A T-Rex Graphic Novel

Ok, there was this thing a few days ago.


It was Christmas, and I got…


No. 😦

It wasn’t smooches.

It was a book.

It was The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl Beats Up the Marvel Universe!

With writing by Ryan North, creator of Dinosaur Comics.

And art by Erica Henderson, who has nothing to do with dinosaurs. But she draws goodly at other things.

Most excellent. It’s funny, witty, well-drawn and a great pastiche of a girl, her friends, her squirrels and her squirrel friends. Now available. It even has alt-text, when you hover your cursor finger over the page. Meaning, there’s educational stuff in it too, like, why you don’t throw discarded nuclear waste into volcanoes.

I recommend Squirrel Girl graphic novels to all my friends.
T-Rex says:

Two thumbs up?

Man Martin interview

I’ve gotten quite a few requests for an interview with Man Martin, creator of Inkwell Forest. And I’m pleased to give you this little present for the holiday season. So…

Man Martin’s Inkwell Forest appears daily at www.gocomics.com/inkwell-forest as well as on Facebook and Man’s blog, Man Overboard.

BC: How did you get into cartooning?
MM: I’m dyslexic and got off to a rough start in first grade. (My teacher thought I was cognitively impaired in an era when the word for cognitive impairment wasn’t so politically correct.) Fortunately, my mother was a special education teacher and tutored me in reading using Mad Magazine and “Peanuts” comics. (My introduction to the classics of literature was through Mad parodies, and I believed Linus van Pelt was based on me.)

(Early cartoon, “Facing Reality”, at age 7 or 8)

MM: For years my aspiration was to be a syndicated cartoonist. I got my break in the 80’s when Lew Little syndicated my strip “Sibling Revelry,” to some thirty papers around the country. Universal Press picked it up, but being a family strip, it was against pretty stiff competition – “Foxtrot,” “Calvin and Hobbes,” “One Big Happy,” “For Better or Worse,” and – of course – “Peanuts.” We were losing papers, and Lew suggested I launch a second strip; he even had a premise and a title: “Hasty Pudding;” it was to be about pre-Revolutionary America. I threw myself into the project and discovered a wealth of material sure to delight any satirist. The colonies were a hotbed of rivalry and competing self-interests: whites, native Americans, French, British, land-owners, working poor, proto-feminists, and African slaves. Lew was delighted with what I came up with, as well as Lee Salem – who was head honcho of Universal in those days. My opening strips were on the topic of slavery – which at before the Revolution was legal in all thirteen colonies, and Lew and Lee agreed I was handling the subject with wit, taste, and intelligence. Our debut paper was The Los Angeles Daily News. The day the strip premiered – featuring an exchange between an African slave and his owner – the Rodney King Riots broke out. Needless to say, I was dropped like a radioactive potato, and the strip I’d worked so hard on and had such hopes for, died an abrupt undignified death.

MM: After that I was heartbroken, simply heartbroken. I left cartooning – I thought forever – and became a schoolteacher, turning my creative energy to writing. I’m gratified that my two novels – Days of the Endless Corvette and Paradise Dogs – each garnered a Georgia Author of the Year Award. My third, The Lemon Jell-O Syndrome, comes out Spring 2017 from Unbridled Books.

BC: What made you start cartooning again?
MM: I began having dreams about drawing a strip. I’d wake up and think, “Maybe I should start drawing a strip again,” and then, “Nawww.” But eventually I decided to listen to my dreams, and I’ve been having a blast with it ever since.

(from Inkwell Forest)

BC: So what is “Inkwell Forest” about anyways?
MM: It started as a riff on traditional fairytales, but it’s grown to be more than that. The central characters are Little Red and her talking chicken, Alice, who claims to lay golden eggs. The cast is filled out with various giants, gnomes, mad scientists, dodos, and assorted weirdos. But really, it’s about anything that strikes me as funny. It’s completely anarchic. One of my characters is the Almighty himself, who appears as a little pyramid with a floating eyeball, and another is Boss Duck, a conflation of Donald Duck and another Donald, who I believe has made a name for himself in politics. I also guest-star on occasion.

