Artist: Dan Miccolupi, 26

How did you get into cartoons? Since I was a kid, I've loved comic books. I think every kid growing up adores comic books. It's a great excuse for us to say to our parents "we're reading," but at the same time, we're looking at funny pictures. Getting into actually doing a strip comic didn't come until much, much later. A friend of mine actually did his own comics and put them out on his own personal label. One day, I (said), "Would it be cool if I did a strip comic of some type." He was like, "sure." It was basically robots malfunctioning and what would happen. Then, my friend approached me and (asked if I) wanted to do a comic book. It was more of a noir-type deal.

What inspired you? During that time, I actually worked at a video store. I was introduced to Kevin Smith and (I) loved "Clerks" and the whole New Jersey saga. I was turned on to the "Clerks" animated TV show. It blew me away. I said, "wouldn't it be funny if I did a comic based off of somebody working in a video store?" Two characters seem to work in comics. Popeye has Olive Oyl. Garfield has Jon. (My friend's) label company was called SMP Comics. I (just) called it "SMP Video Store." My first comic was a one-page (strip with) the two characters Dan and Ted. I remembered how much I really like in "Family Guy" when they do their . . . references to a movie or something. I watch a lot of movies working in a video store. I think I got out 89 of those (comics). (We) compiled them, put them in a book . . . and it was "SMP Vol. 1."

What happened after you came out with the book? My hope and dream was (for the comic) to end up in a newspaper. (That) didn't quite work out. I got introduced to other web comics that kind of fell under the same genre (of) popular culture. They're in full color. I love my PhotoShop. I love working on my Mac, and I just kind of went with it. A long time ago, I was part of a . . . video podcast. We did this short . . . still motion cartoon. (I) kind of want to do that with . . . SMP Video Store because some of the funny ideas I think of can't really be told in one page. I've been coming up with these one-minute cartoon shorts.

What did you study in school? As a kid, I wanted to be in traditional animation like in Disney movies. (Then) "Toy Story" comes out and everything is computer animation, so I gave that a shot. I was in a lot of art classes. I had gone to college for graphic design and computer animation. I really like the graphic design aspect. (Due to a family illness) I never got to go back, but I never ended my passion of graphic design. I would go online and join other social networks that were about graphic design. All of my friends were in graphic design. I had it surrounding me. Humor is my escape, so doing a comic is the best thing for me to do.

What was your favorite comic? Growing up . . . "Spider-Man" was always No. 1. There was "Wolverine" and the "X-Men," but I would try to not always go with the norm. I loved getting "Beavis and Butt-Head" comic books and "Ren & Stimpy" and "Popeye" . . . because it was cartoons that I enjoyed in comic form. Spider-Man and Batman . . . to this day are my favorite comic book superheroes.

What strip comics do you read? It's always been "Garfield" and . . . "Peanuts." I don't necessarily know how new it is (but I also like) "Lio." There (are) no word bubbles. It's just this little boy who has this vast imagination. I was introduced to online strip comics. It's kind of the second wind of strip comics. Even traditional comics . . . have gone to the web as well.

What is your goal for your comics?I'd love for this to be a sustainable income. Who doesn't want to get paid to sit at home in their boxers, watch movies and make funny comics with pictures. That's a dream job for me. I want to get to that point where it's a comic that people like, people are talking about and people can share through email. I also want the mini animated shorts to take off.

Is it hard to draw the same characters over and over? You get used to it. When you start out, you want to make sure the character you're drawing is something that you can continually draw. They have to (have) a very distinctive look to them. Dan has a square head. Ted has a very elongated head. He kind of looks like a road cone. Dan looks like a cereal box on its side with an ear. Any shout outs? (My wife, Lydia) is my unofficial manager. She pushes me to evolve and encourages me. She's really been the inspiration . . . to keep me going. She's really the whole reason why I even think I'm at this point.

- Erin McCracken, FlipSide staff

Web series

Dan Miccolupi's latest series "Cavalcade of Terrifying Events" is an ongoing web comic. Each Tuesday, he posts two more pages online. The main characters, Dan and Ted, are in an elaborate chase scene that takes them through different movies. Miccolupi has been posting parts of the comic for about 14 weeks. At the end, he plans to compile the comic and produce a book. He said online comics give him instant feedback from fans. They reach a broader audience, which shares ideas. Anybody can leave a comment, he said.


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