Q.What made you want to become an illustrator?

A. When I was in first grade in Sequim Elementary School in Sequim, Washington, Mickey Mouse Club debuted. I loved to watch "Roy", Walt Disney's brother do giant fast action drawings of the Disney characters. Watching him draw inspired me. I was five years old when I decided I wanted to be a cartoonist when I grew up. I made up my mind and never looked back.

Q. Who were your cartoonist heroes as a kid?

A. In about fifth grade I became enamored with magazine gag cartooning. I followed all of the cartoonists in all of the magazines. Some of my favorites were John Gallagher (his brother is George Gately, who draws Heathcliff), Joe Zeis, and Andre Busino. I borrowed John Gallagher's classic bulb noses for many years. I didn't want to wait till I grew up to sell cartoons to magazines, so I started sending off batches of crudely drawn cartoons to all of the magazines (except Playboy). Finally, after countless rejections, I sold my first cartoon, in eighth grade, to Skin Diver Magazine, for the whopping sum of $3.50. Of course, in those days you could buy a good used car for $3.50.

Q. How can you draw so good?

A. This is by far the most frequently asked question posed to me by school children at my school programs. I tell them that practice makes the difference. And I tell them to keep drawing. I've observed that most kids have given up drawing by the fifth grade. Keep drawing through middle school and high school and with each year you will get better and better.

Q. What kind of pen do you use?

A. I'm writing this in a coffee shop near my studio with a Pilot G2 gel ink pen. I write all of my stories and articles in long hand first, usually in a coffee shop or park. Then I return to my office and type it up. The Pilot G2 is the best pen that I have found for all around writing and journaling.

For drawing I use Micron Pigma pens. I draw my Health Capsules feature with a number 2 Micron Pigma pen. I draw most projects on drafting vellum, then I color with them with markers. Next I carefully apply tone and texture with Prisma Color pencils. I have trained myself to use markers so that they don't have the typical marker look that is so recognizable. Can you tell that my Cheese Brigade story for Clubhouse Jr Magazine (click on Huckleberry Hollow) was colored with markers?

I don't work with colored inks or watercolors on watercolor paper much anymore. The markers and Prismas are faster. And copier paper is a lot cheaper than watercolor paper.

Q. What aspect of your career do you enjoy the most?

I like all aspects of my career. I love working on my Health Capsules feature. It's so much fun to write and draw the panels. I never get tired of it. I also love meeting the kids at my school programs. It gets me out of my solitary situation in my studio and out with the kids. I love being on stage, doing my show with an audience of kids. I love interacting with our different sales people when I'm working in my Fun Maps USA map business. And I enjoy all the people I meet and places I go when I travel with Fun Maps USA. After all these years I still enjoy my freelance jobs, when I draw a gameboard, or when I illustrate a kids story for a magazine. I wish that everyone could enjoy their work as much as I do. The world would be a happier place.

Q. Who's your favorite comic strip character from past years?

Pogo. Many of you have never heard of Pogo, drawn by Walt Kelly. It's one of the best-written, best-drawn comics ever. I think Walt Kelly is in the all-time top five. Go to a bookstore, or online, or wherever you can to find a Pogo book. You'll see what I mean.

Q. Do you remember the first job you did after you finished art school?

Yes. I did a number of greeting card designs for Reed-Starline Greeting Card Company. I think that was my first client after I finished my studies at the Art Center College of Design in Los Angeles.

Q. How much time do you spend working on your comic strip?

A. I write a week’s worth of comic panels in longhand at a nearby coffee shop or at the mall food court. I rarely write in my studio. I try to have them written by the weekend. Then, on Saturday I try to have that week penciled and inked so that a week’s worth of panels can be sent out early in the week. They are no longer sent out by snail mail like in the old days…now we email them to the syndicate. I never tire of writing and drawing the feature…it’s always great fun to work on.

Q. What’s your typical day like?

A. Every day is different. Some days I work on my Health Capsules comic panels. Other days, I work on illustration projects, or perhaps a school assembly program. I love the variety. I prefer “owning” my life, not “renting” it, like I would if I had a 9 to 5 job.

I’m an oddball… I prefer to work outside the studio. Lately, I’ve been working at a nearby coffee shop in the morning and the mall food court in the afternoons. Ice tea with lemon is my drink of choice in the afternoons. My entire comic feature is all produced outside of my studio. Like Hemingway, I prefer the “cafe” work environment.

Q. Do you work long hours?

A. Like most illustrators, my hours are long. I work until 9:00, 10:00 or 11:00 every night. I work Saturdays and try to take Saturday night off, and I try to take Sundays off, but sometimes the demands of the deadlines dictate otherwise. Last Christmas I worked all Christmas Eve and all Christmas day, only taking time out for opening presents and Christmas dinner. My cartoonist friend, Doug Jones, told me the other day that he worked all day this past Thanksgiving, while his family went away for Thanksgiving. Young people who go into this field should know that it’s a very demanding life. The hours can be unforgiving.

If you have any more questions, contact me.