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Alex Schumacher talks about Mr Butterchips
Alex Schumacher is a Cartoonist whose work includes clients like Comicon.com and Dreamworks. His recent comic book release, Mr Butterchips, is a wonderful collection of political satire in which a Monkey tells everything how it is. I caught up with Alex to talk about Comic Writing, Cancel Culture and Mr Butterchips.
Thank you for taking the time to chat with me this week. Please tell the readers a bit about yourself and the work you do.
Alex Schumacher: Thanks for having me! I’m Alex Schumacher, a cartoonist whose list of work includes The Unemployment Adventures of Aqualung graphic novel for Arcana Studios (2013), The World’s Crummiest Umbrella picture book for Wandering in the Words Press (2014), articles for Comicon.com, and storyboards for DreamWorks TV.
I continue to produce the weekly webcomic Decades of (in)Experience for Antix Press (since 2015) and the monthly misadventures of Mr. Butterchips (since 2016), the latter of which had a collection released this past July by indie comics luminaries SLG Publishing. I am also currently working with my literary agent on selling my current graphic novel(s).
Tell me a bit about the inspiration behind Mr Butterchips.
Alex Schumacher: Mr. Butterchips began life as an ancillary character in a comic strip about an ensemble cast of anthropomorphic animals and their exploits on and around a nondescript Fisherman’s Wharf. This series went nowhere with newspaper syndicates. I then retooled and pitched the idea to Drunk Monkeys magazine as homage to the underground comix of the 60’s and 70’s. This aesthetic lasted all of 5 months.
The 2016 election was a bombshell, dry-humping the country into uncharted and “unpresidented” territory. Rather quickly (and organically) the comic evolved into a vehicle for my own outrage and despondency. An expanded history is also available in the 2020 collection “Mr. Butterchips: A Collection of Cantankerous Commentary.”
Where did writing start for you and what is your origin story?
Alex Schumacher: Storytelling has been a passion of mine for as long as I can recall. My grandmother would weave tall tales for my sister and I when were ill as children. I’ve been informed by my mother that I have always enjoyed reading. Once I received the Smithsonian Collection of Newspaper Comic Strips from my grandparents at the age of 6 or 7 along with a garbage bag brimming with golden age comic books collected by my aunt, my keen interest in the art form was ignited.
I stopped drawing altogether around the age of 9 or 10 and didn’t return to comics until my mid-twenties. Pit stops in other storytelling mediums such as music and animation were taken along the way too, but I decided to focus specifically on comics in 2015 when my webcomic Decades of (in)Experience debuted.
Mr Butterchips is clearly influenced by Comic Strips that provide humorous anecdotes on Political correctness but where does the overall genre sit for you? What are your go to’s?
Alex Schumacher: To me the idea of political correctness is essentially a term devised by those pretending to be persecuted for their intolerant views. Same with the notion of cancel culture, to be honest. I consider myself more of a satirist, following in the footsteps of creators like Lalo Alcaraz (La Cucaracha) or Berke Breathed (Bloom County).
My writing hinges more on the moral and ethical quandaries surrounding such issues as xenophobia in its many forms, keeping children in cages, mental health, etc. I certainly don’t claim to have all of the answers, or any of them for that matter, but my guess is there will always be plenty of conspiracy theorists and alarmists to ridicule.
What are your biggest obstacles when it comes to your work? How do you overcome them?
Alex Schumacher: Motivation and insecurities have to be my two biggest obstacles. There isn’t necessarily a way to overcome these issues, but through the years I have found coping methods. For motivation it can simply be reading the work of someone I admire, igniting the spark of inspiration. Something I rebuked for far too long is the idea of self-care, but sleep and exercise are two huge aspects of my routine whose absence is felt if I slack on either.
Insecurities are a different battle requiring a completely different approach. I’ve been lucky enough to acquire a group of supportive and encouraging creative friends that are magnificent at reminding me that what we produce has meaning, even on the days I’m convinced everything that I do sucks (which is most days).
How did you go about finding the right artist to work on this project?
Alex Schumacher: Thus far, I have illustrated all of my own work. Funny enough, I consider myself a writer who draws much like one of my heroes Sergio Aragonés. This isn’t said to sound pretentious, I just believe my writing chops outclass my abilities as an illustrator. I would certainly be open to working with a far more talented artist in the future, were there to be one with the fortitude to deal with my control issues.
Many of us creators work on projects outside of our 9-5 jobs. Do you have any advice for balancing careers with passion projects/side hustles?
Alex Schumacher: The open secret about the creative industry is that 99.9% of us maintain a day job in addition to our artistic ventures. I’m sure those who may be having difficulty balancing their careers with their projects would find some relief if I said I had an army of clones at my disposal completing my work for me, but the (possibly underwhelming) truth is that it all comes down to scheduling.
Carve out time in your routine for your art, even if it’s an hour a day or several hours on the weekend. Once you have a schedule that works for you, follow it religiously.
Do you have any upcoming events/projects/releases you would like to discuss?
Alex Schumacher: I’d love for folks to check out Mr. Butterchips: A Collection of Cantankerous Commentary. My webcomic Decades of (in)Experience will be wrapping up its 5th year soon and there will be some eventful announcement regarding the series coming soon.
Otherwise, there are a couple of projects in the works which I will be providing progress
reports on my site and social media as they develop.
Thank you for taking the time to do this! Where can readers find you and your work?
Alex Schumacher: It’s been my pleasure! For those interested, I regularly(ish) update my website https://alexschumacherart.com/. More frequent posts can be found by following me on Instagram or Twitter, both under the handle @ajschumacherart. If anyone would like to support me in my endeavors I also have a Patreon page at https://www.patreon.com/AJSchumacherart. Thank you so much again for having me.