I was surfing through the GoComics index of strip titles when Melissa Lomax’s Doodle Town caught my eye. This is not your regular run-of-the-mill comic strip, in that it’s more a series of doodles with accompanying text. The doodles are whimsical, and often are autobiographical. Additionally, Melissa will make comments on other strips that she likes, which is a lot more interactive than most other artists get. She started running Halloween-themed drawings during October, which figured in perfectly for the Oct. 31st interview.
BC: Who are you?
ML: Hi! My name is Melissa Lomax. I’m a full time greeting card artist and have been working in the industry for almost twenty years… wow, I really can’t believe that! However, my first and longest creative-passion is illustration/doodling and the art of story telling. On a personal note, last October my boyfriend, Christian Patchell, and I got married! We’ve been together for a long time and I feel very blessed because he’s the love of my life as well as one of my best friends. In my personal-comic ‘Doodle Town’ he is affectionately referred to as ‘Patch the Pups’. Patch is also an artist and cartoonist, which makes spending time together that much more fun!
BC: What personal details do you think are relevant to readers to know about you?
ML: I’ve been living in Philly since I graduated from the University of the Arts with my BFA in Illustration. When I moved into the city I found it to be very creatively inspiring and energizing. I still consider myself a bit of a ‘country mouse’ because my sister and I were born in Nebraska (mom was midwestern) and later my family moved to North Carolina (dad was southern). I’m not sure why that’s so important… I guess both places are beautiful in their own unique ways and made an impression on how I see things today. I’m also an ‘old soul who’s a kid at heart’ and I look back at my childhood with a lot of nostalgia and gratefulness. I’ve been drawing, doodling and cartooning since I was a very little girl. I found that by being creative I could “make my own fun,” and because of that, there would never be room for boredom! I also tend to have a positive-outlook on most things, and Patch and I try to find the ‘Silver Linings’ when times get tough. On that note, unfortunately, I lost both of my parents early in life. I do feel like they live on in our memories, our actions and now though my artwork. Whenever I get the chance, I like to write and draw about the people who mean the most to me! It’s an honor to have a place like GoComics to share these personal stories.
BC: Do you consider yourself a cartoonist, an illustrator, an artist, or something else?
ML: I guess because I like variety, I don’t totally define myself, but overall I’m mostly an illustrator and a cartoonist. It seems like all of the artistic things that I do for a living and for enjoyment inspire one another!
BC: How did you get your start as an illustrator?
ML: A year after I graduated from college in 1997, I landed a job in a greeting card studio where they primarily designed Christmas cards. I agreed to the interview thinking that they only needed an intern but was thrilled to find out that it was a paid full-time ‘junior artist’ position! This is the company where I also met Patch and we became best friends. It was definitely a life-changing experience for me! Ever since that job, I’ve been illustrating/designing greeting cards in some form or another.
ML: My career as a cartoonist took flight when I discovered ‘Doodle Town’. It started as a Valentine’s Day gift for Christian aka Patch. I doodled myself as a cat, Patch as a dog, and tried to capture some of our funniest and sweetest moments together. A year later, the gift sparked an idea for a handmade book called “Summer with You.” Patch and I took the book to the Small Press Expo in Baltimore during 2013, where Shena Wolf (the Acquisitions Editor at Universal Uclick) visited our table and took an interest in my work! I knew something “magical” was about to happen, but I wouldn’t fully realize the potential until I was posting biweekly on the GoComics site!
BC: What led up to your starting Doodle Town, and do you have any other pokers in the fire right now?
ML: (Since I spoke about my start to Doodle Town I’ve included some other fun-things currently happening.)
Along with posting Doodle Town twice a week I’ve also been doodling creepy-cute artwork for #inktober, which is posted each day of the month in October. You can see all of this artwork on my Instagram: melissalomaxart, my site, or my FaceBook. It’s been really fun because I’m coming up with all sorts of weirdo-characters. Patch and I put together a book several years ago based on drawings like this called ‘Pretty Creepy‘. We plan on making a second book with our Halloween doodles called ‘Pretty Creepy Too‘ in 2017. Also in December, stay tuned online for my cheery Christmas doodles under the hashtag #decemberdoodle
BC: Do you have any collections on the market yet?
