20 Questions with Comic Artists; Saad Azim of Sunny Side Up

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We are back once again with our world famous segment 20 Questions with comic artists.  Recently one of our own members James Boyd, Ambassador of the Root Beer Party took on a partner to his strip Sunny Side Up which you can check out here: http://www.boydcomics.com/sunny-side-up-comic-of-the-day

Today we have broken the cone of silence and gotten a peek behind the curtain of Sunny Side up to see for ourselves what is really going on behind the fastest growing cultural phenomenon in web comics today.

Today we speak to the man himself; Saad Azim

Question 1: What got you started in doing a comic series?
Goofing around. James & Mike (Bromage, of Dust Piggies) were discussing hamsters stealing either James’, or Sunny’s camera. I thought it’d be funny to draw something based on that, and share it with them. One thing lead to another, and, well, here we are making jokes in binary.  (James Boyd has been a long time influence of mine and getting to talk to him was a life changing experience.)
Question 2: Who was your greatest influence?
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I have to agree, but I always liked Sergio’s other creation the best Groo. – Editor
Sergio Aragonés. Come to think of it, he still is. Reading Sergio Aragonés Destroys DC, and Sergio Aragonés Massacres Marvel were a defining point in my life. Pre SADD/SAMM, I wanted to be a comic book artist. I loved comics, I liked art, it seemed kind of obvious. However, something just clicked when I read those comics in 1996. My art took a sharp 90 degree turn from trying to emulate the styles of popular comic & manga artists of the day; to something a lot more cartoonish. (Kinda’ wish I still had some of it to show.)
I also was heavily influenced by James Boyd of sunny Side up.  His comics spoke to me in a way that was almost parallel to my life at the time.  he really is the unsung hero of the comic world.  I can’t tell you how many people his comic has touched in a very personal way.  It is almost on par with scripture.  
Question 3: What is your favorite root beer and why?
To quote James, “I drink A&W but I like all root beer.” Except this one weird local brand I tried in Kolkata, which tasted like a mixture of sugar, water, and soap.
Question 4: What do you hope to accomplish with your comic?
The usual things. Fame. Fortune. A lifetime supply of cheese dip. (Groo Joke – Editor) But seriously though, the comics are made to make ourselves laugh. Like I said, for me, it began with sending James doodles based on things we were chatting about.   I never imagined that my fan art would ever materialize into a chance to work with my idol.  It really is a dream come true to be drawing side by side with such a comic icon.   
Question 5: Do you have any other artistic interests outside of comics?
Well for starters, art in general. I still sketch figures, gestures, expressions, light & shading studies, etc. whenever I can. I’ll also throw lettering into the mix, which is disturbingly under appreciated. Aside from drawing related bits, I’ve posted a few short stories in my long neglected blog. I also like to fiddle around with a guitar every now & then; but that’s more of a once-in-a-blue-moon type thing. Last but not least, does programming count as an “artistic” interest?
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Question 6: Do you see yourself as a professional cartoonist, or is this just something you do for yourself?
Oh definitely something we do for ourselves.  (Or in my case a chance to work with the great James Boyd.)
Question 7: What type of subject or humor do you consider out of bounds for your strips and why?
Anything supporting discrimination, for the obvious reasons. Personally, politics & religion are usually no-no for me. But then again, we just posted a pair of comics about Santa a few days ago.
Question 8: What kind of equipment or style of drawing do you use?
The comics are drawn on plain paper notebooks I, with a mechanical pencil, and a cheap fountain pen. Style-wise… I think it’s a matter of settling into a groove through repetition. Early on, I was trying to emulate how James drew the characters. But at this point, it’s developed into something on it’s own.
I knew I could never master the art the way James did, so I had to develop a style of my own and hope that the fans of Sunny side Up would forgive my feeble attempts t imitate the master.  
Question 9: what sort of training or academic program did you pursue to become a cartoonist?
