20 Questions with Comic Creators: Chris Bays of MythDirection

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It’s time once again True Believers, for everyone’s favorite segment in on the root Beer Party Page:  20 Questions with comic creators!  

We are here once again at the beautiful Root Beer Party Estates where we have flown in our special guest and one of our newest members Chris Bays.  The Root Beer Monks silently serve us a very special 2017 vintage root beer to mark this special event.  You can find Chris Bay’s comic Mythdirection here:  http://mythdirection.com/

after several hours touring the vast Root Beer Party estates, we have settled here in the Root Beer Party poolside bar, overlooking the fields of vanilla nd sassafras being carefully tended to this spring by the dedicated Root Beer Monks, but we came here today to introduce you all to Chris, so let’s get to it.  

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 Question 1: What got you started in doing a comic series?
I’d done comics here are there for years. A painful setback in writing fiction had me pick up the comics habit again. I made a promise to myself to work on it for two years and it’s almost been three now.

Question 2: Who was you greatest influence?
Professionally, Gary Larson, Bill Watterson, and Wiley Miller. Personally, it was a kid I befriended in the 6th grade that drew amazing things. Unfortunately in the 7th grade he turned bully so I got two lessons for the price of one.

Question 3: What is your favorite root beer and why?
Sadly, I’ve never liked root beer but I support everyone’s right to an ice cold IBC any time they want.

Question 4: What do you hope to accomplish with your comic?
I just want people to laugh. I think there’s enough stressful stuff happening in our lives and a laugh helps get through it.

Question 5: Do you have any other artistic interests outside of comics?
I write every now and again. I’ve also done some close-up magic and I’m a bit of a dork when it comes to that stuff.

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Question 6: Do you see yourself as a professional cartoonist, or is this just something you do for yourself?
I think right now I’m somewhere in between. I’d like to say I’m a professional but I feel like I have to keep my head down so the Fraud Police doesn’t come sniffing around.

Question 7: What type of subject or humor do you consider out of bounds for your strips and why?
I don’t put blue material in the comic. I have written some off-color ones but those are only seen on rare occasions when I share them with friends and sometime on my Patreon feed. I’ve still got two comic ideas I know I’ll never draw because they’re way too out there.

I want the comic to be accessible to most people. At most my comic is sometimes PG-13.

Question 8: What kind of equipment or style of drawing do you use?
Simple pencil and ink. I do the final work in Gimp. I hope to make the leap to digital before next year.

Question 9: what sort of training or academic program did you pursue to become a cartoonist?
None. I just drew. I had some art classes in high school so that helped.

Question 10: What has been the highlight of your cartooning career?
Having a comic go crazy on Reddit and make it to the front page. In the end, over half a million people viewed it.

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Question 11: What has been the lowest point in your cartooning career?
Realizing that a comic going viral means nothing. I thought this was the moment things were going to start happening. I hit a low point after that and it took a while to recover and find my way back to just focusing on one comic at a time and building an audience. No shortcuts!

Question 12: Are collections of your work available beyond the web? If So where?
I’ve got a book out on Amazon in print and ebook (Little Known Mythical Creatures). I’m considering a second book for later this year.

(You can find that book Here:    https://www.amazon.com/dp/154315767X/   -Editor)

Question 13: Are there any other web comic artists that you really admire?
There’s not enough room to list them all. I’d have to say, in short, Brian Gordon, James Boyd (who gives crazy amounts of support to everyone), Hillary Price, John Sutton, Dave Kellett, Deya Muniz, and Chris McCoy. I’m secretly in love with Jennie Breeden but let’s keep that between us.  (Done – I won’t say a word -Editor)

Question 14: What kind of impact has cartooning had on your life and could you ever see yourself not doing it?
It’s given me the confidence to be more outgoing. I’m an introvert by nature but it’s hard to do that when you have to put yourself out there all the time both online and in person. I’ll keep doing something artistic. It might not be the comic but it will be out there.

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Question 15: Do you have any advice for the Trolls out there who harass content creators? (no need to keep this answer clean.)
No advice for the trolls, they’re not going to listen anyway. I do have some advice for other artists regarding trolls. Don’t worry about them. They’re not your audience anyway. Trolls remind us that there are just unhappy people out there who can’t do what we do, and frankly don’t have the courage to even try.

Question 16: Do you set yourself any deadlines or other tricks to keep yourself motivated?
I am awesome at procrastinating. My only trick is I get a bunch of penciling done all at once since I can ink and letter doing other things. That reminds me that I should really get started on tomorrow’s comic.

