” Interview with Bill Harvey, Cartoonist” by Joan Y. Edwards
Today, I am honored to interview Bill Harvey, Cartoonist. Bill, thank you for joining us here today. My readers are looking forward to hearing about you and seeing your creations in the comic world.
You’re welcome. I look forward to sharing what I love with your readers.
1) Where were you born and raised?
2) Favorite activity as a child?
Reading Marvel comic books.
3) Number of years spent servicing computers, and large scale printers?
Spent twenty years doing Technician work on computers, and then four on large scale printers.
4) What do you enjoy since you retired in 2021?
I like setting the tempo with my schedule, no rat race or time clock, no freeway traffic.
I like being able to work (more) on art projects and pursuits.
I enjoy seeing projects get done around my condo, small repairs, etc., that I didn’t have time for prior to my retirement.
5) What age were you when comics sparked your interest?
Age six… bought a Spider Man comic book at a yard sale. I enjoyed the story and art. It was like watching a movie, only in print medium. I still have that comic book.
6) What’s the difference in a panel and a strip?
A “panel” is the outer border of each drawing, usually square or rectangular, but can be any chosen shape. The comic strip is finished product. It can be several panels, or a single panel strip, like “Herman,” or “The Far Side.”
7) Why do they use all capital letters in comic strips?
Easier to read. There IS a science behind which words get a bolder font or are italicized.
8) Explain syndication.
A syndication company brokers deals between writers and media outlets, like major newspapers or magazines. They promote columnists and cartoonists alike. Syndicates take roughly fifty percent of revenue — BUT can reach dozens and dozens of paying venues. Even talk shows on radio and cable TV are syndicated. There aren’t a lot of comic strip syndicators, a half dozen, and status quo seems to overrule new and fresh work. PLUS there’s the notion that hardcopy newspapers are in decline, cell phones are the way.
9) When did you start drawing your own comics?
Age seven or so. I enjoyed telling stories…adventure stories. At first I used a spy type character since “The Man From UNCLE” was popular; and with the Marvel superhero comic books as an influence, I began doing superhero stories. Very primitive drawings, but the storytelling was exciting. Especially the fight scenes.
10) Who is your favorite cartoonist?
Hands down…Jack Kirby sparked the flame. His work at Marvel comics was astounding. The figures leapt off the page. He used foreshortening as means to make the artwork three-dimensional. Of course, the scripting and guidance of Stan Lee was important, too. But Kirby was like DaVinci, nicknamed Jack “King” Kirby. Stan Lee would tell up and coming artists to draw like Jack. I tried emulating his style – unashamed. THIS WAS superhero comics; and my aim was to give back some of what I enjoyed growing up – Present it to the next generation of youngsters.
Jack Kirby https://www.nostalgicinvestments.com/by-artist/jack-kirby
11) Did you ever publish a comic book?
I tried my hand at doing my own comic book, but each issue took many months to complete, and printing costs were a couple thousand dollars, plus distribution was difficult.
In 2000 I switched to a single-panel “humor” strip titled THE ODDs. It featured two characters, Tad and Elmira Odd, married seniors. I marketed that strip. The Oregon Senior News agreed to use it in their community paper. Paid ten dollars a panel. Several months later, the editor increased it to $20 per panel used ( THE ODDS was single panel.) This was great news, and gave me the idea and confidence to offer a humor page…Laughter Alley. Sadly, the newspaper that published my THE ODDS comics ceased operations.
12) Why did you create LAUGHTER ALLEY?
LAUGHTER ALLEY was born of turbulent times. Desperation. Covid struck. George Floyd related protests were getting more frequent and violent, local authorities did little to stem the rioting and instead embraced the idea of defunding police. The world changed. Ever been around a pissed-off poet? Whoa-boy! WOKE is weaponized Political Correctness. I TRY NOT to get political…the alley’s for everybody. But we are divided as a country. Change thru proper channels is fine. Voice your opinion, change hearts. That requires critical thought and freedom of speech.
I wanted to do something, but I was only a comic strip guy…a humorist. It is a fighter’s game…throwing punchlines instead of punches. I decided to keep developing LAUGHTER ALLEY pages, to attempt to lift America’s collective morale. THAT was my intent and stated mission of the project.
LAUGHTER ALLEY was a way to do my part to offer laughter to raise morale and ease tension.
13) How did your LAUGHTER ALLEY pages change through time?
LAUGHTER ALLEY pages evolved over the months. I marketed them to media groups and magazines, mainly targeting community newspapers. …no takers so far.
Early versions of LAUGHTER ALLEY featured Tad and Elmira Odd panels, interspersed with narrative, and weekly themes, mostly having to do with the comic strip itself…sort of an instructional briefing on how to write gags.
