Meet Your Creator: Lynn Johnston (For Better or For Worse)



I don’t think anyone begins a career as a cartoonist. As one possible moneymaking option drifts into another, you simply fall into it. A cartoonist is “that way” from birth. A cartoonist is in training for a lifetime; watching cartoons, appreciating the antics of expressive, story-telling relatives, and trying anything that will get laughs.  A cartoonist is an entertainer. More often than not, cartoonists’ childhood behavior is considered annoying and irritating, but it is here, amidst family, teachers and friends, that funny stuff is tried, tested, reworked, polished and honed. “Class Clown” is a compliment. A teacher won’t demean a cartoonist in the bud with admonishments like, “You’ll never make a living by telling jokes, my friend! ... Do you think you’re funny?” The answer to this is, “Yes, I think I could make a living telling jokes …. because, I am funny!”  It’s in the blood. It’s in the mind, and in the heart — it’s unmanageable for the longest time. 


Young cartoonists get into all kinds of trouble for simply doing what they are genetically designed to do. Daydreaming, for example, is a large part of comedy. It’s a large part of being an artist as well. So if you combine the ability to draw with the ability to create comedy, your daydreaming needs are formidable. Most adults misunderstand daydreaming — they think it’s a waste of time. Trouble stalks the young cartoonist in the form of slapstick: A prattfall has to be practiced. A tomato has to be thrown. A belch has to be perfected, and despite the banal (good word here) expulsion of a fart, this, too, can be funny if done right and on cue. It all takes practice. A cartoonist is “on record” from the moment he (I’ll say HE just to simplify the text) gets his first good review; “Honey, look what junior’s doing! Isn’t that FUNNY?!” From then on, the drug has been ingested and the craving begins.


It is true. Laughter is a drug. I have been high on laughs generated while giving a talk on stage. Audience laughter is not just a gratifying “YES,” it’s part of a symphony the comedian conducts, and when it works, it’s heaven. When it doesn’t? Well, I, too, have lain awake in bed repeating the mantra, “Why did I do that? What was I thinking? I STANK! I was terrible! Why, oh why did I do that?!” And after a television interview that sucked, I’d pray to the gods of electronic media (they exist) to please erase that tape! “Please let something ruin that piece of my life; don’t let it be seen by anyone!” Comedy is Heaven and Hell, and we are willing to taste the brimstone just for that one night when the laughs are genuine, the shtick works, and you come off that stage feeling like you own the planet!


A cartoonist is an entertainer, but not all of us are willing to be skewered on stage. For those of us whose humour rumbles to the surface only on paper (or with friends at a bar), the art of funny can be perfected well before it reaches an audience. I love paper. I love the feel of it; the sound of a good “B” lead pencil gliding around on it, the bite of a flexible nib pen flowing with good quality opaque black ink being drawn into it. Paper is the testing ground, the practice round, and the stage. Paper absorbs, reflects, lays bare and forgives your comedy. You can erase your mistakes on paper. A bomb is detected well before anyone else knows that you’re, well … fallible. Paper is safe, and when you want it to be, it’s permanent. Having tried the stage first as a folk-singer and later as a stand-up comedian, I, too, drifted back to the medium I love and trust: paper. This is the stuff into which I can pour my soul.


I was first inspired to draw funny pictures when I was in elementary school. My brother (two years my junior) and I shared a room.  With television still an unaffordable miracle, we had to entertain each other.  Alan loved to laugh, and when I drew cartoons of people with enormous mouths, eyes and nostrils, he would laugh till he cried. The drug was then well into my veins. Later in grade three, I think, I was asked to make place cards for 10 teachers who were attending a lunch meeting. I drew something to represent each teacher’s position. The only one I can remember is the music teacher’s card, which showed a round stool in front of a piano — the stool had been unwound so the seat was many feet above the keyboard. I doubt this was an original idea. I was reading books before I was in grade one, and my dad’s collection of cartoon books migrated into my room as soon as he’d read them. I particularly liked the work of Len Norris, political cartoonist for the Vancouver Sun, and Virgil Partch, whose military and “drinking” cartoons were, in my mother’s opinion, “Not suitable.” These and others became my guides to “How to Draw Cartoons” long before there were folks who actually produced teaching aids for kids like me.




My drawings went from outright copying, to stylized look-alikes, to something I could call my own, but it took years. What helped most to distill my own personal style was working for others.  I had begun what I thought would be my lifelong career as an animator at Canawest Films in Vancouver, but marriage and then a move to Ontario changed that.  My next big opportunity came via McMaster University Medical Centre in Hamilton, where I was hired to do medical drawings: charts, graphs, text-filled slides, serious surgical illustrations, and eventually, cartoons!  This was a wonderful job and it introduced me to people who generously opened many doors.




