Meet Your Creator: John McPherson (Close to Home)

 

Close to Home on GoComics

 

 

 

Most of the cartoonists I’ve ever met tell me that they knew they wanted to be a cartoonist since they were very young. The inspiration did not hit me until I was about 24 and out of college and out of work. I got my degree in mechanical engineering in 1983 from Bucknell University at a time when jobs for engineers were scarce. It was during that time of job searching that I started playing around with cartooning. 

 

I always loved comics as a kid and read the funny pages voraciously. Though I did follow some strips, I always gravitated toward single-panel cartoons because I liked the immediacy of the humor of single-panels. As a kid, I liked Grin and Bear It, Herman and anything by Charles Addams. Later, I loved The Far Side. For a few years in college, I started having cartoon ideas pop into my head and started writing them down in my college notebooks. I was very eager to see my ideas drawn up and thought of sending them off to a cartoonist to see if he or she would put them on paper. But, I didn't know any cartoonists, so I was left to my own devices. I had no art experience at all; nonetheless, I sat down one day and forced myself to draw. I picked out my favorite idea and drew it up. It took me about eight hours to finish it, and when I got done, it looked like a chimpanzee hyped up on caffeine had done. Nevertheless, it felt great to see it on paper. 

 

 

Close to Home on GoComics

 

 

So I drew up another, and another.  And after a few weeks, I had a dozen cartoons completed. I made photocopies of them and sent them off to a small newspaper that ran twice a month in a nearby town. To my amazement, they liked my stuff, and agreed to run one cartoon an issue, for a whopping $5 a month. I remember running to a newsstand to see that first cartoon in print. That is one of the great things about cartooning: There have been so many highlights along the way.

 

After I broke into that paper, I started churning out more cartoons and began sending them off to magazines, which pay much better than $5 a cartoon. I used the book "The Artist's Market" to find magazines and would mail about eight cartoons along with a self-addressed, stamped envelope, and off they would go. I sent out 150 batches of cartoons and got 150 straight rejection letters. But I really didn't care — I was having so much fun cartooning that getting something into a magazine would have just been icing on the cake. 

 

 

 

Close to Home on GoComics

 

 

After a year and a half of sending out cartoons, I finally got two accepted in Campus Life Magazine, a monthly magazine for high school and college students. Campus Life paid me $50 each, and to get a hundred bucks for two cartoons felt great. From there on out, I became a regular contributor to Campus Life. Their editor, Chris Lutes, gave me lots of freedom to be really out there and explore the crazy side of teenage life. Within a year, they were running full-page layouts of my cartoons on various teen themes. It gave me great exposure and a nice side income. 

 

I found that once I had broken the ice with Campus Life, it was much easier to break into other magazines. The visibility that I got with Campus Life also resulted in editors from other magazines contacting me to work for them. I soon got into another teen magazine called Breakaway, and started writing a monthly humor column and drew a comic strip, The Adventures of Buck Felner. It was nice to be doing some writing and a fun shift to do a comic strip, which is SO different than doing a panel. Around the same time, I got into Yankeee magazine. Yankee paid $100 a cartoon and was a national newsstand magazine, which gave me more great exposure. I quickly added The Saturday Evening Post to the mix, which continues to be a great outlet for panel cartoonists.

 

 

Close to Home on GoComics

 

 

From 1985 to 1987, I worked my way into about 40 publications on a regular basis. I also lined up several assignments doing book illustration, which was a lot of fun. It was nice to be able to just focus on drawing and not have to worry as much about the humor when I did illustration work. The illustration work also paid very well. 

 

By 1990, I was making more money moonlighting as a cartoonist than I was at my engineering job, and was having a blast at it. So I started to think seriously about leaving my engineering job. One day, I just made the decision to go full-time as a cartoonist. I would be giving up a steady paycheck and lots of benefits, but I loved the freedom and creativity of cartooning and knew that was where I wanted to go. In July 1990, at age 30, I quit my day job and never looked back.

 

Things went well right from the start. I continued to pick up new magazines. I found it best to simply call editors and art directors rather than writing, and to this day, I use that method to break into markets. Somehow, making that voice connection opens doors much better than a letter does.

 

 

Close to Home on GoComics

 

I freelanced for two years and loved not having to go into an office and calling my own shots — it was just really fun. I loved working with different editors, having the phone ring with new assignments and juggling the different projects. Always a new horizon to reach for.

 

In 1992, I approached two syndicates about starting a panel feature and was very fortunate to get offers from both of them. Creators and Universal each offered me a contract, but I quickly made the decision to go with Universal since I admired so many of the strips that it carried. It was a great decision as it continues to be a fantastic partner in the business and just a tremendous organization.

 

Close To Home launched in 55 papers in November 1992, and Universal did a really nice job of growing the feature. It continues to be a really fun career, despite the challenges that papers are facing.

 

Read Close to Home here.





