Passionate About Comics? Ask Me Anything.

Rina Piccolo
Jan 12, 2018

My name is Rina Piccolo. I am a syndicated cartoonist with King Features Syndicate. I write and draw cartoons and comics for newspapers, websites, and magazines. My comic strip "Tina's Groove" ran for 15 years, and I am now working on the comic "Rhymes With Orange." I'm also the co-author and illustrator of the book "Quirky Quarks: A Cartoon Guide to the Fascinating Realm of Physics." Ask Me Anything.

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How long did it take for you to get syndicated? What was the hardest obstacle to getting syndicated?

Jan 19, 1:36AM EST0

It took me around 4 years. The hardest obstacle was trying to create a comic strip that the syndicate could sell. No one really knows what will sell and what will flop, but the syndicate editorial and sales staff have a pretty excellent grasp on what they are looking for. They know from experience, and knowledge of the markets what tends to be sell-worthy. However, the cartoonist creator knows nothing of this (what is marketable and what's not), and so it's difficult to know what the editors want from you. They try to teach you, but sometimes that takes years. So as a creator, you're just doing what you like, but they're looking at your work from another perspective -- and oftentimes, what you're doing (whether it's good, or not) is just not what they're looking for. For me, at times, it felt like I was just throwing things against a wall to see if they stuck or not. And of course, there's the competition. Syndication only has so many spots (less now), and it's a highly competitive field.

Jan 19, 8:49AM EST1

Do you get annoyed with your creations? As in do you always look at them spotting little imperfections or you get to a point where they look complete, perfect and finshed to you?

Jan 18, 9:04PM EST0

All the time. I often hate the stuff I make. Even some of my single panel cartoons. Often when I'm working on something, I am loving the process-- or "being in the zone"-- but then when I'm done, the final result is always somehow not good enough. But here's the thing -- if you're a professional, and this is what you do as a job, then you can't afford to be a perfectionist. You really do have to say, at some point, okay, this is done, this is complete-- I've done my very best, and I can't do better. ....  If this makes any sense: you strive for perfection, but are often stopped by your limitations. I've known great artists who never end up finishing anything. They have more skills than they need, but they're just incapable of letting go. Hope that answers your question :)

Jan 19, 9:02AM EST0

What is your favorite instrument in making those drawings?

Jan 15, 3:00PM EST0

I really can't say I have a favourite instrument because I like using a variety of tools for different pieces. Sometimes I get the craving to draw with a brush, and sometimes with a pen. Sometimes I want to do something with crayons, or pastels. For the Rhymes With Orange comic  I use a tablet to draw. And for my other work (sketchbook drawings, comic stories) I use a wide range of traditional tools. Lately, I've been getting a kick out of a vintage silver-plated mechanical pencil from the 1920s that's quite a beauty. I also love my Carbon ink fountain pen.  Check them out...

Jan 18, 4:35PM EST0
Show all 3 replies

How do you decide the storylines for your comic strips? Should it be based on what is popular in the news or just random story?

Jan 14, 7:13AM EST0

Basically, I write storylines based on themes/subjects that I find interesting, or funny, or something that I want to make fun of (in a satirical way). A lot of my Tina's Groove storylines were completely random because of this. There are no rules. Personally I believe that basing your comic, or story on what's "hot" in the news solely because you think it'll get more hits is probably not very good practice. It should really come from what you really want to write about. That said, oftentimes current events are what's on your mind, and therefore it's natural to have those things in your head when coming up with ideas. And of course if you feel very strongly about what's happening in the world, it will come out in your writing. But again, unforced -- and not solely because it's a popular topic. For single panel gags it's a little different because there are no storylines, and so brainstorming ideas is a little different, and you do tend to write about current trends. Hope that makes sense!

Jan 18, 4:21PM EST1

I admire the willingness to take risks and the leap of faith to get to where you have gotten in your career. In your path to your current place, did you ever have doubts and how did you overcome them? Though late to the party, I've enjoyed your work.