(The studio)

BC: What’s your work schedule?
MM: I wake up really early, between 5:00 and 5:30 and come up with six ideas. (They don’t have to be good ideas, and most of them aren’t, but they’re the slag heap from which I select the ones I like.) Then I draw a rough before going to my day job. On weekends, I draw finishes and scan them in, and then I colorize them on weeknights. It’s hard to believe I’m a workaholic, but I guess I must be. I’ve got a wonderful set-up in my studio with my finishes and roughs hanging on wires around the wall so I can review, re-arrange, and revise them.

BC: If your strip had a soundtrack, what would it be?
I have very idiosyncratic taste in music, but I likes what I likes. I listen a lot to Caro Emerald, Katzenjammer, the Puppini Sisters, and Good Lovelies. If any members of any of the above groups happen to read this, I am your fan. I believe I could listen to “Demon Kitty Rag” or “Jilted” every hour on the hour without ever getting tired of them. I can’t listen to music when I’m coming up with ideas, but that’s my soundtrack when I’m drawing.

(from Inkwell Forest)

BC: How do you approach that blank page?
MM: It is the most frightening thing I have to do on a regular basis. This is not just idle talk. It is really frightening to lie in bed thinking I’ll have to get up in a few minutes and come up with some ideas and realize I have… nothing. It’s only a cartoon, I know, so it’s not like lives are at stake; still, it’s pretty unnerving and I never sit at my desk without a feeling of dread and creeping insecurity. Jim Davis, who created Garfield, compared the creative process to stepping into a dark closet, but really it’s more like climbing the ladder to the high dive and hoping there’ll be water in the pool when you jump.

BC: Which comics are you reading now?
MM: My favorite strips at the moment are Amanda the Great and Lio.

BC: Can you talk a bit about your books?
MM: Endless Corvette is a story of true love, the mystery of life, and car repair. After losing the love of his life, mechanic Earl Mulvaney convinces himself that if he will take apart and rebuild the same classic 1959 Corvette, over and over again, saving the leftover pieces each time, eventually, he’ll have enough parts to construct an entire car. In the slightly off-center world of Humble County, that sort of thing is barely possible.

MM: In Paradise Dogs, real-estate speculator Adam Newman has a sure-fire way to reunite with his estranged ex-wife. He will pour a dozen loose diamonds in her lap with the words, “Take your pick, darlin’, we’ll set it in a ring later.” Unfortunately, he loses the diamonds – or does he? Perhaps they have been stolen by agents of the shadowy Compass East organization, which Adam believes may be a front for a communist conspiracy.

MM: In the Lemon Jell-O Syndrome – coming this May – Bone King suffers from a mysterious neurological malady – at times he is unable to go through doors. He consults the eminent neurologist Dr. Limongello (pronounced Lemon Jell-O) who gives him a chilling diagnosis: his very soul is becoming detached from his brain.

(All artwork here has been reproduced with the permission of the artist. Copyright Man Martin (c) 2016.)
(This interview is the copyright (c) of Curtis H. Hoffmann 2016. It may not be reproduced in whole or in part without the permission of the author.)

Dog Eat Doug vol. 7 is out still in time for Christmas!

Brian Anderson’s seventh volume of Dog Eat DougBAK! in Black – is now available on Amazon.com ($2.87 for the Kindle version; $19.99 for the paperback).

This volume includes strips from 7/23/2012 to 8/10/2013, with the introductions of Timby (baby Tim Burton), the move to the new house, the introduction of the lake monster, and the adoption of the two cats, Chewy and Equinox.

The artwork is great, the set-ups are great and the jokes are great. A few readers on GoComics have said that they don’t like the cats, but I think that Chewy and Equinox are brilliant additions to the cast, and they allow Brian to go nuts on the doomsday device drawings.

Highly recommended. Go to Amazon and buy a copy, and help support the artist!

New Logo button!

Thanks to Greg Cravens, creator of Hubris and The Buckets, and all around great guy, Basket Case now has its own logo button!  If you’re an artist that BC has interviewed, and you’re willing to host this button on your GoComics page, linking to your interview, please contact me in e-mail. And be sure to tell Greg how great a guy he is when you see him next time. And buy his books. He likes that when people buy his books.


