In today’s creator spotlight, I reached out to Rob Lang, best known for his work on Underdone comics. Rob was gracious enough to answer a few questions on the story behind Underdone comics, and also highlights some changes in the comics recently, as we approach Earth Day.
Mithrandiel: What’s the story behind underdone comics? What sparked you to start drawing it?
Rob Lang: I’m not sure there is much of a story, really. I’ve been making comic strips for as long as I can remember. Over the last couple of years I developed a webcomic with recurring characters (featuring an anthropomorphic pig and a Canada Goose trying to live in the real world). I wrote around 100 of those comics, all the while making sketches every day about other random animals. At some point late last year, I decided that the comic with recurring characters took too long to produce and wasn’t really generating the comic voice that I really wanted to create.
Around the new year, I started to create the kind of comic that I’m currently making, which is a single panel Far Side-like structure. I actually posted 100 brand-new comics in 100 straight days, and finally took a break on the 100th day of the year.
M: What are some of the biggest challenges you’ve encountered managing a web comic?
RL: When you’re on your own making a comic, I think the hardest thing is getting seen. I could spend hours a day trying to get noticed, when all I really want to do is make more comics.
M: What do you enjoy most about your web comic?
RL: The thing I like most about my comic is making them. I love doing the research, figuring out the layout and dialog (if any). Sometimes it can take me 45 minutes to make a comic, other times it will take 4 hours. Either way, the production feels like no time at all.
I also like carrying on with a theme. Other single panel Far Side-like comics seem to be just random jokes (unless I’m missing something, which is very possible). I like to have one subject last for a few days, kind of like choking all the jokes out of it until it’s totally dead. For instance, during the first half of February, I made jokes about love and relationships (many of which were very loosely based on that idea). But readers shouldn’t worry about seeing a comic midway through a recurring idea, though, because each one is meant to stand alone.
M: What are some of your favorite web comics to read (besides your own of course!)
RL: Honestly, I don’t read too many webcomics. I read a lot of the old comic strips with my daughter, like Calvin and Hobbes and Mutts and the Far Side. If I’m going to be reading on a computer, I check out science and nature news, mainly. But ever since I really started using Instagram as a tool to get seen, I’ve stumbled upon a bunch of great accounts. For instance, @Porous_Walker is disgusting and hilarious at the same time (great combo); @koat_tales is great; @vocabschmocab, whom I’ve collaborated with is lots of fun; and @Hollyhorsebrowns really has some excellent stuff too—but that’s just to name a few. There’s so much great material being slung at us all the time. There’s also a bunch of crap being slung as well.
M: You’ve shifted your focus to more Earth-day specific topics. How do these comics reflect your beliefs on the environment? Do you compost/recycle and tell your friends to do the same?
RL: Living in Seattle, I think I’d be thrown in jail if I didn’t compost and recycle. But even if my family and I didn’t live here, I would still try to do my part. It’s silly not to do so. As I try to make my comics suggest (and hopefully not in a preachy way, but more in a humorous or educational way), we need to clean up after ourselves, because there are consequences to everything.
Even if you don’t care about living in a pig stye (which my wife would say about me), you should at least care about the world that our kids will inherit. At the very least try NOT to make it uninhabitable.
M: Will you be at any conventions coming up? Any project you’d like to plug?
RL: I’ve never shown at a convention, but I guess I should start seeing how that would go. I am, however, going to be a featured artist at a RawArtists.org show in Seattle in June. These shows spring up all over the country and have music, fashion, fine artists and occasionally there are cartoonists like myself. Here’s a page about it.
I also have a bunch of comics that are being published in a self-help book—which, I believe, is not exactly the target audience of this website—it’s about getting healthy and taking control of your life. It was lots of fun making the book, though, because it’s hilarious, and I got to make jokes about people instead of animals for a change. You can get it here.
Many thanks again to Rob Lang for taking the time to answer my questions and graciously send over copies of his comics for us to use in the piece. For more, check out his site here.