20 Questions with Comic Creators: Dee Parson of Pen & Ink

walking happy

Welcome back True Believers, we are here once again with another of our world famous segments, 20 Questions with comic artists.  We are coming to you from the world renowned Root Beer Party estates from an undisclosed location in an unexplored region of an unknown land.  We are here today with Dee Parson of Pen & Ink comics which you can find here:  https://www.penandinkworkshop.com/, or on twitter https://twitter.com/pennyandinkara

or on Instagram https://www.instagram.com/penandinkstagram/  

So without further ado, let us get to the star of the show.  


Question 1: What got you started in doing a comic series?
Reading a lot of comic strips in grade school and trying to mimic them. There was never a time when I wasn’t making cartoons or comics. So I guess I knew what I wanted to do from the get go.

Question 2: Who was you greatest influence?
There’s four: Jim Davis, Pat Brady, Dav Pilkey, and pop singer Rachel Platten.
Jim Davis and “Garfield” taught me to work for what I wanted.
Pat Brady and the Gumbo family of “Rose is Rose” taught me to enjoy the simple things in life.
Dav Pilkey and “Captain Underpants” taught me to never be afraid to be myself, even when others try to make you be someone else.
And Rachel Platten and her music as taught me to always put passion in everything you do. Because eventually, with enough perseverance, the spotlight will shine on you.
Question 3: What is your favorite root beer and why?
I don’t frequently drink root beer, but if I had to choose, it’d probably be A&W.
Question 4: What do you hope to accomplish with your comic?
The thing I want to set out to accomplish with the rest of who I am: Make people smile.
With Pen & Ink, the whole concept of their work and who they are is related to art. So they have the capabilities to work in single panel comics, full page comics, story driven graphic novels, children’s books, animations, and more! The possibilities are endless and I can’t wait to see where they go next.
Panel 12
Question 5: Do you have any other artistic interests outside of comics?
I love to do animations, and whenever I get free time, I love doing mini ones for the heck of it. I also play lots of video games.
Question 6: Do you see yourself as a professional cartoonist, or is this just something you do for yourself?
I do consider myself a professional cartoonist! Before “Pen & Ink”, I did a published daily newspaper comic strip for almost three years called “Life With Kurami”. The comic followed Ana Kirkland as she went through her daily life as a single mother with her infant daughter, Kurami.
Kuramic 2-25-17

It recently ended October 28th to focus full time on “Pen & Ink”, which these two have only been around for 5 months and are really picking up traction.

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

Anything that would provoke controversy or give people negative feelings. My only goal is to give people a smile or warm-hearted feelings, and I can’t do that if my work has them thinking about some political party or the recent publicity scandal.

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

I do both digital and traditional work. A lot of my stuff I sketch out first, but then I draw it out digitally using a Wacom Cintiq 13HD.

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

I have zero to none. I barely have any college education on me, either. All my training literally came from reading lots and lots and LOTS of Garfield/Rose is Rose comics. Reading up interviews from the industry giants of yesteryear and just overall practicing constantly. My “Life With Kurami” comic strip went into publication when I was 19. From then on, everything I learn about art and writing and the comic/animation industry came from my exposure to doing that daily comic strip everyday.

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

Jim Davis inviting me to PAWS, Inc. to meet with him. Twice.
The first time was with the help of my friend David Reddick, who helped me introduce him to the newspaper comic “Life With Kurami” that I wanted to get into print and to see what advice he had for me. He was very informative and told me what worked, what didn’t work, and what I could do to improve on what didn’t work. After our hour-long conference in his office, I asked him how did he feel about the comic being in print. He said that the comic would be a perfect learning experience for me and that no matter what happens to it, it’ll always be a success. So with his blessing, he helped get the comic into our newspaper. He also drew me a picture of Garfield and a picture of Kurami.

The second time was just this past October. We spent almost an hour in the conference room at PAWS talking about the end of “Life With Kurami”, what worked, what didn’t work, and the stuff I can look back on as experience. The big majority of the time was mostly spent on talking about “Pen & Ink”, sharing comics and getting more informative advice from him. He had really nice and supportive things to say, and can’t wait to see where they go next. He has even drawn Pen & Ink for me, too!

The greatest thing about these two visits is that I got to spend time with and have support from one of the people who have shaped me to be the person I am today.

Question 11: What has been the lowest point in your cartooning career?
The lowest point for me was ending “Life With Kurami”. After almost 3 years, towards the beginning of this year, it got harder and harder to work with, and after receiving some very critical criticisms from industry professionals about the comic plus realizing it wasn’t really going anywhere, I thought the time to move onto something else was upon me, It hasn’t helped that too many people have tried to put too much thought/input into the comic, and it became something that didn’t feel like it was my work, but just work I did to impress other people. but I didn’t take it lightly. I had to ensure ending the comic was the right decision. I had good feedback and not-so-good feedback from the people I’ve asked about the decision, but at the end, I knew it was for the best.

Question 12: Are collections of your work available beyond the web? If So where?
For “Life With Kurami”, unfortunately not. At least not yet. I’d love to make a book compilation for them including all of their strips from its run. But that won’t be from the far future.
Pen & Ink, however, are in the start of getting their first book self-published called “Pen & Ink: Perfect Bind”. The book is being funded though kickstarter (with the goal of $300 being raised in under an hour and having $1.3K funded in less than 5 days). The book is a 60+ page perfect bound paperback that will compile their first 25 single panel comics, including bonus behind the scenes work, and special guest art from a bunch of their friends (and artists you may admire!) 
Also, Ray Billingsley, the creator of the King Features Syndicate comic strip “Curtis” (and one of my mentors!), is doing the foreword to the book.
Mini Comic Cover

The point of “Pen & Ink” is that they are sisters that make autobiographical comics together about their life and the residents they’re around in their hometown Matte, Canvatia. Everything you see related to Pen & Ink is about them made by them, which is also why Pen & Ink comics are signed by them and are the authors of their books.

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

I admire just about anyone who is passionate about their work. I try to be as supportive to everyone as possible.

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

It’s affected my life in ways I never would have imagined. It’s become who I am. I don’t know who or what I’d be if I wasn’t doing this.

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

If anything, I’d say that content creators would appreciate feedback from others if people would be willing to give more sincere and constructive criticism.

Comic Panel 1

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

I sit down and do work until I get done with what I want. I don’t do anything until the main objective is complete.

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

I really like Pepsi and Sprite!

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

Of course! I don’t remember how I became one because I’m sure someone bonked me in the head to become one. (Dee was inducted into the Root Beer Party by Co-President Kim Belding of Picpak Dog Comics – Editor)

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

My confidence. My confidence in my work is beyond anything you could imagine and is a big driving force into my work, I’m probably the most confident artist you will ever meet, but my confidence in myself in terms of how to approach big opportunities and things that could positively benefit me needs work.
Comic Panel 2

Question 20: What are your future plans involving web comics or anything else going on in your life?
The plan is to do what I want when I want to and to trust my instincts and heart more. And to start looking into conventions and other ways to get my work out there.
So there you have it True Believers, another epic interview with one of the many great Root Beer Party members.  Dee Parson will also be appearing in the 40 anniversary book of Garfield cementing the professional relationship with Jim Davis that began all those years ago.
Be sure to check out the Kickstarter and as we add our official copy of Volume 1 of Pen and Ink to the Official Root Beer Party Comic Archives and get your own copy today, and as always True Believers, may your mug always be frosted and your root beer foamy.  

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