When I was pregnant with my first child, I left McMaster and started a small freelance graphic design studio — this is where my real challenge began. A graphic artist draws realistic things, which can be easily understood by everyone. This is why we go into advertising; this is why we are hired to do those fold-out escape plans you find “in the seat pocket in front of you.” I took on everything from billboards to cereal box packaging, which was a world away from cartoons and medical charts. This kind of drawing introduced me to the kind of people who don’t know what they want until they see what they don’t want. Meaning … you’ve gotta show them at least four complete designs before they have the slightest idea what they’re looking for.  In a way, this too was a performance; I was taking someone else’s ideas, trying to make sense of them, turning them into pictures, and then showing them what they had in mind. I managed to do well and to grow what is often a truly maddening business. Some clients want so badly to find fault, to have an opinion when none is required. This is how I discovered a sweet trick-of-the-trade: I began to make mistakes on purpose. One wonderful example was a billboard I had to do extolling the virtues of Saskatchewan: a province to live in and love. I did many roughs, created several finished samples, and when the committee finally settled on the final draft, there was still one holdout; that one nagging soul who had to take a negative stand. For this man, I left out the “T” in Saskatchewan. In front of his committee he was finally able to make the big change he was waiting for. He leaped on the error like a fly on a cowpat, made me blush with embarrassment, and signed off on the art.  Whenever friends in other agencies complained about a troublesome client, I’d say, “try a spelling mistake!” It worked every time. Working for others taught me to make my work clear, objective and pleasing — even if it didn’t please me. If your audience doesn’t get what you’re doing, it doesn’t matter how good you think it is, you have to dump it and try again. I think this is called professionalism, but it hurts!


I had forsaken the funny stuff for a job that paid the bills. Oh, I did the occasional cartoon poster, greeting card or invitation, and I submitted single-panel gags to the local paper, but I’d left the silliness behind. It was due to my first pregnancy, and the encouragement of friends, that a small book of cartoons called “David, We’re Pregnant!” was published. This series of cartoons was done as a gift to my obstetrician, who put them on the ceiling above his examining tables. The book was the right thing at the right time. There was nothing similar out there. It appealed to a lot of people. They laughed, asked for more, and the drug kicked in again. 


It’s a long story. I’ve told it before, so I won’t ramble through it again. Briefly: “David, We’re Pregnant!” was followed by two other cartoon books, which wound up in the hands of Jim Andrews at Universal Press Syndicate. He saw potential in my work and offered me a contract, which I signed well before I knew if I’d be able to fulfill my obligation to him and to my editor — who then had the challenge of bringing me up to speed.



The comic strip For Better or For Worse began in 1979 in a basement studio in Lynn Lake, Manitoba. I was married again, had two kids now, and was writing about my life — or life as I saw it through the eyes of someone like me. It was a job that was to tax every talent, every skill I had, and I did it for thirty years. FBorFW appeared in over two thousand newspapers worldwide, and continues to run again in almost as many markets. It’s something of which I am immensely proud, and I continue to be grateful to everyone who encouraged and saw potential in me.


After creating a saga that followed a fictional family through births, deaths, and all the adventures of growing older, one might think that retirement would have been difficult, but it was time. I ended the strip when the story had been told to the best of my ability, and I didn’t feel I could add any more. My drawing had “improved” until it was too slick, too lifelike. My stories were now a formula; a mix of what hadn’t been said, and what should be said. I felt it had lost the comic edge it once had. It was better to end the story while it was still doing well in the polls than to wait until my readers were telling me to hang up my pens, buy a Tilley hat and plant a garden.


I tied up the loose ends of the story as best I could, and for several years I was retired. Divorced as well, and free as a toot in the wind, I travelled with friends, fixed up my garden, did a few paintings and read. I read a lot. From a secondhand bookstore I bought books in bags too big to carry. Those worth keeping, I kept. Duds, I took back and exchanged for more. I still read a lot, and with every book I read, I learned about writing. Like cartooning, writing is something that can’t be taught … you have to experience it, think about it, keep what’s valuable, and put the rest back. I never looked at my own books. I never read my work running again in the paper. The past was the past. I just had to figure out what I was going to do next.  Maybe I would write.  That’s still an option!




As I was learning how to live without deadlines, my daughter graduated from the Emily Carr College of Art in Vancouver and came home to Corbeil. (We moved to this lovely rural lakeside town after six years in the wilds of northern Manitoba.) Kate had majored in pottery and electronic sculpture, and was wondering where an artistic career would take her. Like her older brother, Aaron, she has a wicked sense of humour (when the two of them are together, they create for me a sort of comic heaven) — we get along well. Kate arrived home to find me at loose ends, and with her fiancé newly transferred from B.C. to Ontario, she quickly saw some potential. Katie and Lane married and moved in to a house just around the corner. Now a busy mother of two, she manages my business, which has taken on a whole new guise. It’s amazing what can happen when creative minds come together. I knew that classic retirement wasn’t going to get me; I just didn’t know where to focus the silliness I still had left!


