One of my favorite comics is “Off the Leash” by London-based cartoonist Rupert Fawcett. I first saw the comic on Facebook, where Rupert has almost 1 million followers. The comic can also be seen on Instagram and on its own website. But Rupert is also known for other comics work including Fred, a single panel comic which, like Off the Leash, has has been published all over from newspapers, to books and greeting cards.
TOM: Regarding “Off the Leash,” You seem to get into the dogs’ heads, do you study them? Tell me about your own pets.
RUPERT: I’ve never consciously studied dogs but I am a watcher by nature, a people watcher and I suppose, a dog watcher too. I’m someone who is never phased by delays at airports or anywhere else as I know I will be happily entertained watching the people around me, although I have to be careful not to get caught staring too intensely at anyone. We currently have a two year old whippet and two Burmese cats.
TOM: How often do you publish Off the Leash? Do you draw up a bunch at one time or post them as they are completed?
RUPERT: I had a very productive three years of producing Off the Leash cartoons at the beginning but as I have other commitments I now only draw new ones sporadically. As soon as I have finished one I post it which is the great thing about social media for a cartoonist, it is so instant, from the drawing board to the worldwide audience in seconds!
TOM: I totally agree with that, I almost feel social media was made for art and cartooning. I noticed you work in black and white, why that and not color?
RUPERT: Black and white line gives enough visual information for a cartoon. Coloring would be time consuming and add nothing to the joke.
TOM: I like the clean look of your black and white work, too. Who are your cartooning influences?
RUPERT: don’t have any specific ones but I’m probably influenced by everything I see.
TOM: What medium do you use? Digital? Pen and ink?
RUPERT: I use old fashioned ink pens – I’m a bit of a technophobe.
TOM: What was the first thing you would seriously draw? I mean, I would draw Fred Flintstone, I always remember as a young child doing that. Did you draw a character or have a favorite subject at a young age?
RUPERT: As a boy growing up in the sixties I used to draw footballers quite a lot and soldiers. The comics I read as a child featured regular strips based on the war which was still very recent history. I also used to create my own strange characters. I used to get very absorbed and doodle for hours.
TOM: How did you begin your career as a cartoonist? When did you start cartooning? Tell me about Fred
RUPERT: Speaking of strange characters! I created Fred in 1989 and received over 80 rejection letters from publishers and newspapers. But when I had the greeting card range published by Paperlink it suddenly took off and became a big thing. Fred kept me fully occupied for about twelve years.
Fred was a combination of surrealism and suburban Englishness.
TOM: Tell us about your studio or workspace.
RUPERT: I work in a fairly small room at home in South West London, it’s my ‘garden shed’ and i have to be prised out of it by my family sometimes. I’m happiest when I’m drawing and in my private dreamworld, just as I was at six years old.
TOM: What famous artist, dead or alive, would you want to paint your portrait?
RUPERT: Lucien Freud (with my clothes on)
TOM: What comics/cartoons do you read/follow today?
RUPERT: I probably don’t look at cartoons any more than anyone else but I always appreciate a good one. Gary Larson is brilliant.
TOM: Thanks, Rupert!
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