Laugh Tracks Look Back (August 15 – 21)

We know life can get busy! At the end of each week, we compile the most pressing GoComics blog posts from the week to ensure you didn’t miss a thing!

 

LaughTracks_LookBack_Header

 

 

The talented Steve McGarry filled us in on his cartooning history, career and upcoming projects in a “Meet Your Creator” installment.

 

“What I enjoy most about the creative world is that you find yourself going off on unexpected tangents, and that always excites me. It's been that way all through my career. I started out messing around in music and became a record-sleeve designer. I went from drawing for children's comics to being a newspaper illustrator and from there began creating daily comic strips. For a time in the late 1970s, I was a partner with a record producer friend in a commercial production venture. We offered ad agencies a full service from storyboarding to AVproduction. My partner wrote jingles and we would record the tracks ourselves, playing all the instruments and doing all the vocal overdubs – I even did the actual voiceovers!”

 

 

GoComics Spotlight: Shutterbug Follies by Jason Little

 

GoComics Spotlight

 

 

NEW COMIC: Promises, Promises by J.R. Faulkner

 

Promises, Promises by J.R. Faulkner

 

 

When productivity hits an all-time low, it’s time for team-building.

 

The Meaning of Lila on GoComics

 

 

In celebration of Calvin and Hobbes’ upcoming 30th anniversary, we’re giving away a “Stripped” DVD and poster.

 

Stripped Giveaway

 

 

 

Time Flies When You’re Having Fun: We celebrate joking 365 days of the year at GoComics.

 

 

Curse you, Red Baron! Honoring National Aviation Day, we took a look at Snoopy’s many brave adventures.

 

Curse You, Red Baron

 

 

 

Coloring isn't just for kids!

 

Betty on GoComics

 

“It may sound childish, but coloring is the latest craze sweeping the nation. With unique, intricate designs geared for adults, coloring is not only fun, it's also relaxing and therapeutic.”

 

In honor of National Roller Coaster Day, we rode along with the thrill-seekers of GoComics.

 

National Roller Coaster Day

 

 

 

 We channeled our inner-poet with a hilarious haiku for National Poet’s Day.

 

“Calvin writes poems

That Hobbes never finds funny,

But you surely will.”

 

 

Important Reminder: Always follow cell phone protocol.   

 

Comics for a Mobile Generation

 

 

We hosted a live Q&A with John Lotshaw.

 

 

#AskJohnLotshaw
 

 

Have a great weekend! 





ICYMI: Twitter Q&A with John Lotshaw (Co-Creator of Random Acts of Nancy)

JohnLotshaw_3

Thanks to cartoonist John Lotshaw for joining us on Twitter this week for a live Q&A! If you missed out on the chat, catch up here, or browse the tweets below:

 

 

Subscribe to Random Acts of Nancy here!

 

 

NEXT UP (Fri., 8/28): Michael McParlane of Mac comics will join us on Twitter. Tweet in using #AskMcParlane! 




Get Your Inner-Poet On

Happy Poet’s Day! This may seem a little off-the-wall, but we see poetry a lot on GoComics, our comic characters never afraid to embrace their poetic side! Inspired by their funny rhymes and in celebration of today, I’ve decided to release my own inner-poet, in a hilarious attempt at haiku:

 

If you haven’t heard,

Today (August 21)

Celebrates poets!

 

You might be thinking…

Poetry and comics, what?

But bear with me here.

 

Check out Haiku Ewe,

Where sheep write pun-filled haiku,

And ewe wool crack up.

 

Haiku Ewe by Allison Garwood
Haiku Ewe by Allison Garwood

 

Calvin writes poems

That Hobbes never finds funny,

But you surely will.

 

Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Watterson
Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Watterson

 

The daily struggle

Provides much inspiration,

Just look at Luann. 

 

Luann Againn by Greg Evans
Luann Againn by Greg Evans

 

Big Nate loves haiku,

A lot more than Brazil nuts,

But, who doesn’t, right?

 

Big Nate by Lincoln Peirce
Big Nate by Lincoln Peirce

 

Just remember this,

They don’t always have to rhyme.

Sometimes, they shouldn’t …

 

The Duplex by Glenn McCoy
The Duplex by Glenn McCoy

 

Feeling poetic?

Then get to celebrating!

What ‘cha waiting for?

 

 

Happy Poet’s Day, comic fans!

 

– Amanda





COMICS SHERPA: EDITOR'S PICKS

This recurring LAUGH TRACKS feature highlights individual Sherpa strips and panels that for one reason or another caught the fancy of the aide de sherpa. It could be anything; the drawing, the writing, the humor, the coloring, that they tried something interesting, or that it's a new step for that particular creator.

 

We hope this quirky sampler will alert you to features you might not yet have noticed amid Sherpa's abundant, ever-changing, and eclectic mix, and that it gives Sherpa creators a modicum of helpful feedback.

