20 Questions with Comic Creators: Alaine Nicole McCurry of The Ecadian Chronicles

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     Welcome Back True Believers to another of our world renowned 20 Questions interviews!  Today we have spared no expense in flying out Nicole McCurry to our top secret location of The Official Root Beer Party Estates.  The weather is finally become welcoming again as winter has receded and spring is in the air.  The Dedicated Root Beer Party Monks are hard at work in the fields planting this years crop of Vanilla, Sassafras, and Birch for the brewing of this years batch of the Elixir of life that is Root Beer.     

     We sit out in the lower veranda overlooking the great fields and our conversation soon turns from root beer to the greatest achievement in all of the history of humanity, our comics.  Nicole is the artist and writer of the Ecadian Chronicles, an epic comic set in the world of Ecadia.

You can read the complete Ecadian Chronicles Here: http://ecadianchronicles.com/

 

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        The story (so far) is an epic quest journey of heroes from all parts of Ecadia to find the Secret Scroll.  It sounds simple enough, but this is only the tip of the iceberg.  Ecadia is home to many different races of people, some native, some alien and some a hybrid between the many different peoples.  This is a story with many layers of social complexity.  We find a higher meaning in the underlying concept of the story which plays out as a redemption or hero’s quest for our protagonists.  It is about more then the redemption of our heroes, it is also about the redemption of the society at large and what is involved in the many facets of conflict underlying the quest for  political and social unity.   

     So let us begin with our own journey and learn of the quest that has brought Nicole McCurry to join us:  

 What got you started in doing a comic series?
I’ve always written stories. Like, even as a little girl, I was always making up stories and that. My first ever comic was angsty gay dinosaur high school drama. I wrote that at, like 5. In my early twenties I tried my hand at writing novels, but I hated it. I started getting really into webcomics and manga at the time (early aughts) and thought, “hey, I wonder if this would be better as a webcomic.” I couldn’t draw for shite. Art wasn’t encouraged in our house growing up. It was a waste of time. So I got an artist. She was paid in stolen computer parts we used to build her her own desktop. But two weeks before we were set to go live, her appendix burst. So I said “Guess I gotta learn to draw in two weeks.” I failed, but not enough to cancel the project.

Who was your greatest influence?
Writing wise, people like Terry Pratchett, Dave Berry, and Nikolai Gogol. Art wise, I learned a lot about facial expressions and posturing from Kate Beaton. I read Scott McCloud’s book on making comics where I learned cinematic paneling and how to draw people in general. I read a lot of manga and studied dynamic posing and effects. I learned how to draw horses and centaurs from doing My Little Pony fanart. Basically, if I liked the way someone else drew something, I practiced it until I could do it well enough that I could put my own spin on it.

What is your favorite root beer and why?
We have a local brew pub here in State College that brews their own root beer. It’s really good. As for more widely distributed root beers, I like Blue Sky and Virgil’s, mostly because I like their business practices but also because they don’t use HFCS. That shit fucks me up.

What do you hope to accomplish with your comic?
I just kind of hope people read it and like it. I’m also hoping to add more diversity to fantasy. There is a serious lack of poc, lgbt, and chronically ill and disabled characters in modern fantasy. I kind of got tired of every fantasy story in history following the same path; Medieval European good guys, elves are beautiful and noble and good, goblins are icky and bad, black people don’t exist except for bad guys from far away lands, and nobody is gay or trans or ill, no one lives under true poverty, just Hollywood Poverty, where you say you cant feed your family but your clothes are clean, your teeth are as straight as your people, and everyone can find time to brush and set their hair.

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Do you have any other artistic interests outside of comics?
I try to find time to draw non-comic related stuff, just for me. But I also really like cooking. Cooking is definitely an art form. Used to want to knit and do blacksmithing and glass blowing and play instruments, but my hands can’t do any of those things anymore. I’m finding it harder and harder to hold a pencil now, let alone something as intricate as knitting.

 Do you see yourself as a professional cartoonist, or is this just something you do for yourself?
Oh I am not a professional. I can’t see anyone wanting to pay me for my work. I definitely just do this for me. I make the kind of content I want to see. If other people also want to read it, cool. But I don’t think I could take having a publisher tell me I need to change this or that to be more relatable to the general public. I’m not good with being told what to do.

 What type of subject or humor do you consider out of bounds for your strips and why?
I will never, ever have a bigoted joke unless it is told by a villain, and the reaction of the main characters is disgust. No fat jokes. No gay jokes. Nothing that takes advantage of or devalues minorities. I will satirize the shit out of the rich, the fascists, the patriarchy, etc. Because the point of satire is to challenge the status quo. Challenge those in power. If your humor is attacking someone who is already oppressed, that’s not satire, that’s bullying.

What kind of equipment or style of drawing do you use?
First I sketch stuff out on printer paper with mechanical pencil. Then I scan it and do line work and colors in Gimp (2.6 I believe??? Maybe???) using a wacom intuos tablet (I think it’s a 5? Intuos 5? I threw away the box). Gimp is a free open-source image manipulation program designed to be a contender with photoshop. And Intuos tablets are pretty cheap. I think mine was maybe 200-300 bucks? I tried doing the linework with copic pens, but at some point my hands got too shaky and I had to switch to digital.  The weighted pen tool is a lifesaver if you have trouble with stiff, shaky, or painful hands.

What sort of training or academic program did you pursue to become a cartoonist?
Absolutely sweet fuckall. As I said earlier, art was not really encouraged in my house. Especially after I had to start being the primary care-taker in my family around 9 years old. I had to focus on getting my dad and brother ready for work and school, feeding them, cleaning the house, doing the shopping, etc. And I still had to make good grades (which I absolutely did not). So doing anything relaxing, or anything my dad thought was a waste of time, was strongly frowned upon. I spent one year in college before flunking out because I chose the stay in my dorm and drink and smoke weed and play video games instead of going to class. It was the first break I’d gotten in ten years. Then I was just working dead-end jobs and drinking and smoking and pretty much nothing else. I tried to keep writing, but it was very hard. Then I got pregnant, which meant getting sober, and only then did I realize that I was sick. Not just the untreated depression and anxiety and ADD I’d always had, but physically, chronically ill. I couldn’t work. I couldn’t go out and hike and sword-fight and rock-climb and all the other things I enjoyed doing. I read a lot. I’d always been a big reader. It was the only thing I was really allowed to do because I could say it was for school. I got inspired to start writing again.

What has been the highlight of your cartooning career?
When other artists I really admire say they like my stupid shit. I am both very easily flattered and also terrified of praise. Thanks anxiety!

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What has been the lowest point in your cartooning career?
The two times I put my comic on reddit and got flooded with negative comments, sexual harassment, and rape threats. For my stupid piece of shit comic. But honestly, if you’re making stupid people mad, you’re probably doing something right.

Are collections of your work available beyond the web? If So where?
No. At first I was gonna wait until people started asking for physical copies or merch. But now I am way too tired to redraw and rewrite the first half of the comic and ready it for print. I looked into how much work it would take and holy shit. No thank you.

Are there any other web comic artists that you really admire?
Holy shit, where do I begin? I mentioned Kate Beaton earlier. As a history and lit nerd, Hark! A Vagrant was an instant hit with me. I loved Dustpiggies when it was still going, and I continue to love everything Mike Bromage has done ever since. Autophobia by GHST, Heartstopper by Alice Oseman, and Tripping Over You by Owen White and Suzana Harcum are three lgbt slice of life comics I’m kinda obsessed with at the moment. I love Jess Fink. I read Chester (18+) so many times, and her autobiographical comics were a delight. Tina Pratt’s Paul Reveres (American Revolution but with punk instead of guns) is so on fucking brand with me. I haven’t read it in a while, I need to catch up. I have met so many good, inspiring artists through Root Beer Party, I literally don’t know where to start. You’re all just out there living y’all best lives and making fun comics, even if I’m having a rough day I can look at what y’all are doing and be like “I need to get my shit together and DRAW! Gotta be part of the Dudes!”

