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

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

A Chat with with Bob Scott, the cartoonist creator of "Bear with Me"

 by Mike Rhode

Animator and webcomics artist Bob Scott has nothing to do with the DC-area. In fact, he has only been here as a teenage tourist, as he reveals later on in this interview. However, he's making the rounds to promote his new book, and sent me a very nice email, so why not expand our focus just this once in these odd times? He answered our usual questions, modified somewhat as necessary. First, here's a pocket biography, compiled from Bob's pages at Hermes Press and CTN.

Bob Scott lives in both the world of comic strips and animation. Born in Detroit, Bob began drawing at a young age, copying what he saw in the funny pages. Acceptance and graduation from California Institute of the Arts opened the world of character animation for Bob. He has worked over 35 years in the industry as an animator, character designer, storyboard artist and voice talent. Scott’s animated short 'Late Night with Myron' was part of the 1988 theatrical compilation film entitled 'Outrageous Animation'. His animation has been seen in numerous animated feature films such as Pixar’s 'Toy Story 3' (2010), 'Ratatouille' (2007), 'WALL-E' (2008), 'The Incredibles' (2004),  Dreamworks Animation's 'The Prince of Egypt' (1998), Warner Brothers’ Bugs Bunny in Box Office Bunny (1990), and Turner Animation’s Cat’s Don’t Dance among others. He led the animation team on the Annie Award winning Pixar short 'Your Friend the Ratand' (2007) was part of the small animation crew for the Oscar-nominated 'Day and Night' (2010). He has worked for Jim Davis, co-penciling U.S. Acres and co-directing Garfield: His 9 Lives. Bob has always wanted a comic strip of his own, and so Bear with Me (aka Molly and the Bear) was born and became a syndicated webcomic in 2010. 

What type of comic work or cartooning do you do?

I write and draw my own syndicated webcomic Bear with Me. I am also in the animation industry; I’ve been a 2D animator, a computer animator and a story artist.  While animation is my full-time work, comic strips let me be my own artist.

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


I keep Bear with Me as traditional as possible.  It’s a black and white, three to four panel comic strip. It’s the style and form that I grew up with and have never gotten tired of. 

Bear with Me is drawn on Bristol board with a blue pencil and inked with a Windsor Newton brush using black India ink.  I am such an old-school purist, I even hand letter the strip.   Technology rears its head for the rest of the process: I scan the strip into Photoshop, digitally erase the blue pencil, do Sunday color, and make small adjustments as needed. I am like every other artist in this regard, while I try to not be a super-perfectionist, sometimes things just bug me and I can fix them in Photoshop. 

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

I was born in Detroit in 1964. I grew up in the suburbs with my parents and brothers. That makes me a true city boy. Right out of Cal Arts, Jim Davis hired me (and Brett Koth) to co-pencil his new strip, U.S.Acres.  Jim ribbed me endlessly for not knowing how to draw a bale of hay.

Cartooning isn’t one of those jobs kids think of when they pick a profession.  How did you end up in cartooning/ animation?

My mom and dad supported my pursuit of the arts 100%.  Mom saw all the names in the TV animation credits and figured lots of people were working on these shows, so why not me? That was a rare and exceptional point of view.  So many people are steered away from the arts. 

As a teen I got the chance to talk with Larry Wright, the in house editorial cartoonist at the Detroit Free Press. (Wright Angles, Kit ‘n’ Carlyle)   He gave me a lot of excellent advice – most notably “Write what you know.”  I think it is important to see and talk to people actually IN the jobs you dream of because that lets you know it is possible, and they can help you map a course out.   

Where do you live now, since it's not in the DMV?

I live in sunny Southern California.  Is it the weather that drew me to LA? The beaches?  Nope.  SoCal is the epicenter of animation.

What is your training and/or education in cartooning?

