Meet Your Creator: 'Harley' Artist Dan Thompsonby Caleb Goellner
If you've been visiting GoComics for awhile, you may already know Dan Thompson from Rip Haywire. Or Brevity. Or KidSpot. Or Lost Sheep. He's an active creator! And starting earlier this month, Thompson became even more prolific with the launch of Harley, his all-new comedy strip following the adventures of titular protagonist Harley and his sarcastic cat as they cruise for... well, coffee, mostly.
Rolling Monday through Friday, Harley's been tearing up the blacktop for a few weeks now, so we decided to get in touch with Thompson to see how he's taken to working on four titles and why Harley is the perfect fit for his full schedule.
GoComics: What was your inspiration for Harley and how did you get started on the series?
DT: It’s funny, I was sitting reading the Sunday comics at breakfast last fall when this idea popped into my head to create a comic strip about a biker who rides around with his cat. I got pretty excited about it and sketched out the characters… a funny joke came out of the doodles almost immediately, which is a good sign the characters might have more funny ideas to write about. I was having a lot of fun with the comic strip, so I decided to show it around on my Facebook page and people really responded strongly to Harley. I decided to draw up a couple months worth of Harley comics to see if I could keep it going. It was a fun challenge and I decided to continue it with GoComics.
GC: You work on three GoComics series: Rip Haywire, Brevity and KidSpot. Harley makes four. What do you like about working on so many projects concurrently?
DT: I like the fast pace and staying busy. I am able to get all the comics finished on a Mon.-Fri. schedule. Each comic is uniquely different, which is also pretty cool, so it doesn’t get boring.
GC: Harley has a distinct visual style separate from your other comics. What are some of your influences for the look of Harley?
DT: This is the most natural way for me to draw cartoons. These artists influenced me the most growing up: Johnny Hart (B.C.), Brant Parker (Wizard of Id) and Glenn McCoy (The Duplex).
GC: Do you have a personal connection to Harley's biker lifestyle? A Harley of your own, perhaps?
DT: No, but when I was a teenager, I thought riding a motorcycle would be the coolest thing ever… then one day I got on a motorcycle, drove it around the block, had no idea what a clutch was, hit the gas and proceeded to tear up a neighbor's lawn... the cops came… it was mortifying… thus ending my motorcycling dreams. Maybe someday I’ll ride one of those 3-wheeled Harley’s…they look safe.
GC: Now that you'll have two ongoing strips of your own, have you considered a Rip/Harley crossover?
DT: Cobra rides a Harley from time to time… I think Rip Haywire rode one off a cliff once? That guy is capable of anything.
GC: Much of Harley takes place in a roadside diner. Did you make any extra trips to any diners for research?
DT: As you know, you can never do enough research on diners. My logic was Harley and his cat had to stop someplace to eat and it made perfect sense for it to be a Mom’s Diner with some wacky people to talk to… I thought it would be a funny device for ‘Mom’ the owner to actually treat him like a child.
GC: One of your earlier comics, Lost Sheep, still runs on GoComics in reruns. How do you think you've changed as a creator since Lost Sheep concluded?
DT: I think my art and writing has gotten a little better. I probably squeaked by in English in high school, so I'm still pretty nervous about spelling and punctuation errors without the guidance of an editor. I really liked the humor that came from Lost Sheep. It gave me a lot of confidence to keep trying.
GC: You've spent some time developing Harley prior to its debut. What are you most excited to show readers?
DT: I’m excited to show them everything! I’m still developing Harley to where I think I know which characters work and what their personalities should be … It’s a very fun process and I want to make comics that people will love and maybe be the first strip they read to start their day or share with a friend… that’s what I will be excited and most nervous about.