20 Questions with Comic Artists: Patrick McCuen of The Devil & Mr. Gandhi

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Our world famous segment is back!  20 Questions with comic artists where we delve deep into the minds and creative process of your favorite comic artists and writers.  Today we have none other than Patrick McCuen (Inkpuddle Pat for those in the know) from The comic The Devil & Mr. Ghandi.  You can check it out here: http://www.devilandgandhi.com/

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

I’ve been drawing comics, either one panel cartoons or strips since I was little, maybe since 3rd grade. I even drew a strip or two on my old x386 computer back in the 90’s and printed it out on a dot matrix printer. Actually committing to doing an ongoing webcomic and taking it to print was more of a personal promise to myself later in life. Later in life being now-ish.

Question 2: Who was you greatest influence?

Growing up in the 80’s and 90’s, I copied the art of the big names like Jim Lee and Frank Miller and Todd McFarlane.  I was very influenced by the art of Ron Lim, who worked on Captain America when I was actively collecting comics as a kid. John Romita, Jr. also stands out to me in terms of influence. The greatest? hard to nail down. I hope I took a little bit from each of those legends.

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

Hires, without a doubt, it makes the best root beer float.
Question 4: What do you hope to accomplish with your comic?
I hope to bring joy and laughter to the world. Maybe get some cheap chuckles from like-minded thinkers. I think my comic has already allowed me to publicly place myself in the continuum of comedic writers.

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

I love making black and white pencil illustrations. I would love to illustrate my own line of children’s books some day.

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

I definitely do it for myself. I actually never see myself doing cartoons or comics as my profession, hopefully something else artistically related, though.

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

Nothing is out of bounds if my criticism of the subject matter is expressed clearly enough to my liking. I deplore censorship, and I spit on close-minded people (metaphorically, of course). The only subjects I am not willing to write and draw about are the subjects I am not informed enough about. If I don’t have something funny, intelligent, and poignant to say/draw about a subject, I should probably read more about that subject, and keep my mouth shut and my pen dry.

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

Although I am attempting to improve my digital stylus skills, I use pen and ink on paper: pencils, brush pens, markers, brush and ink. I am recently loving pens and brush pens made my Kuretake. I consider my style of drawing to be cartoonish, in other words, I do not employ even a modified realistic style. I like cartoon eyes and mouths and teeth.

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

All my degrees are in English literature, which I think trained me very well for writing my comics and captioning my cartoons. I took four years of Art class in high school and a class or two in college, but artistically, I am mostly self-taught.
Question 10: What has been the highlight of your cartooning career?
That would be my most recent print publication, my crossover issue with the fine folks over at Dandy Press, Dave Dellecese and Andrew Cieslinksi. They make a comics called Holidaze. You can read about it at http://www.holidazecomic.com/ It has definitely been the highlight of my career. I found kindred comedic spirits in those two guys, and we had a blast making the crossover comic.
Question 11: What has been the lowest point in your cartooning career?
There was a time when I had lost interest in drawing comics for a while for various reasons. I had some college newspapers reject some political cartoons I was submitting. Nothing seemed to be going right, artistically. Thankfully, that time period was just before I renewed my determination to draw comics on a regular basis.

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

I still have trouble getting my print comics in brick and mortar stores, but they can be purchased at http://www.inkpuddle.storenvy.com. ;

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

Wow, there are so many. When it comes to sheer amount of output and quality of work, Mark Stokes of Zombie Boy and Crispin Wood of Small of Blue Yonder stand out to me. They happen to be nice guys, too, which is admirable.

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

Cartooning has kept me, a troubled youth, off the mean streets. It is definitely a form of therapy for me, too, so there is definitely a carthartic aspect to making comics. It keeps me sane and happy.  I’ll never stop. Bury me with bristol and brush and ink.

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

You are worthless, you are scum, you are not worth my time. I fart in your general direction.

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

Sadly, my self-imposed deadlines seem to pass me by unheeded.  It is tough staying motivated. Do you have tricks? Please tell me.

