You heard him a few months ago talk with Case about his series Decade of (in)Experience and now he’s back to chat with John about his new book, Mr. Butterchips!
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Alex Schumacher – Mr Butterchips
All right, guys. Welcome back today. I am sitting here and talking with Alex Schumacher about his new book. Mr. Butter chips, Alex, put on the show before it talk about other things, welcoming him back.
Talk about the new book, mr. Butter chips from SLG publishing. Alex, how are you doing today?
Alex Schumacher: you know, aside from the fact that my state is on fire, I’m doing pretty good. Otherwise
John: fire is affecting my state two States up. Yeah,
Alex Schumacher: I know it like all of the offshore winds and stuff are carrying it that far up North, which is kind of insane.
John: Yeah, well, we got, we’ve got spires from down South. You guys coming up here, [00:04:00] we got fires from Idaho coming over and there’s also a bunch of fires in Western Washington too. So it’s like everywhere around us is on fire. Luckily where I’m at. It’s not on fire, but I just see all the smoke and the ashes and the apocalyptic sun that happens every other day.
Alex Schumacher: Yeah. I mean, I sound like I’m complaining, but honestly I know we’re in one of the more lucky positions as far as central, Northern California goes, we’re not actually. You know, in any imminent danger, but the smoke is definitely not fun.
John: No, it’s not fun to be outside and smoke, but it always, it tastes bad.
Me get a taste.
Alex Schumacher: Yeah, my voice, my throat’s actual scratchy. So if that comes through in my voice, that’s probably why
John: just makes it sound more hardcore. It’s fine. Like you’re hardcore smoker cigarettes.
Alex Schumacher: It was two packs a day
Alex Schumacher: about mr. Butter chips.
John: it fits mr. Butter chips, right?
Alex Schumacher: It does. So we’ll just tell everyone that I spoke to you back today.
John: It is, it’s a, it’s an autobiography. You are the monkey. It’s fine.
Alex Schumacher: That’s right. That’s actually what I look like. People don’t know that, [00:05:00] but yeah, it’s so fortunate.
John: I assume the vest, no pants and hat, right. Yeah.
Alex Schumacher: I mean, I do get some stares when I walk around outside, but you know what? It’s price to pay for self expression.
John: That’s their problem. Not yours. Exactly. That’s
Alex Schumacher: what I think too, but agree.
John: I’m all for that. The whole, you know, the Hatton and invest, look it just rocket forever. It’s fine. It never goes out of style.
Alex Schumacher: No, it doesn’t. It’s for all seasons, man.
John: So for those out there who don’t know, let’s start off by talking about you real quick.
Before we get into mess Rochester, why don’t you give everybody listening? Who didn’t hear the last episode you’re on kind of, a little bit about who you are and what you do.
Alex Schumacher: I am a cartoonist or graphic novelist, whatever you want to call it. I create comics mostly. I’ve seriously been doing it. since about 2015, I started off with a web comic called decades of an experience.
I dabbled a little bit before that and did a graphic novel called the unemployment and ventures of Aqua [00:06:00] lung for in 2013. Nice. And a few things here and there and took a couple of detours into music and animation and fields like that. But found my way back to comics. And like I said, in 2015, there had been just sort of going full steam ahead since then.
And I, you know, write my own stuff and I tend to do most of the artwork myself, for the comics that are out right now. Anyway. And so, yeah, I’m with the literary agent right now, who’s pitching some graphic novel properties. So, you know, just trying to progress every day, it’s worked out for people to read.
I mean, that’s the biggest thing for me is just. You know, sharing those stories.
John: Nice. I write and draw comics myself as well. I’ve been doing it for since Oh three. well web comics and then little horror comics here and there nothing major. but just for fun on the side stuff, but, it’s funny cause you say cartoonist when I was a kid, I wanted to be, I wanted to draw from Marvel and DC.
I wanted to draw Batman and eczema and you know, [00:07:00] when I was in my teens and I was very much against the term cartoon, except to me, a cartoonist was somebody who drew like Archie. You know, so somebody do like Donald duck, which no offense. I mean, those are amazing. Those are great books in their own.
Right. But I want it to be like Jim Lee and Todd McFarlane. Now they’re not cartoon is they’re artists,
Alex Schumacher: right? No. And I think that’s true, you know, there’s these arbitrary distinctions that we tend based on names like that. And. You know, I tend to think of cartoonists. Cause you can say, you know, you’re a comics artist or a comic straighter when you’re mainly focusing on the art side for me cartoonist means you write and draw your own work, but it has somehow taken on this negative connotation over the years through a degree, which is kind of funny.
So, you know, I know there’s graphic novelist will say that too. And some people in the industry tend to, you know, remiss and grouse about that. Cause I think it’s maybe so far too highfalutin for me, honestly. I don’t care what they [00:08:00] call it. If it’s bringing some attention or an audience to the medium that it didn’t have before, I don’t really care what you call it
And I’ve gotten over the whole cartoonist thing, obviously in the last know 10, 20 years. But I wouldn’t mind every time I hear cartoonist, my brain goes back to man. When you were a kid, you were an idiot.
