Thanks for doing the interview Chuck. Do you mind if I call you Chuck? I’ve always wanted to call someone Chuck for obvious reasons. You have sent more books then any other artists and you sent them in a relatively short amount of time. Do you sleep?
Sure, you can call me Chuck! Yeah, when it comes to drawing comics, I tend to be a workaholic. I have these spurts where, for a certain amount of time, I would draw tons and tons of comics, only for me to slow down. My “slow” period tends to be short-lived, though, as I would usually go back to drawing again. Even during my slow periods, I would have enough backlog that can last several months, so I can still put content out even if I haven’t drawn anything in a while.
As for sleep, there was a period where I did most of my drawing work on midnight, although these days I do most of my comics work during daytime. I usually write stories or sketch pages at a coffee shop I go to almost every afternoon, then I would go home and ink them during evenings.
What started your interest in comics?
I was from Japan originally, so early on I was into manga and anime, long before they became big in America. I did have exposure to American cartoons at the same time, though. “Peanuts” is popular in Japan, and my family used to subscribe to English-language newspapers that Japan has, which usually runs American comic strips. I recall that “Calvin and Hobbes” and “Piranha Club” were staples in those papers.
How long have you been self publishing?
Since 2012. I self-published a comic book collecting a webcomic I was doing at the time called “A Witch Named Katrina”, which was a rough version of the “Koko” webcomic I’m doing right now. I only made 50 copies, so they’re very rare. Not that there’s much demand for it. I finally sold my last copies at a convention early last year.
What made you decide to start self publishing yourself?
I saw that a lot of cartoonists nowadays self-publish stuff, especially with a variety of professional printing options for relatively low-cost, so I decided to give it a shot. I figured they would help me get gigs with larger publishers. In a way, it did.
Who has influenced your style?
Japanese cartooning-wise, I was a fan of the work of Fujiko Fujio (joint psuedonym of Hiroshi Fujimoto and Motoo Abiko), Shigeru Mizuki, and Fujio Akatsuka. The latter in particular pioneered in gag cartooning in the country; while there were always humurous comics in Japan, it was Akatsuka who really excelled in it. He was basically a Japanese-equivalent of Milt Gross and Tex Avery.
American cartooning wise, I grew up reading Charles Schulz, Bill Watterson, Brant Parker and Johnny Hart, Bud Grace, and eventually MAD Magazine.
What tools do you use to make your comics?
Nowadays I draw on smooth Canson Bristol, 11×14 (with actual drawing being approx. 8.5” x 13”) with Noodlers Fountain Pen filled with Koh-I-Noor Ultradraw ink. Any white out corrections are done with Presto Correction Pens, which I like because they don’t flake out like BIC Correction pens. After that, I scan them in and take them to Photoshop, where I clean-up unwanted artifacts like dirts and scratches, add lettering (from a font of my handwriting), and coloring.
You’ve had your work printed in a few things, Mad Magazine, Sponge Bob, and you have a strip on Universal Uclick. What suggestions would you make to other artists that would like to get in to those books or get their strip on Uclick?
I’m still trying to figure that out, believe it or not! But what worked for me is that I made myself known to other creators, letting them know that I exist and that I do cartoon work. Going to conventions and meet-ups are some of the best ways to network with people involved in comics. Posting your work online also helps immensely, too.
In the case of “Ask a Cat” on Uclick, I happened to draw enough strips that I could show them around, and so I submitted them through their submission form. Few months later, they wrote back saying they’re interested in running it.
What do you get out of making comics?
It’s very therapeutic for me. I always enjoy drawing characters doing stuff, writing out their worlds, and I’ve managed to make some people laugh, which is amazing for me. I’m excited to see where I would go as time goes by. Right now, I’m working on introducing a new comic called “The Fuzzy Princess”, which I’m hoping to debut sometime early this year. We’ll see how that goes.
For more information about Chuck and his comics, please visit these sites:
Patreon – www.patreon.com/smallbug
Ask a Cat – www.gocomics.com/ask-a-cat
A Witch Named Koko – www.witchkoko.com
Tumblr – bakertoons.tumblr.com
And for Chuck’s newest collection of his comics please go to: