I only met Pete in person recently. I’d heard lots about him, wondered if perhaps we’d be a match as friends. My partner is keen to get me “out there” to meet more people. I’m not sure where this place is but, from what I hear about Pete, he sounds like he’s filling a similar space to me. Then I started reading his online comics. I saw something sparkling. That feeling when you witness a special thing, and you can’t quite explain it. Like a comfortable button being pressed at the bottom of your heart. Here is something special. Here is some destiny with noticeable traction.
I predict great things for Pete. I see many already. Do take some time to read the words I sent to @badlydoodled and the words he, indeed, sent back to me.
Lived here for 15 years
Works in an office all day
Pretty nice guy when you get to know me
Good at baking bread
Lover of crisps and chips
Hardly ever drank tea or ate curries until I moved to the UK
Likes Danish football and music
Likes long walks on the beach
What’s the cruellest thing you’ve ever witnessed?
On the insanely busy roads of Delhi I once spotted a man without legs begging. He used his arms to move the piece of wood he sat on, to navigate between all the rickshaws and cars. As he rolled past our rickshaw the person in the car next to us spat at the poor guy. I don’t understand people who do such things. There really is no excuse.
My mum once bought me a bin bag of “Roy of the Rovers” comics in a car boot sale. I was four at the time. The smell of old, festering paper is one of my first olfactory memories. That and rain etched car journeys. What are yours?
Many Danish suburban home smells mixed in to one. In the 80s, the Danish version of Grandstand, would show English football on Saturday afternoons. I’d often do that next to our wood fire, at the same time as my Dad would fill the air with his pipe smoking…so lots of smoke smells. That and the smell of newly mown grass.
What three titles would you recommend for a newcomer to comics?
Ooh that’s a tough one. I grew up raiding the library every week for all the great European comics; Lucky Luke, Asterix, everything by Franquin, the Spirou et Fantasio albums by Tome and Janry, Tintin etc, but I wouldn’t be able to single out specific titles. I then had a long break from comics for no particular reason. About 10 years ago I rediscovered the medium through the many great graphic novels out there, and I’ve really enjoyed exploring all the great titles that are now available. I could recommend Maus and From Hell or the many amazing titles by Ed Brubaker or Adrian Tomine, as they are all incredible books, but my favourites are by other creators.
I love everything by Joe Sacco so one of his books. Probably “Footnotes from Gaza” which is amazing, and illustrates well how different peoples’ memory of one event can differ so dramatically.
Guy Delisle is another great storyteller but very different from Sacco. His “Jerusalem” is brilliant.
And every single book by Chris Ware. He is so imaginative and has such a recognisable style. His books look amazing, and even if his stories were rubbish, you could spend years staring at the artwork in total awe of this man. “Jimmy Corrigan” is brilliant, but his newest “Building Stories” is so innovative and just incredible, that any newcomer must read it, just to get a flavour of what this medium can do that no other is able to do.
So, that was loads more than 3 books, but our newcomer will thank me for this. You’re welcome.
What is obvious in your work is how much you clearly love your son and, at the same time, find him hilarious. Would you say your creativity has been kindled by his very existence? Or, to put it another way, has parenthood ignited something inside you that perhaps might not have been realised without him?
No Oskar. No comic. I never knew that I wanted to do this and it was a total coincidence that it happened. I had made lots of notes of the funny things he would come out with since he was about three years old. My wife designed a book for me and all my “bloody notes” as she put it, so I used it for all this. I would update this every now and then but never really knew what to do with it. I was afraid that one day it would be forgotten and then what was the point. Around the same time I got really fed up with not really having any kind of hobby. I have always been fairly creative and it annoyed me to bits that all I did now was go to work and come home and do nothing in the evening. I thought that I should take up photography again, but I had no good camera and no time to take photos, other than photos of Oskar. And then I thought, why not do something with those bits of dialogue and comments I had noted down. “Fatherhood. Badly Doodled.” was born.
It’s been great ever since. I was not good at drawing at the beginning so it has been a journey for me too, where I have improved my drawing skills, refined my style and had a sense of achievement by seeing how far I’ve come since those first drawing in Paint. It has also made me more aware of what my son says and I am sure I am more tuned in to his monologues etc now, than I was back in the day. It sounds like I didn’t use to listen to him, but I think most parents know that sometimes you just have to put the mute button on when they don’t stop talking.
So, yes. No Oskar. No doodles, and luckily he finds them quite funny too.
You’re a keen tack on Twitter. Without even trying. What is your take on social media?
To start with I had no idea what it was all about and I had no idea how to engage with people, or how to get people to look at my work. I still don’t really understand this but I know a lot more now than I did 18 months ago. I started out by finding a list of comic artists on Twitter. The list was humongous and I never made it past the letter A before I got insanely bored by asking them to be friends with me. However, over time, and I have no idea how this happened, I started “meeting” likeminded webcomic creators on Twitter. People who creates the most amazing comics, some of them daily strips, and with so many different themes. It was a real eye opener. I had no idea that there were so many of them out there and quickly found out two things; my comic was by no means the only one about being a father/parent, and the comics community on Twitter is incredible and so supportive. Again I had no idea how massive this community is.
So back to your question. I use Twitter a lot. It’s the place where I get most followers and most feedback from, so it has been a great place to spread the word about my work. I try to engage with other artists, but I wish I had more time to do so, and it is one of things I’d like to get better at. So, I do try to use social media. Facebook is a funny one and I am not sure how much I get out of that one. My page grows by 1 follower a month so this is not the place where I get to promote my website. On the other hand, it’s the main promotional platform for all my friends and family so definitely has a place. I also publish on other platforms like Tumblr (which is the platform I used at the beginning) but that grows even slower than my Facebook page, and finally I have started using Instagram but this is mainly a platform where I can share my drawing progress and the occasional cartoon. This is the platform I understand the least.
