Giveaway: Anniversary Prize Packs

Red and Rover and The Flying McCoys are celebrating big anniversaries this month! Red and Rover turned 15 on May 7 while The Flying McCoys turned 10 on May 9.


To commemorate these milestones, we’re giving away FIVE special prize packs, each containing an archive-quality SIGNED Red and Rover print and an archive-quality The Flying McCoys print.


To enter, leave a comment on this blog post and include your first and last names. This contest will end Tues., May 26 at 10 a.m. CT. Five winners will be randomly selected and announced that day on this blog.


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.




Cats@Work  5-15-15










Onion & Pea  5-15-15





Smith  5-15-15





Snow Sez...  5-15-15













View from the Couch  5-15-15





Which Witch  5-15-15







 Spectickles  5-17-15










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



Giveaway: The Born Loser Signed Prints – Winners Announced


Thank you to all who helped us celebrate the 50th anniversary of The Born Loser by entering to win an archive-quality, SIGNED print!
We've randomly selected TWELVE winners!
Congratulations to:
1. Pat Smith
2. Chris Havlik
3. Howard Maier
4. Trudie Regan
5. Bill Baxter
6. Susan Marlow
7. Gregg DeSilvio
8. Kurt Benrud
9. Sally Rodgers
10. Ed Fenstermacher
11. Teresa A. Murphy
12. Allyson M. Dyar
If your name is listed above, please contact us at with your shipping address and phone number. Please note: You must contact us by 5/25/15 or your prize will be forfeited.

Weekend Faves (May 17)

Real Life Adventures by Gary Wise and Lance Aldrich
Real Life Adventures by Gary Wise and Lance Aldrich

Why do our seemingly-innocent daytime decisions always haunt us at night?



Jeff Stahler by Jeff Stahler
Jeff Stahler by Jeff Stahler

Rest in peace, pioneer and legend, B.B. King. Lucille is not the only one heartbroken over this.



Pooch Cafe by Paul Gilligan
Pooch Cafe by Paul Gilligan


A-ha!  So that's what Don was smiling about at the end of "Mad Men"!



Loose Parts by Dave Blazek
Loose Parts by Dave Blazek

Jurassic Parking!! Counting down the days until the movie release.



Half Full by Maria Scrivan
Half Full by Maria Scrivan

I miss my Etch-a-Sketch, but you can't use your GoComics mobile app on an Etch-a-Sketch!


Baldo by Hector D. Cantu and Carlos Castellanos
Baldo by Hector D. Cantu and Carlos Castellanos

If we can convince Gracie to share the patent on this funny pages dress, it would be a great bit of merchandise for GoComics.



Bob the Squirrel by Frank Page
Bob the Squirrel by Frank Page

I appreciate the honesty in this creative and insightful Bob the Squirrel installment.


New Comic Alert! Mr. Lowe by Mark Pett

Mr Lowe by Mark Pett



Mr. Lowe follows the life of Cal Lowe, a new fourth-grade teacher who constantly discovers that real life does not seem to mirror his ideals.

Read Mr. Lowe here.

Meet Your Creator: John Lotshaw (Random Acts of Nancy)

Ruined for life


I still can’t believe that I’m a cartoonist. Even though I began drawing and making comic strips at a very early age, I resisted at every turn the impulse that drove me, slowly and inexorably toward cartooning.


Of course, everyone who’s known me for any length of time will wonder what took me so long.


As a child, I copied Peanuts out of the newspaper (the Charlotte NC Observer, for those of you playing the Home Edition of our game). From copying, I graduated to writing and drawing my own Peanuts strips, wherein I removed the subtle and gentle humor of Charles Schulz and replaced with the sledgehammer-like nuances inherent in the sensibilities of a 5-year-old. When I proudly showed these newly minted masterpieces to my father, he explained (as best he could) about the concept of “copyright” and why that meant that only Mr. Schulz could make new Peanuts strips. Instead, he suggested, why didn’t I try making my own comic strip?


Needless to say, my life was either set in motion or ruined (or both) at that moment.


Long, strange trips


I had veered away from cartooning, having chosen filmmaking as my career and creative outlet. This was before Atlanta became a real hotbed of television production, thanks to The Walking Dead and Tyler Perry, so I ended up mostly doing graphics for corporate pep rallies.


One job I did brought me back to cartooning. I was hired to design, animate and produce a series of safety videos for children on behalf of a nonprofit professional organization. My employer’s previous attempts at designing an appealing character resulted in something that looked more like a rat than the kangaroo it was supposed to be. I spent two years working with and animating Troo the Traumaroo (I know, I know… the name was picked before I came on board. “Troo” is good, but “Traumaroo”?!?).




Troo was the first character I ever did that got any kind of wide exposure. Kids loved the character, and it was very gratifying to work on a character that really touched people’s lives and made a positive impact on them—and maybe even saved some lives, as well.

