We are back once again True Believers with another installment of our world renowned segment 20 Questions! The root Beer Party has been growing by leaps and bounds as word has spread throughout the world of our mission to unite love of comics and love of root beer into one place. Never before in the annals of human history has such an undertaking been attempted, but when life throws out a challenge, we answer the call by sitting down at our drawing tables, cracking open a root beer and remind everyone just how silly life really is.
Today we welcome our newest member Jose Sepi of My Son is a Dog comic which you can read here on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/patosepi/
We got a chance to sit down with Jose recently and chat over a few root beers of the meaning of life, the universe and everything and now we introduce him to you, True Believers, Meet the man behind the legend, the mind behind the comic genius, we bring you Jose Sepi:
Question 1: What got you started in doing a comic series?
I’ve loved cartoons since I was very young. I can’t remember doing anything other than reading cartoons. This love was so big that I remember going to school with comic magazines instead of books, or reading during the night (when the lights had been turned off all over the house) with a little lantern under the blankets of my bed. I think that I was already drawing cartoons by the time I was nine. At 14 I had the opportunity to publish my first professional strip in a magazine. At 17 I was offered the opportunity to publish a daily cartoon in my city’s newspaper. I created up to 5,000 cartoons over the years. I haven’t stopped publishing in my country, Argentina, since then. I started drawing “My Son is a Dog” for Comics Sherpa as a good opportunity to showcase my work in a different country; it was very challenging.
Question 2: Who was you greatest influence?
The first strip that influenced me was Mafalda, which is created by the cartoonist, Quino. Mafalda is similar to Peanuts by Charles Schulz. Before the internet was available in my country I didn’t have much of a chance to see the great cartoon creators. Consequently, I discovered the important authors like Schulz, Gary Larson, Bill Watterson and even George Herriman only later in life. Even today, many books by these authors are hard to find in my country, and if some are available, they are very expensive. However, truth be told that thanks to the Internet I’m lucky to know many authors; otherwise, it would be impossible. Lately, thanks to my feline curiosity, I enjoy discovering new authors who are on the internet. Browsing Gocomics daily allowed me to discover new authors such as Stephan Pastis and Pat Sandy.
Question 3: What is your favorite root beer and why?
I could quote that famous saying: “What you talkin’ ’bout, Willis?” … I think that it would be cheaper and simpler if a good American friend invited me over to drink a root beer than waiting for it to arrive on these shores. I can almost taste it from here… slurp!
Question 4: What do you hope to accomplish with your comic?
My objective is to enjoy it and for the people who read my cartoons to enjoy them too. If I manage to make a reader, who is having a tough day, laugh then my mission is accomplished.
Question 5: Do you have any other artistic interests outside of comics?
Sure. I’ve had the audacity to write books and novels over the years. I write them because my imagination flows out of my ears and if it didn’t then it would have shot out of me like a missile.
Question 6: Do you see yourself as a professional cartoonist, or is this just something you do for yourself?
I’ve been drawing cartoons and single-panel strips for almost 40 years. Therefore, in some ways that makes me a professional. For example, Charles Schulz kept on drawing until his last years. Consequently, we can see the growth of Peanuts over the years. Also it’s true that I do it for myself. What else can I do? I only know how to draw and write.
Question 7: What type of subject or humor do you consider out of bounds for your strips and why?
My target audience is children. I don’t create cartoons for adults. I create them so that they can be read by children and adults alike. Peanuts is a good example, also Calvin and Hobbes and an infinite number of cartoons.
Question 8: What kind of equipment or style of drawing do you use?
First of all, I write the dialogue in a small notebook. Then, I use a pencil, a pen and paper. Once it’s been scanned, I color my drawing using the program, Photoshop. I only recently learned how to use this program. Before that, I would paint everything by hand using watercolor pencils. Every now and again I paint a drawing by hand again.
Question 9: what sort of training or academic program did you pursue to become a cartoonist?
In my personal case, I consider myself an autodidact. I’ve never had any drawing lessons. I think that this is a profession that can be learned by copying the style of the greatest cartoonists and then, you should stop holding hands with your teacher and dive headfirst into the pool. Drawing every day at every opportunity and at every possible moment (even in the bathroom) helps you to grow your own style and art.
Question 10: What has been the highlight of your cartooning career?
