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
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
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
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
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”
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
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