Today’s Feature: December 17th-18th, Scott Selsor

December 17, 2007 at 11:29 pm (Today's Feature)

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Like most 20 something males today, I have a horrible case of ADD. Sure, it makes it easy to multi-task, but the chances of me sitting down and reading a book are slim to none. Skimming, summary and headline are all terms I identify with when it comes to reading anything.

I do make an exception however, once every week. The Sunday funnies: the weekly color cartoons that jump out of my weekend newspaper. Thanks goodness for these people… the cartoonists! Thanks goodness for past writers like Schultz, and future writers coming on strong today Ð writers like Scott Selsor. He is the man behind “Zero,” the next big thing on Sunday morning. The strip is currently taking over college newspapers around the country before eventually landing on the national circuit. Zero is “the story of a group of young adults on the brink of adulthood. They’re in college and are composed of a range of characters: Christian is a goodhearted slacker, Camp is his “every guy” roommate (modeled a little after myself), Meredyth is the beauty everyone loves, and Lilith is a hip girl who feels “alone” and misunderstood. Then, of course, there’s Merlin, a conservative fish. He’s sort of the cranky voice of reason to counterbalance the mindset of the rest of the gang.”

The cartoon is currently running in seven college papers, including University of Alaska, Cal State, University of North Carolina and Chattanooga State. And what’s best about this strip is the fact it’s reader-driven. Selsor encourages his audience to visit zerostrip.com, sign up for ‘Zmail’ and send him stories, jokes, situations they might like to see.” Chances are you’ll see your idea incorporated into a cartoon. Keep an eye out as the comic spreads, and get into the XXQ’s.

XXQs: Scott Selsor

Pen’s Eye View: How and when did you first get interested in drawing and deciding to be a cartoonist?

Scott Selsor: Drawing always came naturally for me. I’ve never had a lesson or taken classes, but always had an inclination for it. I remember sketching in all my schoolbooks whenever I was bored in class. I wish I could get my hands on those books today!

PEV: Was there a certain point in your life when you told yourself that art was going to be a career?

SS: I knew I wanted to work in a creative field. And I loved reading comics as I grew up. I opted to go into advertising writing and illustrating after college, just because it was a more stable career choice. But I did my comic strip on the side because it was my first love.

PEV: Growing up, what kind of cartoons or comic strips were you interested in? Who was your all time favorite?

SS: I loved Peanuts, of course. I’m a huge Schultz fan. But my all time favorite and probably my biggest influence was Bloom County (and now Opus) by Berke Breathed.

PEV: If you could sit down with one cartoonist and pick their brain, who would it be and why?

SS: I’d love to sit down and talk with Breathed, but would’ve killed to have met Schultz while he was alive. His work was so simple, yet so universal and inspiring.

PEV: Tell us about “Zero”. What can fans expect?

SS: Zero is the story of a group of young adults on the brink of adulthood. They’re in college and are composed of a range of characters: Christian is a goodhearted slacker, Camp is his “every guy” roommate (modeled a little after myself), Meredyth is the beauty everyone loves, and Lilith is a hip girl who feels “alone” and misunderstood. Then, of course, there’s Merlin, a conservative fish. He’s sort of the cranky voice of reason to counterbalance the mindset of the rest of the gang.

PEV: What brought on the idea for this comic strip?

SS: One day I just sat down and started drawing them, and they sort of took on a life of their own. I decided I’d try my hand at creating a strip and “Bohemia” was born. I did that strip in the south (running in up to 15 papers in the 90s)…before I set it aside and moved to L.A. This year, I decided to relaunch a strip called Zero, updating the same characters for today’s young adults. It’s now running in seven college papers, including University of Alaska, Cal State, University of North Carolina, Chattanooga State and others. Hopefully it will continue to grow!

PEV: What were the earlier days for your comic strip at The University of Georgia? What was it like to see people read and enjoy your work?

SS: I actually created the characters while at UGA, but didn’t start running the first strip “Bohemia” until after I graduated and moved to Atlanta. The first papers to publish it where The Emory Wheel and the GA State paper, along with University Reporter.

PEV: Did you ever over hear anyone talking about the strip and just kind of eaves drop on the conversation a little?

SS: I’ve had people approach me and say they like the strip. And I’ve had people even today, tell me they remember the first strip back in the day.

PEV: How is “Zero” different than your previous works as well as different from other strips out today?

SS: I really want Zero to stand out and be a reader-driven comic. By that, I encourage people to visit my site zerostrip.com, sign up for “Zmail” and send me stories, jokes, situations they might like to see, etc. I hope to incorporate that into the strip. How’s Zero different? It’s very similar to Bohemia, but it is a little “softer”…where as my previous work was a little more edgy and political, Zero tends to focus more on humor than politics. Although I still incorporate commentary about current events, etc.

PEV: What was it like when you completed the first ever Zero comic?

SS: The first time I saw it in print, I was thrilled. Once, I did the cover of University Reporter magazine, and I remember my grandmother framed it and put it on the wall.

PEV: What kind of music do you listen to right now?

SS: I’m a little all over the place. I grew up on country music and still love it, but of course being in Athens, REM and the B-52’s totally influenced my tastes. I currently have a lot of Linkin Park and the Killers in my iPod.

PEV: What up and coming cartoonist do you think we should be looking into now?

SS: I think the syndicated strip “Pearls before Swine” by Stephan Pastis is absolutely hysterical.

PEV: In all your travels, which city do you think offers the best appreciation for art in general?

SS: New York and San Francisco of course. But I really like Austin and Boulder for smaller cities. And I hear Madison is great.

PEV: Tell us what it is like for an aspiring comic strip writer/illustrator?

SS: It’s a hard nut to crack. With papers shrinking in size, there’s not a lot of real estate for new strips. I look at it as something I love doing. I love these characters who’ve been such a part of my life for so long, and I believe if I follow my passion it will soon take off.

PEV: When you are not working on Zero, what can we find you doing in your spare time?

SS: I spend a lot of time with my dog. I hike, do yoga, and hang out with friends. I have small, very tight group of friends that I made when I moved to L.A. We do a lot of BBQs and dinners. I also see a lot of movies, and of course I still work in advertising as well.

PEV: What’s one thing people would be surprised to hear about you?

SS: I’m a farm boy. Grew up on a small cattle farm in the middle of nowhere in GA.

PEV: When you sit down to create a strip, what kind of environment do you surround yourself in?

SS: Ideas come to me in spurts, and I jot them down. Then I’ll usually take my notepad to a coffee shop and start sketching them out there.

PEV: What is your take on current strips that populate today’s magazines and newspapers?

SS: I don’t enjoy a majority of them. But I do still read Opus, Pearls before Swine, Zits, Mutts and a few others.

PEV: What one word, best describes Scott Selsor?

SS: Geeky probably fits the bill.

PEV: So, what is next for Scott Selsor?

SS: I plan on giving Zero a big promotional push to college papers with postcards and emails and seeing how far I can grow it before approaching the National Syndicates. Would love for it to get a big enough audience that the Syndicates would take notice.

For more information on Scott Selsor and Zero, check out www.ZeroStrip.com

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