Serendipity, chance, luck -- call it what you will, wonderful opportunities continue to come my way.  I once took a white wedding dress and drew cartoons all over it — something to wear to an awards dinner.




This, along with all of the other crazy art I’ve kept over the years, is now being carefully archived. As a keepsake, Kate decided to take the pattern on the cartoon dress and make it into a repeating design that could actually be applied to fabric.  The result was so exciting I did another and another. As we were discovering the fun of making crazy fabric designs, the curator of the Art Gallery of Sudbury, Ontario, approached us and asked if we would consider doing a large show of FBorFW original art. I was asked if I would also allow them to include samples of the work I did beforehand: childhood drawings, some of the ads, some medical stuff — and if I would also show folks what I was doing now. WoooHoooo!!! This was all the incentive I needed to launch into a series of fabric designs, which have become sillier and funnier as I warm up and let go. We don’t quite know what to do with these yet. We’ve made some items: mugs, ties, binders, just to see how they’d look on fabric and plastic. A talented, young clothing designer is making us some patterns, and soon we will see how the cartoon designs will look on pajamas, dresses and children’s clothes.  For now, what we’re doing with the fabric designs is all for fun, and who knows -- perhaps we will find a good use for them.




Meanwhile, we continue to archive my work; we’re completing the 2016 calendar, finishing a collection book, and enjoying the added chaos of kids.  My grandkids make me laugh out loud. They make me crazy. They make me grateful for every moment I have with them. It’s like being back at square one, when my kids were little and I took out my frustration on paper — sending it all to Universal Press Syndicate in the guise of a comic strip.




My granddaughter, Laura, is almost three. Her brother, Ryan, is nearly eight months old. I watch them both closely for the signs; I watch to see what makes them laugh, what holds their attention, and how hard they work to hold ours. I’m waiting for the day when a teacher calls my daughter to say that her kid is the class clown, daydreams, and has a hard time focusing — I’ll know that the gene has been passed down. I’ll prepare them for the effects of the drug, which compels us to go on stage. I’ll tell them about the highs and the lows of despair, followed by raucous elation. The one thing of which I can assure them is, YES! It is possible to be funny for a living — all you need is confidence, opportunity, encouragement… and be willing to take a few falls. After that, it’s hard work, but the rewards are wonderful. This is true …. and I can prove it!


-- Lynn J.


Read For Better or For Worse here, follow the comic on Facebook and Twitter or visit its website for games, puzzles and more!

Twitter Q&A with Khalid Birdsong of Little Fried Chicken and Sushi



Today on Twitter, we chatted with Little Friend Chicken and Sushi comic strip creator Khalid Birdsong! If you missed the Q&A, catch up on the live-tweet below!




ABOUT: When Karl moves to Japan with his family and finds a magical raccoon spirit, fitting into a new life becomes even more challenging. Join the adventure as we discover that living in Japan ain’t easy but it sure can be fun! New comics update every Monday, Wednesday and Friday in color. 


Add Little Friend Chicken and Sushi to your GoComics homepage



Tune in next Friday (10/24) for a chance to chat live with cartoonist Nate Fake of Break of Day comics! #AskNateFakes.

Let’s Go, Royals!

Spirits are high and excitement levels are soaring in Kansas City as our beloved Royals are heading to the World Series next week!


Everywhere you look, you see blue. Known as the City of Fountains, majestic royal blue waterfalls currently flow through the city, Royals flags line the streets of major shopping areas and you can’t walk into any store without seeing the majority of shoppers wearing Royals attire.


Here at the GoComics headquarters, Snoopy is proudly rooting for the Royals in the front windows, and his buddy Charlie Brown is sporting a crown while watching over the Marketing department.

  Screen Shot 2014-10-16 at 3.40.28 PM
It’s an incredible time to be a Kansas City resident. Whether cheering on the team at Kauffman stadium, at one of the various watch parties around town or at home with family, Royals fans are all smiles.


Win, Lose, Drew by Drew Litton
Win, Lose, Drew by Drew Litton


While I have a pretty good grasp on baseball, I’ll admit I don’t always understand the strategy behind each and every play. I’ve found it best to just cheer when others cheer and boo when others boo. Bear, on the other hand, still needs to learn that lesson.


Molly and the Bear by Bob Scott
Molly and the Bear by Bob Scott


Thank goodness it’s Friday. I know I’m not the only one struggling to concentrate this week.   


Stuart Carlson by Stuart Carlson
Stuart Carlson

Are you rooting for the Royals?





There's a nice long Chris Ware profile/interview from The Guardian here, in which Ware talks about his new book, Building Stories. It is about one unnamed woman, and consists of 14 stories which can be read in any order.