What kind of impact has cartooning had on your life and could you ever see yourself not doing it?
Cartooning has become my only creative outlet. My only social outlet, as well. I have met so many good friends through mutual love for webcomics and I would be so sad if I never got to talk to them again. I am stuck up three flights of stairs, housebound most of the time, in too much pain and too tired to leave. Everything I loved doing is gone for me. Even reading is becoming more and more difficult as my as eyes can’t focus on things for more than a few seconds, my hands can’t hold a book, and my brain just skips over entire paragraphs without holding onto anything. My drawing has been negatively affected as well, which means it takes a lot longer for me to draw than it used to, and more and more mistakes go unnoticed. But I have to keep going. If I stop, then what’s left of me? A pile of fat and pain and neuroses with a head full of stories and no one to listen. SO I keep going. Even though I don’t get paid, I could count the number of readers on one hand, I’m not terribly good at drawing, and I end every day completely exhausted. I’m gonna keep telling these fucking stories until I die or become too crippled to keep going. Then maybe I’ll hire an artist. Maybe we’ll be able to afford it by then.

 Do you have any advice for the Trolls out there who harass content creators? (no need to keep this answer clean.)
Their lives are meaningless. All they have in the world is insecurity and meanness and self-absorption. Nothing we can say or do beyond a doctorate in psychology will fix that. The only way they can feel big is to make others feel small. They have a small, pathetic little world, and they will leave behind them nothing but cruel words and foul air. They are of no consequence.

 Do you set yourself any deadlines or other tricks to keep yourself motivated?
Honestly, it’s my anxiety and my need to feel worthy that keeps me going. I have to get pages out, I have to write script, I have to figure out how I’m going to panel… I have to keep going. I actually have to force myself to take breaks.

 Apart from root beer, what is your favorite drink?
Alcoholic: whiskey; Irish or Scottish. Non-alcoholic: Strong black tea; PG Tips, Typhoo, Lapsang Souchong, English breakfast, etc. I am fueled by tea and nerves alone. And potatoes.

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Are you already a member of the root beer party and if not, what is the matter with you?
I am! I was invited by James Boyd of Sunny Side Up fame. And I felt accepted almost immediately.

What is the most challenging aspect of cartooning for you?
The drawing. Just, like, all of it. Seriously tho, any tiny details. My eyes don’t focus and my hands lock up and scream in pain. I had to draw a skeleton recently and that was all I was able to accomplish that day because it damn near killed my hand. My vision isn’t great, but it’s not a problem with eyes, it’s a problem with my brain. So proportions are often off, perspective is all wonky, I can’t judge distance… it’s like things just start swimming around and then go blurry, and I have to rest my eyes a bit before I can go on. It happens a couple times a minute and it’s really frickin’ irritating.

 What are your future plans involving web comics or anything else going on in your life?
I’m just gonna keep going as long as my health will let me. I have a very supportive spouse and child, both of whom want me to keep going as long I can. My husband is an actual fan, which is nice, and my daughter is laboring under the misapprehension that I am “cool.”

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     So there you have it True Believers, another awesome look behind the curtain of our favorite comic creators.  Comics truly are humanities greatest accomplishment, all we need to do is look at the dedication and suffering which makes our favorite comics possible.  These brief interviews are only a snapshot into the world of comic creators and they really show us a slight glimpse into the real world which makes our favorite fantasy worlds possible.  

     So we say good bye for now to Nicole as she returns to make even more comics for the world.  Check out her comic and you can check out her Patreon here: https://www.patreon.com/ecadia

     Join us again True Believers for more interviews with your favorite comic creators and as always, may your mug always be frosted and your root beer always foamy.  

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Comic Collection Review: The Dominic & Claire Funnies by Max West

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     Once more we descend downward into the vast cavernous darkness.  The light from out flickering torch is swallowed by the oppressive inky blackness that swims all around us.  The walls are pockmarked with the chisel strikes of forgotten aeons as these tunnels were hammered out by hand, descending ever downward into the infinite madness of the nothingness that lies beneath us.  Our movements downward seem to go on forever, time has lost it’s meaning in these tunnels which have been hidden from the sun since it was but a starburst in the center of the Milky Way, yet still we sink ever downward.

     The tunnels open up giving respite to the oppressive claustrophobia which had hung over us like a sickening sweat.  Days?  Weeks?  Months?  It has no meaning down here, for the light up ahead burns through the darkness with an intensity of a mouth of madness screaming the echo of the Big Bang and calling into existence the very insanity that is life and death, for we have entered The Official Root Beer Party Comic Archives.

     Today we have brought forth a new offering to collection which houses the greatest achievement in all of human history, our comics.  The dedicated Root Beer Party Monks have prepared a Mylar bag for our latest acquisition.  Since man first scribbled his thoughts upon the cave walls, the Root Beer Party Monks have been here building this collection and today we bring forth a new submission from Max West, a new spin off series from his Sunnyville Stories:  Dominic & Claire.

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     In New Gestad, is Rusty’s cousin Dominic.  Here we have a comic which captures the essence of Max’s previous work in Sunnyville Stories, but in a shorter and more streamlined fashion.  Having established the worldbuilding and the mythos of the Sunnyville Stories, Dominic & Claire brings the same classic style of humor which reminds me a lot of the old Vaudevillian style of clever word play building up to a classic finale.

     The streamlined artwork allows for the classic humor style to really shine through, this comic feels like a loving homage to the Abbot & Costello style of humor while bringing a more inclusive and deeper world into play.  It builds upon the Sunnyville Stories, but brings it’s own style of humor to set it apart as a separate entity.  I can feel this style of humor in the works of Jack Benny or Bob Newhart or any of the classic comedy duos such as Burns and Allen or The Bickersons, but it has a more modern feel.

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In Dominic & Claire we see a modern interpretation of the comic genius’ of the golden era of comedy.  It would fit right along side with Marx Brothers or any of the great comedy teams.  While Sunnyville Stories gave us more of an involved story, much like Archie Comics with a whole world of characters within the confines of a small town, Dominic gives us the fast punchline and the comedy routines that are destined to become modern classics.

You can get a PDF copy at Drive Through Comics Here:

https://www.drivethrucomics.com/product/269169

So we release this first issue into the archival vaults of The Official Root Beer Party Comic Archives and return once more to the world above in our never ending search for humanities greatest accomplishment:  Our comics.

So check back here again True Believers for more interviews and comic reviews from the vaults of The Official Root Beer Party Comic Archives, and as always, May your mug always be frosted and your root beer always foamy.

Comic Collection Review: The Fuzzy Princess Vol. 1 by Charles Brubaker

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Once again we travel downwards into the seemingly bottomless void.  Dust crumbles around us as our torches ignite the passing cobwebs and momentarily illuminate the claustrophobic tunnel before us.  the fire from my torch is but a pinhole of light in the endless curtain of darkness all around me.  The tunnels are textured with the hammer marks made millennia ago by the ancient order of Root Beer Monks, who have created and preserved this passageway since time immortal.  The tunnel grows wider and the steps beneath me are more evenly spaced, Below is a slight blue hue which flickers with green, an eerie effect as the darkness presses in on me and the temperature rises.  The dust clings to my skin and forms an irritable cake upon every pore on my body.  what manner of madness have I stumbled upon?  Why would a man inch ever downward into the endless void of the earth?

