastream recently and it’s changed my life. Seltzer for days people.

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

I’m not! But I’m ready to be inaugurated if it means I get a lifetime supply of root beer. I’m also ready if I don’t get any root beer…

(First you must choose a root beer and be willing to defend it with your life.  Then you will truly be worthy of the Root Beer Party membership.  Or you can just draw a comic.  😀 _Editor)

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

Definitely the writing. The art isn’t where I want it to be but I think with practice it will continue to grow and get better, with the writing I’m starting at square one. I don’t know anything about character development or story arcs other than what I’ve seen or read myself (and that doesn’t help much).  Also, it’s tough telling a joke three times a week and not know whether or not it’s going to land.

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

Getting married/planning a wedding and working full time pretty much sums it up for the “anything else” portion of that question.

As for the web comic, I plan on continuing to just grind out comics for the foreseeable future. On the horizon somewhere is a Patreon campaign and all of that stuff but right now I’m focused on building an audience and trying to reach out more to other cartoonists and colleagues.  I think everything else will just kind of pop up whenever it’s meant to.

And there you have it True Believers, Welcome to the party Anthony.  Another great interview with a member of the Root Beer Party, a collection of the greatest comic talent spanning the entire globe.  We reach out to only the finest comic creators in the world to bring yo the news and insight into the world’s greatest medium of art.  So kick back with your favorite root beer and get to know the genius’ behind the sequential art and as always, may your mug always be frosted and your Root Beer always foamy.   

20 Questions with Comic Artists: Laura Yang of Yin and Yangster

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We are back once again True Believers with our world famous segment 20 Questions with Comic Artists.  This is where we let you see into the glamourous world of comics and the brilliant, super rich lifestyle that is led by these amazingly perfect people.  Today we sit down with an A & W root beer  at the palatial estates of the Root Beer Party overlooking the Atlantic coastline from the Zen gardens of the east wing. 

With us today is our newest member the lovely and immensely talented Laura Yang of Yin and Yangster comics which you can find here.  http://yangstercomics.com/

So let’s meet our newest member: 

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

Oh it all began at the curious age of 11. I loved doodling as a kid and so started a strip called “Solomon”. Today, I do it for therapeutic reasons. I can get my aggression out this way.

Question 2: Who was your greatest influence?

Growing up there were so many I read but I particularly loved The Far Side. I absolutely adored his quirky sense of humor!

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

Whatever’s on sale? Probably A&W because they have excellent marketing since I can’t think of any of their competitors… Hey! There should be a math brand called “Square Root Beer”. (Yes, there should be – Editor)

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

I love to make people laugh so if I can serve my fellow humans by bringing some comic relief in our already so packed and difficult lives, then I’m satisfied. However, it wouldn’t hurt to earn a few bucks off of it. That would be the dream – getting paid to do what I love doing!

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

Do sports count? Haha I do love me a good sweaty workout. I do enjoy music and playing different instruments. Though, because I’m so ADHD, I can only superficially play the flute, saxophone, guitar and drums. I would love to one day pick up the cello, piano and Chinese zither (guzheng).

Question 6: Do you see yourself as a professional cartoonist, or is this just something you do for yourself? I consider myself an aspiring cartoonist. I think a good testament to whether one has arrived is whether they’ve made it into the exclusive NCS (National Cartoonists Society) and since I haven’t, I’m just a wannabe at this point.  (The Root Beer Party is a far more prestigious organization than the National Cartoonist Society.  They are just national we are global – Editor)

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

I like to keep my stuff G-rated because as a female Christian teacher, I am very aware of my audience who likely holds me up to a higher standard than the average Joan. Also I find it intellectually more satisfying steering clear of the crass punchlines. There’s enough of that stuff out there anyway. I like subtle and implied humor, puns etc. I tend to stay away from political cartoons since I’m not really interested in ruffling feathers.

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

From penciling to inking to coloring, it’s all done on a Surface Pro 3 using Clip Studio Paint.

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

I have a math degree so I guess I took the long route? I also have an education degree as I’m a math teacher by day (cartoonist by night).