Chris Ware spread


From the article:


"On stage he described the cartoon as a 'working-class art form' and an 'art of the people.' He expanded on this afterwards; beginning with a short-hand history of early comics from Rodolphe Töpffer to Richard Felton Outcault, he warmed to his theme. 'In America, it really exploded in the 1920s, in Chicago specifically, with the artists on the Chicago Tribune doing what were essentially serial stories that predated what would happen with radio and TV. And they were all about regular people. Take Gasoline Alley –- that strip suddenly became about real life, it had a continuing narrative and a warmth. They knew the readers of the newspaper were regular people who didn't want to be talked down to. That's appealing to me: it seems like the best possible America, the point at which the ideals coalesce into a popular art form that could actually be great."



This recurring LAUGH TRACKS feature highlights individual Sherpa strips and panels that for one reason or another caught the fancy of the aide de sherpa. It could be anything; the drawing, the writing, the humor, the coloring, that they tried something interesting, or that it's a new step for that particular creator.


We hope this quirky sampler will alert you to features you might not yet have noticed amid Sherpa's abundant, ever-changing, and eclectic mix, and that it gives Sherpa creators a modicum of helpful feedback.



Candace 'n' Company  10-14-14








Elmo  10-14-14


















Cleo and Company  10-15-14





Girth 10-15-14





Smith  10-15-14 




Snow Sez...  10-15-14



A complete list of all the Sherpa features can be found here.

Calvin at the Bat, Week 3


YOU GUYS, IT'S ALL HAPPENING. We just received word here at Comics Tower that everyone gets to go home early today to go watch the Royals secure their destiny. With time so short, you'll forgive me if this week is less matter, more art. BECAUSE SPORTS.






Having used up the majority of baseball-related Calvin & Hobbes strips over the last two weeks, this week we're going deep on Calvinball. For as large a space in my brain as Calvinball has occupied since childhood, there are surprisingly few strips about it. I have no idea what I'll post next week, when the Royals win the Stanley Cup at Wimbelton. I'll drop Bill Watterson a line and see about him drawing us some new strips to keep the blog content fresh.






























Okay, all done. Now to begin my pre-game ritual of painting my entire body blue and white. Luckily, we've been on such a winning streak that I only have to touch up some areas where previous paint jobs have begun to flake, mostly just on the joints. Management might be irritated that i keep ruining their office chairs, but I just point out that the heart-shaped blue and white buttprints I've left behind will serve for years to come as a stirring reminder of our beloved team's Cinderella season, and then we high-five. SPORTS.




The World of Comics

If you told me once I graduated I would be reading comics for a living, I would have never believed you. Not only do I read comics, I also play puzzles and games as I get to know everything our parent company, Universal Uclick, has to offer. It goes against everything I’ve been taught in school. You can play games and work at the same time? Most places frown upon that. Here, playing games and reading comics is work. 


Stone Soup by Jan Eliot
I bet Andy wishes he was an intern here.

 Each day I become more familiar with the comics.  My initial favorites were Sarah’s Scribbles, Argyle Sweater and WuMo, and as I get to know more and more comics, I find myself enjoying Truth Facts and Poorly Drawn Lines. As a foodie, I’m also a big fan of Berger & Wyse. In addition to the food references, I can learn some British words, too!


Berger & Wyse by Pascal Wyse and Joe Berger
This is what it’s like to be a vegetarian in a city known for its barbecue.

Reading Sarah’s Scribbles reminds me of the stress of deadlines for class and the temporary relief of procrastination. I recently graduated, and I still remember those college days of finals, group projects and terrible roommates.


Sarah's Scribbles by Sarah Andersen
Gone are the days of cramming for three finals in one day.

As a young career woman, Cathy and I have a lot in common, such as working on building professional wardrobes. I want to find clothes that go with my personal style and look professional at the same time. Thankfully, the dress code here is business casual, so I don’t have to wear a power suit every day. Expanding my wardrobe is a challenge I’m up to because I love shopping.


Cathy by Cathy Guisewite
The hunt for the perfect outfit can be exhausting, but it’s well worth it.

I’m glad to be done with school and transitioning into a new stage of life. Now it’s time for me to go out there are make a name for myself. I’m looking forward to working here and reading new comics every day because it always puts a smile on my face. Stay tuned as I share comics with you, as well as a little bit about myself. 


Sarah's Scribbles by Sarah Andersen1

- Lauren

GoComics Staff Pick: The Knight Life by Keith Knight

The Knight Life by Keith Knight



The Knight Life deftly balances many different subjects: it's loosely autobiographical yet often strays into the surreal or absurd (it reminds me of Louis C.K'.s show in this way, minus, of course, the scatological shenanigans and the overarching sense of despair), it's a gentle strip about a loving family, a goofy group portrait of a menagerie of eccentrics and a "wicked shawhp" (creator Keith Knight is from the Boston area,  not that he'd tell you this,) satire of what it's like to be a minority in the autistic wilds of post-Millennial America. It's a hearty, unabashed belly flop into the wave pool of the American berserk, and it makes a ridiculous splash. 