The Blue light flickers once more and I extinguish the torch.  I have reached the more modern part of the tunnel and electric lights have been fitted.  The claustrophobic tunnel has given way to a seemingly endless cavern.   I can’t even fathom the height and vastness of this place.  For here, beneath the earth we have come to the goal of my quest, The Official Root Beer Party Comic Archives.  Hidden away and preserved by the dedicated order of Root Beer Monks, they have collected the greatest works of comic art through out the history of mankind.  They scoured the burning libraries of Alexandria in 48 BC, risking flame and death to preserve these treasures and have continued to do so.

Today, I am here to look upon one of our more recent acquisitions.  From our fellow Root Beer Party member himself Charles Brubaker, Who’s 20 questions interview can be read here:

https://rootbeerparty.wordpress.com/2017/11/11/20-questions-with-comic-creators-charles-brubaker-of-the-fuzzy-princess-ask-a-cat/

You can buy his books on Amazon here:

https://smile.amazon.com/Fuzzy-Princess-1-Charles-Brubaker/dp/0998948217/ref=sr_1_10?ie=UTF8&qid=1548656907&sr=8-10&keywords=charles+brubaker

And for the real reason we are here:  A full color edition of The fuzzy Princess Vol. 1 is live on Kickstarter.  Head on over and check it out now.

The goal of The Official Root Beer Party Comic Archives is to preserve the masterpieces of comic art and a full color edition, rendered as the comics themselves were created is a must have for us or any real fan of comic art.  Let me show you some of the work you will be seeing in this modern day masterpiece.  I will start with the first adventure of volume 1:  The fuzzy trio has arrived

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Here we have the main characters of the Fuzzy Princess comic including the Fuzzy Princess herself Kat.  Chiro the bat and Kuma the bear.  Princess Katrina is the princess of St. Paws a land where all animals co-exist in harmony, but today she has chosen to take a trip into another world.  A world we may find familiar.

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Here we have Jackson our human hero facing a common dilemma of life,  the bullies.  (Note the hair reference nod to the 3 Stooges)  Now the Fuzzy Princess is a fish out of water tale, but at the same time it allows a sort of objective observance of the human condition as well.  The story is actually punctuated with not just fantastical elements, but also a sociological and human reference that grounds the story with greater relevance.

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In this panel we are introduced to Jordan, the sister of Jackson, who is the matriarch of the family and brings a realistic foil to counterpoint the fantastical nature of the story. Jordan acts as the everyman, confronted by an unbelievable situation.  She asks the questions one would expect if you found yourself in similar circumstances.  Jordan is also the Pragmatist of the comic in that she views things in a practical and realistic manner.

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Jordan is also the foil for the punchlines and the heroic comic foil in many cases, until newer characters are introduced in later stories.  In the case above, logic meets pragmatism with a sighing shrug.

 

Without giving away too much of the story, we see Princess Katrina coming to the aid of Jackson and dealing with the bullies.  A simple storyline is only the beginning of this tale.  we also must deal with Princess Kat’s friends who were separated from her at the beginning of the story.  The story itself is not overly simplistic, but it does give a great introduction to all of the characters and the basic philosophical premise of the storyline in this first tale.  There is a lot more going on here then just a simple tale of bullies being brought to justice or even lost friends, this story is a hero’s quest, but who is the real hero here?  Is it the Fuzzy Princess bringing her Utopian ideals to a new world, or is it the humanity of Jackson and his involvement and acceptance of the Fuzzy Princess?

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This epic tale has already produced two volumes and now a full color version is being funded as well.  This review is but a snippet of the actual story, You can visit Charles Brubaker’s webpage for the Fuzzy Princess here to check out the full story:

http://fuzzy-princess.com/

I now reseal this masterpiece and return it to the care of the dedicated Root Beer Monks.  It will be cataloged and preserved for future generations.  We look forward to a full color version of the book being produced, so that we may see The fuzzy Princess in it’s full original glory.  So I will leave you now True Believers, to check out this volume for yourselves, and as always, may your mug always be frosted and your root beer always foamy.

 

20 Questions with Comic Creator: Ray Billingsley of Curtis

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     Welcome back True Believers, We are here again live from the Official Root Beer Party Studios with another one of our world famous 20 questions interviews.  Today we have with us, proud Root Beer Party Member and syndicated comic legend Ray Billingsley of Curtis who just celebrated his 30th year in publication.  

     30 years at the top of the industry is an amazing achievement.  Ray is not only a legend in the comic industry, but he is also a renowned humanitarian and advocate for his work in rising awareness for lung disease.

  You can check out Curtis on his official page here:  

http://www.billingsleyart.com/Main-Page.html

     Ray has taken time out of his busy schedule to fly all the way out here to the vast Root Beer Party Estates in an undisclosed location, in an undiscovered region of a long lost country to give us a peek behind the curtain into the inner working of how all of our favorite comics are made.  So let’s meet the man behind the legend Ray Billingsley:

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

I’m not really sure what got me into doing a series. I was brought up under the strict thumb of my father. He did not believe in giving allowances and what money he gave you had to really work for it. I was pretty much a solitary kid, not fitting into the group of people I grew up around, so I spent a lot of time alone. I have an older brother who liked to draw and his materials were all over the bedroom we shared. So I picked up a pencil and some paper and started drawing. It’s all I did. Then at a young age I discovered there were those who paid for artwork. I was extremely lucky to be discovered on the streets of New York and my career blossomed from there. I have done no other job in my life other than drawing.

Question 2: Who was you greatest influence?

Wow, I had a lot of major influences-Jules Feiffer, Hank Ketcham, Mort Walker, Will Eisner and of course, Charles Schulz. But I can’t tell you just who was the greatest. I admired several artists.

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

Favorite root bear?? I suppose A&W. I remember it was the only root beer sold at the local neighborhood store where I grew up.
Question 4: What do you hope to accomplish with your comic?

With my comic, I hope to accomplish a place for my work and to be considered within the ranks of one of the Greats. There were several before me but I wanted to add a little something called ‘diversity’, a theme that is usually overlooked or intentionally ignored. I’m going for longevity as since I started at a much younger age than most, I may have a career that spans way beyond most cartoonists.

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

My artistic interests are many. I like art in galleries, museums and digital art as long as it’s creative. I like those who can offer a different uniqueness. I like the horror genre and put that interest into my strip. I like animation but sometimes I feel the CGI stuff is overdone. It’s done so much that it’s not very different or special. I like photography and try to see things through a photographers eye, setting up shots that I feel are artistic.

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

Oh yes, I’m very much a professional cartoonist. I have little time to just doodle for myself. Everything is drawn for print. When I’m not drawing I’m usually writing or thinking up the next script to draw.

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

)I can pretty much tackle any topic I want in Curtis, but must be extremely clever about it. I get away with saying a lot of things that my colleagues cannot touch, many times because their strips don’t have the characters or situations to handle such subjects. There are many more topics I would like to tap into but in today’s climate would just set me up for a lot of negative comments. I have a lot of topics that landed me in hot water and had to answer questions through interviews. Having a strip like mine I would like to touch upon topics like racial profiling, Black Lives Matter, and the current political scene. But I refrain because there are a lot of Editorial ‘toonists out there who are cracking the whip harder than I could.