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

I would kill for a cask of Amontillado wine.

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

I already belong to the Green Party, and the Communist Party, so I would be happy to join the Root Beer Party.

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

Staying on track and focused on just one project. I really admire and envy cartoonists who publish their work daily or even once a week. I sometimes struggle with that. I like to start multiple projects at once, so staying true to a strip and publishing it in a consistent and timely manner is challenging to me.

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

In addition to a third issue of The Devil & Mr. Gandhi (as well as more daily format strips), I am also beginning work on an All-Ages Sci-Fi/History/Adventure story entitled Shakespeare Jung. I hope to add to more to http://www.shakespearejung.com as soon as I can. I am also getting married this July to a beautiful librarian, which has been my dream of mine. I plan to steal the Hope Diamond, find Amelia Earhart, and build a better mousetrap.
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So there you have it True Believers, another introduction interview with an up and coming legendary cartoonist.  We here at the Root Beer Party always give the people what they want, You demand it and we deliver.  You can also tell Pat is a really good guy from the fact that he likes Hires Root Beer, all good hearted people drink Hires.  So until next time, may your mug always be frosted and your root beer always foamy.

Comic Collection Review: The Family Circus 1960-61 by Bil Keane

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You know that sickeningly sweet comic of wholesome archaic family values that you see in the paper these days?  This is not it.  This is what it once was, a great family comic done in a original format and hilariously funny.

This collection captures the Family Circus from it’s very beginning, back when it was called “The Family Circle,” and the innovative marketing and creative humor which made the strip such a huge success.

We have 3 of the 4 children which will eventually populate this comic as well as the mother and father in much more predominant roles.  It is by no means a cutting edge comic, but during this time, it was very insightful and very funny.

During this time, Bil Keane actually had the kids which would make their way into the comics and the hijinks that they got up to played perfectly into the mind of the budding cartoonist and made great material for the strip.  As the years went on, the comic would remain funny and relevant for another 2 decades, but eventually, like all comics, it falls into the routine of running gags and panders to the nostalgia of older readers and fails to innovate.

The comic is now drawn by Jeff Keane, one of the original kids from this collection and is just an imitation of his father’s work.  It can still be funny at times, but it has long ago given way to sentiment.  It is now one of the dreaded “Zombie Strips” which has outlived it’s creator.

It is a difficult thing to create, write and draw a comic on a daily basis and many cartoonists are actually made up of teams of writers and artists which make it possible, Bil Keane was one of the comic creators at the time who went it alone for a long time until finally having his son come in as assistant and finally take over.

If you want to see what this comic was in it’s prime you can check it out in this collection.  You can get it off Amazon here:  http://www.amazon.com/Family-Circus-Bil-Keane/dp/1600105483/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1460990261&sr=1-1&keywords=the+family+circus

This collection is a great read and deserves a place in the Official Root Beer Party Comic Archives as well as volume 2 which is also available. I do not think there are any plans to continue publishing the complete series beyond this point though.  Family Circus was a really good strip once upon a time and innovative in it’s presentation and marketing.  I would highly recommend this collection to any serious comic collector.  Until next time True Believers,  may your mug always be frosted and your root beer always foamy.

Comic Collection Review: Sunnyville Stories Vol. 3 by Max West

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I finally got the book format of Sunnyville Stories Vol. 3 by Max West. You can get it here: http://www.amazon.com/Sunnyville-Stories-Volume-Max-West/dp/0989069621?ie=UTF8&keywords=Sonnyville%20stories&qid=1460204066&ref_=sr_1_sc_1&sr=8-1-spell

In this collection Max really expands on the Sunnyville world.  We get to see more of the character development of many of the old characters as well as the introduction of some new friends.

In Episode 8:  Make the Grade, we see Rusty’s mother take center stage.  Max shows us the range and depth of his characters in this volume.  This story is not really about the cheerful melancholy atmosphere that we are used to seeing in Sunnyville, we get to see behind closed doors and see the character flaws of Rusty’s mother and how she takes Rusty’s actions as a personal affront to her own social standings.