I was trained as a traditional animator in the character animation program at Cal Arts. Which was great!  I was there in the early 80s, so we learned 2D animation. That means we drew 12 to 24 drawings per second of film, 720 – 1440 drawings per minute of film.  When you do that much drawing, you can’t help but get better. Also, you learn to give your drawings life even when they are not moving. 

Working for Jim Davis taught me the ropes of comic strip production. He was a great guy and an excellent mentor in joke writing.  Also, he knew a lot about hay bales. Handy knowledge.

My education in art is ongoing.  I find the artists I work with are exceptional and so inspiring.  I strive to be better every day and being around amazing artists helps keep me moving forward.

Who are your influences?

I love so many cartoonist’s and animator’s work. Ever since I was a kid, I loved animation. This may be because my  mom propped me in front of cartoons as soon as I could sit up.  She was an excellent mom, by the way. She supported my love of film and drawing 100%.  As a kid, I would race home from school to watch Bugs Bunny, Tom and Jerry, The Flintstones and Popeye cartoons. On Sunday nights I was glued to The Wonderful World of Disney. I read the comics in our local paper. We had some obscure ones that I absolutely loved! Quincy by Ted Shearer and Eek and Meek by Howie Schneider. I later discovered Pogo and ate up Doonesbury and Bloom County in high school and college. I also love comedy! 70s and 80s SNL, The Blues Brothers, Abbott and Costello.

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

I would make some of the projects I loved, like the animated feature Cats Don’t Dance, last years and years because I loved all the people and I loved the style of the film.  It was funny, cartoony animation, my favorite kind.

I do wish that I lived closer to some of my comic strip artist friends.  We speak a very specific language.  Brett Koth (creator of Diamond Lil) and I are two peas in a pod, but we unfortunately live 3000 miles apart. 

What work are you best-known for?

To my fellow animators, I am best known as a 2D animator.  At Pixar, I got on every 2D project going. (The short Your Friend the Rat, Ratatouille end credits, Wall-E end credits, and the short Day and Night.) To anyone else who might follow my webcomic, I would be known for Bear with Me.

What work are you most proud of?

My comic strip! I just love doing it and I feel good about it. I have been drawing Bear with Me (aka Molly and the Bear) for well over ten years.  I sort of rely on the strip to balance out my animation work.  It’s just a really important creative outlet, a place for me to be me.  

Got any big projects coming up?

By golly, I do!  I have a brand new strip compilation book coming out in February from Hermes Press, titled Bear with Me (it’s been a rough day). It is jammed packed with over 400 strips, peeks at my earliest attempts at making comic art, (yes, those embarrassing strips from when I was 14) and the obligatory “My Process” section.  It is a true labor of love, and Hermes is doing a spectacular job putting it all together.

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

I’m doing a Bear with Me graphic novel that I cowrote with my wife, Vicki Scott.  She’s an incredible artist and writer! She wrote and drew several Peanuts graphic novels such as It’s Tokyo, Charlie Brown for Boom Studios.  I am also pitching Bear with Me as an animated show.  Wouldn’t that be fun?  But mostly, I would love to keep doing the strip.

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

I have a lot of tools to get around writer’s block. Sometimes I’ll draw an entirely finished strip and write it afterwards. It’s a challenge but keeps my brain working. And it’s really fun! Sometimes a drawing will spark a strip, sometimes the writing comes first. Occasionally just walking away and coming back is the answer.

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

There’s never been a better time for an artist that wants to get there work out there.  Sure, there are fewer newspapers than when I was a kid, but I predict they will still be in business for a long time to come. Webcomics are the new kid on the block and they are here to stay. The creative energy in webcomics is really amazing. People are reinventing comic strips, changing the humor, expanding the formats. There has never been a more exciting time to be a cartoonist!

What cons do you attend?