 

 

 Lili and Derek  8-18-15

 

 

 

 

8-18-15

 

 

 

 

Studio Gangstas  8-18-15

 

 

 

Two Bits  8-18-15

 

 

 

 

 

8-19-15

 

 

 

 

8-19-15

 

 

 

 

Magnificatz 8-20-15

 

 

Navy Bean 8-20-15

 

 

 

 

A complete list of all the Sherpa features can be found here. 

 

 

 





Coloring Isn’t Just for Kids!

Betty by Gary Delainey and Gerry Rasmussen
Betty by Gary Delainey and Gerry Rasmussen

 

It may sound childish, but coloring is the latest craze sweeping the nation. With unique, intricate designs geared for adults, coloring is not only fun, it's also relaxing and therapeutic.

 

As Parade Magazine notes, we’ve “ […] caught on to the magical, mood-lifting power of our erstwhile childhood pastime.”

 

Never one to miss out on fun, our friend Janis is ready to give the new trend a try:

 

 

Arlo and Janis by Jimmy Johnson
Arlo and Janis by Jimmy Johnson

 

Arlo and Janis by Jimmy Johnson
Arlo and Janis by Jimmy Johnson

 

 

Not convinced? Lola, the boldest senior citizen around, would never steer you wrong:

 

 

Lola by Todd Clark
Lola by Todd Clark

 

Our sister company, Andrews McMeel Publishing, has a beautiful line of coloring books, proving to be popular with fans!

 

 

Andrews McMeel Publishing Coloring Book   Andrews McMeel Publishing Coloring Book

 

Check out Andrew McMeel Publishing's coloring books here.





GoComics A to Z, Vol. 9: Shutterbug Follies

In this weekly series, editor Lucas Wetzel spotlights new and unusual comic features from the GoComics A-Z listing.

 

Sb

 

Feature: Shutterbug Follies
Creator: Jason Little
Format: single page
Frequency: Mondays and Thursdays
Recommended if you like: graphic novels, thrillers, Ghost World, Charles Burns

 

When I first started reading graphic novels in the mid-aughts, I felt a tingle of excitement similar to when I first dug into art forms like jazz, or documentary films -- exciting new worlds that existed totally outside of my nascent awareness of them. Early additions to my graphic novel shelf included Daniel Clowes' Ghost World, Chris Ware's Jimmy Corrigan, Charles Burns' Black Hole and Alison Bechdel's Fun Home. Right next to those was a lesser-known classic called Shutterbug Follies by a cartoonist named Jason Little.

 

Shutterbug Follies contained a high level of intrigue and suspense (a style he referred to as "bubblegum noir") along with a strong sense of time and place, (New York, fresh out of high school, a time just before digital photography became cheap and ubiquitous). My boss at Universal thought it would make a great feature film, and I agreed. But I also thought its magic fit perfectly into the fish-eye-lens-shaped comic panels that populated the pages of the graphic novel. The bad news is I no longer have a copy, having given it away to a friend several years ago. The good news is the whole thing is online for you and me to read and reread. Where? Where else but GoComics, of course. Check the whole thing out starting here





Curse You, Red Baron!

Here’s the World War I Flying Ace zooming through the air in his Sopwith Camel…

 

Those words began many a Peanuts comic strip, announcing the start of another exciting mission starring Snoopy’s alter ego – The Flying Ace – as he soared across the sky in his Sopwith Camel fighter plane, cursing the Red Baron. With today (August 19) being National Aviation Day, we couldn’t help but think of our favorite comic canine/World War I pilot and reminisce on his many brave adventures:

 

Peanuts by Charles Schulz
Peanuts by Charles Schulz

 

Peanuts by Charles Schulz
Peanuts by Charles Schulz

 

Peanuts by Charles Schulz
Peanuts by Charles Schulz

 

Peanuts by Charles Schulz
Peanuts by Charles Schulz

 

To celebrate National Aviation Day with more of Snoopy’s high-flying adventures and cursing of the Red Baron, view our Peanuts collection, dedicated to The Flying Ace. 





Giveaway: "Stripped" DVDs and Posters

Stripped Poster and DVD

 

We’re just three months away from the 30th anniversary of Calvin and Hobbes! It seems like just yesterday that our adventurous Calvin graced the pages of the newspaper for the first time on Nov. 18, 1985.

 

Bill Watterson influenced many, many cartoonists and the comics industry as a whole through his brilliant comic strip. A love letter to comics, the “Stripped” documentary brings together more than 70 cartoonists to talk about the art form they love, including the first-ever audio interview with Watterson. A supporter of “Stripped,” Watterson designed and painted the accompanying movie poster.

 

We’re feeling both excited and nostalgic with the upcoming anniversary, and we’re giving away TWO “Stripped” DVDs and movie posters.  

 

To enter, browse the Calvin and Hobbes archive here. Then, leave a comment on this blog post with a link to (what you consider to be) the most philosophical Calvin and Hobbes comic strip and include your first and last name. This contest will end Tues., Aug. 25 at 10 a.m. CT. Two winners will be randomly selected and announced that day on this blog.

