Tom Gauld

Tom Gauld

Tom Gauld

Tom Gauld

I first came across Tom Gauld’s work on Flickr, and once I started looking, I couldn’t stop. Tom works in the UK as a cartoonist and illustrator; counting The Guardian and the New Yorker among his clients. His comics are filled with robots, astronauts hapless personalities that combines innocence with wry wit – there’s so much eloquence in his panels, delivered in a deft swift kick.  I read an interview from 2011 where he talks about what he does, and I wanted to share some snippets of the interview that I thought was really thought-provoking.

On  his working process:

I sit and think and doodle in my sketchbook until I have a good idea. Then I’ll make rough pencil sketches on copier paper till I have things worked out visually. Then I hone these sketches on paper and in photoshop till I have a rough version of the image which I can send to anyone who needs to approve it. Then I will print out the image and use a lightbox to trace an ink version which I crosshatch then scan back into the computer where I can clean it up, tweak bits and add any colour. I love using the computer but I try to stay away from it till I’ve done most of the thinking for an idea, looked at it from all sides, because I feel that once the computer is involved things are on an inevitable path to being finished. Whereas in my sketchbook the possibilities are endless.


Tom Gauld


On illustrating a book cover versus a cartoon:

I feel more pressure doing a book cover than almost anything else, I think “This author has probably spent years writing this book: I mustn’t mess it all up with a crap cover”. So I have to try and find a way to react to the book and make something which is suitable, but is also strong and interesting in its own way.

Tom Gauld

On how Edward Gorey has influenced his work:

I like that what he makes is unclassifiable: he makes picture books for adults which aren’t comics, many are self-published but they’re beautifully produced. I love his drawing, the odd narratives, the design of the books, the compositions, the hand drawn typography: everything really. The way I crosshatch (with small “patches” of short lines rather than long ones) I learned from Gorey.

On what he thinks is next for books and print:

One thing which might happen with the rise of e-books is that the books that DO get published in paper may have to justify themselves by being better made, designed and illustrated. That would make me happy.

Read the complete interview here. Also: another in-depth interview about his comic-drawing process that’s really good.

Links: Tom Gauld’s website | Flickr

His books: You’re All Just Jealous of My Backpack [Amazon link] | Goliath [Amazon link]

Pablo Bear Goes to Asia



Two years ago, I met Pablo Ientile as he was working his way across Asia for his book. Now, 2 years later and with lots of stories under his belt, he’s running an Indiegogo campaign where you’ll be able to support his first ever production of the book that brings all of his experiences together – all bounded in a beautiful comic book.

With just 42 hours left to the clock on the Indiegogo campaign, this is your last chance to be a part of his first print run – the campaign is already a success, and as of this point in time has surpassed the €6,577 needed for him to kickstart things!

I did a little interview with Pablo to find out more about the process that lead up to the campaign:

Congratulations on your Indiegogo campaign Pablo! I’m really thrilled to have you with us to talk about your process from the beginning to where you are right now with raising money for your comic book. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and the project?

Thank you Amy, my name is Pablo Ientile, I was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina and I live and work in Berlin right now. I always wanted to make a big project with illustrations and I came up with an idea to combine it with another two of my favorites activities: traveling and meeting people. In the end, with all the ideas combined, I traveled to Asia for 6 months and met a lot of artist along the way, including you, Amy!


How did you get the idea to come up with having yourself as the main character in your comic book?

I needed someone to tell the story so I had to be the main character, but I didn’t want it to be a human being – so I decided I will be a bear and that’s how he became the main character. The words are all me though!


What was the scariest part about starting your project?

I struggled a lot before buying the first flight ticket to Kuala Lumpur, just because I was scared of the idea that spontaneously meeting artists along the way would never work out. But some of the artists I contacted before I left confirmed their participation and that made me feel more comfortable to give it a go.


How many artists did you meet on your journey, and how did you get to know them/approach them about your idea?

I met a lot of creative people, from many different fields and I featured around 40 artists in the book plus many creative meetings with young artists. It was a great decision to meet other artists along the way, it gave me a lot of inspiration and new ideas for the future. I hope I could inspire them too with my ideas.




What were the few most important lessons that you’ve learnt throughout the 6 months journey for your book?

My first plan was to show my friends in Europe how Asia looks like but at the end I was surprised at how many other people were interested in my experiences too as I went along the way. I felt I was showing Asians how Asia looks like and that made me feel very happy.


How did you manage to save up enough money to travel? Did you have any help, or sponsorship throughout the journey?