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

I’m an old traditionalist I guess you might say. I’m learning ProCreate and an animation app but for the most part I still take to pen, art and paper. I love the feel of drawing by hand this way and I get to have originals left behind that I can share at Comic Cons, gallery shows and appearances.

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

I started my career at such a young age that I didn’t have to pursue any program to become a cartoonist. There were artist teachers in high school that didn’t really like the fact that I was being steadily published and they weren’t. It wasn’t until college that I attended the School of Visual Arts that I met a teacher that would challenge me and work me to broaden my artistic skills. That teacher was Will Eisner.

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

I can’t say which highlight has been the greatest. I have been lucky enough to achieve quite a few although there have been a lot of ‘downs’, from those who tried to hinder my progress. As artists one can expect to run into those. Actually a lot of major things I have wanted and tried to accomplish all my career hasn’t happened. And I’ve heard all kinds of bullshit answers. But still I try and hope.

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

)I think the absolute lowest point has been the fact that I have known some who have pretended to be my friends. They would smile, shake my hand and pat me on the back. But they were only checking for the spot to stab me in the back.

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

No my only books were available only through my site. Amazon charged up whether you sold or not and I felt that was another dirty business. And although the book publishers would tell me how much they love my work, when I would ask them about possibly a book or series I usually got a negative response. Even now the major publishers won’t touch me. Nor the other cartoonists like me. They are incredibly narrow-minded. I also need a new freelance assistant to work on some properties that I don’t have the time for.

(You can get your copies of Ray’s collections here:  

http://www.billingsleyart.com/Memorabilia.html    ) -Editor

 

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

As a matter of fact, there are quite a few web artists that I really like. Some on the Sour Grapes page that I read every new edition. There are some featured on GoComics that I read. I like them for different reasons-some for the art itself, others for their sense of humor. They show a lot of promise. But I don’t think I should point out just who and which. I feel it might make some others feel slighted and I wouldn’t want that to happen. Everyone is trying their best

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

Cartooning has been a way of life for me for many years and I’ve never thought about what I would do instead. Maybe an animation director or producer. I’ve had a great satisfaction from mentoring. It’s nice to feel that I helped so many with their own careers.

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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.)

There will always be Trolls that don’t like or just want to complain about anything. They are very sad people with little going on their own lives. I understand a little constructive criticism but anything negative is ignored. I’ve found that not responding to them makes them even crazier and that makes me laugh. Some are just snide asswipes who think they’re being funny. But I say if you think you can better, then do it yourself. Find out what it’s like to constantly create and find it isn’t so easy. And I mean create at a professional level, also I would invite them to submit gag ideas. Instead of tearing down try to build up!

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

I have lived my life on a deadline. I can barely remember what life what like before having to meet deadlines. But it’s good because I constantly like to put ideas out there, express myself, and share my ideas with the world. It’s still a great feeling. When someone mentions a certain thing they like about the strip I truly appreciate it. When I get compliments from other countries it really hits me

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

Hmm, apart from root beer I guess my favorite drink is Ginger Ale. I’ve never been a drinker, not into beer or champagne. That’s why I grew up feeling distant from most others my age group. They drank and I didn’t.

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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’m watching you all every day!

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

)I’d say the most challenging aspect of doing this strip or any other artwork, is keeping it interesting enough that the readers come back to it again and again. That is the hardest spot. There may be times that you’re personally going through something or just don’t feel like doing it that particular day and it reflects in your work. The readers can see it. I have literally grown up in this industry so many trials and life’s tribulations have been somewhere on the public stage. But I have always strived to keep up a certain high quality in my work. I feel the readers deserve it.

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

There are several ideas that I would like to offer as a web-comic but right now it’s too time-consuming. I would still very much like to get my strip translated to an animated series. You’d be surprised how often I’ve been asked to gear Curtis into a property like Family Guy, but my work doesn’t go that way. I am not sexist or racist, nor do I make fun of sexual preference of religions. I don’t make women bimbos and I don’t portray young people as stupid. I also wouldn’t want my strip just full of hip-hop references and music. I have a lot of ideas. It’s just getting past the very narrow sighted people who brings these ideas to the small screen that hinder my progress. It’s strange how we creative types have to win over non-creatives. No, not strange but sad.

    So there you have it True Believers, A real look at the man behind one of the most influential comics of our day as well as a real look at the industry behind it, warts and all.  It is a great and noble thing to make any kind of art, but the industry that exploits and promotes it is not an easy one to break into.  Most of the root Beer Party members are artists which struggle finding the time to produce art and balance that with finding the time to work at making a living.  Even those who have made it struggle, it is a very real passion which drives an artist to create comics.  

Thanks again to Ray for coming out here to do this interview with us, Let’s all raise a frosty mug of root beer to all the great comic creators out there, and next time you see a comic which makes you smile or think, go ahead and give it a retweet or an encouraging comment.  Now, let’s enjoy some more great comics from Ray:  

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One of the great comics of our time.  Please join us again next time when we bring you another exciting interview with some of your favorite comic creators.  Also be sure to check in with Ray Billingsley for his annual Kwanzaa fable.  every year he does a great comic series highlighting the event:  

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So until we meet again True Believers, may your mug always be frosted and your root beer always foamy.  

 

20 Questions with Comic Creators: Frank Jordan of Company Man Comics

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     Welcome Back True Believers, we are here once again, live from the Root Beer Party Studios to bring you an all new 20 questions interview with Root Beer Party members.  This is where we look behind the scenes at the magic behind your favorite comics.  

    Today we have with us Frank Jordan, the man behind Company Man Comics.  Company Man Comics is about the people employed at the F.R.J. Media Group, this allows Frank to provide a setting for topical humor as well commenting of corporate life and of course, our favorite, Dumb Joke Thursday.  You can follow his strip daily here:  

http://companyman.thecomicstrip.org/

     So let’s get to know one of our favorite Root Beer Party Members, the Company Man himself, Frank Jordan.  

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

I’ve always loved reading the Sunday Comics when I was a kid. One day I told my Mom that I can do that. She gave me some paper and a pencil and let me have at it! I’ve never looked back!
Question 2: Who was you greatest influence?

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

A&W is the bestest! It’s just nice, smooth and creamy!

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

World domination! Nah, just want to put a smile on people’s faces.
Question 5: Do you have any other artistic interests outside of comics?

I like doing Caricatures, but I don’t like showing them to anyone.
Question 6: Do you see yourself as a professional cartoonist, or is this just something you do for yourself?

I see myself as a Professional Cartoonist.
Question 7: What type of subject or humor do you consider out of bounds for your strips and why?

Rape, that’s just not funny!
Question 8: What kind of equipment or style of drawing do you use?

My style is very simplistic, and I’m proud of that!

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

I have a Master’s Degree in Media Arts.
Question 10: What has been the highlight of your cartooning career?

Being invited to San Diego Comic Con as a Professional Cartoonist for the first time!
Question 11: What has been the lowest point in your cartooning career?

No low points!
Question 12: Are collections of your work available beyond the web? If So where?

Nothing beyond the web… yet!

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

Lucas Turnbloom, that dude is funny as all get out!
Question 14: What kind of impact has cartooning had on your life and could you ever see yourself not doing it?

Cartooning has helped me work out a lot of frustration in my life. I can’t see Cartooning as not being a part of me, it’s in my blood!

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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.)

They can all eat a bag of dicks!
Question 16: Do you set yourself any deadlines or other tricks to keep yourself motivated?

My motivation is no buffer, that way my comic stays fresh.

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

Orange Lavaburst Hi-C!
Question 18: Are you already a member of the root beer party and if not, what is the matter with you?

