Ask A Cartoonist: Extracurricular Activities

By Tea Fougner

Writing and drawing a comic strip can be a time-consuming effort when you have to have a new cartoon every day, but so many of our cartoonists manage to meet their deadlines and find time to take part in their own personal creative endeavors. This week, I asked our cartoonists what kinds of hobbies and creative outlets they’re interested in when they aren’t cartooning.

When I’m not writing Baby Blues and Zits, I’m a Contemporary Western Art painter, painting in oils on canvas and linen.








I currently have a rodeo and ranching-themed one-man show titled “Roughstock” at the 1821 Gallery in Fresno, California (April 3 – May 31). Here are a few pictures, or you can see some examples of the work on the gallery web site. –Jerry Scott, Baby Blues and Zits

When I clock out of the “Shoe” and “Pluggers” Cartoon Factory, I try to unwind by playing a bit of music; I attempt to play the piano (mostly”standards” from the Great American Songbook), the alto, tenor and baritone saxophones (I’ve played with various groups from time to time, from a community orchestra to a “beach music” group and a band that plays “Chicago Blues”) For about 10 years, I played in a church orchestra, and also a clarinet quartet. Several years ago, I began teaching myself the chromatic harmonica (with the cool button on the side so it’ll play in any key). And several months ago, my wife and I both took up the ukulele, the hottest thing in music these days (and about the most fun to play)!



I got my bachelor’s degree several years . . . uh, decades ago in Studio Art, and still try to find time to produce “Art” (with a capital “A”). I work with a variety of mediums, from oil to watercolor to graphite and carbon pencils. And recently, I’ve been concentrating on learning the ancient art of “silverpoint” . . . drawing in pure silver on a prepared panel. This is the most challenging and unforgiving of any medium I’ve ever used . . . a drawing is made up of tens of thousands (or more) of tiny lines, each one unerasable and permanent. But the results can be beautiful!

After that, it’s back to the Cartoon Factory!

–Gary Brookins, Shoe


I loved the physical act of oil painting, though I haven’t been so committed since becoming a full time cartoonist.

This is more to do with frame of mind and thought processes than lack of free time.
Having said that, I’ve been attending various life drawing classes, on and off, since 2009 (as a student not a model).

 This is a charcoal drawing from one of these classes. I couldn’t get a good view of the model through the crush of students. I had arrived late. I did the next best thing and drew one of the students blocking my view.

Although my cartoons are all line work, the use of charcoal, as opposed to ink and isograph pens, results in a very different finished product.


 I enjoy both mediums equally.

You can see more of my art on my blog here 

–Kieran Meehan, Pros & Cons



I just love drawing. I’ve done freelance cartoon work for Playboy magazine since I was a teenager. I love the opportunity to play with watercolors for them. They’ve always given me lots of latitude as far as subject matter. I do a lot of cartoons about superheroes and other science fiction themes. it’s fun.

I also write. I have contributed articles to each of the six Hagar book collections published by Titan Books, “Hagar the Horrible: The Epic Chronicles”. I write about aspects of the life of my father, Dik Browne. Some of these articles I’ve also illustrated. There is a new book coming out in November.

In addition to this, I have long wanted to write and illustrated children’s books. My first one, “The Monster Who Ate The State” will be published this autumn by the South Dakota State Historical Society Press. It’s about a hungry dinosaur who wakes up in a cave n South Dakota and proceeds to eat historical buildings and points of interest across the state. It was great fun to work on!

But drawing Hagar will always be my favorite thing to do. When something is this much fun, it doesn’t feel like work! –Chris Browne, Hagar the Horrible


Aside from cartooning, gardening, working p/t at a library and selling things on my Cafepress site I also make Phantom of the Opera jewelry. I started making it when I went to see it on Broadway and there wasn’t much for fans to buy except t-shirts, mugs and a charm bracelet. I sell the one of a kind pieces on my Etsy site. It’s a very niche-y market and I am happy when other fans (or phans!) like them enough to buy them! Attached is a photo of a recent piece. Here’s a link to the shop.  –Stephanie Piro, Six Chix


Outside of drawing Barney Google and Snuffy Smith, I also create editorial cartoons for the Byrd Newspapers of Virginia newspaper chain. This is a group of papers that span Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley. I am based at their flagship newspaper, the Daily News-Record in Harrisonburg, Virginia. If you’d like to see examples of my editorial cartoons, you can find them at www.dnronline.com under the “Opinion” heading. –John Rose, Barney Google & Snuffy Smith


 “Oh, boy, where do I begin? Outside of writing and drawing Tina’s Groove and the Wednesday installment of Six Chix, my week is filled with a number of other creative activities.

For the past year I have been drawing captionless cartoons for the American Bar Association’s Journal (yes, that’s how lawyers have fun, by entering caption contests!)

The law cartoons project stems from my work as a magazine gag cartoonist. Here’s some of my stuff featured in the “Gag Gallery” at my website.

Recently I got myself a YouTube channel and started making and posting my own cartoon videos… check them out if you dare…. 

And then there’s my short story writing. I’ve had a few flash fiction pieces published and hope to write more (flash fiction as well as regular-length short stories). Out of all my activities, I would say that writing fiction is the most challenging.


Sometimes I like to wind down by doodling in my sketchbook while listening to music. Out of all my activities, I would say that this one is the most easygoing and carefree.