Question 17: Apart from root beer, what is your favorite drink?
I had to give up soda recently (I loved Mr. Pibb), so it’ll have to be water with MiO added to it.

Question 18: Are you already a member of the root beer party and if not, what is the matter with you?
I am. What’s it to you buddy?

Question 19: What is the most challenging aspect of cartooning for you?
Consistency. I don’t have the luxury of using the same characters over and over again so I feel like I’m reinventing the comic all the time.

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Question 20: What are your future plans involving web comics or anything else going on in your life?
I’m moving forward on the webcomic but I’ve thought about doing other illustration work down the road. Maybe go back to school to improve my art.

So there you have it True Believers, Straight from the horse’s mouth another great interview with one of our very own root Beer Party members.   Be sure to tune in again for more insights into the minds of the world’s greatest comic creators.  Until next time True Believers, may your mug always be frosted and your root beer always foamy.  

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#VivaBubblefoxDay

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Every once in awhile the internet can do good things.  It’s not often, but once in awhile the stars seem to align and good things can happen.  On February 15th 2018, the internet did just that. The planning began months in advance, Co-President Kim Belding took the lead to create a day to honor the highly esteemed Co-President of the Root Beer Party Jon Esparza.  Not only is Jon the Co-Founder of the Root Beer Party, but he is also one of the most tireless promoters of it’s members and just webcomics in general.  He is always there over on twitter @Joncrazytweets bringing encouragement and even a measure of exposure to a veteran comic genius as well as a newly discovered talent.

He has created challenges and contests which have kept the webcomic community engaged with each other and really became a driving force behind the unique sense of comradery which underlies the webcomic community.  It seems all the other internet groups are torn apart by factions and divisions over any such nonsense, but Jon has given us a Co-President which has united us rather than divided us, and it is to this man that we intended to pay tribute.

We expected a small turnout, maybe 10 to 15 people and what we got on that fateful Thursday was overwhelming.  It seemed that everyone was stepping up to acknowledge a great guy who always had time for a positive word and a funny comic.  It is often easy to overlook the impact that one person can make in the world, but every now and then we are reminded of the impact that one positive and encouraging voice can make.  So Jon, Today we mark #VivaBubblefoxDay and we all lift a hefty, frosty mug of Barq’s Root Beer for you.  But Don’t take my word for it, here’s what everyone else said:

We began the day at midnight with a message to Jon to be on a lookout for the #VivaBubblefoxDay hashtag and a triple posting from the Official Root Beer Party Account.  A quiet beginning to an amazing day.   Then the posts began:DWKzlivX4AAGU8n

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It seemed like the comics just wouldn’t stop coming in.  Jon’s phone went down several times due to notification overload as the technology struggled to keep up with the plethora of art which flooded the internet.  It was a great day in the annals of Root Beer Party history and we are marking it here today in the Official Root Beer Party Records.  So for everything you have done Jon, For the Root Beer Party and for always having a witty or friendly or encouraging word:  We thank you.  Your spirit of generosity has inspired our little “Ragtag” bunch of comic creators and turned it into a massive group over 150 strong, dedicated to making the world smile a little bit each day, for little reward and a lot of effort, the Root Beer Party continues to reflect the values and principals of it’s founding member.  So lets all share some comics and a root beer with the world.  So let’s raise a frosty mug of Barq’s root beer to Jon Esparza and recite The Official Root Beer Party Motto:  “For the Glory of Comics and Root Beer!”

As for all the doubters out there, this is the power of a “True Believer,”  And as always, until next time, “May your mug always be frosted and your root beer always foamy.”

Mr. Blob’s Mysteries

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Mr. blob has been busy this new year.  He has been all over the world of comics visiting all of his friends in the Root Beer Party.

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Ninja and Pirate stumbled into a world where Mr. Blob once ruled with an iron fist before the apes took over.

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Mr. Blob got into shape to visit the world of the legendary Jack Kirby, everyone was surprised by his new look.

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He visited his friends over at the Root Beer Party and got into a heated yet divine debate

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He stopped by Sunny Side Up to share some career advice.

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Then he went over to visit his long lost friend Zombie Boy.

He then went and made some new friends over at Tiffany and Corey

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But he never lost his love of mysteries and exposing the truth about the comic industry.

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And of course he just can’t help himself getting in trouble on twitter and having to get inflated as punishment.

