What inspired you to start PDL?
I got into cartooning toward the end of high school when I discovered Matt Groening’s Life in Hell. I’d mainly just read the Sunday comics up until then, and Groening’s stuff was this other side to the medium that I hadn’t seen before. It was edgy satire, and it felt like such a cool way to express ideas. A few months later in college I started PDL.
I’m partial to Mrs. Jones, but who is your favorite character? Are any of them based on real people?
I like Kevin the blue duck. He’s naïve and trusting, but might secretly be the smartest guy in the room. Or he might just be thinking about cake. His character has a lot of depth.
The only PDL character explicitly based on a real person is Jacques Cousteau, who’s based on the French oceanographer Jacques Cousteau. And also Small Cat, who is based on Neil Armstrong.
I read that you only took on writing PDL full-time a year ago. Tell me more about your background, what were you doing before?
I started writing PDL full time in March 2013. Before that I worked for a media company in Los Angeles, mainly writing and editing for blogs. It was my first job out of college, and I spent a lot of time there day-dreaming about being a professional cartoonist. After a couple years of drawing PDL on my lunch breaks, my audience was large enough that going full time became a real option.
With so much great content to choose from, how do you choose what gets published? Is there a larger narrative arc you try to convey in our book or is the idea to just print the funniest ones?
Having my work on the internet means I know exactly which comics have done well with the most people. So it was easy for me to put together the fan favorites, along with my own personal favorites. A big chunk of the book is brand new material, which keeps the same tone as the stuff from the website. There’s no narrative arc, but the book is divided into sections based on topics like robots and friendship.
It’s pretty incredible to see the success of PDL take off so quickly– you have an amazing following online that manifests itself in the form of hilarious comments, and hello, your book is coming out in October from Plume!– what kinds of projects are you looking forward to in the future?
I’d like to do a longer form graphic novel or novella. I love writing short strips, but it would be a fun challenge to work on something with a story arc.
Bonus: What books have you read recently that you loved?
Poorly Drawn Lines: Good Ideas and Amazing Stories is available now, click here to buy! And follow @pdlcomics on tumblr immediately.
I really enjoy the Poorly Draw Lines comics. They always make me smile.