Today, True Believers, we have a special treat for you. It is an interview with our glorious Co-President Kim Belding of Picpak Dog Comics and it is being conducted by our illustrious Secretary of State James Boyd of Sunny Side Up. It is a high profile meeting of the top brass here at the Root Beer Party. A top secret summit meeting which we have opened up to you, the True Believers to get an inside look at the inner workings of the Root Beer Party. So now let us turn this interview over to James Boyd, Secretary of State, Chief Ambassador and Webcomic Crossover King of 2017.
Q1 Welcome back Kim! Let’s start off with the Garfield 40th Anniversary Book. Tell us about it. What does it mean to you to be included in such a milestone? What has Garfield and Jim Davis meant to you?
It’s a pleasure to be back James. Garfield was having a contest to submit your artwork to be featured in their upcoming 40th Anniversary book. Needless to say, I submitted my work and made it in! To say Garfield and Jim Davis were an influence of mine would be a massive understatement. Snoopy was the first character I ever drew, and Garfield had to be second. The comic lends a lot of its humor and visual cues from the early Garfield strips. Picpak himself is really just a bigger Odie! And there’s been so many ideas I’ve had where I’ve thought “Man, this would make a much better Garfield strip”. That was actually what I had submitted in to the contest, and I got in! What a dream come true. I couldn’t believe it.
Q2 Speaking of 40 years, how long have you been doing PicPak? Calvin and Hobbes lasted 10 years, Far Side 15, Garfield is going at 40. Do you foresee a time when you will end PicPak or will it continue forever?
Believe it or not, Picpak has been around in one form or another since 1996! So about 22 years. I was only five years old at the time. I started drawing him in comics in 1999. Before that he was just drawn in a sketch or two. The very first comic was actually just him in a variety of styles, because by that time I had forgotten how to draw him!
The secret to Picpak’s longevity is that it’s such an adaptable comic. When I grow, it grows. When I was a younger I would have never thought of doing puns. Now that’s what I’m known for!
Q3 Lorenzo Music, who voiced Garfield on Garfield and Friends, did such a great job that I can’t read Garfield without hearing his voice. If PicPak became an animated cartoon who do you think should do the voice? Who does PicPak sound like in your head?
Are you familiar with the 90s Pink Panther? It got a lot of backlash because he could talk. The parrot Jules was actually an inspiration for the Parrot in my strip. But anyway, he was voiced by Matt Frewer, AKA Max Headroom. I think he has a strong, but playful and friendly quality to his voice that could work for Picpak. Or perhaps I just have an affinity for pink characters.
Q4 What is your absolute favorite PicPak strip you have done and why do you like it so much?
There are so many to choose from! The Good News (http://www.picpak.net/comic/good-news/) is one that comes to mind. But my favorite must be the very first one I ever put online (http://www.picpak.net/comicgenesis/d/20070630.html). The gag is so wacky and right away it introduces you to both Picpak and Wakky’s characters. I’m actually surprised this wasn’t made into a Way Back Wednesday comic!
Q5 One of the best and worst things about social media is interaction with fans. What’s the best comment you have ever received and why did it mean so much to you?
That’s a really good question! I’ve gotten many great comments, especially from Jon Esparza and Chris Gobbett, that always put a smile on my face. One of my favorites is Chris’ review of the first Picpak Dog collection on Amazon. In it he calls Picpak “a new classic comic in the making” and the “Garfield of the new millennium”. It’s always a pleasure to receive comments like this, and the fact that Chris took the time to write this review means a lot me.
Q6 The RootBeerParty has really grown in the last year. I’m really proud to be part of our community. As one of the founders, what are your thoughts on where we are at and how would you like us to continue to grow?
To be honest, I didn’t really expect the Root Beer Party to grow into anything! XD You can thank Chris for all that. Having a hand in such an amazing community is a great feeling. I personally invited Brett Koth, one of my biggest influences and an artist from Paws, Inc. into the group, and now he posts his comics there. How cool is that?
People just need to find out there’s a place on Facebook without all the politics and fighting where everyone is positive and shares great work. I know it’s helped me out from time to time. The best way for it to grow is simply through word of mouth!
Q7 Since our last interview with you are there new collections of your work available? Do you have any future plans to publish work?
Now there’s the question on everyone’s mind! Picpak Dog Volume 3 exists somewhere in-between Half-Life 3 and Portal 3. While there haven’t been any collections in a while, the comic does appear regularly in Zenith News (https://www.zenithcitynews.com/) in Duluth, MN. Someday I may launch a Kickstarter to produce a third book. That seems to be the thing that’s in nowadays. Someday!
Q8 Your twitter bio says “Currently working on Season 3 of LouisSaysTV and owner of QCIndieDotCom” – what are those projects and where can we find out more?
Louis Says is a children’s animated series I work on for a Canadian channel called APTN. It’s about a young boy named Randy who tries to help his old friend Louis, but gets mixed up and learns some Cree (a native Canadian language) along the way. There’s more info at http://www.louissaystv.com/.
QCIndie is an Internet radio station I made that airs alternative and indie music. It’s a little different from what you normally hear, and sometimes I just need to remind myself that today’s music isn’t all that bad. You can check it out at http://qcindie.com .