Jan 13, 7:38PM EST0

*wink*... a great question from an old friend! ;)  First, thank you for saying that, I appreciate it. To answer your question about doubts-- yes! I have always had doubts-- still to this day. I think doubt is something that plagues every artist, at least to some degree, and at some point in their life. I mean, what you say about taking risks is true for a lot of people. For me personally, I didn't see them so much as risks (early on).  The reason for that is that i'm not a person who needs a whole lot of money and possesions to live a happy life. So very early on when I was literally making no money, and literally had nothing to lose, I got by with outside jobs on the side, lived frugally, and worked on my comics on my free time. My original plan was to live my whole life that way. I mean, when you think about it, there really is not a whole lot of risk when you look at it that way. Plenty of successful artists and authors have "day jobs" to help compensate whatever money they earn from their art. That's the way I've always looked at it. Today, I feel immensely grateful to have my comics be my day-job -- that said, I was plagued with doubts years ago when I had a plan to get syndicated. Creative doubts, and financial ones too. Those years were hard! I actually doubted so much that I actually "quit" cartooning once! It came after several months of work to create a comic strip and characters for King Features Syndicate. After pouring my heart and soul into the project my editor turned it down, and I doubted my abilities as a cartoonist. I was so emotionally distraught that I quit. (Discloser: I quit for one day,  in the morning I was like, well..... back to the drawing board. (literally) ha ha!) ... you ask how I overcome (and overcame) doubt? Sheer bullheadedness-- I love the work so much, that not doing it would make me so unhappy. I can't not do comics. It's just not an option for me. So I guess I just dealt with doubt by telling myself to just pull forward and get working because even if you're not financially stable, or you doubt that the work you're doing is not professional enough, at least you're doing what you love. Today, I'm older, and it's different because I now do own things, I have a mortgage, and therefore if I don't play my cards right, I do have a lot to lose. But again, I'd rather be making art than making money, and if I can manage to do both, then that's a very fortunate thing that I don't take lightly. If you're interested in reading a blog article I wrote on the topic of creative doubt, please check it out here: What Kills Creativity? (It's Nearer To You Than You Think.)

Thanks for asking such an important question!

Jan 14, 12:11PM EST0

Any plans on compiling all your work into a book and selling it?

Jan 13, 4:11PM EST0

That would be a huge project! I've compiled so many different types of things: comic stories, comic strips, gag cartoons, graphic stories and essays, flash fiction (very short fiction), sketchbook art, illustrations for my animated Gif art, and doodle art. It would be a challenge to curate a collection, and I most likely would not take steps to do that myself. If a publisher came along someday -- like when I'm 93 -- and offered to publish something like that, then absolutely, i'd do it! . ... But I should let you know that i am planning to publish a collection of new comics, drawings, and stories in either late 2018, or in 2019. I'm actually working on those pieces right now, and so far it's coming along nicely. Stay tuned :) I'll be announcing it, and blogging about it at: rinapiccolo.com  I will also be posting bite-size selections from the collection starting this summer.

Jan 14, 11:22AM EST0

Can you recommend any good app which you've been using since you first employed technology on your drawing?

Jan 13, 4:07PM EST0

One of the funnest, and uniqued apps I use is Sketchbook Motion by Autodesk. I actually was one of the Beta testers for it. Anyway, it's an app that uses "kinetic" motion to static drawings. You should totally check it out in the app store. Here's a link: https://itunes.apple.com/ca/app/sketchbook-motion/id1061224933?mt=8 Basically you can give specific motions and animations to still drawings/images. It has its limitations, but there is no other app that can do what this app does: animate without frame-by-frame drawing. .... another app I like is Procreate, but maybe you already know about that one since it's so popular. It's great if you have an iPad with iPad pencil. I highly recomment these two apps.Sketchbook Motion 

Last edited @ Jan 14, 10:05AM EST.
Jan 13, 7:13PM EST0

Where did you base the contents of the "A Cartoon Guide to the Fascinating Realm of Physics"? Are you working with an expert on this?

Jan 13, 2:28PM EST0

Yes, in fact, 2 experts. My co-authors are Boris Lemmer and Benjamin Bahr, both physicists. Boris and Benjamin wrote the science text, and I wrote and drew the comics; and I also wrote some of the non-scientific text in the book. By the way, the full title is "Quirky Quarks: A Cartoon Guide to the Fascinating Realm of Physics." It's published by Springer Publishing, in Germany. Here's a link to the book on Amazon: Quirky Quarks book  There are 2 editions, English, and German. It's also available as an ebook.

Last edited @ Jan 18, 4:38PM EST.
Jan 14, 9:19AM EST0

How can we access the "A Cartoon Guide to the Fascinating Realm of Physics"? Can you give us the link to the page?

Jan 13, 12:59PM EST0

sure, here's a link to the book on Amazon: Quirky Quarks: A Cartoon Guide to the Fascinating Realm of Physics

It's available as an ebook as well.

Jan 14, 9:21AM EST0

Tell us more about Rhymes With Orange? What is this basically about?

