Meet Your Creator: Paul Trap (Thatababy)

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.


CA Spartoon, drawn in a classroom while I should have been taking notes.


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.



Star Wars Thatababy

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


To close, a big boisterous “thank you” to John Glynn, John McMeel, Lee Salem and Team THATABABY at Universal Uclick — dreams do come true.




Read THATABABY every day on GoComics or via the free GoComics mobile app. Like THATABABY on Facebook

All The Nothing


Comic strips are like little windows outside of time in which events, conversations and jokes unfold in a rhythm untroubled by the pressures of our daily lives. Whether we're reading them at breakfast just before school or work, on our phones while hunched on the bus, or while sitting lazily on the couch, comics momentarily alter the way we experience time. An action sequence or dialogue that might take just a few minutes in real life feels natural stretched out over 6 or 7 days in the funny pages. We enjoy existing in that world a little bit at a time, as if we are distant yet nosy friends of the characters themselves.

So it's especially fun to read comics on a mellow Saturday morning, when there really isn't much else that needs to be done.  I especially liked the above "Heart of the City," which pays tribute to weekend inertia. My activities this past Saturday a.m.  — drinking coffee, playing with our daughter and basically doing a whole lot of nothing — matched up almost perfectly with the strip itself. (Though I did succeed in watching the entire 1987 classic "Can't Buy Me Love" on ABC Family, a film I imagine Heart would enjoy as well).

Even aside from those similarities, I thought Heart's words in the last panel contained an important message to make the most of the moments when the ordinary pressures of life aren't weighing you down. Do-nothing Saturday mornings are a special time, and we can often make the most of them by (somewhat parodoxically) doing nothing.

And when it comes to finding a little bit of escape during the rest of the week, we can always read the comics.



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 anythng; 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.




Bob the Groanup  4-4-14










Frank & Steinway  4-4-14











Tomversation  4-4-14






Good With Coffee  4-5-14






Berserk Alert!  4-6-14





Bushy Tales  4-6-14




Suburban Wilderness  4-6-14






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

Way-Long-way-to-Go Pun of the Year?


How can more than 700 likes on Facebook be wrong? I always thought it would be funny for Batman to be fighting "The Penguin" ... and in the slow reveal of the camera you see Ron Cey. For those who don't know, Ron Cey was called "The Penguin" because he ran like a flightless bird and he walked miles in very cold weather to get to his mating ground. 


Weekend Faves (April 6)

FoxTrot by Bill Amend
FoxTrot by Bill Amend

So what you're telling me is that Jason identifies with Joffrey. That says so much.


Ziggy by Tom Wilson & Tom II
Ziggy by Tom Wilson & Tom II

Yeah, Ziggy! It'll be even easier to do considering how creepily absent of trees your neighborhood is. PS: Your feet are horrifying.



Frank & Ernest by Thaves
Frank & Ernest by Thaves

This brought a smile to my face. The world is so colorful!


La Cucaracha by Lalo Alcaraz
La Cucaracha by Lalo Alcaraz

Another great tribute to our retired captain/President Emeritus, Lee Salem. Some artistic license was taken. Lee’s letter is in all caps. As a man of lower-case stylings, Lee doesn’t recognize the CAPS LOCK or shift keys.


Free Range by Bill Whitehead
Free Range by Bill Whitehead

So much truth behind this! But, I can't help but wonder what happens when the health inspector shows up…

Comic Coincidences

A few months ago, I was scrolling through my GoComics homepage. When I noticed this Off the Mark comic and this Reality Check comic right next to each other, I couldn’t believe my eyes.


The similarities were uncanny: similar artwork, similar punchline. 


Now I’m always on the lookout for the “comic coincidences,” or comics featuring a similar theme or artwork on the same day. I get even more excited when the comics appear in close proximity to each other on my homepage.


To my delight, I’ve found a few in the past week or so.


Apparently, Garry Trudeau and Scott Metzger both think our children are ready for some new songs and stories.


The Bent Pinky by Scott Metzger
The Bent Pinky by Scott Metzger
Doonesbury by Garry Trudeau
Doonesbury by Garry Trudeau


And, it looks like we have some Kate Upton fans in the house.

Mike du Jour by Mike Lester
Mike du Jour by Mike Lester
The Duplex by Glenn McCoygif
The Duplex by Glenn McCoy


Have you seen any comic coincidences lately? Let me know in the comments!