As an exhibitor, I made the circuit of conventions along the West Coast a few years ago to promote my first compilation book Molly and the Bear.  The conventions for me are full of mixed emotions.  To go to San Diego Comic Con and watch what feels like a million people walk past my book without turning their heads was really depressing, but every once in a while, someone would stop and tell me they follow my strip every day and ask for a signature. Well, that made it all worth-while.  My wife never passes up a chance to travel, so she and I have gone to cons in Germany and France to sign Peanuts comic books that we’ve drawn. I even got to do a book signing in Strasbourg, France for my book Molly and the Bear.  That was really thrilling. 

What's your favorite thing about visiting DC?

 My family and I went to DC when I was about 14. We did the whole monument tour, and I remember seeing the Watergate Hotel.  Everything I knew about Watergate at that age I had learned from Doonesbury.  So, seeing the Watergate hotel was like seeing a celebrity!

Incidentally, I went to Cal Arts with political cartoonist and fellow animator Ann Telnaes. She is tearing it up at the Washington Post.   I love her work! She is the only Pulitzer Prize winner I know.  I tried my hand at political cartoons and I can say with absolute conviction that what she does is much harder than it looks!

What monument or museum do you like to visit?

Seeing the Lincoln Memorial was really terrific. Especially because it was in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. We visited the Smithsonian and that was incredible! I remember seeing Oscar the Grouch. See where I’m going here? My brain is all about movies and cartoons! Anything related to those two things is exciting to me. I have a one track mind.  

How about a favorite restaurant? 

My favorite restaurant in Washington DC?   McDonalds! I was 14. 

Do you have a website or blog?

Yes! You can find Bear with Me on



 and Instagram: bobscott_bearwithme 

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

I have been extremely fortunate that my family and loved ones are all safe and healthy. I am also lucky that the animation industry is humming along at nearly full speed. Vicki and I both have animation jobs and have been working from home. Thank God the technology is there to be able to do that. It has been stressful to see all of this unfold and to see so many people suffering right now.  I am just doing my part by staying home, wearing a mask when I go out and washing my hands like mad. I count our blessings and hope for everyone that it’s over soon.

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

A Chat with DC-Born Cartoonist Liza Donnelly

Liza Donnelly by Elena Rossini

by Mike Rhode

We're going to wrap up this crummy, lousy, bad year with an interview with an excellent, world-class, funny cartoonist to put a hopeful spin on starting 2021. The Washington Post ran an excellent article by Liza Donnelly earlier this year in which she pointed out that she was born in DC. With this hook, she's agreed to answer our usual questions.

What type of comic work or cartooning do you do?

I do a variety of things, but I am perhaps most known for my New Yorker cartoons.  These are typically single panel drawings with a caption below them, although I have done many for The New Yorker that are sequential and sometimes without captions.  For other publications, I have done comic-like narratives, and I do a lot of political cartoons as well. Some for The New Yorker, some for CNN, Medium, Politico and others.  Lately, I am the innovator of live digital drawing wherein I draw on my tablet and share immediately on social channels.  Sometimes it’s just a visual reportage, other times I offer my commentary in the drawing of what I am seeing. I have done this for a variety of outlets: New Yorker, CNN, CBS, Fusion, others.

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

I work in both digital and traditional pen and ink. It depends on the job. All of my New Yorker finished drawings are on paper with a crow quill pen and ink.  No Photoshop with those. I use an iPad for my digital work and sometimes enhance or fix with Photoshop.

When (within a decade is fine) and where were you born? What neighborhood or area did you live in?

I was born in 1955 in Washington and was raised near Chevy Chase Circle.

What is your training and/or education in cartooning? Did you leave DC for it?

I began cartooning when I was around 7 years old. I traced two cartoonists I liked— Charles Schulz and James Thurber.  So I am self-taught from early on. I left DC to go to college, and art study was only part of my plan. I went to the liberal arts college Earlham College and thought my career would be in biology (my other interest), but eventually my cartooning took over and I became an art major.  

Who are your influences?

 As I said, Schultz and Thurber.  But also Herblock, Garry Trudeau, Ben Shahn, Jules Feiffer, Dr. Seuss, WIlliam Stieg, Saul Steinberg, Claire Bretecher, Nicole Hollander, R.O Blechman.  There are many others, and many more New Yorker cartoonists.