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

A couple things… I was published weekly in a local major paper (The Province) for a few months in 2016 and Lynn Johnston of For Better or For Worse critiqued my work and gave me a TONNE of encouragement.

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

Losing the newspaper gig and creeping out Lynn Johnston. Why am I such a weirdo???

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

Aside from a hard copy of The Province in someone’s recycling bin, no. Though, I do hope to publish a book one day even if no one buys it. I mean, I can find uses for 100 of my own comic books, right?  (At least one copy must be kept in the Official Root Beer Party Comic Archives.  All comics are preserved there by our legion of dedicated comic librarians. – Editor) 

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

Sure! Lots! Though I don’t know them all by name, here are just a few of the many talented webcomic artists out there:

Sketchshark (Megan Nicole Dong)

Specktickles (Bill Abbott)

Awkward Yeti
Fowl Language

Sarah’s Scribbles

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

Nooooooo, neverrr!!! It’s all-consuming now! When people have free time they Netflix, read, play video games etc… and me? I draw!! And I go through withdrawal if I haven’t drawn in a few days. It’s my creative outlet, my therapy, my drug!!! If I didn’t do it, a part of me would be dead. Dead I tells yas!

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

I hear James Boyd is an easy target… might wanna go after him. (jk!)

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

I try to publish twice a week but it’s hard because of Life. So I just try to draw whenever I have free time which is usually between 12am-3am.

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

Hands down, BUBBLE TEA!!!! If you have no idea what this is, you MUST drop whatever you’re doing right now and go Google it!! It’s an Asian (originally Taiwanese) thing. Sooo unhealthy but soooo good!! I like strawberry fruit mixes or green tea ice cream (all with pearls). *drool*

Question 18: Are you already a member of the root beer party and if not, what is the matter with you? I didn’t know it existed because it was secret! Cat’s out of the bag now!!

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

Just finding the time to sit down and do it because well, Life! I love cartooning so much that by the time I finish a cartoon, I have 4 hours left before I have to get up for work!! And yet as I stumble into work bleary-eyed and groggy and teach my students a train-wreck of a lesson, I think to myself, “Soooo worth it!”

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

I’m starting to invest more into my multi-panel cartoons versus my single-panel Far Side inspired cartoons. The feedback’s generally been positive so I’ll just develop the storylines and characters there a wee bit more. As for anything else going on in my life, yes, I’m pizza face over here (think pepperoni) so I’m trying to find ways to become just cheese pizza face.

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And there you have it True Believers, the interview with our newest member Laura Yang.  Check out her strip and encourage her to publish the book.  Once again, you demand it and we deliver with the news and interviews that matters.  So long for now from the palatial estates of the Root Beer Party, we will be back soon to introduce you to our newest members or even acquaint you with some of our long standing members who are so busy changing the world of comics that they have not had a chance to do an interview yet.  Until next time True Believers, may your mug always be frosted and your root beer always foamy.   

Comic Collection Review: He Man and the Masters of the Universe Minicomic Collection

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Once more we travel through the vast underground catacombs that reside under the gothic castle that is the offices and home to the Root Beer Party.  Little do people realize the vast underground network that lies under the rolling green hills of the palatial estate.  To the world it is merely the home to an eccentric clan of comic creators with an affinity for root beer, but lurking just beneath lies the most complete collection of comics in the world.  Countless volumes thought to be lost to the ages, including artifacts such as Trajan’s Column, Egyptian hieroglyphs and the Bayeux Tapestry and the Ark of the Covenant .

Since time immortal, the select guardians of the Root Beer Party have kept the history of comics alive, carefully cataloging and collecting every scrap of comic art in the history of the world.

Now I travel down those same corridors, where once the Great Root Beer monks of old traveled to deposit their latest discovery.  The walls lined with ancient cave paintings and dimly lit torches create an atmosphere of mythical awe until you turn on the lights and then it just a really, really big room.

