“‘Precious Rascals’ is a comic strip that started with the observations I would make of my kids doing and saying silly things. I knew that time with little ones would be short, and I never wanted to forget those moments,” this is what professional illustrator and father Anthony Holden told Bored Panda about what inspired him to create the popular ‘Precious Rascals’ comic.
“Parenting is full of so many tough realities, and I wanted to have pleasant memories of all the good times with our kids.”
Get ready for some warm, witty, and family-oriented comics. Upvote your favorite ones and let us know in the comments which ones you liked best and why, as well as what you think of Holden’s art. Also, scroll down for Bored Panda’s full interview with the artist.
“I began documenting the funny things our kids would do and say; I showed the strips to friends who told me I should put them on the internet. I posted them on Google's Blogger platform for a long while, but it wasn't really until social media came along that I started to build an audience,” Holden told us about the origins and early days of ‘Precious Rascals.’
“I'm glad I could put the strips out there. I love getting comments from readers that say things like how the strips remind them either of their own kids or of their time growing up with siblings. My favorite side effect of this whole effort though is that our kids will go through the strips and read them like family photo albums. They're constantly quoting their own catchphrases. It's pretty great.”
Holden also revealed how he developed his unique art style throughout the years. “The artistic style has sort of morphed and developed slowly over time. My influences are not particularly obscure or original—Charles Schulz, Jim Davis, Akira Toriyama, Bill Watterson.”
“Most of my day job is spent drawing storyboards digitally, so I've really gravitated towards drawing the strips in pen and ink,” the illustrator noted his love for using traditional mediums as well as digital ones. I love the feel of a metal nib scratching across the surface of the paper. There's nothing like it! Each strip is different of course, but I'd say start-to-finish, an individual strip takes me from around 3–5 hours to complete (including writing all the way through digital touch-up).”
Holden dreamt of being a comic strip artist since he was a kid. However, the path to greatness wasn’t all that clear.
“I had always dreamed of being a comic strip artist when I was younger, but by the time I had reached adulthood, newspaper comics weren't really a thing anymore. The number of folks who make a living just on newspaper syndication is incredibly small. I decided to go to college and study Japanese instead. I had learned to speak Japanese while living in Japan as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,” Holden explained.
“When I was in school at BYU, I stumbled across the animation major and decided to give it a shot. I learned about the animation production pipeline and decided to vie for an artist position at a studio somewhere doing storyboards, or animation, or design or something. I was mostly just excited by the idea that I might be able to make a living drawing cartoons.”
He continued: “Getting seen by industry reviewers and recruiters as a student of a school in Utah proved to be a big challenge, but the internet came to the rescue. I had made some friends online with industry pros in LA, and I leaned tenuously and gently on those connections to try and meet people. A very gracious Michael Lester (tremendously talented story artist at DreamWorks) was kind enough to invite me to the studio, where I had a chance to meet with some of my favorite artists in person. This led to an opportunity to apply for the trainee program at DreamWorks, where I got my start in the industry. A good deal of luck helped open doors for me. I'm really thankful to people who gave some unknown kid the time of day.”
Bored Panda was interested to hear whether Holden had any pearls of wisdom for aspiring illustrators and cartoon strip artists.
“A word of advice to anyone out there making comics: keep having fun! Do what you love! Of course, this will not guarantee commercial success, so don't hang all your hopes on getting discovered and making millions.”
“The funny thing about art is [that] there is a way to make a legitimate career out of it; that just usually involves making work for studios and other clients (that's how I pay my bills). The other stuff that you make just for you though? That's the special stuff. I wouldn't give up the chance to make comics ever, even though I do them mostly for fun and personal fulfillment (and occasionally self-publishing; I'll probably be launching a Kickstarter next year for a new comics collection and sketch collection like the last campaign I ran).”
Holden continued: “If I'm extra lucky, one day maybe I'll get to make the stuff I want to make and it'll also pay my bills. I'm not holding my breath for that moment though. For now, I'm making fun stuff for me, after I'm done with client work, the kitchen is all cleaned up, and kids are in bed.”
“My favorite advice to give to artists is this: remember that cartoons are fun to make but, like any hobby or career, they can't be the sum total of who you are as a person. You have to be invested in something larger than drawings. For me, it's my faith and my family,” the artist said.
“Live a good life, and make cartoons a part of it if you can. Don't get hung up on social media numbers as a reflection of who you are: you're a person with real intrinsic value outside of some random metrics the internet associates with your digital persona. Surround yourself with good people whom you love and who love you back and, when you can, watch and make cartoons with those people!”