After that, I went back to doing corporate logos and animated opens for sales meetings. However, I hated doing that, and decided that a career change was in order. The only thing I’d ever been truly happy doing was the cartooning part of the Traumaroo gig. That was the answer, I decided. I was going to give in to inevitability and become a professional cartoonist.


Problem is, there’s no Becoming a Professional Cartoonist For Dummies out there (a book that would have been written with me in mind). I started working on a comic book. With no idea of how to get it published and distributed, I eventually abandoned that project. I still wanted to be a cartoonist, but now I was even more in the dark on how to make it happen.


About that time, Scott McCloud posted a few essays on the future of comics, in which he talked about webcomics. I began to investigate that as a possibility and decided to make a go of it. I searched through my sketchbooks, looking for an idea to develop into a webcomic I could run for about six months to test the waters, then dive in with my magnum opus at a later date. That temporary strip was Accidental Centaurs, an action/adventure fantasy that can be seen at It launched in 2002. I’m still doing it in 2015.




So much for "temporary."




While I never did develop that other strip—you know, the “permanent” one—Accidental Centaurs opened up worlds of opportunity for me. I entered the world of self-publishing and Internet commerce. I even got inducted into the National Cartoonists’ Society (an organization that has really let its standards down, as proven by my membership). It even led to me getting to meet “Weird Al” Yankovic! How cool is that?




Of course, my original influence was, as mentioned earlier, Charles Schulz. I think that’s true of every cartoonist of a certain age. Peanuts was our gateway drug, introducing us to the wonders of cartooning and the comics. I still love reading Peanuts and now, as an adult and professional, I marvel at the depth and subtlety that Schulz managed to hide away in a few simple panels.





Another influence is another obvious one: Mad Magazine. Every six weeks, like every red-blooded American boy my age, I’d plunk down whatever outrageous amount was emblazoned on the cover of the latest issue—a sum that I was assured was “CHEAP” by words right there on the cover. Mad formed my snarky sense of humor, shaping it to create the bitter, cynical burnout I am today. Whenever I see Nick Meglin at an NCS function, I thank him for this, usually by turning down his oxygen until he falls asleep. In the pages of Mad, I was introduced to a stable of Idiots: amazing artists like Al Jaffee, Don Martin and Jack Davis (who I am fortunate to count as a dear friend and fellow University of Georgia alum).


Bill Holbrook is an inspiration and a mentor, as well as a good friend. He does three daily strips a day and hasn’t missed a beat or taken a hiatus. Ever. Since 1984. Bill also helped get Accidental Centaurs off the ground by letting me advertise on the website for his webcomic Kevin & Kell. Bill also encouraged me to try for membership in the National Cartoonists Society and wrote my letter of recommendation. I owe my career to Bill and hope to be half the cartoonist he is.


Another mentor and inspiration is my Nancy boss, Guy Gilchrist. I’d known about Guy for decades, remembering his work on The Muppets. When Guy asked me to work with him, I immediately jumped at the chance to work and learn from him. I still have much to learn, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to learn and grow working for Guy.




One thing I love about cartooning is the fact that I don’t have to deal with Atlanta’s notoriously hellish commutes. In fact, my commute is about 25 feet, as is the case with most cartoonists. 

My studio is located in a bedroom that was expanded a few years ago to create a second master suite at my house. The room looks out into the backyard, which lets me watch the dogs play when I need a few minutes to goof off—I mean, relax.




My drawing table is usually covered with half-done projects, drawing implements and scripts and notes for stuff I haven’t even started yet. Above that is a shelf filled with coffee mugs that hold all manner of pens and pencils (What? You can actually put a beverage in them? What a novel concept!).


My studio also has (at the moment) three Macintosh computers: Compy, an 8-core Mac Pro; Lappy, my trusty MacBook Pro (and the computer I’m writing this on); and Streamy, a Mackintosh I built that will be used for live streaming (soon). Compy (the computers were named for machines appearing in the Web animation series Homestar Runner) has a 12” Wacom Cintiq that gets an extensive workout producing Random Acts of Nancy.


Randomizing Nancy


When people ask me what Random Acts of Nancy is, I tell them it’s their little daily ray of Absurdist sunshine. The lack of context—indeed, it’s very removal—is what attracted me to Random Acts the moment Guy explained it to me. It was taking Scott McCloud’s “Five Card Nancy” game to its ultimate level and making what is already a surreal comic strip experience trip into an encounter that would make Magritte’s head explode.


The process begins by skimming through Nancy daily strips. Currently, we’re using Ernie Bushmiller’s art exclusively, but we’re not limited to his work. We actually have some Periquita comic books, which are Spanish translations of stories done by John Stanley in the 1950s for Tip Top Comics.


Once I find a strip with a promising panel, I clean up the art as much as I can in Photoshop.




I remove the extra panels, and then begin coloring the art.






