THE CONVENTION COLLECTIVE: Thank you for joining us in the Spotlight, Scott! How did you get into art and why did you want to become an artist?
Scott Shaw!: I was interested in drawing before I could grasp a pencil, so my dad drew little sketches for me. Like most cartoonists, I couldn’t resist a blank piece of paper, which got me in trouble with many of my school teachers. It wasn’t a decision; it was in my DNA. I was a born storyteller. Whether or not I’m a good one is up to everyone else.
TCC: What was the first work you completed, where you stepped back and thought, “Yes, y’know what, I can do this for a living!”?
Scott: Frankly, I always thought I could do it for a living. I was just frustrated that my work wasn’t better, so I taught myself by copying funnybooks and cartoon shows on TV.
TCC: Which artists inspire you? And they don’t have to be in the medium you work in, either…
Scott: Jack Kirby, Gilbert Shelton, Mort Walker, Hanna-Barbera Productions, Orlando Busino, Todd Rundgren, Hunter S. Thompson, Ed “Big Daddy” Roth, Gene Hazelton, Jay Ward Productions, Willie Ito, Mike Dormer, Firesign Theatre, Bob Weber, Carl Hiaason, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Dr. Seuss…the list goes on and on.
TCC: Can you tell us your greatest fan moment, interacting with a personal hero of yours where you may have gone a little weak at the knees?
Scott: I got weak in the knees when, at the 1973 San Diego Comic-Con, Neal Adams told me to give up cartooning. It was his way of testing the resolution of kids like me and Frank Miller.
TCC: What is your favorite fandom? Who is your favorite comic book character/movie/tv character?
Scott: Fandom is my favorite fandom. I collect comics, animated cartoons, toys, original artwork, books about artists and comic history, monster movies, model kits, cosplay…get the picture? I resent the marketing of it all, though. I don’t need anyone to tell me what to like.
TCC: Outside of the ones you create for a living, what characters/stories do you like drawing the most in your spare time?
Scott: What spare time???
TCC: What’s your working routine? Do you work regular set hours and days, keeping certain days free for personal time, or do you find you create any time the muse takes your background. What do you use?
Scott: I do correspondence and edit my writing in the morning. After that, I ink because my eyes are fresh. Penciling in mid-day. I take a break after dinner. I write late at night when there are no interruptions. I draw everything with physical tools. So far, I’ve never had time to learn how to draw digitally.
TCC: What was the first comic con that you remember attending? And, indeed, what was the last?
Scott: The first fan convention I attended was the 1968 World Science Fiction Convention — “Baycon” — in Berkeley, California. It wasn’t a comic con per se, but there, Greg Bear, David Clark and I met Len Wein and Marv Wolfman. It had a massive effect on all three of us high school kids.
TCC: What’s your favourite element of a comic convention? And which bits could you easily leave behind?
Scott: I like meeting kids who want to become cartoonists and try to encourage them. If they’re nice kids (95% are!), they also get a free drawing from me. That’s very fun and uplifting. The worst part is getting trapped at my table by annoying people I’d rather avoid. No wait, convention bathrooms are the worst part.
TCC: At a convention, when you’re not behind your table or doing the things you have to do at a con, which corner of the show would we find you in?
Scott: Flipping through long boxes of mid-century funnybooks of all genres, digging for more Oddball comics.
TCC: With the lack of conventions, a lot of artists are taking commissions online and mailing them out to people – is this something you’re doing?
Scott: I certainly am. And they’re not just the sort of quick drawings with a Sharpie marker at a shaky and poorly-lit convention table. I’m doing high-quality, tight, and professional-quality pieces. I regularly send updated images of the process to each of my clients. My son Kirby does such secure and sturdy shipping packaging, that he’s gotten rave reviews. I’ve yet to get a complaint. I’ve included a graphic with my rates and terms for original commissioned artwork.
TCC: A lot of creatives are also taking to crowdfunding – such as Kickstarter and Indiegogo – to generate income from their work. What’re your thoughts on that?
Scott: I helped a good friend with an unsuccessful Kickstarter campaign, so time-consuming that he and his partner lost their jobs. I’m not a gambler. Unless someone volunteers to run one for me, my time is better spent creating.
TCC: What projects have you recently finished? What are you working on at the moment, what projects are coming up that you can talk about?
Scott: I just finished my second children’s picture book, Marooned Lagoon, Too!, which will be published later this year. I’m working on a new 21-page comic story for David Lloyd’s Aces Weekly online anthology called Kilgore Home Nursing, about one day in the career of a home care nurse and the weird and darkly hilarious situations she winds up in. It’s based on crazy true stories from all of my home care nurses visiting me while dealing with my shattered ankle and eventual foot amputation. I’m also producing, writing, storyboarding, designing, and laying out a 90 second animated cartoon to promote both Marooned Lagoon books. It’s being directed and animated by my pal Mike Kazaleh, who worked on so many of my Pebbles Cereal commercials. And since the former president, his foreign tariffs, and the pandemic staggered my publisher, I’m still improving my in-progress, 200-page, full-color book for TwoMorrows, Scott Shaw!s Oddball Comics. And of course, I’m doing art commissions to pay for the shiny things that make me happy.
TCC: How do you stay connected with fans? Do you use a mailing list or newsletters, are you active on social media?
Scott: I treat Facebook like my own radio station. I post silly pop culture and San Diego stuff that I like as well as my art and projects. It attracts a fair amount of people. I don’t do Instagram and I barely use Twitter except to promote convention appearances.
TCC: Where can people see an example of your art online and find out about your rates?
Scott: My work is on display at shaw-cartoons.com and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/groups/exclamationpointed/ (editor’s note – all the art displayed in this interview is art commissions, you can Scott’s pro stuff on his site)
TCC: Thanks, Scott, for your time!
Scott: You are most welcome, Dan!
For those attending San Diego Comic-Con Special Edition from November 26-28, you can see Scott at his booth as well as on panels including ODDBALL COMICS: THE WEAR YOUR MASK! EDITION, and 50 YEARS OF FUNNY: THE CARTOON CAREER OF SS!
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