20 Questions with Comic Artists:Dana Atnip of Galactic Dragons

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All of you True believers out there keep demanding more and we are back again with our most popular segment on the Root Beer Party site: 20 questions!   Today we meet Dana Atnip, creator of Galactic Dragons, it kind of like Lord of the Rings meets Red Dwarf, or maybe more like Harry Potter meets Star Wars, or Pretty in Pink meets Planet of the Apes, Ok it’s not like any of those things it’s Galactic Dragons.  It’s a whole new idea and as Dana puts it on her site:

“For thousands of years, mankind has gazed up into the heavens and observed the beauty and mysteries of space, planets, and the constellations.

What mankind has been unaware of is that creatures live among the very constellations that they are named after (no, really, it’s true!) For example, in the constellation Ursa Major live the bears, in Leo live the lions, and in Draco, of course, live the dragons.

Galactic Dragons follows the adventures of Captain Thew and his crew of misfits, doing their best to serve the Mighty Dragon Fleet, stay alive, and have some fun while doing it.”

You can check out Galactic Dragons which updates every Wednesday here:  http://galacticdragons.com/about/  Where you can say hi to Captain Thew, Aurora, Bruno, T-Bone Azimuth, Ion, Sputnik and Copernicus.  We here at the Root Beer Party are committed to bringing you all the best that the world has to offer in comics and Root Beer and Dana brings you one of the best comics on the web, so I won’t torture you anymore, let’s meet Dana:

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Question 1: What got you started in doing a comic series?
I started drawing comic strips when I was about 10 (recreating Garfield and Peanuts). I started creating my own comics when I was a teenager.
Question 2: Who was you greatest influence?
The greats: Watterson, Breathed, Schultz, Davis, Larson, and my hero Carl Barks.
Question 3: What is your favorite root beer and why?
I don’t drink a lot of pop but I like Zevia’s ginger root beer.
Question 4: What do you hope to accomplish with your comic?
I just want to make people laugh and to entertain. If I can do that then I feel I accomplished something. I would however like to expand my audience; I plan to post on other websites soon.
Question 5: Do you have any other artistic interests outside of comics?
I also do illustrations; cute fuzzy animals are my specialty! I also belong to the SCBWI (Society of Children’s Books Writers and Illustrators). I hope to be able to become a published author/illustrator. Also greeting cards. You can see my non-comic work at http://www.DanaAtnip.com
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. I’ve had single-panel cartoons published in magazines and I’ve been paid to design logos. And I take my comic updates very seriously; I will work all night to not miss an update.
Question 7: What type of subject or humor do you consider out of bounds for your strips and why?
Ha! I thought I no longer had to censor myself when I stopped submitting to syndicates, but I find that when I push the envelope my strips seem to get less circulation. So I’m keeping it PG-13. But when I make my Patreon page I will offer my more-adult strips as a reward. And you will never see me do a fart joke, I have never found them funny.
Question 8: What kind of equipment or style of drawing do you use?
Rough sketches are drawn with pencil and paper, then scanned into my computer. I use a Wacom Intuos drawing tablet, and Photoshop and Illustrator for inks and color.
Question 9: what sort of training or academic program did you pursue to become a cartoonist?
I’m mostly self-taught, but I also have two Associates degrees, one in Fine Arts and one in Graphic and Commercial Art from Macomb Community College. For a community college they have an amazing art program!
Question 10: What has been the highlight of your cartooning career?
Having people comment to me that they enjoy my work makes my day. And when I have other creators and professionals tell me they enjoy my work it’s a thrill! When I was actively submitting to syndicates I would get personal responses from editors and that was always uplifting. I was being considered for a contract from one of the bigger syndicates once but obviously in the end they didn’t, but it was still exciting at the time.
Question 11: What has been the lowest point in your cartooning career?
Ugh, I still struggle with that. Sometimes I get into funks where I get depressed and think my work isn’t good enough. But I won’t ever stop drawing cartoons.
Question 12: Are collections of your work available beyond the web? If So where?
Right now my strips are found at http://www.galacticdragons.com and my illustrator work can be found at http://www.DanaAtnip.com
Question 13: Are there any other web comic artists that you really admire?
TOO MANY to post them all! My first webcomic friend on Twitter was
Jon Esparza (Bubble Fox)(And Co-President of the Root Beer Party – Editor) and he was so friendly that he helped me get over my shyness of reaching out to other creators. Also Mark Stokes (Zombie Boy), (And Root Beer Party Member – Editor)
Bret Juliano (Dust Bunny Mafia), (And Root Beer Party Member – Editor)
Tom Truszkowski (What Ever Became of Station V3?),
James Boyd (Sunny Side Up),(And Root Beer Party member – Editor)
Eric Gapstur (Wyatt),
Kim Belding (Picpak Dog) (The other Co-President of the Root Beer Party, we are everywhere – Editor) , and
Cyndi Foster (Oops Comic Adventure) have all been extremely supportive!
Question 14: What kind of impact has cartooning had on your life and could you ever see yourself not doing it?
Cartooning is my lifeblood. I will stop when I’m dead (but if I’m a zombie then I’ll continue to draw).
Question 15: Do you have any advice for the Trolls out there who harass content creators? (no need to keep this answer clean.)
No. Trolls are trolls, they’re like parasites and they feel no pain, so there’s no point in ever engaging with one.
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Question 16: Do you set yourself any deadlines or other tricks to keep yourself motivated?
I’m OCD about being prompt and on time, so that keeps me from missing updates. However I’m working on the procrastination issues with other projects.
Question 17: Apart from root beer, what is your favorite drink?
I like cider, all kinds: apple cider from the cider mill, apple juice, and hard cider.
Question 18: Are you already a member of the root beer party and if not, what is the matter with you?
I probably don’t qualify, but I support you all in your root beer adventures! (Dana has been inducted into the ranks of the Root Beer Party – Editor)
Question 19: What is the most challenging aspect of cartooning for you?
Getting the pencil to paper; once I finally begin, the wheels start rolling and it’s easy to keep going.
Question 20: What are your future plans involving web comics or anything else going on in your life?
I plan on getting my Galactic Dragon strips out to more websites like Tapastic and maybe applying to GoComics. I also have another webcomic in mind (if I could just find the time). I also would like to start doing cons, once I have a book in print and other things to sell.
And there you have it True Believers, Dana Atnip in her own words.  Welcome to the Root Beer Party Dana, sit back and relax and pass T-Bone a cold frosty one.  Yes, you demand it and we deliver another exciting episode into the minds and processes of some of todays greatest comic talent.  You read it here first, and as always True Believers, until next time, may your mug always be frosted and your root beer always foamy.