Amanda El-Dweek interview

I first learned about Amanda the Great when it was announced in November on the GoComics editor’s blog that AtG would be moving from Sherpa to the main site. Additionally, Amanda has been an active commenter here on Basket Case, and therefore I’d like to show my support to someone that has been supporting me. Amanda –

BC: Who are you?
AD: My name is Amanda El-Dweek, and I’m your friendly neighborhood cartoonist – creator of Amanda the Great on GoComics, and Shelly Fire on Tapastic.

(from Amanda the Great)

BC: What personal details do you think are relevant to readers to know about you?
AD: I was born and raised in northeastern North Dakota, and my husband and I live in western North Dakota. I went to college for visual arts, and earned a BFA in 2002 concentrating in printmaking and painting. I’ve worked in a kitchen, a gas station, a garage, briefly in the music department at UND as a workstudy, in healthcare for almost 11 years, a law office, and a dental office (for one month). So, at the tender age of 39, I’ve finally become an employed cartoonist. It’s as great as I always thought it’d be, which is pretty great.

BC: Do you consider yourself a cartoonist, an illustrator, an artist, or something else?
AD: I consider myself a cartoonist first and an artist second – if you mean the “fine arts”. I think “artist” is the generic blanket we all get placed under, which is fine by me.

(from Amanda the Great)

BC: How did you get your start as a cartoonist?
AD: I got started cartooning as a young child – I want to say maybe between the ages of 4 and 6 somewhere? Someone bought me a Garfield comic book, and that was it for me. I wanted to replicate that magic. I drew a comic about a man and his three cats (note the heavy Garfield influence), and then from there I drew all kinds of comics – family comics, cats, mermaid superheroes…all kinds!

(from Amanda the Great)

BC: How long have you been at this, and what do you think your biggest breaks were?
AD: So, thirty-some years I’ve been at the drawing board, but most of it probably wasn’t any good – haha! My biggest breaks are just starting – my comic “Amanda the Great” was just launched on GoComics.com. I’m trying to be cool about it, but I am hardly cool.

AD: I actually ran a version of Amanda the Great in the Dakota Student (the newspaper at the University of North Dakota) if you want to call that a “break”, but it was only for one semester in 2006 or 2007 (I can’t recall), and it was after I had graduated but was taking a class for S&Gs.

(Shelly Fire poster)

AD: When I used to work at the gas station in college, I was caught drawing in my sketchbook by a customer, and he really liked my stuff and asked if I’d do posters for his Fargo-based band. A local guy would take my originals to the band. He then asked if I’d draw posters for his own band, “Shelly Fire”. I created the Shelly Fire character from his description of what they wanted, and she was born. That was a good break!

(from Amanda the Great)

BC: What led up to your starting Amanda the Great, and do you have any other pokers in the fire right now?
AD: I had the concept of Amanda the Great years ago, but didn’t draw it with any consistency or fervor. I would draw it once in a while when inspiration would strike, or something happened at work that I needed to make fun of on paper. I think what led to me actually drawing a comic about myself (versus a fictional character) was that I felt that if I could work the things out on paper that were happening to me, it might help give me some perspective. I could draw it, and then observe it as if I were someone else reading the comic. I also feel that the person I know best in the world is myself (most days), and so it is easy to draw and write me as a character. The only challenge is, I can’t include everything in my life – sometimes things are too personal for me or for others in my life. That said, I try to include some things that I think people can relate to. It’s also a nice way to vent frustrations.

(from Shelly Fire)

AD: I have a couple other things I am working on. I have a webcomic – Shelly Fire – on Tapastic right now. I don’t post as often as I’d like, and I hope that changes. Shelly is in full color, as opposed to my preference to work in black & white. I forgot how long it takes to color a full page of comics!

(Shelly Fire)

AD: I’m also working on another comic strip, which I haven’t settled on a name for yet, and I’m still figuring out some things with it. I’m also supposed to be painting Shelly Fire on my dad’s motorcycle tanks. He had an extra set, so I’m practicing on those.

BC: Which of your works are you most happy with, or proud of?
AD: I’m probably the most proud of Amanda the Great, as it has been the most successful so far. I’ve met a lot of great people because of that comic strip, so that is priceless. But I am happy about Shelly Fire, and also the as-of-yet unnamed strip I’ve been working on, as they are kind of like my children. They all progress at different rates.

