I was first introduced to I Live in a Hole by linking up with its creator, Steve Klinetobe, through a comics and graphic novel group on LinkedIn. I was immediately drawn to the imagery within his single panel comics. Maybe because each of Klinetobe’s pieces are artistically balanced and appeal to the artist in me who loves abstracts; or maybe because I enjoy seeing people push through what’s “normal” in art, like Klinetobe does with his unique characters; or, maybe because each of his comics are so true that they are beyond funny.
Either way, I highly recommend I Live in a Hole to anyone who can share in parenting, work, and lifestyle humor. Klinetobe updates his webcomic every weekday, which I always look forward to. Below is my interview with Steve, whose answers to my questions almost made me pee my pants.
Interview with I Live In a Hole creator, Steve Klinetobe:
Q. What is your artist background?
A. It’s such a cartoonist cliche but I’ve been drawing ever since I can remember. In fact, maybe even a bit before (sorry for the uterine graffiti, Mom). I learned at a young age that I’m the worst at drawing hands and feet so I gave up on trying to paint real things and focused on the beastly things in my head.
Drawing is so integrated into my life that I can’t actually focus unless I’m sketching. A good rule of thumb: if I’m not drawing, I’m not listening.
Q. Are you creating I Live in a Hole comics full-time since you left marketing or balancing them with a (gag) “real” job?
A. Wait! People do this full-time?
Fortunately, since my family likes to dress cool and eat heavy, I have a full-time day job. I’m a Creative Director for a software company. Technically, I guess, I’m still in marketing, but I no longer own and operate an agency. That sucked. I did it for way too long and the stress nearly killed me. Sure, we did some awesome work but the crazed pace and constant worry of how we were going to pay everyone made it a nightmare. Also, although I was creating logos, websites and animations, it was the lowest point of my personal creative journey, I never felt I was actually creating anything of value.
I Live in a Hole started and grew without much deliberate effort. It’s been easy because I made it fit in my day. Honestly, it doesn’t feel like work. It’s more like putting on clean underwear.
Q. Any comics that helped inspire you to start and/or that you like following today?
A. Oh, man, I was such a Bloom County nerd/fan. I had every stuffed Opus they made. My first comic strip in the college newspaper was such a shameful rip-off. Calvin and Hobbes, Life is Hell, and The Far Side were, of course, awesome.
That was back in the day of great and powerful syndicates, evil editors and limited print space. It was tough to get published, let alone become popular.
Now, we are in the Super-mega Golden Age of comics. I’m blown away by the diversity and creativity of Webcomics. 99.9% of what we see today would never of made it out of the slush pile back in the 80’s. It’s awesome! I’m inspired everyday by webcomics I didn’t even know existed.
Q. Wow! So you committed to a daily, M-F comic routine. How are you able to juggle I Live in a Hole with your daily routine as well as being a family-man?
A. If I didn’t do them everyday I might not do them at all because I am so distracted by other ideas for comics, books and business ventures. Because I Live in a Hole is really just an extension of my life, I’ve been able to commit without it feeling like something I have to manage.
The other thing that makes it possible is my workflow with the iPad. I give myself 45 minutes to create each panel cartoon. This means I don’t do to much fidgeting and second guessing. I realize not every day is going to make people pee their pants, but that’s ok because each one is a further proof to myself that I can do this.
Q. I followed you since connecting with you on LinkedIn and have been watching your growth. How have your comics been received? Anyone we should give kudos to for helping you along the way?
A. Great questions. When I first started the comic I was heavily reliant on the network I had established in creative industry (graphic designers and web people). I got polite applause from them. It wasn’t until I opened myself up to new people in new demographics that I realized that what I was saying was resonating with a whole set of people I’d never met before.
My family deserves all the credit. They are my inspiration and my support. But don’t tell them that because they get cocky, and when they get cocky I have to buy them FroYo.
Q. As main characters, what do your kids and family think of your comics?
A. I was concerned with letting my daughter read them. She is, after all, always on the cusp of blowing her gourd. It turns out she was mostly upset with how I draw her nose. In fact, everyone seems most concerned with their nose. The dog doesn’t seem to care.
Q. What is the main message you are trying to get out to the world through I Live in a Hole?
A. This is big cry for help. I’m hoping someone will read the comic and call the police. I am hiding in a closet.
I don’t have a specific message but I love it when I get fan mail from someone because they related to something, “That’s so true!” It proves to me that we are all exactly alike. We are afraid, nervous, unsure. We all have the hibbijibbies about something.
Q. Did you start I Live in a Hole comics on paper, or have you always used your iPad/Wacon mix?
A. I Live in a Hole started the day after I got a new iPad. I was curious if I could create and upload a comic in less than an hour. Also, I can draw while on the toilet which saves me soooooo much time.
I still use pen/ink/watercolor for my other comics and fine art.
Q. What few I Live in a Hole comics would you say best sum up your message?
- Epic Firestorm. Most of my comics are just snapshots.
- Plastic Stack Chairs. An early one, but really shows how useless I feel as a parent.
- Nightmares. Shows just how stupid I can be.
- A Place in the Sun. This one holds the record for the most views.
Q. I love your new book, When Did Everything Get So Loud. I especially like how you bounce back and forth between single-panel comics and adding personal anecdotes. What inspired this format?
A. Thanks! I wish I could do more writing for the site. I love how the stories add dimension to the comics. I wouldn’t necessarily say there is an inspiration for the format other than every once and awhile I get itchy to write. One of my favorite comics is Hyperbole and a Half, she weaves comics and story so well. I’d like to try that sometime.
Q. I am an artist first/comic second, so I LOVE good art when I see it. I particularly love your characters, your styling and subtle shading, and composition. How did your unique characters come about?
A. Thanks! I’m also an artist and work with ink and watercolor. Edward Gorey is my favorite artist so I fell in love with pen detailing, however, I am not nearly as patient, so I have developed a technique that allows me to be detailed without having to be precise.
I draw great cacti.
Q. What advice would you give aspiring cartoonists and artists trying to get into the field?
A. Just start! There is no more “breaking in”, no submissions, no rejection letters. To get into the the field, all you have to do step into the field. Don’t over think. Don’t sweat your mistakes. Just go. There’s an audience for everything and if you make something you like then there are bound to be people who will like it too. Unless, of course, you are a replicant. Replicants aren’t funny.
Q. What are your future goals and/or up-and-coming projects for I Live in a Hole?
A. My only goal for I Live in a Hole is to keep creating I Live in a Hole. In just a few months, I’ve been able to shed so much of the goo that got all over me while running an agency…this is therapy.
My friend who owns Passionfruit Publishing is looking to produce three more books. I’m also planning an art show for the Fall that will include comics and some of my paintings.
Q. Anything else you want to add?
A. The best thing about being a cartoonist is the other cartoonists. The community is so open and inspiring. Honestly, in the other industries I’ve been in you always had to wade through massive egos and competitive mission statements. I think we should all move to a commune where we can eat pigeons and where brightly colored robes. Just a thought.
Some Favorite Comics:
And some awesome fan art Steve created of me (the Earth) interviewing him. (I laughed so hard when I saw this):
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If you would like to submit a webcomic for review, please contact me.