20 Questions with Comic Artists: Tom Nash of Tut & Groan

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We are back once gain True Believers with our most popular segments, 20 questions with comic artists!!!!  Today we travel across the Atlantic to talk with Tom Nash of Tut & Groan a wordplay web comic from England.  The Root Beer is an international party which embraces comics and comic creators from all over the globe.  If there is one thing that can unite us all, it is laughing at the absurdities of life.

You can find his comic on his home page at: http://www.tutandgroan.com/about/

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Question 1: What got you started in doing a comic series?
Before I fell out with the craft of writing, I would draw terrible MS Paint cartoons to add a little something different to each blog post I’d write for my creative writing website. I also, used to think up bad jokes and labored puns that I would do nothing with. When I took a break from writing I decided to merge the two together and start doodling the jokes I’d come up with on my tablet (that coincidently came with a stylus) as a way to keep the creativity ticking over.
Question 2: Who was your greatest influence?
The great Moose Allain is a professional artist who lives in the Southwest of the UK and creates a fantastic array of art, stop-motion videos, cartoons and jokes on Twitter. His feed showed me that there was an audience for quick, funny (if not especially well drawn) doodles, so I decided to get in on the action.
Question 3: What is your favorite root beer and why?
See, root beer isn’t as big over here in the UK. I had to look it up. Ginger beer counts, right? They sell a ‘weapons grade’ alcoholic version where I studied in Cornwall. Once in a while I would neck a pint of that. It was strong stuff… I preferred the local cider (sorry!).
Question 4: What do you hope to accomplish with your comic?
Well, the good people of Unbound.co.uk have just helped me launch a crowdfunding campaign for a T&G book. If I can get that fully funded, I think I’ll have exceeded everyone’s expectations, especially my own.
Question 5: Do you have any other artistic interests outside of comics?
I’m a writer by trade (I may have mentioned that earlier…) and have written (and had a big falling out with) a novel that I started a few years ago, during my postgraduate degree. Music is very important to me as well, but I have no musical talent. Mostly, I like to laugh. There’s not much going on around the world to smile about at the moment, so any guilt-free opportunity is golden.
Question 6: Do you see yourself as a professional cartoonist, or is this just something you do for yourself?
I don’t think I could call myself a professional cartoonist until it has made me some money but I’ve put it on my LinkedIn profile anyway. If my Unbound book campaign reaches full funding and you can pick up a copy on Amazon, then that would be very cool. It’s hard to get something made if you don’t have big name backing or a huge audience, it’d be great to see something I’ve created on the shelf in a shop.
Question 7: What type of subject or humor do you consider out of bounds for your strips and why?
I try to avoid politics if I can (I’ve failed a handful of times) and I try not to be cruel, but if I think it’s funny, I’m making the joke.
Question 8: What kind of equipment or style of drawing do you use?
I have a battered and abused Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 with attached stylus and I settled on Autodesk Sketch Express as my app of choice after trying a couple of others.
My style of drawing is ‘none’. I can’t really draw and the early cartoons I made were just quickly thrown together. Once I realised they were in essence a style I started to refine the process and now I think I can make a glorified stick figure really emote with a face consisting of no more than two dots and a weird blob. The less detail the better with me, hence why the majority of my comic strips are two characters chatting.
Question 9: what sort of training or academic program did you pursue to become a cartoonist?
