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11/22/2012 10:00:00 PM
GOING TO THE ALIEN MVD with...: Cartoonist John DeAngelis (and friends) as he WARPS everyday life
Les Stukenberg/The Daily Courier
Les Stukenberg/The Daily Courier
By Scott Orr

John DeAngelis got his big break as a professional cartoonist, thanks to his choice of sandwich shops.

"In 1989, I happened to be having a sub sandwich in a little place called Anzo's Subs in Rochester (New Hampshire)," he recalled, "and I didn't know it, but, an agent for a huge publishing company out of New Jersey walked up behind me, and he was looking over my shoulder." The agent saw DeAngelis' lunch-hour sketches and struck up a conversation.

"He became my agent," DeAngelis said. "That's how it started."

He described a whirlwind book tour, TV and radio interviews in the early 1990s. But he worried about missing his young sons, and wanted to build a business he could leave to them. Besides, he said, "All this traveling was taking me away (from home) and I simply didn't like it."

So he quit cartooning and started a sign and graphic design firm.

Years passed, and the drawing bug bit him again, this time after he'd moved to Prescott Valley.

"My kids were working for me, things were going well," he said. "So here it is, years down the line, and the plans worked."

Then the bottom fell out of the economy, and the boys had to find other work.

He took the opportunity to get back into the cartooning he loves.

"A cartoonist has the legal, lawful federal right to warp anything," DeAngelis said, and, within the confines of his single-panel comic, "Drawing the Line," he does just that.

"I take a lot of normal situations in life," he said, "and I get a lot of ideas from normal everyday life." He carries a small, bound notebook to jot down things that strike him as funny as they occur, ideas like the Alien MVD, where one creature with 500 eyes is preparing to take a vision test as a frustrated one-eyed alien waiting behind him complains that he always chooses the wrong line.

One pencil sketch that he's never finished - unsure, perhaps, of how it will go over - has a nervous male lion sweating it out as he sees Chris Hanson of "Dateline NBC" ente\ring the room. A female zebra stands coyly by.

The caption?

"To catch a predator."

"People ask me, 'Don't you ever run out of ideas?' and I say, 'No, that's why I keep this book with me,'" DeAngelis said. "I have hundreds of sketches and ideas in it."

Cartoonists these days have it a little easier than in the past, he said. He does a pencil sketch, then goes over it with a black Sharpie - "A lot of guys use really expensive technical pens, but they jam up and clog and you spend an hour trying to unclog them," he laughs - and then scans the drawing into a computer for coloring and lettering.

"Thank God for technology," DeAngelis said. "I used to airbrush all my cartoons, which could take four to five hours, if not more, for one cartoon." With computers, he can color a panel in about an hour.

He's now signed with a large syndicate in London to distribute his work, which, while it doesn't make him a full-time cartoonist, brings him a little closer.

That suits DeAngelis just fine. His sign company is still his day job, and he draws as much he wants, which, admittedly, is a lot; he calls himself a workaholic.

His advice to new cartoonists is simple: pay attention. "You've got to be observant," he said. "There's no room for laziness." Artists who don't read magazines and newspapers, he adds, risk losing "the feed" of ideas for parody.

"It's more fun than it is work," DeAngelis said. "I'm probably a little crazy, but I'm not in a rubber room yet."

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Reader Comments

Posted: Friday, November 23, 2012
Article comment by: Warren Tracy

Good to see some attention given to John and his talents. He, his wife Mary and entire family are just wonderful people with wonderful spirits. It is certainly reflected in his creative and fun cartoons. Wishing him well with all future endeavors!

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