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absurd things happening to ridiculous people, Wondermark

I’m the creator and author of the comic strip “Wondermark,” which is syndicated in some newspapers but also runs online. My website,, is the hub of the entire enterprise, which is where I write and design interesting things for people to read and look at and enjoy. Most of what I do is just creating free entertainment for folks, but I also put a lot of time into crafting books, stationery and gift items, and art pieces for folks to add to their lives in physical form.

What inspired you to go into the craft business, do you still have a day job? Making my comics and their related projects/products is my full-time occupation! More precisely, managing the business that revolves around the comics and so on is my job, and it’s a lot of administrative nonsense most of the time, but the core of it is my creative product in its myriad expressions. I started making comics as a fun lark when I was working in advertising — a business that can easily eat all of your creativity — and when I began to apply my efforts in the service of fun products that people wanted to buy, it led me down a path that eventually led me out of advertising and into “whatever I want to do next, let’s do that.” So that’s been comics, books, handmade stationery items, wall art and prints, original art and commissions, design work… what fun!

Describe your creative process when designing/making your product line. My comic is mainly about “absurd things happening to ridiculous people,” which is to say that it can be about anything! So inspiration comes from everywhere, and whenever I think of some peculiar situation that might work as a comic, I turn to my collection of 19th-century books, find some neat illustrations in there, fire up the ol’ coal-powered scanner and get to work on a collage. The use of authentic old engravings gives my work a very distinctive aesthetic quality, and it serves as a unifying theme across all of my work — whether it be in book form, or other designed work like cards, posters, calendars, etc. So in a nutshell: 1. Think of something strange. 2. Make it look old-timey. 3. There is no step 3?

What’s the best thing about what you do? And the worst? The best thing is that the Wondermark name is infinitely expandable! It can encompass comics, novels, strange anachronistic books, greeting cards, trinkets like stickers and T-shirts, short stories, posters and other types of weird art prints, even live performance and lectures! Basically anything I find interesting, I can explore with Wondermark. The worst is probably the constant desire to top myself. Everything I do is (hopefully) better than whatever came before it — which is great for you, but bad for my sleep schedule.

What’s the best advice you have been given about your business or craft practices? Always make the thing you like, rather than trying to please some imaginary audience. Making the thing you like will attract readers/fans/customers/whatever that share your tastes, which means that anything else you make, they’re probably already on board with. And be nice, too. That way you make things that nice people like. Having an audience of nice people who like what you like is the perfect situation. Making something mean or callous or calculated or simplistic or dumb attracts people who like those things, which is not the ideal audience to have, in my opinion.

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