—Reed, Editor




The Knight Life by Keith Knight



Add The Knight Life to your GoComics homepage!

New Comic Alert! Little Nemo by Winsor McCay


Little Nemo in Slumberland was the greatest comic strip of its day, perhaps the greatest of all time, acclaimed the world over for its artistic majesty, unbounded imagination and groundbreaking techniques that helped define a new art form.  


Available only on GoComics, Sunday Press presents Winsor McCay’s masterpiece in all its glory, on the web for the first time ever, in sequence, starting with the very first page. Over 100 years later, these Sunday comic strips, which influenced generations of artists, are as fresh and glorious as ever!


Zenas Winsor McCay was born sometime between 1867 and 1870, most likely in Canada, though his earliest years are not well documented. He quickly gained fame, as his natural talent as an artist and draftsman saw him rise quickly from dime museum sign painter, to prolific newspaper artist and cartoonist, to pioneer animator, even a vaudeville quick-draw entertainer.  He started his serious illustration work Cincinnati, where he created his first Sunday feature, Tales of the Jungle Imps (1903), while also drawing illustrations for the original Life magazine.  He moved on to the New York Herald where he created a number of small cartoon features, and then Little Sammy Sneeze, Dream of the Rarebit Fiend, and his masterpiece, Little Nemo in Slumberland.


Little Nemo drew character inspiration from McCay’s son Robert, architecture and design from the 1893 World’s Columbia Exposition in Chicago, and fantastical features from those found at the Coney Island Amusement park near his home in Brooklyn.  But the brilliance of it all came from McCay himself, with his unsurpassed draftsmanship and boundless imagination that created a new language of comics, even anticipating aspects of modern cinema decades before appearing on the screen. There were three incarnations of Little Nemo, first at the Herald from 1905 to 1911, then at Hearst’s American from 1911 to 1914, and once again at the Herald from 1924 to 1927.


Winsor McCay died in 1934, ending his career drawing marvelously detailed editorial cartoons. Looking at the images presented in this online feature, it is no surprise that he once stated, I have never been so happy as when I was drawing Little Nemo in Slumberland.”


Read Little Nemo here.

Giveaway: Dilbert Comic Books



This week, we’re celebrating Boss’s Day (Thurs., Oct. 16) with a Dilbert comic book giveaway!


Three lucky readers have the chance to win a Dilbert comic book, including:


To enter, comment on this blog post and include your FIRST and LAST names. Limit one entry per person. This contest will end on Tues., Oct. 21 at 10 a.m. CT. The winners will be announced that day on this blog. This contest is open to U.S. and Canada residents only.


After you enter, be sure to check out our “Comics in the Workplace” collection here, or read Dilbert or Dilbert Classics!

We’re Back from NYCC!

We just returned from an exciting, comics-filled weekend at New York Comic Con! We had a blast meeting fans, hosting creator signing sessions and giveaways, and scoping out awesome cosplay!


We wanted to share some of our favorite moments with you!
















For even more NYCC fun, check out our Tumblr!

Giveaway: New York Comic Con Prize Packs – Winners Announced



Thank you to all who entered to win the NYCC Prize Packs featuring signed prints from Brooke McEldowney (9 Chickweed Lane, Pibgorn) and Ruben Bolling (Tom the Dancing Bug)! We have randomly selected FOUR winners!


Congratulations to Wilma Cohen, Kay Clopton, Boyd Allen and Janet Davis! Please email us at with your shipping address and phone number. Please note: You must email us by 10/21/14 or your prize will be forfeited.


This recurring LAUGH TRACKS feature highlights individual Sherpa strips and panels that for one reason or another caught the fancy of the aide de sherpa. It could be anything; the drawing, the writing, the humor, the coloring, that they tried something interesting, or that it's a new step for that particular creator.


We hope this quirky sampler will alert you to features you might not yet have noticed amid Sherpa's abundant, ever-changing, and eclectic mix, and that it gives Sherpa creators a modicum of helpful feedback.




Cleo and Company  10-10-14





County Line  10-10-14











Regular Creatures  10-10-14






Snow Sez... 10-10-14




















A Boots & Pup Comic  10-13-14





Onion & Pea  10-13-14



A complete list of all the Sherpa features can be found here.

Weekend Faves (October 12)


The Buckets by Greg Cravens
The Buckets by Greg Cravens

I'm starting to think that moms don't actually have eyes in the back of their heads and that kids are just really obvious.



