A Bit of Q&A
Q.What is your schedule like? You mentioned way back on your blog that you sometimes pencil ZITS comics in your car while waiting for your teenagers to get out of practice. Describe what a week is like for you. What time do you wake up / go to bed? Do you ever feel like a busy work schedule of doing a comic strip AND editorial cartoons steals time away from your family? How do you achieve balance?
A. I keep a laptop drawing board in my car and can pencil strips while killing time here and there. I am thinking about getting one of those jobs with the neck strap so that I can pencil as I walk through the grocery store.
I don't think much about when I'm working and when I'm not working -- drawing and living is kind of a flow for me. I spend four normal workdays a week at my Enquirer studio during which I do my five editorial cartoons and post all these blog entries. I draw Zits on Thursdays, in the evenings and on Sundays. But it's not as draconian as it sounds.
My home drawing board is in the middle of our family workroom, so I'm actually in the perfect middle of family comings and goings. Drawing the strip is highly interruptable, so I stop to change the laundry, talk with whoever wanders along, or do what needs to be done. I have a big comfy recliner on the other side of my drawing board, so Suzanne or the kids often hang out or do homework there. When there's no one around, I have a little TV with ESPN and CNN to keep me company or NPR or the BBC on the radio.
It helps that constitutionally I am a night owl and am happy with five hours of sleep and the occasional power nap. I often work a couple of hours after the rest of the house has gone to sleep -- my favorite time. Up at six.
Q. Name (I dunno, seven) cartoonists working today who you admire and why?
A. I could name dozens. Top of my head:
Mike Luckovich for his looseness, relentlessness and the pure energetic irreverence in his drawings.
Mike Peters for his passion, spirit and conviction after, what, forty years of editorial cartooning.
Pat Oliphant for the rigor and inventiveness with which he reinvents the medium on a constant, ongoing basis, never settling for Good Enough.
Richard Thompson for thinking and drawing outside the box, hell, outside the whole box factory, in a land where the box hasn't been invented yet.
Jeff Stahler for his deceptively quiet, fresh approach to topics and for his utter decency as a human being.
Robert Weber in the New Yorker for the fabulous scribbly scenes he sets.
C.F. Payne, who lives two blocks from my house, for his laser-like observations and uncanny ability to capture characters.
Jerry Scott. As good as you think he is, he's even better. I've never seen such a combination of pure comic talent and inspired execution.
Ronald Searle, the sine qua non of my cartooning life. Every line I draw owes him something.
Lynda Barry for drilling down to the rawest of personal experiences and putting them so honestly and directly on paper.
Dave Coverly for his incredibly high batting average and for making lattes shoot out of my nose on a regular basis.
Mort Drucker because Mort Drucker is Mort Drucker.
Oops, that's a dozen. Better stop. Nobody there to eliminate from my canon. They're all above the altar I worship at. Sometime I'll give you twelve more.