 





Is it Time for Team Building?

When productivity hits an all-time low …

 

Reply All Lite by Donna A. Lewis
Reply All Lite by Donna A. Lewis

 

 

Motivation has gone out the window …

 

 

The Meaning of Lila by John Forgetta and L.A. Rose
The Meaning of Lila by John Forgetta and L.A. Rose

 

And associates just can’t seem to get along …

 

 

Close to Home by John McPherson
Close to Home by John McPherson

 

 

It’s time to get out of the office!

 

 

Break of Day by Nate Fakes
Break of Day by Nate Fakes

 

What better way to escape than with team-building activities?

 

 

Soup to Nutz by Rick Stromoski
Soup to Nutz by Rick Stromoski

 

After a weekend away …  

 

 

The Buckets by Greg Cravens
The Buckets by Greg Cravens

 

The team is sure to come back stronger than ever. Onward and upward!

 

 

Lucky Cow by Mark Pett

 

 

Not so sure? Savage Chickens has a few tips to help you survive:

 

 

Savage Chickens by Doug Savage
Savage Chickens by Doug Savage

 

Savage Chickens by Doug Savage
Savage Chickens by Doug Savage

 

Savage Chickens by Doug Savage





COMICS SHERPA: EDITOR'S PICKS

This recurring LAUGH TRACKS feature highlights individual Sherpa strips and panels that for one reason or another caught the fancy of the aide de sherpa. It could be anything; the drawing, the writing, the humor, the coloring, that they tried something interesting, or that it's a new step for that particular creator.

 

We hope this quirky sampler will alert you to features you might not yet have noticed amid Sherpa's abundant, ever-changing, and eclectic mix, and that it gives Sherpa creators a modicum of helpful feedback.

 

 

 

8-14-15

 

 

 

No Ordinary Life  8-14-15

 

 

Smith  8-14-15

 

 

 

 

Green Pieces  8-15-15

 

 

 

 

 8-15-15

 

 

 

 

Candace 'n' Company  8-16-15

 

 

 

 

The Green Monkeys  8-16-15

 

 

 

 

And now...  8-17-15

 

 

 

 

Magic Coffee Hair  8-17-15

 

 

 

 

8-17-15

 

A complete list of all the Sherpa features can be found here. 

 

 

 





Weekend Faves (Aug. 17)

 

 

The Argyle Sweater by Scott Hilburn
The Argyle Sweater by Scott Hilburn

 

Autocorrect can be so ducking annoying. – Elizabeth

 

Lola by Todd Clark
Lola by Todd Clark

 

Hounds and hammocks don't mix. – Amanda

 

Holiday Doodles by Missy Meyer
Holiday Doodles by Missy Meyer

 

I've already printed this so that the next time I have a bad day, I can remind myself of the existence of a Madonna bratwurst. MADONNA BRATWURST. – Elizabeth

 

Maria's Day by John Zakour and Scott Roberts
Maria's Day by John Zakour and Scott Roberts

Airborne or not, as someone who can barely get ONE kite off the ground, I find this pretty impressive. – Amanda





Comics For the Mobile Generation

Cell phones have many uses besides placing a phone call or sending a text, acting also as cameras, organizers, game consoles and portals to the all-encompassing Internet. Despite their usefulness, however, they are also capable of deterring our productivity, even posing a threat to our safety if we allow them to.

 

If you don’t believe us, just ask some of our comic characters about the consequences of forgetting to follow proper cell phone protocol:

 

Although they are called “mobile devices,” that does not mean that you should use them while you are in motion. 

 

Luann by Greg Evans
Luann by Greg Evans

 

Multi-tasking is a great skill … just not when the two tasks are “texting” and “driving.”

 

Jeff Stahler by Jeff Stahler
Jeff Stahler by Jeff Stahler

 

Texting while flying: that’s no good, either.

 

Half Full by Maria Scrivan
Half Full by Maria Scrivan

 

Using your phone at a sporting event: Not only do you risk a fly ball to the face, but no one wants to be the schmuck who doesn’t kiss their date on the Kiss Cam.

 

Drabble by Kevin Fagan
Drabble by Kevin Fagan

 

While being on your phone as a spectator is bad, using your phone as a player is worse.

 

FoxTrot by Bill Amend
FoxTrot by Bill Amend

 

Texting on date night: not exactly the epitome of romance.

 

Angry Little Girls by Lela Lee
Angry Little Girls by Lela Lee

 

Savage Chickens by Doug Savage
Savage Chickens by Doug Savage

 

To sum it up, use your phone to capture life’s moments, not keep you from them (unless you want to end up like Fred, here):

 

Pearls Before Swine by Stephan Pastis
Pearls Before Swine by Stephan Pastis




New Comic Alert! Promises, Promises by J.R. Faulkner

Promises, Promises by J.R. Faulkner

Promises, Promises provides a glib look at diet, fitness and the struggles and successes that come with achieving a healthy lifestyle.

