Showing posts with label interview. Show all posts
Showing posts with label interview. Show all posts

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Meet a Local Cartoonist: A Chat with Dick Wright


by Mike Rhode


Dick Wright of The Providence Journal-Bulletin was the 1983 Pulitzer Prize Finalist in Editorial Cartooning. As Dave Astor has written, “Wright worked for the [San Diego] Union-Tribune … (starting in 1976) and later joined The Providence (R.I.) Journal, the Nashville (Tenn.) Banner, and The Columbus (Ohio) Dispatch. Currently [2005], he’s affiliated with the Gwinnett Daily Post of Lawrenceville, Ga. He was syndicated by Tribune Media Services, then Copley News Service, and finally for several years in the early 2000s by Daryl Cagle. His work was collected in the book If He Only Had a Brain... in 1998. The Cartoon Art Museum in San Francisco “houses over 300 political cartoons illustrated by famed cartoonist Dick Wright in the mid-1990s.” He retired from editorial cartooning in 2005, around the same time he was profiled by the Washington Times. Wright has recently returned to editorial cartooning.

What type of comic work or cartooning do you do?

I draw editorial cartoons.

How do you do it? Traditional pen and ink, computer or a combination?

I use a brush, pen and India ink.
 
When (within a decade is fine) and where were you born?

I was born in 1944.

Why are you in the Washington area now?  What neighborhood or area do you live in?

I live in Warrenton, Virginia.

What is your training and/or education in cartooning?

I am self-taught. I went to Long Beach State University and I majored in finance.

Who are your influences?

Mad magazine, and especially Mort Drucker. Also, Walt Disney.

If you could, what in your career would you do-over or change?

I think I would do more local cartoons.

What work are you best-known for?

I can't think of a single piece of work. In general probably my caricatures.

What work are you most proud of?

Well, when I started I was pretty rough. I guess that given where I started I am most proud of what I developed into. My work is a far cry from when I started. I had some help along the way. Mort Drucker was a great encouragement to me as well as Karl Hubenthal in Los Angeles.

What would you like to do or work on in the future?

I am content to do cartoons about Virginia at this point in my career.

What do you do when you're in a rut or have writer's block?
I used to keep a file of "ideas" that I used to trigger new ideas. If you worked at it long enough something would come.

What do you think will be the future of your field?

I think that the future in cartooning is in online venues.

What local cons do you attend?

I don't attend any.

What's your favorite thing about DC?

I worked in DC for Scripps-Howard Newspapers. I got to know DC a bit. I guess being in the middle of the action was my favorite thing. I ran into many people that were real players. I enjoyed that

Least favorite?

Traffic.

What monument or museum do you like to take visitors to?

The Smithsonian.

How about a favorite local restaurant?

I love Mexican food just about anywhere.

Do you have a website or blog?

I have a website for a book I wrote called "Growing Big In God". I wrote short messages about many topics about life. I was a pastor of two churches and used my experience and knowledge to help others deal with the tough side of life. Dick Wright Cartoons is my Facebook page with new cartoons.

How has the COVID-19 outbreak affected you, personally and professionally?

I work from home anyway so it really hasn't impacted me much.

 Can you tell us a bit about being a church pastor and your faith?

I grew up in church. I had a very powerful experience with God at about the age of thirteen. From that time forward, I was deeply engaged in church and was very focused on spiritual things. On my own I began to read the Bible every evening before going to sleep. In reading the Bible, I learned a lot about God and it changed me. Even as a young teen, I became very interested in someday serving the Lord as a pastor. My parents were middle class. We struggled financially even as my dad worked two and three jobs as far back as I can remember. When it came time for me to go to college, I did not have you the heart to ask for help in going to college. I was interested in going to a bible college to become a pastor. Instead, I attended Junior College with no particular direction. I dropped out and got a job as a draftsman because I could draw. In those days we actually drew by hand the things we were building. I advanced quickly and moved up to a junior designer at the Jet Propulsion Lab in Pasadena, California. I became interested in engineering.


By then I was married with two little girls. I wanted to become a senior designer, but you had to be degreed. So I went to Long Beach State studying engineering and worked full time. While I was at Long Beach State I began to draw cartoons for the university newspaper, the 49'er. I did this a couple of years and finally I went to some local newspaper editors and asked them what they thought of my work. They were very encouraging and began to print a few. This changed my whole direction. I began to consider changing my career goal from engineering to cartooning. I spent about two years contacting newspapers looking for a job. Finally, I was hired at the San Diego Union as their back-up cartoonist and illustrator and I was on my way. It didn't take long for my editorial cartoons to be used more and more and I became the lead cartoonist. I was in San Diego for about eighteen months and then moved to the Providence Journal and that is where my career took off. I was focused on being as good as I could be. I would get up at about four in the morning and read the paper cover to cover. My intent was to know what was going on so my cartoons had substance. I worked at it. I became syndicated and my list of papers grew to about 420. This was a lot, since at that time there were only about 1700 dailies in the country.

