COLUMNS

10 Cent Museum 10 Cent Museum

Twenty Questions with Cartoonists

Close to a decade ago, I ran a blog called 20 Questions with Cartoonists. The idea was simple: ask cartoonists with a variety of different approaches and concerns the exact same twenty questions, no variation allowed. The potential value of such a project seemed pretty obvious at the time. So little information about how cartoonists worked was available that, at the very least, a public catalog of what tools artists used seemed like a beneficial thing to compile. Cartooning attracts people of modest means, and while the materials associated with the form are cheap, information about how these materials could be used remained obscure. More importantly (to me), certain attitudes about how to make 'correct' comic art could be dismantled by presenting wildly different artistic beliefs in a uniform system. By asking an established genre artist the same questions as an iconoclastic 'art' cartoonist, my goal was to defy the (still prevalent) belief that cartooning has certain rules inherent within it.

These issues seem even more at the forefront of comics culture than they did in 2009, as discussion around how comics are made seems increasingly scattered, and the divide between 'professional' and 'fringe' is as high as it has ever been. With this in mind, I wrote out the decades old questionnaire to a handful of cartoonists, all of whom are making some of the most progressive work in comics today. Here's how they responded.

--------

Alabaster Pizzo

Art from Mimi and The Wolves by Alabaster Pizzo

1. Can you describe your drawing routine: how often you draw, how many hours per day, how you break up the day with drawing?

Right now I'm mostly drawing for work, so regular daytime hours. But when I draw for myself I tend to also keep those hours (about 9am to 6).

2. How much revision/editing do you do in your work?

I still do most of the final line art in either ink or pencil, I scan that in and increase the contrast until it's only black and white pixels, and then I color digitally.

3. Talk about your process. Do you write a script or make up the drawing as you go?

Story-wise, I don't do a lot of editing! I do a script (like a screenplay) before I draw and I trust myself to make the right choices as I go.

4. Do you compose the page as a whole or do you focus more on individual panel composition?

Design is important to me. I design the page.

5. What tools do you use (please list all)?

6. What kind(s) of paper do you use?

I "pencil" digitally these days, it's so much easier than doing this stage on paper. You can scale things up and down and repeat them, change them. This doesn't make penciling faster, though. If anything it makes it take more time because I can be more of a perfectionist about it. Then I print this. I put it on a light box under Bristol if it's ink, or under a textured tracing paper if i'm doing graphite. I just use crappy rollerball pens and mechanical pencils. I have an old handed-down Wacom Bamboo but I used a Cintiq for the first time about a year ago and would love to upgrade my home setup.

7. Do you read a lot of comics? Are you someone who reads comics and then gets excited to make more comics, or is your passion for making comics not linked to any particular love for other comics?

Both! But I'm not only influenced by comics. I consume and critique most art (comics, film, literature, TV, fine art, architecture, designer consumer products like fashion and housewares) on the same continuum of narratives and aesthetics that appeal to me. Any of these might inspire me to make more comics. Story and art are equally important to me and I pull inspiration from a wide variety of sources.

8. Do you make comics for a living? If not, how do you support yourself, and how does this relate to your comics-making process?

I did for a while, but it was a pretty shitty living. I work in animation now, which pays exponentially better, is supported by one of the strongest labor unions in the country, and is a huge industry that is rapidly growing. But that doesn't stop people from incredulously asking me if I make any money from what I do. Animation design is similar to comics in a lot of ways and very different in others. So far I've done storyboarding and background art, which is strengthening my composition and storytelling immensely. (If only I had the time to do more comics.)

9. Do other art forms often seem more attractive to you?

I like doing handicrafts, which I'm ok at, and the thought of being a reclusive ceramist or weaver who lives in a minimalist tiny house is appealing to me, lol. I have done a bit of merchandise production, but when it comes to things like stickers and pins, I find it harder to justify adding to the immeasurable amount of plastic junk floating around on this planet.

10. What artwork (or artists) do you feel kinship with?

Anthropomorphism! Some call it "furry" art, which I used to resent but now I embrace. It's fun to draw animal-people and humankind has been doing this since pre-history.

11. Is a community of artists important to you?

Hm. I'm kind of a loner myself, but where would I be without the artists I've found through social media (shoutout and RIP Tumblr) and at indie comics shows. Since working outside of my own house, I've made closer friends who are visual artists, 'cause those are the people I see every day now.

12. Is there a particular line quality you like?

At some point in college I heard the phrase "ligne claire" and I've stuck with that since. I like super-flat artwork and get turned off by artists using varying stroke widths to add an illusion of dimension or depth. I like working with restrictions as well, so I challenge myself to create space in a composition with flat lines and limited colors. Art does'nt have to imitate the real world; I have no problem letting a drawing be flat and representative rather than realistic.

13. What is more important to you, style or idea? Or neither?

Absolutely both, but I would rather look at a visually pleasing comic with a bad story than a something well written with bad art. I hate to look at art I find ugly! I wont even allow an ugly can opener in my house. I will go to multiple stores to find one I like. But ideally it would be both. I think a lot of art comics eschew a narrative that makes sense because then the comic wouldn't be poetic or abstract enough, like having a narrative makes it lower-brow and more mainstream. Sometimes I'll read something and think, "Is this person a great poet and I can't understand what this is supposed to be about or are they just a bad storyteller?" I had a printmaking teacher in college (David Sandlin) tell me that a book can be beautiful, but there should be a reason for the reader or viewer to want to keep turning the pages. Also, we are living in some dire times, and art that brings light or proposes solutions to important human dilemmas is important.

14. Is drawing a pleasure to you or a pain?

Pleasure. But I've never been one to pull an all-nighter. I rarely work more than eight hours in a day. Although now that forty hours of my week belong to someone else (plus the fifteen hours I spend per week commuting! Ouch! Los Angeles is so big!), I'm finding it difficult to fit in time to work on my own projects. I've yet to find a solution that works for me.

15. When you meet someone new, do you talk about being an artist right away? Do you identify yourself as an artist or something else?