I have a degree in English with Creative Writing and a postgraduate degree in Professional Writing. I didn’t realize they would help with a comic. Never envisioned a comic, to be honest… I think it helps to know how stories work, especially now I do three and six panel comic strips.
Question 10: What has been the highlight of your cartooning career?
Getting this book deal. It’s been an exciting couple of years and it’s good to know it’s (hopefully) been building towards something.
Question 11: What has been the lowest point in your cartooning career?
Potentially, it’s getting this book deal as well. I was just sharing little drawings I thought were funny, now I’m trying to convince people to pay for a book full of them. It escalated quickly.
Question 12: Are collections of your work available beyond the web? If so where?
No such luck… Yet. I’ve got a T&G t-shirt and so have my missus and buddy. If they count, there are three walking exhibits in South London.
Question 13: Are there any other web comic artists that you really admire?
Loads- Rubyetc, John Cullen, Peter from Fatherhood Badly Doodled, Mike from Dust Piggies, Chris from Poorly Drawn Guy, Pais from Highgreen Dawn, OddAtho, Joan Cornella, Mythdirection, Reza from Poorly Drawn Lines, Things in Squares, Liana Finck… I could go on for days- there are a lot of very talented people on them internets. Pretty much everyone on my Twitter follow list is intimidatingly gifted.
Question 14: What kind of impact has cartooning had on your life and could you ever see yourself not doing it?
People tell me my comics have made them laugh. That makes me happy. I’m running out of obvious puns so I can see the updates dropping to twice a week at some point, maybe. I’ll keep doing it as long as people keep laughing and I keep coming up with jokes I’m willing to put my name to.
Question 15: Do you have any advice for the Trolls out there who harass content creators? (no need to keep this answer clean.)
Apart from shut your noise and fuck off? Your opinion isn’t as important as your mother has led you to believe. Nobody cares what you think, even the people who do have time for your nonsense so shut your noise and get to fuck.
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Question 16: Do you set yourself any deadlines or other tricks to keep yourself motivated?
I try to ensure I have at least 30 toons scheduled at a time, if not more. I keep my phone or a notepad close by at all times, ready for doodling and my back pocket usually has a couple of scribbled comics on pages torn form work notepads or on Post-it notes. These prolific spells help hide the occasional barren patches, innit.
Question 17: Apart from root beer, what is your favorite drink?
I like a coffee. I live on coffee. A latte, preferably, thanks. On a hot day- cider, a flat, still scrumpy. Delicious.
Question 18: Are you already a member of the root beer party and if not,  what is the matter with you?
Tut and Groan transcends political factions. Unless there’s a badge. Is there a badge?
Question 19: What is the most challenging aspect of cartooning for you?
I’m crap at drawing so anything more technical than two blokes talking is a challenge for me. Humor is so subjective it is a challenge to ensure every cartoon is a challenge
Question 20: What are your future plans involving web comics or anything else going on in your life?
I’m approaching 500 entries on the website, which is nice. Plus, I’m getting married next year. Hopefully the book will be funded by then. Lots of things to look forward to in 2017 and beyond… Now, about getting that book funding…
(if you are kind enough to share it, the book campaign link is unbound.co.uk/books/tut-and-groan thanks) & should be exciting.
And there you have it True Believers, Another interview with comic artists brought to you from merry old England this time.  Still don’t know why people think the Root Beer Party is political, I guess the term party has been co-opted by the political process, which by the way, is nothing like a party, so it’s false advertising.  We hope to bring you more great interviews from our friendly comic artists across the seas and spread the word of Root Beer, which England is apparently severely lacking in, across the world.  So until next time True Believers. may your mug always be frosted and your root beer always foamy.