Alex Schumacher: Well, sure. And, you know, I think we all tend to, you know, develop specific associations, those things when we’re young and, you know, as we grow and hopefully mature, I don’t know if I get something for myself on that I’m older, we’ve got more mature.
We tend to expand those world views a little bit. And I think cartoonist is one of those things that. People tend to come back to it and go, Oh yeah, it’s not just this throw away term.
John: no. it’s it’s I mean, I think your right to a cartoon is to somebody who more does the they’re creating the whole cartoon.
Cause then we comics are synced to a static page cartoon, right? I mean, it’s most [00:09:00] easiest expression form. it’s a cartoon that it doesn’t move essentially. And you’re creating a story yourself. So you’re doing both sides of it. So I kind of, I mean, it makes sense cartoon with somebody who writes and draws and creates the whole thing, not just does one aspect of it.
Alex Schumacher: Right. And I think, you know, when you’re talking about. You know, comic books, you know, monthly floppies or any of the direct market. It’s more of an assembly line thing where you have a writer and artist and a letter and all that, which is necessary because a lot of the times you’re putting those out monthly.
So it’s a little bit, you know, those distinctions are a little more necessary, but you know, the people who do the newspaper comics or web comics or things like that. Yeah. I think the umbrella term of cartoonist is more than applicable.
John: I agree. I agree.
Alex Schumacher: I definitely don’t take offense to it. I think I used to, like you were just saying there was this bizarre sort of, I don’t know if it was pride or yeah.
Some pretension that I had where Tunis didn’t sound noble enough.
[00:10:00] John: Right, right.
Alex Schumacher: Yeah, definitely.
John: Yeah. Yeah. So hard segway left. Turn off of that. let’s talk about mr. Butter chips a little bit. What’s the, what’s the elevator pitch for that? For the comic.
Alex Schumacher: I usually say curmudgeonly Capuchin working in the customer service field, raging against the dying of the light.
That’s my elevator pitch.
John: that should be a tee shirt. Yeah. The
Alex Schumacher: alliteration just works nicely there. I also say maniacal monkey sometimes we’ll throw that in, but as long as there’s a literation I think
John: that works alliteration is, I mean, it’s a powerful tool and especially in the comic world, because it makes it memorable and it makes it fun.
Alex Schumacher: It does. I mean, why does Marvel name most of their characters in alliterated styles like that? You know, Bruce banner and Reed Richards and Peter Parker, you know, it works in, it. There’s something that it triggers in your memory that makes it easy to recall, I think. or at least easier, easy to retain maybe.
John: it [00:11:00] does it well, it’s a brain trick, right? Cause as a writer, you’re tricking people’s brains into remembering what you say it’s safe. It’s the same thing as doing like, you know, rhyming names that rhyme. Cause it makes your brain remember it faster.
Alex Schumacher: I feel like with my comics, I’m tricking people into things all the time.
Like, you know, enjoying it.
Alex Schumacher: part of the game,
John: yeah. If people are buying it and you keep it, you know, you’re doing it, you’re doing it for multiple years. Somebody has to be enjoying it. Right.
Alex Schumacher: Yeah, I hope so. And you know, I sort of use self-deprecation a lot because I don’t know, it makes me feel better or something,
and people do seem to enjoy it in their hand. You know, there’s a little bit of a following now and I appreciate, you know, everybody who does go out of their way to read it by the book. So I definitely don’t want to. Sort of insult the intelligence of my audience because I appreciate all of them, every single one of the seven,
John: all seven of them, they all seven of [00:12:00] them are great.
Alex Schumacher: Thanksgiving.
John: It was only seven. You should know them all by name by now. Thank you. Thanks mom. And dad and Oh, no. Sorry. Yeah.
Alex Schumacher: How do you call my dog in the readership? Right?
John: It’s I mean, if you look at the pictures, it’s fine. It’s you know, dogs can see pictures.
Alex Schumacher: Exactly.
John: Yeah. Yeah. So do the idea for this curmudgeon monkey
Alex Schumacher: initially.
Mr. Butter chips was part of an ensemble, a group for a comic strip that I was drawing twenties. My main goal that I was striving and working towards was getting into newspaper comic strips that had been something that I, you know, had a fondness for since I was a kid. And mr. Butter ships was part of a larger group.
Like I said, an ensemble cast for this one comic strip and the [00:13:00] comic itself was, you know, thoroughly mediocre. It didn’t end up progressing very far. And I tried to even repurpose it as an animated series at one point, really go anywhere either. And the other characters were just not as interesting, I think, but mr.
Butter chips was always one of those characters. That I found kind of compelling and intriguing in a way that I knew I wanted to do something with him at some point. And I didn’t quite know what so fast forward several years. And I had a short story published by drunk monkeys magazine, which is the site that hosts mr.
Butter ships now, and the editor in chief at the time, the founder, who’s a guy named Matthew Baraky. Asked me if I wanted to do a comic feature for their sites. So I sort of reached back into the annals of the characters and mr. Butter chips just seemed like a perfect fit [00:14:00] for a site called drunk monkeys.
and it wasn’t even necessarily quite that contrived because I was actually, sort of. Repackaging the character for some sort of, but on his own anyway. So it was just sort of perfect storm of a host for it and, you know, revamping it. So it started out as an Omaj to. The classic underground comics of the sixties and seventies.