We ultimately find out about Rusty’s mother’s history with academics as well as her own childhood and while this chapter seems wrapped up in a little bow of sitcom reality with some sage words from Rusty’s father at the end, Max takes the story line and continues it in chapter 9.

The trauma of having one’s self worth as only seen as your standing in public is not an issue that could be resolved in a single 33 page comic, that would never work in real life and it doesn’t work that way in Sunnyville.  Max shows us the microcosm of the world in Sunnyville and that means warts and all.

In chapter 9 Rusty’s mom is once again flying off the handle in an emotional spin.  In this story we are introduced to the Japanese family in Sunnyville who run the Banzai Grill.  The story focus’s more on Goro TaNuki and his family.  Goro is an immigrant who learned to cook at his mother’s knee and worked hard to come to Sunnyville and open his restaurant.  His nephew Goemon, who recently graduated from culinary school comes to stay with them and work at the grill.

It is the age old story of the new competing with the old, and ultimately overtaking the master, the student becomes the old master for the next generation.  This is a story about transition,  the transition of time and tradition to progress.  The world changes and we must all adapt to it or wallow in self pity about a world that has passed us by.  In this case there is a positive resolution as Goro learns to accept his nephew and his new style and learns that he was the inspiration for Goemon all along.

In episode 10 Max introduces us to the Talbot of Frieda and Matthew.  In this tale we see a couple which has sort of let life get in the way of living and a little misunderstanding brings their focus in life back to clarity.  There are a lot of cameos and inside jokes in this adventure, so keep your eyes peeled for special appearances.

In the final chapter Episode 11;  The Artful Dodger we come full circle and once again go into the relationship between Rusty and his mother.  When Rusty takes and interest in art and announces that he would like to attend art school, his mother once again goes off about her standing in public and what this will mean to her.  I think Max is trying to show a mixture of a woman who sees in her child all the missed opportunities that she herself never pursued as well as having the neurosis of having been brought up that way herself.   Rusty’s mother has developed into one of the most complex characters in Sunnyville Stories and her relationship with Rusty will continue to be explored in further episodes as she comes to terms with herself and letting go as a parent.

This volume of Sunnyville Stories has really raised the bar for Max as his art as well as his storytelling abilities has improved dramatically while still keeping the simple humor of puns and gags to tackle serious issues.  His style is more of an artful storyteller rather than preaching morality.  His characters develop their own sense of moral continuity rather than just being typical stereotypes. His established characters are used to bring this whole world together rather than just focusing on them to exclusion of everything else, and in that Max West is in the process of creating a world inhabited by many characters not just the two lead characters in the series.  If you want a graphic novel that goes above and beyond the standard superhero or gag a day fare then check out Sunnyville Stories and as always True believers, may your mug always be frosted and your root beer always foamy.

You can keep up to date with Sunnyville stories and all of Max’s latest works here: http://sunnyvillestories.com/

 

Comic collection review: Zombie Boy: Some Kind of Horrible by Mark Stokes

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Is there a godfather of web comics?  Yes, and his name is Mark Stokes.  He is the man who invented the genre.  He was doing Zombie Boy back before Al Gore even invented the internet.  Back in 2015 he finally put together a Kickstarter and did what so many people have been telling him to do for a million years and put out a book.  Well, he finally did it and we got one of the best web comic collections to ever be published: Some kind of Horrible.

Mark started out as a traditional independent cartoonist back when comics were still the way to go in 1986 and released several incarnations of Zombie Boy over the years.  he started out here

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in a more traditional comic book, but soon Mark reimagined his character and Zombie Boy Comics was born.

