with Brendan Boughen creator of Jim
Name: Brendan Boughen (Jim.)
Comics: Cartoons by Jim, Up the Hill, Belinda Bitsch (written with Ken Grace)
Websites: www.cartoonsbyjim.com, belindabitsch.com, twitter.com/Up_the_Hill
QRD – How old were you when you first realized you wanted to be a cartoonist?
Brendan – Thirteen. I had been enjoying reading comic strips & cartoons for several years (mostly my dad’s Peanuts books) & finally decided I wanted to do my own.
QRD – What are a few highlights of your cartooning career?
Brendan – Won a cartoon caption competition as a 13 year old, which led to having my first newspaper comic strip The Twangups, which ran weekly for two years in the Eastern Riverina Observer, New South Wales, Australia, from 1987-1989. Also, at age 14 my work was featured in a book of cartoons called No Mean Feat produced by Codswallop Press in Albury, NSW, in 1989. Editorial cartoonist for religious publications The Lutheran magazine (1997- 1999), The Olive Tree (2000 - 2002), & Touchstone magazine (2007 - present). First solo book, “Gone Astray” published in 2006. Launched website, www.cartoonsbyjim.com in 2006. “Marriage Equality” cartoon featured by George Takei in 2013. Won a Hermes Creative Award in 2015 for a series of cartoons on sustainability drawn for CSR consultancy EMG. Won a Microsoft Communications Newshound award in 2015 for a series of cartoons drawn for Microsoft Asia’s Windows Server 2003 End-of-Support campaign.
QRD – At what age did you decide you wanted to become a father?
Brendan – It just kind of happened at age 25. My wife & I went for a two week holiday in the South Island of New Zealand & came back pregnant. Must have been the clean air or something.
QRD – What are some positive & negative impacts your family has had on your career?
Brendan – Nothing negative. My family are my first editors, meaning I show them all my cartoons. If they laugh at a cartoon it’s a pretty good indication that it is going to do OK in publication. So, it’s a great family building exercise actually.
QRD – What are some positive & negative impacts your career has had on your family?
Brendan – Since I have not made cartooning my primary career, but something I do in my own time outside of my day job, it means that the cartooning becomes a happy compliment to everyday life, rather than being a high-pressure, stressful pursuit that has got to make enough money to support my family.
QRD – Has your son effected the comics you make &/or read?
Brendan – Yes, I often come up with cartoon ideas that have arisen out of conversations with my son. As he’s got older he’s developed an increasingly keen sense of humour, & his own comedy style. He’s also introduced me to many comedians & funny videos he’s found online (e.g. Epic Rap Battles of History) which helps keep me fresh.
QRD – Have you had problems with the lack of steady money from an artistic career providing the security you feel necessary in your household?
Brendan – It would be extremely difficult to make a steady living from cartooning, particularly in my part of the world. I know perhaps half a dozen or so full-time cartoonists in New Zealand, & even they need to supplement their income by diversifying & doing graphic design jobs or working in advertising agencies or similar. It’s not wise to put all one’s eggs in the cartooning basket, but rather, develop a number of skills that can make money while keeping the comic flame alive. (For me it’s working as a writer / public relations consultant.)
QRD – Do you think being a father or a cartoonist has a greater impact on your community?
Brendan – Definitely being a father. My son is my greatest creation & it’s my responsibility to ensure he grows up as a happy & healthy person so he can help others in the community become so too.
QRD – Would you rather see your son eventually become cartoonist or parent?
Brendan – Why not both? I’m happy for my son to pursue whatever career makes him happy & earns him the kind of living he is satisfied with.
QRD – Both family & comics seem like things that will take up as much of your time as you’re willing to put in. How do you end up dividing your time?
Brendan – Comics are definitely an end of the day thing for me; i.e. after meals have been cooked & housework done. It’s not a bad thing, because I often feel most like drawing late at night, which is also when the funny flows free-est for me.
QRD – What does your son think of your comics?
Brendan – Like I said above, my son is a good gauge for how my comics would be understood by the younger generation. If he can laugh at one of my comics, I consider it a top shelf result! He’s also been inspired to do some of his own over the years, but has not taken it up at a serious level. Yet. There’s still time. Overall, I think he thinks it’s mildly cool that I’m a cartoonist.
QRD – Do you think you could ever do a comic project with your children?
Brendan – Well, we are currently collaborating on a screenplay, which has been fun, so a comic would be a cool extension of that. Who knows... maybe our screenplay will end up being a graphic novel!
QRD – Any words of advice to young people?
Brendan – Get out there & create. Don’t be afraid to steal from those you admire, but keep pushing yourself to find your own voice & style.
QRD – Anything else?
Brendan – I highly recommend this book for all new fathers to read: www.amazon.com/Manhood-Steve-Biddulph/dp/0091894816