20 Questions with Comic Artists: Jon Esparza of Bubblefox

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We are back again True Believers and we are delivering big time today.  We have received countless comments demanding an interview with one of the most influential comic artists in the world today.  Jon Esparza
Jon is the creator of not just one, not just two, not just three, but four comic series which you can read on the web.  There is Bubblefox: http://bubblefox.thecomicseries.com/
There is Peppertown: http://peppertown.thecomicseries.com/ and then we have Mike & Mindy as well as Mushrooms Which can be found on his blog here: http://jonscrazystuff.blogspot.com/
As if this wasn’t enough, Jon is also a founding member and Co-President of the Root Beer Party. He has several collections of his work available in print, you can get his first collection of Bubblefox on Amazon here: http://www.amazon.com/Classical-Gas-Bubble-Fox-1/dp/1508525668/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1465255320&sr=8-1&keywords=jon+esparza
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Jon is also a constant presence on Twitter, you can find him at @JonCrazyTweets and follow all the tweeter antics of the Root Beer Party, but enough of the preamble, let us give the True Believers what they came here for, Jon take it away:
Question 1: What got you started in doing a comic series?
I just wanted a way to tell my stories and get my goofy vibes out of my head. I had a degree in film but no means to make movies. Comics just seemed like a natural next step. It also helped that MAD Magazine told me to bugger off and all the other humor mags were already dead by that point!
Question 2: Who was you greatest influence?
So many blazed the trail that led to CRAZY. Don Martin, Gary Larson, Akira Toriyama and Jack Davis are pretty much tops as far as art influences go. Tim Burton, David and Jerry Zucker, Jim Abrahams, Mel Brooks and Harold Ramis all had big impacts on me too. Hell, that first Batman movie in ’89 was the exact moment I knew I wanted to be a writer. Above all though, it’s Jim Henson that I admire the most, not only as an artist, but as a human being. I try to follow his example as best as I can. It’s as a tribute to Jim Henson that my characters have the large eyes and spindly limbs that they possess.
Question 3: What is your favorite root beer and why?
There are some that will find this controversial, but I am a Barq’s man! It’s got a strong bite to it and isn’t overly sweet! I will say though that there’s a brand out there called “Darn That’s Good” that makes a butterscotch root beer that comes pretty damn close!
Question 4: What do you hope to accomplish with your comic?
More than anything, I just wanna make folks happy. Comics are fun to me, and if I can spread that joy through a bunch of silly drawings, then that’s even better! An Eisner or Ruben would be nice too, but, I’m realistic!
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Question 5: Do you have any other artistic interests outside of comics?
Quite a few! As a kid, I always wanted to work for The Muppets, so sometimes I build puppets in my spare time. I also do resin art, build models and cook! Yes, I consider cooking an art form!
Question 6: Do you see yourself as a professional cartoonist, or is this just something you do for yourself?
(Laughs) Given that I’ve been paid to draw, and have booked conventions and been on a couple panels, I’d say I qualify as a professional. I get into comic cons for free even! That’s gotta count for something!
Question 7: What type of subject or humor do you consider out of bounds for your strips and why?
Nudity, violence, excessive cussing or gratuitous bathroom humor are out of bounds. I will never draw anything R-rated or worse. I’m not opposed to adult themes or some language or violence, but there’s gotta be a reason for it. Too many jump straight to shock value these days, forgetting why shock value exists in the first place.
Question 8: What kind of equipment or style of drawing do you use?
I use Strathemore paper and a mix of Pentel and Staedler pens for my inks and scribble them down with PrismaColor Col-Erase pencils.  I used to ink straight from my pencils, but my pens kept getting gummed up, so I trace from a lightbox now.  What can I say?  I love working analog!  That and I’m poor!
Question 9: what sort of training or academic program did you pursue to become a cartoonist?
I have no formal art training. I just ran with a lifelong hobby. I do use my film school training somewhat. I try to compose certain panels the same way I would a film shot, a fact Tom Richmond picked up on once!