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But he did finally settle down and get back to work with his friends at the Root Beer Party.

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So as you can see, Mr. Blob has been busy so far this year traveling all over the comic universe having fun with all his friends.  What sort of craziness will he get into for the rest of the year, no one knows, but he will continue to get by with a little help from his friends.

So keep a look out for Mr. Blob and all his Root Beer Party friends, and as always True Believers, may your mug always be frosted and your root beer always foamy.

Official Root Beer Party Portrait #7 Peter Rasmussen

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Once again we head into The Official Portrait Gallery of the Root Beer Party, where our resident artist and Co-President Kim Belding is unveiling his latest masterpiece.  Notice the subtle curve of the line and the use of squiggles to give texture to the clothing of the subject.  It is reminiscent of Van Goth in it’s use of brushstroke to convey movement.  The stark black and white contrast without the use of any color is invocative of the monochrome movement of the avant-garde scene in the late twentieth century.  This is truly a master work in comic art.

Peter Rasmussen is also one of the officers of the Root Beer Party as well as performing his duties as a comic artist and parental expert in Denmark, he is also the Deputy Secretary of State for The Root Beer Party and our Official Representative to the European Union.  His job is to expand the love of root beer and comics across all of Europe and he works hard at it everyday.

You can check out his comic here:   http://badlydoodled.com/

So pass the root beer and cheese and continue to explore the Official Root Beer Party Portrait Gallery, and as always True Believers, may your mug always be frosted and your root beer always foamy.

 

20 Questions with Comic Creators: Brian Ponshock of Prideland and MindFrame

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Welcome back True Believers, we are here once again at the vast Root Beer Party Estates in an undisclosed location, in a undiscovered region of a long lost continent and we are bringing to you live a one on one interview with our esteemed Root Beer Party Member and noted, award winning, and certified master of the squared panel, Brian Ponshock!  You can find his work here: 

Mindframe comic:    http://mindframecartoons.blogspot.com/

Prideland w/ Ryan Stoker:   http://www.comicssherpa.com/site/feature?uc_comic=csaoa

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So let’s bring over a frosty mug of root beer and get right to it:
Question 1: What got you started in doing a comic series?
Comic strips/panels have always been a big part of my life, and it was always something I dreamt of doing, so I finally took the leap into to creating something people could get a bit of a chuckle from. That’s when ‘Mindframe’ was born… and Prideland was soon to follow!
Question 2: Who was you greatest influence?
Definitely Charles Schulz! When I was little I constantly drew Snoopy lying on top of his dog house. Oh how I wish I could have met him.
Question 3: What is your favorite root beer and why?
I still enjoy A&W. We used to have one in town (back in the day), so I guess a may be a reminiscent thing of why I enjoy it.
Question 4: What do you hope to accomplish with your comic?
As so many of us would like… syndication baby!!!
Question 5: Do you have any other artistic interests outside of comics?
I would like to try my hand at animation, but there is only so much time in a given day!
Question 6: Do you see yourself as a professional cartoonist, or is this just something you do for yourself?
I do consider myself a cartoonist. Be it professional or amateur.
Question 7: What type of subject or humor do you consider out of bounds for your strips and why?
Anything that pertains to children being abused or victims of violent crimes. I just think it would be in poor taste.
Question 8: What kind of equipment or style of drawing do you use?
I use Clip Studio Paint (formerly Manga Studio) on a Wacom Cintiq 22HD. I’ll sketch out the panels in blue and go over them with black. Everything is done on layers. So much easier for me to make corrections, but don’t get me wrong… there’s nothing that compares to pencil on paper!

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Question 9: what sort of training or academic program did you pursue to become a cartoonist?
I am self-taught. Practice, practice, practice!
Question 10: What has been the highlight of your cartooning career?
Mindframe winning the Twain Award 2014-2015 for best single panel cartoon.
Question 11: What has been the lowest point in your cartooning career?
Waiting to be syndicated. It’s exhausting! Ha!
Question 12: Are collections of your work available beyond the web? If So where?
Not at this time, but soon.

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Question 13: Are there any other web comic artists that you really admire?
Ryan Stoker (of course I may be a bit biased on this one), Mike Wilke, Neecko Chichi, Bill Abbott, Jose Sepi, Eddie Harvey Martinez, Jordan Smith, Steve Wallet, Mark Partington, and sooooooooooo many others. Please don’t take it personally if I haven’t listed you here. Just know I’m watching you! Is that creepy? That is creepy, isn’t it?!
Question 14: What kind of impact has cartooning had on your life and could you ever see yourself not doing it?
It has given my life more meaning. I love hearing when others really enjoy what I’ve created. Cartooning is now so intertwined with my life it would be like cutting off an arm if I didn’t do it.

