Photo
We’re incredibly excited and proud to announce our first monthly comic series, Capture Creatures, with our buddies at Boom Studios! Feels good to be making comics again! More on the story at Comics Alliance, with amazing variant covers by Joy Ang, Amanda Visell and Missy Pena!
The hardcover book collecting the portraits of the 151 creatures featured in this series is available now from B9 & TopatoCo!

We’re incredibly excited and proud to announce our first monthly comic series, Capture Creatures, with our buddies at Boom Studios! Feels good to be making comics again! More on the story at Comics Alliance, with amazing variant covers by Joy Ang, Amanda Visell and Missy Pena!

The hardcover book collecting the portraits of the 151 creatures featured in this series is available now from B9 & TopatoCo!

Photo
A brand new 5x7 print release! Meet William Shibespeare, joining Lumbercat, in our Animals With Jobs series! Grab it at our store now!

A brand new 5x7 print release! Meet William Shibespeare, joining Lumbercat, in our Animals With Jobs series! Grab it at our store now!

Photoset

benignkingdom:

Becky’s working on inks for the screenprint poster project; here’s what she has to say about that:

I’m inking the image to size (18 X 24 inches). After I finished the pencils I light-boxed it onto watercolor paper. I like to ink on watercolor paper for a little texture, I use really thin watercolor paper when I’m inking, it lightboxes easier. I’m inking it with a Winsor and Newton series 7 brush and Kuretake Black Ink 60. I’m working on it at Helio Cafe in LA and I have a tiny gallery show there that you can see in the photo.

Photo
My alt cover for an upcoming issue of Steven Universe! Painted in gouache on watercolor paper. The piece is already sold, but it is currently featured as part of the Steven Universe gallery show at Gallery Nucleus, if you want to check it out in person!

My alt cover for an upcoming issue of Steven Universe! Painted in gouache on watercolor paper. The piece is already sold, but it is currently featured as part of the Steven Universe gallery show at Gallery Nucleus, if you want to check it out in person!

Photo
benignkingdom:

