After a career in the animation industry, what was it that brought you to the world of comics?
Actually, I’ve come full circle. When I first started drawing as a very young child, I wanted to draw comics but it was very difficult to break into the field. Then I discovered that I had a natural ability to capture movement and acting with my drawing.
During my 2D animation career, I learned how to write and create stories. I put all that experience into creating my animated YouTube video “Snuffy & Zoey’s ToyBox Theater”. This book series enables me to singlehandedly produce a complete story in 2 to 3 months, a fraction of the time it takes to produce animation telling the same story.
What has your process been for creating Snuffy and Zoey’s first book? How does that process compare to your animation work?
The process for creating my book is basically the same as my animation, only simpler (a fraction of the many hundreds of completed and colored drawings necessary). First comes a solid story based on characters in conflict. Second, I create artwork designs that have as much appeal as possible. Third, break down the story script into bite size pieces with all necessary dialog and visualize them within boxes, as I would storyboards for animation. I then add color to the artwork and add the dialog within their balloons.
Do you have any advice for others wanting to write for the all-ages market?
My best advice is what I tell myself: don’t talk down to your reader.
If you want your story to be suitable for very young readers, then you must have innocence. Try to remember what you enjoyed when you were 9 years old and then analyze those elements. Don’t have your heroes be mean… save the meanness for your bad guys.
If you want to write with humor, don’t try to be funny in a snarky way (unless it’s the bad guy doing the talking). The jokes and humor should come from the situation and how the characters react in an honest, but sometimes confused manner creating problems for themselves. Then have the characters figure out how to solve their problems by themselves.
Above all else, give your story a positive and believable ending. Real life is full of dark, depressing stories and there is a need for comics that provide an escape from all that.
What was the inspiration for Snuffy and Zoey?
I’ve been drawing Snuffy for decades as a personal doodle (and on handmade cards) for my wife Cathie, who nicknamed me “Snuffy” early in our relationship because I sneeze very loudly!
I created Zoey about six years ago when I was trying to develop a mobile game for preschoolers. I wanted my game to appeal to both boys AND girls, so I felt it would make sense to have brother and sister siblings as my characters.
I was not fortunate enough to hook up with any game programmers who were interested in helping develop my game idea, so I put it on the back burner.
The cupcakes in this story sure look tasty! What’s your personal favourite flavour of cupcake?
I’m very partial to chocolate cupcakes with cream cheese icing.
Snuffy and Zoey are lucky enough to have lots of toys in their toybox. Growing up, what was your favourite toy?
One of my earliest memories (as a toddler) is of having a large stuffed Hopalong Cassidy plush figure. It was all dressed up in his western outfit, with removable Stetson hat (that was large enough to put on my own head) and playable toy pistols.
I remember tussling with Hoppy on the floor. This was my favorite toy until age 4, when a distant relative visited us and showed me how to draw Mickey Mouse. From that point on, I became obsessed with drawing cartoons. So, pencils and paper became my favorite toys.
Can you give us any hints as to what Snuffy and Zoey’s next adventure might be?
It’ll definitely be a fun-filled fantasy. I’m playing with the elements of flying, pirates, and treasure.