But wait there’s more! In the coming weeks some of the above outside activities will most likely be on the back burner in order to make time for a book project that I hope to announce soon at rinapiccolo.com and tinasgroove.com

…and that’s about it!” –Rina Piccolo, Tina’s Groove and Six Chix

 What I do is I sing. I mainly sing at local clubs. But I’ve also been entertaining at a Medicaid funded nursing home nearby for over ten years. Here’s a video of me drawing and singing in the background.

–Bud Grace, The Piranha Club

Here are two cards I wrote– they are both illustrated by other artists. My other profession is writing humorous greeting cards for American Greetings. I started out 20 years ago, writing and illustrating full-time; these days I write just once a week and I no longer illustrate cards. The job a nice balance to creating comic strips. By the week’s end, though, I’m done with most creative endeavors. All I feel like doing is balancing my checkbook. The exception is going to museums and galleries. I could do that full time!






–Terri Libenson, The Pajama Diaries

Here’s a bunch of creative stuff I can think of at the moment: 

Wrote a Beetle Bailey stage musical that was performed in CT for 5 months.
Wrote a a half hour Beetle show for CBS
Wrote 4 children’s books. One,”The land of lost things” is on the internet and proposed for a movie.
Wrote my 321 page biography.
Wrote a humor book, “Backstage at the strips.”
Wrote “Encyclopedia of Comicana”
Wrote a philosophy book, “Mind Control.”
Published a newspaper, “The Best of Times.”
Patented an invention, “The Straight Shooter”
One of my 3 college degrees is in Architecture. I designed a $7 million building for the Cartoon Museum in Florida and many additions for other buildings I’ve owned.
I’ve written many poems all my life inspired by my father who was the Poet Laureate of Kansas, an artist, author, musician and architect.
I’ve acted in radio shows, and done lots of stage comedy acts.
I’ve won prizes for oil paintings.
I’ve done sculptures.
I’ve done 8 other comic strips besides Beetle Bailey, 3 are still running and I’ve helped 6 other cartoonists create their strips.
I’ve been nominated this year for the Pulitzer Prize in Literature.

Too much? –Mort Walker, Beetle Bailey

 My personal pet project is the research I’ve done on my Dad’s Infantry Company – part of Patton’s Third Army. My Dad passed away back in 1992 and never spoke about it much so I don’t have his personal recollections. Instead I’ve interviewed men who served with him, gone to the 76th Division’s reunions and spent hours in research including a few visits to the National Archives at College Park Maryland. I hope one day to turn the narrative into a graphic novel.


-Jim Keefe, Sally Forth and Flash Gordon

Since high school, I’ve been interested in all forms of art: writing, music, theater, painting, etc. I’ve done a little acting on an amateur level, and a fair amount of stand-up comedy over the years, including a one-man comedy show about my career called “The Bizarro Baloney Show,” that won the “Best Solo Show” award in the NYC International Fringe Festival in 2002.

I also enjoy painting, examples of which can be found here

Click on the numbers across the bottom for various examples. My plan has always been to paint full time after I retire from cartooning, assuming I can ever afford to do that.

My most recent efforts have been in the field of pop music. I just released an EP of four of my original songs as performed by me and my good buddy, Tiny Tony T. Smith of Tulsa, entitled “No Big Thing”. You can download any or all of the songs for a pawltry 99 cents each at iTunes, Amazon, Spotify, and many of the other usual places you find music on the Interwebs. I don’t make any more than parking meter money from my music but the whole point of creative endeavors is to share, so I certainly hope you’ll give them a listen. These songs are not comedy, but you may find some of my lyrics amusing.

Soon I’ll be doing a weekly podcast that will start with the subject of one or more of my cartoons and spin chaotically off into whatever outrageous thoughts I’ve had about the ludicrous world in which we live. For details about all my various goings on, check my blog here. –Dan Piraro, Bizarro


In addition to drawing comics, I’ve also done a good deal of illustration — my longest running client being Scary Monsters magazine (and its annual Monster Memories special). I’ve been creating the cover art for the ‘zine for twenty-some years now. Five times a year, I take a break from the comic strips to paint or draw classic movie monsters and horror film actors for its covers.

 I also sculpt a little — and have done design work for the model kit industry. In addition to sculpting my own figures, I also designed and did the box art for the Green Lantern model kit from Moebius Models. It was a great experience to see my concept sketches turned into a 3D sculpt by master sculptor, Joe Laudati. –Terry Beatty, Phantom and Rex Morgan, MD

Does gardening count? I love sowing seeds and creating food from bare ground. Tomatoes and courgettes (zucchini) are my favourite very local produce.–Alex Hallatt, Arctic Circle

I enjoy painting landscapes and sketching portraits. –Isabella Bannerman, Six Chix









In my spare time, I play bass in a Christian Band, doing coffee houses and outdoor fairs, etc.,
and it IS fun, despite the expression on my face. –Ron Ferdinand, Dennis the Menace




Like Zippy, I play the ukulele after work. Heavy Metal, Bach fugues,psychedelic, whatever suits my mood. Right now, I’m working on an atonal version of Lady Gaga’s “So Happy I Could Die”. –Bill Griffith, Zippy The Pinhead



I’ve just begun to get back to drawing for my own pleasure, (not that drawing Zits isn’t a pleasure, of course.) For so many years I had editorial cartoon and comic strip deadlines everywhere I turned. It’s still too soon to say where this might lead, but I’m enjoying the simple pleasure of exploring. –Jim Borgman, Zits