This is part two of the Phil & Becky talk. The rest of them will be sorted by tag here.
Becky: Besides designing a real Pokémon my other crazy dream would be having a cartoon show. I don’t have a huge amount of experience with that stuff but it would be so cool to have your stories reach a much larger audience and to see your characters come alive. And I still really want to make graphic novels. It would be great if I had all of the time in the world and didn’t have to worry about bills to work full time on comics. We are going to make more comics, but finding the time to fit in a project that will span years is really tough.And my other dream project that has nothing to do with art would be opening a cat café. I’d want the cat cafe to only be black cats and you could adopt them. Black cats have the the hardest time getting adopted.I’m going to ask you the same question. If you could do whatever project you wanted what would it be?
Phil: There are a lot of wild dream projects I’d like to do! I want to make a movie. Something with stop-motion animation or with puppets. Or even just live action! When I was a teenager and I was trying to decide what to do with my life, I was split, 50/50, between wanting to be an illustrator or cartoonist and wanting to direct movies. I loved making movies with my friends in high school, running around the neighborhood with a camera, filming stuff in the woods or the old abandoned quarry. I did a lot of that and I took it really seriously. I loved having to solve problems like “how do we film this crazy scene we want to do?” with no real resources or budget at our disposal. But I eventually figured that out of two impossible careers, illustration was probably a little easier to make work since it’s mostly just you, drawing by yourself and not having to rely on hundreds of people all working together to create something, like with movies. But I’m still really interested in making a movie someday. Or even just a TV show that isn’t strictly 100% animated - something like Pee-wee’s Playhouse, where you’ve got cartoons and puppets and someone as awesome as Paul Reubens, all at once. I want some adventurous television executive to take a chance and put something really wacky and different on the air and I want to be the guy that creates that wacky thing. That would be amazing, to be able to create a show like that. But I wouldn’t want to be the Pee-wee of the show, I’d want to be the Wayne White.
I’ve got all kinds of little dream projects I’d like to do though, and some are probably actually things I could make happen if I really pursued them. I want to go on tour with a band for a few weeks and draw the entire time and make a book out of it or publish the drawings in a magazine or something. I want to spend a month living in a cabin in the woods, climbing mountains and eating berries and catching fish and stuff, and drawing the whole time. Not necessarily drawing to document the experience or anything, but just seeing what sort of stuff I come up with while living alone in the woods for a month. I’d really like to create and edit a monthly magazine with big art spreads and comics and short stories and photos of baby animals or naked people or outer space or whatever, just publish all kinds of cool stuff in each issue.The real dream, and this is getting back to what we talked about earlier with balancing freelance and personal work, would be to have the time and freedom to be able to follow whatever creative whim I have each day. I love making comics with the goal of publishing them and making money and I love the challenge or freelance illustration work, but my favorite thing is just drawing whatever I feel like drawing, without any goals beyond having fun and scratching a creative itch. If I could do that every day and make a living just collecting dumb drawings into books every so often, I’d do that.My next question for you is: You went to art school, you came out of SCAD's cartooning program if I'm remembering correctly. Was it worth it? Are you glad you did it? Would you recommend art school to young artists who want to be illustrators or cartoonists? Also, is teaching something you could ever see yourself doing in the future?Becky: Yes, I did graduate from SCAD’s sequential program. I enjoyed my time there and met a lot of incredibly talented artists that helped me to push my work. I think for me I needed to go to art school, it helped to discipline myself and to find my style. Before I had attended art school I was into gothy anime and thought that the only way to tell if someone was a good artist was if they drew really detailed. So I’d do these terribly cross hatched to hell dark moody pictures. And school helped to teach me how to tell stories that had a point and that you didn’t have to make serious work to be taken seriously.Now recommending art school or SCAD is tricky to me. Some people need it, I know many people who never went and have careers as cartoonist. But I also know people who have gone to art school and never made a living doing art and are in debt. Art schools are not good at teaching you how to get a job or how to get your art seen. I really wish that my school had said that you need to go to conventions and you need to post your work online. That is how I have gotten all of my jobs and how I’ve made a living. And the artists that aren’t making a living seem to not do either of those things.SCAD in particular I would not recommend. At this point a lot of the professors I had there have have left or moved to other departments. I don’t know any students there, when I went I knew a lot of talented artists, but that can change each year. It’s very very expensive too. If you want to do animation it would be much better to go to CalArts. Just being closer to LA they actually get professors who are still working full time at real animation jobs. And for a comic school that is more affordable the Center for Cartoon Studies is really good. I think the most important things are to draw everyday, A LOT and to find friends and a community that will help your art grow.We’ve been asked by a few colleges to do talks and most of them never come through. We have done a few talks for Emily Carr in Vancouver. I’d like to do more talks but I’m not sure if I’d want to be a full time teacher, I know some people who just teach one class a semester and I think that could be fun. Maybe at some point in the future when I know more about art then I’d become a teacher.I’m gonna keep just asking you the same questions you’re asking me. Cause they are really good. But I’ll also throw in there, are you interested in making toys or any products? I know that you made a shower curtain recently.
