Catching Up With Brad Hawkins
There's an incredible wealth of articles in the ComixTalk archives: features and columns on craft, theory and business, insightful reviews and interviews with some of the most interesting folks in webcomics. We'll be taking a regular look back at past issues and catching up with creators we've previously covered.
Brad Hawkins is the creator of the progressively-minded, primate-populated webcomic, Monkey Law and the technical genuis behind stripshow the webcomic-focused plug-in for WordPress. I caught up with him via email last month.
Xaviar Xerexes: Brad, I'm doing short "catch-up" interviews with folks from ComixTalk's archives. We interviewed you back in 2003 -- do you have time for a short interview now?
Brad Hawkins: Sure!
Xerexes: Where are you located these days and what are you up to during the daytime hours?
Hawkins: By day, I'm a mild-mannered tech support agent for a large fruit-themed computer manufacturer in Austin, Texas. By night I fight crime. In the mornings, time permitting, I draw webcomics.
Xerexes: Your webcomic Monkey Law has gone through art changes and... some hiatuses. You've mentioned possibly changing things dramatically. Are you likely to keep working on Monkey Law or do you think you'll find other outlets for your creativity in the future?
Hawkins: I'm still undecided on the fate of Monkey Law. I think it's fairly obvious that after almost six years of drawing the same characters over and over, it's become a bit tedious. I've tried experimenting with the method of production -- switching from pen and ink to a digital tablet, for instance, and flirting with Illustrator. I think you can expect to see some stylistic and content changes to Monkey Law in the future, although the name will probably stay the same. I've paid for the domain name, after all.
Xerexes: So we've got U.S. elections coming up next year. What's your sense of that and what's going to happen to the United States?
Hawkins: Predictions are a dangerous game -- you don't want to be way off and appear to be an imbecile. I think there's a good chance that we'll see a Democrat in the White House in 2009, but there's also a chance we'll see Hillary Clinton.
Xerexes: You're a member of a webcomic collective called SpinZone. What's going on with that project and anything new in store for 2008?
Hawkins: I'm committed to using SpinZone to promote political comics on the web... right now, there are a lot of good strips out there, but they're much more low-profile than some of the other genres of webcomic. I am working on a few tools to make finding good political comics easier, like a database of political and socially-conscious strips that will be hosted on the SpinZoneComics.com site. I'm also trying to stir up interest in the general political forums on that site, where anyone who comes to SpinZone by being interested in one of our member strips can get involved in spirited debate.
Xerexes: You released a plug-in for Wordpress called stripShow that supports displaying comics (and you use on your own site monkeylaw.org). Are you still actively working on that and how many people do you think are using it to publish webcomics?
Hawkins: Right now, I don't have any figures on how many people have tried stripShow. I know of some of the strips that are using it, such as No 4th Wall to Break. I'd love to hear success stories from anyone who's using it to automate their comics. And yeah, it's in active development, with version 1.5 just released. It's got a lot of features, such as searchable transcripts and simple creation and navigation of storylines, that I think webcomics creators will benefit from. I'm also looking for input as to what other creators want to see in a full-featured automation package.