Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Meet a Visiting SPX Cartoonist: A Chat with Rob Ullman

Rob Ullman should be familiar to Washington readers of the City Paper because he illustrated Dan Savage's Savage Love sex advice column for years with both humor and hot babes. I believe I may have one of DC's largest collections of original sketches by Rob...

CDC: What type of comic work or cartooning do you do?

RU: I'm kind of all over the place...I started doing auto-biographical comics and strips about 15 years ago, and have continued to do them in various forms over the years. I also have recently been doing hockey comics: biographies of players (usually those who've met untimely deaths...I have a thing for tragedy), strips about odd events and funny incidents in the sport's colorful history. I also have managed to make a bit of a name for myself as a drawer of pretty cartoon and whatnot. It's a label I embrace wholeheartedly.

CDC: What work are you best-known for?

RU: In DC, I'm probably best known for doing the spot illustrations for Dan Savage's Savage Love column in the City Paper from 1999-2008. It's the one thing I've done that everybody in Washington has seen, and was instrumental in my discovery that I could draw naked people pretty well.

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

RU: Traditional for pencilling and inking, then all computer for coloring and layout. The computer is just another tool, like a brush or a bottle of ink. I'm not adamantly anti-drawing-on-the-computer, but I haven't found/invested in a method of doing so that doesn't end up making the process more difficult and slow rather than less.

CDC: Can you tell us a little about your books that you'll have with you at SPX?

RU: As far as new books, I'll have the brand new issue of Old-Timey Hockey Tales, which has stories by Jeffrey Brown and I. I'm really proud of it, and I can't wait to show it off. I'll also have all my other books...a hardcover artbook of all my Savage spots and pin-up work called Atom-Bomb Bikini, two collections of my autobiographical strip Traffic & Weather, Grand Gestures from a bunch of years back, and about a dozen other mini-comics. I'll have a ton of prints and original art as well.

CDC: You've attended the Small Press Expo in the past - do you have any thoughts about your experience?

RU: This will be my 14th SPX...I haven't missed one since 1997. It's the closest I have to a "local" show, and it's always my favorite weekend of the year.

CDC: What are you looking forward to buying or seeing or doing for this year's event? Or who do you want to see, to catch up on old times, or to have a fanboy experience?

RU: Hoo, boy...we had a baby back in May, and I've been so busy with him and my other kid that I haven't even been able to even find out what'll be there! SPX for me is like a yearly class reunion, catching up with old pals and having a drink or five.

CDC: What's your favorite thing about the DC area? Least favorite?

RU: Favorite thing? So much to choose from. Great vibe, amazing restaurants. Least favorite has gotta be the traffic. Or maybe the Capitals.

CDC: What monument or museum do you like or wish to visit when you're in town?

Always like to visit the Hirshhorn when I have time.

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

RU: I can't speak for the larger comics "industry", but I think type of people who exhibit at SPX will always make comics, whether it's in print or on a screen, whether there's money in it or not, because they're compelled to, against all common sense. It is nice to make a few bucks, though.

CDC: Do you have a website or blog?

RU: Both! My oft-neglected "professional" website is, but it's mostly for Fancy-Dan illustration clients and whatnot. The real fun is over at my blog, Updated a few times a week. Usually. I promise.

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