|Cartoonist Dad Interview with Billy McKay
Name: Billy McKay
Comics: Peculiar Paper People
Websites: billytherobot.etsy.com, billytherobot.spreadshirt.com
QRD – How old were you when you first realized you wanted to be a cartoonist?
Billy – I always drew as a kid, but I didn’t aggressively try & do comics until in my early 20s.
QRD – What are a few highlights of your cartooning career?
Billy – TILE was my first comic I did in my early 20s to teach myself how to draw. It ran 4 issues & took me 10 years to do. I would constantly throw pages away I wasn’t happy with. I am most proud of Tile because it helped me learn how to get to the style I’m at today. I have also been featured in a ton of friends’ underground comics & zines, which has been a ton of fun.
QRD – At what age did you decide you wanted to become a father?
Billy – I never wanted to be a dad until I was 43 years old. My wife always wanted kids, but I didn’t. When my own father was dying of a sudden illness, my wife was across the country on a business trip. She cut her trip short & took a plane home to be at the hospital with me & my pops just hours before he died. It meant so much to me that I decided right then & there that we should have a child. It only took one try. She came into the front room with the pregnancy test strip & said, “We’re having a baby….” I couldn’t believe it.
QRD – What are some positive & negative impacts your family has had on your career?
Billy – Nothing negative. I tell people that you can handle a family & art if you just stop watching TV & surfing the internet.
QRD – What are some positive & negative impacts your career has had on your family?
Billy – My art is my outlet for expression. It is always circling around in my brain even when I’m not drawing.… My son feels like one of my drawings come to life. So nothing negative here.
QRD – Has your son effected the comics you make &/or read?
Billy – Not at all. I was a nut before my son & now I’m the same nut with a son.
QRD – Have you had problems with the lack of steady money from an artistic career providing the security you feel necessary in your household?
Billy – I never did art for money. I give away more comics than I sell. Art is just an outlet for me. I have to let my brain get air.
QRD – Given the limitations having a family has on going on the convention circuit, would you have showed more earlier in life if you’d known?
Billy – No. Even though I put on a good front, I’m a hermit. I’ve always done most of this thru the mail. It is only recently in my 40s that I’ve had the desire to get out a bit more.
QRD – Do you think being a father or a cartoonist has a greater impact on your community?
Billy – A father by far. My son has special needs & he nearly died during delivery. After he was born he spent 2 weeks in a plastic bubble in Intensive Care. He was a fighter & he made a great recovery. Everyone who meets him falls in love instantly. He’s my best friend & he has helped me completely get rid of my road rage & all negative thoughts when we are out in the community. I’m 10 times the man I ever was now that I have him. He saved my life basically.
QRD – Would you rather see your son eventually become a cartoonist or a parent?
Billy – My son will be anything he wants to be & I will support him 100%. He doesn’t like to draw right now, but maybe that will change.
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?
Billy – Family first. When my wife & child are asleep... I hit the office/studio & get to work.
QRD – What does your son think of your comics?
Billy – Max loves all comics & books. We read together all the time.
QRD – Do you think you could ever do a comic project with your son?
Billy – It’s possible. But I mainly use my art as my own personal expression.
QRD – Any words of advice to young people?
Billy – A few people out there are bad, but most are good. Be kind to everyone no matter what. Life is hard & people need each other.
QRD – Anything else?
Billy – I love to trade art! Contact me at: email@example.com Thanks Brian!