I discovered Half Baked comic strip by chance on Facebook and fell in love with Rick Ellis’ quirky sense of humor. Rick takes random ideas and puts them into some very unusual (and may I say sometimes twisted) situations. I say all of this in the most endearing way as I am more than thrilled to showcase Rick and is comic here for you!
David: Thank you so much Rick for being featured on the blog, can you tell me how you got started drawing comics and when you decided to start cartooning?
Rick: I’ve always been drawing funny pictures. Growing up we never had a subscription to a paper so most of my early exposure to cartoons and comics were from TV and a collection of Peanuts books. My first exposure to drawing a cartoon strip was in high school. I was drafted to do a regular cartoon panel for the paper. I guess nobody wanted the job.
Later, when I was teaching, I studied illustration and painting under Walter Emerson in Dallas, Texas. After that I didn’t do much in the way of cartooning for several years.
About five or so years back I decided to start cartooning again and started posting on Comics Sherpa. I did this for a year then worked with Dan Thomas (Rip Haywire) and a few other cartoonists on HumorousMaximus.com. When that went bust I started my own website and eventually connected with Bill Kellogg and then Ink Bottle Syndication.
David: Your comics are a bit surreal or take a twist on things in an odd way, which I love. What’s it like for you on a typical day creating a comic? Where does the inspiration come from?
Rick: I’ve never thought of my cartoons as surreal. I guess some of them are. That might explain why I like Dali. I have a day job, four kids, a turtle, dog, and rabbit (the bird flew away a few years back and hasn’t returned yet). This doesn’t leave much time for idle sitting and cogitating humor. A lot of inspiration for my cartoons comes from out side the cartooning world. I’m a reading hound and love quirky movies. “Mr Hulot’s Holiday” is a must see and anything written by Will Cuppy. But most of my ideas are just random thoughts. Really rather random.
David: Half Baked has been picked up by Ink Bottle Syndicate. Can you tell me a little about Ink Bottle and what that means to you in terms of being syndicated?
Rick: Tundra’s (by Chad Carpenter) marketing genius Bill Kellogg is behind this. A few years back, after I discovered Tundra and the success Chad had in self syndication, I contacted Bill to ask him about self syndication. He was very helpful. I kept in contact with him and later when he decided to start Ink Bottle, he asked if I’d be interested in joining. I was. In Bill’s own words: “Ink bottle’s goal is to be a little bit different from the typical syndicate; a little easier on newspapers that try our features and a little easier on the artists who create them.” Being picked up by Ink Bottle Syndicate is a great opportunity for me. I’m anxious to see what’s next.
David: You have done a little work with animation, which you poke fun at on your website, do you have any plans to go further in that direction in the future?
Rick: I love doing the animation stuff and I want to do more. But it takes a lot of time to do even a short animation. As you can tell, they are… how do you say…a bit shoddy? I’m no Chuck Jones. I’ve had no professional animation training. Like most things, I winged it. Are you shocked? I originally attempted to do one a month. That quickly turned into “once in a while”. Look for a new one within the next few months-ish.
David: Who would you consider to the greatest influences on your comics, who were your hero’s in the comic world?
Rick: The cartoon strips that I loved reading growing up were Herman, Arnold, The Far Side, BC, Wizard of Id…I’m a bit of a cartoon junkie. The cartoonists that influenced me the most probably were: Don Martin of Mad Magazine. I love his style and humor. Charles Shultz. Jim Unger (Herman) – His writing is genius. Gary Larson – Simple drawings, simple writing, simply the best. Norman Rockwell. I know. He’s not a cartoonist. Just his ability tell a story without words always fascinated me.
David: What do you consider to be the greatest joy of being a comic artist and creating your own world?
Rick: That I can finally get those voices out of my head. No…that’s not right. Actually, my greatest joy in cartooning is getting a person to laugh.
David: Rick you have definitely made me laugh. It is such a privilege to share your work here and have you featured on the blog!
You can find more of Rick’s work at Half Baked: www.halfbakedcomics.com
And at Ink Bottle Syndicate: www.inkbottlesyndicate.com
And watch one of Rick’s short animation’s here: Mickey’s Glove