Talented cartoonist Dave Kellett, husband of TV writer Gloria Calderón Kellett (our featured author), writes the web comics Sheldon and Drive. Dave talks about his new project, Stripped: The Comics Documentary, his early foray into web comics and the alternative to cloning ones self.
Where do you live? Do you like living there?
I live in Los Angeles, a city which I had at first was scared of, then came to tolerate, and now truly love.
What is your earliest memory of drawing?
I first started doing a comic strip in the third grade, kept in a single spiral notebook, that I would pass around to show people.
What was your favorite comic strip growing up?
It’s a three-way tie between Bloom County, Calvin & Hobbes, and The FarSide.
Tell us about the Stripped: The Comics Documentary project. How many people does it take to complete a project like this?
Stripped is a feature length documentary focusing on the comic strip and what happens to it as newspapers die and the digital world takes off. Does the comic strip die with its traditional medium or does it flourish in other ways? Much like children, it takes a village to finish a film: we have four regular people working on it and then a dozen or so one time contributors to the project in editing, animation, and the like.
What’s a project you and Gloria worked on together? Is it easier or harder to work with your spouse?For two or three years, Gloria and I did sketch comedy together in Los Angeles along with three friends. It was an incredibly fun project, but unless you truly devote yourself to sketch comedy and unless the comedy gods are smiling, there’s zero money to made in sketch comedy. We eventually had to end it even though we loved it.
Is the printed book dead? Why or why not?
No medium ever truly dies, but, like opera or vaudeville, the printed form of a book will find an ever-diminishing audience.
You’ve been working online (according to your interview with Peter Howard) since 1998. What prompted you to make the move to digital so early?
I was living in England and going to grad school and creating comic strips to submit to newspaper syndicates back in the US. Feeling fairly socially isolated, I started posting strips for friends and family and that’s how I got my start.
What is the most challenging part about being an artist?
You have to believe in yourself, your art, and the promotion of both more than anyone else in the world. You are the greatest determinant of whether or not you succeed in the art world and that can be a hard thing for artists to do. No one will ever care about your work as much as you do, so you have to promote the hell out of it.
Tell us 3 strange and wonderful things about you.
I’ve traveled to all fifty states. Both of my grad school degrees are in cartooning. I was once up for the Rhodes scholarship and blew the final interview question.
How do you balance work and family life? (No one ever asks a man this, so I’m asking…)
I don’t sleep. That is the short answer that no one ever wants to hear, but it’s the only way I’ve found to service both and to get an ever-increasing amount of grey hair and weight. No sleep is the low cost alternative to finding a clone.
Tell us about your next project.
After Stripped is done, I will be diving back into a long form sci-fi story that I’ve been telling since 2009 online called Drive. I really look forward to getting back to it.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
You have to want it more than anybody else. You have to want it more than watching TV, reading a book, playing video games, lying on the couch, spending time with friends, and living a balanced life. You have to want it more than you want anything else in life. Then… once you get it, you can re-balance your life.
Dave Kellett is a cartoonist and documentary filmmaker. He is the creator behind the successful web comics “Sheldon,” a daily comic strip with geeky characters, all-ages storylines, and lots of pop-culture nerdiness, and “Drive,” a sci-fi strip about a second Spanish empire, a galactic empire, and a looming war. He is the author of twelve comic books and the co-author of the Harvey Award nominated book “How To Make Webcomics.” He has been nominated twice for the Eisner award in 2009 and 2011. Currently, he is working on the comics documentary STRIPPED, about comic strips from the Sunday Funnies to present day web comics.