Jan 13, 12:32PM EST0

Yes, sure -- someone asked about Rhymes With Orange, and so I've cut and pasted some part of my answer here:

 Rhymes With Orange is an internationally syndicated daily comic panel that appears in newspapers, and online. It's syndicated by King Features Syndicate. The comic's creator, Hilary Price, started drawing and writing it in 1995. It's a single panel -- so there are no ongoing story lines, or regular characters (at least, not like in comic strips). Everyday is a one-shot gag cartoon-- and oh, did i mention it's got a big following, in print, and online.... because it's smart and funny! Last summer, Rhymes With Orange got a collaborator (me ;) )... and so I hope readers continue to see it as smart, and funny :)

Jan 18, 4:59PM EST0

How did you approach reaching out to people in the industry early on in your career? Any advice on making more contacts with publishers, magazines, syndication etc? Thank you! 

Jan 12, 3:36PM EST0

This is a tricky question because "reaching out" and "making contact" with publishers, etc., is a very different game today than in pre-web days. I reached out by first doing research at the Toronto Reference library to get names, addresses of cartoon editors, and magazines that publish cartoons (as well as the contact people for the big 4 syndicates at the time). Then I'd just write letters, make photocopies of my stuff, and submit material. I also got information from my cartoonist friends. I did this for years. But today you have the advantage of doing all of that stuff online. You don't even have to leave your house, ha ha ! Add to that the helping hand of your social media networks -- today it's relatively easy to reach out. And submitting work is also easier as most magazines have either Submittable, or some online portal for creators to submit material. The thing to do is post your work where people will see it, and submit your work to the magazines that you think are a good fit for your style/voice. Don't be shy. The web is all about reaching out. You'd be surprised how nice people are when you express interest in something that they also have an interest in. Hope that helps :)

Jan 12, 5:39PM EST0

Thank you so very much for your thoughtful response, I really appreciate it. 

Jan 12, 5:47PM EST0

What program(s) do you use for drawing with the Wacom tablet and when are we going to get together for a coffee?

Jan 12, 3:20PM EST0

*wink* ... another question from a friend! Hello, there, Chris! my answer is: photoshop, and when the weather gets better. You have my email :)

Jan 12, 5:10PM EST0

Have any of your cartoons been censored. If so, were they subsequently, “allowed” into a later publication?

Jan 12, 2:10PM EST0

Yes! Many times! I'm a bad girl, ha ha! Seriously, though-- it's not too difficult to be censored in the markets where i've had most of my stuff published. Namely, newspaper comics pages, and family-friendly magazines like Parade (RIP), and The Reader's Digest, to name a couple. And no, they never do get past the censors for a later publication-- unless the cartoon or strip was ammended in some way to make it less likely to offend anyone. (But that's not saying much, even the ammended ones -- and the "safe" ones,  always manage to get someone angry. I've had my share of hate mail!)

Jan 12, 5:23PM EST0

Is there any plan, or at least a wish, to publish another Tina's Groove collection?

Jan 12, 12:50PM EST0

I'm going to answer no-- I've really moved on from the Tina's Groove project. It lasted 15+ years, and I call it my baby, but I really have moved on in terms of wanting new projects --especially ones where I can develop/improve my craft/skills.  However, having said that, if a publisher were to approach me to do a collection of existing works, with no legwork on my part, then I would consider it. But as for me taking that step, no. It's a lot of work, and my time is divided already. Thanks for asking!

Last edited @ Jan 12, 5:40PM EST.
Jan 12, 5:16PM EST0

Do you rely on feedback from your contemporaries or from your audience more? I would like constructive criticism of my work but I don't know how to broach it with other cartoonists. What do you suggest?

Jan 12, 12:42PM EST0

I consider feedback from professionals differently than I consider feedback from the audience. I love hearing from readers, especially when they praise me, ha ha! but readers that I've never met are complete strangers, and so if I get negative comments I really can't spend too much time or energy on them (unless they make a good point!) But feedback from my peers is a different thing altogether-- those bits of input I take seriously because I know I can trust the professional opinion of another artist in the business. Especially if they are friends. The second part of your question: don't be afraid to send your work to other cartoonists. We don't bite, and generally cartoonists love it when they are asked for their pro opinion (we are truly a self-indulgent lot , ha ha!) So just go for it. Have you tried putting examples of your work on Twitter, say, and asking for cartoonist's advice? FB too. The worst that can happen is that people bite off your head and you end up crying. Just kidding! That's not going to happen if you contact cartoonists. :)

Jan 12, 5:55PM EST0

What do you think is the secret to getting more readers to take interest in your works?

