One cartoonist posed the following conundrum: if a question is asked only twice or three times, does that make it a FAQ? I say yes, but in case purists disagree I will call these "QUASI-FAQ." ;) Also because I love the concept of an eight-letter word that begins and ends with "Q". They are in order of most frequent to least frequent.
What schedule is Newshounds - The New Generation on?
Once a week, on Monday.
Why do all your characters wear gloves?
Definitely the most frequently asked question. More accurately, itís "why do all your animal characters wear gloves?" since humans do not. Over the years Iíve given all sorts of silly answers, my favorite being domestic animals are pathologically afraid of paper cuts.
The fact is itís a toon convention of the past that I rather enjoy. Face it, why is Bugs Bunny naked except for a pair of white gloves? When I was growing up, Bugs Bunnyís gloves represented that his front paws were hands, thank you very much, and that because of his choice of couture, he would never be a "conventional" bunny rabbit. That was my interpretation, anyway. There was a particular short, Elmer's Pet Rabbit, which influenced me very much: Elmer Fudd brings Bugs home as a "pet", which is a mistake, since Bugs creates all sorts of havoc with Elmerís life. Since then, gloves on domestic animals meant that they werenít "conventional" animals. They were animals with very human qualities; they were animals whose paws were irrevocably hands. It was very much a part of the mythology of my creations from Day One, and since Newshounds was basically an evolution of that mythology, it still persists. Now the rule of thumb is that domestic animals wear gloves, and wild ones do not. Birds, domestic or wild, donít wear them (itís tricky for me to draw birds as it is!). Don't hold me to this exactly; I reserve the right to break my own rule in the name of aesthetics.
Believe it or not, when I first started drawing the strip, I was hoping that no one would notice the gloves, that they would be accepted as a sort of toon convention. Since then Iíve discovered that that toon convention represents a different thing to other people; it represents a toony indignity (as represented by myriad drawings Iíve seen of inanimate objects with goofy happy faces, white gloves, and big Mickey Mouse shoes). It never represented that to me. I hated Mickey Mouse but I thought Bugs Bunny was cool. Still, I tried to downplay the gloves by never bringing them up, but since it seems to have become a great white elephant in the living room, you now have the official explanation.
Hey, I just noticed that both Malcolm and Wolfram are only wearing a collar and tie. What's THAT all about?
Last clothing question. This answer is two-fold: first, it was inspired by Opus from "Bloom County". Second, I'd gotten it into my head that Wolfram looked really encumbered in a tie and shirt, hence the collar-and-tie. Malcolm, being his son, followed in his footsteps.
THE FOLLOWING ARE OLDER QUESTIONS RELATING TO NEWSHOUNDS I.
Why does Renata wear her necklace to bed (or, rather, why did she in the Paul O'Neill story)?
The short answer is it was an accident. When I pencil Renata, I never put her necklace in; that gets added at the inking stage. In the recent story, the effects involving Paul OíNeill took so long that I found myself just inking in Renataís necklace automatically, not realizing until it was too late that sheís in bed and not likely to want to wear it. Whiting it out would have been awkward, so I left it in, figuring that Ferris has probably tried to hock the thing once or twice and therefore Renataís more protective of her good-luck charm than she normally would be.
Of course, forumer Richard Furman has a better answer:
How come no one at KPET seems to care that Manny's dead?
Because they don't know Manny's dead. Kevin got a confused phone call, and Kevin, in his own confusion, mostly remembered the part about the virus. When Roger gave the stole to Angie, she stowed it in her trunk so that no one would ever see it again... until later. In KPET's busy world, they think about Manny often and hope that he's safe, but they've never been presented with any evidence that he's been killed. Now, if you have no idea what I'm talking about, read the archives.
I like your animals better than your humans. Could you not do so many stories around the humans?
I'm sorry you're not as fond of the human characters. I really tried (and am still trying) to make them as engaging and as appealing as the animals are. But in the satirical world of the Newshounds, humans are essential. I have never been comfortable doing a comic strip about an all-animal world. If it helps, just try to think of my human characters as a notch above the Simpsons in the deformed-o-meter.
Have you ever thought of putting this into the papers?
Yes. Before I knew about net comics, that was the only goal I had. However, syndicates take on only one out of 5,000 comic strip submissions, and the competition's tough. So I've changed my tactics. I'm not aiming for newspaper syndication at all anymore. Keenspot and Plan Nine have some credible tactics for bringing cartoons to the wired and non-wired masses via alternative selling methods. I prefer to take this train for now, since my primary interest is in creating a body of work that I can be proud of. While there have been some editorial benefits in my five years of traditional syndicate submission, mostly it's been one huge artistic roadblock, as it's caused me to be afraid of taking too many risks. So my strip may never be "Calvin and Hobbes" but Keenspot and Plan Nine have allowed it to be "Newshounds". ;)
Actually, for a while, I was syndicated. Unfortunately Future Features Syndicate has gone out of business. It's a shame; FFS made a noble effort to buck the traditional syndication routes by giving artists a direct connection with newspaper editors. But FFS's demise is indicative of how tough the whole newspaper syndication market is.