 

Promises Fitness is a posh suburban health club. Staffed by Fiona, Trish, Shanta and Lance, four well meaning and cheeky fitness professionals, doing their best to keep a very resistant membership in peak condition.

 

Read Promises, Promises here.





Happy Roller Coaster Day

No, you’re not crazy. You really are hearing an abnormal number of terrorized, yet thrilled, screams of enjoyment. It’s National Roller Coaster Day (August 16), and thrill-seekers are celebrating by riding the twists and turns of coasters.  

 

Can’t get out there and celebrate yourself?

 

 

The Born Loser by Art and Chip Sansom
The Born Loser by Art and Chip Sansom

 

 

Grand Avenue by Steve Breen and Mike Thompson
Grand Avenue by Steve Breen and Mike Thompson

 

 

Not to worry! We’ll give you a rundown of what you’re missing at the amusement park. 

 

 

1. The People

 

 

Some are there for the “real deal,” seeking out the tummy-turning, high-speed rides. 

 

 

Big Nate by Lincoln Peirce
Big Nate by Lincoln Peirce

 

 

Nancy by Guy Gilchrist
Nancy by Guy Gilchrist


 

Frank & Ernest by Thaves
Frank & Ernest by Thaves

 

 

Others just want to test the waters.

 

 

Garfield by Jim Davis
Garfield by Jim Davis

 

 

Wizard of Id by Parker and Hart
Wizard of Id by Parker and Hart

 

 

And, a few might even have ulterior motives.

 

 

Real Life Adventures by Gary Wise and Lance Aldrich
Real Life Adventures by Gary Wise and Lance Aldrich

 

 

2. The Photos

 

A trip to the amusement park isn’t complete without snapshots to remember the wild rides.

 

 

FoxTrot by Bill Amend
FoxTrot by Bill Amend

 

Or, in some cases, to remember the rides you DIDN’T experience.

 

 

Drabble by Kevin Fagan
Drabble by Kevin Fagan

 

 

3. The After-Effects

 

Amusement park food and hanging upside-down don’t always mix.

 

 

Big Nate by Lincoln Peirce
Big Nate by Lincoln Peirce

 

After hours of soaring through the air, your first look in the mirror may be the most frightening moment of the day.

 

 

Lola by Todd Clark
Lola by Todd Clark

 

Whew! What a ride!





Time Flies When You're Having Fun

As we told you in a previous blog post, we celebrate joking 365 days a year at GoComics, because we know that the best way to overcome the woes of the workweek is with a daily dose of comic relief!

 

Have a bad case of “the Mondays”? Laugh it off with our many Monday-hating comic characters. 

 

The Born Loser by Art and Chip Sansom
The Born Loser by Art and Chip Sansom

 

Don’t feel like dealing with the typical trials and tribulations of a Tuesday? Jason totally understands.

 

FoxTrot by Bill Amend
FoxTrot by Bill Amend

 

Add some wit to your Wednesday and pull yourself out of that mid-week struggle.

 

Frazz by Jef Mallett
Frazz by Jef Mallett

 

You’re not the only one who spends the majority of Thursday thinking it’s Friday, although it’s a lot more humorous when it happens to Baldo.

 

Baldo by Hector D. Cantu and Carlos Castellanos
Baldo by Hector D. Cantu and Carlos Castellanos

 

You don’t know “T.G.I.F.” until you’ve experienced our end-of-the-week comics. Since subscribing, Fridays have never been funnier. 

 

Frank & Ernest by Thaves
Frank & Ernest by Thaves

 

When Saturday night rolls around, we all know what it means: Woodstock’s about to raise the roof on Snoopy’s doghouse. 

 

Peanuts by Charles Schulz
Peanuts by Charles Schulz

 

The grand finale of our week and the crème de la crème of the comics world, The Sunday Funnies are the perfect example of saving the best for last! 

 

Garfield by Jim Davis
Garfield by Jim Davis

 

We’d like to dedicate today to the many goofy characters of GoComics, who celebrate Tell A Joke Day better than anyone we know, and keep us from looking like this: 

 

Adam@Home by Rob Harrell
Adam@Home by Rob Harrell




Meet Your Creator: Steve McGarry (Badlands, Biographic, KidTown, Trivquiz)

How did you begin your career as a cartoonist? When did you start cartooning?

 

I was raised in Manchester, England, in a fairly tough working-class area called Wythenshawe, where people traditionally got their hands dirty, not their fingers inky. However, I was always a pretty creative kid, obsessed with soccer, pop music and drawing. If I wasn’t playing “football” or strangling Beatles songs as I tried to master guitar, I was sprawled out on the living room carpet in front of the gas fire, drawing my favorite footballers and pop stars or copying my favorite cartoon characters.

 

 

I played in a number of bands in my misspent youth.
I played in a number of bands in my misspent youth.