Right. And that was it. They Butte in April of 2016. So let’s take you back to them
John: much better time in the world.
Alex Schumacher: Much better time, much simpler time. Go on fire. Right?
John: Well, literally and figuratively.
Alex Schumacher: So the debut then, and again, it was just sort of this. I carried this past each of the comics by people like Robert crumb and Spain Rodriguez and in one of my [00:15:00] favorites, Gilbert Shelton, and then the election happened in November and ad just took a hard left.
Yeah. And it was just, you know, as. As a lot of good art does not saying is good art, but I think a lot of the most effecting art is from places of real emotion. And so the continuation of butter chips for me was definitely a vessel in which I could put my frustration and my anger. But yeah, he didn’t start out that way.
But I think he definitely ended up finding his own voice once I went to the satire.
John: That’s funny. So, I kind of have a similar story of one of my, kind of like it’s, as you’re saying it, I’m like that’s bringing someone what I did. I did it my way. I had a web comic for years, so it was basically. I story about me and my friends.
And it’s basically a way for me to make fun of my college friends. Right. My best friends, and it’s all it was. And, I did it for a while and then I stopped. I mean, he wasn’t, I’m not going to say that it was [00:16:00] good, cause it wasn’t, but it was fun for me. Right. It was like really funny for like the five people I wrote it for, but it was published everywhere, you know, online, but in 2016, oddly enough, I, decided to repurpose it a little bit.
I mean, I did a daily web comic on Instagram where I would draw, I would write and draw a comic every day, which was a pain in the ass to do by the way. But I did it for a year.
Alex Schumacher: It’s quite the undertaking
John: at the time. Yeah. I had a five hour commute to, and from work via buses and a, a ferry boat. So I had plenty of times yeah.
Sit and draw nothing else to do. Yeah. So I repurposed it and I ended up changing a bunch of things and modify like, you know, taking characters out of the. To make any sense and getting into a lot of, you know, social and political commentary and ended up doing really well until I stopped doing it because I got tied into other things.
But getting into that commentary aspect of this, you know, this, any drawn comic on Instagram, I ended up getting a lot of people interested in it, and then I stopped doing it because you know of. Five kids work in life, but
Alex Schumacher: life happens.
[00:17:00] John: Right. Because life’s a thing out there. And I know I’m not a full time artist.
I have a day job that I’ve had for 10 years, you know, pays all my bills. I do. I draw for fun. so hats off to your being able to do it full time. Cause it’s awesome.
Alex Schumacher: It’s work. It’s definitely work because I did know I had a day job up until February of this year. Yeah. So, I mean, it’s just started to be a full time thing for me recently.
John: That’s cool. I mean, it’s people it’s funny. Cause I talked to people out there like fans cause. We’ve been doing the podcast for three years now, three and a half years. I’ve been doing podcasting for 11, 12 years. And I spent a lot of that time talking to comic creators and fans and going to conventions.
And it’s funny. Cause a lot of fans think that writing and drawing comics or being a cartoon or whatever it is just, you know, Oh, well you’re just writing and drawing and it doesn’t take that long to do it. You don’t, I mean, it’s gotta be a super easy I’m like, no, if you’re full time at this, it’s a grind.
It’s a huge grind. You’re putting
Alex Schumacher: it. I think there’s a common misconception, you know, and not. to call anybody out who may think this, but all the readers see is sort of the end result. And if you’re not [00:18:00] at all involved with the production side of it, it’s very easy to kind of have that perception of it.
So, but yeah, I think more and more with the, you know, with how the internet has evolved over the last 10, 15 years, I think there’s a lot more information out there. but it is definitely not. You know, a hop, skip, and a jump to the finish line. There’s a lot of work that goes on
John: a for sure. What’s your question
Alex Schumacher: mean?
You’re wearing all those hats yourself, you know, like you said, you know, you’re writing, you’re drawing, I’m lucky enough to work with editors, but some people edit their own stuff, color, their own stuff. You know, publicize and market their own stuff. So it’s a full time gig for sure.
John: The worst part of making comics as a part I hate is the marketing it’s grilling.
Alex Schumacher: It’s grueling terrible at it. I mean, I’ve been working with a PR firm right now, as you know, don’t hide, which are great, Melissa, and you know, they’re wonderful, you know, for [00:19:00] me, I need. People to be a champion for me, because I’m terrible at trying to pimp my own work. If it were up to me, you know, the log line or something for my work would be, I don’t know.
It’s pretty good. Maybe check it out. I’m stupid things.
Alex Schumacher: I need somebody who’s a little bit more professional and a little bit more well versed in. The marketing and playing up the, or accentuating the talents of the specific person. I kind of need that.
John: Right. I think a lot of artists, a lot of, not as artists, a lot of creative people in general have a hard time marketing themselves because.
their strong point is making the thing, not talking about the thing, right. Like I know for myself, I’ve done, I’ve, you know, written and sold things and published and had things published before. And my hardest part, and I found talking to other people like yourself, you know, the hardest thing to do is say, Well, I made this thing and here’s why I think it’s good because all I want to do is like, well, here’s the thing.
you go have fun with it. And just don’t tell me if you don’t like it. Great.
