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?
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?
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… ?
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.
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.