These days I feel super confident telling people I work in TV animation because almost everyone understands what that is and respects me for it (for the most part, see 8). When I used to just say "cartoonist," I was opening the floodgates for followup questions about newspaper comics, political cartoons, superhero franchises... Just saying "artist" is worse because people's minds immediately go to, "what this person really means is she works at a coffee shop." Which I did, for a very long time. Amongst other artists, I love to talk shop, but my close friends have always been a mixed bag of artists and non-artists and we talk about all sorts of things.

16. Do you feel at all connected to older comics artists like Steve Ditko or Jack Kirby, or does that seem like a foreign world to you?

Sure, there are some older artists I admire. Tove Jansson, of course, forever. Richard Scarry, Ludwig Bemelmans, Mark Beyer, Aubrey Beardsley. I have a lot of respect for the guys who invented the tropes of cartoon animation back in the first half of the 20th century (although some of those tropes were racist). I didn't really grow up reading comics per se, except for like, Peanuts and later Sailor Moon. I think making comics is something I arrived at because it combined writing and drawing and I could do it alone.

17. Do you ever feel the impulse to not draw comics?

Why yes, all the time [lays down on couch].

18. Do you draw from life?

Yes, but I greatly prefer to draw from photographs rather than in person or plein-air. What are my three favorite places to find references? 1. Google Street View, 2. Location tags on Instagram, 3. Listings on Depop (if you want 200 photos of cool fashion teens modeling '90s windbreakers this is the place to find them).

19. Do you pencil out comics and then ink? Or do you sometimes not pencil?

I always pencil first. (See 5. and 6!)

20. What does your drawing space look like?

I have way less work space than I used to when I lived in New York, partly because I work outside the house now and partly because I'm making an effort to have an actual living room and not a room jammed with boxes of inventory and supplies and scraps of paper. My work space at my office is a desktop Mac and a Cintiq and that's it. Kind of lovely and simple.

--------

August Lipp

Drawing by August Lipp

1. Can you describe your drawing routine: how often you draw, how many hours per day, how you break up the day with drawing?

On days when I have no other obligations, I work for most of the day, starting in the morning after breakfast until lunch. Sometimes it can absorb me so much that I forget to eat til about 4 or 5, at which point I get really spacey and eat a big dinner. If the work is consuming, I'll continue or call it a day. Difficult to say how many drawing hours it amounts to—there's lots of spacing out, staring at a wall, days where nothing works. The biggest problem more than 'Am I drawing?' is 'What am I working on?' Forcing myself to focus on things that need to get done vs. drawing aimlessly/getting anxious.

2. How much revision/editing do you do in your work?

There's work on the pages to ensure clarity of drawing/lettering, improve timing of jokes, the way dialogue sounds, how images sit next to one another, and some of that I will run by friends. Depending on the project, I'll give myself more or less room to edit. Getting going is the most important thing, so it helps to not impose many rules at first. On stories that start out looser, I've had to double back and add, remove, or redraw sections to get them to work. Lots of cutting and gluing patches over drawings.

3. Talk about your process. Do you write a script or make up the drawing as you go?

I've been planning about one to three pages ahead of where I'm working with an outline of points I want to reach. I'll draw ahead of where I am with single images to find scenes I want to reach. Things tend to telescope and take longer to wrap up this way. Been thinking about thumbnailing an entire story out beforehand to impose a little more structure or at least a shorter page count, but I worry about getting bored, and I like a story with tangents. When it starts rushing towards a denouement, it becomes harder for me to find time for characterization, and I hate feeling that everything is in service of fulfilling a plot.

4. Do you compose the page as a whole or do you focus more on individual panel composition?

I try to keep both in mind when designing a page, as well as how compositions work as spreads in a book. In school, I tried doing fancier, elliptical page compositions inspired by Sunday newspaper comics, but didn't really know what I was doing, it messed with the pacing and comprehensibility of the story, which are important to me. My comic book Roopert used a six-panel grid. A lot gets sorted out with a grid, and I limited myself in terms of how often I could use close-ups or joined panels throughout. In terms of writing composition, in that book each page ideally sets up a premise in the first panel and pays it off in its last panel, with lots of smaller call and responses in between and then a larger thematic payoff in the last panel on the facing spread. Ending each page with a payoff of some kind keeps things moving and pages turning.

>I'm working on something now that is panel-by-panel à la I Never Liked You for expediency's sake and it's very liberating!

5. What tools do you use (please list all)?

Waterman's Ideal Fountain Pen, Hunt 102 pen, Speedball ink, X-Acto, glue stick, Winsor & Newton Series 7 #4, Photoshop, colored pencils, Wacom tablet, light box, pencils.

6. What kind(s) of paper do you use?

Anything that's around. My last comic was drawn on ruled notebook paper because the story was set in a school, but also because it was cheap and comfortable to use and discard. Strathmore 500 series plate finish Bristol and Arches hot press watercolor are nice but the price is stifling.< 7. Do you read a lot of comics? Are you someone who reads comics and then gets excited to make more comics, or is your passion for making comics not linked to any particular love for other comics?

My excitement about making comics isn't directly tied to comics that I read, but I'm always looking for new stuff. At first I wanted to answer this question by saying my experience as a comics reader recently has mostly been one of concessions, though I have strong favorites I return to, but that's not totally honest. Just in the past week I've come across a few comics that have lit a fire under my ass. Hate how jaded the Internet makes me.

8. Do you make comics for a living? If not, how do you support yourself, and how does this relate to your comics-making process?

I do some freelance work that includes comics, but it's always a net loss. I work at a café with friends. It relates in that it subsidizes my interests, it's a supportive atmosphere thankfully, gives me a social outlet I probably wouldn't have as much otherwise, and commuting on bike keeps me active.

9. Do other art forms often seem more attractive to you?

I make drawings and sculpture too, but I love storytelling and creating scenarios. If I found another art form more appealing I might give up drawing comics because I already have a daily internal crisis about how completely foolhardy it is to invest more time into this thing that runs so counter to my future financial security. But it's fun/exciting as long as I can afford to indulge!