Phil: I also went to school for art but I didn’t really go to Art School. I went to Daemen College, which is a dinky little liberal arts school in Buffalo, NY that just happens to have an art department that offers a BFA in illustration. Most of the kids at Daemen were physical therapy majors or education majors or something. Even within the very small art department, I was very much an odd duck as an illustration major. Almost all of my classmates were graphic design majors. I wasn’t particularly close with anyone. I very much felt like a lone wolf. I was the only illustration major in the entire class of 2007. I was accepted into a lot of bigger art schools like SVA and Pratt and a couple others, but I decided to go with Daemen because it was cheaper and they offered me a better scholarship than my top choice, which was SVA, who also offered me some scholarship money. At the time I kind of reluctantly went with Daemen, but now I’m really glad I went there instead of SVA because I’m only like $1000 away from paying off my student loans. I’d be in debt for half a century if I’d gone to SVA, even with a scholarship.
My feelings about going to school for art are pretty much identical to yours. I think it was really good for me… It challenged me in a way that I needed to be challenged, I learned a lot, I became a much better artist, I learned how to pull all-nighters and meet deadlines. I’m not entirely certain that I’d be where I am right now without that experience. But at the same time, I know a lot of professional artists who didn’t have that experience who are doing just fine. I think it’s definitely not worth it for a lot of people, to go to art school and be in debt for the rest of your life. It was good for me, but I don’t think it’s the right choice for everyone. And Honestly, more so than most things in life, what you get out of art school really depends on how much you’re willing to put into it. I don’t know if I would recommend Daemen’s art program to other people. I have mixed feelings about it. Similarly, some of the professors I had have moved on and I don’t really know what it’s like there now. Even back when I was there, I don’t think it would have been a good fit for a lot of people. They definitely didn’t teach me how to promote my work or how important the internet is, that stuff I figured out on my own luckily. But I did get a lot out of it still, so I don’t know.I think I’d definitely like to teach someday. I’ve done a tiny bit already… I taught drawing to little kids for a few months after college, which was challenging but very rewarding, and more recently I’ve given a couple talks to professional designers and artists. A friend of mine teaches high school art and he had me come in and talk to his cartooning class last year about being a professional cartoonist. I loved that. I think I’d really enjoy teaching illustration to college students and getting to really help them figure their stuff out and start their careers. The thought of doing something like that is really exciting to me. There’s a pretty good illustration program at the university here in Syracuse where I live… I keep thinking I should somehow try to wiggle my way into that scene.Toys! I’ve never really given much thought to making toys. I guess I’d do it, given the chance, because why the heck not. But it’s not something I imagine I’ll ever actively pursue. I don’t pay much attention to what’s going on in the world of toys. I would like to draw stuff for various products though… You mentioned shower curtains… I’ve been kind of weirdly obsessed with the thought of designing shower curtains for a couple years and when I saw that Society 6 had added that as one of the many print on demand options on their site I immediately got in on that. I’d really like to design beer or wine labels. An old friend of mine recently told me she was planning to start her own brewery and I begged her to let me design the beer labels and she agreed and I really hope that actually pans out at some point. I’d really like to see my drawings on bowls and plates and mugs and stuff like that.Actually I take it back, I would like to make toys. The more I think about it, I want to create something like Monster In My Pocket or those little pink M.U.S.C.L.E. guys. Or Z-Bots. Something where you have like 100 different little plastic guys and kids can collect them all. I’d love to design whole series of little monster guys or fighting guys or something. I guess you could 3D print something like that now? I’d want them to come with illustrated trading cards too, with tons of goofy stats on the back. I’m really into trading cards with goofy stats on the back for each guy. I’m working on a proposal for a project right now that is going to be full of goofy stats.So we’ve talked a bit about big dream projects and things we’d really like to work on… are there any big projects that have fallen through for you? Any huge career disappointments? I know I’ve had a bunch of projects and opportunities that were pretty exciting but that never quite panned out for one reason or another. I think that’s something that everyone in our line of work has to deal with from time to time.
more soon xoxo

