Interview with George F. Anzaldi Jr., Creator of Ditto and Chance

2 April 2004

   It takes only a short time to draw out a single comic, to come up with a funny line or two to get a laugh. It takes more effort to create a cartoon daily, week in and week out. It takes much more diligence to market that cartoon, get it published locally or on the web and to wait for success. New cartoonist George F. Anzaldi Jr. stands in the wings, patiently waiting for his potential to be discovered by newspapers and the syndicates.

    George's comic strip, Ditto and Chance, is drawn with the careful hand of a professional-in-the- making; his is the kind of humour in which everyone can find a chuckle. Based on a dog and cat and their senior owner, Jack, the comic strip is striking in its bold lines and spare backgrounds. George uses minimal dialogue for an immediate smile or laugh from the reader. It’s a good quick read, attention-grabbing and funny.

    Placing Ditto and Chance on Ucomics’ Comics Sherpa® site, George hopes to build a fan following, perhaps catch the eye of the big syndicates and be on his way to a career in cartooning. He has built an interesting web page for his art, complete with archives, Ditto and Chance products and information.

ditto
ditto 2

   George distinguishes himself from the wanna-be cartoonists by following a routine of producing new strips on a regular basis, behaving as if he has already achieved his goal of successful cartoonist.
He has put much effort into making his cartoon known and in marketing his work.

   George F. Anzaldi Jr. kindly gave me an e-mail interview about his life and goals as a new cartoonist, waiting for success.

SM: Hello George and welcome to The Cartoonists. Thanks for taking the time to share your story.
Let's start with when and where were you born.

George F Anzaldi Jr: I was born on June 10th, 1975, in a small one-horse town called "Park Rapids" with a population of 3,000 people, located in Minnesota.

SM: Are your parents or siblings artistic?

George F Anzaldi Jr: My mom or dad couldn't draw a stick figure even if they tried. For my other siblings, the only one that could draw pretty good was my brother David (which is the oldest child in the family) and my sister, Deann, (who was the second oldest child in the family.)

SM: Did they encourage you to develop your talents?

George F Anzaldi Jr : I would like to say yeah, I think they did in their own way. My mom (Juanita Anzaldi) always liked my drawings (she always said keep it up!) so I did and I did and I did and I did and I did and...

SM: Did you attend art school or formal art training?

George F Anzaldi Jr: I have never attended any kind of art school or any training courses as such. I have learned every thing about cartooning and art on my own with the help of books only.

SM: When did you decide to become a cartoonist?

George F Anzaldi Jr: I don't think I decided to become a cartoonist? I was born a cartoonist, yeah that's right - my mom said when I was born I had a pencil in my hand. Not. I was just kidding but, I was born to draw.
So, I guess I decided to become a cartoonist when I was about two years old, my mom says.

SM: Were you inspired by any cartoonists or artists?

George F Anzaldi Jr: The one cartoonist that inspired me the most, and I'm sure you heard a million and one cartoonist say this, was Mr. Charles M. Schultz (of Peanuts fame.) And there were many and many and many more cartoonist like, Mike Peters of "Mother Goose & Grimm," Bud Blake of "Tiger," Jim Davis of "Garfield," Roger Bollen of "Animal Crackers," Stephan Pastis of "Pearls Before Swine," and many, many more.

SM: Where do you make your home and what kind of work do you do for a living?

George F Anzaldi Jr: I live in Bemidji, Minnesota another one-horse town. I bet your beginning to think I like one horse towns? Not really. For a living, I do lawn work like cutting grass, raking, weeding, landscaping as well, and I own my lawn company. It's called "2 Guys & A Lawnmower." Nice name, huh!

SM: Do you have a wife or girlfriend? What kind of work does she do?

George F Anzaldi Jr: I have a fiancée. We have been engaged for around 15 months now and we been together for about 19 months. Brandy Cohrs is her name. She is not working right now because she is going to college.

SM: What do you like to do in your spare time?

George F Anzaldi Jr: In my spare time, I like to shoot pool, go to the movies, go for long walks along the beach, listen to music, play the drums, eat, go to the casino do a little gambling, hangout with family, and many other things.

SM: How did you come up with the idea of "Ditto & Chance"?

George F Anzaldi Jr: One day I was sitting at my drawing table back in 1994 and I was drawing a cat from my head that I thought of. I was like hey I really like this cat so let's put him in a comic strip. So then, I needed another character. I came up with a dog character and I put him in the strip as well. When I put the two characters together, it was like magic. They went well together, like peanut butter and jelly. The names of the characters were Ditto and Chance; the dog was Ditto and the cat was Chance. But that wasn't the name of the comic strip at the time. It was called "Pet Talk" up to 2001 and then I changed it to their names "Ditto & Chance".
That is how I came up with "Ditto &Chance."

SM: Is this your first comic strip attempt?

George F Anzaldi Jr: I wouldn't say it was my first but it was the only one that I really stayed interested in doing forever.

SM: Is it hard to continually come up with ideas for your strip?

