Editor's Note: You've seen Steven Colbert's "Better Know a Lobbyist," but our version is so much gayer! Each weekend, we spotlight a different TBP contributor. In case you've missed any of our previous interviews, I've got links at the end of the post.
This week we're talking with webcomic strip artist Storm Bear, author of Town Called Dobson. Stormy, as our regulars affectionately call him, is just as shocked as you that the strip is so popular. After starting as a small art project, TCD has grown to be one of the most read independent editorial webcomics today.
Storm Bear is living proof everyone makes mistakes that can only be attributed to youth. His first big stumble into adulthood occurred during his first trip to the voting booth - when he voted for Ronald Reagan. Thankfully, he was an alert young man. He quickly ascertained that Reagan's notion of "trickle down" economics was just a polite way of saying "look out below!"
Since then, Storm has been questioning authority and disturbing the political peace on a regular basis. He got beat up at a Klan rally just for questioning the Grand Dragon's use of high thread-count satin in his robes. Oh, and there was the time he was in a public restroom with Jesse Helms - as the Senator took an explosive dump, Jesse was singing "What a friend I have in Jesus." He even has a UFO cult on his ass.
I really enjoyed talking with Storm about our shared love for zombie flicks and how he got his start in the cartoon business. Follow me after the jump for his insights on zombies, as well as holiday traditions.
1. How did you get involved with TBP?
As I understand it, Bil stumbled across my site and loved the snarky humor and the Gay Agenda Daisies. He asked if I was interested in posting strips to Bilerico and being the marketing whore that I am, I quickly agreed!
2. You're one of our few contributors who isn't LGBT or Q. What the incentive for you to contribute to a queer site?
I see it completely different. I do not see that I am contributing to a LGBTQ site, but contributing to a site with a smart readership. I don't demograph my Black audience or my Hispanic Audience or any audience. If someone likes to read the strip, I don't categorize them in anyway other than smart.
That said, I think because I am "Queer Blind" just like I am "Color Blind" it allows me to communicate to a larger swath of individuals. We are all people and we all can have a shared humor as Americans. I think if I focused on producing the strip for a particular demographic, the strip would fail. For example, if I produced the strip for Palin lovers, the strip would fail because that group can't read.
3. I hear you're a fellow connoisseur of zombie flicks. What are some of your favorites?
I think the reason I like the zombie genre of horror is because it is typically a morality play on humanity's abuse of science - seeking power over the weak or poor, etc. Resident Evil portrays genetic engineering gone bad. The more recent Quarantine has the development of a super rabies strain as a possible terror weapon. In most of these stories, it has science being abused without a moral compass. I had the pleasure (read disgust) of working at a medical school and the things they did to animals were horrific. Much of the research was needless and could have been done via humane needs. Zombies are humanity's payback for the abuse of science.
Beyond story morality, zombies seem to have a lot of fun. After they escape from their pens (they always somehow manage that) they tend to roam the streets. I just love it when zombies swarm the streets of San Francisco. It wasn't two weeks ago when I had a couple of zombies begging for my brain on BART.
4. When did you start doing comics?
One night in 2004, I was bored out of my mind, in a hotel room with no cable and no net access. I had nothing to do. As my wife can testify, me being bored is a bad thing. So I decided I had enough time to experiment with a comic strip. That night I developed about a half a dozen characters and made three strips based on topics from that morning's USA Today. I was off to a roaring start and got no farther. Life happens.
A couple of years passed and I had forgotten about this little side project until folks started burning down embassies because of pen and ink cartoons about Islam. I then wondered how mine, specifically the two with Johnny Allah would be viewed. When I went back, almost 2 years later, I thought they were even more poignant than before.
So I decided to crank production back up.
5. Other than your own strip, what are some of your other favorites?
Doonesbury of course. I also read Ted Rall, Mikhaela Reid's The Boiling Point, and some of the oldies but goodies include Calvin and Hobbes, Bloom County and the follow-ups of Outland and the now defunct Opus.
But I worship at the feet of Darren Bell and his Candorville. His stuff rocks. (Damn it!)
6. With the holidays approaching, what are some of your favorite holiday traditions?
Being somewhat of a Euro-pagan, slacker Buddhist gives me a solid foundation of traditions to draw upon. We start off with Samhain (Halloween for the uninitiated) and the oodles of candy. Then there is the Thanksgiving Dinner. Oh, don't forget the latkes and sufganiyot (a kind of jelly doughnut) for Hanukkah . . . and the endless Christmas dinners, the Yule parties and the the Celebration of Saint Lexington and his annual BBQ feast! (OK, I made that last one up.)
I would go back before Halloween to Ramadan in September, but that is a month of fasting and we can't have that.
Check out previous interviews with TBP Contributors
Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore
Rev. Irene Monroe