Sunday Mailbag- Studio Audio?

March 20th, 2016 | Posted in Mailbag

Sunday Mailbag!

Q: What kind of music or background ambiance do you use while working in your studio? Do you prefer silence or do you like to rock out depending on the project?

A: I don’t select my listening preferences based on the project so much as what part of the process I am at. I listen to music, either from my digital library or the radio, when I am doing concept work like layouts, comps, pencils, etc. Those stages of a job require a lot of thinking and experimenting, and everything is just background noise for me when doing that sort of work. If you want to know what’s in my library I have an eclectic collection of tunes of everything from classic rock and blues to heavy metal to reggae to Broadway musical and movie soundtracks to pop. The only two types of music I can’t stand is hip hop/rap and country.

Once I get to the inking and coloring stages, I switch gears and listen to audiobooks. While still creative, inking and coloring are more laborious and I have found listening to audiobooks keeps me on task for longer periods because I want to continue the story rather than interrupt it. It’s also harder to get distracted by other things when I have headphones on and am engaged in both a story in my ear and art on my board/screen. The only caveat with this is I have to listen to a book I have already read or at least know the basic story. That’s because I don’t really give it my full attention. I am working on something and often get concentrating on some detail or aspect of the piece that takes me out of the book, which then becomes background noise. Then when I move on from that few moments of intensity I can pick up the story again without having to rewind it. My favorite authors to listen to are Stephen King, Frederick Forsyth and John Grisham. The Harry Potter and the Tolkien books are favorites.

Thanks to Floyd for the question. If you have a question you want answered for the mailbag about cartooning, illustration, MAD Magazine, caricature or similar, e-mail me and I’ll try and answer it here!


  1. Bart says:

    Tom,you are an inspiration and a role model for all beginner caricaturists around the world. Your book made me improve my skills more than ever in just a year. You have my gratitude and respect. I hope one day i will get the honour to meet you. Cheers from Romania.


Sketch o'the Week- Natalia Dyer! @strangerthingstv #strangerthings #nataliadyer @mad.magazine

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