George F Anzaldi Jr: There are times when I don't come up with a single idea all day and then there are times when I come up with a lot of ideas in one day. I would say it is not to hard to come up with ideas when I just sit and think. I also come up with ideas using their personalities playing off of each other.

SM: Are your characters or the theme based on people you know or on your imagination?

George F Anzaldi Jr: All of my characters have a little bit of me in them and a little bit of other family members as well, so yes there personalities are based on me and my family members.

SM: How do you create the strip, George?

George F Anzaldi Jr: I create "Ditto & Chance" much like people make movies. First, I start with a blank sheet of 8-1/2 X 14 inch paper, then I decide how many panels I want the strip to be. After I decided how many panels, I then come up with the writing and paste it on the blank strip. The only real drawing I do on the strip itself is the background, otherwise, everything I draw for the strip is all done on separate sheets of 8 1/2 X 11 inch paper and then I paste it all onto the blank comic strip.

When the writing is done, I decide how to draw the characters to go with the writing. After I draw the characters like I want them, I cut them out and paste them where I want them to be. I take the strip to my local copy shop and copy it, then I take it back home and do the Background. After that, I am done.

SM: Since “Ditto and Chance” is hand-drawn, do you have favorite pens or papers to use?

George F Anzaldi Jr: I use a mechanical pencil, Sharpie markers, erasers, Liquid paper Whiteout, rulers, glue sticks and other different stuff.

SM: Do you use the computer to create any of the strip?

George F Anzaldi Jr: I use the computer for the copyright notice, website address, and for the writing of the strip. I don't use the computer for any of the drawings. It is all done by hand.

SM: About how long does it take to complete a strip?

George F Anzaldi Jr: I would say from start to finish, around 2 hours or so give or take, depending on how much detail is involved for a daily strip. For a Sunday, around 6-8 hours.

SM: What do you enjoy most about cartooning?

George F Anzaldi Jr: Drawing. I love to draw, it's all I really know how to do because I have been doing it all my life. I enjoy drawing my characters, every night when I go to bed I can't wait until I get up in the morning to start drawing my comic strip again. I live to draw!

SM: What is most challenging about cartooning?

George F Anzaldi Jr: The writing, sometimes I go all day and not think of a single thing to write that is funny.

SM: Have you submitted "Ditto & Chance" to the big syndicates or to newspapers?

George F Anzaldi Jr: I submitted "Ditto & Chance" once to TMS (Tribune Media Services) back in 1994 when I first created the strip and the editor there at the time, Mr. Mark Mathes, really seemed to have a lot of interest in it but unfortunately turned it down.

I have sent a sample package to my local newspaper (The Bemidji Pioneer) located in Bemidji, MN 56601, and I have talked with the editor there. He is really interested in "Ditto & Chance" and wants to do a story about me and "Ditto & Chance."

SM: Have you had a good reader response to your site on Comics Sherpa and to your own "Ditto & Chance" web page?

George F Anzaldi Jr: I would say, yeah, I have a pretty good response to both Comics Sherpa and "Ditto & Chance."

SM: Was setting up your own web page difficult?

George F Anzaldi Jr: No. I go with Homestead and they make everything so easy to do.

SM: Have you contacted any of your favorite cartoonists in hopes of getting advice?

George F Anzaldi Jr: I have contacted a few of them, Jane Elliot of "Stone Soup," Steve Sacks of "Doodles," Craig Macintosh of "Sally Forth," and a few more that I can't think of right now.

SM: Ditto & Chance looks to be well-thought out and professional. Do you have a plan and a timeline for success?

George F Anzaldi Jr: Thanks for the compliment. I don't really have a plan or timeline because you really can't plan on success. It comes when it comes and you never know exactly when that might be, so that is why I will do this strip ‘til however long it takes to get success.

SM: Do you have any advice you would like to share other new and aspiring cartoonists?

George F Anzaldi Jr: If you love cartooning and it's what you want to do then go for it and never ever give up on it no mater what anybody tells you. Read a lot of books about cartooning because you can always learn new things, pratice practice practice it makes perfect, draw when ever you have free time, just draw.

ditto 4

SM: Is there anything else you would like to add about "Ditto & Chance"?

George F Anzaldi Jr: I think "Ditto & Chance" is a really good comic strip and it will be around for along time. If there are any newspaper editors or syndicate editors reading this and want to know more, don't hesitate to contact me just do it at: [email protected]

Thanks Susanna for interviewing - it was a blast!

SM: Thank you and Good Luck, George. Hope to see you in the funny pages soon!

Cartooning Update:
As of January 4, 2006, the website and links were no longer functional.

Read Ditto and Chance daily at:
comicssherpa.com/site/feature?uc_comic=csypx

See the “Ditto and Chance” home page where you can find more information about the comic strip
and George. You can purchase Ditto and Chance t-shirts, mugs, caps and more:
dittoandchance.com/DittoandChanceHomePage.html

© Susanna McLeod 2004
TheCartoonists.ca  
         
(Originally published in The Cartoonists on suite101.com.)