DaRK PaRTY: Were you one of those kids in high school constantly doodling on their notebooks?
Tony: I was a good student, but I was a major doodler. Visualization was important to my comprehension. Geometry was the only math class I felt comfortable in. Drawing a monkey sliding down the slope of a hyperbola somehow helped it all make sense.
DP: So you end up at
Tony: I was on the fast track to becoming an unknown artist, selling my drawing to delis and butchers, which they would use to wrap cuts of meat (apparently my art was cheaper than wax paper). In my sophomore year at ASU I saw an advertisement in the school newspaper asking for a new cartoonist. The ad said, “Can you draw? Even just a little? Apply to The State
I spent the next four semesters drawing F Minus five days a week. Once in a while I would see one cut out and taped to a wall or bulletin board on campus. I started my website www.fminus.net and built a little fan base. I was once recognized by a fan in an elevator. “That was it.” I thought. “My 15 minutes of fame. And it was only 23 seconds long.” I had been submitting my comic to contests for some time. F Minus placed second in the Associated Collegiate
I was in my final semester of my senior year and preparing for a life of hard work in the food industry, while saving my money so I could afford to frame my Fine Arts diploma. One day my editor at the State
I submitted F Minus to the MTVu contest. Soon I was notified that F Minus was a finalist. The top comics were then subjected to online voting, and separate voting by cartoonists Scott Adams (Dilbert) and David Rees (Get Your War On). Over 200,000 votes were cast, and F Minus came out the winner. Oddly enough, I think I was in a dollar store when I got that call too. I went to
Tony: I think it is easier to describe what F Minus is not. F Minus has no plot or regular characters, no political slant or pop culture references. There are no precious moments or thought-provoking issues. In fact, the less thinking, the better. That’s my motto. Really, my goal is simply to get a laugh every day. Sometimes it’s silly or absurd, sometimes unintentionally profound, but if it gets a smile, then I’m happy.
DP: You break a lot of taboos with the strip. I remember one with a handicapped man in a wheelchair flipping the bird to a "Walk" sign and another one with a father and son standing outside
Tony: First of all it’s never my goal to offend anyone. However, if I come up with an idea that I think is funny, I’ll submit it even though I know it may lend itself to misinterpretation. In fact, whenever someone is upset about one of my comics, it’s almost always because they have assigned some meaning to it that I didn’t intend. One reader, unhappy with a particular comic, accused me of being sexist against men. I’m still shaking my head over that one. The only person that wrote to me that had a right to be angry was a professional clown. I actually do hate clowns.
I try to draw my inspiration directly from life. If I hear a word or phrase that is even remotely funny, I’ll write it down in my notebook and try to turn it into an actual comic idea later on. For me, it’s important to stay out among people. There’s so much untapped comedy in your average overheard conversation.
DP: What are your three favorite comic strips and why?
One of my biggest influences is Bob Mankoff, cartoonist and editor for the New Yorker magazine. I love the simplicity of his drawings and the insanity of his ideas. He wrote a great book called “The Naked Cartoonist,” a must-have for aspiring cartoonists.
When I was a teenager I really got into
Finally, I still love Calvin and Hobbes. When I was a kid, I always associated with Hobbes the tiger. The problem is, at some point it occurred to me that Hobbes was an imaginary being. Being forced to question your own existence is really not healthy for any 12-year-old.