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Q. What steps would you tell a teen to take who wants to get more involved in the comic industry?

A. Our advice is essentially unchanged: Carry a sketchbook, daydream, be an observer of life, study the work that has gone before you, develop a healthy sense of humor, and master your tools. The main difference between when we were getting started and now is that now the set of tools to master is broader – instead of just ink, pens and brushes the toolbox contains animation skills, interactive web stuff, social networks and graphics programs. It’s still all about conveying a vision to an audience, though.

Creating a Zits Sunday Strip

Jerry: The division of labor between Jim and me on Zits is, well, murky. We’re both artists and writers, and we use that to our advantage. It’s not like I write and he draws. It’s more of a sloppy overlap of input between the two of us that makes the end product greater than the sum of its parts. Although I do most of the writing chores, I also generate pencil roughs of each strip for Jim to show him what I’m thinking. And Jim has a lot of input on the writing end, from concepts we call “starters” to fine-tuning dialogue and punching up punchlines. One of our most valuable tools is the telephone. From the early beginnings of the strip we’ve talked on the phone nearly every day about anything and everything: weather, kids, car troubles, spouses, childhood memories and a little about Zits. It’s amazing how much material can be sifted out of the silly yakking we do. Maybe that’s because Zits is about life in a house with a teenager, and we both have lives in houses with teenagers. Makes sense, I guess. But when the talking is finished, I sit down with a sketchbook and start drawing and writing… well, scribbling. (more…)

Sunday Funnies

My parents didn’t read me the Sunday funnies. I don’t think I’d have let them. For me, reading the Sunday funnies was an intensely intimate activity.

My older sisters and little brother and I were deposited at my Grandma B’s apartment after church on Sunday mornings while Mom and Dad got a dose of peace and quiet elsewhere until noon when the commotion resumed at our house. At Grandma’s, there was a feast of toast and pancakes and goetta – a local fried gruel made of sausage and oatmeal and lord, maybe wallboard flakes – that we loved. But the best part of those mornings was spreading out the Sunday comics section of the Cincinnati Enquirer on Grandma’s vast bed. The colorful pages seemed as big as her quilt. (more…)

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