Yup! Already a member!
Question 19: What is the most challenging aspect of cartooning for you?

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

I plan on a book of some sort.

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So there you have it True Believers, another great 20 Questions segment live from the Root Beer Party Studios.  Thanks to Frank for flying all the way out here to our undisclosed location in an undiscovered region of a long forgotten continent.   You can check out more of frank’s work daily on his website, here is just a brief sampling.  

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     We hope that Frank continues to bring a sense of humor and a smile to all the latest world events and pop culture silliness of the modern era.  What could possibly be more absurd than the world we live in and what could possibly be a better source for humor?  So let’s throw back our frosty mugs of the elixir of life that is root beer and sign off, and as always True Believers, May your mugs always be frosty and your root beer always foamy.  

20 Questions with Comic Creators: Peter Delgado of RPG Blues

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     We are back once again True Believers with an all new interview with comic creators brought to you live from the Root Beer Party studios located at the vast Root Beer Party Estates in an undisclosed location of a far away land in an undiscovered country.  Today we have with us Peter Delgado of RPG Blues and he has brought with him a vast photo collection of nuns?  He seems very proud of this collection so we will humor him, but we know that what you really want to hear about is The magic behind the world famous comic RPG Blues.  

     You can catch up with the RPG Blues on his webpage here:  

http://rpgblues.com/

     So let’s get to know Peter and the inner workings of RPG Blues:

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Question 1: What got you started in doing a comic series?
Once upon a time, back it 1997, I was at home reading an issue of Dragon Magazine (if by any chance you just thought the word ‘nerd’ after reading the previous line, I swear to god, I’ll find out where you live and pelt you to death with my sparkly dice…….what?) and thumbed my way to the “dragon mirth” page. After reading a few of the strips I thought to myself that I could do this too and that’s how it started.

Question 2: Who was you greatest influence?
Stephen DeStefano , Wendy and Richard Pini, Sergio Aragone, Stan Sakai, Vaughn Bode, Berni Wrightson and Elzie Crisler Segar.

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

Question 4: What do you hope to accomplish with your comic?
Just to put a smile on someone’s face (cheesy, I know. but true).

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Question 5: Do you have any other artistic interests outside of comics?
Does world domination count?

Question 6: Do you see yourself as a professional cartoonist, or is this just something you do for yourself?
My arts been published a lot over the years. But I don’t see myself as a pro by any means. I b a hack 😀

Question 7: What type of subject or humor do you consider out of bounds for your strips and why?
Politics/current events. It’s the easiest way to lose favor with readers.

Question 8: What kind of equipment or style of drawing do you use?
I’m old school, pencil/paper/inking pens and or color pencils/light box/scanner/photoshop.

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Question 9: what sort of training or academic program did you pursue to become a cartoonist?
I went to The school of visual arts (4 years for cartooning/animation) and New York City College of Technology (2 years for advertising).

Question 10: What has been the highlight of your cartooning career?
The first time my work got published over @ Dragon Magazine.

Question 11: What has been the lowest point in your cartooning career?
The day my dad died back in 2003. On the same month when my first compilation book came out. He was excited about it (more than me) but never got the chance to see it. I stop cartooning for a while and almost gave it up completely because of it.

Question 12: Are collections of your work available beyond the web? If So where?
Rpg Blues ran in several issues of Dragon Magazine before moving on to Knights of the Dinner Table Magazine where it ran for 2 and a half years. It also spawned 2 compilation books published by Wingnut Games.

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Question 13: Are there any other web comic artists that you really admire?
I’ve meet a lot of talented/amazing cartooning peeps thanks to Twitter. And thus, waaaay too many to list.

Question 14: What kind of impact has cartooning had on your life and could you ever see yourself not doing it?
See myself not cartooning??? Blasphemous!! *rage!* But seriously, I never thought about it. I’ll get back to you on that.

Question 15: Do you have any advice for the Trolls out there who harass content creators? (no need to keep this answer clean.)
I don’t have the time to write a 1,800 page essay about that subject.

Question 16: Do you set yourself any deadlines or other tricks to keep yourself motivated?
I use to. To the point where I made myself physically sick. Nowadays, I try not to force it. If the art wants to be done, then it’ll be done and not before. Unless it’s a paying gig, then that’s different.

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

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

(Of course you are, despite your aversion to root beer and your obsession with nuns, we welcome you into our ranks. -Editor)

Question 19: What is the most challenging aspect of cartooning for you?
Trying to come up with ideas for strips that are funny/witty.

Question 20: What are your future plans involving comics or anything else going on in your life?
I try not to make plans (they never work out the way you hope) I just take things as the come and run with it.

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    So there you have it True Believers, a peek into the mind of one of today’s top comic creators.  We are signing off now, but tune in next week for another one of our world famous interview segments.  Until Next time True Believers, may your mug always be frosted and your Root Beer always foamy.  We will leave you with some more of Peter’s great work:  

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20 Questions with Comic Creators: Mat Washburn of Evan Yeti

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     We are back once again True Believers with another episode of our world famous interview segment:  20 Questions with Comic Creators.  Today we are live from the glorious Root Beer Party Estates in an undisclosed location of a far off land in an undiscovered country.  Today we have with us Mat Washburn of the epic fantasy comic Evan Yeti.  You can check out Mat’s website here:  

http://www.matwashburn.com/

     Evan Yeti is a great comic series about a young yeti who is orphaned from his family by a mad scientist and his evil army who capture his family.  Evan sets out to find and reunite with his family with a little help from his friends that he meets along the way.  It is a hero’s quest for the 21st century.  So let’s get to know Mat Washburn.

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

I had always drawn comics as a kid and all through school. After school I mostly worked on music and felt my drawing skills slipping away. I wanted to create a comic that had all the weirdness and rebellious energy from the comics I made as a kid and try to learn how to draw better-er. I decided to make a webcomic because I figured if people would actually read it I would feel obligated to finish it.

Question 2: Who was you greatest influence?

Rob Schrab, Doug TenNapel and Steve Purcell are my top three favorite longform comic artists. If you look at Evan Yeti, I think their influence (along with Matt Groening) on my art is embarrassingly obvious.

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

I’m not too picky about my root beer. I’d have to say Stuarts in the glass bottle is top notch. Goes down smooth.

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

Well the Evan Yeti webcomic has ended (for now). People often ask if I’ll write another Evan story. I actually started writing a second story as I was writing the first one. But I’m more likely to make an Evan Yeti video game before another comic. I felt like I was able to accomplish a lot with Evan. I made a webcomic, printed it as issues and a graphic novel, made t-shirts, minifigures, gave presentations at libraries and still show art exhibits with original Evan art and some large replicas of things in the comic – like the snow rat vehicle. So I haven’t set anymore goals for Evan as of yet.

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

I compose music for commercials, video games and short film and play in a band when I can. Currently I’m on a video game creating kick. I like making games for mobile. I have one published for Android and iPhone called Save Baby James and another game hopefully published by the time this is posted called Spider Rider.

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

I don’t think that’s for me to say. I’ll keep trying to learn and make things I can be proud of and let others decide if they think it’s professional or not.

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

In my personal life humor is king. I will gladly throw my integrity away for a stupid joke. My comics however are pretty safe. I like to make comics that I consider fun and that also have some heart. I don’t like to limit who can join in on the fun by being too crass. So just a little crass.

