Paul Nowak, Cartoonist: 16th
Man Australia's Greg Tingle continues to investigate
the world of the cartoonist.
a rare interview, Paul discussed how he started
in the business, career highlights, how the internet
helps him and lots more.
my education on the college level was Economics
I took one Design course, and hated the teacher.
I did a lot of free work when I was in the military
(Coast Guard, Navy Reserve, Marine Corps), so
I'm largely self-taught. Which explains a lot,
did you get your break in the media, and specifically
the cartooning business?
began blugeoning my way into this field in 1991,
when I was working in Japan. I sent some samples
of my illustrations and cartoons to a publisher
who GRACIOUSLY agreed to use my stuff in the magazines
she put out. Then I sent in a strip to an English-language
paper in Tokyo, and for the next five years I
had a weekly spot in the paper. Very cool, even
if the strip was far from popular. In 1999, having
returned to the US, I contacted CNSNews.com
and asked them if they would like me to submit
some work; I told the editor I would send in a
cartoon every day--weekdays and weekends-- and
if he liked the cartoons, he could print them
and not pay me.
at the end of the month he thought my work was
good enough, I would agree to whatever arrangement
existed at the time for his other cartoonist.
Within two weeks he contacted me and said, "I
like your stuff, we'll publish it every day."
work itself. The money, frankly, is not enough
to cover even my rent. I love the commentary,
the ability to speak my mind through the cartoons,
and to put out a point of view in the press (no
matter how limited my exposure is) that's very
do you get your ideas from?
They're an unending treasure trove of humor.
the creative process - from idea, to drawing,
to marketing etc etc
HAH! I It's more like reinventing the wheel each
morning. I get up early--4am--, and while having
my coffee, start going through the news on the
Net. I jot down the main stories of the day or
some quirky occurrence that has potential, then
whittle the list down to two or three subjects.
Then I sit and
doodle. And sit. And sit. I generally come up
with something by 4:45 or 5am, pencil it roughly
on the paper, then spend an hour or 90 minutes
inking it in.
for Marketing--I am at a loss when it comes to
marketing. I've found over the years that very
few good cartoonists are also good marketers.
Generally the better the marketeer, the weaker
the cartoonist. Obviously there are exceptions
to the rule, but it makes sense: the more effort
put into selling, the less effort there is applied
to the creative end.
can your work be found?
Scripps Howard News Service (www.shns.com
and follow the links to ART, punch in NOWAK in
the search engine, and eventually something comes
onto the screen); RIGHTOONS.com,
(a website that acts as a cyberspace version of
those illustration catalogs most art directors
keep at their desks for reference and for stealing
ideas from); and AAEC.org
(the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists,
a largely liberal organization of which I am a
small and insignificant part).
do you consider to be career highlights?
first time I was published in a magazine (1992);
the first time I had a real cartoon in a real
newspaper (1993); the first textbook I worked
on (1996); the first cartoon I had published on
the Net (1999); the only award I ever got (2001).
much creative control do you have over your work?
Howard is the only outfit to ever kill a cartoon.
I've been very fortunate in having editors who
allow me almost total creative control.
are you most famous or infamous pieces, and why?
famous that I know of. I got five e-mails about
one cartoon, though: It stands as the single most
popular cartoon I've done that I know of. If there's
a famous toon out there that I've done, I don't
know about it.
the best / worst reaction you ever received?
mail from Catholic Charities
of Southern Nevada in response to a cartoon
I had done that was, ironically, pro-Catholic.
Never understood that vitriol.
anyone tried to "censor" you?
just doesn't run the cartoon if they don't like
it. In two+ years, I think they've only killed
two or three toons.
you, or did you, have any mentors?
You mean teachers? None.
The late, great Jeff MacNelly; the living, great
Mike Ramirez (latimes.com),
and INCREDIBLE cartoonist; Robert
Crumb, the world's most insane cartoonist
and a certified genius; Mort
Drucker (of MAD
by the website addresses you listed, you must
be quite technology savvy...how has the internet
and other technologies helped you?
most guys in this field of Web tooning, if it
weren't for the Internet, I doubt I'd have ever
been published at all in this country.
do you do to relax?
lift, hit the heavy bag, and draw cartoons.
50 years from now, how would you like to be remembered?
don't care if anyone remembers me. I would like
to influence readers NOW.
other important information should our audience
know about you and your work?
love it, it's fun, I'd do it 7 days a week if
I could (oh, wait, I DO); I am ALWAYS looking
for additional (paid) work. ALWAYS.
Note: An insightful interview with one of the
most respected cartoonists in the US.