This went on for years, but I never forgot the early experience I had with God and my very distinct call to be a pastor. As my list of papers grew I reached my limit. I began to struggle to keep the numbers up and had to work harder just to stay even. I began to realize that there was no way I could sustain what I had been doing for years and I became discouraged. I began to question what I was doing, and for what? At this time I began to think about becoming a pastor and fulfill that early calling. I was 52 at the time. I began to seek out what was necessary to become a pastor. I had a friend who was a pastor who told me that in Virginia all you needed to become a pastor was to be ordained by a church and I could become a pastor. His church ordained me as I had 30 years’ experience leading and teaching the Word. Within a month I had gathered together a group of 21 people and we started a church and I was the pastor. In 12 weeks the church grew to 100 attenders. Three years later we completed a new church building. In five years, my church had grown to more than 400. I retired and then came out of retirement to help another small church get established. I am currently the assistant pastor at that church now.

 You mentioned Mort Drucker who just passed away this month, after a long life. Do you have any specific stories or anecdotes about knowing him?

 When I was trying to get into cartooning, I wrote Mort a letter with some of my work to Mad magazine. I received a letter back from him. He was gracious and encouraging. He offered advice about cartooning that was very helpful. One of the things he told me was that every assignment I get and send off should be better than the last job I did. He said this was the way to get better. He said that when you plateau and level off, keep working at doing better than your last job. He said this is how he improved. Mort was a very kind and gracious man. Many years later, when I was the cartoonist at the Providence Journal, I was involved is getting the program set for an editorial cartooning convention. I contacted Mad and talked to the editor and invited all the cartoonist to the convention in Newport. Mort and Jack Davis showed up along with some others. What a thrill! I have a photo of Mort and myself taken at the mansion where we were hosting the convention. He was so gracious and kind to me. What a great cartoonist, a great man. I miss him.

 4/23/2020: Updated with links to Wright's Facebook page, thanks to DD Degg of the Daily Cartoonist.

Thursday, April 16, 2020

Meet a Localish Cartoonist: A Chat with Rose Turner

 by Mike Rhode

 A friend of mine saw Rose Turner this February at a local event when that was still possible. 

Scott Stewart told me, "I attended an event in Round Hill, VA titled, 'Where Art Meets Hiking' focused on art based on the Appalachian Trail.  The speaker at the event was Rose “Comics” Turner who talked about “the importance of overlap between my worlds of art and hiking and how I managed to make art while I thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail.”

"It was a good talk and a very interesting comics project. Speaking with her, I learned, among other things, that she lives in Front Royal, VA, will be hiking the Pacific Crest Trail in the west coast as her next adventure, and is leaving for an Ireland jaunt."

"She recently started a podcast Journeys Through Art where she and co-host Melanie "Doodles" Cichocki 'interview artist adventurers from around the world to dive a little deeper into humanity.'  For example, Episode 2 features Kerstin A. La Cross, ;an Adventure Cartoonist and illustrator based in the Pacific Northwest. While not gallivanting in the mountains, they make comics about hiking, wilderness safety, and mental health. Their current comic project is ‘BASHers’, a memoir webcomic chronicling their first long-distance backpacking trip, where they hiked 100 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail and learned the difference between strength and stubbornness, and what it’s like to have your first asthma attack in the middle of nowhere.'”

I'd like to thank Scott for introducing me to Rose's work, and now she answers our usual questions and the new, inevitable, COVID-19 question.

What type of comic work or cartooning do you do?

I primarily focus on autobiographical comics. Within that, a lot of my recent and upcoming work is specifically about the adventures I go on, especially long-distance hikes.

How do you do it? Traditional pen and ink, computer or a combination?


Right now I primarily use watercolor, ink, and pencil, though I am slowly beginning to incorporate more digital work. It feels like there's a bigger buy-in for embarking into digital work, so I've been slow to get into that.

When (within a decade is fine) and where were you born?


I'm a 90's kid from the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia.

Why are you in now?  What neighborhood or area do you live in?

I'm still based in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley for now, though I'm hoping to move out west at some point, hopefully within a year or so after this pandemic really starts to subside.

How has the COVID-19 outbreak affected you, personally and professionally? 

