Today, we hear from Diamond Lil creator Brett Koth.
I always drew cartoons. Always. When I was 11, my mother wallpapered a wall in my bedroom white, and then turned me loose with a black magic marker (How's that for a cool mom?). She and I both knew even then that somehow I wasgoing to end up doing this for the rest of my life. Moms are smart that way.
My timeline: Cal Arts, 1983 BFA in Character Animation. I was a resident of the fabled room A113 (it's a basement, folks). My short (three-year) career in the field included stops at Bluth, Filmation, Disney and Marvel. Then I met Jim Davis and returned to my first love, comic strips. So much for the diploma.
In early 1986, my old friend and Cal Arts classmate Bob Scott (creator of Molly and the Bear) and I both interviewed with Jim for the same job: assistant cartoonist on the U.S. Acres strip. However, because neither of us could hang a spoon from our nose at our joint interview dinner (the one who could do this would get the job - yes, this really happened), he took pity on us and hired us both. Bob has long since returned to animation, but I never did. All these years later, I'm still working with Jim on the writing and layout of the Garfield strip.
After two decades of carefully thought out (and rejected) comic strip submissions, Diamond Lil popped into my head all at once and fully formed late in 2008, and it was launched by Creators Syndicate in March 2010. She's based on a number of older women I've known in my life, many of them from the no-nonsense Midwest, where both sides of my family come from. Lil's an earthy 75-year-old widow who has lived in the same small town her entire life, Turkey Knuckle, Indiana, and who does not suffer fools, or anyone else for that matter, gladly. Her nickname is "Diamond" Lil because (a) she's 75, and (b) she's the hardest substance known to man. She's also named after my great-aunt Lillian, who was quite a character in her own right.
My Lil and Garfield work is done first in sketchbooks, and then digitally on a Cintiq in the Photoshop and Sketchbook Pro programs, although I still pull out a brush occasionally when I feel the need to spill ink all over myself and curse a lot.
My studio is in a room over the garage at my home in Virginia. The commute is fifteen stairs, and the traffic is rarely bad. The view's not bad, either.
My influences and heroes would include Charles Schulz, Johnny Hart, Tex Avery, Michael Maltese, Robert Benchley and S.J. Perelman. Oh, yeah, and ol' Jim what's-his-name. Especially him. He's taught me an awful lot - although I still can't hang a spoon from my nose to save my life.