Original short interviews with notable, rising or overlooked
figures from comics or the larger entertainment field by Bill Baker.
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BAKER'S DOZEN for 10/31/2007
A month or so back I ran across a bit of interesting PR announcing Stay Tooned!, a brand new magazine covering the field of cartooning and the creators who work so hard on the many comic strips that fill the funny pages of newspapers across America. Intrigued, I contacted John Read, the man behind it all, to find out what we might expect from this new periodical. I soon discovered that John's answers to those and my other questions, along with his boundless enthusiasm for the medium, not only satisfied my curiosity, but also served to stoke the fires of my mounting anticipation for the release of this periodical's first issue.
Now it's your turn to find out what all the excitement's about by...
Gettin' in Tooned
John Read on Stay Tooned! Magazine
Bill Baker: For those who might have missed the announcement, what is Stay Tooned! Magazine?
John Read: Stay Tooned! will be my humble attempt to fill the void left by the late Cartoonist PROfiles and the defunct The Aspiring Cartoonist, both of which I loved.
BB: So, who do you see as your primary customers for the mag, and what need will you be filling in their lives?
JR: My target readership is working cartoonists, wannabe cartoonists, and all fans of the art of cartooning. As such, Stay Tooned! will feature interviews with professional cartoonists, and articles and regular columns pertaining to the art and the commerce of cartooning.
BB: Where did the idea for this magazine come from, who's been involved in the day to day work of making it a reality, and what kind of changes did it go through during its development process?
JR: Earlier this year, I was reading Marcus Hamilton's account in Jud Hurd's wonderful Cartoon Success Secrets about how, at age fifty, he became involved with Hank Ketcham and Dennis the Menace. It's a wonderful life-affirming story, and it reminded me of how much I enjoyed reading about cartoonists, their lives and their work. While there are great publications about comics artists available, like Hogan's Alley and The Comics Journal and Draw!, there hasn't really been a successor to Cartoonist PROfiles, or to The Aspiring Cartoonist, both of which ceased publication in 2005. I'm hoping there are plenty of others like me who miss the information and instruction those two magazines offered.
As for the day-to-day work of making Stay Tooned! Magazine a reality, I'm pretty much producing it and publishing it on my own time--I have a real full-time job as a graphic designer--and on my own dime. It is, after all, my dream. There will be others writing the articles and columns, but I've interviewed thirteen of the fourteen cartoonists being featured in the premiere issue. As yet, I've not had to make any changes from my original plan, but at this point I'm in the midst of the production of the first issue.
BB: How did R.C. Harvey get involved, and will there be further additions to your roster of columnists?
JR: I'm a long-time fan of Bob's cartooning and writing--in 1987 I wrote him for permission to use his character Zero Hero as a "mascot" for my comics store, and he graciously acquiesced--and it was my fantasy come true to have him involved with this adventure. I solicited his opinion and guidance before I made the final decision to go ahead with this. Just yesterday, Tom Richmond (MAD magazine regular) also agreed to join us for what will be a "Tom Answers Your Questions" column. Also committed to regular content are Craig Fischer of Appalachian State, and Dr. Daryl Coats. I'll be asking--and/or begging--a few other writers whose work I respect if they'll come onboard, too. I would absolutely love to have Tom Spurgeon, The Comics Reporter himself, involved somehow.
BB: What kind of features are you including in the first issue? And how do you decide which ideas make the cut?
JR: Interviews of, and articles about, cartoonists, with instruction and information of value to aspiring cartoonists, will round out the content of the premiere issue. There will, of course, be a lot of the art of the aforementioned cartoonists on display, too! As for what makes the cut, it's whatever I can pack into it--because I want this first issue to make a really good first impression.
BB: What kind of factors helped set your theme for the first issue? And what are some of the other themes you're considering for future installments?
JR: Because I live in the South, and because I'm paying for travel expenses with my own money, and because I really wanted to interview the cartoonists face-to-face if possible, I chose to give this first issue a "Southern cartoonists" theme. All of the guys--no females in this issue, I'm sad to say--I'm profiling live in North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Alabama, Louisiana, Kentucky, Tennessee or Mississippi. I like themes, and I may have theme issues in the future, depending upon which cartoonists I can line up. There'll be no theme for Issue # 2, because I've already gotten cartoonists from Missouri, Arizona, Georgia, Massachusetts and, again, Tennessee.
BB: Any chance you can talk about specific features you'll be including in future editions?
JR: Not yet.
BB: I've got to ask, why take on this project now? What spurred you to do this at this point in your life?
JR: I like my regular job, but I don't love it. The personal stories of Marcus Hamilton and Mike Artell (author of Cartooning for Kids and motivational speaker) spurred me toward doing something I could be truly passionate about. I love cartooning, always have; I'm a bush-league artist who teaches kids, part-time, how to draw cartoons; and I have shelves full of books about comics and cartoons. Why shouldn't I do something that combines my creative talent with my love of the art and craft of cartooning?
BB: Knowing even the little I do about your background, and how diverse it is, work-wise, I was wondering if there was any commonality between the different jobs you've held over the years? And what did you learn from each of those gigs that has helped you in this new endeavor?
JR: I've worked in the service sector, I've worked in retail and advertising, and I worked off-and-on in the motion picture business for 21 years. If working with so many different kinds of people in so many different places has taught me anything, it's that I've learned to have a conversation with just about any body.
BB: What do you get, personally and professionally, from doing Stay Tooned! Magazine?
JR: Ask me that question after I've gotten a couple of issues under my belt. I can tell you this, though: I'm already having more fun doing this--talking to all these talented, giving, fascinating people who make their living drawing funny pictures--than I've ever had talking to producers and directors and writers and actors, famous or not!
BB: What do you hope your readers get from the magazine?
JR: Several of the cartoonists I've spoken to have told me that if I can put into Stay Tooned! the enthusiasm I show when I interview them, the magazine will be a success. I think cartoonists make magic, and I want to promote their magic-making.
BB: Bottom line, what do you hope to accomplish with Stay Tooned! in the short term? How about over the long term?
JR: Short term: publish a magazine about something I care about, without spending my retirement. Long term: I hope to publish a magazine whose subscription base and advertising revenues allows me to focus all my attention on its mission of promoting the art and commerce of cartooning.
BB: Let's say that someone is undecided or even thinking that Stay Tooned! isn't something for them; is there anything you'd like to say to them to help sway their opinion towards giving it a try?
JR: If you are interested in comics and cartoons, and in the people who make a living drawing them...or if you are looking to discover new comics and cartoons to enjoy, take a look at any single issue of Stay Tooned! Magazine.
BB: How can people get a copy, or even a subscribe, to the magazine?
JR: It will be subscription-based, though I'll be trying to find a distributor for comics shops and art stores. Information about buying it will be available soon on our website staytoonedmagazine.com. For now, anyone interested can be put on our mailing list by emailing me personally at email@example.com.
BB: Anything else you'd like to end before I let you get back to work?
JR: Wait'll you see our first cover! It features six characters appearing together for the first time, with each character drawn by its individual
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