About the author
Kate Beaton was born in Nova Scotia, took a history degree in New Brunswick, paid it off in Alberta, worked in a museum in British Columbia, then came to Ontario for a while to draw pictures, then Halifax, and then New York, and then back to Toronto. Maybe the moon next time, who knows.
email: kathrynmoira (at) gmail (dot) com
Regrettably, I can't answer every email, but I try my best.
Frequently Asked Questions
How often does the site update?
It doesn't have regular schedule, but currently runs whenever I get the chance. I work on different things other than the comic at different times. This has slowed updates on the site, but hopefully as things ebb and flow, there will be times when it updates like it used to. In the meantime, there is a tumblr and twitter to follow my movements, and an RSS feed so you don't always have to be checking back.
Where is the RSS Feed?
Here it is.
Will you make a history comic about so-and-so?
I'm sad to say I don't take official requests. Believe me, I've gotten a lot over the years! On a related note, in case you were going to ask, why yes! I have indeed heard about Jack Churchill. I have also heard of that recent thing on Boing Boing or what have you that is interesting and vaguely related to my comics! I will take it as a very good compliment that my name comes to mind right after you read about that sort of thing.
Do you do commission work?
I do in the sense that I take on professional jobs! But most commission work... I really don't. I know, terrible. And I know, it's your girlfriend's favorite thing and it's her birthday and it's your wedding anniversary and your best friend is graduating and all of those things, and you're willing to pay me with your hard earned cash! But I really don't, I'm sorry, my friends, it's better you find out this way then to write a really nice letter that falls into the cavernous, shameful unanswered pile of mail in my inbox.
Can I use a drawing for a tattoo or can you draw me a tattoo?
Oh dear, I am really uncomfortable with this idea! Get an anchor on your bicep, not a fat pony on the small of your back.
How do you draw this thing?
I draw it with pencils and then I use a pen on top, it is terribly simplistic. I use brush pens for lines and I use greyscale markers and sometimes watercolour to shade it. You can see the tools I use in this blog entry.
What is your education?
I have a degree in History and Anthropology from Mount Allison University. You'd think there would be more Anthropology jokes. Mount Allison produces more Rhodes scholars per capita than anywhere else in North America! I was not one of them.
What should I do with my history degree? Can you tell me about working in museums??
I find it funny that I get this question so often! I do the least conventional thing possible with a history degree, but yes, I am using mine, I suppose. It's more a combination of that and what I did on the side during university - edit the comics section for the student paper - that got me here. I can't give you good advice on what to do, that ball is firmly in your court. Unfortunately there will be no easy answers there, no one is going to break down your door eager to turn that sweet history knowledge into a paycheque (can you imagine? "I hear you have .. a Bachelor of the Arts! Come with ME"). Museums are a cruel mistress of limited opportunity and low pay, and there is usually a government man outside trying to tear them down with a sledgehammer, but we love them so! I was able to get alright museum jobs because I started working in them as a teenager and by the time I graduated university, my resume was already pleasantly stacked. I enjoyed the work, but it is not an industry that is easy to move up in. However, that does not mean that you can't, it means you have to work hard for it. The only thing I know for sure about my degree in History is that I do not regret it for a minute.
Can I interview you?
I'm a little burnt out on interviews since the book came out. There were.. a lot of them. While we are on the topic, if your teacher is making you interview artists for a school project, tell them I cannot believe they have the gall to ask you to do that. That probably sounds cranky! If you want to know how many students write to my peers and I with this request, the answer is A Whole Lot, which doesn't excuse me for being cranky about it, but might explain why something that should be a very nice thing has turned into a very wearisome thing. Marian Bantjes explains it well! I'll be perfectly honest (and I bet you're loving it so far! I'm putting on all the charms for this question! winkwink), I don't do many interviews these days, and if it's between one for a school project, podcast or small paper that not many people will see or hear, and a larger piece that reaches a larger audience, it's better for me to choose the latter. Much like the commission question, I guess I'd rather tell you here than for you to go through the trouble of writing a nice letter.
Can I use one of your comics for this paper I'm writing/class I'm teaching/blog post I am writing?
Sure! If you're not making a profit on it and you cite me correctly, why that's just fine!
Can I use one of your comics as a basis for this script I'm writing/in my book/my online app/some other enterprise
That's trickier, you may have to talk to my agent, but write to me anyway and outline your ideas, and we can work out fees and rights of use and that sort of thing.
I'm new to comics and just started a website for mine, do you have any advice?
Hmmm ok. Let's get into this a little, I get asked often enough.
Advice is... a little different for everyone and it's hard to give blanket advice on "how to succeed." When people ask me to look at their comic and tell them what I think, it can be uncomfortable at times, because I don't know what you are capable of. My opinion may not be any use, no matter what it is. In the end, the only one who can push the quality of the comic - the one thing that really, really matters - in the right direction is you, the creator. But I can tell you a few things based on my experience. Being consistent with updating is one. I seemed to "come out of nowhere" when my comics began to get popular, and that's basically true I guess, but once I attracted an audience, I never stopped updating. I never wanted to! An audience, are you kidding me? That's great! I want to keep those guys around. Not updating makes them go away! Time to make more comics. Time for you to make more comics. It certainly helps to have a specific schedule even though I never did. Whatever works for you.
Another: Develop your own sense of humour (if it's a humour site) instead of mimicking the sort of jokes you see on other sites that you like. People have seen those jokes! Be influenced by them (we all have influences!) but do your own thing. Your wit, your sense of humour, your interests- things that are specific to you are what you bring to the table and are what will make you stand out. In my opinion.
One more: If you're not very good at comics now, don't worry, you may be later. My early jokes were awful, if you're lucky like I was you had no idea your early jokes were awful and put them in the school paper anyway. Over time I got better at understanding things like comic timing, relying less on profanity, or what have you. I got better at humour because I wanted to and I tried, it's pretty simple! You may also notice that I am not the world's greatest artist, but I have my strengths, and I improve as time goes on. That will be the same for you, it's the same for everyone.
Last thing: Because we're both on the internet right now and these answers are for people who want to know about webcomics, well, someday you are going to run into some jerks who will tell you your comic sucks the worst forever or something. Even though we're all grown ups and you know better, you'll probably feel pretty down about it. Remember that usually they really are jerks because jeez, are we on the internet or are we on the internet? That's where jerks live. You probably already know the weaknesses in your work because you are a Great Artist in the Making and we are all our own worst critics. Remember that on the internet you can go to a place that reviews Citizen Kane and underneath it someone will have written "this is the most overrated piece of shit on planet Earth." Then remember that whoever said that doesn't matter. So keep it up! And nuts to the haters, you're the best.