20 Questions with Comic Artists: Howard Stacy of Pesky Gremlins

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We are back once again True Believers with our most popular segment 20 Questions!  (Crowd goes wild!) Calm down people, you have families! Today we introduce you to the newest member of the Root Beer Party Elmo Glitch, or Howard Stacy in real life.  Elmo was a simple man with a simple dream of restoring and remodeling a dream car, what he didn’t realize was that the car he bought was infested by Pesky Gremlins which want to inhibit his valiant efforts to restore his car to perfection.

We have all been there, we have all had that piece of machinery which never quite works right.  Well, Elmo has now shown us why.  In the world of minor demons, these guys break the cake.  We have:

Lucas – Oldest and smallest gremlin of the trio. Wears thick glasses.

Snafu – Cranky Gremlin with particularly bad teeth.

Fubar – Largest and strongest gremlin of the group. Has a broken horn and is a little slow.

You can follow the exploits of the Pesky Gremlin gang here: http://www.peskygremlins.com/

Now lets meet the man behind the mayhem, Howard Stacy

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

That’s a long and convoluted story.  I’ll skip to the most recent part. I didn’t even know what a web comic was until a couple of years ago.   I was involved with a website that dealt with the restoration of an old Jaguar.  Jaguars are beautiful but quirky things and gremlin jokes came naturally.  I started drawing gremlins into the websites pages and eventually the gremlins kind of took on a life of their own.  So, another website was spun up to accommodate their adventures and the Pesky Gremlin web comic was born.   I now have a much better idea of what a web comic is.

Question 2: Who was your greatest influence?

My father, who was a talented artist, encouraged me to develop my abilities.  He tried to teach me the basics of art, but I wasn’t a particularly good student.   When I finally decided, I wanted to learn how to be a cartoonist, I discovered the works of Will Eisner.  I collected many of his books.  My favorites are his The Spirit comic books.  What he could do with just black and white is simply amazing.

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

I like most root beers but if I had to pick one it would be A&W.   I like A&W mostly for the fond memories that I had as a child of going out with my family to get a root beer float.

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

I would like to create characters and stories that are interesting enough to have people eager for the next installment of Pesky Gremlins.   Also, I would like to have something that is visually distinctive.

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

I know the correct answer here is to say yes…  But, honestly, I don’t.   I don’t really think of myself as especially artistic or creative.  I find the comic creation process both challenging and satisfying.  So, I don’t feel the need to invest time in other artistic endeavors that would take away from the cartooning.  Most of my other interests involve taking things apart and putting them back together.  I am much better at taking them apart.

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

At this point, I am strictly an amateur.  I admit that I aspire to be a professional cartoonist but that would involve making money and I have not put any effort into that.  Yet, another area I know very little about. (Check out the Webcomic Alliance Podcast hosted by our very own Root Beer Party members Dawn Griffith and Byron Wilkins for everything pertaining to comic making, webcomics or otherwise here: http://webcomicalliance.com/category/podcast/ -Editor)

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

The usual stuff, I avoid politics, religion, and vulgar topics.   There is an abundance of sources for those topics.  I can also live without the conflict that those subjects tend to draw.  Also, since gremlins have a hand in spectacular catastrophic mechanical failures, I have to steer clear of tragedy.  I have heard it said that tragedy + time = humor.  But how much time?  I think that I can reference the Hindenburg, which blew up in 1937, but definitely not the more recent space shuttle disasters.

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

I use a little bit of everything, which has led to perhaps the world’s most inefficient cartoon workflow.   I start out with an old fashion pencil and sketch pad and scan my roughs into my computer, clean the images up with Photoshop, arrange the images with Clip Studio Paint.  When I am happy with the roughs on the computer, I convert everything to non-photo blue and print it out on Bristol board.  I then ink it the old fashion way with an assortment of pens (Faber Castell, Staedler, Pentel).  When the ink is dry, I scan it all back in and add lettering and shading/color with Clip Studio Paint.  I should probably do all this digitally, but I seem to lack the eye-hand coordination necessary be successful with my Wacom tablet, even with Cntl Z (undo).

