Just as baseball season is starting, we're bringing you a special "Meet Your Creator" blog post from the creator of THATABABY, Paul Trap. Read below and you'll understand the special reason behind this timing. THATABABY has grown — well, the comic has grown, not the baby — incredibly over the past few years to have global reach, including reaching best-seller lists in China. Here now, is Paul Trap, in his own words.
Like most cartoonists, I began doodling in the margins and handing in cartoons in lieu of book reports back in school.
The electrifying adventures of Tex Transformer, from a high school science class. Note — red ink commands attention!
One of my first cartoons to appear in print was in a cartoon contest in the Grand Rapids (Michigan) Press, judged by Jef Mallett of Frazz fame. I think I bagged third place and $15 — thanks, Jef!
3rd place cartoon, referencing the Alexander Calder in downtown Grand Rapids. Conclusion: with humor, go local when possible, and you can't beat the classics (Greetings Earthling).
While attending Michigan State (Go, Spartans!), I had a comic in the school newspaper, cleverly titled Spartoons (get it?). The panel was sponsored by Pinball Pete's, the local arcade, and you received one free play if you ripped it out of the paper and brought it in. That comic brought me many a game of Tempest after a night of cramming.
My first whack at syndication was a strip titled Newtles, about – wait for it – a talking Newt. He was joined by his best friend, an introverted bear, a nerdy nephew, and an Elvis impersonator — comic strip gold! I still have a file with all the rejection letters, but I did receive a call from King Features’ Jay Kennedy — no contract, but a great conversation, a page full of notes, and encouragement to continue.
The cast of Newtles — Newtle, Dudebear, Faux Elvis (wielding a spatula?) and nerdy nephew, whose name I forget.
Two weeks after our conversation, our son was born, aka the boy who never slept. Our world was turned upside-in, and cartooning took an extended break for the rodeo of parenthood.
The original THATABABY, at a jam-packed Atlanta Hawks game.
Those years provided the material for THATABABY — our son drew on the walls, loved music, refused to nap and woke us up throughout the night, making sleep a treasured and fleeting commodity. The strip leans on all things geek, and that was true for his upbringing as well — I had hauled around a box of comics from my childhood, with the intention of making them bedtime reading for any offspring. Days wound down with the adventures of Spider-Man, Professor X, Wolverine and the rest of the Marvel gang. My wife would add Harry Potter to the mix.
There's many a Star Wars-flavored strip as well, due to the boxes of action figures stacked up in the basement and my minuscule appearance in the saga. I was an extra in The Empire Strikes Back (Special Edition), with three seconds of screen time — it wasn't until the advent of HDTV that I could pick myself out of the crowd.
Highlighted in box — The dashing Pablo Trapulon, cartoonist for the Cloud City Gazette.
A Star Wars-themed sketch from THATABABY's development period. It was returned with the tag “disturbing.”
I also have the privilege of serving as the editorial cartoonist for Baseball America magazine — I'm a lucky fan to have a small soapbox in print and online to comment on the American national pastime. The comic has allowed me to watch the Major League Baseball All-Star Game from the Press Box, become friends with The Famous Chicken, and once had my editors instructing me to write a hand-written apology to Tommy Lasorda following a cartoon. I still feel bad about that one.
From the pages of Baseball America