ROK Comics Creator Interview: Rich Diesslin

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ROK Comics have published three creator-dedicated comic Apps so far, which are live on the iTunes store.

Rich Diesslin is the creator of The Mobile Gospel, one of ROK Comics first ‘Creator Comic Apps’), published in partnership with an individual comic creator.

The project is based on the book of Luke from his Cartoon Gospel Series (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John). He is also the creator of the KNOTS or Not scouting cartoons and a general single-panel cartoon called Out to Lunch. He is also the author and cartoonist of The Cartoon Ten Commandments and the cartoonist of A Journey Through Christian Theology, an anthology of theologians now in its second edition published by Fortress Press.

ROK Comics: Where/when did you get your first comics break?

Rich Diesslin: In 1990 my first book, The Cartoon Gospel, was published by a small
press. I put a partial manuscript together in 1986 and sent it out to all the Christian publishers I could find. A few expressed some interest and one came back with an offer to
publish it.

ROK Comics: Where else has your work appeared?

Rich Diesslin: Books, local newspapers, magazines, merchandise and greeting cards and my web site: www.the-cartoonist.com.

ROK Comics: What’s your greatest achievement in the comics field?

Rich Diesslin: I’ve had several books published and I’m just now starting to get more active networking with other creators.

Quite a lot of my cartoons are available on merchandise now (t-shirts, mugs, etc.), which is helping to provide some steady income.

ROK Comics: How did you discover ROK Comics?

Rich Diesslin: I believe my first contact was a message sent to me onMySpace from John Freeman. That took me to the company web site and I thought that it sounded like a really good idea.

I started uploading general, scout and gospel cartoons and was very pleased to be a finalist in their big competition back in 2008. I do single-panel cartoons but with guidance from John I was able to turn many into a serialized comics, including what he later dubbed” The Mobile Gospel”.

ROK Comics: How do you feel about Digital comics over Print based comics?

Rich Diesslin: As a creator, I view all avenues of publication and good. They all have strengths and weaknesses, but overall it is just a way to deliver a visual laugh. I like digital comics, even though I still prefer to read things on paper, I believe I’m heading more and more digital as time goes on.

I create in Photoshop, so the digital part doesn’t bother me at all and I can quickly convert my cartoons to just about any medium. ROK seems like an opportunity to see what the mobile device media will bring, and I was pleased to that the Mobile Gospel was selected as one of the lead-off iphone apps for ROK.

ROK continues to be on what I call “the bleeding edge” of digital comics delivery. Their original concept was good, and with the popularity of mobile, they should be able to smoothly transition over and stay a leader in the field.

ROK Comics: Do you think digital comics are reaching a new audience or expanding the existing one for print?

Rich Diesslin: Studies have shown an increase in the percentage of ebook sales vs. printed books, suggesting that it is increasingly replacing print media. I have no doubt that ebooks and apps are also reaching new audiences as well.

Recently I was pleased to find out that a 4-year-old girl (and her mom) were enjoying the Mobile Gospel. While my cartoons are mostly intended for youth and adults, the daughter really liked any book with cartoons and her mom finds it a good way to cover to bible lessons.

I think there will continue to be a role for print media, but a lot will change in the market place as we find out just what that role will be (also known as at what point the market share will level out). Right now, the trend is toward digital and the risks and costs associated with digital are much more conducive to publishing than tradition forms.

ROK Comics: Apart from your digital comics, what other projects you working on at the moment?

Rich Diesslin:  I should be releasing a new work this winter cartooning the Old Testament.

I haven’t decided the best form for it, but I’m thinking my web site and an ebook might be the way to go.

Otherwise,  I continue to work on Out to Lunch and KNOTS or Not scouting cartoons.

ROK Comics: What’s your favourite comics related website?

Rich Diesslin: Other than my own (www.the-cartoonist.com), I find The Daily Cartoonist blog is very good for keeping up with cartooning in the United States. Also, several papers in the US allow you to view comics online, and the Houston Chronicle even allows you to build your own link by selecting from several comics.

ROK Comics: What comics are you reading at the moment (both web and print based)?

Rich Diesslin:  Not too surprisingly I like Pearls Before Swine, Zits, Baby Blues,Brewster Rockit, SpeedBump, Dilbert, Agnes, Drabble, among others.

ROK Comics:  Whose work do you most admire in the comics field and why?

Rich Diesslin:  Bill Watterson (creator of Calvin and Hobbes), Dave Coverly (SpeedBump), Scott Adams (Dilbert), Stephan Pastis (Pearls Before Swine), Tony Cochran (Agnes), Kevin Fagan (Drabble) and more … mostly because they are (were) just consistently funny.

ROK Comics:  What advice would you offer to new cartoonists?

Rich Diesslin:  Love what you do, do what you love, but don’t give up your day job (unless you can)!

• Buy The Mobile Gospel on iTunes

• Check out more of Rich’s work at www.the-cartoonist.com

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