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Question 15: Do you have any advice for the Trolls out there who harass content creators? (no need to keep this answer clean.)
Fuck ‘em! Their opinions are just that… opinions! Everybody has them.
Question 16: Do you set yourself any deadlines or other tricks to keep yourself motivated?
With a daily job it can be difficult, but I do try to draw every day.
Question 17: Apart from root beer, what is your favorite drink?
Oh boy… a good gin & sour or an occasional Long Island Iced Tea. Not both at the same time though. You’d be scraping me up off the floor!
Question 18: Are you already a member of the root beer party and if not, what is the matter with you?
I am, man! Stop hollering at me!!!

(SORRY, SOMETIMES THE ROOT BEER GETS ME TOO EXCITED!!!!)  -EDITOR 
Question 19: What is the most challenging aspect of cartooning for you?
I would have to say drawing action scenes. They can be difficult, and being a perfectionist, I feel I never seem to get it drawn the way I want.

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Question 20: What are your future plans involving web comics or anything else going on in your life?
Just plan to keep on creating & hopefully make a little money at it too! After that…. world domination! Mmmmmhaaahaaaahaaaaaaaaaa!

So there you have it True Believers, another of our world famous 20 questions interviews.  We would like to thank Brian, our future benevolent overlord for taking time to visit the secret Root Beer Party Estates and sitting down with us.  So check out Prideland and Mindframe and tell your local syndicate to make with the syndication already!  Unless your local syndicate is the mafia, then don’t bother them because it would not end well, and as always True Believers, may your mug always be frosted and your root beer always foamy.  

 

Official Root Beer Party Portrait #6 Bret Juliano of the Dust Bunny Mafia

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We are back once again in the new wing for the induction of our latest Official Root Beer Party Portrait.  Today we celebrate Bret Juliano of the Dust Bunny Mafia.  One of the original founding members of the Root Beer Party, in fact he was our first official member, and now thanks to the magnificent skill of out resident portrait artist Kim Belding, Bret’s portrait will hang forever in the Official Root Beer Party Portrait Gallery.  Welcome to immortality Bret.

20ish Questions with Comic Creators: Kim Belding of Picpak Dog Comics

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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.  

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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.

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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?

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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!

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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.

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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?

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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!

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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.  

Comic Collection Review: Unshelved – Overdue by Gene Ambaum, Bill Barnes & Chris Hallbeck

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It is with a sad heart that I bring this volume to The Official Root Beer Party Comic Archives.  Whenever a comic comes to an end, the Archive springs into action and begins the ceremony of preservation.  So today I bring to you the final volume of the Unshelved comic series.

For 14 years we followed the antics of Dewey and the gang of The Mallville Public Library, created by the duo of Gene Ambaum & Bill Barnes in 2002, Unshelved led us on a comic journey, taking on issues such as consumerism and public service to the modern loss of civility and the entitlement of our consumer culture.  We followed our Librarian hero’s as they tackled the mechanizations of government bureaucracy and economic ups and downs.

It was a humorous glimpse at a changing world from the anachronism of the old library systems to the many attempts to keep this essential community function relevant in an ever changing society.  In the end we learn that it is not the books of the library or the technological search engines that drive information, it is the people, the librarians themselves which are the gatekeepers of civilization.

While being a humorous comic strip, Unshelved never lost sight of this core value.  It was always focused on the characters both in front of and behind the counter which are the essence of the institution.  Even in the age of ever changing technology we still have a dire need for those who can find and distill information and give context to flood of data which assaults our senses everyday.

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The library is more than just a collection of informational tools and reference materials, it is a modern community center of sorts, providing much needed guidance and relief to people from all walks of life.  even today, the library is still the most democratic of institutions.  They are open to everyone and forgiving of all sorts of social anomolies.

Unshelved captured all the chaos of the library and showed both it’s strengths and it’s shortcomings.  With gentle, albeit sarcastic wit, it showed us that even in our most sacred of collective institutions the human condition is still the focal point of everything that we do.

Dewey has grown from a sarcastic kid to a responsible father, bringing along with him the whimsical and the weird co-workers and patrons and growing together as a community and as a family.  From the perch of his information desk in the cultural hub of civilization, Dewey reflects on our modern culture and shows us an optimistic view of life in the face of absurdity.