When the panel is colored, I run a filter on the art to create the halftone dots that make the panel look as if it was printed on an old-fashioned four-color press.






Finally, I flatten the image and add the indicia, including the original publication date of the strip.




Repeat the process until … well, I run out of material. Thanks to the genius of Ernie Bushmiller, that’s not going to happen any time soon.


It’s a good gig, if you can get it …


How many people really, truly love their jobs? In the population as a whole, I’d venture to say the number is pretty low. Most people love to complain about their jobs. I am so lucky to be in a profession where literally (not figuratively) everyone who does it absolutely loves it.


I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for the help and guidance of many people, such as Bill Holbrook and Guy Gilchrist. I also owe an enormous debt of gratitude to my parents, Paul and Esperanza Lotshaw. Both parents, I think, didn’t really get what their weirdo son was trying to do with his life—they just knew that he needed to do it. So with lots of love and support of kinds, they gave me the room to pursue this wacky dream. They understood it would be hard. If it were easy, everyone would do it. But without their help and support, I wouldn’t be writing this now. I wouldn’t have the chance to be a part of the legacy of Nancy. I wouldn’t have a webcomic that’s been running 13 years and a new strip getting ready to launch.


OK, enough rambling about me. Time to getting back to being random ...


Read Random Acts of Nancy here.


Twitter Q&A with Andrew Paavola of "Bully"



Many thanks to Bully comic strip creator Andrew Paavola for taking part in this week's cartoonist Q&A! If you missed out on the live chat catch up here, or use the widget below.  




Subscribe to Bully comics here! 


Tune in next week on Twitter for a chance to chat LIVE with Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal creator Zach Weinersmith! Tweet in using the hashtag: #AskZachWeiner


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.




 Amanda the Great  5-12-15





Colonel Kernel  5-12-15















Lili and Derek  5-13-15





Onion & Pea  5-13-15










Snow Sez...  5-13-15






View from the Couch  5-14-15





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



New Comics and Necessary Laughs

What I love most about comics is their ability to highlight the humor in everyday things. Be it work, family or society, comics put a silly spin on all the mundane aspects of our lives. Mondays, for example, used to be the bane of my existence until I started working at GoComics. Now, I come in, log on and start my week off with a laugh, catching up with all of my favorite GoComics characters and how they’re making it through their Monday mornings. That little bit of relatable ridiculousness has become a very welcome and necessary part of my workday.


Because of that, I feel like I should share the comic wealth with all of you and tell you about some of the strips that have had me cracking up in my cubicle throughout the past few weeks. If you have been following along with our newest comics, you know that we have launched some seriously hilarious ones recently!


First, there’s Wrong Hands by John Atkinson. You want to hear about ridiculousness? This strip deals with everything from calculus to coffee to chocolate addictions, making them all laugh-out-loud hilarious.


Wrong Hands by John Atkinson
Wrong Hands by John Atkinson


Wrong Hands by John Atkinson
Wrong Hands by John Atkinson


Wrong Hands by John Atkinson
Wrong Hands by John Atkinson


Next, I’d like to rave about The Daily Drawing by Lorie Ransom. This strip is the perfect example of turning commonplace things into comedic relief, and it keeps me laughing day after day (literally, I laugh at every single strip). 


The Daily Drawing by Lorie Ransom
The Daily Drawing by Lorie Ransom


The Daily Drawing by Lorie Ransom
The Daily Drawing by Lorie Ransom


The Daily Drawing by Lorie Ransom
The Daily Drawing by Lorie Ransom


My final favorite, Michael Jantze’s The Norm 4.0,is a continuation of an old favorite. You might remember Theodore Norman Miller from his original strip, The Norm, but he’s all grown up now. With a job, a wife and two little kids, Norm’s life is wilder – and more hilarious – than it’s ever been! He embraces it, though, finding humor in the chaos, making him the kind of hero that I love to root for.


The Norm 4.0 by Michael Jantze
The Norm 4.0 by Michael Jantze


The Norm 4.0 by Michael Jantze
The Norm 4.0 by Michael Jantze


The Norm 4.0 by Michael Jantze
The Norm 4.0 by Michael Jantze


Click here to check out more of our new features and – most importantly – keep checking in for your daily dose of necessary laughter! You know what they say: A comic a day keeps the crazy away!


– Amanda

Keith Knight Named One of LA Weekly’s “People of 2015”

Photo Credit: LA Weekly

Cartoonist Keith Knight (The Knight Life, (th)ink, The K Chronicleshas been named one of LA Weekly’s “People of 2015!” This honor recognizes creativity, aspiration and achievement. We are excited for Keith! 


“Knight does a lot of hustling. He produces a weekly single-frame cartoon called (th)ink; a weekly autobiographical multipanel called The K Chronicles; and a syndicated daily strip, The Knight Life. His often biting work has appeared in the Washington Post, Daily Kos, San Francisco Chronicle,, L.A. Weekly and Ebony, among others. He's on, a funding site for creators, and has his own subscription service. (For $2,500 Knight will show up at your home, unannounced, with a box of doughnuts.)” – via LA Weekly.