ML: Not at this time but funny you should ask, recently I’ve been thinking about collecting Doodle Town into a book!
BC: How do you approach that blank sheet of white paper when you decide to start your next doodle?
ML: Luckily I keep a folder that’s filled with idea starters. A lot of my concepts are thoughtfully written out on sheets of paper but I also have random post-it notes with two or three words scrawled on them as reminders! Sometimes a concept will come to me in the middle of the day, on my drive home from work or as I’m getting into bed. Because my comic is based on the ‘everyday’… inspiration is everywhere!
BC: If your strip had a soundtrack, what would it be?
ML: I grew up on a wide range of music! So I would hand select tunes from… 1940’s swing-bands, 1950’s Oldies, 1970’s Classics, 1980’s everything, 1990’s Old School Rap & Grunge as well as some Indie Music from the last few years!
BC: Who are your favorite artists/writers?
ML: I’d like to take this opportunity to mention two children’s book artists that I found extremely inspirational as a child and that still motivate me to this day!
ML: Beverly Komoda illustrated a magical book called ‘Jellybeans for Breakfast.’ Her whimsical style fits the story perfectly and in all sincerity, that book made me want to become an illustrator! To boot, Beverly and I have become FaceBook friends… it’s like a dream come true for the seven year old me!
ML: My other longtime favorite is the children’s illustrator, Richard Scarry. I thought it was so neat that he used animals instead of people to tell stories. And within books such as the ‘Best Storybook Ever‘ he illustrated short stories that felt like mini-comics to me. He also drew cross-sections of buildings and houses… I always loved seeing what was happening ‘behind closed doors’!
BC: Do you follow any other comic strips right now?
ML: I’m following a lot a great artists on the GoComics site. A few of my favorites right now are:
‘Sarah’s Scribbles‘ by Sarah Andersen. I like her loose style and honest self-deprecating humor!
‘Poorly Drawn Lines‘ by Reza Farazmand. This comic is a little odd-ball and it almost always makes me laugh out loud!
‘Winston‘ by Andrew Hart. Andrew is a friend of mine and a fellow member of the Philadelphia Cartoonist Society. I like to think of his strip as a dark comedy and I find myself smiling every time I read it!
‘Jim Benton Cartoons‘ is amazing, his artwork so up my alley and his sense of humor and irony are unparalleled!
BC: What do you look for when you read someone else’s strips?
ML: When I read someone else’s strip I like seeing a unique perspective and fun style… also I’m a total nerd for puns, so that always helps!
BC: What do you think makes for a good comic?
ML: I enjoy reading all kinds of comics but my favorite stories are either personal-comics like the works of Craig Thompson (among many others) or all-ages adventure and mystery based stories like books by Aaron Renier. I’ve met both of these guys at conventions and they were super-nice. That always makes the comic that much better for me!
BC: Do you use Patreon or Kickstarter? How do you think they are changing the face of webcartooning?
ML: I’ve been considering a Patreon or a Kickstarter lately. I think it might be a good way for me to slowly grow my audience and down the road, be able to do even more of what I love to do the most! I like the idea that the public can support what they are passionate about and receive special bonuses and personal offers from artists that they appreciate. Since my comic started as a gift… I would love to keep that going!
BC: Do you have any projects coming up? Appearances scheduled for conventions?
ML: It’s been pretty busy lately but it’s a dream of mine to start collecting some of my Doodle Town comics and random doodles into a book. I’d love to be able to tell some longer stories and maybe include some activities as well. I guess I’m hoping if I put this in writing, it will commit me to making it happen!
ML: Because we were planning a DIY wedding last year, conventions were pretty hard to fit in but Patch and I are looking into some smaller conventions and craft shows for 2017. I’ll keep you up to date on events on my GoComics page and will definitely be posting these shows (once scheduled) on social media.
ML: Thank you for the opportunity to do this interview, it was a pleasure and you were a wonderful host!
(All artwork here has been reproduced with the permission of the artist. Copyright Melissa Lomax © 2016.)
(This interview is the copyright © of Curtis H. Hoffmann 2016. It may not be reproduced in whole or in part without the permission of the author.)
Poll: Did you get enough candy for Halloween this year?