Greg Cravens

Greg Cravens

My background is as much in comic strips as comic books. As a youngster, it was common for children to say they wanted to be a fireman or a policeman when they grew up. Somehow, I was drawn to the comic strips being in the newspaper every day (television cartoons were only on Saturday mornings back then, so ‘every day’ was pretty great) When a child says that he wants to be ‘a cartooner’ when he grows up, then, his family sits up and pays attention. When a child finds something that makes people pay attention, he’s not likely to give up on it soon. So, I wanted even more to draw cartoons in the newspapers. Comic books (easily available in every grocery store and convenience store) were an extension of that.

– Certainly I was influenced by all the pop culture of my time. I was 11 when ‘Star Wars’ came out. Perfect age for it. I was buying comic books and novel-sized comic strip collection books as often as I could- Charlie Brown, Dennis the Menace, MAD magazines and its reprints all had an influence on me. As for comic book influences, Spider-Man was peaking at the time. There were toys and furnishings you could buy, and a TV cartoon, a Spider-man (SpideySuperStories) appearance on a popular children’s TV show ‘Electric Company’, and even a live-action Spider-man TV show that faltered pretty quickly. As with most kids, I graduated from Spider-Man into more comic titles and discovered old Western comics, Space comics, and the more outré stuff that Marvel produced. Then came an interest in Marvel’s EPIC magazine and the original Heavy Metal magazines.

-My own work right now is split between The Buckets newspaper comic strip, comic strip on the web, occasional editorial cartoon work for a local weekly, the Stoned.Ninja comic book, and I’m a hired artist on a couple of children’s books and various other projects. Very good work these days is in corporate learning and development. Many companies need training modules in their particular fields. In the past, I’ve worked on just about any type of thing you can name- comic strips, comic books and editorial cartoons for various kinds of magazines, papers, and corporate clients. Advertising illustration by the ton. Children’s books for government and educational groups. T-shirts, music and podcast art, caricatures for publication and presentation- whatever anyone wants. My business is cartoons and cartoon illustration.

-The current situation of cartooning in the U.S. is very fluid just now. The last dregs of the 1950’s ‘voluntary censorship’ of cartooning that left the general population thinking that any illustrated story must be for children is finally dying a hard death. We’re getting around to the ideas that France and Japan have had- that cartooning is for everyone, and you can choose children’s cartooning or adult’s cartooning and everything in between. The old comic strips that I grew up on, though are also slipping away, being evolutionarily replaced with a wider, stranger, wilder variety of things available on the web. It’s exciting to see what’s shaking out of the transitional spaces

-Comic books affect comic book readers, which are a diverse group to be sure. As people who are influenced by ideas carry them into a broader world, things change. I assume the sociopolitical realities of society are being influenced fluidly by everyone, whether on purpose or casually. Sociopolitical ‘realities’ are chaotic. There are too many influences at too many random places to track any particular influence or trajectory. I hope that the kindly humor of Peanuts in years past shaped kindly behavior. I hope that the edgy work being done today does some good without opposing forces back lashing so harshly that the good is outweighed. The important thing, I suppose, is to do work that’s meaningful to you. If you do good, meaningful work and let it into the world, it’s as much as anyone can do.

-My advice to newcomers is to learn from something other than what you live in. I grew up loving comic books, and drawing what I thought were comic books, but without looking around and discovering what other influences you can go get and bring back to comic books, you’re just recycling. Do what you believe in and bring something new to the game.

– My current projects are the ongoing comic strips and comic books, and a few games I’ve designed and now that the testing and editing is all done, I need to finish up the layouts and art.

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