Did you see any of the comics exhibits or talks that started appearing in DC as the Smithsonian, Corcoran or Kennedy Center in the late 1960s or early 1970s? If so, any memories to share with us?

Sadly, no.  But I do remember when Saul Steinberg had a big show at the Whitney (or was it the MoMA?) in the late 70’s. That blew me away that a cartoonist could be in a museum show.  I was happy that cartoons could be considered art.

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

I would not waste so much time worrying about whether I was good enough. And just draw!  

What work are you best-known for?

Probably my New Yorker cartoons, I have been there over 40 years and counting.  But now I am being known for all my work on social media, including my live drawing and I am known for being an early feminist cartoonist, although not the first of course. I draw and give talks about women’s rights a lot.

What work are you most proud of?

Getting into The New Yorker, particularly at age 24. I am also very proud of the book that I wrote, Funny Ladies: The New Yorker’s Greatest Women Cartoonists.  I am writing an updated version to be published next year.  I am proud to have brought the history of the women drawing cartoons to light.

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

I hope to continue at The New Yorker, but I really also want to develop my live drawing journalism.  I feel what I am doing is a way to look at the news in a fresh and innovative way, and I have been told by many of my fans that it is a rewarding and interesting way to experience the news. It’s hard to get the large outlets to hire me, but I keep pushing forward. I also am trying my hand at screenwriting.

What prompted you to compile a book on woman cartoonists? How do you feel the field has changed since you did that book? (for example, I see a lot of woman comic book/ graphic novel and web cartoonists now, even as the editorial cartoon field continues to be mostly white men.

I became aware of the notion that there weren’t many women in cartoon field when I was in college. Before that, I just wanted to be a cartoonist and gender was not on my mind.  This was at the tail end of the second wave of feminism, and I felt that equal rights was achieved pretty much, and didn’t examine my professional world very much.  Boy, was I misguided. As I said, I knew I was in the minority, but it wasn’t until 1999 when I was invited to be on a panel of women cartoonists at the American Association of Editorial Cartoonists (AAEC) convention (which I think was in DC that year).  There were five (I think) of us women at a table for the panel. I was not even a member of the AAEC, but they asked me to be on the panel because there were/are so few women drawing political cartoons. I was already doing some political cartoons for The New Yorker.  In preparation for the panel, along with sitting there and looking out into the room and seeing a standing-room only audience of male cartoonists—it struck me.  What is going on?  Why is it there are so few women doing this? I began my search for answers and it led to me writing Funny Ladies. I spent a year in the NYC Public Library researching the archives of the magazine going back to 1925 when it was founded.  The field has changed tremendously. There are so many more women drawing cartoons now, that is what inspired me to write a new edition of the book.

I'm very interested that you're doing a new edition of the book. How current are you going? Cartoon editor Emma Allen's added a lot of women to the roster. And are you including the web-site-only ones? 

I am being very current.  I will only interview a few women that are new since the old book, but will list everyone that's new. Not including online cartoonists, only in print ones.  It's a juggle, but that's my plan.

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

I do something else for a while, non-cartoon related.  It helps to put it down and return later.

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

I really don't know.  I think perhaps The New Yorker will go to an online version and continue to run cartoons, so that's good. Although online payment is much less than in print it is hard to make a living. Thankfully, graphic novels are very popular and I think that's the future of our craft--graphic narratives. 

What's your favorite thing about DC?

Growing up, I enjoyed being in the center of the political world. The monuments and museums are beautiful and I like being close to the ocean.  The diversity was also something I now realize I benefited from. Washington has an international feel to it, with all the Embassies, and I enjoyed that. I love the proximity to the Eastern Shore and the Delaware beaches.

Least favorite?