 

Most families in Britain were two-newspaper households, reading a national newspaper each morning and a regional at night. Each national ran four or five comic strips on an exclusive basis … so if you wanted to read Garfield, you'd take The Daily Express, Peanuts was in The Daily Mail and Hagar was in The Sun. We were a Daily Mirror household, so as a kid I was a big fan of Reggie Smythe’s Andy Capp and another strip called The Perishers, which, in hindsight, was a British version of Schulz’s Peanuts. When I moved to the United States many years later, it slowly dawned on me that I am one of the few cartoonists in America who doesn’t cite Sparky as an influence – mainly because I never actually saw the strip when I was growing up! I think that you can probably still detect the Smythe influence in my Badlands comic strip if you look closely enough. 

 

I also adored the work of Frank Bellamy, who illustrated the Mirror’s Garth strip in a wonderfully detailed and realistic style. He frequently employed a stipple technique, as did Charles Dupont on his stunning sports illustrations. Paul Trevillion was Britain’s most famous sports illustrator at that time and The Mirror also used him extensively. The stipple technique I use on features like Biographic and Trivquiz is undoubtedly a direct result of studying their work during my early teens.

 

 

Presenting the original art from my first syndicated series Biography to the band Mike + The Mechanics in 1989.
Presenting the original art from my first syndicated series Biographic to the band Mike + The Mechanics in 1989.

 

Finding that both cartooning and illustration came easily to me, I happily alternated between the two styles … and this ability to work in both disciplines has since served me well in my career, allowing me to switch from the detailed photorealistic style I employ on features such as Biographic, to the looser, more humorous approach I take on the likes of Badlands and KidTown.

 

From an early age, I suppose I must have always harbored thoughts of somehow drawing for a living, but had no idea how to go about it. When I left school, I toyed with the idea of art school, but somehow ended up in the production department of a large mail-order company, where I quickly became adept at the skills of graphic art and design, mastering layout techniques, learning to apply Letraset type and mechanical tints and inhaling Cow Gum fumes as I pasted up type. (In those pre-Mac days, type was set by an outside house and supplied on sheets that were physically applied to the artwork. It was all very primitive!)

 

 

I was a partner in a commercial production company for a period in the late 1970s.
I was a partner in a commercial production company for a period in the late 1970s.

 

 

During quiet spells, I’d raid the studio’s materials to work on my comics and illustration portfolio. Romeo, a weekly comic aimed at preteen girls and published by Scotland’s D.C. Thomson, featured pop star illustrations, so I plucked up the courage to send in samples of my drawings. To my delight and utter astonishment, they immediately commissioned me to illustrate the romantic center-spread story. My illustrations for Beardie and the Blonde were published in March 1974. I was 21 years old. Over the next couple of years, I picked up the occasional commission from the company, all the while gradually honing my technique.

 

Around this period, I was messing around in various rock bands, singing and playing some guitar. Consequently, I knew lots of musicians, and when the punk-rock revolution erupted in 1976 and independent record labels began springing up all over the place, I was the illustrator and designer that everyone without a budget turned to for a favor! A fanzine design here, record-sleeve artwork there, in return for a nominal fee, free beer and a backstage pass. By the following year, the world of mail order catalogues was looking pretty dull by comparison ... and my debauched lifestyle was playing havoc with that 9 a.m. start.  In a fit of giddy optimism and unbridled hubris, I handed in my resignation in the summer of 1977. I was 24 and I've been freelance ever since!

 

The next few years were scant on cash, but loaded with fun. I made a meager living doing posters for a local rock venue and designing album sleeves. (By now, a number of those fledgling bands I’d worked with had signed deals with major labels, and I was rewarded for my earlier support by being commissioned to design their sleeves in return for handsome fees.) 

 

 

My sports features have been running in newspapers and magazines around the world since 1982.
My sports features have been running in newspapers and magazines around the world since 1982.

 

 

I eventually rented studio space in an ad agency and was soon doing a lot of "below the line" illustration and design, mainly for black and white newspaper ads. In 1981, purely on a whim, I sent samples of my illustration work in to a couple of national newspapers. Almost immediately, I got my first newspaper commission when The Daily Star commissioned me to do a huge center-spread illustration of the two soccer teams playing in that year's FA Cup Soccer Final. I never really looked back from there. 

 

By the following year, I had my own weekly page in the country's top soccer magazine and my sports series were selling well in syndication. I went on to work for most of Britain's top comics … Look-In, Oink!, Tiger … and in 1987, The Daily Star launched my daily strip The Diary of Rock & Pop.

 

 

 

My first daily strip - The Diary of Rock & Pop from 1986. My first daily strip - The Diary of Rock & Pop from 1986.
My first daily strip - The Diary of Rock & Pop from 1986.

 

 

Two years later, United Media called from New York to invite me to take over the reins on a Sunday feature called Biographic and the rest, as they say, is history. The United deal meant that I could get a U.S. work permit and, as our twin sons were only 18 months old at the time – so schooling wasn't a problem – my wife and I thought it might be fun to live and work in America for a year or two. That was 1989 and we've pretty much been here ever since!