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

For Evan I would sketch a page on graph paper with a mechanical pencil. Then I lay marker paper over that and ink over a lightboard with a Faber-Castell brush pen. Then scan the inks into the computer and color with Photoshop. I colored over the ink lines with colors because I like the way it makes the characters pop. If I had a tablet it would have speed pages up considerably. Something to consider for next time I suppose.

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

No school. I’m a terrible student. But there are some books that I learned a lot from. Particularly books by Will Eisner and Scott McCloud.

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

All the cool people I’ve met. Fellow storytellers of all types of experience levels and many different styles. Telling their stories and jokes and helping others tell theirs. I’m not good at being part of a community as I’m fiercely independent but the webcomic community has been so supportive and creative and is what I miss the most about working on Evan.

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

Nothing about cartooning has brought me down but when life absolutely sucker punches me in the guts it makes it hard to create work that is fun or has enthusiasm behind it.

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

Outside of the webernet there is just me selling books and stuff at my art exhibits and comic cons.

You can order Evan yeti comics on his webpage.  Get the whole set, they are amazing!  -Editor

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

Yes and I hate to start naming names cause I know I’ll leave out a bunch of great people on accident. However, it’s no secret I’ve been a big fan of Mark Stokes (Zombie Boy), Jazyl Homavazir (The Beast Legion), and Crispin Wood (Small Blue Yonder).

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

It keeps me sane-ish and helps me express things I otherwise don’t think I would know how. I went to school for cosmetology and my instructor saw me drawing in my textbook and said “You love drawing don’t you? I bet you’ll draw no matter what you do in life.” And as usual, she was right.

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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.)

That’s a tough one. I’m all about free speech, but I also don’t like the idea of someone giving up on their ideas just because they were discouraged. So my advice to trolls? Tear artists down all you want, but when you decide to create something we’ll be watching. And your success may depend on our ability to forgive.

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

For Evan Yeti I posted a page every other week. That way I had a free week and an “Evan week”.

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

I had to quit Mt. Dew. I drank it too much and didn’t like the idea that I couldn’t stop. So I stopped. Now I don’t have a favorite drink and that’s a good thing.

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

Yes *glug glug* I am!

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

That first sketch. Everything hinges on all those first calculations and decisions and the mistakes you make if not caught carry on through the rest of the process and get harder to fix as they are integrated. After the initial sketch is done though, each step after that gets gradually easier for me.

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

I’m sure I’ll get around to the next Evan Yeti story eventually. I miss the little guy. I also have another comic idea that is much smaller I might pursue first. Currently though I am developing three mobile games and promoting my game Save Baby James!

You can check out the Save Baby James Video Game Here:

https://www.savebabyjames.com/?fbclid=IwAR2brs6yFqKkP-GoiTcepUu_8HJ5b48SdrC5BO8f4YEdHkcZEXLEk-UQKao

 

So there you have it True Believers, another amazing 20 questions interview and a look behind the scenes at the artists and creators that make it all happen.  Be sure to come back next time for another behind the scenes look at how all your favorite comics are made.  Until Next time True Believers,  may your mug always be frosted and your root beer always foamy.  

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20 Questions with Comic Creators: Bill Abbott of Spectickles

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     Welcome back once again True Believers, we are here once again broadcasting live from the vast Root Beer Party Estates in an undisclosed location in an undiscovered region of an unknown land.  Today we have with us our good friend Bill Abbott of Spectickles comics which you can find here:  

http://www.abbottcartoons.com/product-category/cartoons/

     Spectickles reminds me of classic comics like The Lockhorns or Andy Capp, but with the fantastical elements of The Far Side.  We follow a couple marked by their signature Spectickles at various times and places throughout history or even fantasy worlds.  It is sort of a parable of sorts that throughout all of history and even art lies the same underlying fundamental relationship between two people.  No matter what form creativity may take us, we are still social creatures trying to figure out how to live with one another.  

     Bill brings us a great tribute to that ultimate relationship we call marriage, and we follow it throughout the infinite characters and timelines of history to understand that the true root of making a relationship work is at it’s very heart, humor.  In a single panel, Bill reminds us of that fundamental truth.  So let’s sit down and get to know the man of the hour:  Bill Abbott

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1. What got you started in doing a comic series?
My cartoon Spectickles evolved over time – it wasn’t so much started with a specific intent such as making it a series, as it was drawing the goofy ideas that wander around in my head like it was Grand Central Station on dollar beer night.

2. Who was your greatest influence?
There were quite a few, really, and not all necessarily cartoonists. Jim Unger, Charles Schulz, and Mike Peters from the comics pages, and Mort Gerberg, Mischa Richter, Charles Saxon, and Robert Weber from the New Yorker. Just stunningly brilliant. I find the writings of H.L. Mencken and Mark Twain really inspiring and very, very funny – if you haven’t read, “Innocents Abroad”, you’ve missed out on something extraordinarily humorous.

3. What is your favorite root beer, and why?
It would have to be A&W – a family favorite from when I was a kid – root beer floats in the Adirondacks.

4. What do you hope to accomplish with your comic?
There’s nothing more rewarding to me as a cartoonist than to see someone chuckle or laugh at my work, then feel compelled to share it with someone else. That’s an amazing feeling that’ll never grow old. In the professional sense, I’m blown away I’ve gotten as far as I have, to be honest.

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5. Do you have any other artistic interests outside of comics?
I’ve always wanted to do more illustration work. I never grow tired of flipping through books filled with the art of Arthur Rackham, Charles Dana Gibson and others from the Golden Age of illustration. It may be somewhat anachronistic now and have very few market outlets, but that’s the type of work I’d really love to spend time developing and practicing. I’ve played guitar for many years and have been teaching myself some classical, although the quality of my playing is enough to scare children and small dogs.

6: Do you see yourself as a professional cartoonist, or is this just something you do for yourself?
I don’t really think of it that way – it’s just something I love doing. Although when deadlines loom large, I tend to love it a bit less.

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7: What type of subject or humor do you consider out of bounds for your strips and why?
It’s a matter of personal taste and viewpoint, but for me, I give everything the Grandmother Test. My grandmother was a wonderful woman with a great sense of humor. She had a specific set of values that were imbued in our family and guided our behavior and conduct. If I wouldn’t show the cartoon to my grandmother, it doesn’t get drawn. I know that’s not for everyone, but it is for me, and the people who follow my work.
8: What kind of equipment or style of drawing do you use?
Until very recently, I drew on Strathmore Bristol board with an old Rotring mechanical pencil that’s heavy enough to be used for a Medieval bludgeoning device of mortal destruction, and an even older Pelikan fountain pen with an M250 medium nib – really a pleasure to draw with. But due to the demands of producing 2 daily cartoons for syndication, I’ve switched to all digital to speed up the process. I have the Surface Pro 5 which is really great, and use the Clip Studio Paint Pro drawing program. I’m far from having perfected drawing digitally, but I’m slowly figuring it out.

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9: what sort of training or academic program did you pursue to become a cartoonist?
If you take a pen, a blank sheet of paper, close your eyes and let the pen wander aimlessly over the page for about an hour, you would have a reasonable facsimile of the path I followed to becoming a cartoonist. I actually spent all of my adult life in the military – 24 years total deploying frequently, which is a pretty tough way to launch a career in the comics. But I’m fortunate that the stars aligned and this is ultimately where I’ve ended up – pursuing something I’ve had a lifelong passion for – cartooning.
10: What has been the highlight of your cartooning career?
That’s a tough one – there’s so many events that I didn’t see coming which have made this experience pretty amazing. The first time I received a call from a greeting card company to license some of my cartoons was a big one. Getting syndicated was definitely huge. The group that have assembled to spend time on my Facebook page is a big-time highlight – really an extraordinary group of very kind, and very funny people – some of their comments are funnier than my cartoons they’re commenting on!