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It is with great melancholy, that we retire this series to our own library, and the Root Beer Party Monks take this volume and admit it to the vast, cavernous collection assembled through the history of time of all the greatest works of sequential art ever assembled, and this volume reminds us of the generations of people before them who risked everything and dedicated themselves to this most important endeavor, The Official Root Beer Party Comic Archives.

Even as we nod our respect to the men and women of the library system, we are given a new hope.  For Gene Ambaum and Chris Hallbeck, who came in to help with the art in the final year of the strip, have joined forces to bring us a new comic.  A Library Comic which you can find here:  http://librarycomic.com/

So as we read the final strip and Dewey and his friends go on with their daily lives at the Mallville Public Library unobserved by us, a new group of heroes has risen to the challenge to find the humor of life in the very heart of civilization, the library.

So check out the new comic and read through all the volumes of Unshelved many times in the years to come and keep in mind those who help us to find what we are all searching for, be it information, a timeless work of art, a sense of community or even just a laugh.

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You can find copies of Unshelved collections as well as merchandise in their store here: https://topatoco.com/collections/unshelved

So until next time True Believers, go down to your local library and just browse around for awhile, remind yourself what this institution really is.  It is a repository of information, a vast collection of the greatest works in human history, but more importantly it is a home to your community.  Until next time True Believers, may your mug always be frosted and your root beer always foamy.

20 Questions with Comic Creators: Scott A. Jenkins of Madbury

Welcome once again True Believers to the vast estates of the Root Beer Party, It is now December and the first batch of the elixir of life, Root Beer, is coming of age.  from the fall harvest the Root Beer Monks have Harvested the crops and began the brewing process for the coming year.  The smell of Vanilla, Sassafras, and Anise fill the air, the sweet scent of raw sugar being boiled out of the sugar cane heightens the senses and promises delights to come.  It is a truly amazing time here at The Official root Beer Party Compound in an undisclosed location of an unknown country in an undiscovered land.  Here we dedicate ourselves to the true calling of human life, comics and root beer.  

Today, we have with us for another of our world famous 20 questions segments is none other than Scott A. Jenkins.  A world renowned comic genius which has taken a break from the hectic life of a jet setting, playboy cartoonist to meet with us here at The Official Root Beer Party Compound for an interview.  The Official root Beer Party Bartender brings us two frosty mugs of the elixir of life, the standard ceremony of a meeting between any member of the Root Beer Party.  We trade small talk, something about the exotic life of a cartoonist in the outside world, but I put aside the common banter and proceed to get down to business.  

You can find Scott at the following sites:

Scott A. Jenkins “jynksie” on Twitter
http://www.madburycomic.com
http://www.norsetales.com
http://www.jynksiecomics.com

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Question 1: What got you started in doing a comic series?

This would take us back to the year 2000! I came across webcomics.com, which was a webcomics portal for cartoonists back then and was unaffiliated with how we know it today. People displayed their works in the forums, which led me to their websites and I eventually decided to throw my hat into the ring and give this “webcomics” thing a try. I was rusty, so my work was awful, but knowing there was a platform outside of syndication intrigued me then and still does now. The first online comic I ever read was Goats by Jon Rosenberg of Scenes From A Multiverse fame. The first online comic I ever created was “Committed For Life” and it was horribly done.

Question 2: Who was you greatest influence?

The most influential, would be Charles M. Schulz. Charlie Brown was a blockhead and so was I! I may still be, but no one will say so out loud! In fact, my main character in Madbury is, in many ways, an adult version of Chuck. Hodge is a blockhead as well!
It was actually cartoons that influenced my drawing and anything Hanna Barbera had my full attention. Flintstones, Scooby Doo, Top Cat, Yogi Bear, the Jetsons etc.

Question 3: What is your favorite root beer and why?

I grew up on A&W Root Beer, it was sold in glass bottles at the Granite State Potato Chip Factory we used to go to every Saturday morning to buy fresh hot potato chips buy the bucket, ahhh childhood! It was a thick tasting root beer, I can’t think of another kind that ever came close and it still tastes the same today.

Question 4: What do you hope to accomplish with your comic?

I simply want the ability to share my comic with whomever wants to peek over my shoulder and check it out. I’d also like to see my work, printed out in a tangible, touchable book one day! Even if it’s one copy and it’s mine!

Question 5: Do you have any other artistic interests outside of comics?