A BBA in Computer Information Systems. Half of it was business related courses, and the other half was IT. Most of the business classes were incomprehensible to me, so I’d end up drawing in my notebook instead. Four years of drawing on a daily basis will take you pretty far if you want to be a cartoonist. Admittedly, my career as a systems analyst never got very far.
Question 10: What has been the highlight of your cartooning career?
Once again, to quote James “Meeting so many wonderful people. I have a lot of friends I would never have had if I didn’t make my own comic.” Well, except it’s not exactly my *own* comic. But still.
I find myself quoting James a lot.  he is a wellspring of knowledge and hope.  
Question 11: What has been the lowest point in your cartooning career?
At this point, I think the lowest point was the initial bit anxiety when I came on board. So thankfully nothing too bad. Well, so far, anyway.
Question 12: Are collections of your work available beyond the web? If So where?
Uhhhh … my sketchbooks… ?
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Question 13: Are there any other web comic artists that you really admire?
Lots. The aforementioned Mike Bromage of Dust Piggies. He was my gateway of sorts to quite a few other web comics. Brad Perri of Pirate Mike. Wesley Hall of Nameless PC. Joe Flanders of Ninja and Pirate. Megan McKay of Doodle for Food. John Vogel of Skitter. Jonathan Yazzie Murdock of Dungeon Hordes. Neil Brun of Fat Bassist Comics. Chris Gabrowski of Poorly Drawn Thoughts. Matthew Paul Mewhorter of Cancer Owl. Mike McDonald of Cat and Cat. Ryan Stoker & Brian Ponshock of Pridelands. Diana Huh of Lonely Vincent. Reyn of … er … Cartoons by Reyn. Mark Stanley of Freefall. Trudy Cooper and Doug Bayne of Oglaf. Uhhh … Mr. Dork and Mr. Sausage of League of Super Redundant Heroes. I’m pretty sure I’m still missing quite a few.  (and of course James Boyd of Sunny Side Up, who my opinion of goes beyond admiration.) 
Question 14: What kind of impact has cartooning had on your life and could you ever see yourself not doing it?
As far as impact goes, cartooning has let me meet & interact with a ton of people I would’ve never met otherwise. In fact, my social media interaction went from a few comments & replies here & there, to basically exploding since I became involved with Sunny. As far as not doing it again, I doubt it.
Question 15: Do you have any advice for the Trolls out there who harass content creators? (no need to keep this answer clean.)
Now look … I am VERY flattered …
Question 16: Do you set yourself any deadlines or other tricks to keep yourself motivated?
I try to maintain a discipline of one comic a day. The fact that I’ve managed it so far is a surprisingly good motivation. That and the only other “rule” I have is that it has to be *something*. One time, I couldn’t figure out what to draw, so I just drew a silhouette of Sunny playing bass.
Question 17: Apart from root beer, what is your favorite drink?
At the risk of sounding a little pretentious, water.
Question 18: Are you already a member of the root beer party and if not, what is the matter with you?
Um … how does one become a member of the root beer party?
Question 19: What is the most challenging aspect of cartooning for you?
Telling a good story. The funny thing about drawing cartoons is, I know the setup. I know the joke. I know the punchline. And it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking the reader knows it as well, because it’s *SO* obvious. So I need to look at the comic from the POV of someone who has no idea what’s going on; and trying to tell that person the joke I think is so funny through the comic.
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Question 20: What are your future plans involving web comics or anything else going on in your life?
James & I have talked about making a game based on Sunny Side Up. Let’s see how that goes. Personally, I’d LOVE to work comics full-time. At the moment, it’s a balance between managing freelance projects (graphic design & IT), working commercially on a comic (I’m coloring The Axeman Cometh, by Darrell Smith, with art by Pete Davis, and letters by Rob Jones), and making Sunny Side Up. My general goal for 2017 is to get involved with a few more comics, commercial or otherwise.
But my ultimate goal is to be more like James Boyd.  He really is the greatest comic artist out there.  I am truly standing on the shoulders of a giant.  
So now we know what is going on in the dark recesses of the Sunny Side Up comic strip.  You heard it here first True Believers.  Welcome to the party Saad, pull up a chair and have a mug of A&W (Picpak Dog is pouring it) and make yourself at home and as always True Believers, may your mug always be frosted and your root beer always foamy.
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20 Questions with Comic Artists: Mike McDonald of Cat and Cat Comic