Today we will look at a recent publication from Dark Horse.  He Man and the Masters of the Universe minicomic collection.  There is a lot that goes along with this collection of minicomics.  Interviews with the artists, the writers and even the executives in charge of the toy and cartoon lines.

He-Man became a cultural phenomenon beyond the expectations of Mattel.  This is why there is some serious continuity issues between the original mini comics and the later released ones.  The first issue, He Man and the Power Sword, considering all of the copies sold along with the action figure means that the mini comic has the largest print run of any comic book in history.

We can see the difference in the minicomics and in the action figures which would later be packaged with them.  In order to have the comic ready it was done well in advance of the action figures debut and changes were made to the action figures that were not reflected in the minicomic.  The minicomic: The Tale of Teela, is a perfect example of this.  Teela was supposed to be the Sorceress, but the Sorceress was later introduced as a separate character, and then when the cartoon came along, all the continuity was sort of thrown into disarray.

This book walks us through all of that, how the plots and designs were dictated to the writers and artists and it became more of being just a sales pitch.  So why would a cheap sales gimmick turn out to have such a nostalgic value to people today?  I guess it is because for many of us, these minicomics were the jumping off point of every action figure we collected.  It introduced us to the character and their place in the world of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe.  While some of the stories are downright silly and in the later releases when the writing was on the wall about the end of the toy line, they still kept us invested and those same late issue minicomics are some of the most expensive to collect today, fetching hundreds of dollars for unopened packages in mint condition.

The book also gives us the complete comics from the several failed re-launches of He-Man.  some feature artwork by people such as Neil Adams and writing from people like Tim Seeley and Robert Kirkman.  The collection also contains some unreleased minicomics and scripts from minicomics that were never used as the toy line was cancelled.  So if you are a fan of the old He-Man and the Masters of the Universe and want to take a stroll down memory lane, this collection may be for you.  It brought back fond memories and the interviews and overarch of the history of the minicomics weaves a wonderful spell to keep you interested with all the behind the scenes facts.

You can get this book at Amazon Here: https://www.amazon.com/He-Man-Masters-Universe-Minicomic-Collection/dp/1616558776/ref=cm_cr_arp_d_product_top?ie=UTF8

So now we return this volume to it’s place shelf in the archival room, sealed once again in airtight vellum to protect it’s precious pages from the ravages of time.  I hope you enjoy this collection and check it out.  And as always True Believers, may your mug always be frosted and your root beer always foamy.

20 Questions with Comic Artists: Neil Kohney from The Other End Comics

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We are Back Once again True Believers with an all new installment of our world renowned, Emmy nominated*, Tony Award** winning segment 20 Questions with Comic Artists.  Today we have with us Neil Kohney from the amazing webcomic The Other End.  You can check out his web page here: http://www.kohney.com/

(*Someone named Emma liked one of our posts.)

(**A guy named Tony made us an offer we couldn’t refuse)

The Other End is a daily webcomic with an assortment of recurring characters brought to us by the number #4 and the letter H.  We caught up with Neil at his palatial estate just outside Martha’s Vineyard, where a lot of great webcomic artists have formed a sort of Shangri-La right in between the toxic dump site, the ancient Indian burial ground and the pet cemetery.   But let’s get to the interview:

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

So, I started my first comic series when I was in the 7th grade. It was a parody super hero series about the titular Dyno-Dan, and it was terrible. This was all on notebook paper, by the way, distributed to a few close friends. But I kept trying to make it happen, until I eventually gave it up in high school. Then, in late high school, I started drawing up some one-off comics that eventually became the first iteration of The Other End. Over the years, I switched from computer paper to digital, got my own domain, and tried to make a name for myself in the great wide world of webcomics. Then, last year, I decided to switch things up with the introduction of storylines. I had a few running characters, but hadn’t done much with them. Nevertheless, the storyline angle just felt right, and I haven’t looked back since.

Question 2: Who was your greatest influence?

