Stephen Beals is the fine creator of the comic Cheesebo/Adult Children. Stephen puts a lot of thought into his story as he tackles life in a humorous and relatable way. The characters of Cheesebo dive into every day life where we can find at the heart Stephen himself. This week I’m proud to go behind the story and characters of Cheesebo and talk with the creator Stephen Beals about his life and comic.
David: Hello Stephen, thank you so much for sharing your comic work here at Don’t Pick the Flowers. To start with, how long have you been interested in making comics and what comics have inspired you in making your own?
Stephen:I’ve been interested in making comics forever, and by forever I mean the beginning of time itself. My earliest memory is a one just a few seconds after the Big Bang. I was drawing a Garfield rip-off.
I have a variety of influences that fluctuate over the years, depending on what I’m into. Currently, I’m rereading a lot of Al Jaffee, Gary Larson and John Hambrock’s Brilliant Mind of Edison Lee. I’m also rereading Jeff Smith’s Bone. My sense of humor has been stoked by watching Peep Show, a wonderful British comedy recommended to me by Darren (www.mightymonocle.com) Rolfe. Historically, my biggest influences have been MAD Magazine, Charles Schulz, Robert Crumb, Groucho Marx, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Charlie Chaplin, Pablo Picasso, Isaac Asimov, The Beatles and about a hundred other artists and writers.
David: Can you share the storyline and background of Cheesebo and Adult Children?
Stephen: Both are the same comic using different titles. I’ve made them on and off for a very long time, and I returned to these characters permanently when I decided to publish consistently on the web. At first, I took my personality and divided it up into different parts. I don’t know if that’s true anymore. There’s a somewhat normal couple, Harvey and Sally. Sally used to be called Steamboat Sally, but writing out Steamboat Sally all the time got old pretty fast. Harvey is kind of the normal part of me.
I introduced Berle about ten years ago and he could easily take over the strip. At first he was the worst part of me, but after living with my sister-in-law for a stretch, he started taking on more and more of her bad character qualities. Of course, my wife says I’m a lot like her sister, so maybe it’s just more of me. Berle is the most fun to write, because he has complete disregard for society and what he considers hypocritical rules.
Claremont is the most fun to draw. He’s a completely innocent, unassuming soul. I think he’s me at my best. Or at my most scared.
David: What are the tools you use when creating your work?
Whatever’s handy. Really, if you’re going to draw every day you need to improvise. I have been known to scan sketches and color away in Photoshop until it looks presentable. I try different types of pens when I have the chance. I honestly prefer the dip pens and brushes to almost anything else. I even work faster using them. I’ve been trying my first brush pen. As a left handed artist, it’s very easy to smear the ink, so I tend to pencil out my work in blue pencil, and then ink it backwards from right to left. I also letter backwards. Oh, and I sign my name backwards. That always gets fun looks at the check out line.
I like producing stuff that can be very finished or very sketchy, depending on the mood. Today, for instance, I’m sick and I wanted the comic to kind of look sick. I think I succeeded.
David: What is your cartooning schedule like, from coming up with ideas to finished product, do you have a routine and what are the things that help bring your story to life?
Stephen: Routine…now there’s an interesting word. I have what many people think is an insane schedule and often work around the clock. My sleeping habits aren’t exactly normal. Writing is usually the hardest and most fun part of the process. It can go one of two ways: Either I sit and think and sketch and play on words until I FORCE my brain to exercise an idea out of its depths, or ideas come to me unexpectedly so quickly that I have to write them down messily in a notebook. I’ve found that the more I read, the more I can write. I do think the brain is a muscle that needs to be exercised. If you want to be a good writer, you should be a good reader.
I also tend to think of ideas when I just wake up and I’m in that state between sleep and wakefulness. Actually, some of my best ideas were conceived that way (and by best, I mean popular…usually what I like is not what everyone else likes.)
David: What are your future goals with your comic and what can we expect to see in the future?
Stephen: I’ve always said that I just want my ten years. When I look at some of my favorite writers, musicians, or artists it always seems like they had a ten year period where they really produced their best stuff. Some have been lucky to have what I call multiple orgasms of success, but those are the lucky ones. The next step is a book. I want to write a book with a common theme. It would mostly collect comic strips, but also have a good chunk of new writing.
My main goal, however, is to keep the readers that I have. There’s nothing better than just being read in the first place.
David: A book would be very exciting Stephen and you can put me on the list to buy one. I love how you bring your characters to life and put so much of yourself into the strips which is a guarantee that you will keep readers and add new ones. Stephen thank you so much for sharing your comic and I look forward to seeing what lies ahead.
Here are some quick links to direct and connect new and old fans alike to Stephen Beals and Cheesebo, so go have a look!
Cheesebo Website: cheesebo.com
Adult Children GoComics: www.gocomics.com/adult-children