Jan 12, 12:25PM EST0

This is a good question because it raises a point that I've always believed in. I may have even written a blog about it somewhere along the line. Anyway, it's this: basically, if the cartoonist/writer/artist is having fun creating whatever they're creating, it will show in the final product, and chances are good that people will generally like it because the spirit in which it was created will shine through. I never believed in pandering to an audience -- as a younger cartoonist, I sometimes did things, or put things in my comics that I "thought people would like", and they just crashed and burned. I learned a lesson: Just draw and write to entertain yourself-- you aren't that much different from other folks, and so what you find funny will most likely be funny to other people as well. That said, I should add another little secret: Don't try to please everybody. It's impossible. There will always be people who don't like what you do, and so you may as well draw and write what you find funny.

Jan 12, 12:51PM EST0

What are the advantages and disadvantages of unrelated gag-a-day strips vs a work with established characters and storylines?

Jan 12, 11:18AM EST0

Big question. There are advantages and disadvantages on both sides. When you're doing single gag-a-day you are working in a universe with almost zero boundaries. You can "go anywhere", and for each cartoon you're using characters that you create for that one specific gag. Servicable characters that exist just to deliver the gag effectively. When you're working on a comic strip, your universe has more boundaries, and you only create that universe once. It's up to the creator to determine how broad that universe is going to be. Your characters are created for that world, or universe, and you don't have much room to deviate from those parameters once you're up and running the strip. I've worked in both formats, and in my own experience the advantages to having a strip with characters is that your characters actually generate the ideas for you. All you have to do is put them in a situation, and bingo, the ideas seem to flow from that. And readers who love your characters will not hold it against you if the gag isn't funny on any given day-- because the gag is not what it's all about for character-driven strips. With gag-a-day panels, it is all about the gag, and so it has to be pretty strong every single day. And when you're writing ideas, you don't have a stable of characters to rely on to feed you ideas. On the other hand, when you're doing a strip you have the frustration of too many boundaries. You simply can't "go anywhere" ... like, what if you have a funny idea, but you can't fit it into the world of the strip? That was my main frustration with Tina's Groove, but I mananged to get around it part of the time by expanding the boundaries of her world. Sorry for the long answer! Sometimes I think it's easier to be able to "go anywhere", and sometimes (like if I have a writer's block) I miss having characters that I can rely on. 

Jan 13, 9:37AM EST0

When are you going to publish the next volume of Velia, Dear?

Jan 12, 11:05AM EST1

*wink* ... this is a question from a friend! Enio, you'll be disappointed to know that I probably won't be publishing a volume of Velia, Dear. However, maybe you'll be pleased to know that I just did a 4 page comic story starring....... Velia! ... anyway, if anybody out there other than Enio cares to know, I'll be publishing a collection of comics and stories in either late 2018, or early 2019. And yes, if any publishers care, I can pitch it. (Sorry, Enio, for using your question as a platform for shameless plugging. But alas, you're an artist, and so you understand.) ha ha !

Jan 12, 1:25PM EST1

Woohoo! Very exciting!

Jan 12, 1:27PM EST1

When did you start taking interest in art?

Jan 12, 10:16AM EST0

I'd say very early on. Like all kids, I drew, and I guess I was one of those people that just never stopped (they say that everyone draws when they're young, and then some people stop drawing, while other people continue drawing. Those people that continue drawing obviously get more practice, and in time they get better and better, and those people who get more practice are the ones that get enough experience-- and encouragement--  to become artists.) Anyway, I can't remember a time when I didn't like making pictures, and creating things, and that thing inside me just developed as I got older, and my interest in other peoples' art grew and developed. This is a good question, because it's not easy to pin down. 

Jan 13, 7:25PM EST0

What kind of a project do you want to work with another artist?

Jan 12, 9:11AM EST0

Right now I'm working with Hilary Price on the daily single-panel comic "Rhymes With Orange". Other than my collaboration with Hilary, these days I mainly like to work alone. That said, who knows? Maybe in the future I'll want to work on a project with another artist, or group of artists (like maybe work on a mural, or large scale piece of doodle art, or perhaps collaborate on another book with other authors and/or artists).

Jan 14, 9:11AM EST0

Can you tell us more about your previous experiences before working with King Features Syndicate?

