The Cartoonists by Susanna McLeod        [email protected]

   

Jeff Corriveau, Creator of "DeFlocked"

March 31, 2013

   

Gag lines and comedy are the domain of Jeff Corriveau. The humour writer for popular television shows can come up with truly hilarious pieces that have viewers snickering and rolling in the aisles. And Corriveau's sense of humour doesn't stop there. With a flare for art, the cartoonist combines his words of humour with expressive characters, creating the imaginative and giggle-worthy "DeFlocked." It's a "modern newspaper sitcom" about what else? Misfits. Outcasts. Narcissistic sheep... and lots of laughs.

   

A country boy born in 1969, Jeff Corriveau was raised in the rural farming region of western Massachusetts with two younger sisters. Neither of his parents worked in the arts. While displaying a wonderful talent for art, Corriveau directed his energies in another direction. One high school art teacher "used to shake his head whenever he would see me walk by in the hallway. I later learned from others that he was so disappointed that I was throwing away my natural artistic talent by not pursuing art," Corriveau told David Paccia in Cartoonist Survey #142 on David-Wasting-Paper.

 

Graduating from Springfield Technical Community College with an Associate's Degree in Liberal Arts, Corriveau later enrolled at the University of Massachusetts and Westfield State College for courses in English and Communications.

Moving to California in 1996, Corriveau worked as an actor, taking small roles and "extra" parts. He decided to take up comedy writing and began submitting jokes to newspapers and television stations. The time was right, his humour was right, and a career in humour opened for Corriveau.

"By 1999, he was writing material for The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, the Late Late Show with Craig Kilborn and Saturday Night Live," wrote Ruth Longoria in "DeFlocked goes 'round DeNation" (La Canada Valley Sun Newspaper, May 8, 2008). His next big job was head writer of "Talk Soup."

DeFlocked by Jeff Corriveau  
"Mamet," One of the stars of the comic strip "DeFlocked" by Cartoonist Jeff Corriveau, King Features Syndicate  
Cartoonist Jeff Corriveau

Although the income was very good, Corriveau did not feel his work was valuable. Dissatisfaction with his career choice set in.

The frustrated writer took time off to think. The idea of creating a comic strip appealed to Corriveau and gave him fresh inspiration. Except there was one not-so-small problem: he had left his artistic bent behind in high school.

Without formal art lessons, Corriveau "taught himself to draw and then wrote, and wrote and wrote," said Dylan Campbell in "Local Funny Man Turns to the Funnies?" (La Canada Valley Sun, Dec. 7, 2006) "After filling three sketchbooks and 600 pages, the strip was done. He sent them out with high hopes... and they were all rejected."

Disappointed but not out of the game, Corriveau prepared for round two. Re-organizing the strip, he changed the main character to Mamet, the narcissistic sheep, and sent the revised version out again. Success!

Humourist and Cartoonist, Jeff Corriveau

Launched in local papers La Canada Valley Sun and La Crescenta Valley Sun, readers got their first giggle with DeFlocked in early December 2006. The two newspapers were unable to pay the cartoonist for his work, but he generated essential publicity for his comic strip. Months later, a major syndicate noticed, first offering a development contract and then publication..

In May 2008, King Features Syndicate debuted DeFlocked in its line-up, appearing in newspapers across the United States and in Canada. Corriveau reached the big leagues.

Initially running in approximately 80 newspapers, the theme of DeFlocked also caught the eye of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). With Jack Shepherd writing the gags, Corriveau creates "10 % Wool" bi-weekly for the PETA Blog. The Deflocked strip has steadily gained newspapers and devoted fans.

 
   
Jeff Corriveau's Delightful "DeFlocked" Comic Strip

"DeFlocked is set on an old farm and follows the adventures of Mamet, a self-absorbed sheep, Cobb the dog, Rupert his younger brother and Tucker, an 8-year-old boy who was raised by the dogs," described Paccia.

Corriveau's illustration is wonderful, clear and captivating. The faces of characters effectively express all ranges of emotion, from fear and confusion, laughter to joy, irritation to anger. While he has many more years of experience with writing humour, his drawing pen has caught up quickly, creating art that is visually touching even without the gag line.

 

   
Jeff Corriveau's Delightful Comic Strip "DeFlocked"    

From his arts toolbox, Corriveau uses a plain old mechanical pencil for sketching. Permaball rollerballs, Microns and Rotrings, for drawing and lettering are his pens of choice, and Corriveau's delightful works come to life, stroke by stroke, on Bristol Board. Having little time for hand-colouring, the cartoonist scans his art into his computer and uses Photoshop to colour his works.

There is no fancy studio or tidy office where the great humour and terrific illustration of DeFlocked magically takes place. It's the dining room table, Carriveau said to Paccia.

   

Striking the funny bone of all sorts of people, Carriveau follows the fine examples of his favourite cartoonists such as Charles Schulz and Bill Watterson. Wanting the stars of his comic strip to be relevant to his readers, Corriveau created "every-man characters; characters that readers feel slightly superior to, so they feel better about themselves," noted Longoria.

Jeff Corriveau and his wife Karen live in Montrose, California. They have one daughter, Amelie.

Corriveau's advice to aspiring creators on David-Wasting-Paper: "You have to be the best at your vocation. No excuses. Anything else is fry cook." The plan certainly worked for Jeff Corriveau.

Visit DeFlocked or view the 'toon at King Features Syndicate. Enjoy!

   
© Susanna McLeod 2013
TheCartoonists.ca