benignkingdom:

This is part two of the Phil & Becky talk. The rest of them will be sorted by tag here.

Becky: Besides designing a real Pokémon my other crazy dream would be having a cartoon show. I don’t have a huge amount of experience with that stuff but it would be so cool to have your stories reach a much larger audience and to see your characters come alive. And I still really want to make graphic novels. It would be great if I had all of the time in the world and didn’t have to worry about bills to work full time on comics. We are going to make more comics, but finding the time to fit in a project that will span years is really tough.

And my other dream project that has nothing to do with art would be opening a cat café. I’d want the cat cafe to only be black cats and you could adopt them. Black cats have the the hardest time getting adopted.

I’m going to ask you the same question. If you could do whatever project you wanted what would it be?

Phil: There are a lot of wild dream projects I’d like to do! I want to make a movie. Something with stop-motion animation or with puppets. Or even just live action! When I was a teenager and I was trying to decide what to do with my life, I was split, 50/50, between wanting to be an illustrator or cartoonist and wanting to direct movies. I loved making movies with my friends in high school, running around the neighborhood with a camera, filming stuff in the woods or the old abandoned quarry. I did a lot of that and I took it really seriously. I loved having to solve problems like “how do we film this crazy scene we want to do?” with no real resources or budget at our disposal. But I eventually figured that out of two impossible careers, illustration was probably a little easier to make work since it’s mostly just you, drawing by yourself and not having to rely on hundreds of people all working together to create something, like with movies. But I’m still really interested in making a movie someday. Or even just a TV show that isn’t strictly 100% animated - something like Pee-wee’s Playhouse, where you’ve got cartoons and puppets and someone as awesome as Paul Reubens, all at once. I want some adventurous television executive to take a chance and put something really wacky and different on the air and I want to be the guy that creates that wacky thing. That would be amazing, to be able to create a show like that. But I wouldn’t want to be the Pee-wee of the show, I’d want to be the Wayne White.

I’ve got all kinds of little dream projects I’d like to do though, and some are probably actually things I could make happen if I really pursued them. I want to go on tour with a band for a few weeks and draw the entire time and make a book out of it or publish the drawings in a magazine or something. I want to spend a month living in a cabin in the woods, climbing mountains and eating berries and catching fish and stuff, and drawing the whole time. Not necessarily drawing to document the experience or anything, but just seeing what sort of stuff I come up with while living alone in the woods for a month. I’d really like to create and edit a monthly magazine with big art spreads and comics and short stories and photos of baby animals or naked people or outer space or whatever, just publish all kinds of cool stuff in each issue.

The real dream, and this is getting back to what we talked about earlier with balancing freelance and personal work, would be to have the time and freedom to be able to follow whatever creative whim I have each day. I love making comics with the goal of publishing them and making money and I love the challenge or freelance illustration work, but my favorite thing is just drawing whatever I feel like drawing, without any goals beyond having fun and scratching a creative itch. If I could do that every day and make a living just collecting dumb drawings into books every so often, I’d do that.

My next question for you is: You went to art school, you came out of SCAD's cartooning program if I'm remembering correctly. Was it worth it? Are you glad you did it? Would you recommend art school to young artists who want to be illustrators or cartoonists? Also, is teaching something you could ever see yourself doing in the future?

Becky: Yes, I did graduate from SCAD’s sequential program. I enjoyed my time there and met a lot of incredibly talented artists that helped me to push my work. I think for me I needed to go to art school, it helped to discipline myself and to find my style. Before I had attended art school I was into gothy anime and thought that the only way to tell if someone was a good artist was if they drew really detailed. So I’d do these terribly cross hatched to hell dark moody pictures. And school helped to teach me how to tell stories that had a point and that you didn’t have to make serious work to be taken seriously.

Now recommending art school or SCAD is tricky to me. Some people need it, I know many people who never went and have careers as cartoonist. But I also know people who have gone to art school and never made a living doing art and are in debt. Art schools are not good at teaching you how to get a job or how to get your art seen. I really wish that my school had said that you need to go to conventions and you need to post your work online. That is how I have gotten all of my jobs and how I’ve made a living. And the artists that aren’t making a living seem to not do either of those things.

SCAD in particular I would not recommend. At this point a lot of the professors I had there have have left or moved to other departments. I don’t know any students there, when I went I knew a lot of talented artists, but that can change each year. It’s very very expensive too. If you want to do animation it would be much better to go to CalArts. Just being closer to LA they actually get professors who are still working full time at real animation jobs. And for a comic school that is more affordable the Center for Cartoon Studies is really good. I think the most important things are to draw everyday, A LOT and to find friends and a community that will help your art grow.

We’ve been asked by a few colleges to do talks and most of them never come through. We have done a few talks for Emily Carr in Vancouver. I’d like to do more talks but I’m not sure if I’d want to be a full time teacher, I know some people who just teach one class a semester and I think that could be fun. Maybe at some point in the future when I know more about art then I’d become a teacher.

I’m gonna keep just asking you the same questions you’re asking me. Cause they are really good. But I’ll also throw in there, are you interested in making toys or any products? I know that you made a shower curtain recently.

