In middle school, I made comics for an audience of two to three friends and my brother, and would eagerly watch them read. I still think about those days a lot, because it had a big impact on my addiction to making people laugh. I’m generally quiet and keep to myself, so cartoons were the perfect outlet for me.
I tried some freelance in college, but ended up in graphic design for several years because I saw it as a more reasonable career path. I dabbled in cartoons here and there – I submitted designs to online T-shirt contests, I joined an art collective in Detroit and continued to doodle in my notebooks during pointless meetings. My paintings weren’t very good, but one painting of an awkward yeti stood out and inspired me to make a children’s book. The children’s book was just an experiment, just to see if I could finish a project. But, when I went online to promote it, I discovered the world of webcomics and realized I didn’t have to just dabble – I could create what I wanted to create, and could easily find people to read my work.
My webcomics were like me, unfocused but persistent, and I think that’s exactly why they started catching on. I had my ongoing comics with Lars, but I think people were drawn in by the random stuff I’d put out there, like Gallbladder’s Last Day or the Popcorn Kernel.
After about two years of hard work, I was fortunate enough to quit my day job and support my family with cartoons. In part, I have my awesome fans on Facebook to thank for that, who are now half a million strong and have supported me through the whole process.
I find my inspiration comes from personal experiences, as with most writers. I will often draw a concept for my Heart and Brain series from the people around me, including strangers at coffee shops, my kids or interactions with my wife.
Growing up, I was an avid newspaper comic reader. I didn’t get in to webcomics until just a couple of years ago, so my inspiration came from Calvin and Hobbes, Garfield, The Far Side, Dilbert, FoxTrot (and many others), combined heavily with The Simpsons. While I’m not easily offended, I do find a worthy challenge in trying to make good comics that happen to be all-ages appropriate. Nowadays, I enjoy reading a plethora of webcomics via social media.
My basement office is a combination shipping center, studio and hangout. The shipping studio has turned it into a disaster, so I generally leave the house to write, visiting local coffee shops and eavesdropping on conversations.
I will be at Motor City Comic Con in May, San Diego Comic Con in July and New York Comic Con in October.
My series “Medical Tales Retold” takes real stories from fans and retells them in comic form and can be found on Tapastic. For fans of Lars, the story continues on Webtoons.com. And, my most exciting project is the upcoming book of Heart and Brain comics that features more than 75 new comics, published by Andrews McMeel Publishing. It can be preordered now through Amazon at heartandbrain.coffee
Read The Awkward Yeti here or follow along on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or Tumblr.