Todd Clark, "LOLA"
Many of you may not know this, but a comic strip you read in the paper every week is the creation of a Boise man!
Todd Clark is the artist and the mind behind "Lola" - who knows, you may just run into him at the grocery store, and not even know it.... I had the chance to ask him a few questions about what he does and how he does it, and I wanted to share it with all of you on this BLOG.
Maggie: Tell us about your Idaho connection and background? I hear you went to BSU and you live here in Boise?
Todd: I grew up as an Air Force brat and lived everywhere from Guam to New Mexico. When my Dad was getting ready to retire, he got an offer from a friend to come manage a new "Coast to Coast" hardware store in Boise. We'd never been here before. And although my Dad now lives on the Oregon coast, my sister and brother have both never left Boise. It's definitely home. I've been here 35 years now.
I did 'attend' BSU as an Advertising Design major. I already knew I wanted to be a cartoonist. At that point what I needed was to try and figure out how to go about it, and get my name and stuff in front of editors. I'm still a die-hard Bronco fan. I'm one of the remaining basketball fans that still goes to the games.
Maggie: Tell me about your career, and how you wound up where you are today - as a successful comic strip artist!
Todd: I started out selling cartoons to magazines. I got some nice early breaks with Saturday Evening Post, etc. I don't do magazine submissions as much anymore, but I have in the last year or so made a few sales to MAD Magazine, which is like a lifelong dream come true. Before getting syndicated I started writing gags for other cartoonists. I was lucky enough to get the attention of Bob Thaves, from Frank and Ernest, and started selling to him. Still sell to his son, who runs the strip now. I got a huge break when Mike Peters from Mother Goose and Grimm liked my jokes. I've been writing for Grimmy for probably 15 years. Some months up to ten or so of the Grimmy jokes are mine. Mike's been fantastic to me. King Features editor hooked me up with Steve Dickenson, who was doing a strip called Tar Pit, and I started writing for him. The strip got dropped, but the two of us went on to create a strip called My Brother's Keeper, which didn't last long, but then we did Lola. We did the strip as a team for 8 years, and the last two and a half I've been doing it all by myself.
Maggie: Tell me about your strip? How were you inspired to create Lola?
Todd: Lola started out as a family strip, still is in my opinion. We realized we were giving most of the good lines to the grandma character. She's based upon Steve's real life Aunt Lola. Yes, there is a Lola out there. She was a World War II veteran, just like the character. The actual Lola came to a book signing in her home town of Augusta, GA. She just hung out with us the whole time. It was awesome. She's a local celebrity from the strip. She's also an absolute sweetheart. Not much like the Lola on the comic's page, who speaks her mind to a fault.
Maggie: Where do you get your ideas and material for Lola?
Todd: That's the million dollar question. Everyday life, I suppose. Sometimes you hear a phrase and a little twist on it pops into your mind. Other times it's just drawing two of the characters from the strip and trying to start a conversation between them. You know, the same thing everybody does at work. Stare at blank paper until the coffee runs out.
Maggie: I saw in a recent "Lola" strip (see above!), and in it you referred to Channel 7 sending out Breaking News Alerts. Was that inspired by us? :)
Todd: I used to always watch channel 7 news, so I started putting channel 7, and the news folks in there years ago. I realized not long after I got married, that I lost control over the remote. I never got an alert like that from you guys, but the gag was based on one of your commercials advertising the service.
"Lola" currently runs in over 100 markets around the world!