Editor’s Dispatch: Q&A with Bill Bettwy (TAKE IT FROM THE TINKERSONS)

By Brendan Burford

TAKE IT FROM THE TINKERSONS is a new comic strip by Bill Bettwy. The strip launched on DailyINK last week, and the first Sunday strip was published yesterday. TAKE IT FROM THE TINKERSONS is a timely comic strip about the hopes and dreams of a modern family, who tend to learn life’s lessons the hard way—usually at their own costly expense or with varying degrees of frustration and denial.

To introduce fans to Bill and his work, we asked Bill to answer a bunch of questions while he was on deadline. Cartoonists really love when we do that to them! But, Bill is a good sport who took our heated lamp interrogation all in stride. Here’s what he had to say about his new comic, his love of cartooning, what he does for a living when he isn’t behind his drawing board, and the inspiration behind his youngest character’s name.



Q: When did you know you first wanted to be a cartoonist?

I have always wanted to be a cartoonist. No matter what I was into, I was always trying to get into the cartoon industry in some way, shape or form.

Q: Is “Take It From the Tinkersons” your first strip?

Bill: No. I have had several different strips. I posted three or four online for a while before settling into the comic which transformed into the “Tinkersons.”

Q: Do you have a favorite character that you like to draw?

Bill: Tillman or Ted. I think they have the goofiest facial features. I am also having fun with Tubby.

Q: Is there a character that most resembles you and your personality?

Bill: Hands down, Ted. I didn’t intend for Ted to resemble me, but I have been getting that a lot from my friends. (But looking at Ted’s receding hairline, maybe they aren’t actually my friends!)

Q: Is Tillman named after the late Pat Tillman, the former NFL player turned heroic Army Ranger?

Bill: He is! I have such great respect for Pat Tillman. What he did and what he walked away from was an incredible display of character. I consider it an honor to use the name in the strip.

Q: Tell us about your position with the minor league baseball team, the Altoona Curve, as Manager of Brand and Mascot Development.

Bill: I work with the mascots and also do some graphic design. During the day, I help create ads and graphics for around the ballpark, wash and sew costumes and maybe build a prop or two for an upcoming skit. Then, during the game, I help our crew of characters make their way from T-shirt shoots, candy tosses and on-field contests go as seamless as possible. It’s tons of fun…sometimes sweaty, stinky fun.

Q: Who, if anyone, would you say most influenced you to become a cartoonist?

Bill: Charles Schulz. I have been a PEANUTS fan my entire life. I actually listen to Charlie Brown music sometimes when I am drawing.

Q: Whose artwork or which cartoonists’ work do you admire?

Bill: I like Jonathan Mahood’s “Bleeker “ and Dan Piraro’s “Bizarro.” I also really dig Norm Feuti’s “Gil” and Scott Hilburn’s “Argyle Sweater.” I am also a huge fan of Scott Metzger’s work. He does the funniest greeting cards I have ever seen. His web comics were always my favorite. Plus, there is a web cartoon called “Bug” by Adam Huber that is really funny. Man, I could keep going here…

Q: Do you have separate writing days and drawing days?

Bill: Um….I don’t really know what I have. I write all the time. All the time! I have to keep a daily log of ideas or phrases that come to me throughout the day. But I don’t write a strip, and then draw it. When I begin drawing, I have the idea of where I want it to end but I let the characters speak as I make my way through the panels.

Q: What does your drawing space look like?

Bill: My “drawing” space is on a recliner in my basement. I pencil and ink there before moving to a desk crammed between the washing machine and Christmas decorations, where I then scan, touch up and finish the strip.