Jan 12, 8:57AM EST0

I used to do a lot of single panels, and was fortunate enough to have some of them published in magazines. Back then it was only print-- no internet (yes, i'm that old)... anyway, I managed to get some cartoons into some major magazines early on in my career -- greeting cards too -- I also did one, or two page comic stories -- I can't remember if I got any of those published (prob not)... but yeah, I did a ton of cartoons before King expressed interest.

Jan 12, 11:22AM EST0

Is there a particular person who influenced you to do art?

Jan 12, 8:12AM EST0

No. I mean, I started being obsessed with drawing really early on, and back then I didn't seem to need encouragement from anyone. I drew because it made me happy.

Jan 12, 11:24AM EST1

Which artist do you want to do a collaboration with and why?

Jan 12, 5:20AM EST0

Great question... I'm actually collaborating with one of my fav cartoonists -- Hilary Price. We do the syndicated newspaper daily "Rhymes With Orange." I love collaborating with Hilary-- she's a good friend, and I think her cartoons rock! 

Jan 12, 11:26AM EST0

How can you describe your drawing style?

Jan 12, 4:37AM EST0

Hmm.. I'm not really sure how I'd describe it because I draw using so many different tools (for instance, when I use a brush the result looks vastly different than when I use a pen). Look at the different cartoons and comics below -- the first is digitally drawn with a thin line pen tool and coloured digitally, the cartoon with the royal couple was drawn with brush and ink wash on paper, the 1-page comic was drawn with a dip pen on paper with ink wash, and the last one, the Tina's Groove strip was drawn digitally with a brush tool. They all look different... Again I may be too close to my own style to describe it.. but maybe "diverse" nails it?

Jan 14, 9:02AM EST0

Did you have any formal art education, training or apprenticeship?

Jan 11, 7:12PM EST1

Right now, I wish that I'd had the forsight to get some training on how to go to the bathroom, because I really have to go. Seriously, to answer your question before i take a break, no, I've never had formal training. Instead of going to art school, I kind of just jumped into the industry (which perhaps may not have been a good idea, since it took me longer to learn the basics than it would've taken me if I'd gone to art school for 3 or 4 years.... Also, I would've loved to have gotten a formal education in Art History. However, I'm fortunate to have nurtured my early career in Toronto, a city with a huge comics community, not to mention the city's vibrant and diverse centre for arts & culture.  I literally learned the craft of cartooning by hanging out with some of the best cartoonists in the world. It was Seth who encouraged me to learn how to draw with a brush (I'm not name-dropping here, but it's important to note this because I've had such encouragement from giants in the industry, and that goes far) ....Anyhow, It's enough to say that I've had what is perhaps, in some ways, the best kind of training -- the kind you get from professionals working in the field.) Oh, and also very important: tons of practice! Fortunately I'm really obsessed with drawing and writing, and so I spend a lot of time working on my craft. I'm going on 52, and I'm not done learning more tricks!

Jan 12, 1:49PM EST0

Do you like to listen to a podcast or music while you work? What music is on your playlist right now?

Jan 11, 6:53PM EST0

Yes, I listen to stuff when I'm inking, or working on an illustration. Never when I'm writing or brainstorming -- for that I need total quiet. But when I am listening to stuff it's sometimes music, but mostly podcasts, or videos on YouTube. I love listening to podcasts about art, science, social science, true story-driven podcasts like the Moth, and.... okay, now I have to admit it...true crime -- I like those "America's Most Wanted" type shows-- not too much thought, easy listening, and often shocking. I like to be shocked. My favourite podcast is RadioLab. As for playlists? I'm not really a playlist kind of person. I listen to whatever my mood calls for, and rarely make playlists. Anyway, in my library right now I've got Mozart, Haydn, Beethoven, Brahms and Vivaldi (my fav is Mozart, particularly his Requiem... wow, blows my head off every time)  -- but I love classic rock music too, and some pop. My ultimate favs in that dept. are David Bowie,RIP :(  , The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Queen, and anything from the 80s that was punk/new-wave. I like some new rock from today, but I don't know their names! (sorry!) .... and I just realized that almost all of these artists I've mentioned are dead. Wow i'm getting old!

Jan 13, 3:40PM EST1

What are your tools of the trade?