This morphed into a more sophisticated presentation, currently (perhaps sadly…) Elmira left the scene, and Tad Odd morphed into a character call “Old Dude,” or “Amigo.” And the narrative moved on to cover topics like: The politics of fingers… The unrepentant nose… Has anyone seen my country…
One thing about LAUGHTER ALLEY is that it’s a quick read. Most aren’t a ton of copy. That has to do with space allowed (only so much room on the page). It’s about content and editing. and tempo, comedy… and work. Work gives purpose.
LAUGHTER ALLEY explores the human heart, and explicitly stares at the human condition…with an insightful, humorous, often desperate lens. El’ Grato ( with a little Spanish lingo thrown in.)
My website, www.BeholdComics.com offers nine samples of Laughter Alley. Here are three others for you to enjoy.
13) What is your goal as a cartoonist?
Originally, my goal was to earn $18,000 a year from the artboard pursuits as a way to supplement my income. Modest, but somewhat realistic until Covid affected everything and despair grew.
14) What kinds of humor do you use?
I use puns, irony, wordplay. Anything that works. Always said IRONY is the Almighty’s favorite color. I center on the idea that laughter and stress, loneliness, and even grief…cannot share the same moment. I take humor seriously, knowing the human condition. Bothers me that Wokers, those who are aware of and actively attentive to important societal facts and issues, especially issues of racial and social justice, are censoring comedians. Seinfeld said so, as did Chris Rock. (Look what happened at the Academy Awards 2022…the slap heard round the world.)
15) Do you do work for hire? Or create cartoons for special occasions?
I don’t hire out. BUT I have created a 3-fold, two-sided brochure for two of my relatives wedding receptions. Front and back of brochure below:
16) What obstacles have you had to overcome with cartooning?
a. The wear ‘n tear of effectively working two jobs prior to retirement in 2021…did day job then went home to the artboard.
b. Lack of vision and being devoted to status quo of editors, many at syndicates or media groups which handle several community newspapers, supplying content, etc.
c. Finally, I never had connections in art communities, or groups of creative types to hang with, the like minded. Soldier on alone, warrior born and bold.
17) If you were able to go back in time, is there anything you’d change?
I wish I’d secured a degree in a field related to art, so that both my day job that paid my bills and my after work job would be related to art.
18) How do you spend most of your hours these days?
Not long ago I’d be at the basement artboard focused on creating panels for THE ODDs. Today I do LAUGHTER ALLEY pages and other comic ideas upstairs on the computer keyboard.
When I DO go to the basement artboard, now…it’s for a change of pace, almost could call it break time because I still require art to sustain Alley pages. I have a file on the computer titled VAULT, which contains plenty of ODDS panels to use on LAUGHTER ALLEY. But can’t use same ones repeatedly. Plus I continue to enjoy doing fresh drawings.
19) You’ve never married, no children…any regrets?
Little time for regrets. My core identity was forged during those Kirby days. Never found Miss Right, and THAT goes back to not having an Art History degree, which would’ve led to rubbing elbows with like minded females. Working two jobs for decades never lent itself to a widespread social life. I’m not a hundred percent urban hermit…but chasin’ a dream doesn’t always enhance romantic relationships. I’m no monk. just sayin’…
20. You send out a new LAUGHTER ALLEY every week to your four sisters. How did that tradition start? How does it help you?
The Friday mail out began after sending an Laughter Alley about TRADITION.
The idea of a traditional Friday page seemed to fit that moment, so it stuck.
ALSO behind the Friday idea was a reply email I’d received from my youngest sister weeks prior about my Alley page titled, “The Alvidado Toe.” She’d received it on a Friday and said, “It was the best email of the week.”
FRIDAY was an idea that simply fell into place. Developed. felt good to lift spirits just before the weekend. It gives me structure. It’s disciplining oneself to a self imposed deadline, I remain the “boss.” I can override a deadline. So far I haven’t had to.
As time passed, I noticed my entire week shaped around that kernel. By Sunday I‘ve begun thinking about the next Friday’s theme. IF the previous LAUGHTER ALLEY was kind of “serious” one, I will try to come up with a lighter, more frivolous theme for the next LAUGHTER ALLEY.
National NEWs stories can effect the process also. If very stressful it may be reflected in the mood of the upcoming Alley…no more so than The Message From Memphis.
These are tough times. Tough Times affect the mind and heart. I am a minuteman of old, headed out to the front line, with humor and insight and a desperate prayer for the collective soul of the nation, driven to lift the morale of the people’s hearts. A Johnny Appleseed spreading humor across the fruited plain.
Check out Bill Harvey’s website to see more cartoons: https://www.beholdcomics.com
Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org
Bill, you are indeed a Johnny Appleseed spreading humor across the fruited plain! Thank you for sharing about your life and THE ODDS and LAUGHTER ALLEY with us.
Honored Readers, thanks for reading my interview with Bill Harvey. Which THE ODDS or LAUGHTER ALLEY did you like the most. Feel free to leave a comment or question for Bill or me in the comment area.
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