Mike du Jour by Mike Lester
Mike du Jour by Mike Lester

It looks like Spiderman is quite ordinary after all.


Drabble by Kevin Fagan
Drabble by Kevin Fagan

Spouses provide the best color commentary.


Brevity by Dan Thompson
Brevity by Dan Thompson

He's one of the lesser known explorers of his time.


Arlo and Janis by Jimmy Johnson
Arlo and Janis by Jimmy Johnson

Happy Columbus Day! Let's not forget about Columbia/Columbus, Missouri, Maryland, South Carolina, Georgia, Indiana, Mississippi, Nebraska, Texas, Wisconsin, Montana and D.C. (and, of course, the great country of Colombia).


Meet Your Creator: Lela Lee (Angry Little Girls)

Today’s Meet Your Creator post features Angry Little Girls cartoonist Lela Lee!


How did you begin your career as a cartoonist/When did you start cartooning?


I never thought I’d be a cartoonist. When I first got to college, I was unsure of what I wanted to major in. So I took any class in subjects I thought were interesting. I took sociology, film studies, women’s studies, Asian American studies, rhetoric, and drama. I was searching for something that would interest me. I was also very unhappy, but couldn’t articulate why. It was probably a combination of the immense pressure my parents put on me to succeed and become either a doctor or a lawyer. I was also uncomfortable being between two cultures, my parents’ culture and American culture. Navigating cultures and my teen years and figuring out how to be a female were stressful for me, though I was unaware at the time that those things caused my discomfort. I was unhappy, and the classes I took made me even unhappier because I learned about racism, sexism, colonialism, all the isms. I was upset at the world I was inheriting as a young person. I also learned that the situations I had experienced growing up in an all-white neighborhood were experiences shared by other minorities. In my Asian American studies class, I intrinsically knew and had experienced this growing up, how invisible Asians were in the media. I doodled a little Asian girl hoping one day it could be a doll that was sold in the marketplace.


The doodle Lela drew in 1993 in her Asian American Studies class that would later become the Angry Little Asian Girl.

Even though the classes made me upset, the classes were necessary because the knowledge, combined with my childhood upbringing, were the ingredients to a recipe that came out of me my sophomore year, when my friend who thought I was too grumpy took me to the Spike and Mike’s Sick and Twisted Festival of Animation. It was at the festival, where I watched sexist, chauvinist and racist cartoons, that I became furious. My friend took note of my anger and challenged me to make a cartoon about myself. That same night when I got dropped off, I went straight to my room, got out some markers and typing paper (we typed papers back then) and starting drawing “Angry Little Asian Girl, The First Day of School.” I was in a video workshop class that met on Tuesday nights. Class was in the art studio basement on campus and it was for no credit, so no one ever did any work for that class. The teacher had shown us the animation table and how to set the camera on the stand to shoot the image. I remembered I could use that, so I signed up to use the equipment. I had no idea what I was doing, so I just sort of fumbled along and put it together. After I was finished, I watched it and decided it was too angry. I hid the VHS tape in a drawer. I never thought about it again. But I knew I wanted to be a storyteller in some way, so I continued to write plays and screenplays, secretly, because they were so bad. And I kept acting in drama classes.


It wasn’t until about four years later when a friend showed me “South Park’s Spirit of Christmas” that I brought out my VHS tape of ALAG. I showed it to my friends and they said it was funny. I was out of college, but working at my mom’s dry cleaners. I had a lot of free time behind the counter, so I drew four more episodes. I was also volunteering at American Cinemateque as a photographer so I could see films for free. I had become friends with the programmer. She asked me what I did besides take pictures for her. I told her I was an actress and that I had made some shorts called “Angry Little Asian Girl.” Her interest was piqued. She told me to send them to her. I did and she immediately called me to tell me she was going to show them before a feature film. She sent my shorts to critics and the critics of the LA Times and LA Weekly both gave Angry Little Asian Girl glowing reviews. I was stunned. It was very primitive animation. In fact, the characters don’t even move in them. I went to the screening and about 20 people came up to me afterward and told me Angry Little Asian Girl said what they wanted to say and that they had similar experiences growing up. At that moment, I decided to make T-shirts. I drew two images of ALAG. One where she was flipping two middle fingers and another censored version where she had her hands on her hips, yelling. I had 300 shirts made. Then I called my friends and begged them to buy a shirt from me for $20. They did and soon my phone was ringing from people I didn’t know wanting to buy the shirts. It was 1998 and the Internet was still a new thing. I launched the website and sold the shirts online and out of the back of my car. I drove my sister’s Toyota Corolla station wagon that had a card table, cashbox and box of shirts at all times. Whenever I saw a crowd, I’d stop and set up to sell shirts.


Lela selling shirts with her sister Linda in 1998.