Read the full article here.

A Special Gift for Graduates



By the time your graduate has reached his or her late teens or early twenties, chances are, they’ve passed many milestones. None, however, can ever quite compare to their high school or college graduation. A product of their dedication and hard work, graduation will inevitably be an emotional moment for both of you.


Such an accomplishment deserves a gift that is equally special; something to hang in their new dorm room, home or office as a constant reminder of how proud they’ve made you. Available through GoComics, an archive-quality framed or unframed collectible comic print is that gift.



Whether it’s a print of their favorite strip, a strip about graduation or just a strip that reminds you of them, it’s a unique and special gift that they’ll always treasure. After your graduate embarks on their journey, no matter where it leads them, this is a gift that will deliver a good memory and a laugh.


The comic strip of your choice will be printed on high-quality 11”x17” paper. Unframed collectible prints are available for $39.95, while framed prints range in price from $229.95 to $239.95. The ordering process is simple. Start browsing here.


Congratulations to your graduate! We wish them all the best!


Giveaway: Reader’s Choice! Share Your Favorite “MOM”–ent – Winners Announced

Thank you to all who shared your favorite "MOM"–ent with us! We have randomly selected FIVE winners to receive an archive-quality print of their choice!


1. David Pelton – The Adventures of Heroman Guy (March 19, 2015)


The Adventures of Heroman Guy by David Pelton


2. David Adams – Calvin and Hobbes (Feb. 2, 2014)


Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Watterson



3. Darryl Heine – My Cage (April 3, 2014)


My Cage Classics by Melissa DeJesus and Ed Power


4. Justin Baglio – No Ordinary Life (Feb. 4, 2015)


No Ordinary Life by Justin Baglio


5. Markku Siira – Calvin and Hobbes (May 14, 1989)


Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Watterson


If your name is listed above, please contact us at with your shipping information and phone number. Please note: You must contact us by 5/16/15 or your price 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.




Frank & Steinway  5-8-15





Girth  5-9-15





 Far Out!  5-10-15




Peanizles  5-11-15




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



Weekend Faves (May 10)

Reply All Lite by Donna A. Lewis
Reply All Lite by Donna A. Lewis

Great point, Lizzie. It's all about perspective.



Barney & Clyde by Gene Weingarten, Dan Weingarten & David Clark
Barney & Clyde by Gene Weingarten, Dan Weingarten & David Clark

One of the most embarrassing moments of my career occurred the week Taylor Swift's newest album came out. I was rocking out to "Blank Space" for the 50th time when two of my co-workers presented me with new, fancy earphones. "We know you love Taylor," they said. "But the entire floor doesn't want to hear it anymore." Oopsie.



The Duplex by Glenn McCoy
The Duplex by Glenn McCoy

They should have done a background check on


The Born Loser by Art and Chip Sansom
The Born Loser by Art and Chip Sansom

'A' for effort?


Red and Rover by Brian Basset
Red and Rover by Brian Basset

There were so many adorable Mother's Day tributes over the weekend! Hope all the wonderful mommies had fabulous Mother's Day. If you missed it, check out our special Mother's Day collection here.


Thatababy by Paul Trap
Thatababy by Paul Trap

Thatababy is so clever … but who would want to miss an episode of Secret Squirrel?!


New Comic Alert! Pot-Shots by Ashleigh Brilliant

Pot Shots by Ashleigh Brilliant


Ashleigh Brilliant's POT-SHOTS are illustrated epigrams, never longer than 17 words. They are written in very simple English, so as to be easily translatable into other languages. In the process of creation, the words always come first, and (as is not the case with "cartoons"), they are capable of standing alone without requiring any illustration. But the illustrations add a special dimension to the finished product. They should be appropriate, but not too literal – more in the nature of commentary than of direct depiction, which makes creating and/or selecting illustrations one of the hardest parts of the work. There is no cast of characters, and the range of subject matter is virtually unlimited. Originality is considered an essential factor. What is said must be really worth saying, but, as far as possible, never actually have been said before. There can be humor, profundity, poignancy, whimsy or a combination of all these. Another criterion is that the material should have lasting value and be capable of being appreciated in other times and other cultures. Because of this stricture, there can be no rhyme, no rhythm, no puns, no idioms – in fact, none of the conventional wordplay that makes writing short expressions fun and easy. There can also be no intentional topical references.


POT-SHOTS have appeared in many forms, with and without the original graphics, but their debut on GoComics is a totally new adventure.


Read Pot-Shots here.