 

What inspires you?

 

What I enjoy most about the creative world is that you find yourself going off on unexpected tangents, and that always excites me. It's been that way all through my career. I started out messing around in music and became a record-sleeve designer. I went from drawing for children's comics to being a newspaper illustrator and from there began creating daily comic strips. For a time in the late 1970s, I was a partner with a record producer friend in a commercial production venture. We offered ad agencies a full service from storyboarding to AV production. My partner wrote jingles and we would record the tracks ourselves, playing all the instruments and doing all the vocal overdubs – I even did the actual voiceovers! Then we’d bill the agency for a cast of thousands and trouser the profits! I got a syndication deal out of the blue and it took the family and me from rainy old Manchester to California! When my sons were teens and started the band Pop Noir, I suddenly found myself putting my knowledge of the music business to good use and managing their band (which has given me a lot of pleasure these last few years!)  Just in the last couple of years, I've ended up working with Illumination Studios as a story artist! Nearly 40 years into my career and it had never occurred to me to try to work in animation … and suddenly, here I am working on the Despicable Me and Minions movies, these huge Hollywood blockbusters! I even spent a few months recently working on the new Minions Paradise game from EA Games!  

 

 

 

 

Story art concept sketch for The Minions Paradise Game.

 

 

 

What are some of your achievements and accomplishments?

 

As I say, it's funny how things work out. When I lived in Britain, I used to visit a small comic book store to buy imported copies of an obscure magazine called Cartoonist Profiles. I'd devour stories about American cartoonists, their experiences in syndication and I would read about the National Cartoonists Society. I ended up living in the U.S., have spent most of my career in syndication, I was the NCS president for four years and am now the current president of the NCS Foundation, the charitable arm of the NCS that I founded in 2002. I was the first artist to win Illustrator of the Year awards from both the NCS and the Australian Cartoonists Association, and the NCS awarded me the Silver T-Square a couple of years ago for my service to the profession. If I stop and think about how you get from a council house in Wythenshawe to here, it seems vaguely surreal. But as I say, that's part of the fun in what we do. Many years ago, I designed a record sleeve for a Manchester band called Joy Division. They went on to become one of the most influential bands in music history. A couple of months ago, 37 years since I worked on the record, I was contacted by the Museum of Modern Art in New York to tell me that my design was part of an exhibition of seminal record sleeves! 

 

 

The album sleeve that I designed for Joy Division, which now hangs on display at MOMA in New York.
The album sleeve that I designed for Joy Division, which now hangs on display at MOMA in New York.

 

What were your favorite childhood comics? What comics do you read today?

 

The Eagle was a beautiful, full color, glossy, weekly comic for boys when I was a kid. My favorite artist, Frank Bellamy, did a number of features for them, most notably a series called Heros the Spartan. That may be the greatest comic art I've ever seen.  I've always loved all things Popeye, especially the original Elzie Segar comic strips or the brilliant animated shorts from Fleischer Studios. I treasure my complete series of Asterix comics, by Goscinny and Uderzo. To be honest, and don't tell him I said this, my favorite comic strip these days is probably Soup to Nutz by my pal Rick Stromoski … and I've always enjoyed Monty by Jim Meddick.

 

What upcoming projects or appearances are you working on?

 

I'm devoting a lot of time to running the NCS Foundation at the moment. We have quite a few projects on the go right now. For instance, we've just launched a Cartooning For Kids project with a big event at St. Jude Children's Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee, and we are rolling out the program nationwide. In January, I'm staging a Caribbean Cruise to raise funds for the NCSF.

 

 

 

The upcoming NCS Caribbean Cruise
The upcoming NCS Caribbean Cruise

 

 

I've roped in a dozen of the country's top cartoonists and we will be doing seminars, panels, live shows and signing sessions for the public. GoComics readers should come and join us! You can read all about it on the NCS website at www.reuben.org … it's going to be a lot of fun! So, right now, I kind of have a career in my spare time :)

 

Tell us about your studio/workspace.

 

There was a time when I needed a pretty large studio to accommodate my desk, drawing table, lightbox, computer, scanner, printer, inks, paints, markers and a vast library of reference books, amassed over two or three decades, that I needed to hold all my sports and entertainment features. The advent of Google changed all that! Six years ago, I abandoned the traditional pen, ink and paper and adopted an entirely digital approach. I use a Cintiq … which is a monitor that you draw on with a stylus … and a couple of Macs. So, consequently, I now have a very small footprint! A couple of desks, a TV in the corner tuned to European soccer and a kettle on the boil for the endless cups of tea that I consume throughout the day!

 

Read Badlands, Biographic, KidTown or Trivquiz. Or, follow Steve on Facebook and Twitter.

 

 





Laugh Tracks Look Back (August 8 – 14)

We know life can get busy! At the end of each week, we compile the most pressing GoComics blog posts from the week to ensure you didn’t miss a thing!