Phil: I also went to school for art but I didn’t really go to Art School. I went to Daemen College, which is a dinky little liberal arts school in Buffalo, NY that just happens to have an art department that offers a BFA in illustration. Most of the kids at Daemen were physical therapy majors or education majors or something. Even within the very small art department, I was very much an odd duck as an illustration major. Almost all of my classmates were graphic design majors. I wasn’t particularly close with anyone. I very much felt like a lone wolf. I was the only illustration major in the entire class of 2007. I was accepted into a lot of bigger art schools like SVA and Pratt and a couple others, but I decided to go with Daemen because it was cheaper and they offered me a better scholarship than my top choice, which was SVA, who also offered me some scholarship money. At the time I kind of reluctantly went with Daemen, but now I’m really glad I went there instead of SVA because I’m only like $1000 away from paying off my student loans. I’d be in debt for half a century if I’d gone to SVA, even with a scholarship.

My feelings about going to school for art are pretty much identical to yours. I think it was really good for me… It challenged me in a way that I needed to be challenged, I learned a lot, I became a much better artist, I learned how to pull all-nighters and meet deadlines. I’m not entirely certain that I’d be where I am right now without that experience. But at the same time, I know a lot of professional artists who didn’t have that experience who are doing just fine. I think it’s definitely not worth it for a lot of people, to go to art school and be in debt for the rest of your life. It was good for me, but I don’t think it’s the right choice for everyone. And Honestly, more so than most things in life, what you get out of art school really depends on how much you’re willing to put into it. I don’t know if I would recommend Daemen’s art program to other people. I have mixed feelings about it. Similarly, some of the professors I had have moved on and I don’t really know what it’s like there now. Even back when I was there, I don’t think it would have been a good fit for a lot of people. They definitely didn’t teach me how to promote my work or how important the internet is, that stuff I figured out on my own luckily. But I did get a lot out of it still, so I don’t know.

I think I’d definitely like to teach someday. I’ve done a tiny bit already… I taught drawing to little kids for a few months after college, which was challenging but very rewarding, and more recently I’ve given a couple talks to professional designers and artists. A friend of mine teaches high school art and he had me come in and talk to his cartooning class last year about being a professional cartoonist. I loved that. I think I’d really enjoy teaching illustration to college students and getting to really help them figure their stuff out and start their careers. The thought of doing something like that is really exciting to me. There’s a pretty good illustration program at the university here in Syracuse where I live… I keep thinking I should somehow try to wiggle my way into that scene.

Toys! I’ve never really given much thought to making toys. I guess I’d do it, given the chance, because why the heck not. But it’s not something I imagine I’ll ever actively pursue. I don’t pay much attention to what’s going on in the world of toys. I would like to draw stuff for various products though… You mentioned shower curtains… I’ve been kind of weirdly obsessed with the thought of designing shower curtains for a couple years and when I saw that Society 6 had added that as one of the many print on demand options on their site I immediately got in on that. I’d really like to design beer or wine labels. An old friend of mine recently told me she was planning to start her own brewery and I begged her to let me design the beer labels and she agreed and I really hope that actually pans out at some point. I’d really like to see my drawings on bowls and plates and mugs and stuff like that.

Actually I take it back, I would like to make toys. The more I think about it, I want to create something like Monster In My Pocket or those little pink M.U.S.C.L.E. guys. Or Z-Bots. Something where you have like 100 different little plastic guys and kids can collect them all. I’d love to design whole series of little monster guys or fighting guys or something. I guess you could 3D print something like that now? I’d want them to come with illustrated trading cards too, with tons of goofy stats on the back. I’m really into trading cards with goofy stats on the back for each guy. I’m working on a proposal for a project right now that is going to be full of goofy stats.

So we’ve talked a bit about big dream projects and things we’d really like to work on… are there any big projects that have fallen through for you? Any huge career disappointments? I know I’ve had a bunch of projects and opportunities that were pretty exciting but that never quite panned out for one reason or another. I think that’s something that everyone in our line of work has to deal with from time to time.

more soon xoxo

Photo
The Steven Universe gallery show is this weekend at Gallery Nucleus! We’ll be there early on so come say hey!