I was working on a show of life-sized sculptures for about two years that wound up having to be cancelled and thrown in a dumpster because they grew massive amounts of black mold that I couldn't remove. After that I turned my focus completely back to comics and drawing because it freaked me out to have lost so much time. At least with paper and ink, I know the angles.

10. What artwork (or artists) do you feel kinship with?

Reticent to provide a list of names because I always forget my real favorites. I like work that feels like it was necessary to the artist who made it. Art from the heart! Honest, funny, and a little bit crazy. Something I admire in the work of Boody Rogers, John Stanley, Milt Gross, and Will Elder (all dudes, I know) is how even when there isn't an explicit joke being told, the scenario, details, and gestures can be so outlandish that a sense of giddy euphoria permeates.

11. Is a community of artists important to you?

I like the idea of community, but I'm not very social, and I think I am too curmudgeonly/nervous to operate well in a group. I get anxious about losing track of what is important to me in an environment of uncritical support. I do find tremendous gratification in relationships of genuine mutual respect, but prefer to spend time with people one-on-one. I've made a few good friends who are artists I see regularly, call on the phone, or visit in other cities.

12. Is there a particular line quality you like?

Used to fight my natural inclinations/try and stack different line qualities and drawing approaches up against one another in my sketchbook, but for comics there are so many plates spinning it helps to set some ground rules. But it's interesting if those rules change with each project.

13. What is more important to you, style or idea? Or neither?

They are linked in my mind. Style affects how an idea is received. But I'd probably rather see a novel idea expressed clumsily than a style absent substance.

14. Is drawing a pleasure to you or a pain?

Can be both. Mostly fun.

15. When you meet someone new, do you talk about being an artist right away? Do you identify yourself as an artist or something else?

I don't really meet anyone directly before they are vetted through my personal assistant, who warns them they will be speaking to an artist.

16. Do you feel at all connected to older comics artists like Steve Ditko or Jack Kirby, or does that seem like a foreign world to you?

Yeah... kind of. I was recently admiring those early Ditko collections from Fantagraphics. I look at it and it is obviously personal, powerful, and inspiring. I love their work. The material differences are what make it feel foreign. They were primarily working as commercial artists. You couldn't even have a chance at the careers those guys had if you wanted it.

17. Do you ever feel the impulse to not draw comics?

Only where practicalities come in. I'll always draw for myself, but the more time I spend pursuing this interest, the less time I am giving to endeavors that will enable me to survive disease, old age, live above the poverty line. It's like gambling. How do I do this long enough to get good? I don't even see the advantage in being published if they don't give you any money. I'd rather save up and print my own comics if all that they are doing is fronting the cost. No one wants to buy these things, they want experiences (a $15 sandwich) or functional objects (like ceramics or t-shirts).

18. Do you draw from life?

Yes.

19. Do you pencil out comics and then ink? Or do you sometimes not pencil?

I've drawn straight in ink for the past five or six years, with some exceptions which gives everything a kind of off-kilter look, but keeps things spontaneous and energetic. I do also like making pencil drawings that don't get inked. Or 'inking' with a pencil and darkening it in Photoshop. Drafting in layers of ink on a light box for greater control when necessary.

20. What does your drawing space look like?

Lots of orange peels and apple cores.

 

--------

Adam Buttrick

Drawing by Adam Buttrick

1. Can you describe your drawing routine: how often you draw, how many hours per day, how you break up the day with drawing?

Depends on how much time and money I have at any given moment. But when I have both of those things, it’s usually an hour or two of noodling around whatever the day’s drawing concerns are, break to eat, then four to five hours of focused work.

2. How much revision/editing do you do in your work?

A lot. I draw everything over and over, discard a lot of pages, etc.

3. Talk about your process. Do you write a script or make up the drawing as you go?

I usually begin stories from a single scene or sequence, which I block out in detail. The rest is improvised, but not linearly. I build forwards and backwards around this sequence until the story is “resolved.”

4. Do you compose the page as a whole or do you focus more on individual panel composition?

Depends on the function of a given page, but rarely as individual panels.

5. What tools do you use (please list all)?

Some kind of sign pen, non-photo blue pencils, a T-square, various circle tools. Photoshop.

6. What kind(s) of paper do you use?

Deleter comics paper.

7. Do you read a lot of comics? Are you someone who reads comics and then gets excited to make more comics, or is your passion for making comics not linked to any particular love for other comics?

I read a fair amount of short, self-published comics. And a lot of old manga. I find these inspiring and they motivate my work.

8. Do you make comics for a living? If not, how do you support yourself, and how does this relate to your comics-making process?

No. I work for a library and do occasional illustration work. I don’t know how either relates to my comics making. I probably have ready access to books and articles that other cartoonists can't get as easily.

9. Do other art forms often seem more attractive to you?

Not more than comics, really. The fate of art under capitalism seems pretty uniform. If you told me when I was young that people would be speculating in small-press comics to advance their corporate careers or gentrify cities, it would’ve seemed implausible to me. But all of that is happening/has happened. I doubt there’s refuge in other mediums, not the least because they've already been exhausted by similar machinations.

10. What artwork (or artists) do you feel kinship with?

In comics, it’s mostly the work of young artists. Outside comics, the poetry of Yi Sang. Robert Walser's novel The Tanners. Charles Lane’s Sidewalk Stories is my favorite movie. I was obsessed with Einstein on the Beach for a long time.

11. Is a community of artists important to you?

Solidarity among artists as workers is important to me. ‘“Community” seems too nebulous of a term and rife with opportunity for abuse.

12. Is there a particular line quality you like?

I draw in a way that’s very clean, but I don’t especially like it. That’s just how I’ve come to draw. I tend to like line work that’s rough or more fragile in other people's work.

13. What is more important to you, style or idea? Or neither?

I don’t really take either as primary concerns. Idiosyncrasy maybe? But that seems separate.

14. Is drawing a pleasure to you or a pain?

Generally painful

15. When you meet someone new, do you talk about being an artist right away? Do you identify yourself as an artist or something else?

No, not unless it’s somehow pertinent to the immediate conversation. I identify more with growing up working class in the rural Midwest. That seems to have had a greater effect on what art I make and how I otherwise relate to the world.