How long does it take to draw each strip?
Two and a half hours on average. One hour to pencil, a half-hour to letter, another hour to ink and erase. Then I scan, add all that copyright la-de-da and it's done.
Who is Tori Spelling and why is Ferris so enamored of her?
She was hired to play Donna Martin in the (now long-defunct) hit soap "Beverly Hills 90210" by her father Aaron Spelling. She has also starred in films such as "The Houseof Yes" and "Trick". More about her can be found at http://www.tori-spelling.com. (Although are you really THAT interested?)
Why does Ferris love her so much? (UPDATE: Or rather, why DID Ferris love her so much? As of October 2004, he sold his last bit of Tori memorabilia, meaning his infatuation with her officially ended then.) Well, let's just say she had that je ne sais quoi that appeals especially to Dorito-eating rats. Her role on 90210 was so pure and convincing that even the taint of nepotistic casting couldn't cause Ferris to cast aspersions on her debatable star quality.
How did you come up with the names for the characters?
I've never been one to put a whole lot of thought into character names. I usually just pick names that sound good. Recently I've been trying a bit harder on that front, but it's still not easy, and often I just choose a name that rolls off the tongue fairly easily. But here are a few that have some backgrounds to them:
Alistair Katt = "Alistair" is from a book my Mom was reading at the time. "Katt" ... remember that bit I was saying about not putting too much thought into names?
Kevin J. Dog = Originally, the name "Kevin" was come up with merely because sounded good with "Alistair". Later various people stipulated that I subconsciously stole this name pairing from two actors from the then-popular Nickelodeon TV show "You Can't Do That On Television": Alasdair Gillis and Kevin Kubacheski. I denied it for the longest time, and it's still a bit of a joke between my brother and myself. And speaking of my brother, he was the one who came up with "J. Dog". In all fairness, Kevin never really had a last name, and when my brother was writing a script for a potential Newshounds story, he put "J. Dog" in as a sort of stopgap until I thought of a real one. Unfortunately for him, that name stuck.
Renata Fayre = "Renata" is from a college classmate who I never knew, but once I heard her name I liked it. "Fayre" actually has a bizarre history attached to it, but my official, even more bizarre explanation is that the whole name is a corruption of "renaissance fayre".
Ferris the Rat = "Ferris" just sounded like the perfect name for a rat. Again, I probably subconsciously ripped it off from another bit of pop culture, this time, "Ferris Bueller's Day Off". (I always hated the title character, and, like Jennifer Grey in the same movie, wished he'd gotten what was coming to him more often. But the message she learned in the movie is true: don't overly worry about the jerks who get away with being jerks, worry about yourself first.)
Wolfram Blitzen = "Wolfram" is from the wolfish qualities of the original character design. "Blitzen" is a little wordplay on a famous newscaster. It's all good fun!
Sam Shepherd = "Sam" was from a real life black dog who roamed around our apartment building. (Wasn't a lab though.) "Shepherd" is yet more Yogi Bear wordplay.
Lorna Dilbrook = "Lorna" was pulled out of thin air, but "Dilbrook" was a combination of two last names of two friends that I had at the time
Yvonne = just a name
Pomme de Terre = This character was supposed to be a Pomeranian, but I couldn't draw one. Still, the "pom" sound stuck as part of the name.
Hal O'Peridol = The dictionary defines "haloperidol" as "a depressant (C21H23ClFNO2) of the central nervous system used especially as a tranquilizer" -- and I'm guessing Renata finds him QUITE depressing.
Stormy = from a real life dog we used to own back in the late eighties.
Connor = Sounds nice and Celtic, eh?
Rochelle O'Shea = "Rochelle" came from nowhere, but "O'Shea" is from a Monty Python skit where Eric Idle plays a Scottish girl named Lassie O'Shea. Get it? Collie? Lassie? Okay, it doesn't work. I admit it. :/
"KRVL" = "K- RiVaL". Ha ha.
Manny the Mink = alliteration is fun.
Della = She resembles a drawing in an old joke book that I remember from grade school that accompanied the joke, 'What did Della wear? Her New Jersey!'
Randy = Self-explanatory, unless you don't understand British slang.
Dirk Snoogems = I have no idea where this came from, but it's awesome.
Nigel = Believe it or not, I used to have a gay dog character named Nigel back in the early nineties. He never went anywhere, but when I came up with the character of Alistair's fan/friend, the name came back to me.
Now I'm guessing you know more about the names than you ever cared to know.