Alex Schumacher: Great. And for me, and I’m sure a [00:20:00] lot of artists, have the same experience. Where you think something is great that you’ve done, but automatically there’s this bizarre switch that flips where you begin to second guess yourself.
And that’s something a lot of people have to overcome. I had to overcome that to simply put that out on the web and let people see the artwork because that’s kind of terrifying for me to a certain degree or at least it was for a long time. And it was. This hurdle, this obstacle that I had to get past, because if you want to be a professional, if you want to do this for a living, creating comics or books or music or whatever it is, you have to let people in because those are the people that are going to allow you to continue in this vocation.
John: Exactly. And it’s, I don’t know about you or for me, I find that the hardest part of when somebody has credit critical of me. Right. And they give me like, they don’t like what I’m doing. Like, I don’t mind. I don’t care if somebody has an issue with when I write or draw or whatever, or music that I create.
Right. Because I also [00:21:00] do music well. if they’re like, Oh, I don’t like this. Here’s what I don’t like about it. And they give me the, tell me why, but it’s the people who are just trolls and being mean. Sure, I have, I don’t have to think of skin for that. and I’ve had some, I’ve had some, because of the nature of what my comics over the years have been.
I’ve had some people who are just lash out against me, which is, you know, interesting and not very fun.
Alex Schumacher: Yeah. And you know, the thing that I’ve maintained, the place that I’ve, reached, I suppose in my career, as it were, is I’m okay with people loving what I do, obviously, but I’m also okay with people hating what I do.
Right. What I don’t want is indifference.
Alex Schumacher: feel as though if somebody hates what you’re doing, you’re still affecting them to the point where you have real estate in their mind. Somebody just apathetic about it. That’s far more insulting to me.
John: That’s a good point. That’s a good point because whether they love or hate it, you’re still, you’ve gotten in there somehow at some point, which is technically,
Alex Schumacher: so, so give me your love.
Give me your [00:22:00] hate. Don’t give me your indifference because I will just dismiss you. You
John: well, cause like if somebody buys it out of love or out of hate, they’re still buying it.
Alex Schumacher: Exactly. Cause if I pitch to burn them, that’s fine by me because I’m still getting your money
John: by all of them. Multiple times, Burnham in every book burning.
It’s fine. Let’s do it.
Alex Schumacher: Yeah. the whole idea of book burning, not that we have to get on this subject, but that whole thing is just counterintuitive to the point of what they’re doing anyway. Yes. If you love or hate my work, I’m okay with
John: that. Yeah. Yeah. I always not to go off again, but it’s always funny.
It’s like, Oh, they’re canceling this person. They’re going to smash all their students and rip all their shirts or whatever for this company. I’m like, you’ve already bought it. They didn’t care.
Alex Schumacher: They’re getting your money.
John: Like they don’t give a shit.
Alex Schumacher: They really don’t.
John: So to go back into mr. Butter chips, cause I feel like we’re gonna go on tangents all day long, which is totally fine.
I’m okay with tangents. I will try and repurpose back in. Yeah. I mean, at some point, right. so this is a, and pardon my ignorance, but is this the first published version of [00:23:00] ms. Butter chips? Like in print form.
Alex Schumacher: Yes. In print. Yes. It’s the first time it’s been collected. Nice. And I, it’s kind of a full circle moment for me because I stopped creating comics when I was about eight or nine.
I had been doing it all through childhood, which I think, you know, most kids do, or at least most kids who then end up going into the arts. Right. You’re drawing when you’re a kid. And I stopped when I was about eight or nine. got into a few different interests music and, you know, a couple of different things, baseball.
And then I found my way back in my early twenties because I discovered the independent comics of the late nineties. cause I think part of my hesitation in actually pursuing comics was. When I was growing up, I was inundated with artists like Todd McFarlane and Jim Lee, and these people who their renderings are just drowning in light work and [00:24:00] photo realistic.
I would never be able to
Alex Schumacher: well was kind of daunting for me. I mean, I’m sure that was part of it, even if subconsciously, so discovering. Publishers like SLG and Fantagraphics and drawn in quarterly. And seeing that there were these cartoonists that were eating work that was emotional and, you know, deep.
With art that looked a little bit more like, you know, on my end of the spectrum was a revelation for me. So then to be published by SLG with the mr. Butters Chip’s collection has been gratifying in a way that’s almost hard to quantify. they’re not quite as good, active as they were even five years ago, but just say I’m published by the same.
You know how that put out books by Evan Dworkin and turf factor and Ariel Schrag and Roman dirge and known in Vasquez pretty, you [00:25:00] know, Big notch on the belt. I think for me anyway,
John: it’s L SRG has put out some great stuff over the years. I’ve always loved, Pru’s net. Cause he’s, cause I know if I go to an SLG book, same with Fantagraphics is you’re going to get something that’s not mainstream and it’s going to have some quirk to it.