Jan 11, 4:32PM EST1

ah, i love talking shop! Depending on what I'm working on, I use different tools. For "Tina's Groove" (which I am no longer running), and Six Chix (ditto), and Rhymes With Orange I use a Wacom Cintiq Companion drawing tablet (I've been using it for these strips since 2014. Before that I used a brush, dip pens, and india ink.) For other projects I like to get my hands dirty (literally) -- I use the pentel pocket brush, a carbon ink fountain pen, the Noodler fountain pen, graphite, dip pens & quills on occasion, a water brush, watercolour, india ink & ink washes. Papers vary depending on what medium i'm using. So, watercolour papers, hot and cold press, Strathmore Bristol (the cheaper one, and the 500 series), Borden & Riley Bleedproof paper for pens, illustrations boards. Lately I've been experimenting with oil pastel, and oil based pencils (Faber-Castell Polychromatics)... omg, if someone doesn't stop me I can talk about this for hours...........................ahhhhhhhhhhhhh ;)

Jan 12, 1:16PM EST2

What inspired you to get started with comics?

Jan 11, 2:55PM EST1

Well, I wouldn't say it was inspiration-- it was more of an inclination. From a very young age I was always either drawing or writing something-- just a way to express myself, and my sense of humor. Later on, in my 20s, I did get inspired by other artists, writers and cartoonists. And that made me want to just do it more.

Jan 12, 11:02AM EST2

If you were to draw one signature item hidden in your works, what would it be?

Jan 11, 10:53AM EST0

I'm not sure I understand your question completely-- do you mean a hidden signature item like what Dan Pirarro does in his cartoon Bizarro? (He always puts slices of pie, and eyeballs, and other things hidden somewhere in his cartoon... and now that tradition is being continued by Bizarro's new cartoonist for the dailies, Wayno...) -- is that what you mean? If it is, then no, I don't really have anything like that in my cartoons. Sometimes when I have to draw picture frames, like in a living room scene, I like to draw little pictures in the frames -- but only if it seems appropriate, and doesn't distract from the other parts of the cartoon. Hope I understood your question right... if not, then please re-phrase it and re-submit-- thanks :)

Jan 13, 8:21AM EST0

Your comic titles sound unique, how do you come up with titles for your work?

Jan 10, 6:22AM EST0

Thanks for saying that-- Titles are hard... tricky. Sometimes when I'm writing a comic story, the title will be a phrase or words that appear in the actual piece -- something that encapsulates the essence of the story. I struggle with titles.  ...... it just occured to me that you might be asking about titles such as "Tina's Groove" and "Rhymes With Orange." -- if that's what you're asking, then I'd say that the title "Tina's Groove" was one of many titles I pitched to my editor at King Features, many years ago. I wanted something unique that would play to the gist of the comic strip, which was Tina's life (in and out of the restaurant) ... I just basically did a brainstorming list of possible titles, like "Tina's World", and "The Life of Tina", and he picked the one that all the editors at King liked. As for Rhymes With Orange -- Hilary picked that title. I think she once said something about how her aunt once said that there was no word in the English language that rhymes with the word orange. I'm pretty sure I'm remembering that tidbit correctly. But yeah, cartoon titles can literally come from anywhere (especially it it's a single panel.)

Jan 12, 12:37PM EST0

Can you tell us more about Tina’s Groove?

Jan 10, 12:48AM EST1

Sure... Tina's Groove is my baby! It's a daily comic strip that was syndicated internationally for 15 years by King Features Syndicate. The comic revolved around the life of Tina, a waitress who worked at Pepper's Restaurant.  Tina's Groove is best described as a "slice-of-life" kind of strip. It was about worklife, friends, family, and relationships. I wrote and drew the strip from 2002 until last summer (June, 2017) when I ended it to work with Hilary Price on her single panel comic "Rhymes With Orange." I feel grateful, and so fortunate to have Tina's Groove as part of my body of work. Not only was the strip fun to work on, but it opened up a lot of other opportunities for me, not to mention that it gave me the chance to write to a large and diverse audience.

Jan 12, 1:05PM EST0

What artwork are you looking forward to, aside from your ongoing comics?

Jan 9, 11:03PM EST0

Aside from comics, I'm into doing illustrations and ink wash paintings, and drawing in my sketchbook. Lately I've been watching a lot of tutorials on oil pencils and oil pastels, so I may make something with those materials in the future (to be honest I already have made a few, but they're not good enough to show anyone yet! baby steps!) .... I'm also into doing automatic drawing, or improv drawing -- where you just doodle or draw without any pre-work -- that's more of a mindful exercise, but sometimes the results are pretty surprising. Also, someday I'd love to make a super large scale doodle. 

Jan 14, 8:05AM EST0

How is it like being with King Features Syndicate?

Jan 9, 9:06AM EST0

King Features is wonderful. They do a lot to promote their cartoonists, and I am very happy to be with them :)

Jan 12, 12:27PM EST0

What is the first comics that convinced you to take it as your next venture?