16. Do you feel at all connected to older comics artists like Steve Ditko or Jack Kirby, or does that seem like a foreign world to you?

I never really read superhero comics growing up, so I don’t have any particular affection for them. I like some of Kirby and Ditko’s work. I feel more connected to certain prewar Japanese comics, as I started reading them around the same time that I first started making and publishing my own work.

17. Do you ever feel the impulse to not draw comics?

Routinely, when I think about things how much of the small-press economy is now structured to privatize all of its risk and cost onto poor and struggling artists. It’s antithetical to the world of comics I first began working in.

18. Do you draw from life?

No, not really.

19. Do you pencil out comics and then ink? Or do you sometimes not pencil?

I try to pencil as little as possible. I almost never pencil characters or one-off drawings (single-panel stuff). Backgrounds and text you generally have to pencil to make sure the composition works, but I try to do so only very loosely. It’s miserable to draw with ink on top of pencils anyway. And I’ve never been comfortable drawing on a light board.

20. What does your drawing space look like?

¶nbsp;

--------

Inés Estrada

Detail for the cover of Alienation by Inés Estrada

1. Can you describe your drawing routine: how often you draw, how many hours per day, how you break up the day with drawing?

Some days I draw for five to ten hours straight, others I just doodle for a bit and others I don't draw at all.

2. How much revision/editing do you do in your work?

The less I do the better because I can get pretty obsessive.

3. Talk about your process. Do you write a script or make up the drawing as you go?

I don't write a script, but I do make thumbnails to figure out the timing and composition.

4. Do you compose the page as a whole or do you focus more on individual panel composition?

I think about the visual design in terms of spreads.

5. What tools do you use (please list all)?

Mostly just a mechanical pencil with 2B graphite and a Staedtler eraser. I don't ink my comics because I like the graphite texture.

6. What kind(s) of paper do you use?

Fabriano, A4, 25 grams.

7. Do you read a lot of comics? Are you someone who reads comics and then gets excited to make more comics,
or is your passion for making comics not linked to any particular love for other comics?

I like reading in general, both comics and other things, but my comics are more inspired by movies and reality than other comics.

8. Do you make comics for a living? If not, how do you support yourself, and how does this relate to your comics-making process?

I design and sell merch online so it's very related. I still get to draw for a living.

9. Do other art forms often seem more attractive to you?

I would love to make a video game, try animation and pottery, and also do more textile work one day!

10. What artwork (or artists) do you feel kinship with?

My friends in México: Vegan Canibal, Abraham Díaz, Pachiclón and my friends far away: Ginette Lapalme, Tara Booth, Simon Hanselmann, Keith Jones, Hellen Jo...

11. Is a community of artists important to you?

Yes!

12. Is there a particular line quality you like?

I like it dirty! Haha.

13. What is more important to you, style or idea? Or neither?

Both.

14. Is drawing a pleasure to you or a pain?

Both also.

15. When you meet someone new, do you talk about being an artist right away? Do you identify yourself as an artist or something else?

Not unless they ask.

16. Do you feel at all connected to older comics artists like Steve Ditko or Jack Kirby, or does that seem like a foreign world to you?

I like some old manga like Tank Tankuro and stuff like Little Nemo and Fletcher Hanks.

17. Do you ever feel the impulse to not draw comics?

Yeah.

18. Do you draw from life?

Yes.

19. Do you pencil out comics and then ink? Or do you sometimes not pencil?

I'd rather not ink.

20. What does your drawing space look like?

I've moved like five times in the last year so any table I can sit down at is my drawing space.

--------

Margot Ferrick

Drawing by Margot Ferrick

1. Can you describe your drawing routine: how often you draw, how many hours per day, how you break up the day with drawing?

For a long time I had no idea how long I was drawing in a given day or week but the past few months I've been tracking it and it seems like fifteen hours per week is a comfortable/normal amount for me. In a day I could probably do three to five hours and feel ok. If I'm close to a deadline though, everything's different and I could be drawing ten to twelve hours a day. I start getting a sort of high when I draw that much, but it's usually followed by an unpleasant crash.

I'm still figuring a lot of this stuff out and a stumble a ton, but an ideal drawing day for me would look like this: Wake up at 9 am, wash up, eat breakfast, read or do nothing for a bit, go in my studio at 12 pm, work until 3 or 4pm, eat again, work for another few hours. I use the Pomodoro Technique, which just means you work for a set time and make yourself take regular breaks and that helps me immensely. I set a timer for fifty minutes, work until it beeps, take a ten-minute break and repeat that a few times.

2. How much revision/editing do you do in your work?

Sometimes I'll get really worked up over a certain page or moment and will wind up redrawing it multiple times or cutting out the bad parts with scissors. Mostly though, I think I sort of just let things be.

3. Talk about your process. Do you write a script or make up the drawing as you go?

It seems like usually I start with a couple of pages before I have any plan, just a few drawings that work. Then I build out from there and do thumbnails. I don't think I write that often... Sometimes I'll write down details of a story that I don't want to forget or it'll take me a few drafts to figure out some specific words.

4. Do you compose the page as a whole or do you focus more on individual panel composition?

I think I tend to focus on the whole page or a whole spread. It's really challenging for me to even think of how to divide a page into individual panels.

5. What tools do you use (please list all)?

I like those Kimberly pencils with the green bodies, ballpoint pens, these Derwent pencils that are supposed to be tinted graphite, colored pencils, crayons... Lyra makes beeswax crayons that I think are intended for kids but they're pretty well pigmented. I have a metallic black paint marker by Molotow that blends in well with graphite (nice if you need to cover a larger area). There are also these slightly oversized 2B pencils made for kids who are learning how to write. They're a bit easier to grip if you have hand pain. They're nice!

Lately I've been using microns and nibs too because I wanted to see if I could do it. I used to do a lot of drawing that way up until college. I also started using Tombow markers again but they're a bit hard for me to figure out.