And which is what I like him and goes, I don’t personally read a lot. I mean, I’m a big superhero comic fan. I grew up reading them, but I don’t really read them any more. my son does and I’ll read what he reads just so I can talk to him about it. But for the most part, I want to read. Something new something.
I don’t want to say innovative, but something that’s not static the same. And yeah, I think it’s something that’s personal
Alex Schumacher: books tend to be a lot more personal than, you know, the Biff, bam, pal, monthly floppies. They just tend to have a lot more of that. not even the emotion of the artist, that’s creating it, but also the style part of what I moved away from.
From Marvel and DC, you know, part of what caused me to not really want to read those anymore was this cookie [00:26:00] cutter style artwork. And I, and not to say that the illustrators are not good because there are a lot of them are incredible, but it’s this very specific style that it all kind of looks the same.
And for me, I want to be able to read a book and look at the artwork and say, Oh, you know, Raina Telgemeier did that. Oh, Judd Winick did that. You know, Oh, Jerry crafted that, you know, I want something that’s very singular to the person that I feel like for me, that’s a way to interact with the work on a level that you don’t get from things like the Marvel and DC books.
And even a lot of things by like image and stuff have that same, you know, prodo. You know, photo realistic stock comment, illustrator style.
John: Right? Right. Well, this has like images, you know, trying to hit that market too, but I get it and people love that and that’s fine. But like, but you know, it’s the art in a book should be able to tell a story just as much as the writing and you should be [00:27:00] able to denote who’s.
Style of the art is edited. It is in just as much again, to note the writing, who’s writing it by the style of the writing, right there. It’s two art forms that marry it together to make, you know, the greatest, you know, medium for stories ever comic books. Yeah,
Alex Schumacher: I agree. And that’s the thing too is, you know, I feel like a lot of the times people don’t.
necessarily utilize the medium to its full potential because it is just like you said, the marriage of the words and the art, and both have to work together. If you’re just, you know, illustrating exactly what you’re writing or you’re just plotting instead of. Putting in some actual work with the narrative, you know, for me, that’s not really using the art form to its fullest potential
John: the way I see it.
And I learned this a long time ago and I’ve tried to make sure that I mimic this. When I draw, I can look into the mr. Bread chips page. You do it as well. I don’t know. I don’t know if you do it intentionally or if it’s unintentional, but for the most part, when you [00:28:00] look at a page in a comic book or in a, whatever you want a graphic novel, do you want to call it?
if you removed all the words, you should still be able to get the gist of what’s happening, right? Yeah, absolutely. And if you can’t, if you can’t look at a page without words and understand the basics of what’s happening, then you’ve basically failed on that script as the artist.
Alex Schumacher: I completely agree.
And sometimes even that. Artwork can tell a different story than, you know, what the texts may be telling, but it should be telling a story. As you said, you should be able to read the visuals in a sequential. You know, Mo just the same as you would with the text in there or else you’re just not using it correctly.
In my opinion,
John: I got some MPS. I got a piece of advice from of all people joke with Sada years and years ago, about drawing comic books. And essentially I was talking about his show and I, he was like, he goes, you know, when I asked him about what he looks for new artists, for Marvel or whatever, you know, it’s like early two thousands.
And he essentially said, he’s like, you know, I don’t look for people who draw pinups. We don’t look for, I don’t look for people who can draw. The most amazing looking the Spiderman [00:29:00] in the world. I look for two things I look for. Can they draw a car? Can I draw background? And if I look at their sample pages, does it tell me a story without words, if those two things don’t exist, they can’t draw backgrounds and they can’t tell a story with art.
They’re not worth my time.
Alex Schumacher: Yeah. And I think that’s a fair gauge because we are in the business of telling stories. So if you’re incapable and you focused on. Pinups this whole time. Well, maybe you can, you know, eat out some sort of living as a cover artist or something, but to be hired as a comic, regardless, or to make a name for yourself as a comic artist, you need to draw comics and static images are not drawing.
John: Nope. You’re your line works should have emotion, your line where your line works should also add to your story and you should be able to tell what’s going on.
Alex Schumacher: Yeah, that should be just as. Individual for me, that should be just as individual as the art style itself, because it’s a part of that it’s woven into the same [00:30:00] fabric.
So all of those things work together to create your unique style. And I say all this, and I’m sure there are people out there looking at my stuff going, it’s your
Alex Schumacher: because you didn’t do any of that. But I try.
John: I mean, but you do, you, do you do that though? Your art mr. Has specifically and, there’s some, I’ve seen a few, it does tell a story without the words.
And it is, there is a style that, I mean, there is a consistent style throughout mr. Butter chips that sits there. it’s, you know, you have a certain style with your line. So I’ve talked to me to ask you about, because you do, you, you do shading with your lines, but you do it in a very specific way.
Right. You do very specific hatching in England. You don’t do crosshatching what you do. Hatching. I was at there’s some crosshatching, but for the most part it’s line work for shadows. And, but it’s stylistically. It goes, you know, it flows through it consistency, you know,
Alex Schumacher: Okay, good. That’s good to hear then.
