Well true believers, we are back again with the long awaited 20 questions with web comic artist Vol. 3 and today we talk to the maladjusted Brad Perri in our chats with web comic creators. Brad is the creator of Pirate Mike: Maladjusted Suburbanite which you can read here: http://piratemikecomics.com/
Question 1: What got you started in doing a comic series?
Garfield. My cousin and I were part of that legion of children in the early ’80s who fell under that cat’s spell. My cousin introduced me to Garfield and then he started making comics. I pretty much started doing comics because my cousin started doing them first. We loved it. We made a lot of comic strips. I briefly toyed with doing comic books, but those take too long and involve too many people. Once I realized I would have to draw somebody else’s scripts (generally speaking) there was no turning back. I like the possibility of doing the whole strip myself, though I am not a member of the historically-questionable “do it all yourself or it doesn’t count” school of comic strip theory.
Question 2: Who was you greatest influence?
I really love Don Heck’s Iron Man. When I saw his art as a child on the old Marvel Super Heroes Iron Man Cartoons, I was just transfixed. I really still am, particularly on Tales of Suspense #45 “The Icy Fingers of Jack Frost!”
Question 3: What is your favorite root beer and why?
I love the Harmon Killebrew root beer here in Minnesota, “Killebrew Root Beer.” I think it has a really unique taste to it and I love buying it in the aluminum can at Target Field (even though I still root for the Chicago White Sox).
Question 4: What do you hope to accomplish with your comic?
I hope to make a comic strip that brings a lot of joy to a lot of people. And, yes, it would really be awesome if I could make it part of a revenue stream that supported me! 🙂
Question 5: Do you have any other artistic interests outside of comics?
I like 1960s British Invasion and I like to play the same five chords on an acoustic guitar. For some reason, I find that soothing.
Question 6: Do you see yourself as a professional cartoonist, or is this just something you do for yourself?
I see myself as a comics artist who hopes to be able to be taken seriously by other folks as a real comics artist. And, yes, it would really be awesome if I could make it part of a revenue stream that supported me! 🙂
Question 7: What type of subject or humor do you consider out of bounds for your strips and why?
Stuff that I think is bad for kids. I like my comics to be able to be enjoyed by children and adults alike. So balancing that line without becoming insipid is a challenge I enjoy. That said, I, like most intelligent human beings, enjoy entertainment that is not appropriate for children, including much art, and I do not believe that everything should be child appropriate. I have just set my audience as including children and I want to respect that limitation.
Question 8: What kind of equiptment or style of drawing do you use?
For equipment, I have used a Microsoft Surface Pro 3 computer with Manga Studio 5.0 on it for the last year or so. Because I am not paid for what I do, I have to have a day job and that means my time for cartooning is limited. I like to think that the computer takes the place of a studio that Al Capp may have used or an assistant that Walt Kelly may have used. Corrections, etc., all slow me down tremendously and the Surface Pro 3 has enabled me to make all of that go much faster.
Prior to that, I used a variety of brushes, including the hallowed Winsor Newton Series 7 #2 round, but eventually settling on a Raphael 8404 #2. These days, if I fiddle with a brush, I use a Pentel Pocketbrush with the Pentel ink in it, though if I had a studio, I’d go back to the Raphael. I preferred Bristol vellum surface. For ink, my favorite ink is Deleter black #1 even though I find it a little thin and a little bit flat finish, but it’s extremely smooth and I like the way it comes off the brush. Unfortunately, it’s also expensive and tough to find if I just want to pick something up at Wet Paint (my favorite art store in the world which is also conveniently located here in St Paul, The Capital of Cartooning! and true home of Charles Schulz and his Peanuts), so when I’m just goofing aound with ink, I use Speedball india ink, which I really like for its deep black and shiny finish, but it’s very thick and gums up my brush quickly, so I’m easily annoyed by it. For nibs, I use the usual Hunt 102, though, if given a preference, I like the more expensive Leonardt Hiro 800 which is the tool, I have found, that gives me the line I love best, though I desperately wish I was better with the brush. For pencils, I draw very lightly with a Mirado Black Warrior #2. They remind me of the black shiny fat pencils we had in first grade at St. Zachary’s school in Des Plaines, Illinois. Though, I must say, I think the quality has dropped since they stopped making them in the good ol’ USA (for instance, they no longer have the shiny black finish I liked; now it’s matte) and moved shop down to Mexico. I think they got bought by PaperMate or RubberMaid or something.