Celebrate 50 Years of Losing

When I was a young, obnoxious child, one of the many treats of visiting my grandparents' house was the chance to read an entirely new batch of comics. This was in the days before the Internet, when newspapers were pretty much the only game in town for comic strips, making a trip to a different town an opportunity to peruse completely different funny pages over the morning bowl of radioactive-colored, hyper-sugary cereal (one of the other treats of visiting my grandparents' house.)


One of the comic strips in my grandparents' local paper was The Born Loser. I can't say that I loved it as much as U.S. Acres or Robotman, which it appeared next to, but then, I wasn't really its audience. Pop-eyed talking animals and wisecracking mechano-men were easier for me to relate to than the prosaic, everyday failures of beleaguered tea cozy flack Brutus Thornapple and his family. The strip's stark simplicity, both in its art and its jokes, and avoidance of '80s comic-strip gimmicks (the aforementioned talking animals, Reagan jokes, dangerously overweight cats) did make it stand out on the page, however.




Decades later, when comics were available at the click of a mouse and I was old enough to make poisonously vivid cereal my primary source of sustenance, I became the editor of, among many other comics, The Born Loser, thus proving to my family that my six grueling years at the Comic Editing Korrespondence Kollege of American Samoa had not been a total loss. Even though more than two decades had passed since I last read it, I was surprised to find that it had changed not a whit -- the jokes were gentle, the art was gracefully minimal and Brutus Thornapple was still trying to make a go of it in the cutthroat tea cozy industry. The strip's creator, Art Sansom, had died in 1991, but his son, Chip, was ably carrying his legacy forward. 




 Though the strip hadn't changed, I had, and where once I had found the strip less than relatable, now I found the gags about the daily struggles of office work, marriage and finding clean pants to be all too easy to understand. For most of us, adult life is the same thing over and over, and I think part of the reason for the strip's enduring popularity and staying power -- celebrating its 50th anniversary on May 10, it still runs in hundreds of papers and routinely comes in at or near the top in comics polls -- is that it mirrors its subject matter: the familiar and recurring foibles of humdrum life.




Of course, there are many other factors at play when it comes to The Born Loser's appeal. There's the Dickensian perfection of the characters' names: Brutus' boss is named Rancid Veeblefester, his son Wilberforce and his dog Kewpie; the staunch middle-classness of the Thornapple milieu and the realistic depiction of the relationship between Brutus and his wife, Gladys, a marriage as full of bickering, annoyances and frustrations, as it is of love, tolerance and understanding.




On a personal note, I have a theory that, as square as Brutus can often seem, he's actually secretly hip -- he sees a psychiatrist, takes a bus to work and lives in a neighborhood urban enough for him to have a regular relationship with an area bum.




But the real secret of The Born Loser is that Brutus is not a loser at all. Despite his petty disappointments, he has a decent job, a nice home and a loving family.  Though he doesn't have it all, he has what he needs, making his story a quiet yet valuable inspiration for the rest of us saps.






• Read The Born Loser daily on GoComics here

LIKE The Born Loser on Facebook

Download an official The Born Loser certificate

Happy Mother’s Day!

Stevie Wonder put it beautifully when describing his own mother, saying, “Mama was my greatest teacher, a teacher of compassion, love and fearlessness. If love is sweet as a flower, then my mother is the sweet flower of love.”


The same could be said for billions of mothers, which is why we celebrate Mother’s Day; a day dedicated to spoiling, pampering and showing appreciation for these amazingly strong, selfless women, whom we are lucky enough to call our moms.


Although Mother’s Day may only last one day a year, a mother’s love is endless. Her job is never done; there is no punch card for motherhood. It’s a hard job, but she never asks for much in return – just a “thank you” or a phone call every once in awhile.


So, whether it’s breakfast in bed, flowers or just a day filled with “whatever Mom wants,” pull out all the stops for you mom today! Need a little inspiration? You can take a page out of any of these comic characters’ books:


Heart of the City by Mark Tatulli
Heart of the City by Mark Tatulli
Luann by Greg Evans
Luann by Greg Evans


Drabble by Kevin Fagan
Drabble by Kevin Fagan

Arlo and Janis by Jimmy Johnson


Celebrate Mother’s Day with us by viewing our whole Mother’s Day collection HERE! Don’t forget to share your favorites with friends and family!


Happy Mother’s Day to all of you wonderful mothers out there!

Meet Your Creator: Chip Sansom (The Born Loser)

In honor of The Born Loser’s 50th anniversary this month, we share a special “Meet Your Creator” installment from cartoonist Chip Sansom.




How and when did you begin your career as a cartoonist?


My career as a cartoonist began in 1977. My dad, Art Sansom, created The Born Loser in 1965 and by 1977, he was looking for an assistant so he could ease up his heavy workload, especially with the gag writing. I had started a career in the business world immediately after I graduated from college four years earlier, and by this time I had become disenchanted with that career path and was looking for something more creative. Sounds like a perfect match, right?  Except I never dreamed I could be a cartoonist, because I believed I was a terrible artist. I think I was intimidated by the fact that both my mother and father were fabulous artists – there was no way I could live up to the high bar they had set, so I decided at an early age not to try. This is not to say they did anything to make me feel this way – it was all in my head.  


