Wednesday, March 20, 2013

5 Questions With... Cartoonist Tony Carrillo

When Gary Larson's The Far Side was "retired" as a concurrent feature on the comics page in 1995, what remained was a giant sinkhole of cartoon emptiness. The comics page had lost it's general so to say. We still had Charles M. Schulz for another five years and Bill Keane up until 2011, but as far as modernism goes, The Far Side pretty much reigned as the comic supreme.

Larson's style was uniquely his own when he started out in 1980. The skewed view of the world through his eyes was a hit -largely because it was written from a perspective not yet tapped into in the mainstream comic world - a wonderful mixture of reality's flaws and overlooked absurdities that reminded us that there was plenty out there that we weren't paying attention to. His single panel cartoons exposed society for what it is - a large spinning ball of contradictions and frivolous mayhem in which we often take ourselves far too seriously.

His style opened the door for many contemporaries. Bizarro, drawn by Dan Piraro and Non Sequitur  by Wiley Miller are direct descendants of The Far Side, as is Max Cannon's Red Meat, if only in a minimalistic sense. 

Another comic that is drawn in the same vein is F Minus. Drawn by Tony Carrillo since 2002, it also tackles the inconsistencies and obvious pitfalls of mankind and exposes preposterous realities in a comedic light. In my opinion, F Minus is the closest there is to establishing the kind of humor that we grew accustomed to with the Far Side, and in many cases, it's even more brilliant. Life is funny... But it usually takes a funny person to expose it's humor. We  get that with Tony Carrillo and F Minus.

Tony Carrillo

From the official F Minus website:

In December of 2004, F Minus was named the winner of the 2004MTVu Strips Contest, chosen by judges Scott Adams of Dilbert and David Rees of Get Your War On, as well as more than 200,000 online voters. Creator Tony Carrillo received a development deal with United Feature Syndicate. On April 17th, 2006, F Minus began worldwide syndication, and is currently in over 150 newspapers. In the first year of syndication, F Minus was nominated for a National Cartoonist Society division award: Best Newspaper Panel, and nominated again in 2009. Two F Minus books have been released, the first titled F Minus and the second, F Minus: This Can't Be Legal.

Thanks to Mr. Carrillo for taking the time to answer Five Questions. 


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Your cartoons are very funny... Where do your ideas come from?

Most of the time, the ideas come from filling a sketchbook with nonsense until I come up with something I can use, but some of the comics are loosely based on real life experiences. Everyone I know at some point claims one of my comics is about them, which is never the case. Almost never.

Obviously drawing comics is like any other job whereas it has it's pitfalls. Is the occasional "writer's block" ever an issue, and if so how do you deal with it?

I get writer's block all the time. Getting stuck in a routine is usually the cause. My best method for breaking it is getting out around people. Working from home, it's easy to become a crazy hermit, so I'll go to a coffee shop or mall and get ideas by listening to conversations around me. The general public is pretty nuts.

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Is F Minus the only project that you are connected with?

F Minus is my main focus, but I always have other projects I'm working on. I do a lot of writing. For about a year and a half I wrote a monthly humor column for a local publication, which I'm planning on publishing as a collection. I will also occasionally show artwork at locations around town. Unfortunately I am incapable of multitasking, so sitting and thinking about what an elephant might say takes up most of my time.

F Minus's Facebook page seems to be keep pretty busy based from activity from your fans... Do you have any crazy fan stories?

F Minus fans are awesome. I've received really kind letters from people all over the world. It always amazes me that people would take the time to do that. I've heard from soldiers in Iraq, and kids getting in trouble for drawing F Minus comics in class. I rarely get recognized, but one time a guy waved me down at a stop light just to tell me he liked the comic. Bonus: It really impressed my date.

Of your own comics, do you have a personal favorite?

I don't have a personal favorite, but I'm happy whenever a particular element of a comic makes the gag work, whether it be a character's expression or the wording of the dialogue, etc. I think the key to this comic is the look of anger and incredulity on the dog's face.

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Bonus Question: What's the last concert you attended?

The last concert I attended was the Stone Temple Pilots.


Pertinent Links:

F MInus Official (You can view many more of Tony Carrillo's cartoons here)

F Minus on Facebook

F Minus on Twitter

Tony Carrillo on Twitter 

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