Jan 9, 6:06AM EST0

When I was growing up I read "Peanuts", "Beatle Bailey", "The Wizard of Id", "The Born Loser", "Ziggy" , "B.C." and "Frank & Earnest"... and that led to me wanting to create my own drawings and comics. But,  I wouldn't say it was any one comic that made me "want to become a cartoonist" -- that came much much later in my life, when I was in my 20s. And by then I already had the bug for drawing, so I needed no convincing. I should add that early on, I didn't even consider the fact that cartooning could be a job -- I mean, that someone like me could draw cartoons for a living. It never really entered my mind until I grew up and started hanging out with other comic artists. 

Jan 18, 4:52PM EST0

Given the opportunity, what art style would you like to try?

Jan 9, 3:52AM EST1

My own, I guess. Ha! If by "style" you mean "voice" or "the looks/visuals" then I prefer my own. However, lately, I've been drawing more and more like my comics collaborator (Hilary Price) for the Rhymes With Orange comic. But in my sketchbook, I like to draw in my own style.

Jan 12, 11:05AM EST2
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On a regular day, how many panels can you complete?

Jan 8, 8:33AM EST0

That's difficult to answer because I do different tasks on different days. For instance -- I do my writing/brainstorming at different times, and then switch gears to do the drawing, or sketching out rough drafts. If it's just strictly drawing -- i mean, if the writing is done/polished, and all I have to do is the pencilling and inking then it doesn't take me long at all. I can pencil and ink 6 daily panels in about 6 or 7 hours. But like I said, the real heavy lifting is the writing/refining of the idea-- that's the hard part-- the actual drawing part is relatively easy for me.

Jan 12, 12:25PM EST0
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Do you also accept art commissions?

Jan 8, 5:55AM EST0

Hmmmm.... i'm going to say no. Only because my 2 main projects (the Rhymes With Orange comic, and my story comics) keeps me busy, and happy. I really haven't got any spare time for art commissions, and to be honest, i'm interested more in doing stuff for Rhymes, and stuff for my personal comics. 

Jan 12, 12:17PM EST0
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Do you attend comic conventions?

Jan 7, 10:08PM EST1

On occasion, yes, absolutely!

Jan 12, 11:06AM EST1

Can you tell us more about Rhymes With Orange?

Jan 7, 9:50PM EST0

Sure! Rhymes With Orange is an internationally syndicated daily comic panel that appears in newspapers, and online. It's syndicated by King Features Syndicate. The comic's creator, Hilary Price, started drawing and writing it in 1995. It's a single panel -- so there are no ongoing story lines, or regular characters (at least, not like in comic strips). Everyday is a one-shot gag cartoon-- and oh, did i mention it's got a big following, in print, and online.... because it's smart and funny! Last summer, Rhymes With Orange got a collaborator (me ;) )... and so I hope readers continue to see it as smart, and funny :)

Jan 12, 12:14PM EST0

What advice would you give to someone who wants to try exploring the art of comics?

Jan 7, 11:39AM EST0

I'm assuming that you mean as an artist, right? If that's correct then the first thing I'd tell you is to draw everyday, and for as much time per day as possible. Also, write something everyday-- it could be anything: a poem, your thoughts, what you did that day. These types of activities are sooooooo important because they're exercises that help to develop your creative muscle, and to also develop a voice/style unique only to you. Then, at the same time, go online and look at how other comic artists do things. Copy what they're doing-- as an exercise, i mean. Go on YouTube and search for "comics tutorials" and "cartooning techniques" -- you'll be amazed at what you can learn in a short period of time. If you can, go to the library or bookshop and get books on drawing techniques, and How-To books on storytelling, and comic narrative. The writing part is super important. Study the elements of storytelling -- there are tons of videos and podcasts online that you can learn from for free. If you live near an art gallery, go there and draw as much as you can. Again these activities are like what doing scales is like for musicians. I use my sketchbook to "do my scales" and so I'd say go out and get yourself a sketchbook and just start making marks. Lastly, I hope you have passion for making comics, and that you truly love doing it-- This is going to sound a little sappy, but a genuine love for the artform will take you further than any tutorial. Every successful artist starts out by just really loving their artform. The rest just blossoms out from it. Hope that helps. Have fun!

Jan 14, 9:48AM EST1

What other things do you enjoy doing, apart from comics?

Jan 7, 9:07AM EST1

Reading. Riding my bike. Wine. 

Jan 12, 11:08AM EST3
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What comic titles do you love reading?