When I was tabling, I got a chance to talk to people. What I got from that experience was that non-Asians loved ALAG but thought they couldn’t partake because it was politically incorrect for them to wear the shirts. I also learned that women had a lot of anger issues. Women are not allowed to express anger and if it comes out, it has to be in a feminine way. It was invaluable to learn these two things. I had gotten a lot of buzz and MTV caught wind of the videos. They sent a messenger to get a copy of the VHS tape. I was very excited. I waited by the phone. Days turned into weeks and I heard nothing, so I called them. The feedback I got floored me. The MTV executive (who was an Asian man) said “there’s no market for Asians.” I was upset. I thought he was wrong. I was selling out of my shirts and every morning, I was mailing packages filled with T-shirt orders to customers across America. I was going to show this executive that he was wrong. If I couldn’t get Angry Little Asian Girl out into the world on her own because she was Asian, then I was going to do it another way. I was going to make Angry Little Asian Girl the main character of a comic strip called “Angry Little Girls.”


Based on my interactions with people who I met as I sold shirts, I created other characters who expressed anger differently. I created Deborah the Disenchanted Princess, Maria the Crazy Little Latina, Wanda, the Fresh Little Soul Sistah and Xyla the Gloomy Girl. I went weekly to the library to check out books on cartooning. I drew every day. And then I’d go to the art store to experiment with different pens and papers. I finally had it to a place artistically that I could take it out. “Angry Little Girls” was my Trojan horse. I had packaged Angry Little Asian Girl with other diverse girls. She was part of a movement of girls of color who were angry in different ways. I took a meeting at the WB network. And I was excited again. The executive called me the next day to ask if I had a lawyer but he wanted to discuss removing the Asian girl before negotiations began. It was disappointing to hear that the Asian girl should be made invisible. I walked away from that negotiation. I wasn’t interested in making something that would render ALAG invisible, because that’s exactly what I felt growing up. I knew I had to take the Angry Little Girls characters and storyline out to the audience and have the audience be the authority on these characters, not the networks that were not being authentic. So I made a goal to get my books published.


In April 2005, my first anthology of comics was published by Harry N. Abrams. With no marketing, it went into its fourth printing in two months. When my editor called me to tell me this, I thought she was joking. I published five more books and made a successful line of merchandise. And always during this time, I was drawing a weekly comic strip. I also made more animated episodes of Angry Little Asian Girl. I think after 20 years, society has evolved and the Internet and TV are so interwoven. There’s a direct and instant commentary of what people think. Race is a hot-button issue that everyone has an opinion on. So I hope it’s time -- finally -- that I can have a show on network television called “Angry Little Asian Girl,” its original name.


What inspires you?


I get inspired by funny, ironic moments. I’ll always jot those things down. I also try to read a lot. I used to be in a book club before I had kids, but now I just read on my own, very slowly.




  • That Angry Little Asian Girls has been around for 20 years.
  • In 2012, I was nominated for a Harvey Award.
  • I’ve inspired a bunch of other Angry Asians.
  • ALAG is now a slang acronym


Your favorite childhood comics/Comics you read today

Peanuts, Calvin and Hobbes, Momma, Garfield. I read them still today.


Upcoming projects or appearances?

My upcoming project is getting Angry Little Asian Girl on television.


I do speaking engagements at colleges that touch on race and gender and social activism. My next appearance will be at Cal State Fullerton in November.

Lela with students of William Paterson University in New Jersey

Your studio/Workspace

Is messy. But I cleaned up before I took these pictures.


I also draw out my ideas on scratch paper before I draw it onto a large Bristol sheet with pencil. Then I ink with Rotring art pens. Then I scan them in to the computer and color in Photoshop.




Lela in her studio.

Read Angry Little Girls here, like the comic on Facebook or follow Lela on Twitter


This recurring LAUGH TRACKS feature highlights individual Sherpa strips and panels that for one reason or another caught the fancy of the aide de sherpa. It could be anything; the drawing, the writing, the humor, the coloring, that they tried something interesting, or that it's a new step for that particular creator.


We hope this quirky sampler will alert you to features you might not yet have noticed amid Sherpa's abundant, ever-changing, and eclectic mix, and that it gives Sherpa creators a modicum of helpful feedback.









Girth  10-7-14





Regular Creatures  10-7-14





A Bit Sketch  10-8-14



A Boots and Pup Comic  10-8-14





 Diligent City  10-8-14





Frank & Steinway  10-8-14












Elmo  10-9-14



A complete list of all the Sherpa features can be found here.

Drabble drama: Home Run Blues + Exile from Pumpkinland



Drabble is often described as a family strip, a safe and pleasant feature that readers of all ages rely on for its relatable humor and consistent chuckles. But in reality, Drabble is often a vehicle for some pretty intense moments of drama and conflict. Last month, for example, Norm found himself in a pretty rough pickle while seated at the outfield of a Major League Baseball game (click here to jump to the beginning of that storyline). I thought of this while walking around the outfield at a recent Royal's playoff game vs. the Angels.