Cell Phone Addiction PSA

There are many common pet peeves that we share, like people who scrape their teeth on their forks while eating, or people who don’t use their blinkers when driving. There is a new pet peeve that I have acquired. After seeing this common theme in many comics, I think many people share this one—people who are addicted to their cell phones!


Half Full by Maria Scrivan
Half Full by Maria Scrivan

Earlier this year, I was at a KU basketball game and I sat next to a girl who was playing Candy Crush the entire game. She only looked up when she heard cheers from the crowd. Waste of a ticket!


Stone Soup by Jan Eliot
Stone Soup by Jan Eliot

The great thing about comics is that even though they make you laugh, there is so much truth behind the punch line. Cell phones aren't going anywhere, so hopefully, face-to-face communication doesn’t become a thing of the past.


Speed Bump by Dave Coverly
Speed Bump by Dave Coverly

Although—I know I have been guilty of this—I challenge you to look up and notice your surroundings--or else you might be the subject of yet another hilarious viral video!


Reality Check by Dave Whamond
Reality Check by Dave Whamond
F Minus by Tony Carrillo
F Minus by Tony Carrillo

What are some of your pet peeves?



The Great Escape of Sports

Here in the States, it's the time of year when four of our five major sports are in season: the start of Major League Baseball and Major League Soccer, along with the end of the regular season for the National Basketball Association and the National Hockey League. More important to many fans is the Final Four in college basketball with its constant surprises and upsets.

If you're a golfer, it's time for The Masters. Ratings may end up lower because Eldrick/Tiger is out with a bad back, but there's always a great race for the green jacket. 

This time of year is not ignored by cartoonists, thankfully. I'm a big sports fan (pro and college football especially) and love seeing the marriage of humor, good art and crisp pop culture observations. Here are a few that you might currently love or can pay attention to during the spring and summer. 


Tank McNamara - celebrating its 40th anniversary in 2014, but still as relevant as ever: 



, like Tank McNamara, is also by Bill Hinds. It's family-oriented and reminds us of orange slices and Capri Suns after youth practices. 




Drew Litton's Win, Lose or Drew combines the bright insight of an editorial cartoon with the sports business world. 


In The Bleachers by Steve Moore takes a whimsical perspective to how we prioritze sports in our lives:



Classicly drawn lines, storylines and images make up Gil Thorp, by Neal Rubin and Rod Whigham.



What is your favorite sports season? Is there a special comic that reminds you of a vivid sports event? Does Charlie Brown or Big Nate playing baseball make you smile? Or, are you a Calvinball fan? We'd love to hear from you. 


- Gene 

Twitter Q&A with Dave Kellett, Co-director of the New Comic Strip Documentary "Stripped"




Did you miss our Q&A with Dave Kellett, co-director of the new comic strip documentary Stripped? Catch up on the conversation below!  





Watch the official Stripped trailer here!



About Stripped

STRIPPED  brings together the world’s best cartoonists to talk about the art form they love, and what happens to it as newspapers die. Over 70 interviews were conducted, including the first-ever audio interview with Bill Watterson (Calvin & Hobbes), as well as Jim Davis (Garfield), Cathy Guisewite(Cathy), Mort Walker (Beetle Bailey), Mike & Jerry (Penny Arcade), Matt Inman (The Oatmeal), Jeff Keane (The Family Circus), Ryan North (Dinosaur Comics), Lynn Johnston (FBOFW), Zach Weiner (SMBC), Scott Kurtz (PvP), Scott McCloud(Understanding Comics), Richard Thompson (Cul de Sac), Jeph Jacques (Questionable Content), Stephan Pastis (Pearls Before Swine), Bill Amend (Foxtrot), Kate Beaton (Hark! A Vagrant) and more. Set to a gorgeous original score by Stefan Lessard of Dave Matthews Band, STRIPPED explores comic strips in depth, why they’re so loved, and how they’re navigating this dicey period between print and pixels.



Join our Q&A next Friday at 1:30 pm CT with caroonist Brian Basset of Red and Rover! Use #AskBrianBasset to follow along and ask questions. 


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 anythng; 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.



Cartertoons  4-1-14










Courageous Man Adventures  4-2-14









Rogue Symmetry 4-2-14





Ron Warren  4-2-14





Tomversation  4-2-14




0-60  4-3-14









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



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