6. What kind(s) of paper do you use?

For a long time I was using this Strathmore stationary paper. It's the same thickness as copy paper and is cream colored. I used it for everything up until recently. It's pretty good for pencil/crayon but the thinness of it started to frustrate me. The past few months I've been trying to get back into using ink so I've been trying out some other paper. There are two types of Borden & Riley paper I've been switching between - one is too smooth, the other is kind of too rough (the surface seems to pill.) I also have some comic paper by Deleter which was about the same price as the Borden & Riley stuff. It seems really nice but I've been nervous to really break into it.

For drawings that aren't part of a comic I like using Stonehenge if I have it around. There's also a drawing paper made by Hahnemühle I like I a lot (it might be called Ingres.) A lot of times I don't really think and just use "bad" sketchbook paper.

7. Do you read a lot of comics? Are you someone who reads comics and then gets excited to make more comics, or is your passion for making comics not linked to any particular love for other comics?

I read a lot of manga. It definitely gets me excited to make work. It's inspiring and intimidating.

8. Do you make comics for a living? If not, how do you support yourself, and how does this relate to your comics-making process?

No! I don't make a living from comics, but I'm slowly getting to the point where it helps pay a few bills here and there.

9. Do other art forms often seem more attractive to you?

Music seems really attractive and ideal but I don't have any musical talent.

10. What artwork (or artists) do you feel kinship with?

I feel a lot of connection to Kazuo Umezu's work. Everything about it is good to me, everything is something I'd want to emulate in some way. I love his drawings, I love how moments happen in this really intense, poetic way. I don't know if operatic is a good word or if that sounds really contrived but that's how it feels. Sometimes I forget that his stuff is horror. I often feel like I don't know what it is.

His last comic, 14, was one of the most beautiful and hellish things I've read. If I could make something as unhinged as that, I'd be happy.

11. Is a community of artists important to you?

I think it's pretty important. I spend a lot of time alone and get easily drained around people but I think if I lived in a place where I didn't know any artists, I'd be pretty isolated and depressed.

12. Is there a particular line quality you like?

I like a lot of different types of line quality. It depends on how it's done I guess. There are some artists with extremely clean line art where everything is the same width that I really admire. It's something I would never be able to do and maybe some of the admiration comes from that. I think Kengo Hanazawa and Hiroya Oku are like that. Walker Tate's art is like that too and I really enjoy it. At the same time there's a lot of clean art out there that I can't stand.

13. What is more important to you, style or idea? Or neither?

I was going to say idea, but the more I think about it the less sure I am! I'm not even sure where you draw the line between them.

14. Is drawing a pleasure to you or a pain?

It's both! It's fairly easy for me to just draw with no goal. In those moments drawing is definitely a pleasure and it feels like the most natural thing in the world, like I'm a seal and I've jumped into the water. That feeling has really pulled me through a lot of dark periods.

But when I'm sitting down to draw something that's part of a project, more often than not it's extremely hard and painful. Suddenly that wonderful swimming feeling goes out the window and I start to tell myself, "Wow, I really can't draw at all!"

15. When you meet someone new, do you talk about being an artist right away? Do you identify yourself as an artist or something else?

I'm actually not totally aware of what I do. If I'm introduced to someone and I already like their work I'll probably try to talk to them about it. Talking about other things feels better somehow. People are interesting. I guess I do identify as an artist but I find it strange to write that down or say it. The idea of saying "I'm an artist" feels really forced. I'm not sure why that is.

16. Do you feel at all connected to older comics artists like Steve Ditko or Jack Kirby, or does that seem like a foreign world to you?

Ditko and Kirby do seem like a foreign world to me. I'm pretty ignorant. I want to learn more about those artists, but it just seems really overwhelming to jump in. I have no idea where to start.

17. Do you ever feel the impulse to not draw comics?

I mean, it's way more natural for me to sit down and draw something that's not a comic. I have to fight myself a bit to make comics. Not sure if this is what you mean? The impulse to stop drawing comics or to quit? I feel that occasionally but it's easy to dismiss it.

18. Do you draw from life?

Sometimes but not that much. I go to figure drawing every other week. If there's some object I need to draw or understand I'll occasionally draw it from life too.

19. Do you pencil out comics and then ink? Or do you sometimes not pencil?

I've just started penciling and inking again. For a long time I would just draw with pencil and dry media so there wasn't really an inking stage. I find inking over a drawing extremely hard!

20. What does your drawing space look like?

 

--------

Alex Graham

Painting by Alex Graham

1. Can you describe your drawing routine: how often you draw, how many hours per day, how you break up the day with drawing?

Exercise plays a big role in my drawing routine. I’ll usually smoke some weed and go for a run around the city, and that — being so far away from a piece of paper with my brain rolling so hard — creates a sense of delayed gratification that feels almost like foreplay. Then when I get home I’m shaking, scrambling to get it out.

2. How much revision/editing do you do in your work?

Not a whole lot. I’ve learned over the years not to over-think an idea, to let it stay as raw as when it first appeared.

3. Talk about your process. Do you write a script or make up the drawing as you go?

For comics I love to write out the whole script on a typewriter and then break it up into panels afterward. My current typewriter is too loud and disturbs the neighbors, so lately I’ve just been writing the dialogue directly onto a photocopied comic layout and just going with the story.

4. Do you compose the page as a whole or do you focus more on individual panel composition?

I don’t have any conscious intention toward composition of a page in my comics, but years of painting with careful composition has me trained to look at the page as a whole and tweak the composition reflexively. An unbalanced page doesn’t sit right with me.

5. What tools do you use (please list all)?

For painting I use acrylic and tempera and sometimes acrylic ink for outlines. For comics, until recently I was using microns and not switching them out when they were dried out, causing my lines to look scritchy-scratchy. Now I just use any marker in my reach to achieve a bold line. Sharpies sometimes.

6. What kind(s) of paper do you use?

Until recently I was using only Bristol paper, but sometimes in my urgency I’ll sometimes use a piece of printer paper because it’s the closest thing within reach.

7. Do you read a lot of comics? Are you someone who reads comics and then gets excited to make more comics, or is your passion for making comics not linked to any particular love for other comics?

I started making comics before I even knew who any of these people were. Lately I can’t read comics. There is so much political heaviness leaning on this mere art form that I can’t pick up anything contemporary without feeling nauseous. Or maybe it’s my competitive edge. Either way I’d rather look at some David Hockney paintings or some Grandma Moses paintings. Those are the same thing as comics.

8. Do you make comics for a living? If not, how do you support yourself, and how does this relate to your comics-making process?

It depends on the month. I’ve bought groceries with comic money before but I also can go six months without seeing anything from them. I don’t care at all, I don’t make comics for money. I just have these urgent stories to tell.

9. Do other art forms often seem more attractive to you?

The art form that is most attractive to me is my own art form. But sometimes I wish there were a way to be more ‘seen’ like musicians and actors. I spend a lot of time alone with my art and I like my imaginary friends more than most people.

10. What artwork (or artists) do you feel kinship with?

David Hockney, Andy Warhol, Grandma Moses, Amy Sedaris, Emo Philips, Sally Cruikshank.

11. Is a community of artists important to you?

Yes, it is important for keeping my competitive ire up.

12. Is there a particular line quality you like?

Thick clean lines, patterns.

13. What is more important to you, style or idea? Or neither?

Style is important in a sense that if I’m looking a style that’s too heavily affected I won’t be able to see the forest through the trees. But ultimately it’s whatever is most honest, raw, and has heart.

14. Is drawing a pleasure to you or a pain?

I prefer painting over drawing. Painting allows you to engage your whole body whereas drawing just makes you feel like you’re dying.

15. When you meet someone new, do you talk about being an artist right away? Do you identify yourself as an artist or something else?

I’ve learned to hide it from people for whom is isn’t relevant information. I don’t like making myself that vulnerable to strangers.

16. Do you feel at all connected to older comics artists like Steve Ditko or Jack Kirby, or does that seem like a foreign world to you?

Honestly, I don’t even know who those people are.

17. Do you ever feel the impulse to not draw comics?

Ah man, I just went about four months not drawing comics. I was putting my entire life and all of my artistic energy into this kind of traumatic depressing story and it made me ill. So I had to stop, and for a while the idea of comics had me flinching like an abused dog. I still kind of feel that way but I’m dipping my toes back into it.

18. Do you draw from life?

I love to draw what's right in front of me as a background for scenes, but when I don’t have a reference in front of me I draw from my imagination.

19. Do you pencil out comics and then ink? Or do you sometimes not pencil?

I drew "Baby Clowns in a Castle" almost completely without pencilling to see if I could. But then I returned to pencilling my panels when I drew "Going to Heaven", which you can see is very carefully drawn.

20. What does your drawing space look like?

 

--------

Aidan Koch

1. Can you describe your drawing routine: how often you draw, how many hours per day, how you break up the day with drawing?

I don’t have a routine to any part of my life beyond coffee and breakfast, so drawing time is dictated by larger life seasons. If I have work that desperately needs getting done—jobs, books, shows—I can draw all day with little phone, computer, and social breaks. There are times, though, where I don’t really draw for maybe a week and am just having to be my own manager and administrator. I’ve always dreamed of a studio drawing practice, but have really floundered in making it happen. While traveling though, I make a point to draw more, especially visiting museums. That’s probably the only thing I really do just for me.

2. How much revision/editing do you do in your work?

Extremely little. I try and be aware and edit as I go. If something doesn’t feel right immediately, even if the page isn’t finished, I’ll scrap it and try again. I’m very particular about composition and the quality of the lines, so to feel good about moving ahead, I really need to be able to feel the flow as I read and re-read. I don’t plan out my pages though, so in some ways I think it prevents a lot of editing and the content can easily be adapted and grow from the pages before.

3. Talk about your process. Do you write a script or make up the drawing as you go?

I was just hitting on it, but very little is planned ahead. I’ll have loose outlines or themes or bits of conversations, then try and naturally work them out on the page as I draw. A lot of time gets spent starring at blank paper this way with no idea how to start, but I’ve always felt like it helped there be a more naturalistic sense to how the stories unfold.

4. Do you compose the page as a whole or do you focus more on individual panel composition?

Every page basically has to be able to hold its own. I’m extremely aware of the full composition and even how that connects with the page before and after, not just for pacing but for consistency of aesthetic.

5. What tools do you use (please list all)?

0.7 Pentel Twist-Erase, chalk pastels, Holbein Acryla Gouache, watercolors.

6. What kind(s) of paper do you use?

Strathmore smooth Bristol.

7. Do you read a lot of comics? Are you someone who reads comics and then gets excited to make more comics, or is your passion for making comics not linked to any particular love for other comics?

I read less than I ever have these days. When I was working almost full time on comics, I was definitely reading more. I was also going to fests more then which exposed me to great new books. I’ve been out of the circuit the last couple years dealing with other ventures and projects. I really appreciate comics but they’re rarely where I’m pulling my motivation or inspiration from.

8. Do you make comics for a living? If not, how do you support yourself, and how does this relate to your comics-making process?

I haven’t produced a new book in a while so basically am not making any income from comics at the moment. That’s not to say though I don’t use narrative formats in other work or am not selling work that relates to my history and context within comics. I do live on my art, of which I’d say there are significant connections between all of my practices.

9. Do other art forms often seem more attractive to you?

I don’t think I could only do one practice ever. I like to be stimulated by different contexts and ways of thinking. I need comics, I also need to make installations and work in spaces. I’m attracted to the image of being a painter and a writer in a very classical romantic way, but I also recognize that’s not not what I do.

10. What artwork (or artists) do you feel kinship with?

Venus, Mars, and Cupid
by Piero di Cosimo.

11. Is a community of artists important to you?

Yes. I’m very curious about lives and practices and artists have been the most significant people in my life who also spend their lives investigating existence and emotion.

12. Is there a particular line quality you like?

[No answer]

13. What is more important to you, style or idea? Or neither?

I like things to be aesthetically attractive but unless its for decorative purposes only, there should be more to it.

14. Is drawing a pleasure to you or a pain?

It’s the most wonderful gift I have.

15. When you meet someone new, do you talk about being an artist right away? Do you identify yourself as an artist or something else?