Somehow everything starts and ends on a sheet of paper. A song, for instance, is written once, then it’s released and it spreads. That same thing happens with cartoons. Even though the characters are all the same every day, every day is also different from all the characters. In my particular case, having managed to do what I really love (cartoons) is an important highlight in my career and in my life. If I stopped making cartoons, I’d be a perfectly useless man. Thank God that the cartoon-drawing profession exists.
Question 11: What has been the lowest point in your cartooning career?
People are always afraid of being rejected but sometimes the rejection makes us do things better. I’ve been rejected more than a thousand times. Rejection letters are harsh sometimes, some comments are sometimes harsh as well. The important thing is to know that you’re doing things well. The great cartoonist, Charles Schulz, wasn’t a successful cartoonist at first, it was hard for him. It also happened to Bill Watterson, Stephan Pastis and hundreds of artists who are well-known cartoonists these days. If one practices with love that which one truly loves, for example, cartoons, at some stage the doors will open and you’ll be able to enter.
Question 12: Are collections of your work available beyond the web? If So where?
My work, besides being on Facebook, can be seen in the Sunday Supplement “Catrasca”, which is published in 41 newspapers in Argentina. You can also see my work in my book “Huguito el rezongón” (only available in Spanish at the moment), which contains more than 100 single-panel strips.
Question 13: Are there any other web comic artists that you really admire?
That’s one great thing about the web, professional and amateur cartoonists are mixed. There aren’t any good or bad cartoonists, they all do the same thing that I love, which is creating cartoons. Pat Sandy, Cathy Law, Amanda El-Dweek, Brad Perri, Bob Scott, Steve Ogden, Dan Thompson, Mike Wilke, Val Wares, Bob Murphy, James Boyd… There’s a lot of them – I know that I forgot to add many cartoonists who may well be saying right now: “He didn’t name me!” – and the truth is that I read all the authors without leaving anyone out. They all have a gift, they all love cartoons and they all deserve my respect and admiration.
Question 14: What kind of impact has cartooning had on your life and could you ever see yourself not doing it?
My father, who was a cartoonist too, told me once: “You have the hands of a person who is no good for anything other than making cartoons”. Trust me, I’m happy to have these hands. I wouldn’t have liked to have Donald Trump’s tiny hands but I would’ve liked to have his fortune, why not?
Question 15: Do you have any advice for the Trolls out there who harass content creators? (no need to keep this answer clean.)
Trolls are like witches, they don’t exist until you bump into them.
Question 16: Do you set yourself any deadlines or other tricks to keep yourself motivated?
If you don’t have deadlines, you don’t have a job. Deadlines, for an artist, are everything. I think that the way to stay motivated is related to working every single day.
Question 17: Apart from root beer, what is your favorite drink?
After I’ve tried root beer and it has become my favorite drink, I will stop drinking Coca-Cola. Can I mention brand names in this space? Oh my God, don’t condemn me for this! (Coca-Cola makes Barq’s Root Beer. Do not worry, Once again Root Beer unites us all. -Editor)
Question 18: Are you already a member of the root beer party and if not, what is the matter with you?
Not yet, my friend… I’m not a member. Have I already asked what root beer is? Please, I want to be part of the root beer party!!! Someone invite me, please!!!
(You are one of us now. – Editor )
Question 19: What is the most challenging aspect of cartooning for you?
The idea is almost everything. If you don’t have ideas, then “you’re out, baby” The drawing is just the tool, it doesn’t really matter if it’s good or bad.
Question 20: What are your future plans involving web comics or anything else going on in your life?
I have ideas all the time, creating characters, trying to improve my strip “My Son is a Dog” every day. Sometimes, when I go to sleep, I dream of having the opportunity to see my strip in an important newspaper in the USA… Then I see a huge guy wearing a tight, biker-leather-jacket that says “syndicate” and he is pointing at my nose with a shotgun while he tells me “Hasta la vista, baby”. After that, I wake up and keep drawing cartoons…
And there you have it True Believers, another member of the Root Beer Party has joined our ranks. Welcome to the party Jose, and we need to get some root beer down to Argentina as soon as possible. Thanks for the great interview Jose and everyone, check out his work over on facebook and spread the word. And as always, may your mug always be frosted and your Root Beer always foamy.