BC: Do you have anything on the market?
AD: I do not have any collections out yet, but that might be a project for the future!

(from Amanda the Great)

BC: How do you approach that blank sheet of white paper?
AD: I’ve never really had a problem with approaching the blank sheet of paper, inasmuch as Amanda the Great is concerned. I have a book that I write ideas and notes in, and sometimes I just wing it, but I always have an idea what I’m going to write because I’m writing my recent past. Shelly Fire is another matter – that’s fiction, and it’s trickier. I take that comic (Shelly) page by page. Amanda the Great I already know what’s going to happen!

AD: Now, when I’m trying to just draw something random, and for fun…then the blank paper is my Everest.

BC: If your strip had a soundtrack, what would it be?
AD: It’d be a wide range! There’d be some Beatles and Killers, a polka by Myron Floren, an old standard Catholic hymn, and then “Let Me Clear My Throat” by DJ Kool, and “Battle of New Orleans” by Johnny Horton, not to put too fine a point on it. There’d have to be some old Shelly Fire (the band, not the comic) jam music, too. However, I’ve drawn more comics to Paul Simon’s Graceland album than any other music. Great album.

(from Amanda the Great)

BC: Can you tell us a little more about AtG and SF?
AD: Background for Amanda the Great:
AD: It’s a comic about me, and the timeline starts in late 2012, when I was living and working in Grand Forks, ND. In the strip, I chronicle the final months of Dan’s and my engagement (we lived in separate towns, so you will notice we travel to see each other often), our wedding, and our “big” move. I deal with some personal things within the comic strip, such as my doubts, fears, medical things, etc. with alter egos – I have a younger version of myself, Young Amanda; My temper is a monster-like character called Angermemnon; and there are some future/past Amanda things I do. I try to stay away from Dan’s personal stuff, though it’s hard because his life and mine intersect, obviously. It’s tricky sometimes. I include my family in there (my grandpa, my uncle, and my parents so far), but nothing that would embarrass or hurt them. But the things that I write about are true, save for the alter egos, and some of the lines are even verbatim – some are not, but the overall situations are.

AD: Background for Shelly Fire:
AD: Shelly is a great character, because she can say the things I want to say but don’t say and won’t say. I tried to make her less like me, but when you’re writing characters, they will always have your voice, no matter what.

AD: Shelly lives in fictional Banal Lake, MN, as does her family. Her mother and father are divorced, and both remarried. She has three siblings, and two half-siblings. She doesn’t get along famously with most of them, except her mom, who she listens to.

AD: She is an afflicted person, in some ways. She can see her guardian angel – in a different way than Saint Padre Pio – but she isn’t seen as blessed, but rather, troubled. She also carries around her stuffed rabbit, St. Vincent de Paul, in her backpack, and consults him on different things. St. Vincent de Paul and Jude (the angel) disagree on a lot of things, which doesn’t help Shelly. Shelly can also see demons, masquerading as real people.

(from Amanda the Great)

BC: Who are your favorite artists/writers? Have you met any of them? Got any dirt on them?
AD: My favorite fine artists are some folks I know from college: Eric A. Johnson is a printmaker in Fargo, ND – we have a print he did with Star Wallowing Bull hanging in our home and it is gorgeous.

AD: My good friend Keith Dobranski draws (they look photo-realistic, which I envy), and does mods of Hero Clix in Regina, Saskatchewan – he did a custom build and paint of my character Shelly Fire – he probably has more dirt on me than I have on him!

AD: My drawing professor from college, Brian Paulsen – his work is first-class.

AD: Cartoonists: Kate Beaton (Hark! A Vagrant) – she is so talented! I started reading her comics when I worked at a law office a couple years ago, and I’d laugh right out loud until I was wheezy. I have never met her – maybe some day!

AD: I really like Wil Henry’s style (Wallace the Brave), and his strip is just…refreshing.