I was out on an adventure in Ireland when things really started shifting due to the virus. I had just changed my flight to come home a few days early when the travel ban was put in place. But even before that, I was starting to try not to use public transportation or hang out in bigger cities. I'm, uh, broke right now to begin with, and had actually just lost my day job (the business closed) the day that I left for Ireland. I had been planning to get one or two jobs when I returned, like at one of the wineries nearby, and just work a bunch and save up. But now it looks like I'll be working a bunch and, well, not really saving, since most of my work (art) goes unpaid, unfortunately. At the same time, I have been able to focus on my art a little bit more during this time, so I'm kind of just doing what I can to build up my skills and profession. I'm also really trying to use my art as a resource and a gift for folks, including offering a recent art giveaway to help cheer people up.



What is your training and/or education in cartooning?

I've been an artist my whole life. I took a few classes here and there during my schooling, mostly just related to drawing in general. My degree is unrelated (International Studies), but I did do a study abroad that focused on incorporating art with travel. That was incredibly nourishing! My dad and my sister are both artists as well, and gave me some of my first lessons in the world of art when I was a kid.

Who are your influences?

Oof. So many. Bill Watterson, M.C. Escher, Alison Bechdel, Lucy Bellwood. Seth Pitt is probably my favorite these days; though our styles are completely different, I feel like our hearts are pretty similar, and in that way I resonate with his work very deeply. I'm fortunate to have a few extremely kind and talented mentors in my life who have inspired me immeasurably, including Ben Hatke, Zack Giallongo, and Kerstin A. La Cross.

If you could, what in your career would you do-over or change? 


Eh, not much really. I've been pretty happy with my path overall. I only wish I had started practicing my craft more consistently sooner. There are a couple projects I sort of wish I had printed as soon as they were finished and then actually taken them to cons and such, but I've always been so busy that I don't think it was ever really an option. I am planning to do more of that in the near future, however. 

What work are you best-known for?

"Miles of Comics", a collection of comics depicting my thru-hike on the 2,200 mile Appalachian Trail. Still working on these!

What work are you most proud of?


I'm really proud of those trail comics. It's the longest art project I've ever done, and I'm so glad that I've stuck with it. I think the work I'm most proud of though is anytime that my art has made people feel more understood and less alone in their experiences as a human - most of that comes from my March Madness Comics series, which are a bunch of 1-4 page, usually very vulnerable but sometimes funny autobiographical comics I've made. 

What would you like to do  or work on in the future?


I'd love to do more adventure art. For upcoming adventures, I'll be expanding my focus so that my art quite so exclusive to comics, but includes more portraits and landscapes and journal-style art. I'd also love to do more work with cartography, combining my love of maps and making art. 

What local cons do you attend? The Small Press Expo, Awesome Con, or others? Any comments about attending them?

While I've visited a few small cons, I only just have my first proper vendor gig coming up. I'll be set up at the Round Hill Appalachian Trail Festival, which has been postponed to September. Lots of great people involved with that event!

Turner in Feb 2020 by Scott Stewart
What's your favorite thing about the Shenandoah Valley?

The mountains and the hugs. When I was away at college, I started referring to Front Royal as "Hugsville", and nearby spots like Strasburg and Winchester are part of "The Greater Hugsville Area". It has certainly been strange being in Hugsville without all the hugs (due to social distancing). My housemates are getting extra hugs to make up for it. 

Least favorite?

It feels pretty segregated even today. I want to look into what I can do to address that and change it. 

What monument or museum do you like to take visitors to?


Does the library count? I worked there for a few years. I know I'm a little biased, but I've seen dozens of libraries around the country, and Samuel's Public Library is truly exceptional in its design (beautiful murals inside!), collection, technology, and above all its stellar staff and programming. It's one of the main places I like to make sure visitors go to.

Turner in Feb 2020 by Scott Stewart
How about a favorite local restaurant?

Happy Creek Coffee & Tea for lighter fair, but if you want a full meal I'd say Truss'd. 

Do you have a website or blog?
 


www.rotucomics.com 
https://www.instagram.com/rotucomics/ 

My Patreon is active though! I'm in the midst of getting a little more of an online store available, but for now, Patreon is best.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Meet a Visiting Cartoonist: Spain's Tomás Serrano


by Mike Rhode

Tomás Serrano visited Washington recently just as the city was shutting down from the coronavirus. We were still able to meet and chat about his work with local cartoonists Matt Wuerker and Mike Jenkins, although this interview was done by email later. Tomás is temporarily living in America and cartooning via long distance.

What type of comic work or cartooning do you do?