Believe it or not, I never took an art class in college, high school or even junior high school. In retrospect, I think if I had taken art classes, I probably wouldn’t have been all that bad and certainly would have learned many things that I would find helpful to this day. On the other hand, I was an English major in college and had loved creative writing from an early age, so I was confident I could help my dad out with the writing on the strip. I started by submitting a series of gags to him, as had multiple other professional writers. They were all talented, but they didn’t know The Born Loser like I did. I grew up watching my dad create the strip in his studio in our home. I knew it so well, my gags worked better for the strip than those of the other writers. Dad offered to hire me as an apprentice and teach me the art side of things while I was writing gags for him. I accepted under the condition that I work for free on a trial basis for one year, while still working my other job. I passed the audition to the satisfaction of both of us and started my official apprenticeship one year later.  


Dad taught me every aspect of producing the comic strip exactly as he did. The artwork progressed slowly but surely. I found that even though I was unable to quickly draw the characters, my eye was trained to know what they should look like and I would keep working on my drawings until they passed my eye test. By the time Dad passed away in 1991, I was able to take over the complete production of The Born Loser by myself.  I still felt I wasn’t a great artist, but I believed I could produce The Born Loser better than any other living person. I have made a conscious effort to continue the comic strip in the style Dad taught me.  As a tribute to him, I still sign both of our names to every comic strip.




Were you a big fan of comic strips or comic books as a child?  Did any have an influence on your work?


At a very young age I took to Dennis the Menace, both the newspaper panel and the comic books. I loved the humor, and the artwork always seemed just right. The newspaper panels were periodically collected in paperback book form, many of which I still have today somewhere in the basement. I remember the comic books occasionally featured giant special editions with themes like Dennis at Christmas and Dennis in Hawaii, which I looked forward to with bated breath. I thought Hank Ketcham was a genius. I also thought he was incredibly prolific, being able to do that daily strip and all those comic books. It was a great surprise to me when I learned as an adult that one of Ketcham’s assistants on the newspaper panel, Al Wiseman, was responsible for the comic books. They both have my admiration now. There was a TV show of Dennis the Menace in the early 1960s, starring Jay North, as I recall.  It probably was a good show in its own right, but I felt it didn’t capture the essence of Dennis from the comics. I think there are elements of Dennis in The Born Loser character, Hurricane Hattie.


I was never that into action comics, like Superman and Batman, which were very popular when I was a kid. However, when I discovered Carl Barks’ adventure tales in the late 1950s, I was hooked. Being raised on Walt Disney cartoons, Donald Duck was the initial lure to Barks’ work, but Uncle Scrooge quickly became my favorite. Barks’ artwork was fabulous and it perfectly depicted those tall tales he had such a talent for spinning – I always thought he could have been successful working in the movies.  Years later, when I was watching Indiana Jones, I immediately picked up on scenes that were right out of old Uncle Scrooge comic books. Stephen Spielberg and George Lucas had to be fans – Barks made it in the movies after all. You will find tips of the hat to Uncle Scrooge in The Born Loser character, Rancid W. Veeblefester.


Describe your studio.


I work in the same home studio that Dad and I worked in together while I was apprenticing for him. It is also the same studio in which he created The Born Loser in 1965. There are some similarities to how it looked when he was using it, but other things he would not recognize. My computer setup, for example – none of that was around when Dad was alive. I have an iMac with a 27-inch screen, which is about three years old. I have Photoshop loaded on it. I use an old HP Deskjet printer and a Brother Professional Series scanner, which has a large enough bed to scan my 17-inch-wide daily strips (my Sunday pages are 22 inches wide and have to be scanned in three tiers). I do not use the computer to create my artwork. I still draw everything by hand, the old-fashioned way that my dad taught me. I make one concession to the 21st century – I use the computer to scan and send my work digitally to the syndicate. It sure beats those late-night trips to the airport to express mail my work ahead of a pressing deadline. No one is allowed to visit my studio – it is too badly in need of a makeover. It could use a new coat of paint and removal of about three garbage cans’ worth of clutter. I have some artwork leaning against the walls, which I haven’t got around to hanging, yet. One is a Born Loser original, which my dad did on my 16th birthday, and featured a Spirit of ’76 Revolutionary War theme. He even wrote “Happy Birthday, Chip, Old Bean,” inside the panel where all the readers would see it – that meant a lot to me. That strip is definitely my prized possession. There is also a framed Chris Welkin, Planeteer Sunday page from the early 1950s. That was the comic strip Dad did before creating The Born Loser. It was a sci-fi strip along the lines of Flash Gordon, which Dad drew in a very similar style to his hero, Milton Caniff. It is amazing to me that the same cartoonist was versatile enough to draw so beautifully in two such different styles as The Born Loser and Chris Welkin. He was truly an outstanding artist! Another artwork leaning against a wall is a beautiful original multimedia portrait of my mom, which my dad did for a Cleveland Garden Club program cover. Finally, there is a watercolor painting, which hung on my bedroom wall when I was a child, by Walt Scott of The Little People, his famous comic strip. In the 1950s, Walt worked with my dad at the Cleveland-based headquarters of Newspaper Enterprise Association. Before that, he worked for Walt Disney on several famous animated movies, including Fantasia. Among the less-treasured items in my studio is a very old 15-inch Toshiba TV, which I have been meaning to replace for many years, but haven’t gotten around to. It does seem kind of silly to channel a digital cable signal through an ancient TV. I also have an elaborate Denon audio component system with Infinity speakers, which I haven’t used for years because playing music through my computer is so much more convenient. I still keep about 500 of my favorite CDs in racks along one studio wall. On several other walls, I have bookshelves with a couple hundred of my favorite books. There are other obsolete items in my studio, like my overhead projector, which I used to use to enlarge or shrink artwork. Now, I can do that much more easily using the computer. One of these days, I’ll get around to removing the overhead projector. I guess I haven’t changed things in the studio because I am comfortably surrounded by the things I love, as well as the echoes of great memories from my past.  


