Kendal Calling: An Interview with MAD magazine artist Tom Richmond

LICAF 2017 Banner - Tom Richmond

There’s not long to go now until this year’s Lakes International Comic Art Festival in October (13th – 15th). The downthetubes “Kendal Calling” interviews continue with a chat with top MAD magazine cartoonist Tom Richmond…

Caricaturist, cartoonist and humorous illustrator, Tom is the current superstar of the ultimate satirical magazine, MAD, and recipient of the highest honour in cartooning, Outstanding Cartoonist of the Year, Reuben Awards, USA – a tour de force in every sense!

Tom Richmond began his career at age 18 as a caricaturist at a theme park in 1985. Now one of the most highly respected and successful freelance humorous illustrators working today, he does his award-winning art for a great variety of clients including Scholastic, Sports Illustrated for Kids, National Geographic World, Time Digital, Penthouse, GQ, Marvel Comics, The Cartoon Network, Warner Bros Animation, Simon and Schuster Publishing, Jeff Dunham Enterprise and many more.

A spread from Tom's recent Star Wars parody, "Rough One", for MAD Issue 545.
A spread from Tom’s recent Star Wars parody, “Rough One”, for MAD Issue 545.

The cover of MAD Issue 539 by Tom Richmond
The cover of MAD Issue 539 by Tom Richmond
He is best known as one of the “Usual Gang of Idiots” at MAD Magazine, where his caricatures and illustrations have been featured in film and TV parodies and articles regularly since 2000. He is the author of the best-selling caricature instruction book The Mad Art of Caricature, which has become the standard in the industry.

His many awards include being twice honored as “Caricaturist of the Year” from the International Society of Caricature Artists, and the Reuben award for “Outstanding Cartoonist of the Year” from the National Cartoonists Society, arguably cartooning’s highest honour. He works from a studio in his home in Burnsville, MN.

downthetubes: What are you working on, comics-wise, right now, and when will it be published?

Tom Richmond: I’m working on a parody of the TV show Stranger Things for MAD and also doing the cover for that issue (#548) which will be on newsstands in October, just before Netflix releases that show’s second season.

I’m also just wrapping up the pencils and inks for a 47-page humorous zombie comic called Z-People for the independent publisher Sitcomics. That will be out sometime this fall as well.

Meet Brody Langenbach - 50% man, 50% zombie - 100% redneck! He's a zombie after your heart (as well as your brain). This page is from Z-People Binge Book #1 by Darin Henry, Richmond, Whitmore and Marshal Dillon
Meet Brody Langenbach – 50% man, 50% zombie – 100% redneck! He’s a zombie after your heart (as well as your brain). This page is from Z-People Binge Book #1 by Darin Henry, Richmond, Whitmore and Marshal Dillon
I also completed a series of children’s book parodies for MAD and DC recently, the first being “Goodnight Batcave” which came out in October last year, and the second one comes out this October entitled “Superman and the Miserable, Rotten, No Fun, Really Bad Day”.

Tom Richmond - Star Wars

downthetubes: Which comic project you’ve worked on are you most proud of and where can people see it or buy it?

Tom: Most of my “comic” type work appears in MAD, so I’d just say pick up the latest issue. In the last year or two my favourites pieces I’ve done for the magazine would be parodies of “Orange is the New Black”, “House of Cards” and the movie “Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice”.

downthetubes: How do you plan your day as a creator? (Do you plan your day?)

Tom: I’m very deadline driven, so my work days changes as deadlines approach. I try to set realistic daily goals as far as how much work I can get done. A typical day starts with an early morning dog walk and a workout, then I hit the drawing board and try and try and meet my goals for the day.

Tom Richmond -Batman vs Stuporman

downthetubes: What’s the best thing about being a comics creator?

Tom: You get to be creative and (hopefully) get paid for it. Sometimes you are even paid enough to cover the rent!

downthetubes: And the worst?

Tom: Not getting paid enough to cover the rent.

downthetubes: What most distracts you from getting your work done?

Tom: Electronic communications of all kinds. Email, texts, etc. Sometimes I just have to shut it all down for a few hours to build some momentum on a job.

Tom Richmond Weightlifterdownthetubes: Do you think it’s easier or harder for young comic creators to get published today?

Tom: Easier because all you need is a computer, web host and some software and you are able to self publish to the entire planet. Figuring out how to earn a living from that is the hard part. In terms of traditional publishing, it’s probably harder because there are less comics and publications being produced these days, and therefore less content needed which means less traditional work for creators.

downthetubes: Which one comic creator would you most like to meet, and why?

Tom: Living or dead? If I could bring one back to life to meet I’d say Wally Wood, who I consider one of the true masters of comic art. He could do it all, beautiful realistic illustration, action/adventure comics, humor… he was amazing.

As far as today I am lucky in that I have met many of my comic’s heroes already, Jack Davis, Mort Drucker, Al Jaffee, Sergio Aragonés, Bruce Stark, Al Hirschfeld… but if I had to pick one I have not met I’d say Frank Miller. The Dark Knight Returns brought me back into comics in the mid 1980s, and his other work like Sin City, Ronin and his run on Daredevil are some of my all-time favorite comics.

downthetubes: How do Festivals and other comics events help creators most, do you think?

Tom: It’s great to both meet people who read and enjoy your work as well as introduce your work to people who have never seen or read it. A lot of networking happens that these shows as well, and the people you meet sometimes end up leading to other jobs or opportunities. I also really enjoy meeting creators whose work I am not familiar with, and love to see and experience new stuff.

downthetubes: What one piece of advice do you offer people looking to work in the comics industry?

Tom: It’s about two things: your skills and your professionalism. Clearly you need to do good work to get noticed and get jobs, but there are a great number of very talented artists out there that work regular non-creative jobs because they cannot meet deadlines or cannot take art direction. That is part of the game. Your work gets you the opportunity, but your professionalism makes that opportunity count and keeps it going.

downthetubes: Tom, thank you very much for your time. See you in October!

Book Your Festival Tickets Now!

• Book your tickets for this year’s Lakes International Comic Art Festival here. This year’s events programme includes live draws, masterclasses, interactive talks and a chance to get up close to the best comic creators in the world! 

Web: www.comicartfestival.com | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube | Podcast | View the Festival Programme on Issuu | Download the Programme (PDF)

TOM RICHMOND ONLINE

• More about SitComics at sitcomics.net | Follow SitComics on Facebook | Follow SitComics on Twitter @sitcomics | YouTube

Tom Richmond appears at the Lakes International Comic Art Festival 2017 courtesy of the National Cartoonists Society and Wacom

John Freeman

The founder of downthetubes, John describes himself as is a "freelance comics operative", currently working as a freelance editor for TITAN COMICS, as Creative Consultant on the new DAN DARE audio adventures for B7 Media, and on promotional work for the LAKES INTERNATIONAL COMIC ART FESTIVAL and LANCASTER COMICS DAY. John has worked in British comics publishing for over 30 years, starting out at Marvel UK, where he edited a number of the Genesis 1992 books with Paul Neary. His numerous credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine at Marvel and Star Trek Magazine and Babylon 5 Magazine at Titan Magazines, where he was Managing Editor. He also edited STRIP Magazine and worked as an editor on several audio comics for ROK Comics, including TEAM M.O.B.I.L.E. and THE BEATLES STORY. Most recently he is writing CRUCIBLE as a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz, published on Tapastic; and DEATH DUTY and SKOW DOGS with Dave Hailwood for the digital comic 100% Biodegradable.

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