Several types. At 25, I got my paid to start doing caricatures for a local newspaper in Salamanca, Spain. Years later I got into political and gag cartoons, and one of them won me the Mingote Award in 1995. Six years later, my first children´s book was published. In 2013, I made an animated musical video. In 2014, I began to work for the Spanish newspaper ABC drawing caricatures and editorial illustrations. Since 2015, I´ve been the political cartoonist of the online newspaper El Español and also sometimes I illustrate the editorials of the newspaper. In recent years, I did caricatures for the Magazine of the University of Chicago.

How do you do it? Traditional pen and ink, computer or a combination?

In the beginning, I used traditional tools like color pencils, gouache or watercolors. At this moment, I do sketches with a red pencil and mark the lines with a 5B pencil then scanning and adding color with a Tablet and Photoshop. It´s the fast way because, usually, I have only a couple of hours to send the cartoon.

When (within a decade is fine) and where were you born?

I was born in León, Spain, in 1960.

Where are you living now? Why?

Since July 2019, I moved to Lexington, Kentucky because Heminia, my wife, is working as a middle school teacher. For me, living in the US is a great experience. I love it. The American culture was always present in my life since I was a child: old TV series, movies, illustrated books, music…

Is it hard being an editorial cartoonist from a different continent and with 5 time zones changes?

Not at all. It´s so easy now. The only difference is the time: There, I drew after lunch; here, before. I´m following the current Spanish trends through the radio, podcasts, streaming live TV and the online newspapers.

What is your training and/or education in cartooning?  Why did you leave architecture?

My training is in architecture. This helped so much in staging my ideas and composing the images. I use to draw realistic architectural backgrounds because it emphasized the nonsense of the conduct of politicians. The strong crisis for architects in Spain from 2008 helped me to recover my passion for cartooning.

Who are your influences?

When I was young, my principal influence was Francisco Ibañez´s comics, Mortadelo y Filemón author. Visually, Disney´s artists were my favorites so far. Uderzo, Jean Giraud… Back then I didn´t like the UPA artists that I love now. Over time, I realized the influence of the freshness of my brother Carlos “badly done” drawings. Regarding humor, the movies of Charles Chaplin, the Marx Brothers, Bob Hope, Billy Wilder and Woody Allen. My favorite cartoonists are Jean Jacques Sempé, Ronald Searle, Charles Addams and the caricaturist Al Hirschfeld.


If you could, what in your career would you do-over or change?

I think I´ve been very lucky in my cartoonist career. In Spain, I was awarded with the best prize you can get. I feel recognized by my the heads of my newspaper… I wouldn´t change anything.

What work are you best-known for?

Maybe for my current cartoons in El Español, the number one in the top ranking of the Spanish native online newspapers.

What work are you most proud of?

For my first published children´s book Salfón el limpiador de tejados, by the unforgettable moment when I told and drew it to my son Guillermo, improvising the characters and the story.  I would be happy if it was published in the States.

I´m so proud too of my Mingote Award and my first illustration in the US for the Magazine of the University of Chicago.

What would you like to do  or work on in the future?

I would like to design characters for the movies, or have orders for advertising campaigns, or covers of books… And yes, I would like to work for US publishers.

What do you do when you're in a rut or have writer's block?

I take it easy. It happens sometimes, but experience makes last minute ideas to come…  That´s what I always say to my daughter Paula. For drawing and for everything.


What do you think will be the future of your field?

These are bad times for the press, and there are a lot of people doing funny things for free on the net. Many online newspapers have no cartoonist. Maybe the brilliant ones will survive because an image has still a high value.
Mike Jenkins and Seranno share a caricature moment

What's your favorite thing about DC?

You know I was in DC only for a weekend. As a big fan of the movies, I liked to be in the places I´ve seen there: the White House, the Capitol, the Memorials… and The Exorcist steps! In addition, I would recommend the Blues Alley Club and the Off the Record Bar.

Least favorite?

There are outstanding buildings in DC (e.g. the Old Post Office), but some mixes of styles in the streets didn´t convince me. Anyway I´ll remember the beautiful houses in Capitol Hill and Georgetown.

What monument or museum do you enjoy? What did you hope to see, but missed due to the coronavirus shutdowns?


I loved the Lincoln Memorial and the National Portrait Gallery. I enjoyed the fantastic exhibition of John Singer Sargent portraits in charcoal. I missed, among others, the National Gallery of Art. I hope to come back.

How about a favorite local restaurant when you visited?

I enjoyed the Indian food of Rasika and The Smith's burger.

Do you have a website or blog?

I recently renewed my website: www.tomasserrano.com