Question 9: what sort of training or academic program did you pursue to become a cartoonist?
None. I avoided it because I had family members who had attempted to make a living in the arts and had not had any luck. Eventually, though, whether I liked it or not, I wanted to draw a comic strip. I could only fight it for so long. I figured 25 years of fighting it was enough.
Question 10: What has been the highlight of your cartooning career?
Having strangers congratulate me on having created something they recognize as a geniune comic strip character (Pirate Mike).
Question 11: What has been the lowest point in your cartooning career?
Realizing while still putting together my first syndicate submission many years ago that the strip was not syndicate material. I nevertheless still submitted it just for closure. Oh, and, yes, it was rejected by everbody. It took me seven years to recover from that. Now I’m on Comics Sherpa where I pay for the privilege of being told “no” by Universal Press’s editors three times a week. It’s tremendously helpful in learning how to focus on what matters (making the strip) as opposed to focusing on dreams (I can’t wait to be a cartoonist someday! But, first, I need to be syndicated to _really_ do it!) I highly recommend Comics Sherpa for that reason. Plus, you start to meet other cartoonists and that is really a lot of fun. Sometimes it’s the most fun.
Question 12: Are collections of your work available beyond the web? If So where?
Yes! I put together a comic book collecting the first year or so of Pirate Mike! If one were so inclined, one could purchase it at Mike’s website! (http://piratemikecomics.com/)
Question 13: Are there any other web comic artists that you really admire?
Too many to list, so I’ll restrict myself to the one who has been kindest to me and who has gone out of his way to help me meet other like-minded cartoonists: Phil Juliano. He does a strip called Best In Show about a guy and his dog who go back in time but retain all their memories of the future. I love it and highly recommend it. Comics artists in general (not just on the web) have been extremely kind to me and I am very thankful for the reception they have given me.
Question 14: What kind of impact has cartooning had on your life and could you ever see yourself not doing it?
Well, I include in that question the cartooning that has been done by others like Don Heck, Jack Kirby, Jim Davis, E.C. Segar and many, many others, so I would say that the impact of cartooning has been decisive in my life. Cartooning is the single most important experience in my life (Folks can safely assume when I say “cartooning is the most important thing in my life” that I mean apart from people I love, right?)
Question 15: Do you have any advice for the Trolls out there who harass content creators? (no need to keep this answer clean.)
No, not really. Naysayers are a part of anybody’s life who chooses to be an entertainer outside of the family living room as a five year old. Everyone is entitled to their opinion when it comes to comics and while it’s never nice to have somebody tell me that they do not enjoy my comics, it’s also not something that I think needs to be eliminated from my audience in order for me to feel that I have succeeded.
Question 16: Do you set yourself any deadlines or other tricks to keep yourself motivated?
Nowadays I like to have one new strip a week with two strips out of the archives. I like to publish a new strip on Monday (it used to be Fridays, but I’ve been told web traffic is higher on Mondays) with the other two archive strips on Wed and Friday (though I recently did archive strips 3x a week recently while I busied myself at failing to build a buffer). Some day, I want to be a 7 days a week strip, but that will come gradually. I haven’t yet figured out what kind of intermediate goals and deadlines to set to get me there.
Question 17: Apart from root beer, what is your favorite drink?
Orange drink (Hi-C ?) from McDonald’s. Non-carbonated. I could drink that stuff all day. Love it.
Question 18: Are you already a member of the root beer party and if not, what is the matter with you?
I thought it happened automatically when I discovered Killebrew Root Beer! Seriously. That stuff is a revelation. It’s the only soft drink I jones for when I’m walking through the grocery store. Every bottle is a special treat.
Question 19: What is the most challenging aspect of cartooning for you?
Speed. To me, I want to be able to create a top-level comic strip in a regular sustainable 7 day a week manner. Right now, I’m just too damn slow. So speed without compromising the quality of the strip is key. So, for instance, I haven’t figured out how to letter digitally yet. I still do my lettering by hand. Somewhere out there is a person who knows how to do my lettering digitally and could letter my strip ten times faster than I can do it by hand. I just haven’t figured it out yet. Ideally, that will come with time, just like everything else that has developed.
Question 20: What are your future plans involving web comics or anything else going on in your life?
I will soon be setting up a Patreon page. (which we will update you on as soon as it’s available.)
Once again true believers, the Root Beer party has delivered on it’s promise to provide you with news about web comics, root beer and the people who love it. Until next time, may your mug always be frosty and you root beer foamy.