Brad McGinty is an animator and comic book artist from Atlanta, Georgia. Have you ever seen an Alphabeast? Do you know how big a cat’s eyes can be before they are no longer cute? Find the answer to these questions, and others you never knew you had, here.
We asked Brad, who now resides in the North Country, to send us a comic about his new life as a Southern expat.
THE OXFORD AMERICAN: What comics did you read as a kid? Which ones do you read now?
BRAD MCGINTY: My earliest comics memories are of comics in the newspaper. I remember cutting a “Spiderman” strip out of the paper when I was five or six. I couldn’t read at that point, but I remember staring at the pictures for a really long time, just trying to figure out what was going on. That is probably my earliest memory, period. My family was pretty poor, so I bought the cheapest comics I could find. That led me to buying lots of weird stuff.
I remember finding a used copy of The Death Of Speedy (a Love and Rockets Collection) when I was in middle school. I had no idea what it was, but I devoured that thing. Reading a love story about Mexican gangs in middle school made me feel like I was getting away with something!
These days I’m just looking for anything that is a little weird, and has some energy to it. It’s mostly all self-published stuff. That’s where all the action is. I think the days of all the good stuff being put out by a big publisher are over.
THE OA: All-time favorite cartoonist?
BM: Jack Davis. I’ve been looking at a lot of his old MAD stuff from the ’50s lately.
THE OA: Did you ever consciously decide to be a cartoonist? Or were you always doodling and drawing your whole life, and then one day someone paid you for your art?
BM: I’ve been drawing comics since I was little, but I always realized that it was pretty much impossible to make a living at it. I wasn’t a very good student, and drawing was the only thing that came easily to me. I never really had the self-esteem to say, “I’m going to be a famous cartoonist someday!” I just hoped to be the guy who made the hand-drawn signs at Publix.
THE OA: Have you ever had any formal art training?
BM: No. I tried to get into art school as a high school student, but my parents weren’t willing to cosign the student loans. They didn’t have any money, and I worked full-time throughout high school. I was acutely aware of how much tuition at places like SCAD cost, and comparing that to my weekly paycheck at Little Caesars really scared the shit out of me. Instead, I looked for any art-related job or internship I could find. I got really lucky. I found a magazine that was happy to take my free labor, and I met some other aspiring artists in the same boat.
THE OA: Recommend to us a cool cartoonist/graphic novel/whatever that we’ve never heard of. Bonus points if it’s Southern!
BM: Patrick Dean, Eleanor Davis, and Josh Latta are three awesome Southern cartoonists that are putting out great work right now. They’re all amazing, and they all offer something completely different.
THE OA: What’s your stance on superhero comics—love ’em, hate ’em, totally apathetic?
BM: A lot of the superhero comics from the ’60s and ’70s are fun, but most of the modern stuff is just absolute garbage. I don’t think that the general public has any idea how violent your average superhero comic is—or how ugly!
THE OA: Do you practice any other forms of visual art? Like graffiti, murals, photography, painting, sculpting?
BM: Well, I’ve done a lot of animation work. I find animation and comics to be pretty similar, so I don’t know how far that goes in diversifying myself. I also like building small stuff, like fake robots and puppets. I used to paint murals for a living, but I’m not actually a very good painter. I really admire anyone who can do it, though. The same goes with graffiti. I’d rather go on live TV naked than to show anyone my pathetic attempts at graffiti. Nothing is more embarrassing than that. NOTHING!
THE OA: What’s the best compliment you’ve ever received about your work?
BM: I’m always surprised when someone buys one of my prints or shirts. I guess I have pretty low self-esteem, but that kind of thing makes me feel incredibly lucky. If I thought about it long enough I’d probably cry.
THE OA: What’s the most disparaging remark you’ve ever received about your work?
BM: My sixth-grade art teacher hated that I used black outlines in my work. She said I made everything look like a coloring book.
THE OA: What’s the most inadvertently insulting thing anyone has said about your work?
BM: It’s pretty insulting when people look at what you do as being ridiculously easy, especially in animation. For example, people don’t understand what makes a walk cycle so difficult, or why it takes so long to animate one. I’ve had clients say, “You’re just moving his feet around, I don’t see why that is so hard,” and, “Just add some more mouth flaps!” The worst was, “I’d do it if I myself if I had the time!”
THE OA: What non-cartoon art or literature or music inspires your work?
BM: Oh gosh. Terrible action movies, vintage instructional pamphlets, garbage plastic toys, and stand-up comedy. I tend to like “bad” things more than I like “good” things, and not in an ironic way. I like to be able to see how things are done. I like comics, music, and film to be a little rough: not overly polished. I find that stuff very inspiring.
THE OA: What do you hope to make your readers feel or think about when they see your work? Or is that not something you consider as you draw?
BM: It really depends on what I’m working on. Most of the time I’m trying to replicate a certain mood or tone or trying to figure out what lines and shapes make people feel a certain way. For most of my work, I’m really just worried about whether people will find it funny or not.