What are your politics?

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Michael Moore and Storm Bear – Full Frame Documentary Film Festival

I am to the left of the guy with the ball cap. Get it? To the left?

Many liberal antics ensued after this photo was taken, I can assure you!

What is Town Called Dobson?

Town Called Dobson, TCD for short, is a politically oriented editorial cartoon drawn in a uniquely quirky manga style that I call Surry Chibi (with a slight hat-tip to Saul Bass). I do not follow the tenets of manga iconography to the letter. Some of it does not translate such as a nosebleed symbolizing sexual excitement. Some of the elements are not needed because I publish in color. Hatchmarks on the cheek in traditional manga shows embarrassment, I just use a rose gradient on the cheek.

Can I link to you?

Oh yeah, check out our Link To Us page.

Will you link to me?

I only exchange links with specific sites. Shoot me an email and we will yap about it!

Can I include TCD on my website?

Oh yeah, check out our Add TCD To Your Blog page.

How did you come up with the characters?

A majority of the characters are based on people I know, most from Dobson and the surrounding area. Some I have never met, Fulcanelli for example and others are purely fictional like the space alien from Cassiopeia, Spork-Nak.

Is Dobson really liberal?

When I grew up in Dobson, the Democratic party was a major force in local politics. Those were the days of Governor Jim Hunt, the only Governor of North Carolina to be elected to office FOUR times. But as the country started to ship jobs overseas, the region slowly turned red. Since the Republicans began winning elections in the area, the jobs in the area plummeted. Since Reagan, Dobson and the whole area has lost ALL of its major industries: tobacco, textiles and furniture. All of those elected Republicans have done nothing to reverse the flow of jobs out of the area. But I think this is more of an effect due to gerrymandering the districts than the actual changing of political views.

How did TCD start?

One night in 2004, I was bored out of my mind, in a hotel room with no cable and no net access. I had nothing to do. As my wife can testify, me being bored is a bad thing. So I decided I had enough time to experiment with a comic strip. That night I developed about a half a dozen characters and made three strips based on topics from that morning’s USA Today. I was off to a roaring start and got no farther. Life happens.

Why did you restart in 2006?

The first three strips were developed way before the dust-up concerning the Danish cartoons dealing with Islam. I had forgotten about this little side project until folks started burning down embassies because of pen and ink. I then wondered how mine, specifically the two with Johnny Allah would be viewed. When I went back, almost 2 years later, I thought they were even more poignant than before.

So I decided to crank production back up. Besides, three published strips is just flat out pitiful.

What tools do you use for producing TCD?

On the art side, I use Adobe’s Fireworks CS6 as the production tool. I am in advertising and have access to any graphics software I want, but I just love the ease of Fireworks. I have tried to use Gimp, and I love Gimp, but I am going to wait until it is rewritten under Cocoa for the Dual Core Macs. Yes, I am one of THOSE Mac freaks. But Adobe stopped supporting Fireworks and I am now experimenting with Sketch. The downside is I will need to recreate ALL of my layered files and that is a total pain in the ass.

What is your inspiration for the art of TCD?

When I started these, I needed to do them fast, hence the simple shapes. I used Fisher-Price‘s Little People Toys from my childhood as a reference. Not being satisfied with the outcome I adopted a Chibi style (a super deformed style of drawing popularized in Japanese Anime and Manga) to the characters. It seems a lot of folks do these days. I have always found it amazing how we absorb so many things from childhood and drag them into adulthood – which I guess why we have such a booming market for Xanax. For strips 1 and 2, no one had arms, just the body and head. When I got the strip 3 (6-8-04), I couldn’t figure out how to do Communion without arms, now everyone in Dobson has arms.

Elbows were next!
character_change_chart

Where the hell is Dobson?

Try Google Maps.

Why do you use Dobson as a backdrop?

Dobson is where I grew up and I have very fond memories of that town. My parents moved there from West (insert incest joke here) Virginia. WV schools in the 70′s, at least the toilet I attended, were very bad places – drug abuse, sexual abuse, rape and violence. And on top of all of that was a pre-fab Christian “everything is wonderful” sheen to cover-up and ignore the ugly environment underneath.

When I got to Dobson at the beginning of the Summer of 1978, I was expecting, well, more of WV. I had three months before the next school year started so I had a lot of time on my hands. And of course, Dobson being in the middle of rural NC, there was nothing to do but ride my bike. I rode my bike over 3,000 miles that summer and never left town!

On one of my rides, I saw a beautiful blonde girl sitting on a skateboard. It took me about a quarter of a mile to get the gumption to go talk to her. So by the time I turned the bike around she had vanished. Gone. Not a trace. “OK, maybe I am still getting some of the drugs out of my system – leftovers from the lovely mountain state,” I thought. And so the bike riding continued. The next month, I saw her again, a block over from the street I was on, so I cut through some lawns and she was GONE again. Chalking it up to stray dope molecules, I forgot about it.

Summer was coming to a close and I was dreading school. Being the new kid at school, I knew I was going to get the shit pounded out of me. I would step one toe on campus and the fists would be swinging… just like WV.

When I stepped onto school grounds, no one was around. “They don’t know I am coming, that must be it.” I actually made it to my first class without an altercation.

“Home room – that is where they will strike.” Home room came and went and nada. Nothing.

“Lunch! That is when the hooligans will come for me. Maybe Dobson bullies are just slower like everything else here?” Lunch was history and no demands for money, possessions or blood.

“The attack must be coming after school. Maybe they had a long list to work through this year? They will wait until I walk past the line of buses – that will give them privacy.” The last class of the day was dismissed and I gathered my books for the long walk toward the buses and hopefully the rest of the way home. I approached the buses and couldn’t hear anyone talking or moving. I approached with caution and saw no one laying in wait.

“Ah! I am still on school grounds. They will wait for me to leave campus, then pounce.” A line of pine trees edged the high school property and that was where the welcoming committee would bide their time and wait. I walked slowly through student parking and to the trees, knowing my fate and knowing there was no way to put off a “new kid beating” forever, I approached the trees. I stepped up to the pines and stepped through to the parking lot beyond.

IT WAS TOTALLY EMPTY!!!

Not a soul around. I shook my head and thought that I had a one day reprieve. I got twenty yards and felt a tap on my shoulder. This is it! Very clever, get me when I let my guard down. Sneak up on me then pommel me for daring to move to a new school.

I slowly turned around and braced myself for fists to fly toward my jaw… then my jaw fell open.

There was the blonde girl I had been looking for all summer!

“Hi, my name is Kim! Will you walk me home?”

That is when Dobson became my home.