Episode 19 – The Amy Lago Show

Tom and Justin do a phone interview with super-editor to the stars; Amy Lago of the Washington Post Writers Group . She handles Berke Breathed and Brian Crane to name a couple, and has helped launch Darby Conley, Stephan Pastis, and Jef Mallett. Amy lets us in on what an editor does and how we can help her help us! She also has some advice to aspiring cartoonists and some essential tips when preparing their submissions. Amy also shares with us three brand new comics that she and the WPWG are launching.
They are:
Watch Your Head” by Cory Thomas ,
Little Dog Lost” by Steve Boreman , and
It’s All About You” by Tony Murphy .
So check those new comics out, tell us what you think at the Comics Coast To Coast forum.

We really hope you enjoy the show.

This week’s “You’ve Got Some ‘Splainin’ To Do” is the October 8th Mary Worth, and was pointed out to us by Danny Burleson of The Blog Comics.com . Thanks for that, Danny. You can find it in our forum . “What the…?”

Tom’s Webcomic Pick of the Week is XKCD

So all of you aspiring professional cartoonists out there, get a pad and take a few copious notes.


These are the Comics Coast To Coast guys comics:

A Mission Deep by Brian Dunaway

Myth Tickle by Justin Thompson

Booksmarts by Tom Racine
Continue reading “Episode 19 – The Amy Lago Show”

Episode 18 – The Stephan Pastis Followup

On this show Tom takes a breather, and Justin sits down with Stephan Pastis of Pearls Before Swine and asks him to comment on the Berke Breathed interview (see show #17). You’ll really love this interview, it’s very silly at times, engaging and informative. He’s quite a guest.

I also talk to Lex Fajardo of Kid Beowulf for about 5 minutes because I had some questions about the lucrativeness, or futility of this whole web/independent press/cartoonist thing.
Prepare to have second thoughts!
This show contains a lot of material for the cartoonist who’s trying to swim for the top.
So get a pad, a pen, and prepare to take notes.

Check out our web comic pick of the week: The Perry Bible Fellowship .

Buy Stephan’s new Pearls Before Swine collection: The Sopratos .

A Mission Deep by Brian Dunaway

Myth Tickle by Justin Thompson

Booksmarts by Tom Racine
Continue reading “Episode 18 – The Stephan Pastis Followup”

The Berkeley Breathed Interview


1.  Mr. Breathed, no cartoonists succeeds on his first try. How many tries did it take you to get a syndicate to green light Bloom County? How long did you spend developing it?

In 1979 I sent my college strip Academia Waltz to four syndicates.   Rejected.   I went back to school for a year.   Months later, The Washington Post Writers Group calls.   An editor in the paper was sent a few copies of the strip by her son.  Found its way to the syndicate.   A year later I was debuting in about 20 papers.  A year after that I was in 200.   A year later about 500.  That's the story in all it's non-dues paying glory.

2. Given the state of newspaper syndication now, where do you see comic strips going in order to be viable or even survive?  Will newspapers themselves survive in the next 10-20 years?

I love newspapers.   I love the newsrooms, the people, opening big sheets of news during my lunch.   But you tell me if it's not beginning to sound very, very, very strange that people open slabs of smashed tree pulp to read news that was old 12 hours ago.   I am saddened.   Things change.  The comic strip as we know it now will go with them as they change into something that is… different.

I hope the web can figure out how to get really large numbers of fans to a particular strip.  It is the only hope.. and things change.

I read the tech columnist for Newsweek blather on about how glorious the coming age of web cartoons were to be:  all democratic, banish the dreaded controls of editing and syndicates blah blah blah shut up.   He left out something:  In 1980 I had a circulation readership of about 70 million Americans across the country.   Web strips are lucky to find over a couple of thousand readers right now.  The future for web comics?   See M for Music Industry.   Won't be anymore Calvin and Hobbes, just as there won't be another Rolling Stones.   Diversity of niches and markets sounds good.  But there was something warm and cozy –and downright thrilling– to know that the Peanuts strip you were amused at on any given Monday in 1970 was also being enjoyed by an entire culture at that very moment… in the hundreds of millions.   Alas.   Adieu.

3. Do you think a cartoonist just starting out in newspaper syndication today has much of a chance of success?  Was it different when you were starting?

It's a shrinking, tightening, and more frightened market.   Trust me, Bloom County would die a quick death if introduced today.   All of us were born upon the eyeballs of young newspaper readers.  Under 30.  They are gone.  Not just diminished in number.  GONE.   Poof.

