“These marks that the artist makes are our signature, our footprint. They have to stay.”
At Cartoon Crossroads Columbus – CXC, cartoonist Robb Armstrong joins the show to talk about celebrating 30 years of his nationally syndicated comic strip, JumpStart. We get into how he made the transition from gags to character-based humor, the early days of doing the comic strip while holding down a full-time job in advertising (and some absolutely crazy stories about how he used to get original art from Philadelphia up to the syndicate office in NYC), the pop culture references he regrets from the ’90s, and why believing in in his characters helps his readers believe in them, too. We also discuss the challenges of breaking into cartooning and the support he got from past African-American cartoonists like Morrie Turner and Buck Brown, the influence of Charles Schulz on his work and his character, the inescapability of Bill Watterson, how he learned to stop worrying about industry awards, and the move from Philly to LA and the lessons learned from going through the TV production process. We also get into his strong belief in helping other artists, why he thinks pencils and erasers are the devil’s tools, what he’d tell the Robb of 30 years ago about what he has to look forward to, and plenty more! Give it a listen! And go read JumpStart daily at GoComics!
“If I could go back 30 years, I’d tell myself: ‘Pace yourself.’ ‘Be grateful.’ And, ‘You can do a good strip every day.’”
“Perfection is not necessary when you’re thinking, when you’re drawing, when you’re creating something.”
“As sexy as it would have been, I bet I dodged a bullet not getting a TV show. I don’t think the strip would have survived the cancellation of a show, and these shows have such a short life span.”
“Helping a young person solidify their belief in what they can do isn’t just a good deed, it’s extremely urgent. Without saying to a young person, ‘You’re special; you need to do this,’ you’re pulling up the ladder, and that’s not right.”
About our Guest
Robb Armstrong is the creator of the nationally syndicated comic strip JumpStart, which recently celebrated its 30th anniversary, and will see a retrospective collection in 2020. He is also the author of Fearless: A Cartoonist’s Guide to Life.
Credits: This episode’s music is Fella by Hal Mayforth, used with permission from the artist. The conversation was recorded at the Hotel LeVeque during CXC – Cartoon Crossroads Columbus on a pair of Blue enCORE 200 Microphones feeding into a Zoom H5 digital recorder. I recorded the intro and outro on a Heil PR-40 Dynamic Studio Recording Microphone feeding into a Cloudlifter CL-1 and a Mackie Onyx Blackjack 2×2 USB Recording Interface. All processing and editing done in Adobe Audition CC. Photo of Mr. Armstrong by me. It’s on my instagram.