John: Yeah, no, it’s definitely there. It’s definitely there. Don’t I wouldn’t have about that. Okay, good. I actually love the style. She loved the style that this is drawn in because I love this style of the Indies, like shadowed with lions and do enemy hard-lined in some places and soft line. I mean, I [00:31:00] love that style because it’s raw, it’s emotional.
And it adds to the element of like specifically for this ms. Story. Like, you know, the edginess of what it’s about. It adds to that.
Alex Schumacher: Right. Right. and I think it’s also something that you have to experiment with the play up your strengths. You know, I know where my weaknesses are in my artwork. I know what I’m not.
Capable of, or at least, you know, not financial doing right. And so part of finding your style is figuring out which parts to accentuate and which parts may be played down a little bit. And you know, that’s in anything. I think that’s true in sports and music and any other sort of artistic expression. you have to find those areas, the end.
be aware of them. I think if you’re going to put out a decent product
John: exactly right. Be aware of your strengths, play to your strengths, but also don’t shy away from your weaknesses because if you child with meters doesn’t ever improve on them, you know,
Alex Schumacher: that’s true.
John: But yeah, [00:32:00] definitely putting a strain.
I’m a big, I’m a big believer in playing to strengths for not only, and not only just an artwork, but in anything you do in any, like, I work in the corporate world, right? Not to talk about my day job, too much. I work in the corporate world and, I used to work on a support team and I’d have managers that I worked with that was a manager there who would want to just have everybody on the team at the same thing.
Like everybody has the same goal, same everything. And I’m like, well, I get why you want that. But. We have people who Excel in certain aspects and aren’t great. And other ones, then we have other people who Excel in those ones that aren’t good at it. So why don’t we have the people who are really good at a do a and people are really good at B do B and then by nature of people doing what they’re best at the whole team itself will get better.
Alex Schumacher: Oh, that just makes too much sense. John, why are you trying to speak logically?
John: I had so many conversations with upper management about that. They’re like, no, you’re wrong. It has this way. I’m like, yeah. Give me. No, you’re okay. But plenty strengths and then teams and what now it’s like, we, you know, obviously now you, I want I in engineering and you play the strengths and it works.
God forbid, you know? Yeah. I think
[00:33:00] Alex Schumacher: comics are no different than so, so I’ve, you know, it’s something it’s always in progress. I think your style, even if you find something that’s unique unto yourself, it’s always going to be. You know, in a state of perpetual progress, because you’re going to come across different influences and different inspirations and then weaving those in to your own artwork and your own storytelling, you know, tool box a little bit.
So it’s forever in flux, which is okay. I mean, that’s a good thing. So for me, yeah, it was definitely whittling it down to sort of the core of where I excelled and. You know, playing down things that maybe I wasn’t as great at, because then that gives you time to work on that, which I think everybody should.
John: Right. Right. So I want to ask you a question about the actual art process you used for mr. Butter chips. Sure. Are you? And I think I already know the answer because I’ve seen some stuff online, but I just want to ask it anyways. are you drawing this, like your pencil ink [00:34:00] traditionally then hand lettering in this, or do you do this digitally?
how do you create the pages?
Alex Schumacher: Yes, it’s all traditionally done with it’s on Bristol board pen. You know, I use a non-photo blue pencil, which is a trick I learned from some professionals I knew in the animation industry because they use that in animation. So when they’re scanning it or, you know, putting it into the computer, it doesn’t pick up those pencil lines.
So I don’t have to erase it at all, which is incredibly convenient
John: and saves time. Saves time.
Alex Schumacher: Yeah. So I draw with the non-photo blue pencil ink with microns. So archival pens and the nibs on them have some Gibbs. So I can have some variances in the line weights, which I prefer. So it’s not quite a brush, but it gives some of the similar aesthetics.
John: My concert grade. I’ve used my cards for years.
Alex Schumacher: Yeah, they are. They’re wonderful. And so then I scan it in, Oh, I do hand [00:35:00] letter as well, which I’m trying to figure out a way to have my own font made, which I know you can do. And that would not only save time, but save, you know, the stress on my hand. Cause ham lettering is a lot of work.
So I scanned that in clean, up in Photoshop at gray tones in Photoshop. But mostly it’s all traditionally done by hand. And, you know, recently I’ve kind of been contemplating moving over to digitally, pick it up like an iPad pro or something. You know, I love the feel of traditional drawing. It’s what I grew up doing.
I was born in 1980, so I’m kind of, you know, I grew up with the old school traditions. when I went to, you know, I went up to the Bay area in my twenties and met a lot of the greats who were up there at that time. so, so that was my education. And part of that was all of the traditional work styles.
[00:36:00] But having said that I’m also environmentally, you know, minded and I feel like continually buying paper. And drawing things traditionally might not be the best
Alex Schumacher: climate change. So most likely I’ll have to. Come this orb and sort of reckoning with that and switch over. But for everything that’s in the mr.
Butter chips book, that’s all done by hand. Traditionally
John: it’s hard to switch digital. I have an iPad pro and an Apple pencil, and I love it. It’s so much fun to drawn, but it’s not the same. Like it’s not the same as drawing on paper with the pen or the pencil. it does feel different. I have a hard time.