I told my syndicate to stop trying to market new, edgy, political strips.  They're nuts chasing Opus or Doonesbury or Mutts or Get Fuzzy et al.  If I wanted to make A LOT of money, I'd design a strip with children mouthing homilies and platitudes with a biblical bent.  It would clean up.   A fortune awaits someone tapping into the readers that still stick with papers:  over age 60.    Naturally one would have to resist putting a revolver into one's mouth after a few weeks.  One of you should seriously consider.  Just lock up the firearms.

4.  Webcartoons are exploding all over the place, but few people have found how to make a living at it.  Do you think webcartooning is a viable money-making career? Or is it just a great way to get yourself some exposure and notice as you build up an audience, hoping to get syndicated?  Do you have any feelings or impressions about webcartooning in general? (Like you have time to sit around surfing for webcartoons…I know it's a silly question, but we ARE webcartoonists…throw us a bone!)

No sugar-coating it.   Web stripping is yet to prove itself.  But things change.   I remember being ABSOLUTELY sure there was no viable profit engine for website.  Advertising was moribund ten years ago.  Now it's exploding.

I'm on Salon.com now.   I'll trade several million of my readers in Dubuque Iowa for a dozen of Salon readers.  You will have to make peace with smaller numbers of more avid and informed eyeballs.

5.  Those of us who read "Bloom County" the first time around remember its hay day in the 80s. What either cultural, political, or semi-artistic entity from the '80s do you miss the most?

The music.   A president that much of the nation doesn't think is ridiculous.  Great movies that weren't made for retarded twerps.   A cartoon page that was so barren even a semi-talent like myself could make an impression upon it's windswept expanse.

6.  Who do you think is doing quality work today, either writing or visuals?

I see exciting visuals and ideas everywhere.  I think if I were starting now, I would head straight for the movies, frankly.   They're eating up illustrated stories in every genre.

7.  And now a goofy tech question:  I think we can assume you started out cartooning traditionally…ink on bristol board.  How much has your work changed with technology?  Do you still start with "drawn-on-paper" sketches? Do you ink the whole thing and then scan for color?  Do you work entirely via a WACOM tablet or Cintiq monitor?    It seems many of the younger cartoonists we meet are doing things entirely on the computer from start to finish, and us old guys, who are not Luddites by any stretch of the imagination, resist that.   We'd love to hear your comments.

Thank god for a tech question.   I remember sneaking into a Doonsebury exhibit in 1980 just to measure exactly how big his boxes were drawn and EXACTLY how large he printed.   I actually got a ruler.  I'm surprised I wasn't tossed out.  Lord knows, I'd been tossed out of nearly everything I did to that point.

I work on bristol board for my Sunday panels.   They're about 24 inches by 13… much smaller than Bloom County days.   I pencil in, then ink with really, really expensive and professional pens. ( Bic Flairs).   I scan this on a Microtek over-sized scanner.  I color with photoshop and steal images willy nilly from all over the web.   I used to run into the library years ago for this theft.   My Xerox bill was huge.    My printing is now down in photoshop too.   It saves me at least two hours over the old days of hand lettering and re-lettering and liquid paper and then more re-lettering.   God's Holy Trousers… I can't imagine how I did it.

Fun fact:  I use both sides of a board and get two strips out of it… largely because I no longer have originals that are readable, as I rework totally in photoshop.

8.  Finally, on a personal note, I'd like to say that next February, I'm going to be 42.  I want to have a Douglas Adams-themed birthday.  Any suggestions on how to make that work?

Well for god's sake, don't do ANYTHING that he would have done.   Dear Brilliant Douglas was a doomed man of excess.   Stay home and eat some tofu instead.   Miss that huge boy.

Continue reading “The Berkeley Breathed Interview”

Episode 17 – Breathed Writes In An Interview

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On this one we read and discuss the responses we received from our 8 questions to Mr. Berke Breathed . Yes, that Berke Breathed, creator of Bloom County, Outland, and Opus. Tom sent Mr. Breathed some questions and he was cool enough to respond in some detail. See above posting for the entire interview.

We start the show by discussing the stupid jobs we've had over the years in order to pursue an artistic career. That's pretty fun, and really sheds a light on why, in the end, it's not that important what you do- just so long as you keep your eyes in the skies as you're doing it.

SO listen, enjoy, and please forgive us the Skype lag. It's not as bad as it was last week, but it still ain't great.

The web comic theater is from the UK and is called EDD EGG, it's this strip here: #0306: Cleaning

 The web comic pick of the week is the soon to be syndicated Birdbrains by Thom Bluemel. Thom is a wonderful guy and we're real happy for him.

We also plug Stephan Pastis' brand new Pearls Before Swine collection, The Sopratos , available at Amazon.com. Pick that up and see how a comic strip is supposed to work. The cover to this book alone is worth the price. Hilarious!

Also, a carry-over from last week: Please visit Dan Piraro's favorite website, The Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary. They could use your support. 



A Mission Deep by Brian Dunaway

Myth Tickle by Justin Thompson

Booksmarts by Tom Racine

Continue reading “Episode 17 – Breathed Writes In An Interview”

Episode 16 – Bizarro Episode

Notes Coming

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We talk to the artistic genius who goes by the handle ‘Dan Piraro’ of the comic Bizarro.

He’s a fascinating guy and a damn fine interview. Only problem is, we have have had the biggest SKYPE problem on this show that we’ve ever had. Major time-lag, and your friendly hosts are just stumbling all over each other. But when we let him talk, he is just amazing.

Hope you enjoy it. In spite of the technical problems, Brian did an amazing job in post-edit, so full credit goes to his mad-skills in getting the show as good as can be.

Also, at the end of the show we hear from Brian Anderson of Dog Eat Doug who has a very special announcement.

SO listen, enjoy, and please forgive us the Skype lag.

Please visit Dan Piraro’s very special website: Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary . They do wonderful work.


A Mission Deep by Brian Dunaway

Myth Tickle by Justin Thompson

Booksmarts by Tom Racine
Continue reading “Episode 16 – Bizarro Episode”

Episode 14 – The Random Episode

This week me and the guys decide to just get caught up on what has been going on in our lives. So things get pretty random…but I'll tell you. I enjoy these kinds of shows. We get a chance to just hang loose and be our usual goofy selves.

New to the show is a segment we call 'You got some 'splaining to do…" Where we pick a comic strip that just evades our understanding. This week is Zippy The Pinhead from Sept 5, 2007

This week's Comic Strip Theatre is read from the Aug 21, 2007  Chicken Wings comic by Michael and Stefan Strasser.

Look it up and follow along as we perform it!

Justin gives us his webcomic pick of the week:  The Bell Curve by John Bell

The intro music is 'Come Away' by madLOVE check 'em out.

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I hope you enjoyed the show and enjoy the host's comic's:

A Mission Deep by Brian Dunaway

Myth Tickle by Justin Thompson

Booksmarts by Tom Racine

Continue reading “Episode 14 – The Random Episode”

Episode 13 – 44 Union Ave to Pinkerton

On the show this week we talk with Mike Witmer of 44 Union Ave and now Pinkerton

This week's Comic Strip Theatre is read from the July 6th 2007  Pinkerton comic by Mike Witmer.

Look it up and follow along as we perform it!

Tom gives us his webcomic pick of the week:  Achewood by Chris Onstad


The intro music is 'War Game' by Will Kriski check 'em out.

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I hope you enjoyed the show and enjoy the host's comic's:

A Mission Deep by Brian Dunaway

Myth Tickle by Justin Thompson

Booksmarts by Tom Racine

Continue reading “Episode 13 – 44 Union Ave to Pinkerton”

Episode 12 – Books and Beowulf

On the show this week we talk with Alexis Fajardo of Kid Beowulf about his career and the art of self publishing.

This week's Comic Strip Theatre is read from the April 20th Squirrel  comic by Wes Benson.

Look it up and follow along as we perform it!

The intro music is 'Never Say Die' by !!! One Day Remains check 'em out.

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I hope you enjoyed the show and enjoy the host's comic's:

A Mission Deep by Brian Dunaway

Myth Tickle by Justin Thompson

Booksmarts by Tom Racine

Continue reading “Episode 12 – Books and Beowulf”

Episode 11a – The Tim Bradstreet Interview

Tom hits the mean streets of San Diego and gets us an Interview with the man himself, Tim Bradstreet .


Tim and Tom Bradstreet

The intro music is “The Dirt” by GoddessMusic


I hope you enjoyed the show and enjoy the host’s comic’s:

A Mission Deep by Brian Dunaway

Myth Tickle by Justin Thompson

Booksmarts by Tom Racine
Continue reading “Episode 11a – The Tim Bradstreet Interview”