Luckily, my parents were very encouraging. I remember one Christmas when I got a bunch of paper as a gift — and I was ecstatic! That’s just an example of how they supported me growing up. I feel like I latched on to my parents’ creativity as well. My dad is a painter, and my mom is a gifted musician. Growing up with that around, combined with newspapers that contained the funny pages, definitely helped fuel me as a cartoonist.
As for cinema, Tom Hulce in Amadeus was my favorite actor growing up, because I love that movie. In terms of cartooning, I enjoyed watching the classic Disney shorts and also all of the cartoons from the 80s. They all had different levels of influence on me. My favorite illustrators were all the ones from MAD Magazine. MAD was an essential part of my childhood and wanting to be a cartoonist. I also bought tons of Garfield, Far Side, and Calvin & Hobbes books.
I am pretty much self-taught. I always drew, especially when I wasn’t supposed to, like all through school. I did learn about painting, sculpture, and fine art in college. Though, I’ve always been able to draw. I think it’s because I started early. I’d have to guess I was drawing when I was still in diapers.
I’ve tried a ton of stuff that didn’t work. To this day, try a lot of different series’, books, strips, etc. I’m proud that I was able to publish some cartoons and articles in MAD. As for my longest-running success, it’s my gag cartoon, Break of Day. It’s syndicated online at GoComics and has been syndicated now for nine years.
The comic industry changes so much. I always just wanted to be in newspapers as a kid, but papers are dying. Luckily, there’s a whole new world in this digital landscape. A lot of the successful cartoonists work in gaming, on websites, and animation. All those markets are doing great here in the USA. I think there’s a wide variety of tastes when it comes to preferences of characters and heroes. I don’t recognize any particular characteristics that are more popular than others around here. It’s a mixed bag… I think comic books are an excellent escape for readers. It takes them into a new world, visually and with words.
Among my works, what I consider as artistic achievement, there are a few. I’d say my biggest was working at MAD, getting a chance to be a cartoonist in L.A. for Red Bull, and then syndication. Also, I have an agent now and am looking forward to getting into more mainstream publishing. That’s the direction I’m heading. There are some big things on the horizon…Be on the lookout for books, graphic novels, and I’m hoping to get into animation in the distant future.
For newcomers, I say: be prepared to fail and then fail again. And after that, you’ll fail again. Only the strong survive in cartooning. BUT, keep at it if you want it. Don’t have a backup plan, because then you won’t make it. And don’t be afraid to do what you have to do to get there. Take a shitty job, work late, live cheap — anything you have to do. You can get to where you want to go, but it isn’t easy and buckle up for the ride. We all have different journeys in life and enjoy the process. Also, get all the help you can along the way. Take courses, make friends, get your work out there and ask for feedback. I see so many people give up on their dreams because it’s not easy.