So. On my iPad pro I can color, I can digitally color on it really well. I can do digital paintings, no problem. And those are fun to do. But when it comes, actually for me doing like an actual PA spread or page, it doesn’t feel right. Like it, for me just doesn’t feel like I’m drawing. Right. So I always go back to doozy, actual [00:37:00] paper to draw actual pages.
Then I’ll color it in my iPad or I’ll do like a painting, whatever, but it’s just, it doesn’t feel the same. Yeah.
Alex Schumacher: And I think part of it for me, would be finding the right tools and the right, technology to use. Cause for me, there’s just been with the tablets that I’ve tried out. There’s just been too much of a disconnect between, you know, where my hand is, what I’m drawing on the tablet and what’s actually
John: coming out on the screen.
Alex Schumacher: So it’s gonna be a little bit of a, you know, sort of an adjustment period, a learning curve to some degree. But I do think it’s probably better for the world overall and it’s going to be, I mean, that’s why a lot of people are moving out way anyway. Plus everything is printed digitally, you know, all files are sent digitally, so it sort of cuts out an extra step as well, which is an added benefit.
John: Right. And it makes, it also doesn’t make, if you have to modify something a lot easier, cause you can easily move stuff around.
Alex Schumacher: Yeah. And it’s far more portable. You get something like an iPad pro you can do that at a coffee shop or at, you know, w [00:38:00] you know, like on a commute, like you said, whereas.
Drawing on 11 by 17 Bristol board is when you’re trying to take that out into the world.
John: Yeah. I want to, when I was in college, I was thinking, this talent, certain Marvel talents are for a Thor page. I was doing it at the comments of my college and I actually got a girl to come talk to me while I was doing comic books.
It was critical. So it can work in times. I mean, she talked once and left, but you know, it was whatever. Sure.
Alex Schumacher: Well, I’ve always found, I am happily married now and have been for many years. but yeah, when you’re young, I think part of that is seeing if that might attract some attention from the opposite side.
Cause most of us as cartoonists or illustrators are not really good at many other things, certainly not athletically inclined for the most part. And I know that’s a and realization, but it’s proven to be pretty accurate. Yeah. So for us, a way to sort of attract attention is to illustrate. But if there’s always.
Inevitably, what [00:39:00] happens is somebody will come over and show interest and then what they want you to do is draw.
John: Yup. Yup. Exactly.
Alex Schumacher: It was interesting because I say, no, I can’t do that.
John: Yeah. can you draw, can you drop me a tattoo? I’ve got that one. So
Alex Schumacher: absolutely terrible when it comes to things like caricatures and.
And portraits. So as soon as they asked that now, like I can draw you a drunk monkey that I Excel at
John: very bad version of you. It’s nothing like you, but.
Alex Schumacher: Right. Yeah. If you want to Picasso version or some sort of like Cubist
John: some, we’re
Alex Schumacher: going to hang up on your wall now. That’s not what I would produce for you.
John: I think as an artist, that’s probably the most frustrating is when people find out you’re an artist at any level or any style of art, the first thing they want is you to draw something for, and usually for free and right.
Alex Schumacher: It’s because you love threeness. Why don’t you just whip that up for me in five minutes. It’s just cause like, we randomly will call plumbers [00:40:00] and tell them to come over and fix their sinks for the exposure. Right?
Alex Schumacher: I promise to tell my friend about your business come over.
John: Well, it’s crazy.
Cause like I, I work in the, I, you know, in the computer world, so I get this, I get the same thing from like, Oh, you can fix my computer. Can fix my router for me. And it’s like, come on. I’m not going to call you up to do my accounting for free or to come over and drywall my new bathroom for free, you know, or for exposure for all.
I’ll talk about from my friends, like, come on. It’s like these are professional things that take talent and skill to do. People need to respect that.
Alex Schumacher: Absolutely. And, you know, shifting a little bit pivoting, but still kind of on the same thought process. I added a 22 page story to the back of the Mister butter chips collection because.
You can find all of those strips online for free. You can read them on the drunk monkey’s website. However, if you want that 22 page story or the pinups, you know, the gallery in the back of illustrations, by some friends of mine in the [00:41:00] industry, you have to get the book. And I think you have to incentivize something like that to a degree, because if I was just collecting.
The individual strips will, you can always read those online. Why would you buy the book?
John: Sell that way? Yeah. As I said, the hardest part about web comics is how do you market it after the fact, because people have already read it for free, you know? Exactly.
Alex Schumacher: Yeah. So you have to have some supplemental content in there.
You have to have something. So I actually have a foreword by an editor friend of mine and Kevin Ketner, who was formerly of dynamite entertainment. He wrote a very nice foreword for me. I like I said, I have, I think five or six pinups in the back by some really great illustrator friends of mine. One of which is Keith Knight, who does the K Chronicles and just had his Hulu series woke premiere.
So I’m giving them some publicity
John: last night when I was watching TV, I said all of those cool.
Alex Schumacher: Yeah, that’s Keith. So he has a clinic in my book and then a little bit of a [00:42:00] history on the monkey as well. So I feel like if you’re asking somebody to pay money for a book like that collects a lot of things that are already online for free, you need to give them something extra to actually want to pay for books.