Albert Pujols, who had been mostly quiet in the first 2.5 games of the series, drove a deep ball back to left center that you could tell pretty quickly was gone. The home run cut the Royals' lead to 5-2, and the crowd quieted as Phat Al rounded the bases. Moments later, though, a chorus of cheers rang out from the home crowd. Someone had thrown the home run ball back onto the field — a hilariously defiant gesture that pretty much says "take your home run and stuff it." Once again, life had imitated Drabble.


The Royals went on to win that game and are now facing Baltimore in the American League Championship Series. If you read on to the conclusion of the Drabble story, you'll find a pretty satisfying conclusion as well. But the Drabble drama is far from over, as you'll see from today's strip (below).




Banned from Pumpkinland!?! You're going to have to stay tooned to see how this one plays out. Until then, enjoy the playoffs, and don't forget to read your daily Drabble.

Calvin at the Bat, Week 2



It's been a big week for me, developmentally. After last week's first baseball-themed Calvin & Hobbes post, wherein I adopted a "comics > sports" batting stance, last Friday night saw me hunkering down and watching the entirety of the Royals v. Angels game, asking lots of questions, studying the patterns, and by the end of the ordeal, cheering along with people who didn't have to make the conscious decision to celebrate before savoring the Royals victory. I had no idea how much spitting would be involved!







Even my dog, who I'd brought along to give myself a more polite means of distraction than staring at my phone during expected boring stretches, was up and barking by the end. I got her from a shelter, so for all I know, she was potty-trained on the sports section, but this was the first overt indication that she was capable of being excited by something more complex than the walk from the couch to the front door in the moments leading up to her daily walk. Sure, she might've just been terrified by the sudden, extremely loud outburst of strangers yelling at a wall, but I'm pretty sure I heard a distinct "Go Royals!" in her bays.





As promised in last week's post, the Royals' Big Win results in more Calvin & Hobbes baseball-themed comics. It might've been a shortsighted move to burn through as many of these as I have so soon, but I didn't expect much to come of their postseason dreams, because I am a bad person. I suppose the next logical stakes-hike to promise for the in the event of future Big Wins for the Royals is a thorough survey of Calvinball. If (I mean when) they win the World Series, I'll spray paint my dog to look like a tiger and shoot a video of us touring Cooperstown, or something of similarly compelling viral potential. Sports!  




























Go Royals,



Hurricane Calvin



Here's a thing: An editor at Proceedings of the Natural Institute of Science tallied up the total cost of all physical damage done by Calvin and/ or Hobbes over the span of the strip's run.





Say what? I'll let editor Matt J. Michel explain: 


The Complete Calvin and Hobbes is a four-volume set containing every published comic strip of Calvin and Hobbes in chronological order. I started with November 18, 1985 (the first comic) and determined every instance in which either Calvin (or Hobbes) caused any type of physical damage or it was mentioned that Calvin had caused some damage. For every event, I recorded the date of the strip and the type of damage caused (i.e., if it was a specific item, or was property damage) with a brief description of the circumstances leading to the damage. There had to be an explicit depiction or mention of physical damage in order for the event to be recorded. Thus, any damage possibly resulting from episodes like “the noodle incident” (or its predecessor, “the salamander incident”) were not counted.

To estimate the cost from damaged goods, I searched for comparable items, with some exceptions (e.g., Calvin’s Mom seems somewhat fashionable, so when Calvin placed an incontinent toad on her sweater, I looked for a replacement on To estimate cost for property damage, I used and (using the zip code for Chagrin Falls, OH). In the few instances in which a monetary value was given in the comic, I used that value.


Are there charts, graphs and so forth to further demonstrate his research? You bet. It's science!



This is wonderful. Do yourself a favor and go read it at the almost dirty-sounding PNIS website.



[h/t Gizmodo!]




Giveaway: New York Comic Con Prize Packs



The GoComics team is exhibiting at New York Comic Con this week! With creator signings, exciting giveaways and awesome prizes, we can’t wait to meet fans and share our love of comics!


For those of you who aren’t attending, we want to make sure you’re not left out! We’re giving away FOUR New York Comic Con prize packs, featuring exclusive NYCC signed prints from past years!


The prize packs include:


-       9 Chickweed Lane by Brooke McEldowney

-       Tom the Dancing Bug by Ruben Bolling


To enter, leave a comment on this blog post and include your FIRST and LAST names. This contest will end Tues., Oct. 14 at 10 a.m. CT. The winners will be announced that day on this blog.


Of course, we’ll be sharing updates from the convention floor! Follow along on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr and GoComics on the Road!


See our NYCC 2014 event schedule here.



Visit R.C. Harvey's Blog



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