When I grew up in DC it was a heavily segregated city, and I hated that feeling.  I rode the bus a lot to get to downtown or school--there was no Metro back then-- but hated the car culture. Our neighborhood was just a block from the DC line with Maryland, but you had to drive everywhere to get groceries etc.

How often (pre-covid) do you get back?

I don't have family there anymore, so I go back every five years for my high school reunion, or for a political event. I live draw the ICFJ Gala every year, which I really enjoy, so that brings me back every year.

What monument or museum do you like to return to?

I love walking around the Mall and just soaking up the atmosphere, the history. All the museums are great.  My favorite museum in my teens was the Hirshhorn Museum. I interned when I was in college at the Natural History Museum, cleaning bat skulls and cataloguing South American rodents (my other love besides cartooning was biology and I thought that was the field I might end up in).  

How about a favorite local restaurant? Past or present or both.

Remember, I didn't live in DC as an adult. When I was a kid, we rarely ate out. But there was a fancy steakhouse downtown that we sometimes went to for special occasions, name forgotten.  There was a Chinese restaurant near Chevy Chase Circle where we used to get take-out from and sometimes eat there, called Peking Palace. I don't know if it's still there, but I loved it.  

 Do you have a website or blog?

Yes, and my illustrated column on Medium:

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

I have been lucky not to have been affected health-wise, and no one in my immediate life has either.  

Professionally, it has given me time to work on long-term writing projects and try some new ones. Also, because I can't go places and live draw, I began live drawing every day from my studio. I hold my phone over my hand and draw something and talk about it. During the pandemic, it made me feel connected to people and I was told the same by others and they said watching me was meditative.  I would talk about the pandemic and draw aspects of it, then Black Lives Matter, then the election. Sometimes it's an illustration of an event or people (George Floyd, for instance), sometimes a real political cartoon created in real time for my audience. It was and is therapeutic for me and I get a lot of drawings created while gaining new followers. I learned to loosen up as well and draw freehand in front of an audience, with no preparation. It is a combination of my political cartoons and my video reportage -- a new type of editorial cartooning, if you will, with commentary. I now do this each weekday on Instagram Live  (@lizadonnelly) and on a new startup called HappsTV, who approached me to work with them ( 

Liza can also be found at the following links.

New Yorker


12/30/20 9:30 PM - updated with question about current cartoonists in new book.

Saturday, December 19, 2020

Meet a Local Cartoonist: A Chat with Black Cotton writer Patrick Foreman

by Mike Rhode

I'd like to start by apologizing to Patrick Foreman for the late appearance of this interview. He responded quickly to our usual questions, but I dropped the ball and let it slip down my email page. So for bonus content, at the end of this interview, find a link to some other interviews with him about his upcoming Black Cotton comic, as well as the ordering page from Diamond's Previews.

Set in an alternate reality where the social order of “white” and “black” is reversed, an elitist family, the Cottons, are rocked by a tragic shooting that begins to unravel long standing family secrets that could not only destroy the family but also divide the fragile social climate of the world. Elijah Cotton, the modern patriarch of the Cotton family and business mogul of Black Cotton Ventures, tries to manage the public outrage and fallout from his police officer son, Zion Cotton’s, shooting of a young white woman. Meanwhile, Qia Cotton, the only daughter of Eljiah and the CEO of Black Cotton Ventures, attempts to assuage the situation by paying off the victim and her family; Xavier Cotton, the youngest Cotton and sophomore in high school, works on a history project that takes him down a rabbit hole of family history.

What type of comic work or cartooning do you do?

Brian and I are the creators and writers of Black Cotton, a comic book series published by Scout Comics.  Black Cotton is actually my first comic book writing project, while Brian has been writing for years and has several amazing issues coming out. He has a self-published comic called Don’t Ever Blink Chapter 2 on Kickstarter right now and Devil’s Dominion with BlackBox Comics comes out in December.

Overall, we have an amazing Black Cotton team with  art done by Marco Perugini, letters done by Francisco Zamora, and graphic design done by Jerpa Nilsson.