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

I have an Engineering degree, so I did get some technical drawing classes while in college.  However, other than that, I have no formal art training.  As I mentioned before, my father tried to teach me the basics and I guess some of that stuck with me.  From an informal training standpoint, I tend to read about the subject quite a bit.  I have a whole bookshelf near my drawing table loaded with art how-to books.

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

I have only been doing this since March of 2016, so there hasn’t been a great deal of ups and downs.  All things considered, I would have to say being interviewed by the Root Beer Party would be the highlight.  By the way, do I get a membership card?

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

I would say that deciding whether to go forward with Pesky Gremlins was the lowest point.  I had to consider did the world really need ANOTHER webcomic.  Clearly, the world’s answer is a resounding NO!  However, I am a terrible listener.  All kidding aside, I really wondered if I could come up with enough material to go a whole year and if I could draw the cartoons fast enough to meet the three-times-a-week goal I had set.

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

Why, yes I do!  My collected works are contained in a box that sits under my drawing board.  Admittedly, access is a bit of a problem for everyone but me.  I am still new to this and have no idea how to put a book together.  I suppose that I should add this to my To-Do list.  If any of you have suggestions, please let me know. (Amazon’s create space has options for printing your books on demand for free – Editor)

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

Until about 2 years ago, I had no idea what a web cartoon was.  A close friend filled me in on what they were and where they could be found (surprisingly, the web).  The first one that I found that left an impression on me was Dave Kellert’s Sheldon.  After that I was hooked and looked for more. Here is a quick list of the some of the ones that I follow:

Bug Pudding by J. P. Keslensky – beautifully drawn and very funny

Floyd by Allan Tracy – Absolutely hilarious, wish it was more than once a week.

Flatt Bear by P. J. Day – Another very funny and especially lately, wonderfully illustrated.

Petri Dish by John Sutton – What can I say, I love robots

Dust Bunny Mafia by Bret Juliano – Truly unique, dust bunnies as criminal masterminds

Sunny Side Up by James Boyd and Saad Azim

Bubble Fox by Jon Esparza

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

Hmmm, I buy more Bristol Board now?  Since I am still relatively new to cartooning, can you check back with me in a year or so?

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

Being relatively new, and let face it, obscure, I have not had to deal with Trolls.  Being unknown does have its advantages.

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

I have had to deal with some sort of pressing dreaded deadline most of my adult life.  So, meeting a deadline while doing a cartoon is sort of a treat.  The inking process can sometimes be long and tedious, so I take lots of little breaks.

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

Coffee.  I drink way too much of that.  If the lines on the cartoons look a little jittery, it’s because I am inking while drinking coffee.  Probably not a good practice

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

I think so, but I have not received my official membership card and secret decoder ring, yet.  Do you know when I can expect those? (The card is in the Canadian Mail along with a coupon for A&W Root Beer, so 10-15 years from now it should be there, the decoder rings and walkie- talkie wrist watches are for Officers of the Root Beer Party only. -Editor)

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

It would have to be the social media activities.  I truly stink at social media.  My facebook page is a mess, it pains me to look at it.  Twitter is a little better.  I guess that I am somewhat like Otto Messmer, the creative genius behind Felix the Cat.  Otto did most of the creative work for Felix the Cat but almost no one heard of him because he wasn’t very good at self promotion.

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

I look forward to finishing my first year as a web cartoonist.  At this writing, the one year milestone is only about 5 weeks or 15 postings away.  I also want to polish up the website, flesh out several of the pages and fix some underlying technical issues.  Finally, I need to spend some time figuring our social media.

And there you have it True Believers, a peek behind the scenes with the man behind the curtain.  be sure to check out what those Pesky Gremlins are up to and give a shout out to Elmo/Howard for all the work he’s putting into a great new webcomic. So let’s all raise an A&W Root Beer for Howard and welcome him to the party.  Stop by our page on facebook and join in the fun.  Until next time True Believers, may your mug always be frosted and your root beer always foamy.

 

 

 

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