20 Questions with Web Comic Creators: Joe Flanders (Ninja & Pirate)


Well, True Believers, we are back again with the long awaited addition to our world renowned 20 questions segment with web comic artists. Today we have none other than the man who made the world’s coolest web comic, it has a ninja and a pirate, the two coolest things ever in one comic and it even has a pet owl named Dr. Who.

He is also one of the few people who truly dislike the Eagles rock band, and there is an Urban legend that if you meet Joe and yell “Hotel California,” he will bring up Pandora on his phone and it will be playing that song without fail.

So how? do you ask, did we get the biggest name in web comics today to sit down to an interview with us? Well we told him we had free root beer and the director’s cut of the new Godzilla movie with an actual appearance by Godzilla in the movie on Blu-Ray. ( We don’t have that really, but he didn’t find that out until after the interview.)

You can check out the coolest comic on the web here: http://www.ninjaandpirate.com/ So without much further ado about nothing, here is the Joe Flanders interview:

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

Well there I was, totally paying attention to high school algebra when I started doodling a comic. The comic grew to several pages long and my friends really seemed to like it so when I got a position at the prestigious high school newspaper I decided to start a comics page. We didn’t have one already so I wondered why anyone bothered reading our paper in the first place, but I digress. Ninja and Pirate became fairly popular around the school and from that point on I realized “Wow, people actually seem to like my stupid goofy drawings. I wonder how long I can ride this? Also, how long has this belly button lint been here?” And the rest is history.

Question 2: Who was you greatest influence?

Tough question. When I was young and dumb I loved Garfield. However, I also thought Jar Jar Binks was the pinnacle of cinematic comedy at that time, so take from that what you will. As I grew more sophisticated and refined, well as sophisticated and refined as someone who still snickers when he hears the word ‘duty’ can be, I fell in love with the work of Gary Larson and Bill Watterson. Bill’s art is beyond compare, as is his dialogue and Larson’s sick and twisted humor has always stuck with me. I don’t think anyone can surpass those two in terms of ‘influence’.

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

Honestly, it’s probably Barqs root beer because it has caffeine in it. Many a long night at SCAD working on a project were completed thanks to that caffeine intake. I didn’t care for regular cola too much, and the diet Mountain Dew was turning my urine an unsightly shade of lime green so I switched to cream soda. When I learned cream soda had little to no magic ‘staying awake’ power, I went to the closest thing to cream soda: root beer. The convenience store by my dorm had Barq’s and things went from there.

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

I just want to make people laugh. I want people to feel good and cheer up. I want them to identify with the characters in my strip and enjoy when something wacky or goofy happens. Life is far too short to spend any time of it depressed and as someone who suffers from depression I feel that if I have the ability to make people feel happy then I have a responsibility to do so. There’s a sort of ‘with great power comes great responsibility’ vibe. Can I coin that? I don’t think any comic has said that before.

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

Every artist has artistic interests outside of their field. Only a poor, single-minded moron will only study one aspect of his or her passion. An artist just interested in comics is like an accomplished chef who only makes sandwiches. Sure, sandwiches can be their specialty, but a good chef will know good food even if it’s not between two slices of bread. Also, I’m hungry right now.

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

I am 100% a professional cartoonist. I never let a deadline go by without putting something up on Ninja and Pirate. This is my job. My no-paying, high-effort, low-reward job and I love it. Mostly.

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

I do my best to make Ninja and Pirate family friendly, i.e. nothing in it that couldn’t be shown on a Nickelodeon cartoon. While there’s nothing wrong with adult humor, I want Ninja and Pirate to be something parents can read with their kids.

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

I use a super old frustratingly out of date Mac and a Wacom intuos tablet. My style of drawing I like to call ‘Roundabout’ because everybody is made out of circles and calling it ‘Circle Jerks’ wouldn’t be kosher. Although coming up with a name for your own style of art is kind of a tool-ish thing to do so let’s pretend I didn’t do that.

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

I graduated from the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) in 2012.

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

Whenever somebody comes up to me at a convention and knows my work and enjoys it is a great feeling to me.

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

Whenever I stay up late to finish a comic and it gets almost zero circulation is a heart breaker. Each one of these is a unique creation that I labor at and it’s a real downer to see it all be for naught.

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

Yep! Volume 1 of Ninja and Pirate is available on Amazon.com (http://www.amazon.com/Ninja-Pirate-1-Joe-Flanders/dp/1499294581/ref=sr_1_10?ie=UTF8&qid=1443313083&sr=8-10&keywords=ninja+and+pirate)

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

Every single one. These people work so hard to put out content for free, exposing it to the harshest critics around and they keep doing it. That is admirable no matter how you look at it.

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

Cartooning and comicking makes me happy. It calms me. Whenever I feel depressed or misanthropic I can always draw it out. No, I can’t see myself not creating art. When I moved to Oklahoma in the seventh grade, I was just starting to draw. It was like a drug, or at least I’m assuming it’s like a drug as I didn’t grow up in the sixties. I had to get a stick and sketch out terribly proportioned drawings with no perspective. Drawing is something I just have to do.

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

If you want to effectively troll, know what you’re talking about. Read their entire strip backlog before you start talking badly about it. Otherwise you look like a doofus.

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

The deadlines are more than enough to keep me posting on schedule. That and the panic and stress I get from thinking of missing a post.

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

I love Mtn. Dew White Out and Voltage, apple juice, chocolate milk, Angry Orchard, blood of countless virgins, chocolate milk…you know how it is.

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

I’m antisocial for the most part. I spend parties hanging out with the host’s dogs.

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

Getting it seen, holy cow is that a pain. For about four years now I’ve been putting out what I think is a quality product and still don’t have very many dedicated viewers. It’s like throwing a message in a bottle into the sea made entirely out of messages in bottles.

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

I just go day to day and hope that one day I can support my family with my art. That’s really all I can hope to do.

There you have it True Believers, the man himself Joe Flanders of Ninja and Pirate. This is truly one of the best comics out there, I highly recommend checking it out, the art and draftmanship alone is a living lesson for anyone interested in learning the field. Joe is plucking away just like Will Eisner did with his comic magazine, quietly changing the course of comic history. I have no doubt that he will soon be recognized as one of the greats. So jump on the bandwagon now so you can say “You knew him back when.”

The comic has a unique style and is incredibly funny, I imagine he works hard at it, but he makes it look easy putting it out twice a week for free. So if you get a chance, check out his site, you won’t be disappointed. Until next time True Believers, may you mug always be frosted and your root beer always foamy.


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