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

As a team, we do a combination of it all.

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

I was born in the 1970s,  in Crossett, Arkansas, but raised mostly in Virginia Beach.  In Arkansas, I lived in a very small town called Hamburg.  Many may lose their heads on hearing this (lol) - because another famous person who played basketball with Michael Jordan is from there too -- you know him, Scottie Pippen.  He is actually in my yearbook!  Our town was so small -- there was only one school at that time so when I was in kindergarten, he was in High School… Same school, same year book.

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

I got stationed at Quantico, VA back in 2014.  Then I retired after 25 years in the Marine Corps in 2018,  and the wife and I decided to stay here in Virginia.

 What did you do in the Marines?

I was a Career Planner.  So I helped the Marines make mutually beneficial decisions for themselves and their families while doing the same for the Marine Corps Institution.  It's basically the HR section for the Marine Corps. 
What is your training and/or education in cartooning?

I’m actually mostly a collector.  I grew up reading comics and from the start I would always buy two copies, one to read and one to put away.  I still enjoy comic books today  --the artwork, masterful storylines.  Brian has been one of the greatest teachers and mentors I have had throughout this process. He was able to take our conversation and layout a roadmap to where we are today.  Much Respect to Brian.

Who are your influences?

Definitely Dwayne McDuffie, Todd McFarlane.

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

I wouldn’t change a thing.  Everything I have gone through thus far has grown me to the person I am today… Led me to my beautiful wife and molded me for the future places before us.  Still learning and still growing – those things will always remain constant.

 What work are you best-known for?

Actually, I am best known for two things: my 2020 award winning gospel song “He’s Able" featuring David Scott and my magazine with Todd Dubose, Returning Citizens Magazine, which is currently viewed by more than 1.2 million Incarcerated Individuals daily across the nation.

What work are you most proud of?

I am most proud of Black Cotton.  Black Cotton is a world changer.   Black Cotton is a comic, yes, but it is also a mindset; it’s a mindset being explored in a comic.  The Black Cotton Mindset.

How did you start to work with Scout Comics?
Co-Creator Brian Hawkins has made some great connections throughout his career.  Meeting and becoming good friends with Brendan Deneen, the CEO of Scout Comics, was one of them.   We talked out several options about how to bring Black Cotton to the world and Brian mentioned Scout Comics.  We decided to show it to them and they loved it.  They came back saying they would love for us to join the Scout Family.  It was off and running from that moment forward. 

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

I would love to see Black Cotton on the TV screen.

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

I go play Ultimate Frisbee.  Nothing like a good game of Ultimate Frisbee to get the juices flowing and a great break from the grind.

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

I am looking forward to the evolution of comics.  I feel this Covid Era has given many a time to pause and go back to their creative stages.  We were so busy before that we didn’t have true time to just be creative – brainstorm, look at it – step away and come back.  We had hard deadlines to meet.  We have time now.  The question is what are they doing with that time?  These next few years will answer that question.

What's your favorite thing about DC?

The museums.

Least favorite?


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

The African-American Museum, but start at the bottom first though.  It is a lot to take in just one day.  It really is a two day venture.

Do you have a website or blog?
and BlackCottonComic on Facebook & IG.

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

I have been blessed during this time.  My wife and I are both retired Marines and both of us work for the federal government too, so with our jobs we were able to switch over to telework fairly easy.  I feel for the nation and cannot wait till we are looking back on this moment in our history.

 Preorder your copy from your LCS using Diamond Code DEC201650 from Scout Comics.

More interviews:

Interview: Brian Hawkins and Patrick Foreman Talk BLACK COTTON From Scout Comics
By AJ O. Mason
December 5, 2020

Two Scout Geeks
Lucky Ep #13 with Patrick Foreman and Brian Hawkins.

Interview with Brian Hawkins and Patrick Foreman (Creator of Black Cotton)
Bearded Comic Bro
Dec 16, 2020

That Indy Comics Guy
Nov 28, 2020