Q9 How do you ‘write’ a PicPak comic? Take us through your typical process? Do you write in batches or do you create a strip or two daily? How long does one strip take to create?
First I jot down the “script” in Google Keep. This is a bit handier than a notebook because I can use it on my phone, laptop, etc. There is where I perfect the timing and the wording. I write when the mood fancies me, but I always make sure I have enough ideas for the upcoming week. I create the strips a day or two before they go up, but occasionally I’ll have a buffer. I start with an initial rough sketch in Photoshop and ink over top that. The whole process for a simple, 3 panel strip is about half an hour.
Other times I like to challenge myself. Recently I did a storyline where Picpak stays in a hotel run by chickens. I had no idea of an ending for this one when I first put it up. I just made chicken jokes until I ran out!
Q10 How can fans best support you and your work?
Before this week I would have pointed you to my Patreon (https://www.patreon.com/picpak), but their announcement of their new rules (which they ended up going back on) drove everyone away. I suggest buying a t-shirt or book from the shop (http://www.picpak.net/shop/), or using Ko-fi (http://ko-fi.com/picpak).
Q11 What are your thoughts on the various collaborations, guest strips, and art challenges you are involved in? Specifically, the inflation days on twitter and the monthly patreon sketches.
I love ‘em! The Patreon sketches are always a great way to try something new. The people I draw them for aren’t even patrons anymore. Some of them never were to begin with, I just made them for them anyway!
Picpak is such a simple strip it’s hard to sneak other characters in. But recently I included both Tiffany and Corey (http://tiffanyandcorey.blogspot.ca/) by Max West into some comics. It’s good to do little shout-outs like these from time to time, especially if they don’t feel forced.
Every time I think there can’t be another inflation joke, the Animaloons make you think again! While reinventing the same joke can sometimes be a challenge, it’s always a pleasure to do them. I especially got a kick out of this month’s Reindeerloon! Inflating an reindeer through its nose will never not be funny!
Q12 Are there any comics out there you think more people should be reading?
There’s so many great comics that you can find in the Root Beer Party every day! A few that come to mind are your strip (Sunny Side Up), Jon Esparza’s Bubble Fox, my friend Donna’s Once Upon a Donna, Dana Atnip’s Galactic Dragons, Charles Brubaker’s Fuzzy Princess and Ask a Cat, Crispin Wood’s Small Blue Yonder, PJ Day’s Flatt Bear, Peter Rasmussen’s Fatherhood Badly Doodled, Jim Horwitz’s Watson, Tim Green’s Vinnie the Vampire, Brad Perri’s Pirate Mike, George Ford’s Addanac City, Brett Koth’s Diamond Lil, Bob Scott’s Bear With Me…there are SO many! I’m sorry if I forgot you, but it’s impossible to list ‘em all!
Q13 I’ve heard you also work in animation? Are there plans for any animated projects for PicPak like the feeling groovy video? What animators do you admire? Which ones influenced you the most?
I do work in animation full-time, and while I would love to see a Picpak series come true, it would have to be under the right circumstances. No crappy soulless CGI! My favourite animators are Chuck Jones, Tom Ruegger, Hanna-Barbera, and Jay Ward (Ok, you can question if he counts as an animator or not! XD). Hanna-Barbera has a huge influence on my style. In fact, the logo on my website has Picpak modeled after a Yogi Bear pose!
Q14 Why don’t you use Scraps more in your comic?
Believe me, I think Scraps is a fascinating character and I’d create a spin-off series if I could, but he’s simply too hard to write for! Picpak is much easier to put in a situation and see how he acts out. Scraps is more particular. That and he’s like dessert – if you saw him every day you’d get sick of him! Plus, if he appeared all the time, all the magic when he does appear would be lost.
Q15 You used to like A&W root beer – why do you hate Barq’s?
I still like A&W! XD My hatred for Barq’s ended up creating one of the best comic communities on the web, so I think the ends justify the means here! To me, Barq’s just doesn’t have the “bite” like it claims. Heck, I don’t even mind it THAT much so long as it’s not watered down!
Q16 If you could revive one discontinued comic which one would it be?
This answer surely is clichéd at this point, but I’d love to see what Bill Watterson could do with Calvin and Hobbes as a webcomic. Or anything, really! He could create something amazing with the unlimited space. The world desperately needs his talent!
Q17 I think I’m out of questions for now. Thanks once again Kim and happy holidays to you and yours!
No problem James, thanks again for the interview! Happy holidays to you as well!
So there you have it True Believers, a meeting for the ages. Two of the world leading comic experts meeting up to give you a behind the scenes look into how your favorite comics are made. Sure, they can’t seem to count to twenty, but heck, Seventeen is close enough. They can’t give away all their secrets.
Once again we retire with a frosty mug of the elixir of life that is root beer and gaze out upon the vast acreage of The Official Root Beer Party Estates located in an undisclosed location of a unknown country in an undiscovered land. We hope you enjoy this peek behind the curtain of the Root Beer Party and as always True Believers, may your mug always be frosted and your root beer always foamy.