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Interview: Corey Pandolph on doing 4 strips simultaneously

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I had never heard of Corey Pandolph or Barkeater Lake until a couple of years ago. He sent me an email explaining that Barkeater Lake was leaving comics.com and that he had plans to turn it into a webcomic. Back then, my news gathering operation wasn’t as sophisticated as it is now and, well, I’d post just about anything, so I mentioned the news and promptly forgot about it. At some point between then and now, Corey sent me the first book collection of Barkeater Lake and I quickly became a fan of the quirky characters and Corey’s ability to write great character driven strips. Since then, he’s taken over The Elderberries after the death of Phil Frank in 2007 and launched a new webcomic, Toby. Robot Satan. If that wasn’t enough, he recently launched a fourth strip Greene With Envy about two completely different families – a saddled husband and wife continually stressed about life and kids living next to a younger couple who enjoy all the benefits of a more sophisticated, and childless lifestyle. The strip is less than two weeks old and Corey’s talent for character driven humor is already showing.

I emailed Corey a few questions asking him how he can possibly produce four comics at the same time. Yes, I’m a bit incredulous, you can probably sense that in my questions. So far, things appear to be going well. For those of us who enjoy his work, I hope he can keep it going for a good, long time.

Alan Gardner: You recently launched a fourth cartoon Greene with Envy. This is in addition to webcomics Toby, Robot Satan, Barkeater Lake and the syndicated strip The Elderberries. I guess the first question is, um, why?

Corey Pandolph: Your guess is as good as mine.

I have a thousand filing cabinets full of ideas in my head, and with the ease of putting comics on the Internet, why not add another to my resume? Plus, I love to write the many different characters.

That’s my guess. Although, outright insanity makes a convincing argument, as well.

AG: At anytime did anyone caution you that taking on another strip might impact the quality (either in art or writing) of your other strips? Are you worried about this?

CP: I didn’t tell anyone other than my wife at first. We had just lost the metro income from TOBY and she was very supportive and happily surprised that my reaction was to start another strip. My choice was to either feel sorry for myself and cry unfair, or move forward, harder and stronger than before.

To be honest, I chose to cry unfair WHILE moving forward, harder and stronger.

As far as the amount of work impacting the quality, I’m always late in posting strips by a few hours, but I try not to let the art or writing suffer. I do my best to NOT phone it in, just so there’s something on the page.

AG: Logistically, how does one do four strips in a week? Do you block out days or times specific to each strip?

CP: Short answer: I work all the time.

Longer answer: I work almost all the time.

I do a lot of set up on the weekends, i.e: cutting bristol, penciling, drinking… During the week, I just try and plow through what I can, for as long as I can. I have a set schedule in my mind, but so far, that’s where it stays. I have yet to make it a reality. It’s one of many dreams.

AG: When Mark Tatulli created “Lio” he intentionally made “Lio” artistically different. Was that something ever considered?

CP: I wanted TOBY to look a little different, at first. I tried skinnier people, less detail, etc. In the end, tho, the strip sort of migrated back to my usual style. Which is fine. I dig the way my stuff looks, 85% of the time. I’m happy with the writing 2% of the time. Greene With Envy was always going to be similar in style to Barkeater Lake.

Elderberries is a bit of a challenge, as I’m trying to keep it close to Phil’s original dream. So, to keep the art as different as possible, I use a different pen, tied to the end of a 5’6″ staff. I also stand one leg and often chant in Esperanto.

Everyone has a process, I guess.

Community Comments

#1 David Reddick
June/26/2009
@ 10:42 am

Wow, Corey, and I thought I was nuts! haha – great work. Agreed with Alan, love the character-driven nature of all your strips and characters. Alan, I enjoyed this interview. Would LOVE to see you do more of this!

#2 frank white
June/26/2009
@ 11:14 am

The art style on this is very similar to Wattersons. Nice. I love it.

#3 Wiley Miller
June/26/2009
@ 11:26 am

Isn’t this going to hurt economy at Gritty’s, Corey? I mean, this has got to put a crimp on your valuable drinking time!

#4 Ben Rankel
June/26/2009
@ 11:29 am

Always impressive.

#5 Peter Murphey
June/26/2009
@ 11:45 am

I’m guessing it’s going to improve the economy at Gritty’s, because Cory will be spending more time there, downing
whatever special brew it is they serve that gives him all the manic energy. I’m certainly dropping by the next time I’m in Portland, because I can barely READ four strips a day, let alone draw that many.

Give us a hint, Corey, IPA or porter?

#6 J Read
June/26/2009
@ 12:04 pm

Is there a Guinness Book of Records category for “Most Clearly Insane Cartoonist”?

#7 J Read
June/26/2009
@ 3:39 pm

I hope it’s not prophetic that the first Related Story listed above Community Comments is “Corey Pandolph Found Dead.”

#8 Garey Mckee
June/27/2009
@ 1:06 am

Corey’s always been one of my fave cartoonists. And Toby is my all time favorite.

#9 Mike Cope
June/27/2009
@ 11:27 am

This only reinforces my belief that Corey Pandolph is really a robot — albeit, a robot with a great sense of humor!

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#10 Wiley Miller
June/27/2009
@ 11:30 am

Either that or he never sleeps.

#11 Pat(ricia) Kaiser
February/29/2012
@ 11:36 am

Is Elderberries going to end with the breakup of the Retirement Residence?

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