Welcome to Graphic Policy’s spotlight on webcomics, where we take a look at one of the many comics available online every Monday: Webcomics Weekly (but don’t be fooled by the “weekly” part of the title; the feature may happen more or less frequently than that). We’re defining webcomics as any comics published online for free consumption by the general public that doesn’t require a subscription service.
This week we’re taking a look at Bun Toons. The strip is created by Ty Templeton, who was kind enough to answer a few questions for us about the webcomic below.
Graphic Policy: In a nutshell, can you tell us what the strip’s about?
Ty Templeton: Bun Toons isn’t “about” anything in particular, except a challenge to my brain: Every Saturday morning, I wake up and draw a cartoon strip about SOMETHING. I often don’t even know the subject matter when I go to bed on Friday night, and sometimes wake up without the slightest idea of what it will be. If there’s something major in the news, either in comics news or real life news, the strip might be about that because it’s where my brain is hanging out…if there’s nothing current happening worth commenting on, I’ll tell a true story that’s amusing enough to share, or I’ll just do something silly and surreal that made me laugh when it crossed my cerebellum. It’s about allowing my creativity to work without a net on a crushing deadline. Each strip MUST MUST MUST go up before 4.00 pm no matter what. (It used to be earlier, but I often get up around noon on a Saturday, and that gives me a little time…). I allow for about an hour to conceive and write it, about an hour to draw it, and about an hour to colour/letter and post it, and then it goes up online without a backwards glance. Some weeks I accidentally make something worth remembering, some weeks it’s not funny and best forgotten. It’s the once-a-week challenge to my creativity that drives it. I started doing it without any preparation one Saturday a few years ago, and have produced a strip every Saturday I’ve been home ever since then (except a brief hiatus when I was recovering from my heart attack, and my medications left me too spaced out to draw or write with any clarity). On days when I’m out of town, or attending a store event or a comic convention, I post a re-run, since I’m literally no where near my scanner and computer, I don’t have a choice. Every Saturday I’m home, it’s my wake up and draw ritual.
Now, if it has any sort of theme or continuity, it’s sort of about what it’s like to be a comic book freelancer. Many of my strips are about trends in comics, the trouble with deadlines, how my family and I interact. I show up as a character in about half of them, and when I’m in the story, I appear as a six foot tall white rabbit wearing a t-shirt with my name on it. But I also DON’T appear in about half of them, which might feature Donald Trump mud-wrestling an alien or something. I find the ones that feature myself don’t go viral anywhere near as much as the ones that feature Frank Miller, or Batman or something the internet can bite into. But that’s the nature of spontaneous creativity…I sort of have no control over it, and it goes where it goes.
GP: How often do you update?
TT: As mentioned in the above answer, I update every Saturday that I’m home. That works out to about 45 a year. There have been VERY rare occasions when I’ve done two in one week, because something occurred mid-week and I couldn’t help myself and I pipe in. That’s happened maybe three times in the last few years, so it’s just something when I can’t stop myself. Normally it’s about the challenge of being clever or worth reading because the clock says I have to. I always loved the Lorne Michaels line about Saturday Night Live: “The show goes on, not because it’s ready, but because it’s 11.30 on Saturday night, and we don’t have a choice”. That attitude informs Bun Toons. If it’s Saturday morning, I don’t have a choice. Get creating, mofo.
GP: How long have you been producing the strip?
TT: I’ve been doing them as a weekly webcomic for about five years …BUT I’ve been doing the self-portrait rabbit cartoon strips for decades now. The rabbit-icon first appeared in an old Fantagraphics comic series called “Critters” and he’s appeared in various industry newszines like SHOPTALK, REALMS, AMAZING HEROES, THE COMICS JOURNAL, etc.
Whenever I’m asked to do a column or an essay about something, I tend to do the rabbit. Some of the rhythms of the strip are inspired by Feiffer’s stuff, as well as the basic idea of having a rodent stand in for me coming from MAUS.
GP: Where did the idea for the strip come from?
TT: The very very first rabbit strips came from nearly thirty years ago, when I was just starting out as a cartoonist. I was married to a model, and she used to take work trips to Europe to do photoshoots, or spend a week or so in Manhattan on a gig, etc, and I used to do these little comic books for her when she got home, each entitled “What I did while you were gone”. This was so she wouldn’t feel she was missing anything at home…and it made drawing them SO much easier to give all the characters animal totems instead of having to do recognizable portraits each time I needed a character to appear. So I became a rabbit, and my friend Glenn because a squirrel, and various people because dogs and cats and badgers so that anyone could follow the story without wondering who was who. The first time a Bunny story was actually published was because of a cartoonist friend of mine named Bernie Mireault, who was staying with me in Toronto for a few days, and he saw one of the little comic books, and asked if he could draw it up on full sized paper and “do it up right” for a story in Critters Magazine (a comic devoted to “funny animal” stories from Fantagraphics). Bernie was insanely talented, so I said “Sure”…and then Bernie took the story and drew it up WONDERFULLY…except he changed my animal totem into a bear. When I asked him why, he said I struck him more as a bear than a rabbit. The story ran in CRITTERS (I forget the issue number, sorry…)…it’s called ‘THE TOTALLY TRUE TO LIFE 11:15 PM McDONALDS DRIVE THROUGH WINDOW CAPER” and you can read it here.
It got a good response from folks who read Critters, so I did a few more for the magazine, returning to being a rabbit in the second instalment, when I started drawing them myself.
Why it’s awesome: Because you honestly never know what to expect. Whether it’s a strip about Bill Finger’s involvement with Batman, or everything you need to know about something in four panels, there’s always something worth reading uploaded to the page. I read the webcomic every Sunday morning, and it never disappoints.
Below you’ll find a couple of Alex’s favourite strips (although it was tough it pick out just two, we stayed away from the Bill Finger strips that we recently linked to back in February for Graphic Policy’s Bill Finger week).
The first was posted to the site in November of 2015.
The second, is from October 2015;
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