So I am trying to learn all the time and at some point I am sure I will crack social media. I have no idea what a good amount of followers is or what is a good number of website visitors, so I still have much to learn. There are still a few other places to try out like Reddit and Pinterest…
Do you draw digitally or with pen and paper? I’ve always thought new technology/software must be a drag for comic artists. Discuss.
I draw with various pens and pencils on card/thick paper. Around the beginning of the year I started using a non-photo blue pencil (that scanners don’t pick up on) for my outlines and that has really improved my drawings. Around the same time I got a selection of pens in different sizes which made it even easier to play around with my drawings than before, so these two tools instantly improved my life and my drawings. I use technology a bit. I use Photoshop Elements to correct mistakes, sometimes I add the text on there as well (I’ve created my own font) and also to colour in large areas.
I have thought about drawing digitally and I get the impression that a large amount of artists do that these days. Their work is amazing and I get the idea that it’s a real skill to draw that way. However, I am happy with the way I do it. I like to play around with my pens, I can sit on the sofa and watch Netflix with my wife while I draw. I sit in front of a computer all day at work so I don’t want my hobby/evening job to be in front of the screen too.
Top five films.
As a former film student this is impossible. Even if I wasn’t a former film student this would be impossible as it really depends on my mood.
- The film that moves me the most is a Canadian film called Last Night from 1998. It’s about the end of the world, but without all the drama and explosions of other Armageddon movies. It is very funny and very moving.
- Since most of the films I watch these days are cartoons I feel like I have to put one on this list. I love Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 1 and 2. Amazing gags and amazing characters.
- I love First Blood and there is nothing you can do or say to make me change that. It’s a great film.
- Old detective novels, especially Raymond Chandler, have a big place in my heart, as does Film Noir. I am not sure I can pick a specific favourite as there are so many great films from that period; The Third Man, Double Indemnity and Big Sleep. Pick one.
- Finally it’s a toss-up between Alien and all zombie movies ever made. I can’t decide.
Top five comics
I’ve already mentioned some of these previously.
- Daytripper by Fabio Moon and Gabriel Ba. One of the best books I have ever read. It’s incredibly moving, the artwork is incredible and atmospheric and everyone should read this. Everyone.
- Footnotes in Gaza by Joe Sacco. Sacco is one of my absolute favourite writers/artists, and this is my favourite, although all his books are brilliant.
- Jimmy Corrigan: the smartest kid on earth by Chris Ware. Another of my absolute favourites. His style, innovative ideas and imagination blows my mind.
- Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Watterson. I always assumed that everyone knew this, but every time I have mentioned it to colleagues they just stare at me. Clearly not everyone knows how amazing this comic strip is. I introduced it to my son last year and he loves it and reads it every morning before school. So much that he wants to dress up as Calvin/Spaceman Spiff/Stupendous Man at the next World Book Day
- There are so many more I want to mention but can’t. Anything by Guy Delisle, Daniel Clowes, Adrian Tomine and Charles Burns. The Criminal and Femme Fatale series by Ed Brubaker, or Maus and From Hell which are both momumental. There are so many amazing graphic novels/comics out there, not to mention all the talented webcomic artists out there
What makes you feel comfortable?
When I can relax. Drawing is a very relaxing thing to do so I am always very comfortable in those situations. Being by the sea is very comforting too. Finally those moments where your child curls up next to you on the sofa for you to sit and read together or watch another of the loud cartoons he likes, that is probably the most comfortable moment I can think off. When I know he is content and happy.
What lessons do you really want to pass on to your son?
Ok this is a bit cheesy but; be kind to others, be empathetic, positive, inquisitive, explore, learn, fail, follow your heart, be true to yourself, learn languages, travel, read, don’t work in Events like me, don’t get a job in an office, and don’t ever change.
What are you afraid of?
That anything bad happens to him. Things that are out of our control like serious illnesses or accidents. Also, him becoming a money grabbing, selfish, banker, who exploits us common folk. That does potentially go against my advice for your previous question as I said he should follow his heart. Well, if this is what he wants to do he should NOT follow his heart.
Lastly, if you could have any team of writers, artists etc compose the comic masterpiece of your very own life, who would you choose?
I see a multi-platform event here. Comics will be written, films about the process will be produced and performance artists will brighten up the streets of London in the months leading up to the event. Every single one of them dressed up as Toulouse Letrec and miming sequences of my life to confused, and intrigued, tourists who would rather be left alone.
Since my life isn’t really that eventful it would need to be someone who can find the small stories in ordinary lives. Someone like Adrian Tomine would be great at that. Although, I had some odd experiences travelling in my early 20s and for that Joe Sacco would be a good artist to get on board. It would also need to be funny, as I am a hilarious person, so someone funny like the Swedish Martin Kellerman who wrote a great comic strip called Rocky. I imagine this collaboration would be designed by Chris Ware.
Yes, that would be rather, as my son would say (due to excessive US cartoon consumption), awesome.
Some lovely words and crafted insights from Pete here. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank him for donating his precious time to me. You can follow Pete at @badlydoodled and read his brilliant, heart smashing comic Fatherhood. Badly Doodled here. I especially enjoy watching a creative talent flourish and sharpen. Through his strip archives Pete’s love for the art and his family grow symbiotically, which is all an audience can ask for. Check it.