If you’re not familiar Andrew Hart’s Winston, Winston is a young boy trying to make his way through life. His father was an inventor, but not a particularly good one. Through a series of bad choices, he put his wife and son into financial ruin and they had to find a new place to live, and basically just survive. Winston himself is a product of his father’s work (hence the wheels for feet). His best friend is a crow named Kingsley. His mother’s constant companion is a big, green hobo-like manifestation of her despair, aptly named “Gloom”. I love the dark humor of the strip, which is leavened with a twisted “up side”. The artwork is simple and clean, and the characters are easily identifiable.
BC: Do you consider yourself a cartoonist, an illustrator, an artist, or something else?
AH: I consider myself a cartoonist because all my artwork always comes back to cartooning.
BC: How did you get your start as a cartoonist?
AH: It took awhile. I had two previous comic strips that, over the years, I submitted to the big five syndicates, that were rejected. It was an evolution combined with a burst of inspiration that created Winston.
BC: How long have you been at this, and what do you think your biggest breaks were?
AH: I worked at cartooning off and on over a decade or so. When one door closed, I looked for another. I spent years as a graphic designer and illustrator. Even tried writing my own children’s book. As for cartooning, I’d say my first big break was drawing political cartoons for the Democrats for Education Reform. It was a great gig and my readership was all “in the Beltway.”
BC: What led up to your starting Winston, and do you have any other pokers in the fire right now?
AH: The City Paper held a Philadelphia comic strip contest and I wrote the first Winston as my submission. Even though my comic was not selected, I liked the idea enough to keep tooling with it. There are no other pokers in the fire. I feel any artistic capital I have right now should be invested in Winston.
BC: Which of your works are you most happy with, or proud of?
AH: Aside from Winston, some my favorite pieces are the travel journals I’ve drawn over the years. It’s the spontaneity of these works, written on the fly during vacations, that I believe is a strong representation of the trip. An excerpt of one of these can be viewed here: andre-whart.blogspot.com/2015/03/the-italian-journal.html
BC: Do you have any collections on the market yet? Where can readers find them?
AH: In college I co-founded a group called “The Philadelphia Cartoonist Society.” It’s an active group of local cartoonists supporting each other’s individual projects as well as combining our talents for group events. We’ve published three books as a collective and I believe Book 1 is available through Amazon. (Books 1 and 2 are available at the moment.)
BC: How do you approach that blank sheet when you decide to start your next strip?
AH: By the time I sit at the drawing table, the idea is already formed and ready to be executed.
BC: If your strip had a soundtrack, what would it be?
AH: Probably West Coast Jazz. I like to listen to instrumental music when I draw. Lately the list has included Weather Report, Takuya Kuroda, and Miles Davis’ “In A Silent Way.”
BC: Do you follow any other comic strips right now?
AH: I actually don’t read any comic strips but I am reading Hellboy and Moebius.
BC: Which Mobius book are you reading? What appeals to you about it? I loved The Air Tight Garage, back in the 80’s, but it seems that modern webcomic audiences in the U.S. have less tolerance for that type of storytelling. And, why Hellboy?
AH: I’m reading Moebius’ Garden of Edena. The reason for reading this and Hellboy is this; Graphic Novels are a genre that I’ll never undertake. I can admire them and appreciate them without critical or self-evaluation.
BC: What do you think makes for a good comic?
AH: I think a good comic strip creates a unique world or place. And a well-written strip isn’t just a simple gag with a twist of irony, but is more thoughtful than it appears. I’m still working at both these concepts. I think it’s a journey and a self-realization that leads to this. It’s not just drawing, but becoming a writer as well.
BC: Do you use Patreon or Kickstarter? How do you think they are changing the face of webcartooning?
AH: I can’t say I’m in touch with the digital cartooning landscape.
(All artwork here has been reproduced with the permission of the artist. Copyright Andrew J. Hart (c) 2017.)
(This interview is the copyright (c) of Curtis H. Hoffmann 2017. It may not be reproduced in whole or in part without the permission of the author.)