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Zombie Boy became more of a light hearted comic set to a gothic horror background.  Some kind of horrible collects the first 225 Zombie boy comics.  You can get this volume on Amazon Here: http://www.amazon.com/Zombie-Boy-Some-Kind-Horrible/dp/0986440302

Mark sent me a copy of the original comic along with my Kickstarter copy of the book and it is now a treasured piece in the Root Beer Party comic archives.  He has also been a generous mentor to countless web comic artists on twitter or Facebook, giving great advice and encouragement to budding artists and comic creators.

I can’t say enough good things about Zombie Boy Comics to do it justice.  Mark is also the creator of the character of Gorr in the strip, my all time favorite.  You can check out his comic on his site and you too will also be put under the spell of Zombie Boy: http://www.zombieboycomics.com/

There are trailblazers who mark the path that the rest of us follow and Mark Stokes is one of those trailblazers who helped make web comics possible.  If you want to see one of the best in the business doing what he does best, than pick up a copy of this book and you will not regret it.  Until next time True Believers, may your mug always be frosted and your root beer always foamy.

Comic Collection review: Lunerbaboon Vol. 1 by Chris Grady

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This collection is the reason that web comics exist.  Lunarbaboon is one of the best web comics out there.  Chris Grady started a sketchbook when he became a dad for the first time and after printing a few strips online, Lunarbaboon was born.  I don’t even think he ever set out to do a comic strip, much less one as successful as Lunarbaboon has become, but we are all glad that he did.

This volume was an exclusive that Chris did through Kickstarter, you supported the publishing cost and you got a copy of the book along with a bunch of other cool gifts and prizes.  The kickstarter was a huge success and drew in something like $50,000,000,000 dollars or something like that, but in Canadian money, so it was something like  $44,000 in US money, but still an impressive amount for a webcomic.

Lunarbaboon is the perfect balance of sentiment, humor and pop culture reference.  It is not as pandering as Family Circus became or quite as preachy as Mutts or Baby Blues, but it is a family friendly strip along the lines of Peanuts.  Lunarbaboon is a comic about a 30 something dad who is trying to figure out life for himself while at the same time raising 2 kids.  He is the dad we all want to be, the ideal modern role model in a world without many real role models to look up to.

You can check out his webpage here: http://www.lunarbaboon.com/ his book is available to buy, but in true indie fashion, it is not on Amazon, you can find it on his website here: http://lunarbaboon.bigcartel.com/product/lunarbaboon-volume-1

This is one of the best comics out there, so do yourself  favor and check it out and order the book.  The kickstarter for Vol. 2 already happened and I am hoping to receive it soon.  It was an even more successful kickstarter than the first volume.  Get in on the ground floor and pick up your copy today.  You will not regret it.  Until next time True Believers, may your mug always be frosted and your root beer always foamy.

Comic collection review: There Are People Living Inside My Head by Darrel Troxel

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“There are People Living Inside my Head” is the first collection of Darrel Troxel’s comic “That Comic Thing.”  http://www.amazon.com/There-people-living-inside-head/dp/1501021117?ie=UTF8&keywords=There%20are%20people%20living%20inside%20my%20head&qid=1459598924&ref_=sr_1_1&sr=8-1

It is a small self published book that Darrel put out to maximize the profits from his vast media empire (I think he owns Batman or something)  but this book is the first effort by Darrel to bring to print the popular webcomic.  This collection contains side notes on every page telling you a little about the creative process involved in making the strip and what motivates a seemingly normal person to get up and start making comics.  (We are talking about a serious mental disorder here)  But seriously, Darrel has a great off the wall, out of the box, out of left field, square peg in a round hole, in through the out door sense of humor that will appeal to any fan of Gary Larson or Bill Griffith. You can check out his page here: http://www.thatcomicthing.com/picture-storage

Darrel’s comic thing is just that, he does his own thing and just brings it.  He does not tie himself down with a stereotypical format or characters, he just records them like he see them, or as the people in his head tell him.  So check out a great comic collection from one of the soon to be legendary innovators in the field and as always True Believers, may your mug always be frosted and your root beer always foamy.