It is a bit unseasonably warm here today at the vast Root Beer Party Estates, we are nestled away in an undisclosed location in an uncarted region of and undiscovered country, and today I am meeting to talk with one of our most esteemed members Charles Brubaker of The Fuzzy Princess comic: http://fuzzy-princess.com/ as well as Ask a Cat comic http://www.gocomics.com/ask-a-cat/
As we sit out on the veranda overlooking the Root Beer Monks hard at work harvesting the last of the Sarsaparilla roots from the old growth forest, while others harvest the vanilla beans and Fennel from the fields, we can catch their combined scent in the air anticipating the root beer that is to come from all their hard, dedicated work. Inside The Official Root Beer Party Bartender draws us two more frosty mugs of the elixir of life, a thick stable foam rests like a pillow atop the raw umber hue behind the icy panels of the mug upon his tray.
But enough of our reminiscing, you the True Believers, have come here to meet the man behind the legendary works of sequential art, to get a glimpse behind the curtain of the genius that is the art of cartooning, so without further delay, let us meet the man behind the legend: Charles Brubaker.
Question 1: What got you started in doing a comic series?
As a kid, I would dig in and read a lot of comics, whether it was in Sunday newspapers, MAD Magazine, or even manga. As I got older, I knew that’s what I wanted to do.
Question 2: Who was you greatest influence?
Waaaay too many to list! Cartooning-wise, some of them include the Looney Tunes guys, Charles Schulz, Bill Watterson, Gary Larson, Bud Grace, Bill Amend, Keith Knight, Fujio Akatsuka, Fujiko Fujio, and many more!
Question 3: What is your favorite root beer and why?
I’ll probably get a lot of flack for this, but I don’t drink root beer. If I do, it’s because it just happened to be available! But they’re alright.
Question 4: What do you hope to accomplish with your comic?
This is a long-shot, but I’d love to get my comics animated someday, especially “The Fuzzy Princess”. I think there’s potential for them in the medium, and would be nice to explore the possibilities I can do there.
Right now, though, I’m more focused on expanding my audience for both of my comics, which would be nice.
Question 5: Do you have any other artistic interests outside of comics?
I majored in Graphic Design, and those are fun to do at times, although I haven’t primarily focused on it in years.
Question 6: Do you see yourself as a professional cartoonist, or is this just something you do for yourself?
I definitely see myself as a professional cartoonist. I’ve done freelance work for clients, and I take my update schedules seriously to the point that I draw months ahead. I even joined the National Cartoonists Society this year.
Question 7: What type of subject or humor do you consider out of bounds for your strips and why?
It depends on what comic. “The Fuzzy Princess” is aimed at younger audience, for example, so there are a few things I would never do on that comic while I might be more forgiving on “Ask a Cat”, which is primarily read by older people. Even then, however, I try to keep both within PG-range.
I might do occasional “wink and nod” type of humor, though, which happens in a lot of cartoons aimed at kids anyway.
Question 8: What kind of equipment or style of drawing do you use?
I do all the roughs on Photoshop using a tablet. After that’s finished, I print it off, tape it to the back of a sheet of 8.5×14″ Bristol cardstock, and ink on my lightbox using a LAMY Safari fountain pen filled with Rapidograph ink. I then scan it in and do clean-ups on Photoshop.
For “The Fuzzy Princess”, I would also add letters (using a font made from my handwriting) and colors on Photoshop as well. “Ask a Cat” is lettered by hand and is published in black and white.
Question 9: what sort of training or academic program did you pursue to become a cartoonist?
The only real art training I got was for Graphic Design in college, although I took still-life and ceramics class as well. The Graphic Design classes were very helpful, as I learned to use Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign, which helped me prepare for my own work.
Question 10: What has been the highlight of your cartooning career?
When I sold my first gag to MAD Magazine. Getting published in MAD was my goal for a long time, and to this day I still can’t believe I succeeded in becoming an “Usual Gang of Idiot”.
Other highlights include when people walk up to me in conventions and recognize my work from elsewhere. One time, I even had someone remember me from a really old webcomic I used to do years ago. That took me by surprise.
Question 11: What has been the lowest point in your cartooning career?
I can get insecure, so there are times where I go into a funk, such as thinking my cartoons aren’t good enough, or I’m wasting away chasing an impossible dream. Luckily, I have enough friends snap me out of it, although it’s hard sometimes.
Question 12: Are collections of your work available beyond the web? If So where?
Yep! In 2017 I published first volumes of both “Ask a Cat” and “The Fuzzy Princess”! You can buy them directly from me at my store (http://smallbug.storenvy.com/
I’m working on releasing the second “Fuzzy” book in early 2018. The next “Ask a Cat” book will hopefully come out in 2019.
Question 13: Are there any other web comic artists that you really admire?
I always admire webcartoonists who keep doing their work and posting them online. It takes guts to keep them going no matter what. To name a few specific individuals, I enjoy Crispin Wood (Small Blue Yonder), Adam Huber (Bug Martini), Severin Piehl (Tove), Brandon Santiago (Erma), Dana Atnip (Galactic Dragons), Dan Collins (Looks Good on Paper), Jason Payne (Princezz), Bea R. (In-Security), and many others!
Question 14: What kind of impact has cartooning had on your life and could you ever see yourself not doing it?
Cartooning really changed the way I draw and think about storytelling. I don’t think I can see myself doing anything else.
Question 15: Do you have any advice for the Trolls out there who harass content creators? (no need to keep this answer clean.)
Not sure what to say, since I haven’t had any problem with trolls. Although if I have to say anything to them, it’s that there are more fulfilling things you can do in your life aside from bugging creators.
Question 16: Do you set yourself any deadlines or other tricks to keep yourself motivated?
I take my updates seriously, and try to keep months-long backlog in order to ensure I’m never late. I’m about a year ahead with “The Fuzzy Princess” (seriously), and about 6 months ahead with “Ask a Cat”.
Question 17: Apart from root beer, what is your favorite drink?
Chocolate milk is nice. I’m big on chocolates.
Question 18: Are you already a member of the root beer party and if not, what is the matter with you?
If they would have me in, I wouldn’t mind joining. (You are already a member in good standing. -editor)
Question 19: What is the most challenging aspect of cartooning for you?
Trying to make sure that my ideas are coherent. This is why I have people check and make sure they get it before I commit to drawing it.
Question 20: What are your future plans involving web comics or anything else going on in your life?
I’m hoping to keep going to conventions and pushing my books out to people. I would also like to do a full-length graphic novel as well.
And there you have it True Believers, another great interview with the people who engage in the greatest of all human endeavors, cartooning. We drain our mugs and the icy frost of the mugs have pooled down onto the wrought iron table, taking with it the memory of yet another unforgettable root beer. I motion to the bartender to summon the driver, for Charles must now return to the world of cartooning, the Official Root Beer Party Helicopter awaits to take up over the mountains and back to civilization. Check out Charles’ great comics and add them to your must read list, and as always True Believers, may your mug always be frosted and your root beer always foamy.