The Steven Universe gallery show is this weekend at Gallery Nucleus! We’ll be there early on so come say hey!

Photoset

A pair of pals, commissioned and painted live at San Diego Comic Con 2014! Thanks so much to everyone who came and saw us. Our next convention dates are SPX (Washington DC), MondoCon (Austin TX) and Thought Bubble (Leeds UK).

Photo
We are at San Diego Comic Con! This is a brand new collaborative print from the Bee & Puppycat crew! Just something fun we wanted to do for San Diego!
Natasha (Creator), Efrain (Art Director), Maddy (Writer) and Becky (Character Designer). Originally painted in gouache, this is an 8x10 print that is available at the Nucleus / Bolt City table (2743)!
Come see us at the Bee & Puppycat panel on Thursday 5:30pm-6:30pm in Room 6A!

We are at San Diego Comic Con! This is a brand new collaborative print from the Bee & Puppycat crew! Just something fun we wanted to do for San Diego!

Natasha (Creator), Efrain (Art Director), Maddy (Writer) and Becky (Character Designer). Originally painted in gouache, this is an 8x10 print that is available at the Nucleus / Bolt City table (2743)!

Come see us at the Bee & Puppycat panel on Thursday 5:30pm-6:30pm in Room 6A!

Photo
San Diego Comic Con 2014!
We are boothing with our friends Scott C and Mike Mitchell at the Nucleus / Bolt City Booth at #2743!
We will have our usual stuff as well as Capture Creatures hardcovers, two brand new prints and a super secret collab print!!
Other than boothing, which we will be doing all week from Wednesday through Sunday, we have some other appearances around the convention!

THURSDAY
5:30pm-6:30pm Room 6A
Cartoon Hangover: Bee & Puppycat and Friends
Both Becky and I (Frank) will be on this panel alongside Natasha Allegri (Creator), Madeleine Flores (Co-Writer), Allyn Rachel (Voice of Bee), Kent Osborne (Voice of Deckard).

SATURDAY
12:30pm-1:30pm Room 24ABC
We are Boom!
I’ll be on this panel with our friends who run Boom Studios and fellow creators Paul Jenkins, Noelle Stevenson!

SUNDAY
10:30-11:30am Sunday @ Boom! Studios (Booth #2229)
I’ll be signing for the new book I write, The Amazing World of Gumball, with artist Tyson Hesse!

The publisher we co-own, B9 Kingdom, will be selling amazing art books by a number of incredibly talented people at Booth #1235!

San Diego Comic Con 2014!

We are boothing with our friends Scott C and Mike Mitchell at the Nucleus / Bolt City Booth at #2743!

We will have our usual stuff as well as Capture Creatures hardcovers, two brand new prints and a super secret collab print!!

Other than boothing, which we will be doing all week from Wednesday through Sunday, we have some other appearances around the convention!

THURSDAY

5:30pm-6:30pm Room 6A

Cartoon Hangover: Bee & Puppycat and Friends

Both Becky and I (Frank) will be on this panel alongside Natasha Allegri (Creator), Madeleine Flores (Co-Writer), Allyn Rachel (Voice of Bee), Kent Osborne (Voice of Deckard).

SATURDAY

12:30pm-1:30pm Room 24ABC

We are Boom!

I’ll be on this panel with our friends who run Boom Studios and fellow creators Paul Jenkins, Noelle Stevenson!

SUNDAY

10:30-11:30am Sunday @ Boom! Studios (Booth #2229)

I’ll be signing for the new book I write, The Amazing World of Gumball, with artist Tyson Hesse!

The publisher we co-own, B9 Kingdom, will be selling amazing art books by a number of incredibly talented people at Booth #1235!

