Monday, June 04, 2007

Q & A with Lloyd Dangle

Hey, here's a fascinating interview with yours truly...

Q & A with Lloyd Dangle – Author of "Troubletown Told You So; Comics that Could've Saved Us from this Mess"

Q. Lloyd - can you tell us about your latest book and what you find personally most exciting about its release?

Dangle: This book [Troubletown Told You So; Comics that Could've Saved Us from this Mess] is cool because it captures the current situation in America, a moment in time that will go down in history as our most boneheaded years, and crude comics full of insults and nasty takedowns may just be the most appropriate way to show it. There are a lot of serious books like Fiasco, Hubris, etc., but mine is much more fun.

Q. What's the most misunderstood concept that people have about cartoonists?

Dangle: That we are always 100% literal. I don't know why, but sometimes people misunderstand the fact that comics are fictional. I receive emails from people who are angry about something that a narrator or one of my characters said in a cartoon. And that's bad because my narrators and characters say a lot of outrageously stupid things. It's strange, but many people will not apply the same suspension of disbelief to a cartoon that they would for a written story or an episode of Desperate Housewives. It may not be the most misunderstood concept, but it's one that bugs me.

Q. How do you get your ideas and do you ever suffer from the dreaded "cartoonists' block?

Dangle: Oh man, ideas are never a problem! Narrowing them down is what's hard. The big problem is that the times we live in are becoming so absurd that it's hard for a cartoonist to keep pace. The Bush administration is like a 24-7 vaudeville act––tough to compete with for yuks.

About cartoonists block, there certainly are weeks when it is harder than others to get it down on paper. Sometimes nothing seems funny and the act of drawing, lettering, drawing, lettering, just seems like too much to bear. But there's nothing like a deadline to jolt me into action. When I have procrastinated up to the point where I have the minimum time it takes to execute the drawing, the deadline is just like an injection of adrenaline.

Q. There is so much wit and humor in your cartoons, even though some might say the U.S. is a bit bleak right now, what are you most hopeful about and what keeps you drawing?

Dangle: Greed, corruption, and hypocrisy are just like fuel to satirist, like food, so I really have no reason to complain. Bleak times are when people need good cartoons to cut through the bullshit and make them feel better. So you could say, these are boom times. When the world is in less catastrophic times, less likely to break out in nuclear war at any minute, it's a good time to draw cartoons about cats and talking squirrels.

Q. What is the hardest thing about being a cartoonist?

Dangle: When you spend all day working in your studio you sometimes forget the niceties of social interaction, and need to be reminded to get the spinach out from between your teeth. I like my solitude, but sometimes I just have to go out and get caught in rush hour traffic just to feel the hustle and bustle of the humanity.

Q. What is the most rewarding thing about being a cartoonist?

Dangle: Every day I get to engage in free-association, draw pictures, invent stories, and solve creative problems, which are all my favorite things to do. Being able to entertain and spout your ideas to millions, okay thousands, okay hundreds of people is powerful and addictive too. I don't think I could ever give it up.

Q. Who are some of your cartoonist influences or what folks do you admire?

Dangle: Dr. Seuss, old Mad Magazine, MK Brown, Robert Crumb, Claire Bretecher, Matt Groening, Harvey Kurtzman, Bill Griffith, Oliphant, Jules Feiffer, Edward Gorey, Basil Wolverton, Ralph Steadman, Gilbert Shelton, Mark Marek, Gary Panter, Hunt Emerson...

Stuff I read whenever I can: John Callahan, Tom Toles, Lalo Alcaraz, Sipress, Derf, and the ones above that aren't dead.

Q. What would you hope someone would say about your work?

Dangle: "Your cartoons are so funny I almost swallowed my tongue." or "I have one of your cartoons taped to my refrigerator"


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