B Duffy, “F”
B DUFFY is a cartoonist, illustrator, and graphic designer who stays up too late listening to R&B & indie rock, playing Nintendo, and watching My So-Called Life in Chicago. More comics, including the series 8:1, which has been running for about 500 years, can be found at yeahduff.com, Twitter, and Facebook.
ON DECIDING TO MAKE COMICS
Y’know, it wasn’t really a decision so much as an assumption. Since learning I was OK at drawing it was like, well, I’m gonna make comics. Not even as a career goal necessarily, like in first grade I thought I’d be a scientist, and then I’d go home and make comics. Since before grade school, reading Peanuts, Dick Tracy, Shoe (whatever I got out of that as a kid) on the comics page, it was just a fascinating form. And newspapers were where I started in comicking, first in high school, where I started 8:1, then in college, when it ran as a weekly strip.
I hadn’t had any exposure to webcomics before I got one, really. I wanted to publish comics, and I heard about Keenspace (now ComicGenesis) from seeing my roommate and sometime collaborator Jason Penckofer reading this thing called Captain Suppository, which I’d assumed was a big deal because, y’know, it was on the internet. So I signed up.
By that time I’d seen how the comics pages in newspapers were shrinking and growing seemingly tamer, and I’d heard grumblings from Bill Watterson and Berkeley Breathed about the syndicates, so I ruled that out.
Doing a graphic novel seemed like such an impossible task that would’ve been on the back burner for the rest of my life. Self-publishing small issues seemed prohibitively expensive with very little potential for finding an audience. Thus, I followed Captain Suppository down the rabbit hole.
The wider webcomics world was never something I was up on, and even now the only real difference I can tell between a “comic” and a “webcomic” is that one is on “the web.” From my vantage point at Keenspace, the world of webcomics just seemed like this place where amateurs of varying talent just kinda did their own weird thing, hoping to one day be popular but never really expecting to. I guess the chief difference in my experience between when I started 800 years ago is that the amateurs are doing their weird thing on YouTube now, and it’s people who actually wanted to make comics that are still around. But then again, what do I know?
ON MARKETABLE SKILLS AND PRINTING COSTS
I went to college for fine art, getting a BFA in painting and drawing. I went back to school to learn graphic design because I decided having a single marketable skill might be a good idea. The writing and cartooning are just things I do. I’ve never taken a class in comics or illustration. Basically 8:1 was me teaching myself how to make comics in front of a fairly minuscule audience, making a lot of it pretty embarrassing, but there’s still a lot that’s pretty good in there.
When I started out comicking, black and white was the obvious choice. For one thing, neither my high school or college paper were gonna pony up for the printing costs to satisfy some dumb kid’s brightly colored vision. I also saw so many comics where color was a given but it was so poorly used. So I determined that if I couldn’t do color right, there was no point in even doing it.
“F” actually is the very first color comic I’ve made. This idea came to me and with it was a vision for how it should look and feel. For whatever reason, it called out to me for warm “watercolors” and thin line work. Honestly, I can’t remember why the hell I thought this thing needed to be in color. Maybe I thought that if I was ever gonna give it a shot, a six pager would be the ideal time.
ON GOALS AND CARTOONS
I should probably set more goals for myself. I’ve been working on another installment of 8:1, and as usual I’m stuck on this one minor thing that I can’t just say “fuck it” to, in this case a few lines of dialogue that I know what generally need to say literally and subtextually but just can’t nail down what exactly those lines are. In lieu of that, I’m putting together this quick ranty thing inspired by a close friend who just discovered Pink Floyd, a band whose music has brought me endless misery over the last few decades. And at the end of the year I’ll have a really short sincere blue thing about a guy driving a Toyota. In less concrete aspirations, I’m exploring simple (the simplest) animation, mostly just to see if I can do it, but also in case I one day foolishly set out to make a short cartoon. Who knows.
Want to be considered for future installments of The New Comics? Send your work to Comics Curator Keith McCleary via the Entropy submissions page.