Do you listen to music or watch TV while you are working?


Not as much as I used to; I often prefer quiet these days – it isn’t distracting. I used to regularly listen to rock ‘n’ roll while I worked, but I only do so once in a while (and more quietly) now. I am most partial to the soundtrack of my youth – ’60s music, particularly The Beatles. I find classical music is soothing when I need to relax. Anything on TV with action that has to be watched or with a complex storyline that has to be followed closely will not work. Sports play-by-play is perfect to listen to while I am working. I am a major fan and I always try to catch games with my hometown teams, the Indians, Browns and Cavaliers (no Born Loser jokes, please). Sometimes TV talk shows, like David Letterman or Jimmy Fallon are OK to have on in the background, because those shows can be listened to without having to watch or follow closely. I remember lying in bed as a kid and hearing Dad’s TV coming from his studio with shows like Steve Allen, which was the forerunner of Letterman and Fallon. His favorite TV shows were the great triumvirate of late ’50s/early ’60s comedies: The Honeymooners, The Andy Griffith Show (during the Don Knotts period) and The Dick Van Dyke Show. I loved watching those shows with him and will still turn on the reruns when I am in my studio – I know them by heart, so they don’t require much of my attention. Looking back, I can see where those shows influenced Dad’s depiction of Brutus Thornapple – especially The Honeymooners.  




What are your tools of the trade?