I had saved up for a long time with the idea of making a big project one day, although at the time I didn’t know what that would be! I kept myself confident that it would be an unique project. I also started my first crowd funding campaign and the amount I’ve received from that represented only a small part of what I’ve spent, but it helped to get the travel done and helped me with my struggle along the way. The trust from the funders was very important to me and gave me confidence I needed for the project.


How has your life changed after your journey through Asia for your book?

A lot! When I came back I was already thinking about future trips, so I thought I will never be able to keep myself still, but after 3 months I started to plan the book so I kept myself busy creating it. I also had a lot of new freelance jobs because the project gave me some exposure as an artist too. Now I can safely say I’m really happy with the result of this project.


What did you do after your trip? How did you put your dreams of turning your experience into a book a reality?

First of all I scanned all the drawings I had. Then I tried to figure it out how the composition would be. At first I started doing a journal-like design, mixing pictures and drawings about my days in Japan – the first country I visited, but it didn’t  look like a professional book. I kept trying new things and I found out that a comic could be a good method for telling the story of my travels, but I had no idea how to make a comic! So after 6 months of trying, I finally had the first chapter ready and I started to send it to publishers, but with no results. So I asked myself: “do you want to continue with the rest of the story without having a publisher?” and I said “yes!”. Two years later I’m answering this interview for the crowd funding campaign of my first comic book!


What is your advice for aspiring artists who look up to you as a role model?

I recommend to all new writers and illustrators that if you believe in an idea you should fight for it! So don’t give up too early, you can still learn a lot in the process. And never forget to have fun at work, you live only once.


Lastly, tell us something random about your trip! (any funny details or happenings, or even tips for traveling in Asia perhaps?)

The most amazing thing that happened to me in Asia was my experience with food! I wholeheartedly believe that everyone should travel to Asia at least once and try as much food as they can – for me it’s a big enough reason to go back.

Thanks so much Pablo!

You can support Pablo’s Indiegogo crowd-funding campaign here! (Hurry, there’s not much time left!)

How to draw Calvin & Hobbes

Calvin & Hobbes

The short answer is: You can’t.

You know why? I did. I tried when I was 13 years old. And boy did I try.

When I heard the news that Bill Watterson  would be retiring, I took it really hard. I felt my heart sank and it just wasn’t something that I could stomach. So I acted out – I bought the remaining anthologies of his book needed to complete my collection, and waited in eager anticipation of his last book. I cut out all the comic strips that was in the paper (because I wasn’t sure it would be collected in book form later on, so I had to hedge my bets – it was the era before the internet, after all).

And then I decided that the series should continue, with or without Mr. Watterson.

I would have to do it.

I began right away – I got my supplies ready. Ink, check. Brush, check. Drawing pad, check. It took me more than 6 months of drawing everyday to get Calvin’s hair almost right. But it never was. Hobbes hands would never look as slender, nor would his expression give off the charm that only he had – my version was always shorter and fatter, with none of the proud look of a tiger doll. The only time it looked almost similar to what Mr. Watterson drew was when I traced over his comics. Yes, I was a shameless copycat – but it was all in the name of learning, and I was just 13.

Those drawings never saw the light of day because they didn’t look right. I had dozens of notebooks with sketches of Calvin (I was obsessed with that hair!) and Hobbes (the only thing that came close to looking good was his tail) – most of them half-drawn and abandoned when I felt that it wasn’t turning out the way that I was expecting them to. I didn’t use an eraser because I thought those were for wimps (how hardcore was I?!) and I felt that there was something Mr Watterson wasn’t letting on about his process. I was frustrated. I felt like my hand wasn’t listening to what my brain was saying. Move here! Hit the curve right there! Darn it! I wished that I had a transmogrifier so that I can turn myself into someone who spewed out perfect C&H comics.

I gave up about a year in. I drew my version of Hobbes mainly on birthday cards for my parents – but that was about it. I didn’t get rich, and I certainly wasn’t able to convince my mom and dad that I was the next comic genius or one who could succeed Mr. Watterson in continuing the lineage of the Calvin & Hobbes series.

But what I did learn from the experience was that it’s super hard to copy someone else.

Even with all that effort (a year’s worth of time, ink, and lots of paper), I didn’t make a dent in the universe. I did try, but I was just making a really bad replica of someone else’s work (Mr. Watterson wasn’t just someone, IMHO, but I’m digressing) and I more importantly, I was always a step behind.

I was living in someone else’s shadow.

If you’re copying because you’re still learning, carry on. That’s what I advise students who don’t know how to get started, and I always end with a caveat: just don’t put it online! Now, if you’re done – how about you step away from the shadows so that you can shine bright on your own accord?


Pssst. Hankering for Calvin & Hobbes? You can read the comics right here. And also Bill Watterson’s interview with Mental Floss in 2013.

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