Someone asked about the brushes I use to draw Zits. Here’s a brief answer, previously published in Ask A Cartoonist on the Comics Kingdom website:
This little fella has made my professional life possible. He’s a Kolinsky red sable, a weasel really, who leads a spartan lifestyle in the Siberian wild. Ain’t he a cutie?
The Kolinsky’s tail hairs are uniquely supple and strong, and when expertly fashioned in the talented hands of the women on the lines of the Winsor & Newton factory in England, conspire to form the dreamy Series 7 Number 3 red sable brush.
It’s the brush I’ve used to draw virtually every line in my forty-year career as an editorial and comic strip cartoonist. If you care for it lovingly those critical hairs at the point will last three or four months in peak form before losing a bit of their spring and a couple miles an hour off their fastball and being relegated to a spot in the bullpen.
Here’s where I draw Zits in my Colorado home. That’s a twisty vine above the door, and my wife’s marimba on the left.
I like the old table my portable drawing board sits on. I’m not sure why I have so many open ink bottles. I try different brands and mix my own combinations. Then the bottles sort of pile up.
Recently I dug my old Enquirer drawing board out of the garage and brought it into the studio so I have the option of standing while I work. First I had a shaman exorcise any lingering bad karma from stressful idea-less days as an editorial cartoonist.
My three Ronald Searle originals are my pride and joy. He was the granddaddy of us all.
Richard Thompson and Jeff MacNelly, a couple of my pals. Drawings by my friends are all over my walls.
I always keep three great brushes in my starting rotation. When they’ve lost their spark they’re assigned to the bullpen for whiteout duty.
Speaking of which, here’s my baseball shrine. Those are balls signed by the starting eight of the 1976 Big Red Machine plus manager Sparky Anderson. On top is a foul ball I caught in 1965 at Crosley Field in Cincinnati which my brother and I went on to have filled with autographs over the next several years. And at the bottom is a ball signed by my all-time idol Jim Maloney when I met him last year. Okay, where was I?
My dad was a sign painter, and this is the wooden box he sat on everyday as he worked. I keep it nearby to remember him, but I think it also keeps some good lettering juju in the studio.
Here’s the business end of town. My drawers were built just the right size for my originals. Blank boards on one side, inked ones on the other.
A prototype for Zits boxers that never got to the market.
In my days as the editorial cartoonist for the Cincinnati Enquirer my office was on the 19th floor of a downtown office building overlooking a humming spaghetti tangle of concrete highways and the Bengals football stadium. Now I see this from my studio chair.Thanks for dropping by.
I just returned from the college graduation of our youngest son in Asheville. At 6’4″ it’s hard to think of him as the baby in the family, but he played the role of the long-suffering kid brother admirably through his teenage years. Jake has contributed more than his share of fodder for our comic strip. Congratulations, pal. Long may you run!