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Trade Loeffler p1

Readersvoice.com aims to collect a few interesting reading tips. Every Sunday Trade Loeffler uploads a new page of his children’s comic The Captain’s Quest onto his site, zipandbit.com. He also writes instructive commentaries on his atmospheric pictures. His comics, like The Captain’s Quest and The Sky Kayak, star two children, brother and sister Zip and L’il Bit. Excellent reading for children and adults with some fine artwork.

READERSVOICE.COM: Do you still work at Wireless Generation as a graphic designer, and what’s your daily routine with work and your comics and family in Brooklyn, New York?

TRADE LOEFFLER: I do still work as a graphic designer. I’d have to say that that is my “real” job. My routine, if I could call it that, is that I wind up spending a lot of time dealing with my job and family and working on my comics whenever I can squeeze it in. I wish I could say that I have a daily routine in which I’m able to set aside time each day to sit down and draw or write, but I’m just not that disciplined.
Also, I need and enjoy lots of sleep, so there’s just not enough hours for me to devote some time to my comics every day.
Usually, I’ll spend a lot of time at the end of the week and over the weekends working on comics. It keeps me busy, but it’s frustrating to work that way. Writing and drawing for me is similar to exercising. If I lifted weights, ideally I’d want to hit the weights every other day. If I only lifted once a week, I may keep myself in shape but I wouldn’t be growing and getting stronger. That’s how I look at writing and drawing. When I’ve been able to devote time on a daily basis, I’ve felt myself able to get into a groove and grow as an artist. Whereas, if I’m working whenever I can find the time, I really feel like I’m starting over each time I sit down at the drawing board.

RV: You said in one of your notes to The Sky Kayak on your site that you were new to creating comics then, and kept the layouts simple. When did you first come up with the notion to create comics and how did you start in comics?

TL: The Upside-Down Me was the first comic that I’d ever done. I had always wanted to draw comics but had assumed that the way to create them was to be part of an assembly line in that there was a writer, an artist, an inker, colorist, etc. It had never occurred to me that these jobs could all be done by the same person.
My great ambition was to draw comic books for Marvel Comics. I was always drawing superhero pin-ups or fight scenes but never took the leap to put text in the pictures other than Pow! or Sock!, or to draw actual continuity of panels. It seems like a simple thing to put a bunch of pictures together and create a comic, but it was an idea that took me a long time to get my head around.

When I got to college I took a creative writing course, pretty much on a whim because my grades in English classes in school were always awful. It was a revelation. I found out that I not only really enjoyed storytelling, but I was also pretty good at it. And my writing, for some reason horrible in a classroom setting, was actually not bad when writing creatively.

So I was able to write and able to draw. Next came the hard part, figuring out how to reconcile the two disciplines and sit down and actually try to create a comic. The story idea I had for The Upside-Down Me was the inspiration I needed for that. I had a problem though in that I felt like the idea that I had for The Upside-Down Me was really more appropriate to a children’s book and there weren’t any comics I was reading then that I felt really related to what I was imagining.
At that time I was probably reading a lot of Hellboy, Love and Rockets, Eightball, stuff like that. I couldn’t relate the ideas that I had in my head with those comics so I began looking at old newspaper comics because they seemed closest to what I was imagining.
The Little Nemo strip is an obvious inspiration. I’ve got a book called The Smithsonian Collection of Newspaper Comics which was tremendous help. It has a great sampling of many of the old newspaper strips. Anyway, I started studying how those old strips worked to tell stories and gags and kind of modeled my comics in that manner and that was how I got started at it.

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-copyright Simon Sandall.