Aside from being the lovable fraud behind the curtain here at AJS, I’m also a cartoonist; I even belong to a professional cartoonists’ group based in beautiful downtown Burbank. The Comic Art Professional Society, colloquially known as CAPS, was founded in 1977 by Sergio Aragonés (the World’s Fastest Cartoonist), Mark Evanier (comics writer, TV writer, animation director, raconteur, man-about-town), and Don Rico (legendary Golden Age comic artist, novelist, teacher), as a place for LA’s comic book artists and writers to hang out, share information about the industry, hear from guest speakers, do some occasional charity work, and just have friends in the biz in those pre-internet years when cartoonists worked in isolation and only saw each other once a year at the annual NCS Reuben Awards banquet.
Here we are 40 years later, and CAPS is still going strong, with a pretty good mix of artists, writers, inkers, colorists and jacks-of-all-trades in the cartooning world. The criteria for membership is that you have to be a working pro in print cartoons or comics, which includes comic strips, comic books, educational and commercial cartooning, and a few other niches; with the advent of online cartoons, we’ve sort of redefined “print” to mean “static,” in other words, non-animated cartooning. Many of our members work in animation or film as storyboard artists or animators, but their membership is based on their print work.
I thought I’d take a page here and offer up shameless plugs for some of my fellow members who have webcomics available for your amusement. So let’s go. For the sake of expedience, I’ll go alphabetically by author…
Aidan Casserly has been drawing and writing Scapula for ten years now, in between doing storyboard gigs and drawing caricatures. His ongoing story of “the world’s worst supervillain” is nicely absurd, and you can catch up on Scapula over at his site. He recently funded a Kickstarter campaign to publish a new collection of the series. He continues his habit of caricature by casting me as the mad scientist in that story.
Dumb Question/Bad Answer
Former magazine gag cartoonist John Duncan spent years in the entertainment industry, but continues to draw cartoons as well. Here’s his strip, Dumb Question/Bad Answer.
Tom Gammill is most famous for his work as a writer-producer in the TV world–his credits include the Simpsons and Seinfeld– but he’s also a cartoonist, and pretty darn funny. But don’t take my word for it, go check out The Doozies for yourself.
Life of the Party
Travis Hanson is a very busy guy. Aside from producing the daily gag comic Life of the Party (and its soon-to-be-released book collection), for the past several years he’s been cranking out an epic fantasy tale about a dishwasher, The Bean, which is currently upwards of 700 pages, He’s also the creator of the great card game “No Mercy: Kitties vs. Aliens,” he takes on a lot of commissions and commercial work, and he’s a very involved father of five or six or some such (I’ve lost count, there are kids all over the place). Dude’s talented and a hard-working mad genius.
Speaking of mad geniuses, here’s perverse lunatic Lonnie Millsap, creator of the insane gag panel Bäcon. Lonnie has several collections of comics out there, for those who like that sort of thing. He’s also hilarious in person.
Need some dieselpunk? Paul Roman Martinez is your guy. The 19XX is a supernatural alternate history in which a secret society of geniuses including Nicola Tesla attempts to prevent WWII. The story is fun, but what really wins you over is the production design. Paul has a way with zeppelins and vintage cars, 1930s fashions, Art Deco typography, and his tie-in merchandise is all gorgeous. Check it out.
Frank & Steinway
After several years working as a designer in the videogame world, Wil Panganiban finally started up his own comic a few years ago, Frank & Steinway, which finds Dracula (whose real name is Frank) and Frankenstein’s Monster (who goes by Steinway these days) fired from their movie gigs, sharing an apartment, working at Starbucks and hanging out with a bunch of oddballs. There’s a book, available as a digital download.
Rob Hanes Adventures
Randy Reynaldo has been writing and drawing the ongoing adventures of intrepid secret agent Rob Hanes for at least 10 years, and it’s fun action-hero stuff, evocative of Jonny Quest and Tintin. Highly recommended.
Cartoonist, stand-up comic, animator and publisher Carlos Saldaña created his signature character, Burrito: Jack of All Trades, in 1990, and started his comics company, Accent Comics, in 1994. His site also has an animated (and very sarcastic, as the story deserves) history of LA’s Chavez Ravine, which was home to a Spanish-language community until it was seized by eminent domain, allegedly to build new housing developments as part of an urban renewal program, but ultimately sold to the Dodgers to house their stadium when they moved from Brooklyn. Fun and politics all in one place!
I Speak Nerd
Patrick Scullin’s Super-Siblings is an entertaining comedy-adventure story about siblings who turn out to be super-powered adversaries; hero Scout does not know that his arch-nemesis Banshee is actually his kid sister. Over time, the strip became more gag-centric, and eventually was rebranded as “I Speak Nerd.”
Mike Vosburg has been a great comic artist for over 40 years, though he’s never gotten the acclaim his talent deserves. He’s got a blog where he talks about comics and his career, and now his sexy horror-supernatural strip, Lori Lovecraft, is available online, as is his more recent series, the Mad Mummy. You have to love the concept of the latter: a 4000-year-old reanimated mummy, cursed with immortality, is long past tired of the eternal battle between good and evil; he just wants to live quietly in the LA foothill suburb of Tujunga and mind his own business, but certain supernatural busybodies just can’t leave him alone. What’s an undead mummy to do?
And then there’s mine. One of these years I’ll get back to Word Nerd…
I hope you enjoyed this little tour of my talented fellow CAPS members’ work.