Yes. I’ve been self-employed as an artist now for eight years so its sunken in. I certainly can’t say I’m anything else.

16. Do you feel at all connected to older comics artists like Steve Ditko or Jack Kirby, or does that seem like a foreign world to you?

I do not.

17. Do you ever feel the impulse to not draw comics?

I often don’t. But over the years I’ve shown myself that even with no support or publisher or plan, I will keep coming back to them. They’ve given me a lot and I feel like I have a lot to give them.

18. Do you draw from life?

Often.

19. Do you pencil out comics and then ink? Or do you sometimes not pencil?

All my mediums are applied directly as finished.

20. What does your drawing space look like?

 

--------

Gina Wynbrandt

Drawing by Gina Wynbrandt

1. Can you describe your drawing routine: how often you draw, how many hours per day, how you break up the day with drawing?

At this point I'm making maybe two short  comics a year or something--god that is pathetic!--so I don't draw much. When I do, it's usually for longer chunks on the weekend. Once I started working full-time at my day job in 2016ish, I found myself with little drive to work on comics. I technically have some free time, but when I get home from work I just want to cook and clean and watch TV and sleep, you know? Part of that is because I moved into an expensive apartment for two years, so I couldn't really afford to work less at my day job. But I hope that things will improve now that I'm moving into an affordable place next month and maybe can change my work schedule.

2. How much revision/editing do you do in your work?

I do quite a bit of editing. It's constantly changing until I have to, have to submit for a deadline. I re-write things a lot before I start drawing. A few times I've done a live reading of an unpublished comic and make adjustments based on the reception and what gets laughs.

3. Talk about your process. Do you write a script or make up the drawing as you go?

I do a bunch of writing up front, make a script, thumbnail, revise the script, take reference photos, thumbnail again, and then start penciling.

4. Do you compose the page as a whole or do you focus more on individual panel composition?

I assume that my comics are read quickly and try to maximize the panel itself and don't think as much about the page overall.

5. What tools do you use (please list all)?

Staedtler Non-Photo Blue pencils, Faber-Castell PITT Artist pens, Uni-Ball Signo white gel pen, 18-in. and 6-in. clear graph rulers.

>6. What kind(s) of paper do you use?

Regular computer paper for sketching and thumbnails, 11x14" smooth Bristol for finals drawings (though I've done comics on marker paper, too)

7. Do you read a lot of comics? Are you someone who reads comics and then gets excited to make more comics, or is your passion for making comics not linked to any particular love for other comics?

I try to read comics regularly because it makes me happy. But I don't think it pushes me to make more comics myself. My desire for making comics comes from some other, dumber, egotistical place in my brain.

8. Do you make comics for a living? If not, how do you support yourself, and how does this relate to your comics-making process?

Comics are not my main source of income. I work full-time as the office manager of my uncle's mechanic shop. I like having a non-creative day job, but the hours do limit the time for my comics.

9. Do other art forms often seem more attractive to you?

Sometimes. Very occasionally I might knit or paint, and it's relaxing to do something creative without the stress of expectations I encounter when working on a comic.

10. What artwork (or artists) do you feel kinship with?

Phoebe Gloeckner's and Chester Brown's super-duper honesty in their comics has inspired my own work. Also comic artists who are funny and playful like Julia Wertz and Joey Alison Sayers.

11. Is a community of artists important to you?

Having a comics community is important for me. I might have not got this far in comics without the comics community of Chicago. Their encouragement and friendship motivated me to keep going with it when I was just starting out. Comics is of course isolating so it's nice that I live somewhere that has plenty of events and reasons to congregate.

12. Is there a particular line quality you like?

I gravitate towards thin, clean lines so I can fit more details. But also, whatever.

13. What is more important to you, style or idea? Or neither?

For me idea is more important. A million people can draw better than me so I gotta bring my special, dumb Gina ideas.

14. Is drawing a pleasure to you or a pain?

Probably more pain.

15. When you meet someone new, do you talk about being an artist right away? Do you identify yourself as an artist or something else?

No, I don't feel enough of professional to identify firstly as an artist to a stranger. When I'd go on Tinder dates or meet someone new, sometimes I'd say I like making comics, but not go into detail.

16. Do you feel at all connected to older comics artists like Steve Ditko or Jack Kirby, or does that seem like a foreign world to you?

I feel neutral towards them. I have never really studied their work, but I know there are invisible ways they've probably influenced me.

17. Do you ever feel the impulse to not draw comics?

Yes. Most of the time actually!

18. Do you draw from life?

No, I draw from photos I take.

19. Do you pencil out comics and then ink? Or do you sometimes not pencil?

I always pencil first and ink after. Could never imagine inking without a pencil!

20. What does your drawing space look like?

Normal drafting table in a corner of my studio apartment. I'm not at home and can't take a good picture, but attached is a picture my desk in a very messy state.

 

--------

Andrea Lukic

1. Can you describe your drawing routine: how often you draw, how many hours per day, how you break up the day with drawing?

I wish that I had a drawing routine. Basically I either wait till something bad happens or I create a deadline/reason for myself to draw. Even though I find drawing makes me feel so much healthier, I don't do it as much as I'd like. I consider drawing more than just putting pen to paper so I do spend a significant amount of time daily making time to draw. I feel like I have to get every chore out of the way so I can draw. I write quite a bit. I might write more than I draw. When I do have a drawing spell, I will draw and write for a week straight without doing much else.

2. How much revision/editing do you do in your work?

I used to only use pen, really runny black ink. But now I am obsessed with using pencil first. There are some drawings I have completely revised 100 times throughout. Those tend to be particularly interesting to me because I get very invested in the messages coming through in the drawing.

3. Talk about your process. Do you write a script or make up the drawing as you go?

Usually some image, landscape, character will appear to me and I will try and make a composition. I will get particularly haunted by a made up or real-life character's past/turmoil and just focus on that idea and draw. Sometimes in life I'll see strangers on the street and stand near them and feel absolutely compelled by some magnetic magic force of mystery they exude or I like how they interact and wonder where they are from. When I draw I try to remember those people and focus on those vibrations in my own characters. Many of my characters are inspired by people I know, especially people close to me who have passed away. If I'm feeling successful I will get ideas before I have time to draw them. In those cases I might use Post-It notes to map out or draw small sketches of ideas in the borders of my paper. I'm very slow at drawing because I am very particular about how I fill small spaces in the drawing. I have also used tarot cards to determine the panels before. I do my writing last and I cherry pick from my diary. Often, I'll write a really long poem for a comic and select parts of the poem to be included in the comic. If I haven't predetermined the order of the pages, then I will intuitively shuffle the pages and staples them together and read the story to see if it makes sense. Often in really big detailed drawings I will notice important relationships happening between animals, objects, people, and environment that I did not consciously plan. This is the most exciting part about drawing to me.

4. Do you compose the page as a whole or do you focus more on individual panel composition?

I think I'm naturally inclined to focus on individual panels because I love going deep into little crevices and creating a scene or relationship between objects in tiny spaces in the overall big picture. I will finesse the overall composition to be a bit more interesting if I can. Even though I try I never seem to be able to discipline myself enough to stick to a conventional comic grid.

5. What tools do you use (please list all)?

Prisma pencil crayons, Staedtler 6B pencil. All very sharp! Tombow pens and markers. Prismacolor pencil crayons. Sometimes water colors. Micron 01 pens. Magic Eraser.

6. What kind(s) of paper do you use?

Large Robert Bateman sketchbooks.

7. Do you read a lot of comics? Are you someone who reads comics and then gets excited to make more comics, or is your passion for making comics not linked to any particular love for other comics?

Now that I work at the library I'll read whatever comic the library purchases. Before the library I worked at a comic shop. When I read comics I get excited about the possibility of comics. I'm was very selective about comics. I have tried to be more open to comics that are stylistically less attractive to me, because I just love the word and image format so much. In fact, often I find the things I enjoy stylistically don't really deliver in the writing. I know my own comics aren't perhaps narratively straightforward, but I do like a lot of narrative. When the scaffolding of word and image is in sync, it's truly a magical dance. I've learned to love that the comics which have no texture or variance of saturation are quite boring to me on purpose. The flatness of the graphic design and repeating color palette seem to be aesthetic devices to portray vast droning banality. I'm ok with that.

8. Do you make comics for a living? If not, how do you support yourself, and how does this relate to your comics-making process?

I do not support myself making comics. In fact, I started making and selling ornate brooches of my comic characters to finance printing comics and going to fairs. I am a public librarian, so perhaps I support my comics creatively through supporting myself financially because I am constantly surrounded by reference material for looking and comic books for reading. Before I became a librarian I would spend hours and hours at the library seeking reference photos for drawing. One day it occurred to me I should just become a librarian so I can optimize my time there.

9. Do other art forms often seem more attractive to you?

No. I think drawing and comics encompass all art forms that I'm interested in. I can embellish my characters with textiles, I can furnish environments with sculptures, I can translate lyrics and jokes into dialogue, I can play with rhythm with text and layout, I can try to build a deep and robust universe with very little material and on a budget.

10. What artwork (or artists) do you feel kinship with?

Remedios Varo, Leonora Fini, Marjorie Cameron. Files of Ms. Tree is a serial comic I love. Jonas Mekas, many writers, movies, music, and especially the artists I know and love personally.

11. Is a community of artists important to you?

I am quite humbled by the artists I know and their influence supports what I do. I am also so lucky that they choose to share their work with me, especially lucky they share their stories and lives with me because I get quite inspired by their past lives.

12. Is there a particular line quality you like---thick/thin/clean/etc?

I would say for my own work it is thin, dirty, smudged and layered. Sometimes it's thick black, but less and less. As for looking at other work, I don't think I care as long as it is carried by some emotion.

13. What is more important to you, style or idea? Or neither?

I think style and idea are interchangeable! Style has narrative devices and ideas can have aesthetic planning. I appreciate a style that is a currency or language, and provides structure for a symbolic language. Some people can tell a story just piling material. I've definitely been moved by comics I'm not very into stylistically or visually, and I've been bored by comics that only appeal to me as nice drawings or cool graphics.

14. Is drawing a pleasure to you or a pain?

Drawing is a truly holistic experience for me, even if it's painfully slow.

15. When you meet someone new, do you talk about being an artist right away? Do you identify yourself as an artist or something else?

I definitely don't disclose I'm an artist unless it's relevant. Sometimes I'll even withhold that I'm an artist if it means I can avoid getting called "artsy." People still think creativity is a personality trait rather than a skill. So I spare myself from being patronized.

16. Do you feel at all connected to older comics artists like Steve Ditko or Jack Kirby, or does that seem like a foreign world to you?

I love Steve Ditko. I copied one of his drawings as a painting. I'm inspired by a lot of older comic artists, I just think they are infinitely skilled in this trade. Even if I try to measure up to that sort of finesse it falls to a mutated and drugged version.

17. Do you ever feel the impulse to not draw comics?

I don't think I ever have an impulse to not draw, because I doodle on any occasion a pen is in front of me. However, I don't draw daily because I don't always have the time or energy.

18. Do you draw from life?

I draw from mostly reference photos and photos I take from life. I rarely just draw from what's in front of me, although I did draw a lot of the back of people's heads in front of me in class.


19. Do you pencil out comics and then ink? Or do you sometimes not pencil?

I used to draw from just ink, and I miss that look to my drawings. Nowadays I pencil and erase compulsively.

20. What does your drawing space look like?

I just moved!

FILED UNDER: , , , , , , , ,

3 Responses to Twenty Questions with Cartoonists

  1. Wally says:

    I’m so glad you’ve conducted more of these q/a’s.
    I loved the 20 questions with cartoonists blog as a tools resource and well of inspiration.
    Just read a few of these now, can’t wait to come home and read the rest.

  2. Erik Nebel says:

    love this
    great choice of cartoonists
    inspiring, yes

  3. Ant says:

    yes! It’s back! Hope to see more of these, the original blog is still bookmarked, it’s almost like a kind of bible to me or something

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *