Saturday, March 07, 2015

Judge Parker Six Years and Going

This month start my sixth year working on Judge Parker for King Features. Over 1800 strips later I am still cranking away as the pile of strips in my art storage keeps growing and growing. JP is by far the longest steady gig I have ever had as a cartoonist and one in which I think has allowed me to constantly improve my craft.  The strip above is from an upcoming Sunday.

A lot of things have changed in my time on the strip, which came in a good time for me as I had just taken a huge hit when an project I was working on and the publisher went bust owing me thousands of dollars. I was in a big hole and still in my undergrad at the time and tuition was due for the next semester. The strip certainly helped climb out of that huge financial hole and helped with keeping the logs in the fire while in school, though at times I did have conflicts between its deadlines and those in school and teaching.

Now that I am well out of school by almost a year one would think the deadlines would improve, but alas not. I see why many old timers had many assistants for various parts of the job, but its a one-man operation here. This is a job that most cartoonists are not cut out for, really, its hard endless work. The biggest thing I learned was to have a good pace and always keep the ball rolling.

At times the grind does wear on me and the strips is never as exciting as superheroes and much harder to draw. I know that has made me a better cartoonist. I think fans assume everything is easy but superheroes allow me to stretch and cheat in ways I can't on the Judge. They are real people, eating walking sitting and doing a lot more real life and every day things. Those are harder an a lot less easy to fudge than the Bat Cave. Having just finished the first issue of Convergence for DC and doing JP at the same time was a real switch back and forth between worlds.

I am often asked how I work and I am still all traditional except the lettering which I do in Photoshop. I wish I had the time to do the lettering or the budget to pay somebody to do it, but I don't. So while man things fade away the strip keeps going and I have been told over 10,000 people read it every day on the web alone, which means more people probably read my work on JP than anything else.