Jan 7, 8:22AM EST1

This may come as a surprise, but I don't really read comics a whole lot. I read mostly novels and non-fiction prose, and some poetry. I did read more comics growing up, and as a young adult, but not so much now. If by "comics" you mean "comic Strips", then yes, I do read daily comic strips that are done by my friends. Like "Between Friends" and "Pooch Cafe" ,  "Bizarro" , "Speedbump" to name a few. 

Jan 12, 11:11AM EST1
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Where do you turn to when you need inspiration for your work?

Jan 7, 7:05AM EST0

Sometimes when the creative gas tank needs refueling I take a long bike ride (in summer) ... or walk (in winter, ugh..) -- I take my notebook with me, and I just jot things down. My sketchbook/notebook is both an everyday diary, and an ideas book. Usually a bike ride, or walk, gets the juices flowing. Oh, and reading -- reading gets the mind going too.

Jan 12, 11:32AM EST0
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What’s an inspirational quote you live by?

Jan 7, 6:50AM EST0

"People will judge you no matter what you do, so you may as well live your life the way you want to live it."

Jan 12, 11:34AM EST0

Would you be willing to work on a collaboration to make your comics into an animation series?

Jan 7, 3:39AM EST0

For "Rhymes With Orange"? I don't know.  This is probably not the best forum for doing business, but if you're a studio then you should definitely contact either me, Hilary Price, or King Features Syndicate. I encourage you to! If you mean for my other comics, then I'd have to say no-- although I love animation, I wouldn't want to work in television, or for a studio.... too many meetings, and the whole lifestyle doesn't appeal to me-- it would take me away from the place I love most, my drawing table. :)

Last edited @ Jan 18, 5:00PM EST.
Jan 12, 11:41AM EST0

How do you deal with criticisms on your art?

Jan 7, 2:54AM EST1

oh, boy... biggee question :) ... it depends who it's coming from, and if it's constructive or just plain mean-spiritated. If it comes from an editor, or art director, then I take the critique seriously, and work on improving the work. If it's some idiot online who's just being mean, then I ignore it-- don't care too much about it. But serious criticisms are important-- I see them as feedback that can help me grow, or improve my work where it's flawed, or weak. 

Jan 12, 11:16AM EST0

Can you describe your routine before getting down to your drawings?

Jan 7, 12:59AM EST1

Early rise. Workout 1 hour. Shower. Coffee. If it's not a Sunday, then I post that day's Rhymes With Orange Cartoon on Twitter and FB. Then I start writing. After 1.5 hours of writing it's breakfast time. After breakfast I start sketching Rhymes With Orange cartoons (Or, depending on the day of the week, I begin working on my comic stories.)

Last edited @ Jan 13, 8:26AM EST.
Jan 12, 12:55PM EST1

What is one of your most memorable projects?

Jan 7, 12:19AM EST0

I've been fortunate to have lots of interesting projects. One of them that stands out for me is having the opportunity to work with 2 physicists on co-authoring a book about quantum mechanics, and classical physics -- the book is titled "Quirky Quarks: A Cartoon Guide to the Fascinating Realm of Physics." What intriguing work it was! We did a presentation at the Frankfurt Book Fair, which was great because I got to meet the folks that i'd been collaborating with. I learned a lot, and I did so many cartoons and comics for the book, that I think I may have improved my drawing skills, ha!  I'll never forget it.

Jan 12, 11:49AM EST0

Have you ever experienced some sort of hype where you’ve been drawing non-stop?

Jan 6, 5:35PM EST0

I love your question because it can be interpreted in different ways. Like, what do you mean by "hype"? -- like "jumpy"? (Only if I've had too much coffee,  ha ha.) -- but if you mean a sort of "I-can't-stop-feeling" , then yes, I experience that a lot when I draw. Your mind goes into a sort of "flow" or "zone" as people call it, and it's like you're on some sort of "automatic pilot" -- anyway, interesting you should ask :)

Jan 12, 11:53AM EST0

What is your ideal work environment?

Jan 6, 3:41PM EST0

Home. I've got a comfy apartment, and my workstation has everything I need right there. I can do my work anywhere-- it's all very portable-- but I prefer to be at home :)

Jan 12, 11:56AM EST0
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What is the most memorable comment you have received as an artist?
Jan 6, 3:11PM EST1

I was at a comic con and a psychologist looked at my cartoons (he was laughing) and said that I was a "tortured soul"... I took it as a compliment -- ha!

Jan 12, 11:17AM EST0
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