Former Daily Herald editorial cartoonist Aaron Taylor has started a sports webcomic on the topic of his alma mater BYU. Aaron graduated from Brigham Young University in 1997 and was the campus paper’s editorial cartoonist (and won the John Locher Award for his work there in ’97).
Aaron was gracious enough answer a few questions about his new project.
Alan: What made you think of doing a webcomic and more specifically a sports comic?
Aaron: As a kid growing up in Colorado, I was fascinated with the cartoons by Drew Litton, who was the sports editorial cartoonist for the Rocky Mountain News. I thought he had the best job in the world not only drawing cartoons every day, but sports cartoons! When I had the opportunity to do editorial cartoons myself, I found that the ones I did about sports were some of the most enjoyable to create. Somewhere in the back of my mind, I always wanted to do a sports-related comic and saw such an opportunity with Blood Runs Blue.
I also wanted to test a theory that I’d heard (I think it comes from Howard Tayler, but I’m not sure). The theory is: In order to have a successful webcomic, don’t feel that it is necessary to create a comic that has hundreds of thousands of readers. Rather, find a niche and produce a strip that cultivates superfans. These superfans might collectively be a readership that is smaller in number than a general readership, but who are nonetheless very passionate about what you are producing. My thought is to see if I can tap into such a passion that fans currently have for a sports team.
AG: You had a strip syndicated back in 1999 and started a webcomic a short time after that about Greek Gods and golf. Your Ozzy character looks familiar. Did he, or any of your characters, have a previous life?
AT:I guess Ozzy does have a bit of a resemblance to one of my characters from ‘Ph.D,’ which was syndicated in 1999-2000. Since the strip was syndicated to tens of dozens of readers, I’m fairly certain no one will notice.
AG: Are any of the characters based on or modeled after real people?
AT:No one in particular, although the football player Pronto’s name is a variation of a jock who took pleasure in annoying me during my high school years.
AG: Any plans to try to get the strip into the local Provo paper – or the campus paper?
AT:For now it only appears online, but I’ll always be pursuing different avenues to showcase the strip.
AG: How often are you going to post new comics?
AT:At least twice a week — most likely Tuesdays and Thursdays. But because some of the ideas are based on current events, it will be a bit fluid. I also plan on doing a cartoon every day for the week preceding the game against the University of Utah, BYU’s rival.
AG: The strip is fairly new, but what has been the initial reaction?
AT:It’s been about where I expected at this early stage. Positive reaction on message boards and interest from fan sites who want to highlight the comic.
AG: I’d think doing a webcomic based on a real organization would require you to be work close to real time to be timely. Is that the plan or are you not so concerned with being timely?
AT:Some of both, but I am very much concerned about what is currently happening and incorporating it into the strip. I view the cartoon to be as much a sports editorial cartoon as it is a humorous strip. So far, it’s dealt with very current issues, like the possibility of BYU being invited to join the Big 12 Conference, along with addressing the specific school that is being played that week. With that being said, I think the strip also lends itself well to story arcs that aren’t necessarily topical. I think it can be a good mixture of both.
AG: How long have you been working on this before you decided it was ready to make public?
AT:The idea started percolating in June, but I got serious about 6 weeks ago. Using WordPress and the ComicPress theme for a webcomic was a brand-new process for me, so a good portion of that time was trying to get myself familiar with the content management system and figure out a lot of CSS on the fly. There is still quite a bit I’d like to tweak, but I was dead-set on launching prior to the football season opener. My only regret is that I didn’t think of this earlier, launch it during last year’s college basketball season, and catch the Jimmer-mania wave!
AG: On the technical side – are you using pen and ink, computer, combination? What’s your process?
AT:I do some quick initial pencil sketches that I then scan into Photoshop. The rest of the work — inking, coloring, lettering — is done on my iMac using a Wacom tablet (8 years old and still going strong). Since I’m a father to three kids and also have a day job as a creative director, I had to find a process that was the most efficient for me to get a cartoon done on the side. The ability to make modifications and changes on the computer do that for me — although I still find myself getting to bed at 2:30 in the morning most nights when I work on a cartoon.