Welcome back once again True Believers for another one of our world renowned segments: 20 Questions with Comic Creators! We are here live from the Root Beer Party Studios in an undisclosed location in a far off land in an undiscovered country. We are here to talk with one of our legacy comic creators and Root Beer Party Member John Rose of Barney Google and Snuffy Smith. You can check out his comic here: http://snuffysmithcomics.com/
Barney Google made his comic debut back in 1919 where the cigar-smoking, sports-loving, poker-playing, girl-chasing ne’er-do-well Barney Google was born. Barney was the focus of the strip until 1934 when Snuffy Smith was introduced and soon eclipsed Barney as the star of the series. Our good friend John Rose took over the comic in 2001 and has made the bodacious comic his own ever since.
Snuffy Smith has had a huge impact on American comic culture including Barney Googles famous horse Spark Plug which gave a certain uncle of Peanuts Creator Charles Schultz the idea to nickname the soon to be comic genius “Sparky.” Snuffy Smith has appeared in a series of his own movies
and even had a postage stamp dedicated to Barney Google in 1995.
Recently Snuffy Smith was even chosen for some public service announcements to prevent forest fires. Look out Smokey the Bear.
So lets meet the man who will be at the helm when Barney Google and Snuffy Smith turns 100 years old next year. John Rose.
Question 1: What got you started in doing a comic series?
I have always wanted to be a cartoonist and I was blessed to be hired by the legendary Fred Lasswell as his inking assistant in 1998. That began my work on the Barney Google and Snuffy Smith comic strip.
Question 2: Who was you greatest influence?
As far as this particular comic strip goes, definitely Fred Lasswell and Billy DeBeck. But other cartooning influences for me throughout my career include Mike Peters, Mort Walker, Jeff MacNelly, Walt Disney and many more.
Question 3: What is your favorite root beer and why?
A & W root beer. Probably because we have a KFC/A&W Restaurant near our house so it’s the brand I have most often.
Question 4: What do you hope to accomplish with your comic?
Make people smile each day and think back to a simpler time.
Question 5: Do you have any other artistic interests outside of comics?
I admire and enjoy viewing many other types of art, but comic art is the only art I personally create.
Question 6: Do you see yourself as a professional cartoonist, or is this just something you do for yourself?
I consider myself a professional cartoonist and I am incredibly thankful for the opportunity to be one.
Question 7: What type of subject or humor do you consider out of bounds for your strips and why?
In the comic strip, I only comment on politics or government in a very general sense. I do not ever get politically specific in any way.
Question 8: What kind of equipment or style of drawing do you use?
I am mostly traditional. I use small point brushes, india ink and the pigma micron pens (with archival ink) in a variety of sizes. I ink the comic strip on Bristol Board. But then I scan the comic strip into Photoshop when I am done inking and clean it up and size it. Then I email it to King Features Syndicate for distribution. Oh, and I use lots of white-out during the inking process! (:
Question 9: what sort of training or academic program did you pursue to become a cartoonist?
I graduated from James Madison University in Harrisonburg, VA with a double-major in Art and Art History in 1986. But I worked on the school newspaper, The Breeze, as a cartoonist for the entire four years that I was a student. I feel that I got a great deal of my cartooning education there, as well.
Question 10: What has been the highlight of your cartooning career?
For me this is a two-part answer. The highlights were being chosen by Fred Lasswell to work with him as his inking assistant in 1998 and then being chosen by King Features to be the cartoonist for the Barney Google and Snuffy Smith comic strip in 2001. It is the greatest honor of my professional career to be entrusted to carry on the legacy of this wonderful comic strip.
Question 11: What has been the lowest point in your cartooning career?
Can’t really think of one because if you keep working hard and don’t give up, eventually the low points turn into high points.
Question 12: Are collections of your work available beyond the web? If So where?
Yes, I have three Barney Google and Snuffy Smith comic strip book collections. They can all be found by searching “Snuffy Smith” on Amazon.com. I also had an original 10-page Snuffy Smith comic book story published in Charlton Spotlight #9.
You can find the books here: https://www.amazon.com/Bodacious-Best-Snuffy-Smith-Collection/dp/1300283300
Question 13: Are there any other web comic artists that you really admire?
Yes! Bob Scott who creates the Bear With Me comic strip for the web. I love his style. He is such an amazing artist and I really enjoy his sense of humor.
Question 14: What kind of impact has cartooning had on your life and could you ever see yourself not doing it?
Cartooning has always had a big impact on my life. First as a fan and then as a professional cartoonist (and also still a fan!). I have always wanted to be a cartoonist, so I am very fortunate to get to do it every day. I could never see myself not doing it.
Question 15: Do you have any advice for the Trolls out there who harass content creators? (no need to keep this answer clean.)
As a creator, don’t let it get to you. If you are making yourself laugh, you are making others laugh, too. Create what you find funny and others will find it funny, too. Plus, you’ll have lots of fun creating it!
Question 16: Do you set yourself any deadlines or other tricks to keep yourself motivated?
I have a daily deadline so that forces me to be motivated. Getting out of the studio for a walk or a change of scenery can help.
Question 17: Apart from root beer, what is your favorite drink?
A half Diet Coke-half Coke mix.
Are you sure it isn’t ‘Shine? – Editor
Question 18: Are you already a member of the root beer party and if not, what is the matter with you?
Yes, I am! (:
Question 19: What is the most challenging aspect of cartooning for you?
Daily deadlines are the most challenging part, but I truly really enjoy the whole process.
Question 20: What are your future plans involving comics or anything else going on in your life?
I hope to continue drawing the Barney Google and Snuffy Smith comic strip for many, many years to come. All my friends at King Features are wonderful to work with! I am bodaciously blessed to get to create this comic strip each day and I am very thankful for each and everyone of our readers! In 2019, the comic strip celebrates its 100th anniversary and I think we will have some fun things in store for our readers!
So there you have it True Believers, another great interview segment with the creators and Root Beer Party Members who make all your favorite comics. Just another peak behind the curtain of America’s favorite hillbillies. So let’s go out and read some great “Bodacious” comics from the comic that invented the term, and as always True Believers, may your mug always be frosted and your root beer always foamy.