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11: What has been the lowest point in your cartooning career?
I would have to say it was the first time I received a rejection slip for my work. When you’re first getting started it’s sometimes hard to see that it’s not a rejection of you personally, and maybe not even your work if it’s a case of bad timing – it’s just a necessary part of professional cartooning. But it’s tough the first time one shows up in your inbox.
12: Are collections of your work available beyond the web? If So where?
There are a couple – there’s a Spectickles cartoon collection that was published by Willow Creek Press, which is available on Amazon, and a Percenters collection with my earlier work, also available through Amazon.

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(you can find it on amazon Here:

https://smile.amazon.com/Spectickles-Bill-Abbott/dp/1623435455/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1539197181&sr=8-1&keywords=Spectickles+by+Bill+Abbott
13: Are there any other web comic artists that you really admire?
Tons. I really enjoyed listening to the Webcomics Weekly podcasts put out by Scott Kurtz, Kris Straub, Dave Kellett, and Brad Guigar, which is how I was introduced to their work. I don’t follow any now with regularity, but I’m blown away by the talent that’s out there and the creative way they’ve broken away from the traditional comics model.
14: What kind of impact has cartooning had on your life and could you ever see yourself not doing it?
Enormous. I’ve had the opportunity to sit down and talk with my heroes – people whose work I have great admiration for, and never once did they seek a restraining order or try to pepper spray me in the face. So far. It’s been the perfect creative outlet for me, a form of art therapy, and I’ve been fortunate that it’s been financially rewarding as well.

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15: Do you have any advice for the trolls out there who harass content creators? (no need to keep this answer clean.)
Yes. Life is waiting for you outside your Mom’s basement. Put on some pants, put down the game controller, ascend those creaky old stairs and experience life for yourself rather than acting as a virtual peeping tom in the lives of others. It’s creepy. Just stop it.
16: Do you set yourself any deadlines or other tricks to keep yourself motivated?
Because I have to produce two daily gag panels for syndicates, I can’t really afford to miss deadlines. I find that if I get my writing done early in the day and the drawing/coloring and other stuff after that, I can stay on top of the work.
17: Apart from root beer, what is your favorite drink?
In the words of H.L. Mencken, I’m ombibulous. I enjoy wine, so I drink Cabernet. I also like cigars with which a good single malt scotch or good Cognac fits the bill, and much to the chagrin of my wife, I drink too much Diet Coke because I just love the stuff.

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18: Are you already a member of the root beer party and if not, what is the matter with you?
I believe I am, but I wouldn’t blame you if you changed the locks on the place when I wasn’t looking.
19: What is the most challenging aspect of cartooning for you?
Not settling on putting out mediocre work just to meet a deadline rather than give the best I’ve got. When you’re facing a deadline, it can be tough, but I never want to allow myself to cross that line.
20: What are your future plans involving web comics or anything else going on in your life?
Cartooning-wise, I’d love to get one – even just one, into the pages of The New Yorker. That’s been a life-long goal which has eluded me thus far. Outside of cartooning, I want to buy a boat just big enough to live on for short periods of time and make it my floating studio as I navigate the Great Lakes, canals and rivers in the northeast. Oh yeah – and rule the world. With my wife’s permission, of course.

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     So there you have it True Believers, another look behind the curtain into the making of all your favorite comics.  We’d like to thank Bill Abbott for coming all the way out here to the vast Root Beer Party Estates, but he has spent much of his life deployed to distant lands, so he knows the role and perils of life as a cartoonist well.  So let’s have a look at more of Bill’s work:  

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     Be sure to join us again True Believers as we meet more of your heroes of The Root Beer Party and as always, until next time, may your mug always be frosted and your root beer always foamy.  

20 Questions with Comic Creators: Dan Thompson of Rip Haywire, Harley, Brevity, Lost Sheep & Kidspot

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     We are back once again True Believers, broadcasting live from the exclusive Root Beer Party Estates, in an undisclosed location in a long lost region of an undiscovered country.  Today we have with us the busiest man in comics today:  Dan Thompson who makes all the comics in the newspapers.  He does the adventure epic Rip Haywire, a lighthearted parody of the classic adventure comics of the 1930’s.  this comic has two continuities, a weekly story Monday through Saturday and then a separate Sunday continuity.  he is also doing a Young Rip Haywire series as well.  You can read Rip Haywire daily Here;     https://www.gocomics.com/riphaywire

     Dan also does another comic strip called Harley, about a fun loving motorcycle rider who lives the grand life of danger and fun.  You can check out his crazy shenanigans here:     https://www.gocomics.com/harley

     What must already be a monumental work load for any comic creator is only the beginning for Dan who has also taken over the comic strip Brevity, a wonderful gag a day strip which you can check out here:    https://www.gocomics.com/brevity

     And finally, we have Dan’s work on KidSpot, a children’s activity page with puzzles, humor and just a little cognitive development thrown in for good measure.  You can check out this page here:      https://www.gocomics.com/kidspot

     Did I say finally?  What I meant to say was Dan also does the comic strip Lost Sheep about a plucky sheep who wants more out of life then just following the flock.  You can read that comic Here:    https://www.gocomics.com/lostsheep/2018/10/05

     Did I say we were done yet?  No, Dan also does comics for the Tulsa Pets Magazine, which bring a much needed boost of levity to a magazine focusing on the care and management of all of our animal friends.  You can read his Pet comics here:    http://www.tulsapetsmagazine.com/?s=dan+Thompson

     Despite all of this work he has somehow found the time to travel to the other side of the world to meet with us at our top secret and vast Root Beer Party Estates to answer all the questions from you our True Believers.  So let’s get to know the hardest working man in comics:  Dan Thompson.  

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Question 1: What got you started in doing a comic series?
I had tried to get a comic syndicated for a few years with no luck and when Gocomics started Comics Sherpa, I added a strip called “Lost Sheep” to see if I had what it takes to do it longer than just 24 strips I’d submitted to a syndicate.

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Question 2: Who was your greatest influence?
I’d say Hanna Barbara Saturday morning cartoons … It seems like their character designs are etched into my brain and everything that I draw comes pretty close to that, and I like cartoons and artists that create in similar styles.
Question 3: What is your favorite root beer and why?
I would say “Hires” root beer … It was my go to root beer growing up … and I liked the logo
Question 4: What do you hope to accomplish with your comic?
I’d like to have a unique voice in the field that people enjoy reading, something sustainable and popular.

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Question 5: Do you have any other artistic interests outside of comics?
not at all.
Question 6: Do you see yourself as a professional cartoonist, or is this just something you do for yourself?
Both. If you don’t do it for yourself, what’s the point?
Question 7: What type of subject or humor do you consider out of bounds for your strips and why?
Things you’d never do or say in front of your mom, but I guess that depend on the kind of mom you have.

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Question 8: What kind of equipment or style of drawing do you use?
Bristol board, a pencil and markers, but I work on a Cintiq now and I use Clip studio paint (manga studio) for mostly everything, and photo shop for coloring Sunday strips.
Question 9: what sort of training or academic program did you pursue to become a cartoonist?
I taught myself cartooning, read everything I could get my hands on, Cartoonist Profiles, Hogan’s alley have great interviews with some of the greatest cartoonists to ever work in comics, and just studying the reprint books. hitting every used book store across the country looking for reprints from the popular to the forgotten newspaper comics
Question 10: What has been the highlight of your cartooning career?
Being able to work in the field I love, getting the opportunities and the breaks to keep drawing and writing comics.
Question 11: What has been the lowest point in your cartooning career?
These 20 questions.
Question 12: Are collections of your work available beyond the web? If So where?
I have reprint books available for Rip Haywire and Harley on Amazon.

