DC Zinefest 2018 recently had a successful day out at Art Enables on Rhode Island Ave. I met at least six cartoonists who were new to me, and said hi to at least three I already know. (My photos are here). Paul Hostetler, illustrator and cartoonist, answered our usual questions.
What type of comic work or cartooning do you do?
Every year, for the past 5 years, I self-published a black and white mini-comic, sold pretty much exclusively at shows. Occasionally, I'll have comics published in an alt-monthly or something, but my main wheelhouse is illustration.
How do you do it? Traditional pen and ink, computer or a combination?
When (within a decade is fine) and where were you born?
I was born in the 80s, but I only barely remember the first George Bush getting elected. There was a giant turkey in his victory speech, so I might have that confused with the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.
Why are you in Washington now? What neighborhood or area do you live in?
What is your training and/or education in cartooning?
I was educated at the Savannah College of Art and Design, in illustration. They have a sequential art department, but I figured the Illustration Department would give me a leg up when it came to working with a variety of media. And it did! Though I have to say, 80% of what I know about the comics/illustration business, I've had to learn on the job.
Who are your influences?
For writing, I feel you can't top Alan Moore. Jodorowsky was one of the writers who taught me that comics don't necessarily have to make a lot of sense. And beyond comics, Terry Pratchett, John Kennedy Toole, P. G. Wodehouse, Agatha Christie, Michael Moorcock, Dan Harmon, and Clive Barker. Far too many white guys, now that I think about it.
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For art, most of my biggest influences are people who have never done comics, like British illustrators Gerald Scarfe, Ralph Steadman, Ronald Searle, more recent Americans like Barry Blitt, John Cuneo, and international stars like Boulet and Tomer Hanuka. I also dig John McLeod, Eddie Campbell, Sam Keith, Tradd Moore, and Craig Thompson, though I don't know if they count as influences.
If you could, what in your career would you do-over or change?
It's a cliche, but I would do everything sooner. They best time to make mistakes is when you have nothing to lose, and NO ONE in the whole world has less to lose than an art student. We are at the bottom of the barrel, right under war refugees and homeless vets. I also would have made friends with more people, while I was stuck in a building with them every day.
What work are you best-known for?
My best-known work, sadly, is "Arkham Daycare," a Scottie Young-style piece imagining the Batman villains as toddles under the supervision of a very tired Jim Gordon. I spent a good month chasing it around the internet and typing my attribution information in comments section.
What work are you most proud of?
I had my work put on the side of a city bus in Charlottesville, VA for a year. I did a wraparound mural of various dinosaurs, life-size, WITH FEATHERS, so that kids who might not otherwise be able to go to a natural history museum could experience a little science.
The huge majority of my time is taken up working on non-comic-related projects (hence why I only put out one mini-comic per year), but I am slowly drawing out the graphic novel I slowly wrote, which I imagine will take another few years to actually finish. It's a murder mystery in the vein of Clue.
What do you do when you're in a rut or have writer's block?
When I'm in a rut, I watch TV and don't work at all. I recommend it to anyone who doesn't have a deadline. When I have writer's block, I usually think about the last thing I felt strongly enough about to comment on a website about. There's usually an equally emotional response, and if you give those emotions to fictional characters, you can create a scenario that, in real life, would never be satisfactorily resolved.
What do you think will be the future of your field?
Print is dying, but hopefully it will last long enough that I will die first.
Beyond DC Zinefest, I always go to SPX, though I've only won the table lottery once, and I try to attend the Richmond Zinefest in October and DC Art Book Fair in December. A friend of mine, LA Johnson, helps put it on. I tabled at Awesome Con once, and the Richmond Comic-Con once, and both were only slightly more pleasant than absolutely miserable. No one goes to those for original art, only fan art and celebrity autographs. I highly suggest trying the gyro platter at the Greek place around the corner from SPX.
What's your favorite thing about DC?
My favorite DC things would probably be Ben's Chili Bowl, and the Botanical Garden. If they could combine the two, I doubt I'd ever have another weekend free.
What monument or museum do you like to take visitors to?
I'd like to say the Renwick, because it's free and off the beaten path, but the last museum I actually DID take a visitor to was the American University Museum, to see the Ralph Steadman retrospective. They were handing out free bottles of that beer he draws the labels for. I took a few home.
How about a favorite local restaurant?
I already mentioned Ben's Chili Bowl, so I'll have to run with Bakers and Baristas, on 7th St NW, solely for the butterkuchen. That is the cake all other cakes want to be, fail miserably at, and die with regret in their heart for.
Do you have a website or blog?
You can find my business site at www.phostetler.com. It includes a blog which is mostly just movie reviews, and a few digitized zines. I'm also on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram at @phostetlerart.