Sunday Mailbag

January 14th, 2007 | Posted in Mailbag

Q: What do you think was your personal inspiration was that helped influence you to pursue this career? For example, Do you have any memories as a kid of being influenced and inspired by a particular source? Comics, shows, people? etc…

A: That’s an easy one: Batman. I was fascinated by Batman from the age of 2. I managed to knock over our family TV set and blow out the tube at age 3 jumping around with a bath towel pinned around my neck watching reruns of the 60’s Batman TV show. I was Batman every year for Halloween until about age 10. I got in a little trouble for drawing a batsymbol on the inside of my uncle’s convertible Corvette because I thought it was the Batmobile at age 5 or so. I read Batman comics, made my dad draw Batman for me all the time, and of course copied Batman comics and drew my own for countless hours as a kid. I made up my own versions of popular heroes like “Superlad and Batboy”, etc. and drew their adventures. My dad worked in the grocery business, and brought home these reams of data paper, the stuff with the green and white stripes and the track holes on the edges that were used to print out inventory data back when computers took up whole rooms of space. I drew on the back of thousands of sheets of this stuff. Comic books was definitely my focus as a young artist.

When I was 11, Star Wars came out. That got me into Sci-Fi and I bought a lot of Star Wars comics and cards. I still liked Batman but started drawing spaceships, aliens and Jedi Knights. I had a paper route from 5th through 8th grade, and I would bike over to the drug store once a week or so to spend my dollars on Star Wars and other comics and trading cards. Star Wars and it’s ilk applied to comic book art, so that was an easy transition. When I was in high school I was more into rock and roll, and drew album cover art. In fact my first paid art job was in 10th grade, when I painted the cover of Van Halen II on a 8′ x 8′ sheet of masonite for a high school friend. I got $25.00 for that! I drew a lot of art inspired by my favorite rock bands… in fact I could draw Iron Maiden’s “Eddy” from memory.

I got back into comics when my hot girlfriend (and eventually my wonderful wife) the lovely Anna bought me a copy of The Dark Knight Returns as a gift. Around that time I started doing caricatures at Six Flags Great America during summers between school years. It was then I decided I was better suited for humorous art than the serious comic book stuff.

So, while the short answer is Batman, other things like Star Wars and music contributed to my interest in drawing and art.

Thanks to Matt Crawford 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. Matt. says:

    Thanks Tom, knowing peoples background is always interesting. Wow, do you mean you started doing caricatures for Six Flags as early as High School?

  2. Tom says:

    No, I meant between college school years. I started drawing caricatures in 1985, in the spring of my first year of college. I had just turned 19 when I drew my first paid, Six Flags caricature.

  3. jobi says:

    Well, for me the TV wasn’t so important as a kid. For me it was my grandpa. He used to tell me stories while I was seating in his desk while he draw very simple toons that I loved. My other grandpa know the best way to keep me busy: a bunch of paper sheets and a pencil. And draw…


New profile pic courtesy of my self-caricature for the Scott Maiko penned article “Gotcha! Mug Shots of Common (but Despicable) Criminals” from MAD 550

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