BC: Do you follow any other comic strips right now?
AD: I follow a lot of comic strips and webcomics! Among them: Batch Rejection, Inkwell Forest, My Son is a Dog, Something About Celeste, Candace ‘n’ Company, Mister and Me, Mike du Jour, Buni, Breaking Cat News, Francis, Zen Pencils, Jake Likes Onions, Hark! A Vagrant, Pooch Cafe, Luann, Perry Bible Fellowship, Pearls Before Swine, Fox Trot, …there are really too many to probably list but I read a lot of comics. Not all the comics, but a lot!

(from Amanda the Great)

BC: What do you look for when you read someone else’s strips?
AD: I’m not sure what it is specifically – I do like some drawing styles more than others, I love to pore over some comics (like Calvin & Hobbes, Cul de Sac) – but I mostly just enjoy being entertained, and I like to laugh. I gravitate more towards character-driven strips, but I honestly enjoy and read all kinds.

BC: What do you think makes for a good comic?
AD: From all the things I’ve read that other cartoonists have said is that good writing can carry bad art, but good art cannot carry bad writing. I agree with that. Being funny will always make for a good comic. Jokes that aren’t contrived, writing that doesn’t feel forced. But I like comics that are beautifully drawn, too. It’s a visual medium, after all. Not to gush too much about Kate Beaton’s “Hark! A Vagrant“, but the drawing matches the humor, and it’s just a perfect amalgamation.

(from Amanda the Great)

BC: Do you use Patreon or Kickstarter? Do you want to plug your site?
AD: I do not use any fund-raising sites as of right now. However, I feel like they are allowing people to earn a living from webcomics, and that is fantastic!

AD: I have sites to plug, though!
Amanda the Great on Gocomics
Shelly Fire on Tapastic
My website

BC: Do you have any projects coming up? Appearances scheduled for conventions?
AD: My projects are continuing producing Amanda the Great strips, Shelly Fire, and finalizing the new (unnamed) comic strip. I want to try my hand at editorial comics, but I don’t want to get ahead of myself here. I do not have any appearances for conventions – yet!

BC: Are you up for Shelly Fire bike tank meta jokes?
AD: To answer your question about the motorcycle tank, I might put it in the background of a comic someday to be funny, yeah!

(All artwork here has been reproduced with the permission of the artist. Copyright Amanda El-Dweek (c) 2016.)
(This interview is the copyright (c) of Curtis H. Hoffmann 2016. It may not be reproduced in whole or in part without the permission of the author.)

Current Status – Updated Dec. 18

Dec. 18) Sorry about the lag in posts. Just to keep you updated – I’ve got four interview requests that seem to have disappeared into the ozone, so I have to assume that those artists are busy with their own work and are focusing on that. I’ve got another 4 requests out where I’ve sent the questions, but I’m waiting for a response on three of those. I’m close to posting one interview right now; all I have to do is add the follow-up answers and the links to the artwork, then get the artist’s approval on the final version of the interview. I might be able to post it on Wednesday.

I got swamped with work (which comes and goes, given that I work on contract), plus we’ve got the big holidays coming up and the artists are going to be busy with that for 2-3 weeks. After that, I’ll knuckle down and start sending out mass requests to other artists again. I still want to have a 3-4 week backlog of interviews, but I may drop back to a 2/week release schedule so the readers don’t get swamped with interviews they don’t have time to read.

Plus, I have one announcement for a new e-book release that I’m excited to make, as soon as I get the ok from the artist, which may be in a couple days. Stay tuned.

I know this post is “off topic,” not having anything to do with the interviews, but for anyone that wants to know what the status of the site is, here’s a little background info until things get back up and running.

As I mentioned before, I had a kidney stone back at the beginning of November. As part of the routine follow-up health checks, the doctor discovered that I had a polyp in my intestine, and he “strongly suggested” that I get it removed soon. So, at 8 AM on Tuesday my time, I went back to the hospital to get that done. If you’ve never had a polyp removed before, there are a few steps you need to take to prepare first to thoroughly clean your intestines out, and this takes about 3-4 hours. After that, you’re going to be going without food for about 1.5 days, so the nurses stick a needle in your vein to give you an IV drip (it’s also used to administer the pain relievers and muscle relaxants for during the operation). In my case, the nurse kept missing the vein in the back of my forearm, so he resorted to using the vein in the back of my left hand.