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We are back once again True Believers with another installment of our world renowned interview segment 20 Questions.   Today we meet the newest member of the Root Beer Party Mike McDonald of Cat and Cat Comics.  You can check out his site here: http://www.myimaginarypals.com/

Mike has just begun putting his comics on line this year and has already made a huge impact in the webcomic world.  the chief Ambassador of The Root Beer Party James Boyd took notice and made the call.  To misquote James: “This is someone we need to watch.” So after perusing the archives of Cat and Cat comics we made the offer to Mike and his response was: To misquote Mike: “What the %#&* is a Root Beer Party?”

After our usual long discussion we finally convinced him who we were and told him about the legions of True Believers all across the globe who depend on us to introduce them to the best that webcomics have to offer.  So after a few hours and a lot of root beer.  Mike agreed to join us in our quest to bring together the cream of the crop of webcomic and comic creators into a one stop shopping site for all the latest news and reviews.  So let us introduce Mike McDonald

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Question 1:  What got you started in doing a comic series?
I had been doing a comic weekly or so and decided to start posting daily doodles.  One of the doodles, that I called “Cat and Cat” (For lack of a better name) did fairly well on social media.  I decided to do a week’s worth to see how it was received.   I have been doing it since.
Question 2: Who was you greatest influence?
I don’t have any one influence.  I kind of look towards other comic artists for advice.  Some comics that have helped me a lot have been Sunny Side Up, Dust Piggies, Poorly Drawn Thoughts and Pirate Mike: Maladjusted Suburbanite (to name a few).
Question 3: What is your favorite root beer and why?
My favorite root beer is probably A&W — mostly because that’s all I’ve ever really drank.  I may need to start dabbling on other kinds.
Question 4: What do you hope to accomplish with your comic?
I just want to make people smile.  I’m hoping that even if it’s only for a second each day, it’s something people can look at and at the least go “heh”.
Question 5: Do you have any other artistic interests outside of comics? 
I love film, audio and animation.  I don’t get a lot of time for the other hobbies due to my hectic schedule, but hopefully that’ll change someday.
Question 6: Do you see yourself as a professional cartoonist, or is this just something you do for yourself?
I just do it to amuse myself.  If others want to come along for the ride, they are more than welcome to!
Question 7: What type of subject or humor do you consider out of bounds for your strips and why?
Vulgar humor.  It’s not that I don’t like it or wouldn’t mind doing it, it’s just that my mind doesn’t work that way when it comes to writing jokes.
Question 8: What kind of equipment or style of drawing do you use? 
I currently use a Wacom Intuos Pro with a combination of Manga Studio 5 and Photoshop CC.  I’m in process of upgrading to a Surface Book i5.
Question 9: what sort of training or academic program did you pursue to become a cartoonist?
Does reading the funnies count? (Yes!  It’s the most important field of study in comics – Editor)
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Question 10:  What has been the highlight of your cartooning career?
The community and meeting so many people from all parts of the globe.  There’s a lot of good people who like to just forget about their days and have some fun.
Question 11:  What has been the lowest point in your cartooning career?
No lows so far *knock on wood*.  I’ve had people knock me on some of the sites I post but usually I just joke around with them and it works itself out.  Even if people are trolling, I feel they just need an outlet to voice their frustration/anger with their everyday lives…to that I say “I’m here for you”.
Question 12: Are collections of your work available beyond the web? If So where?
Not yet, but I hope to do a 1 year collection book of my strips for Christmas release next year.  I’ll keep you posted.
Question 13: Are there any other web comic artists that you really admire?
Of course the ones I listed above who really took me under their wings when I first started.  Nick Seluk from the Awkward Yeti also gave me advice when I first started and what he’s accomplished with his comic is awesome.
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 outlet and a way to take my mind off the workday for a bit.  I think I’ll probably keep with it until it stops being fun (although I don’t see that happening anytime soon).
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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.) 
I should have read this before question 11.   I more-so have advice for the creators.  Let the trolls be trolls, they are people who are taking the time out of their day to acknowledge your comic!  If you are at a point in your work where someone else’s opinion matters more than your own, you may need to reevaluate why you are doing it.    For the trolls…say whatever you want to me, just please don’t be too gross or vulgar, in case there are younger readers out there.
Question 16: Do you set yourself any deadlines or other tricks to keep yourself motivated?
I do a daily comic and make sure every day to wake up at 4:30am to work on it (before my day job).  I text myself ideas during the day and my motivation is seeing how far ahead I can get in my strip.
Question 17: Apart from root beer, what is your favorite drink?
This is going to be really boring…water. (Don’t knock water it is a key ingredient in Root Beer.  – Editor)
Question 18: Are you already a member of the root beer party and if not, what is the matter with you? 
I just joined with this questionnaire!  Sunny (James Boyd – if that is his real name. -Editor) recommended I join but I was busy working on my new strip.  I guess multitasking isn’t my strong suit.
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Question 19: What is the most challenging aspect of cartooning for you?
Overcoming artist ADD.  By that, I mean that every time I see another artist do something cool I’m instantly like “Woah! I need to get good at that!” sometimes that can derail me from practicing my own strengths and getting better at my day to day stuff.  I’ve gotten better though.
Question 20: What are your future plans involving web comics or anything else going on in your life?
I’d like to get a book out there.  I’d also like to start selling merchandise to donate to various animal shelters and nonprofits (I do this now but would love to help fund some of it with art).  I would like to use my art to give back in a positive way.
(And now a word from our sponsor:)
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And there you have it True Believers, the newest member of the Root Beer Party:  Mike McDonald.  You don’t need to be a published artist with a national syndicate behind you, the Root Beer Party is open to everyone, even those who just love comics and enjoy a behind the scenes peek into how they are made.
Welcome to the party Mike, pull up a chair and pour yourself a nice frosty A&W.  Check back with us for more adventures in comics and with comic creators and as always True Believers, May your mug always be frosty and your root beer always foamy.