John: I a hundred percent agree with that. I did the same thing for my book.
Alex Schumacher: Yeah. So that was fun to put that all together because. You know, I think it’s pretty noticeable in the 22 page story. The artwork has progressed a little bit since the first strip and you can sort of, you literally watch that progression as you’re going through the book, which I found to be kind of interesting and sort of discovered after that.
but it was. It was pretty cool to see that.
John: nice. That’s cool. I love watching art. One of the things I love about web comics is you can definitely see our progression or even in indie comics. Someone’s not a mainstream book. You can see the progression from start to finish because he’s, and watching that growth, both in the writing and in the art is always fun for me.
I love that aspect of it. Yeah,
Alex Schumacher: absolutely. And so with that, yeah, with mr. Better [00:43:00] strips, when you have it all, you know, in that, you know, In that consecutive, just, you can think of consecutive in a consecutive order like that. you can literally see the progression. So that was, I think, pretty interesting.
And then it was just fun to do a 22 page story, a longer format with the characters. It was fun to do something a little bit different than just the one page, you know, quick story, quick gag or punchline at the end. just to kind of, I guess, gauge and see if I could do it
John: right, right. Which is fine to test yourself and push us off into something I’ve done before.
Alex Schumacher: Yeah. And I, and you know, from what I, the feedback that I’ve heard. People enjoy it. So that’s a
John: plus, that’s a plus. So if people want to pick up this book, mr. Butter chips, where can they pick it up
Alex Schumacher: several different places? You know, you could look on my website, Alex Schumacher, art.com. I imagine those might be in the show notes for people who will have some difficulty spelling tomorrow.
On my [00:44:00] side, I have all the different. Places you can go. It’s available on Amazon. It’s available on Barnes and noble actually saw it on the Walmart site, which is kind of funny. Cool. Recommend is going through a website called indie bound because you can order it through your local bookstore. Those establishments need our support right now.
So they do want to order them. I highly recommend going to inbound.
John: Yeah. I’ll link to that as well in the show notes. So everybody can just go click on that and get right to it. perfect. So since you last question for you, then I’ll let you go. since you do everything traditional, do you sell your pages?
Alex Schumacher: Yeah, I mean, I do on occasion. I was actually going to donate one to the cartoon art museum of San Francisco. So if anybody out there is listening and wants to bid on one of the mr. Buttercups pages for a hundred dollars, which goes directly to benefit and don’t and, you know, for the cartoon art museum, that might be something that’s online soon, but I would definitely be up to selling other pages for myself.
If [00:45:00] people were interested,
John: if they want it to happen, they contact you.
Alex Schumacher: you can go to, again, my website, I’ll let you Mark her art. There’s a contact form on there, or email [email protected] I’m also on Twitter and Instagram at AGA Schumacher art. So you can holler at me there as the kids say and still say that.
I don’t know.
John: None of my kids say that, but I don’t know. I have my kids
Alex Schumacher: don’t, you know, I didn’t know. Yeah. When I was a kid with my life and I’m not going to try now.
John: Aye. Aye. Aye. Aye. Pretend sometimes I have a 17 year old son who likes to be cool and I’m like, I try and be the awkward dad with him. It’s hilarious.
Alex Schumacher: That’s just funny. Yeah.
John: Yeah. it’s fun.
Alex Schumacher: That’s why I write characters like mr. Butter chips. So, you know, it’s a way to be cool by association.
John: This is cool. I was never that cool, but this is cool. No, I know that,
Alex Schumacher: but reading my work and you’ll think I am
John: right. And then try it. No, I’m just a guy who draws comics.
It’s at home
[00:46:00] Alex Schumacher: and cuddles with my dogs at night. Cause I’m lame.
John: That’s not lame. That’s awesome.
Alex Schumacher: I don’t think it is. I think dogs are awesome.
John: Yeah, we just got, we have three puppies, so yeah, dogs are great.
Alex Schumacher: I was find their brains on my comics at some point. I’m sure
John: you probably hear one of my dog Ollie, who is a part Husky.
He likes to yip. So he’s downstairs right now.
Alex Schumacher: Yeah, I can definitely hear him in the back. He just wants to be part of the conversation. That’s fine.
John: He likes to be on the podcast. He wants everyone to know that he’s here.
Alex Schumacher: He’s the real star of this interview.
John: I mean, clearly he’s got more talented. Both of us combined.
Well, Alex, I want to thank you again for coming on the show for, you know, is this like your second or third time? I don’t even know any more, but
Alex Schumacher: yeah, I spoke with Casey first and now it’s been a pleasure speaking with you, so I appreciate you inviting me.
John: Yeah. Well, if you have, when you have your next book coming out, the next milestone or something you want to talk about, you’re more than welcome to come back on and talk to one of us.
We have, there’s four of us total who do interviews. So one of us will have really talked to you. this was [00:47:00] great. And a lot of fun. Yeah.
Alex Schumacher: Yeah. Hopefully that’ll be for a graphic, novel being sold in the very near future. So
John: that’ll be good. We’ll do it. If you guys post it’s a date. Alright, Alex, thank you so much.