Bobby Timony is the Brooklyn-based artist and co-creator of The Night Owls on DC’s webcomic imprint Zuda. You can also learn more about Bobby and his co-creator/twin brother Peter on their website, www.twincomics.com.
Question 1: When did you first decide that you wanted to create your own comics for a living?
I’ve been drawing comics for as long as I can remember with my twin brother, Peter. At first, we drew comics of our favorite TV shows, like Bugs Bunny and Scooby Doo. Then Pete decided we needed our own characters. We’ve been coming up with new ideas ever since.
Question 2: Who has had the biggest influence on you outside the comics industry, and how did they affect your life?
I think Laurel and Hardy have had the biggest influence outside of comics. We were introduced to them at a magic time in our lives when we very young and just beginning to form our sense of comedy, and they rocked our comedy world so hard that I can still feel their sense of funny, even today. My sense of humor percolates through everything I do, and it can all be traced back to that day when we discovered Laurel and Hardy trying to fix up a boat in “Towed in a Hole.” That day remains crisp and clear in my otherwise murky memory pit.
Question 3: Who has had the biggest influence on your comics career, and how has that person changed your work?
The work that inspires me most tend to have some common elements. A sense of fun and wildly inventive adventure. I think that Carl Barks, Jack Cole, Elzie Segar and Winsor McCay all have that quality to their work. I’ve always tried to capture a bit of that unapologetic fun in my own work.
For me, a change of setting really helps shake out the cobwebs. If I feel blocked, I’ll pick up and move somewhere else for a while. The change of perspective does a lot to get me out of that negative headspace.
Question 5: Describe your typical work routine.
First, I’ll re-read the scripts for the story arc I’m working on and start formulating the visuals in my brain. Then when I’ve decided what kind of panel layout I want for this particular strip, I’ll draw the frames in Illustrator and print them out onto some comics paper. Then I go into this weird trance and wake up, there are comics there. It’s strange. Sometimes I look at my comics and I can’t imagine that it was actually me who drew them. I still remember doing the work, but it’s almost like I was watching me work, rather than actually working.
Question 6: What writing, drawing, or other tools do you use?
I use a mechanical pencil with a plain ol’ 0.5 number 2 lead to do my penciling. I prefer the Pentel Quicker Clicker with the handy side-clicking action. For the inks I use a combination of pens. Most of the work is done with the Pentel Pocket Brush pen, and some of it is done with the Pentel Stylo, whose unique plastic nib point gets a great line quality, and variety of line weight. Y’know, I had no idea I was so brand loyal to Pentel until I answered this question. I should get a sponsorship deal or something.
Question 7: What element of your work gives you the most personal satisfaction?
Sometimes, when I’m really in the zone, I’ll draw something that just looks better than how I used to draw it. Or suddenly, I’ll understand it just a little better. I can almost hear a little ding over my head as my art powers level up. Remember, kids, there’s no level cap to hard-earned skills. There’ll always be room for improvement. When I feel myself improving, it is an extremely satisfying reward for a lot of hard work.
Question 8: What has been the most rewarding project in your professional career – in or out of comics – and why?
Without a doubt, it’s The Night Owls on Zuda. Here’s a bit of context for you. Peter and I have always tried to do something creative and funny that would reach a lot of people. We’ve written and performed live shows, movies, radio shows, mud shows, and yes, comics. We’ve even had some success at a few of these adventures, but The Night Owls has been the biggest success to date.
First, it was a great honor to be selected as an instant winner. For those not familiar with Zuda, it is a competition site, where the winner gets a comics contract to produce webcomics for DC’s Zuda. Being an instant winner means they didn’t put us in the competition. The editors liked it so much they just offered us the contract. Then there’s the experience of actually doing the comic. With webcomics, the fan reaction is instantaneous and it has been overwhelmingly positive. We got over a million views in our first year. I still can’t believe it.
Finally, another reason this has been so rewarding is because this is probably the longest time I ever spent on a single project. I tend to move from project to project, so it’s nice to know I can commit to the long haul if the occasion warrants it.
Question 9: We’ve all met very talented newcomers who are trying to get their first professional projects. What’s the best advice you’ve ever heard given to a promising new creator?
Don’t talk about it. Do it. The best advice I have is if you want to make comics, then you should make comics. Nobody’s gonna hire you unless you have some work under your belt. Nowadays, with print on demand comics and webcomics, publishing your own work is cheap and easy. The real trick is getting eyes to see it.
Here’s a bit of bonus advice, too. Don’t disparage and apologize for your own work. I think that some artists tend to undervalue their work, because they made it themselves, or because they think it sucks. Keep those opinions to yourself, and give people the opportunity to like your work on their own.
Question 10: Time to get philosophical: What’s the most important “big idea” that you’ve learned in life – in or out of comics – and why is it important?
I wasted a lot of time being afraid. It kept me from doing things that I desperately wanted to do, and now I regret never doing them. Those times when I tried and failed are far better than the times I let opportunity pass me by. Ready for the big idea? Here it is. I would much rather regret something I’ve done than regret never having done it.
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