The operation itself went by fast, and I never really felt like the pain relievers kicked in. But, I was a bit punchy after getting off the operating table, and was really low energy for the rest of the afternoon. I was put on the IV then, and I spent the rest of the day in a hospital bed, since the doctor wanted to keep me for one day for observation to make sure the polyp site was cauterized properly and there was no bleeding afterward. I was put in a common room with 4 other guys, so I kept the curtains pulled closed and I spent the time playing Sudoku, reading manga and listening to synthesizer music on my MP3 player.

That evening, the nurse brought in dinner trays for the other patients, while I was left on the IV drip. They turned the lights out in the room at 9 PM, but each bed had an overhead light and a TV. There was NOTHING on TV worth watching at ANY time, so I played Sudoku a bit more and turned the light out to go to sleep. Unfortunately, there were two problems. First, the IV needle was in the back of my left hand. That meant I couldn’t bend the hand at all. This meant that during the entire night, I had to be really aware of where my hand was, make sure that I didn’t roll over on the IV tube, or roll over on my hand. Second, three of the other guys in the room snored. LOUD. All night. I got maybe three hours of sleep, total. When I did manage to drift off, the nurse would come in to change my IV bag, and the movement of the drop tube would wake me up. When I got bored enough of not being able to sleep, I’d play Sudoku some  more (I had a magazine filled with Sudoku puzzles), then try to go to sleep again.

At 7 AM, the doctor came into the room, asked me if my stomach hurt, and if there was any blood discharged when I used the toilet. I said “no” to both questions, and the nurse came back to remove the needle from my hand, and gave me a regular breakfast (a small salad, miso soup, a poached egg and a bowl of rice porridge). I was allowed to check out of the hospital at 10 AM, but I had to make another appointment that morning with a kidney doctor to get the test results from the stone (he said it was made up of calcium, which is the most common cause, probably due to bone loss). I got home at noon, and spent the next few hours napping. Then I had to go to the English school to teach two classes at 7 and 8 PM. The rest of Wednesday evening was spent on dinner, catching up on e-mail, and processing photos I took for another blog.

It’s now Thursday noon my time, and I have 3 more classes to teach, at 2:30 PM, 6:30 and 8 PM. The problem is that I have to walk half a mile to the school, and the doctor considers that to be at the limits of how much exercise I can get per day (no alcohol or hard exercise for 1 week). So, I’m not going to be able to return home during the break between classes. Friday and Saturday are going to be similar. This just leaves me with a couple hours a night to keep catching up on e-mail and other things, between now and Sunday (to complicate matters, an on-line translation company wants me to proofread a document over the weekend, due Monday morning).

I’m hoping to start replying to comments here on Basket Case, and to start sending out questions to artists either tonight or tomorrow, but I won’t be able to start posting finished interviews here for maybe another week. Thanks for your patience.

Scott Meyer interview

You want information? I’ve got your information right here. Or, rather, I’ve got instructions, and they’re more in the direction of over there. For those of you with long memories (or google search), Scott is the guy that John “Last Kiss” Lustig likes (in a Platonic kind of way). (John likes Plato in a platonic way, too, so who am I to judge?)

BC: Who are you?
SM: I am Scott Meyer, creator of the web comic Basic Instructions, and the author of the Magic 2.0 series of novels, along with Master of Formalities and The Authorities.

(Basic Instructions)

BC: What personal details do you think are relevant to readers to know about you?
SM: I’m originally from a tiny little farming community in eastern Washington state. I made a living as a stand-up comic for over a decade, and more recently I was a front-line cast member at Walt Disney World.

BC: Can you elaborate a little on the Walt Disney World gig? Was that more stand-up, or did you have to wear the Mickey outfit?
SM: I did a few jobs, all stuff where I dealt directly with the guests. The best job I had there was as a ride operator at The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror.

BC: Do you consider yourself a cartoonist, an illustrator, an artist, or something else?
SM: I consider myself a writer. I figured out a way to fake the ability to draw, but it was primarily as a means of getting my words and ideas out in front of people.

