Cayetano Garza Jr. is a graphic designer, cartoonist, musician, painter, and pioneer. He started making webcomics in 1996 to avoid sending out expensive submission packets to comic publishers and started “magicinkwell.com” in 1998 so he could publish his work exclusively on the web. Something that was unheard of at the time and now has become what all cartoonists do to show their work. In his 15 years working on the “infinite canvas” (Scott McCloud, Reinventing Comics) he has taken web comics into territories few have only dreamed of.
David: Hello Cayetano, it’s a definite pleasure to be featuring you here on “Don’t Pick the Flowers”. You are an incredible artist. I guess the first place to start talking about your work is “Magic Inkwell”. You were one of the first people to get a hold of the idea of putting your work on the internet as a means of showing your web comics and a pioneer. Can you give a little insight into Inkwell and how you got started?
Cayetano: Magic Inkwell started out in my sketchbook during the spring semester of my senior year in college back in 1996. I had come to appreciate the comics of George Herriman during the last few years of
college and had always loved early animation as well (Felix, early Mickey, Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, the Fleischer Studios stuff.. pretty much anything black and white). So I began to simplify my drawing style and emulate that “ball and rubber hose” style of drawing. At the time Chris Ware was still doing his Sparky stories as well, so that was also a very big influence. Dingbat the Cat (and the rest of the Inkwell cast) was born.
Cayetano: I think my favorite would have to be the Year of the Rat version of Dingbat. He has been the most fun to work with. Being able to work in the manga style was a real blast for me.
David: One of the things I love about your work is that you are not afraid to experiment. What would you consider the greatest influences on your art?
Cayetano: There are too many to mention here. Many of my influences come from movies, literature, fine art and music, and other sources outside of comics. I guess one of the biggest influences come from Texas cartooning history/tradition (esp. the early 90’s comics’ scene in Austin, TX) and the work of innovative cartoonists that aren’t afraid to push the boundaries of the art form.
David: You have also taught at The Center for Cartoon Studies. I would love to be in one of those classes. What are some of the things you teach and have your students focus on?
Cayetano: The classes I got to teach mainly focused on showing students how to put their work up on the web, a class on webcomics history, and computer coloring. I actually enjoyed being thesis advisor a bit more. I only got to do it twice in the five years I lived in White River Junction, but it was the most rewarding experience I’ve ever as far as teaching goes. Basically I helped a student throughout their senior year, step by step, as they worked on their thesis. It was amazing to watch the development and jump in ability that would happen in the span of that year. It helps spur me on with my own work. Very inspiring and rewarding!
David: There have been many changes within the comic world over recent years. Newspapers are dwindling away. Cartoonists are taking to the internet. This question may sound a bit trite, but where do you see the evolution of comics and the internet going? That includes syndicated cartoonist to those working in the graphic novel arena. And what do you hope to see?
Cayetano: Well, what we’re seeing now is the fulfillment of all the things we said would probably happen to comics and the comic’s industry way back in the beginning of this webcomics thing. Some of the wishes we had (like micropayments) have been slow in coming, but change is still in the air as more and more people ditch print for digital. I really don’t talk about what I want to see in the future anymore because that kind of talk got me in trouble in the past, but if there was one thing it would be to see more people experiment with the format of online comics again. A return to exploring the possibilities of the infinite canvas and interactivity instead of just a million more comicpress sites. Now THAT really would be something. 🙂
David: Thank you Cayetan for sharing a little about the man behind the highly creative and skilled “Magic Inkwell”. Truly a pleasure to feature you here.
If you aren’t already familiar with Magic Inkwell check this site out: magicinkwell.com