Michael Pohrer is a St. Louis; Missouri based Animator, Cartoonist and Illustrator. Michael is an internationally syndicated cartoonist delivering his comic FIDDLESTIX for 25 years to the daily pages and now with his new comic Welcome to Jungle he is cranking out even more humorous comics. He is a member of CAPS (Comic Art Professional Society, I.C.C. (International Cartoonist Conspiracy, and The St. Louis Gateway Arts. With great pleasure I welcome Michael Pohrer to Don’t Pick the Flowers.
David: Hi Michael thanks so much for being featured at Don’t Pick the Flowers. You have been in the cartoon business for many years. Can you first share how you became interested in becoming a cartoonist and who were your influences at the time?
Michael: Thanks for asking to feature the madness from the studio’s drawing boards. I’m starting to feel a tad older at this stage, 25 years since debuting on the printed pages and still going strong. I have always been fascinated with cartooning. I remember quite vividly reading the funny pages through the newspapers during my younger years moving into MAD, Cracked, The Spirit, The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers, Heavy Metal, etc. I eventually started drawing strips for my own amusement in 1979. An editor seen some of my work in 1987 and contacted me. One year later after avid development fundamentals my first strip FIDDLESTIX© debuted in syndication on the newspaper pages. My main influences at that time included “The Usual Gang of Idiots”, Will Eisner, John Romita Sr., Frank Frazetta, Stan Lee, Mort Walker, and many others on an endless list.
David: You have a lot going on, what are your current plans with your work and what can we expect to see in the future?
Michael: All of my features are currently syndicated through Hill Communications Canada, Kingston, Ontario, Canada. FIDDLESTIX© now in it’s 25th year continues as a syndicated “Sunday Only” feature. My newest strip Welcome To The Jungle© now in it’s sixth year continues as a daily syndicated feature. The editorial cartoon madness also continues. In the immediate future FIDDLESTIX© will return very soon with all new “Limited Edition” run of strips that are really top notch. Here’s a glance at what’s rolling off the drawing boards.
David: What was it like when you started and how do you feel about the comics industry with the emergence of so many comics?
Michael: When I first started in syndication I had no clue what I was doing. All I knew was I wanted to draw the funnies to share with others. This was during my start through “Old School” methods of drawing the strips then mailing them off to the editor for publication. The first few years of strips were lost forever and I have only recovered a few originals over the years. At the moment I have no answer where the newspaper comics industry will end up. It’s really a shame that so many printed pages are folding up shop, fellow cartoonists (Editorial) are being shown the front door. It’s very disheartening to see peers vanish due to the economic trends. The current cartoonists with strips on the printed pages are clinging to the very limited space available leaving no room for the new up and coming drawers of the funny. The digital world is so saturated with cartoon strip abundance I just don’t see how every single creator can continue the dream of being a full time cartoonist making a living off creating strips. It’s just not going to happen for everybody. That really is terrible in my opinion there are literally hundreds of great strips available through the digital world and most will never see life on the printed newspaper pages.
David: What are the tools you use when creating your comics?
Michael: I still do some strips the “Old School” method pencil / ink to paper as wells as the editorial cartoons. But that is just to be able to actually have an original physical product. (These I use at personal appearance events, or for museum exhibitions.) Specific tools I use daily are General No.555 Layout, General 2H and HB, General No.497 5B, Berol 3B, and Mechanical Pencils from Pentel / Bic both HB 0.7. For inking I don’t use anything fancy Pitt Artist Pens, Pilot V5 Precise, and Pentel Micro. Favorite erasers are Factis OV12. I also usually use Canson paper either 70lb, or 111lb, sometimes I’ll use Strathmore 300 smooth Bristol Board.
Cartoonist Tip: White paper is best for cartooning. Black seems to mask all your line work. I would say currently about 90% of the material I create is all digital. It’s just so much more convenient. I use a Cintiq 21UX most of the time, but I also use HP touchscreens running Wacom tablets. Software from Illustrator / PhotoShop / Arcsoft.
David: Having been in the industry for many years, what advice do you give to anyone wanting to become a cartoonist?
Michael: While out at personal appearances or speaking engagements I usually will tell those interested in cartooning that the best thing to do currently is probably concentrate moving in on the various aspects of animation. They will most likely be able to get a decent full time position if they can be consistently proficient at creating quality images through this avenue. The limited space available on the printed pages is probably not going to change soon. There is always more room for animators though. Plus most cartoonists just breaking into the business are using self publishing methods for the in print aspect which is actually really difficult to generate big numbers through sales without a bigger publishing company.
David: Thank you Michael for sharing your history and work here at Don’t Pick the Flowers. I wish you continued success and look forward to all your endeavors in the future. And for all the fans new and old click on the links below to connect and stay tooned with Michael Pohrer!