(Basic Instructions)

BC: How did you get your start as…?
SM: As a comedian, a cartoonist, and a novelist, I got my start in exactly the same way: I just showed up and started doing it for free. In stand-up, you don’t get your first paying gig until you’ve put in a lot of time at open-mic nights where nobody really wants to hear from you, let alone give you any money. As a web cartoonist, you have to start producing the comic and putting it out there on the internet well before anybody knows you’re doing a comic at all, let alone whether they like it or not. When I wrote my first novel, I had to write the entire thing, which is months of work, before I had anything to show to anybody, let alone anything good enough to try to sell for money.

SM: I can’t speak for anybody else, but all of my greatest successes have come from finding something I’d be willing to do for free, then doing it for free until somebody else decided that they were willing to pay me to do it.

BC: What do you think your biggest breaks were?
SM: The biggest single break I have received, in any of my careers, was when Scott Adams (the creator of Dilbert) decided to point out my comic to his readers. I was slowly building a following on my own already, but he turbo-charged the process. I’ll never know if I would have done as well as I have without his intervention.

(Basic Instructions)

BC: What led up to your starting Basic Instructions, discontinuing that, then writing your Magic 2.0 books, and do you have any other pokers in the fire right now?
SM: I started Basic Instructions as a feature to draw people to my website when I was a stand-up comic. Then I burned out on stand-up, and Basic Instructions became my primary creative outlet. I discontinued Basic Instructions because after 12 years it was getting harder and harder to come up with ideas for it, and I was repeating myself. Literally. I wrote and drew an entire comic, and only as I was finishing up realized that it was an almost complete copy of a comic I’d done years before. I took that as a bad sign.

SM: I wrote Off to Be the Wizard while I was doing the comic, and I did it for a few reasons. I’d always wanted to write a novel, I had what I thought was a good idea, and I realized that thanks to the tools that are available now, it’s surprisingly easy to publish a book. The self-published author these days can produce and publish a novel for almost no money and make it available in the world’s largest international bookstore on an equal footing with classics and professionally published best sellers. The hard part is marketing it, but thanks to Basic Instructions, I had a ready-made audience I could advertise to just by typing a few words and a link beneath my comic.

SM: As for what irons I have in the fire now, I do have a new novel coming out soon. More on that in a bit.

BC: Which of your works are you most happy with, or proud of?
SM: It depends on what day you ask me. I’m very proud of how the Magic 2.0 books have turned out. I’m also proud of how many Basic Instructions comics I managed to crank out without the quality flagging too much.

BC: Where can readers find your books?
SM: All of my Basic Instructions compilations and all of my novels are available on Amazon. The novels are also available as audiobooks on Audible.

(Basic Instructions)

BC: How do you approach that blank sheet of white paper when you decide to start your next strip, panel or story?
SM: I try not to be afraid of it. There are always days when the ideas flow easier than others, but even on my worst days I am aware that I am tremendously lucky to get to do this stuff. It’s a privilege and a challenge, not a chore. If I have a day when I feel like all of my ideas are garbage, I go ahead and use the ideas anyway. I am not in favor of creating garbage, mind you, but I don’t have to release what I create unless I’m happy with it, and I figure it’s better to try to make something out of what I have than to sit there producing nothing. Believe it or not, I created some of my better comics that way.

BC: If you went back and started Basic Instructions over from scratch, is there anything you’d do differently?
SM: I’d probably draw it in a more conventional manner. When I started the comic I thought I was being clever, getting out of the hard work of learning to draw better. After two years it occurred to me that by that point I probably would have been much better at drawing, and as such actually drawing things would have been easier and would have given me more freedom than still taking photos and tracing over the top of them.

(Basic Instructions)

BC: If your strip or the books had a soundtrack, what would they be?
SM: The soundtrack of the strips would be They Might Be Giants. The books would all sound different. The wizard books specifically might be a selection of pieces from the scores of Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings movies played by a small, incompetent high school band.

BC: Who are your favorite artists/writers? Have you met any of them?
SM: It will surprise nobody who has read my books (or probably my comic either) that Douglas Adams was a huge big deal to me, and I did get to meet him! I attended a reading he did at the University of Washington. I wasn’t a student there, but I got in. Anyway, this was the early nineties, and the guy ahead of me in the book signing line afterwards asked Douglas Adams to sign his copy of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy not with his signature, but with his e-mail address, and Adams did it! I would have asked for the address too, but I didn’t have e-mail at that point.