Calvin and Hobbes, Bloom County, The Far Side, Peanuts, blah blah blah. Literally every major newspaper comic has influenced me one way or another (some significantly more than others). That being said, I always look to the 1950s Peanuts comics for inspiration. There’s so much amazing humor and art that just got lost to time, drowned out by the animated specials, running jokes and more memorable characters of the 70s and 80s.

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

Fitz’s. I love those glass bottles.

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

I want to make something that recalls the best qualities of old school comics, while embracing the advantages of the new medium (HD comics, baby). I don’t think there’s enough of that, especially among the most popular genre-defining webcomics, some of which can barely be classified as comics.

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

Sorta. I work on screenplays and such, but that kind of writing is so similar to scripting a comic that it feels like an extension of that interest.

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

Professional, definitely. It’s mostly all about making that sweet sweet cash. Of course, it’s impossible for a comic NOT to be personal, to an extent. Especially if you’re the only one working on it. And my future children will absolutely have to compete with my comic characters for attention and love.

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

For one, I don’t get overtly political. Not that I’ll never do some more political stuff, but I hate straw men, and it’s tricky to avoid that. Also, I try to avoid toilet humor. Not because I think I’m too good for it or anything, but it doesn’t work that well in print. With plenty of exceptions, of course.

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

Wacom tablet and Clip Studio Paint, which I try to make look as hand drawn as possible. I’d love to work on paper with real pens and paper, but I wouldn’t be able to crank out a daily comic if I did that. Plus, I hate paint, so I’d be limited with the colors.

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

Nothing. Basically, I decided this is what I wanted to do, and decided that I was never going to miss an update. And so far, beside the occasional technical problem, I haven’t.

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

The other day I got an email with the subject line “Screw You”, which contained a bizarre rant from a fan that basically said (I’m paraphrasing), “Screw you, I finally caught up with your comic and I like it a lot.” So that was pretty cool.

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

I had an ad box on my site for a while that occasionally forced my readers onto other sites. It took me forever to figure out what was doing it, and I was furious. And when I tried to remove it, it took down my site for a few days. All while I was out of town for vacation. So that all really sucked.

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

Nope. I had a book for a bit, but I think the publisher actually closed shop. Since then, I’ve been too busy to pursue any other print options.

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

This is nowhere near a comprehensive list, but some of my absolute favorite creators are Asher Freeman (Flop Comics), Twistwood (Captain Macbastard), el Fury (bastard comics), Reza Farazmand (Poorly Drawn Lines) and J.L. Westover (Mr. Lovenstein)

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

It certainly takes up a helluva lot of my time. Beyond that, while it’s certainly a big part of my life, I wouldn’t say it’s had an impact on my life. It’s just something I really like to do and something that helps me get where I want to be. And while I’ll probably write and/or draw for the rest of my life, I could see moving on from it at some point. I want TOE to end when it’s ready to end. Not that that’s coming up anytime soon!

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

I’ve never remembered a troll’s comment for longer than a day or two. So yeah, I don’t think it was worth their time. 

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

My daily deadline is the only motivation I’ve ever needed. Because once I miss a deadline, this immediately turns into a hobby, and its way too much work to just be a hobby.

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

I’m a water drinker 99.99999999% of the time, but I do like a classic rum and coke.

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

I’m not sure if that’s a hashtag or some sort of cult, but I’m in either way.

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

Mainly the writing and the drawing and the inking and the coloring and the lettering and the networking and the social media stuff. But I’m pretty good with coming up with ideas.

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

I’ve got a couple ideas for spinoffs and various new adventure comics, but I’m not sure when I’m gonna have time for all that. If anyone wants to help me make a little time for new projects, you can support me on Patreon at patreon.com/TheOtherEnd

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And there you have it True Believers, another interview from our newest member of the Root Beer Party.  Welcome to the party Neil, pull up a chair and grab a frosty mug from the freezer and fill it with Fitz’s Root Beer, this round is on the house.  So let’s all top off our glasses and raise them to Neil Kohney.  Now let’s all go to his site and read up on all the happenings over on The Other End, and as always True Believers, may your mug always be frosted and your root beer always foamy.

 

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.