Colin Hayes, Illustrator & Cartoonist: 19th
conduct a rare interview with acclaimed illustrator,
will also discover that words don't do his work justice,
hense, click on the website links!
What's your background?
graduated from the Art Institute of Seattle in 1989.
I've been a Freelance illustrator since 1993 (see
I do predominantly technical and informational illustration,
working for companies such as Microsoft, Hewlett Packard,
Home Depot, Bank of America, Sprint, AT&T, Worthington
Steel, Golf Digest Magazine, and dozens of others.
How did you get your break in
the media, and specifically the cartooning business?
long been interested in both cartooning and politics.
In early 2002, I decided to combine a political cartoon
with a comic strip, thus "The Leftersons"
What motivates you?
love to create. I would feel lost without being able
to express myself artistically in some way.
Where do you get your ideas
current events, from political ideologies (even stereotypes),
and from my own warped mind. The comic strip is a
parody, so I often throw in a bit of exaggeration
the creative process - from idea, to drawing, to marketing
writing of the strip (the most difficult part) comes
first. I keep several notebooks in which I jot down
ideas, either in rough form, or finished dialog. I
then sketch the strip, scan the sketch into my computer,then
redraw it in a vector-based program, adding the color
and text. I then send the finished file to my webmaster
at Rightoons.com, and to a DBR Media, who also syndicates
one cartoon per week to weekly newspapers around The
Where can your work be found?
and several political and news-related websites, such
In print, the largest newspaper carrying the cartoon
is the Salt Lake Tribune.
do you consider to be career highlights?
getting the opportunity to take a shot at something
like this. Two newspapers interviewed me, as well
as three radio programs and about three magazines,
and you! One of the newspaper articles can be found
was honored to be featured in all of these forums.
How much creative control do
you have over your work?
have (so far) total freedom with the cartoons. As
the client list grows, my responsibilities also grow,
so I find that I "self-edit" more than I
used to...although some (my detractors) would say
that I should edit far
more than I do!
the difference between an illustrator and a cartoonist?
(I hope this isn't a stupid question, but sometimes
the question not asked, is the stupid one).
a stupid question at all. In all my years as an illustrator,
I still have family members that are unsure of exactly
what I do! As an illustrator, I receive commissioned
assignments from clients that have a specific illustration
need (i.e. a drawing for a corporate brochure, illustrations
for an educational textbook, or an illustration to
accompany a magazine article, and the like), whereas
a cartoonist is primarily known for creating his or
her own work to distribute (through a syndicate or
on their own) to the general public. However, many
cartoonists often seek out and receive commissioned
work as well.
are you most famous or infamous pieces, and why?
can't think of any in particular, although there have
been several cartoons that have received a good share
of both hateful responses, as well as some very positive
feedback (sometimes the same cartoon). I've done several
"mini-series" that have been quite popular.
During the most heated part of the Iraq War, I had
an ongoing series that included the little "Breaking
News" ticker at the bottom of the strip, to replicate
the annoying tickers that most of the major news networks
ran day after day...but mine were a bit different
the best / worst reaction you ever received?
had people write me and say they were "hooked"
or addicted to the strip. Some have nearly begged
to see the strip go daily (it's currently released
three days per week). Even a few people who adamantly
disagree with my viewpoints have expressed their appreciation
of the strip. Others, however, have let me have it.
Recently I caught flak for a vacation series in which
the Leftersons family members were searched at the
airport, while several apparent Middle Eastern terrorist
were allowed to board carrying weapons. Sometimes
a "tongue-in-cheek" approach is misinterpreted
by readers. Sometimes I don't quite hit the nail on
the head, in terms of what I meant to say and what
is perceived...and sometimes folks just plain disagree
with me and call me every name in the book.
anyone tried to "censor" you?
far, no. I did recently contact everyone who runs
the strip, showing them a cartoon I was about to release
to ask if they had any problem running it it featured
a politician with his head up his rear, although tastefully
drawn). None of them had any problems with it. Some
e-mails I've received
over the last year and a half lead me to believe that
a few folks would like me permanently censored!
Do you, or did you, have any
probably like the majority of other new cartoonists,
as far as role models go. Bill Watterson (Calvin &
Hobbes), Berke Breathed (Bloom County, Outland), Gary
Larson (Far Side), Jim Unger (Herman), and Charles
Schulz Peanuts) were big comic strip influences, while
political cartoonists such as Michael Ramirez, Scott
Stantis, David Horsey, Chuck Asay, Jim Borgman, Steve
Breen, Mike Luckovich, Steve Kelley, and many others
(even though I disagree with some of them politically)
have also been inspirations.
Judging by the website addresses
you listed, you must be quite technology savvy...how
has the internet and other technologies helped you?
I'm darn good at SURFING the internet! Both www.rightoons.com
were built by my webmaster, a wonderful, patient woman
in Tennessee. Without the internet, this comic strip
wouldn't have had a chance. I'm one of those hypocrites
that both sing the praises of, and curse, the internet.
Often simultaneously. I've made my living working
on a computer, so it certainly can't be all bad.
are your tools of the trade?
paper, scanner, Macintosh G4, 21" monitor, optical
mouse, newspaper and internet news sites (for research),
brain, hands with opposing thumbs despite the rumors),
high-tech eyeglasses, patient wife, coffee.
the best thing about being you?
not sure there IS a best thing! Honestly, working
from my home has been a blessing. Getting to draw
and create for a living has been something I have
never taken for granted.
What do you do to relax?
run, ride a bike, hike, play with my kids, read. All
at the same time.
50 years from now, how would you like to be remembered?
like to be remembered as someone who didn't take himself
too seriously. Someone who enjoyed life and his family,
and continued to learn during the entire journey.
Someone who stood up for his beliefs while understanding
that, in the long run, some things were actually important
and some weren't...and knowing which was which.
other important information should our audience know
about you and your work?
what some people say about me, I'm really a nice guy!
I answer nearly all of my e-mail! Well, except the
ones that promise $40 million in an African bank account,
a 2% mortgage, earnings of $5000 per day, and a larger...
Colin Hayes Illustrator, Inc.
note: An insightful, entertaining and witty interview.
We will be hearing lots more from Colin Hayes in the
creator is 'right' on - Seattle Post - 27th March
Man Australia: Cartoons section