(Basic Instructions)

BC: Do you follow any other comic strips right now?
SM: Savage Chickens and Scenes from a Multiverse, because they are both really, really funny.

BC: What do you look for when you read someone else’s strips?
SM: That they are consistently funny, in a way that surprises me. I have trouble stopping my brain from trying to figure out where a joke is going or where a story is headed, and I’m always happy if the person who made the comic thinks of something that didn’t occur to me.

(Basic Instructions)

BC: What do you think makes for a good comic?
SM: That’s in the eye of the beholder. For every successful comic there are people who will tell you that it’s great, and many people who will tell you that it’s crap. That’s why, if you think what you’re doing is good, it’s worth putting it out there and giving it a shot. You just might find your audience, and if you don’t, you’ll learn something.

BC: Do you use Patreon or Kickstarter?
SM: I actually cobbled together my own subscription system a few months before Patreon launched, and it was a total game changer. The steady, predictable income my readers provided allowed me to go part-time at my day job, which allowed me to write my first novel. If you have a comic and a steady following, I strongly recommend giving the subscription model a shot.

(Basic Instructions)

BC: Have you gotten feedback from anyone on a specific Basic Instruction that would make for a good anecdote? (Like, has anyone from NASA told you they put a BI strip on the refrigerator on the ISS?)
SM: I did a comic about the show Ace of Cakes that ended up getting printed out and posted in a prominent spot in the bakery on the show. It’s visible in quite a few episodes. I also heard from one of the people on the show, who was very nice about it. The comic ended up getting reprinted in the foreword of the Ace of Cakes book.

BC: Do you want to plug your site?
SM: While I am no longer creating new comics, I am rerunning all of my past comics on my website, basicinstructions.net. I have three Facebook pages (Off to Be the Wizard, Basic Instructions, and Scott Meyer), and those have oddly become the place where things get updated most frequently.

BC: Do you have any projects coming up? Appearances scheduled for conventions?
SM: I don’t have any plans on the books at the moment to attend any conventions, but I’m certainly not against it. As for future projects, I have a new novel coming out in June 2017 (If things go according to plan) called Run Program, about the rise of artificial intelligence.

(Basic Instructions)

BC: Want to let Missy plug her books, too?
SM: Sure! My wife has also written two novels that I think are awfully good (and the 4.5 star amazon review averages seem to agree) called We Could be Villains and Unsung Villains.

(All artwork here has been reproduced with the permission of the artist. Copyright Scott Meyer © 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.)

Brian Anderson’s Newsletter

There’s an interesting dichotomy regarding people that read webcomics, particularly with strips running on GoComics. On the one hand, you have readers that go directly to the artist’s main page to see the new strips as they come out, and on the other there are those that refuse to stay up to date, preferring to read the strips on GoComics several months later.

In general, the artists would prefer you to visit their main site(s), to get the latest news and to possibly click on their tip jar buttons. The point though, is that the main sites have a community that’s (emotionally) closer to the artists, and occasionally those artists reward their more ardent fans with things that no one else learns about (such as unreleased artwork, pencil sketches, or discussions of what goes on behind the scenes of the strip).

One case in point is Brian Anderson’s The Conjurers page. Brian is the creator of The Conjurors, and Dog Eat Doug (and, I interviewed him on Oct. 10th). He has a beautiful art style, he loves things like Hell Boy, Pan’s Labyrinth, and Batman, and he sneaks references to what he likes into Dog Eat Doug. It becomes a game, trying to identify which toy Doug is playing with now. You can find his author profile here on Amazon.

(Cover of the Everyday is Sunday ebook PDF version. Copyright (c) 2016 Brian Anderson.)

Now, the point of all this. Brian put together an e-book collection of some of his favorite DeD Sunday strips under the title Everyday is Sunday. These are the really good ones that ran between 2013 and 2016, with the newspaper title panels removed so that you can read the rest of the strip more easily. 72 pages of pop references, alien cats, and hyper-imaginative dog and human babies. Free for a very limited time, to subscribers of Brian’s newsletter.

What are you waiting for?