 

LaughTracks_LookBack_Header

 

 

We heard from Pop Culture Shock Therapy creator Doug Bratton in this week’s Meet Your Creator installment.

 

“The two best things about being a cartoonist: 1. Getting to create on a regular basis and (hopefully) make people laugh, and 2. Meeting and building friendships with really talented people whose work I admire. I am now, and will always be, a fan of comics and cartoonists!”

 

 

Lola had a busy week with visitors from various comic strips.

 

 

Lola by Todd Clark
Lola by Todd Clark

 

 

A Uniquely Portable Magic: Celebrating National Book Lovers Day.

 

 “Like a portal to another world, a book’s enchantment lies in its ability to defy the laws of time and reason, transporting us somewhere we’ve never been, sometimes to places we could never go otherwise.”

 

  

A look at the struggles of being an introvert. 

 

 

The Awkward Yeti by Nick Seluk
The Awkward Yeti by Nick Seluk

 

 

Presidential Joke Day: Combining politics and humor.   

 

 

Remembering Randy Glasbergen: A Tribute.

 

"While we never knew quite what to expect from Randy’s work, it was always delivered with talent and brilliance, and his gags were guaranteed to be met with a laugh."

 

 

We celebrated a day dedicated to the lovable Odie!

 

 

Garfield by Jim Davis
Garfield by Jim Davis

 

 

We're giving away an awesome back-to-school prize pack.

 

AMP Back to School Prize Pack
 

 

 

The Charles M. Schulz Museum is holding an exhibition in celebration of Peanuts’ 65th anniversary.

 

 

Peanuts Exhibition
 

 

 

 

NEW COMIC: Sheldon by Dave Kellett

 

 

Sheldon by Dave Kellett

 

 

 

For some helpful tips in transitioning the kiddos out of summer mode, we’ve consulted with the parents on GoComics, our resident experts on the back-to-school send-off.

 

 

 

Luann by Greg Evans
Luann by Greg Evans

 

 

August is National Golf Month! Hit the GoComics green.

 

 “The GoComics golf course has been buzzing with our many comical caddies and golfers, perfecting their putts and working on their backswing.”

 

 

What will next week bring? Check back and find out!

 





COMICS SHERPA: EDITOR'S PICKS

This recurring LAUGH TRACKS feature highlights individual Sherpa strips and panels that for one reason or another caught the fancy of the aide de sherpa. It could be anything; the drawing, the writing, the humor, the coloring, that they tried something interesting, or that it's a new step for that particular creator.

 

We hope this quirky sampler will alert you to features you might not yet have noticed amid Sherpa's abundant, ever-changing, and eclectic mix, and that it gives Sherpa creators a modicum of helpful feedback.

 

 

 

Blue Skies Toons  8-11-15

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spectickles  8-11-15

 

 

 

8-11-15

 

 

 

 

 

Studio Gangstas  8-11-15

 

 

 

 

8-12-15

 

 

 

 

Magic Coffee Hair  8-12-15

 

 

 

 

Peanizles  8-12-15

 

 

 

 

Sleepytown Beagles  8-12-15

 

 

 

 

The Boobiehatch  8-12-15

 

 

 

All In Good Time  8-13-15

 

 

 

A complete list of all the Sherpa features can be found here. 

 

 

 





Hit The GoComics Green Fore National Golf Month

With summer being in full, glorious swing and August being National Golf Month, there’s no better time to break out your clubs and hit the greens! Always quick to join in on any celebration, the GoComics golf course has been buzzing with our many comical caddies and golfers, perfecting their putts and working on their backswings:

 

Nate’s dad’s has been amping up his aim, to no avail:

 

Big Nate by Lincoln Peirce
Big Nate by Lincoln Peirce

 

The fellas from Overboard learned an important lesson: Never take a canine caddie to a critter-filled golf course.

 

Overboard by Chip Dunham
Overboard by Chip Dunham

 

Lio’s chosen course puts the “miniature” in miniature golf. 

 

Lio by Mark Tatulli
Lio by Mark Tatulli

 

Ralph and Norm stopped for scenic selfie to document their golfing adventures.

 

Drabble by Kevin Fagan
Drabble by Kevin Fagan

 

We learned that a golf swing is, in fact, not just like an upside-down baseball swing:

 

Cleats by Bill Hinds
Cleats by Bill Hinds

 

And Roger taught us some new golf terminology (that hopefully we’ll never be bad enough to use):

 

FoxTrot by Bill Amend
FoxTrot by Bill Amend

 

Want to really drive home the National Golf Month celebration? Browse our full collection of golf-themed comics, perfect fore getting your fix of the GoComics green. 





New Comics on GoComics

Enter this week's GoComics giveaway!

Meet Your GoComics Creator: A behind-the-scenes glimpse into the lives of our talented creators.

Twitter Q&As: Chat live on Twitter with our cartoonists Fridays @ 1:30pm CDT





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