Happy Friday Gobblefunkeders! We’ve been off the grid since Christmas recovering from winter colds and flues but we’re back with a bang this week with an exclusive interview with world famous cartoonist and author of the Timmy Failure series, Stephan Pastis! Enjoy!
1. Hi Stephan, welcome to Gobblefunked. First of all, you’ve just released the third Timmy Failure book, Timmy Failure: We Meet Again, can you tell us a bit about the book and what fans of the series can expect?
Yes! Timmy has finally been allowed back into his school (he was kicked out in Book 2), but he has to maintain certain grades to stay there. And this semester’s grades are based partly on an overnight nature trip to Camp Monkeychuck.
This is a problem because Timmy is very afraid to spend the night away from home, particularly at camp, which is reportedly haunted by the Scrum Bolo Chihuahua, an 8,000 pound Chihuahua who allegedly eats little kids.
2. Where did the inspiration for Timmy, and the world he lives in, come from?
All the kid detectives I always see are always so smart and able to solve any mystery, so I wanted to do a series about a boy detective who was not smart and could not solve ANY mystery.
3. Do you have a favourite character from the Timmy series or one which you enjoy writing/drawing more than the others?
Yes, I love drawing Timmy’s sidekick, Total the polar bear. Mostly because he is so big and cute. It’s fun to put him in dresses and make him dance like a ballerina.
4. The Timmy Failure series is your first foray into children’s publishing but you’ve been working as a cartoonist on syndicated adult comic strip Pearls Before Swine for many years. How did you find writing for a different audience? Did you have to change your style significantly?
Surprisingly, it doesn’t change my style very much. It’s really the same kind of humour in both I just take out any obviously adult jokes/themes that I might have used for Pearls.
5. Can you tell us more about your background as I know you were also a lawyer at one point? Did you always know that you wanted to be a cartoonist/illustrator?
I always wanted to be a cartoonist since first seeing the comic strip Peanuts when I was a little kid. I just never thought becoming a cartoonist was very realistic. So I feel very lucky that it actually occurred.
6. Tell us about the creative process behind your work. Do you work 9-5 hours or what are some of your habits when you’re working on a book?
I can write/illustrate a complete Timmy book in about six weeks. I work 10 hours a day, six days a week. I generally write in the morning, and illustrate the chapters in the afternoon. I really love doing it. I also listen to very loud rock music as a I write.
7. What’s your favourite thing about being a published author/illustrator?
The space that a book gives me to tell a story. I don’t have that in the limited space of a comic strip. I can really let my imagination run wild.
8. Who were some of your favourite authors as a child or is there any one author/illustrator that has influenced your work?
I like the darkness/edginess of Roald Dahl books. Those really influenced me a lot.
9. Do you have any advice for budding illustrators?
To draw a little bit every day. Even if it is just for 10 or 15 minutes. It helps a ton.
10. What’s next for the Timmy Failure series and you? Are you writing something at the moment?
Yes, I just finished the fourth book, in which Timmy goes on his biggest adventure of all. It’s very exciting, I swear.