Q&A with Scott Kurtz (Part Four of Four)
Last part of a weeklong Q&A with Scott Kurtz.
If you could recommend one con to be a creator’s first con, what would you suggest?
Something local. Even if it’s shitty at first. Just to understand logistics. Then once you get an idea of what it takes to set up somewhere start branching out to cons that are a drive away. Do this before you fly anywhere.
Where do you source your T-shirts from? (who is the mill/maker, who handles the printing, etc.)
Don’t worry about it. You should not be making tee shirts yet. Worry about more important stuff. Your audience isn’t large enough yet to merit you investing the capital on tee shirts. Especially from my vendors.
Do you have any tricks or favorite methods for generating ideas when you’re experiencing writer’s block?
I get in my car, turn off the radio, and drive somewhere. I don’t know why but that always works. It worked today actually.
What is the biggest lesson you have learned as a storyteller?
Stories do not have to be epic to be engaging as hell. In fact, the smaller moments are more engaging I think. And intimate. And you can always build from there.
Also, a couple Webcomics Weekly’s ago, you mentioned you were reading a book about Hank Ketcham. What was the title of the book?
“The Merchant of Dennis The Menace.” Apparently it was originally published years ago and got reprinted by Fantagraphics. You can find it on Amazon. Brad, you should post a link.
Could you comment on how you compose panels within your strip. Something I’ve always enjoyed about your work is the cinematic quality of it; how it feels like the frame is looking through a camera rather than watching characters on a stage (like most strips). I think it feels more dynamic where most feel stagnant. A really simple example of it is how often when you have 2 characters talking rather then doing the standard profile side by side conversation you will have the view over a shoulder looking at the other character. It seems like this is was a choice you made at some point a few years ago and it would be nice to read your thoughts on this.
So here’s what you can do to learn this at first. Get an episode of a sitcom you like. Or any TV show I guess, but usually sitcoms have similar settings to comic strips. And sit in front of it with a sketchpad. Be sure you can pause the show.
Rule out some panels. Like…real fast. Just a line down the middle of the paper and two lines equidistant going horizontal. Just make six quick panels.
Now pick a scene. And pause it at the first camera shot. Do a really quick and dirty sketch of the scene. Focus on character positioning and larger props. Then unpause and wait for the next camera angle change. Pause again and sketch. Fill up the six panels. Keep in mind how much dialog went by.
Do that enough and you’ll have a sketchbook full of different POVs you can use when you’re building strips later.
What do you consider to be your biggest mistake as a cartoonist when you first started (and I’m not talking about the fourth grade)?
I wish I had saved more money. And that’s not a joke answer. I should have always paid myself first, to a savings account. Just a percentage of everything I’ve ever earned. I would have gotten by just as easily, maybe went without some luxuries, and would have a nicer savings than I do now.
In hindsight, do you have any thoughts on the “Fake Scott McCloud” era? For example, do you regret linking to his critiques from your site, probably increasing the amount of exposure that he would have received otherwise. Did you ever find out the identity of the “Fake Scott McCloud”? If not, do you have any theories about the identify that you would be willing to share? Thank you for taking the time to answer our questions.
I think the fact that you’re the only person who even remembers that pretty much confirms that YOU were the fake Scott McCloud.