Photoset

benignkingdom:

This is part one of a long conversation between Benign Kingdom artists Becky Dreistadt and Phil McAndrew. Above, part of the cover of Phil’s book Crying in Front of Your Dog and Other Stories, and a painting of some succulents by Becky that she’s never posted! Phil also has a new book coming out this year: a comic to accompany an album by Perfect Pussy and Joanna Gruesome, being published by Captured Tracks. Some previews here. Both artists have Benign Kingdom art books too. Ok here we go!

Phil: SO BECKY, aside from myself, you’re one of only a few professional illustrators or cartoonists I know personally who, in the year 2013, work almost entirely with paint and paper rather than with Photoshop and a tablet. Why are we doing this? Why do you do it? Do you ever work digitally with a tablet?

Becky: I never planned on being a painter. I always knew that I wanted to be a cartoonist of some sort but I didn’t have a specific medium in mind. I really liked (and still like) illustration, animation and comics and all of those things typically use different mediums. I had painted a bit in elementary school with fabric paints and then in high school with watercolors. I didn’t really get into painting until college, where I took two painting classes, but neither of those dealt with gouache which is pretty much what I exclusively use. I actually learned how to paint with gouache from Jeremy Sorese who I went to college with. Up until then I had primarily been drawing and inking comics and doing very little painting.

I didn’t start exclusively painting until I moved to New Zealand with Frank after college. We decided to start a webcomic (Tiny Kitten Teeth) and we wanted it to be in color. I had done some digital coloring in college and I was really slow at it and found painting to be faster. So we decided to make the webcomic entirely painted, also because we hadn’t seen another webcomic do that. And ever since Tiny Kitten Teeth, whenever we do any freelance or commissions people always want it to be painted. I’m not even sure if people know that I can work in black and white and color on a computer. Even with some of the animation work I’ve done people insist on me painting the designs (which does make it easier for me). Recently I’ve digitally colored some images for an animation pitch, as well as using Manga Studio to digitally ink a pitch, other than that, I still paint everything. Besides falling into painting, I do actually prefer it to illustrating on the computer. I like how it looks a lot softer and it’s easier to limit your palette. There’s no “undo” so you can’t obsessively redraw the same line ninety times.  Also being able to sell originals is a huge part of my income, I don’t think I’d be able to make it this far as a professional artist without being able to do that. So as far as I can tell I think I will be painting for as long as my left hand works.

Phil, do you find it difficult to balance freelance vs. personal work?

Phil: I do find it really difficult to balance freelance work with personal work, especially recently. I mean, I love the freelance stuff and I don’t think I’ll ever stop taking on those jobs. But in 2012 I had a blast working on my first book, Crying in Front of Your Dog and Other Stories, which is full of comics that I wrote and drew entirely for myself. I decided that in 2013 I’d try to push my career in a direction where I’d be able to start spending more time on projects of my own. Of course, some awesome freelance stuff fell into my lap and here I am, rapidly approaching 2014, having worked almost entirely on freelance stuff in 2013. I do have a couple of proposals for book projects of my own that are almost ready to be handed over to my wonderful agent, who will hopefully be able to find homes for them. So my hope is that maybe 2014 will be the year where I’m able to spend more time with my own ideas while still paying the bills.

I don’t find it difficult to work traditionally when doing freelance stuff, no. I’ve gotten pretty good at inking and painting really quickly when needed. I’ve been working with ink and watercolors pretty much my entire professional career, so that’s just what I’m used to, I have a pretty good sense of how long it’ll take me to paint things. And I actually will usually do a bit of rough planning digitally before I sit down to paint. I like to scan my inked drawings in and do a really quick, sloppy digital version of the colors before I touch my paints. That way when I do sit down to paint, I’ve got sort of a vague road map to follow and can paint that much faster.

So illustration, comics, animation, gallery shows… we’re both doing all of that stuff, it sounds like. Do you prefer any one of those things over the others? Can you see yourself ever giving up on any one of those things? Is there a visual medium you haven’t worked in yet that you want to do? The only thing I can think of that I don’t think either of us has touched yet is the video game industry…

Becky: I prefer comics, but that is also the most time consuming type of thing that I do. However, this year we have a few projects planned where I won’t be painting entire comic pages so this should speed things up. Ultimately I’d like to be telling more stories, Frank and I have so many graphic novel ideas but it’s hard to find the time to do them, especially when comics typically pay the least. But just like you, we are hoping that for 2014 we would primarily being do our own projects, plus really cool freelance projects, just hopefully we’ll get better at balancing the two.