My dad’s old wooden drafting table had to be retired when its wobble became too great to compensate for. I now draw on a large Alvin drafting table with a white laminated surface. I have it adjusted to an angle that is not so great that everything I place on it tends to roll off. I have two combination incandescent bulb/florescent bulb lights mounted on the back edge of the drawing board. I keep my supplies in a four-drawer cart to the side of the drawing board.  In the drawers, I keep my pencils, pens, erasers, razor blades, triangles, templates and curves. The cart has a couple of vertical slots along the side for T-squares and rulers. I use a large 36-inch Fairgate aluminum T-square. Many of the supplies I learned to use with my father have regrettably been discontinued. My dad used three-ply Coquille board with a coarse finish, but since that is no longer produced, I use three-ply Strathmore Series 500 paper with the vellum surface. I wish that the surface had more grain to it, but it is the closest I have been able to find to the old Coquille board. I draw The Born Loser in a very large-size format, for no other reason than that is how Dad worked. I cut my board for the dailies 17-inch wide x 5 ½-inches high and the Sundays are 22-inches wide x 15 ½-inches high.  The actual image area for the dailies is 16-inches wide by 4 ½-inches high, which leaves a ½-inch border all around. The dailies are usually three panels, which are each 5-inches wide by 4 ½-inches high, with ½-inch gutters between the panels. Every once in a while, I will use a four-panel daily, which has four 4-inch wide panels with no gutters. My Sunday pages are divided into nine panels – three rows of three 6 ½-inch wide x 4 ½-inch high panels with a ½-inch border all around and a ½-inch space between panels. The first panel is for the Born Loser logo, which is the famous Born Loser crest that my dad created back in 1965. The second panel is the start of the gag, the third panel is referred to as a throwaway panel, because most newspapers (and the website) do not use it, and the rest of the gag is told in panels 4 through 9. Some newspapers do not use the logo panel and print panels 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9. Others do not use the top three panels at all. As a result, I have to create my Sunday pages so that the gag works in all formats: all 9 panels, 8 panels (omitting the third panel), 7 panels (omitting the logo and third panel), or 6 panels (omitting the first three panels). It is quite a challenge! Dad used Sanford Design pencils, but I have had to switch to Prismacolor Turquoise pencils. They are the only company that I have found that still offers a 9H pencil, which I regularly use for transferring images from tracing paper, a technique Dad taught me. When he needed multiple images of the same scene, he would draw it on tracing paper once, then transfer that image to as many panels as he needed. It was a nice time-saver from having to redraw the image from scratch in each panel. The other nice thing about drawing images on tracing paper is that when you flip the image over and look at the other side, you often will notice symmetrical problems that were not apparent when looking at the first side. Dad said the old-time cartoonists would hold their drawings up to mirrors for the same reason. It is easy to fix any problems on the reverse side before transferring the image. I use Strathmore tracing paper in 19 x 24-inch pads, which I cut down to the size of my panels. For drawing on my art board and lettering, I use the Turquoise F, HB and 2B pencils, depending on the boldness of the line I want. I draw and letter each panel fully before I begin inking. I do my lettering in quarter-inch height, with a 3/16-inch space between lines. In the early days, Dad would use brushes and India ink on his work, rather than nibs. For consistent lines, he would put ink on the brushes and form the tips into various points, then allow them to harden before dipping them in his ink well to work on the strip. Sometimes, he would even use a razor blade to precisely cut the hardened tips into very precise points. I don’t know how unique this hardened-brush tip technique was, but I have never heard of anyone else using it. In the late ’60s, when on a vacation and unable to find an art store to get brushes and ink when he ran out, he discovered that the new felt-tip pens were a versatile and convenient substitute. He was so happy with them, he soon was using them exclusively. Since he passed away, I have been told by multiple cartoonists that he was an influential pioneer in the use of these pens. Alas, his old felt-tip pen brand went out of business and the current felt-tips don’t measure up. So, I use artist pens in various tip sizes to ink my work. I keep experimenting with different brands because the tips are either too hard or too soft. I am currently using Faber-Castell Pitt Pens with their Fine nib for most of my line drawings and lettering. I also use their Superfine, medium and bullet nib pens for a variety of line sizes. To fill in blacks and for bold, loose lines, I use their brush nib pens. I have recently been trying Sakura’s new Pigma Sensei Manga drawing pens. Their tips are slightly different than the Faber-Castell pens, which is intriguing, but they only seem to be sold in sets, which is impractical for the quantities I need of certain tips. Oh, and I can’t forget Wite-Out and Liquid Paper – they are lifesavers! Sometimes, on bad days, I swear I use more Wite-Out than ink!




What is your process for working on the strip? What do you do to fuel creativity?


I usually take care of my errands and appointments in the mornings, then begin drawing in the afternoon and work into the evening, after a break for dinner. I have been a night owl for as long as I can remember. If I have a pending deadline, I will often work late into the night until I am finished. I quickly learned that I can’t sit down at the drawing board at a certain time and say “now it’s time for me to be funny.” The best way to write is to have it in the back of my mind 24/7. When I encounter a situation, I will find myself analyzing what would it be like if this happened to Brutus. A situation that is not funny at all can become a gag if I insert Brutus and slightly change the setup. Although I don’t consider The Born Loser to be topical humor, I will often stimulate ideas by reading the newspaper or a magazine article. As I go through my day, I will write down these seeds of ideas. Then, when I get back to the drawing board, I will try to make gags out of them. If a gag presents itself, I will write it on an index card and put it in one of many files I keep, which are separated by subject matter and readiness for the strip. When it is time to lay out my strips for the week, I will go through those files and pull out the seven best ones. Some of those index cards sit in the files for months or even years. I will periodically look through the old files and revisit the ideas. Sometimes, a new twist will pop in my head that makes the old gag usable. My biggest nightmare is thinking of an idea when I am not at my drawing board with a pencil and paper in hand, for example, when I am driving, then by the time I get someplace where I can jot it down, I can’t remember it.  It is a horrible feeling, especially when you are in need of a good idea. I am convinced many of the best gags ever written have been forgotten forever. I learned to always carry a notebook and pencil with me wherever I went, so I would be able to jot down ideas that came to me in a restaurant or on the golf course. I even kept one on my nightstand, for those not-infrequent times when an idea would come to me in my sleep. In another instance of taking advantage of modern technology, I have now replaced the notebook and pencil with my iPhone. When I think of an idea, I will record it with the voice memo app.  


What are you most proud of?


I am most proud that I have been able to carry on the legacy my dad created 50 years ago, continuing to entertain readers old and new. To be successful for this long, we must be doing something right! It is a tribute to the great characters and universal premise Dad created and was able to pass along to me. It is still a thrill to open the morning paper and see our work. And an even bigger thrill to think of all the readers around the world who are turning to The Born Loser for a smile to start their days.


Read The Born Loser here or like the comic on Facebook.

Twitter Q&A with Wayno of WaynoVision



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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.














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Magnificatz  5-6-15





The Boobiehatch  5-6-15





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