Question 10: What has been the highlight of your cartooning career?
I’ve had a few good ones. Turning a profit at WonderCon 2015 ranks pretty high, but the big one for me was getting recognized by some fans at Long Beach Comic Con in 2014! It was such a trip because as a cartoonist, a web cartoonist especially, I really fly under the radar. So when someone spotted my name badge and asked me if I was the “Crazy guy who draws Bubble Fox,” I was in Heaven!
Question 11: What has been the lowest point in your cartooning career?
This is gonna open up some old wounds. I’d say the period between February and May 2014 were about as rock bottom as I got. Kim Belding and I did a Kickstarter for an animated project that failed miserably and on top of that, I did very poorly at WonderCon just as the campaign was limping to its end. It was really rough. About as close as I ever came to drinking. I’ve had some spectacular failures in my life, but have always been able to laugh them off. Those two in particular just hurt.
Question 12: Are collections of your work available beyond the web? If So where?
As it just so happens, there are! The first three years of “Mike & Mindy” and “Mushrooms” are all available in collected volumes as is the first year of “Bubble Fox!” They can all be found on Amazon too! You’ll also be happy to know that “Bubble Fox” year two and the first “Peppertown” collection are also currently being worked on!
Question 13: Are there any other web comic artists that you really admire?
Don’t think there’s enough space on the web to cover this one! I consider Mark Stokes to be the King of the Mountain in our industry. No one’s done more to bring respect to web comics than Mark. Dawn Griffin and Vince Dorse have also done a lot to shine the spotlight our way and, like Mark, have mentored so many. Kim Belding and Warren Frantz are my crazy Canadian brothers and Tim Green, Scott Warren, Joshua Hauke, Jamie Cosley and Jason Platt are just plain awesome. I consider Austin Verburg to be the future of web comics. I know I’m forgetting many here, so I highly recommend y’all just go exploring because web comics have so much to offer!
Question 14: What kind of impact has cartooning had on your life and could you ever see yourself not doing it?
I may not be here were it not for cartooning. I’ve had a lot of rough patches in my life in recent years. 2011 was a really bad one as my health took a nose dive along with everything else around me. It was making comics and and coming up with blog posts that kept me going and got my mind off of bad things. Could I do something else? Probably. I did before, but I probably wouldn’t be a happy camper if I didn’t draw. Me and art are symbiotic!
Question 15: Do you have any advice for the Trolls out there who harass content creators? (no need to keep this answer clean.)
There’s a steep cliff. Feel free to thin the herd.
Question 16: Do you set yourself any deadlines or other tricks to keep yourself motivated?
Oh yes! I try my best to make the 2-3 middle weeks of each month my cartooning/posting weeks. Not always easy as the day job’s picked up a lot in the past two years, but it does help keep me on my toes.
Question 17: Apart from root beer, what is your favorite drink?
I’m a sucker for Dr. Pepper! He’s the only doctor I trust! But his bastard brother, Mr. Pibb, is a total scumbag! I also like cherry anything really, especially (Sorry Kim!) Cherry Vanilla Pepsi! Mexican Cokes also hold high value with CRAZY as they still use sugar and are bottled in glass!
Question 18: Are you already a member of the root beer party and if not, what is the matter with you?
Is this rhetorical? I’m a founding member!
Question 19: What is the most challenging aspect of cartooning for you?
Coming up with fresh ideas. It’s not always easy to find new and creative ways to inflate a hapless cartoon fox!
Question 20: What are your future plans involving web comics or anything else going on in your life?
Mostly to just keep plugging away until I run out of ideas. Peppertown’s on hiatus, but I got ideas for it coming up. Bubble Fox certainly had some big moments recently and I got a few more coming soon! I think I’m in a good spot right now. I still wanna branch out into animation and some live action projects, but for now, I’m pretty happy with things. The future is bright… And CRAZY!!!
And there you have it True Believers, the man himself, Jon Esparza in his own words.  How will we top this interview you ask?  Well, True Believers, just stay tuned as we continue to celebrate the world of comics and root beer.  Until next time, may your mug always be frosted and your root beer always foamy.