I do enjoy doing illustration, but I think in the future I want to do less illustration stuff and more comics and when I do do illustration do bigger pieces where I get to spend more time on them. I do want to do more illustration that tells a story, I want to do some more kids books. I’ve only done one so far, Tigerbuttah, and that was three years ago.

I’d like to do more animation. It’s tricky though, because if you do it full time then it becomes very difficult to do your own projects, but I’d like to do more freelance animation. I haven’t done any video game projects at all, I’d love to work on a game! I love Nintendo games, I’m not so into violent games or realistic looking games. My dream is to design one official Pokémon, but I don’t think that would ever happen. And my dream game is Professor Layton meets Pokémon. I don’t need to work on that one, I just want it to exist.

I would like to do designs for board games or a card game. My friends Steve and Leslie Wolfhard got me into board games. I love “Epic Spell Wars of the Battle Wizards” where Nick Edwards did all of the art. I’d love to see more cartoony looking board games.  Maybe a Capture Creatures one?

Phil, here is your question: Since you mentioned video games, is that something that you are interested in working on? Have you ever been approached to work on a game? And what would be your dream game? Also have you thought about working on a board games at all? And because I mentioned kids books, have you ever wanted to make one?

Phil: I haven’t been approached to work on any video games ever. I think I would be interested in working on some video games. Maybe. I’ve never really been much of a gamer, to be honest. I haven’t played through any games in years and years. But I do think it would be fun to make video games or to design characters for one or something like that. I’m not planning to pursue work in the video game industry at all, but I’d definitely consider it if an opportunity presented itself. Sometimes on twitter I write little ideas for joke games I’d like to make. I guess those would be my dream games. They’re sort of like anti-games. A video game where you’re the wind and you have to blow lots of people’s hats off and into the road or the ocean or off a cliff. A video game where you can’t find your glasses and everything is pixelized beyond recognition until you find them. A video game where you’re really old and everyone else moves faster than you and also things aren’t like they used to be. A video game where you wander around in a snowy field looking for a warm place to go but there are no warm places and it’s getting colder. I’ve got a whole file on my computer full of these little ideas for games that I’ll probably never make. But I really would like to make some of my dumb game ideas into games, but I’d mostly just be interested in writing and drawing. I’d have to have someone else who is willing to do all the tough stuff that actually makes the game work.

I have thought about working on board games! And that’s something that I have dabbled in a tiny bit and that I’m eager to do more of. I created some cards for one of the expansion sets for the upcoming Machine of Death card game, which I think comes out pretty soon? I’m not much of a video gamer, but I do play a ton of board games. I’ve always loved board games, but yeah, Steve and Leslie Wolfhard! They are wonderful and they introduced me to some good ones that I hadn’t played before when I was visiting LA last year. And that Nick Edwards game looks beautiful, I’ve wanted to play it for a while now.

I REALLY want to make some children’s books. I know I will eventually, it’s just a matter of time. I’ve been approached by children’s book editors with various book projects a number of occasions in the past, but none of those projects ended up working out. I’ve got an idea of my own, a book or probably a series of books for kids, that I’ve been sitting on for four or five years now. I’m planning to make it my next big project after a couple of other things that I’m currently gearing up to work on. It’s going to be awesome. Just thinking about it makes me want to throw whatever else I’m doing aside and start drawing.

You mentioned wanting to design an official Pokémon and how it’s sort of a crazy lofty dream thing that you’d love to do someday but don’t expect will ever actually happen. Do you have any other really lofty projects or goals that jump to mind when you think about stuff that would be awesome to do but probably won’t ever realistically happen? Imagine you’ve become the most successful and acclaimed cartoonist of all time overnight and you can do anything you want in any medium, time and money are of no concern. What would your next project be?

Continued soon! Thanks for reading.