I dabble in landscape photography, living in New England, there’s always a view you want to capture and keep.

Question 6: Do you see yourself as a professional cartoonist, or is this just something you do for yourself?

Well, the definition of professional, I imagine, means it’s a paid gig and something you have on the ole’ resume. I’ve only made hobbyist money from my cartooning, so I don’t consider myself a professional. I don’t have a body of work that has developed enough to qualify, so, at most, I’m a professional at being an engaged hobbyist!

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

I do a slice of life comic strip, so subject matter is all inclusive. What I consider out of bounds for me, is being overtly raunchy. I prefer suggestive, you know, show a little butt cheek, so to speak!

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

I use a Miscrosoft Surface Pro Laptop w/ pen and I use photoshop elements 14 to digitally create my work.

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

I went to art school in college, but I majored in art history. My art teacher said my artistic abilities were mundane, so I never pursued drawing after that in a trained environment. I would say I am self-taught.

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

I am always humbled with any attention my creative endeavors are given. So, the highlight comes with every interaction one chooses to have with whatever I put out there in a positive way.

Question 11: What has been the lowest point in your cartooning career?

I have perfectionist issues and in the past it has hindered my ability to grow as a creator. I spent a lot of time reinventing a wheel that wasn’t broken. In the process of reinventing, I had to accept I may have damaged my original product beyond repair. I’m only recently coming out of that low point, with the reprising of my comic strip, Madbury. The original recipe didn’t need reinventing, but I needed to go through this process in order to see it. Hindsight is 20/20 and I was wearing a blindfold.

Question 12: Are collections of your work available beyond the web? If So where?

Everything is on the web. The digital age gives one the ability to just lay our creativity on our digital desk [website] for people to paw through at will.

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

There are a few creators who’s word I value and respect and others who’s work I simply admire beyond words. If I’m going to drop a single name, it would be Mark Stokes. Mark creates Zombie Boy, which has this visually enjoyable and playful design to it. His writing, it’s simple, yet engaging and it tickles at the inner child. To write an all ages type of comic, it requires a sort of intellect I don’t have and it’s an intellect I admire. He should be syndicated; his body of work belongs with the best of the syndicated comic strips.

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

I love to draw, I would imagine if I weren’t drawing as I do now, I’d be fiddling w/ a pencil on a napkin somewhere. It’s an outlet that is as innate in me as breathing. Until my inner child moves on, I’ll be doodling something.

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

For their opinion to matter, one has to care. Trolls don’t do a good job of masking themselves, so when one starts spewing their negativity, just remember, trolls suffer from having a small wee-wee and it’s why they must project negativity.

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

At this time, where my work doesn’t demand deadlines be met, I usually allow motivation to push the creativity out of me, so that when a low point comes, I’ve got some equity in that creative bank. I don’t do well with forced creativity, so when it wanes, it needs to wane.

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

A dirty martini, because life is messy! [grin]

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

I am not currently a member of this party. I’m going to “assume” the invitation was lost in the mail!  (You are now. Welcome to the Party! – Editor)

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

I’ve been drawing a long time, but hands… hands and perspective still allude me. How can one draw hands, day after day, after day and sit down to a brain that thinks it’s never drawn them before?
The other challenge, is the isolation of comic creation. I tend to thrive in a more collaborative environment, so making comics can be frustrating for me in this regard. I’m someone who likes feedback and I like to flush out ideas with more than just myself.

Question 20: What are your future plans involving web comics or anything else going on in your life?

I’m not much of a planner, but I do like seeing a plan come together. When that day comes, I’ll have a much better sense of what my future plans have in store for me. That’s my standard answer for everything, except planning for retirement.

In the more immediate future however, I’m trying to migrate to new social media platforms for my creative projects. While Twitter has been good to me, I need to engage in a less volatile atmosphere, as it is hindering my creative flow. What you’ll see from me in 2018 is a continuation of me building a thicker archive of work, while drinking root beer and looking for that lost invitation!

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And  there you have it True Believers, another in depth interview with the people making the comics of our age.  These are the legends of tomorrow who we will speak of in hushed whispers in the future.  The people who are making sure sequential art is still relevant in the too much information age.  These are the pioneers of new technology and the lawmen that will tame the wild lands of the new frontiers and make comics once again the premier form of communication in the new enlightened age.  we lead the charge here at The Root Beer Party and we welcome you to come along for the ride, and as always True Believers, may your mug always be frosted and your root beer always foamy.