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You can find Dan’s Author page on Amazon Here:    https://smile.amazon.com/Dan-Thompson/e/B005BLQO58/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_2?qid=1538772888&sr=8-2
Question 13: Are there any other web comic artists that you really admire?
I like Pat Sandy, Amanda El-Dweek, Stephen Beals … I like a lot of web only cartoonists, but I read them daily on gocomics.
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 creative field, but I could see myself as a plumber.

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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.)
Trolls are gonna troll … I wish they thought of the sacrifice, time and effort it takes for cartoonists to actually bring them something they can dump on … As a cartoonist, you have to let it go.
Question 16: Do you set yourself any deadlines or other tricks to keep yourself motivated?
Waiting until the last minute usually works for me … that and coffee.
Question 17: Apart from root beer, what is your favorite drink?
I drink coffee a lot … We try to stay away from soda with high fructose corn syrup in it, but every once in a while, they’ll sell the big brands with sugar … I love Coca-Cola and Dr. Pepper … Dr. Pepper is extra special for those great Johnny Hart ads Hart worked on for them with the caveman “Harmon” … so great.

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Question 18: Are you already a member of the root beer party and if not, what is the matter with you?
yes
Question 19: What is the most challenging aspect of cartooning for you?
Writing a gag that people will love … that should be the biggest challenge for everyone. Art is only 1/2 of cartooning

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Question 20: What are your future plans involving comics or anything else going on in your life?
As of today, nothing to report just working on the usual … Brevity, Harley, Rip Haywire and Kidspot

 

   So there you have it True Believers, Dan Thompson, the hardest working man in comics.  As he downs another well deserved frosty mug of the elixir of life that is root beer, let’s check out some of his comics from the Tulsa Pets Magazine here:

 

     So thanks for spending all your free time here with us Dan, and a special thanks to all the billions of True Believers out there who keep all of our comics alive.  Until next time true Believers, may your mug always be frosted and your root beer always foamy.  

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20 Questions with Comic Creators: John Rose of Barney Google & Snuffy Smith

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     Welcome back once again True Believers for another one of our world renowned segments:  20 Questions with Comic Creators!   We are here live from the Root Beer Party Studios in an undisclosed location in a far off land in an undiscovered country.  We are here to talk with one of our legacy comic creators and Root Beer Party Member John Rose of Barney Google and Snuffy Smith.  You can check out his comic here:     http://snuffysmithcomics.com/      

     Barney Google made his comic debut back in 1919 where the cigar-smoking, sports-loving, poker-playing, girl-chasing ne’er-do-well Barney Google was born.  Barney was the focus of the strip until 1934 when Snuffy Smith was introduced and soon eclipsed Barney as the star of the series.  Our good friend John Rose took over the comic in 2001 and has made the bodacious comic his own ever since. 

Snuffy Smith has had a huge impact on American comic culture including Barney Googles famous horse Spark Plug which gave a certain uncle of Peanuts Creator Charles Schultz the idea to nickname the soon to be comic genius “Sparky.”  Snuffy Smith has appeared in a series of his own movies

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and even had a postage stamp dedicated to Barney Google in 1995.

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Recently Snuffy Smith was even chosen for some public service announcements to prevent forest fires.  Look out Smokey the Bear.

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So lets meet the man who will be at the helm when Barney Google and Snuffy Smith turns 100 years old next year.  John Rose.

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

I have always wanted to be a cartoonist and I was blessed to be hired by the legendary Fred Lasswell as his inking assistant in 1998. That began my work on the Barney Google and Snuffy Smith comic strip.
Question 2: Who was you greatest influence?

As far as this particular comic strip goes, definitely Fred Lasswell and Billy DeBeck. But other cartooning influences for me throughout my career include Mike Peters, Mort Walker, Jeff MacNelly, Walt Disney and many more.

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

A & W root beer. Probably because we have a KFC/A&W Restaurant near our house so it’s the brand I have most often.

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

Make people smile each day and think back to a simpler time.

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

I admire and enjoy viewing many other types of art, but comic art is the only art I personally create.

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

I consider myself a professional cartoonist and I am incredibly thankful for the opportunity to be one.

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

In the comic strip, I only comment on politics or government in a very general sense. I do not ever get politically specific in any way.

Question 8: What kind of equipment or style of drawing do you use?
I am mostly traditional. I use small point brushes, india ink and the pigma micron pens (with archival ink) in a variety of sizes. I ink the comic strip on Bristol Board. But then I scan the comic strip into Photoshop when I am done inking and clean it up and size it. Then I email it to King Features Syndicate for distribution. Oh, and I use lots of white-out during the inking process! (:

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Question 9: what sort of training or academic program did you pursue to become a cartoonist?
I graduated from James Madison University in Harrisonburg, VA with a double-major in Art and Art History in 1986. But I worked on the school newspaper, The Breeze, as a cartoonist for the entire four years that I was a student. I feel that I got a great deal of my cartooning education there, as well.

Question 10: What has been the highlight of your cartooning career?
For me this is a two-part answer. The highlights were being chosen by Fred Lasswell to work with him as his inking assistant in 1998 and then being chosen by King Features to be the cartoonist for the Barney Google and Snuffy Smith comic strip in 2001. It is the greatest honor of my professional career to be entrusted to carry on the legacy of this wonderful comic strip.

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

Can’t really think of one because if you keep working hard and don’t give up, eventually the low points turn into high points.

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

Yes, I have three Barney Google and Snuffy Smith comic strip book collections. They can all be found by searching “Snuffy Smith” on Amazon.com. I also had an original 10-page Snuffy Smith comic book story published in Charlton Spotlight #9.

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You can find the books here:    https://www.amazon.com/Bodacious-Best-Snuffy-Smith-Collection/dp/1300283300   

 

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

Yes! Bob Scott who creates the Bear With Me comic strip for the web. I love his style. He is such an amazing artist and I really enjoy his sense of humor.

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

Cartooning has always had a big impact on my life. First as a fan and then as a professional cartoonist (and also still a fan!). I have always wanted to be a cartoonist, so I am very fortunate to get to do it every day. I could never see myself not doing it.

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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.)

As a creator, don’t let it get to you. If you are making yourself laugh, you are making others laugh, too. Create what you find funny and others will find it funny, too. Plus, you’ll have lots of fun creating it!

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

I have a daily deadline so that forces me to be motivated. Getting out of the studio for a walk or a change of scenery can help.

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

A half Diet Coke-half Coke mix.

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Are you sure it isn’t ‘Shine?  – Editor  

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

Yes, I am! (:

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

Daily deadlines are the most challenging part, but I truly really enjoy the whole process.

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

I hope to continue drawing the Barney Google and Snuffy Smith comic strip for many, many years to come. All my friends at King Features are wonderful to work with! I am bodaciously blessed to get to create this comic strip each day and I am very thankful for each and everyone of our readers! In 2019, the comic strip celebrates its 100th anniversary and I think we will have some fun things in store for our readers!

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So there you have it True Believers, another great interview segment with the creators and Root Beer Party Members who make all your favorite comics.  Just another peak behind the curtain of America’s favorite hillbillies.  So let’s go out and read some great “Bodacious” comics from the comic that invented the term, and as always True Believers, may your mug always be frosted and your root beer always foamy.