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An Interview With David Gonterman

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Recently, I decided to go for it. I offered an interview to David Gonterman.
Also known as the Internet's Most Dangerous Cartoonist and America's Favorite Chew Toy, David is no stranger to any avid internet user. He's been known for his countless comics and stories, all of which you can find if you look hard enough. The 90's was the Madness Zone, when David's character entered the Sailor Moon & Sonic worlds and, among other things, killed Scratch and Grounder in Blood and Metal. You guys know how much I like Scratch, right? I should really watch my mouth now. So, he accepted the offer, and the below conversation ensued (I am in italics):
>So, what originally brought you onto writing and drawing?

"What brought me into drawing was almost magical. Granted, there was a "How to Draw Disney Characters" book I got one time when I was a kid. But the really sticking moment when I was doodling in my spare time between classes in college, when someone passed by and told me that what I was mindlessly doing was good. This happened in the late 80s, and it was the first time I was ever praised for any of my own actions.  (I was in my late teens, after graduating twelve years of hell, wondering whatever or not drawing a blank page on my plans for the future is a bad thing, and someone gave me the first bit of approval over something I did in my life. Sad Sad Sad.)

What got me into writing was my English 102 instructor. This was in my second stint in  College, during the 90s.  (there was a time from '89 til '95 where I was so screwed up I had to go into counseling.) My writing with my essays and term papers (even with the dreaded research paper, mine was on Video Game Violence, back when the worst we have was Mortal Kombat 2, Time Killers, and Night Trap.) was so humorous and enjoyable that she suggested I go into fiction writing."

>Who was your first character?

"That would be Johnny Briz. (Formerly Jonathan Brisby, whose I'm glad to announce that I've scrunched for copyright's sake.) I saw Bluth's mice movies (Secret of NIMH and American Tail series) and thought what would a Bluth mouse would look like if he was drawn like Mickey. The rest is history.

Oh, by the way, I have a story idea that would bring Johnny back into the foreground, just in time for the Year of the Rat: I have a young budding animator struggling with the current CG market who finds Johnny in a rather fantasized version of how Walt came up with Mickey. (Johnny just falls into his or her lap after being grown to toon size.) The animator then starts making a series of Web Cartoons with Johnny that goes super-viral on YouTube."

>What are your current influences? (Per se, shows or comics you like and model after)

"It depends on what I'm writing about: On Scarlet PI, it's the latest news and gossip on the Disney Parks, which will bleed over to Universal Studios for the next strip. A recent rising force which might end up part of the series is the new anime "Spice and Wolf," And there's a part of Scarlet's persona that is taken from "When They Cry." (Two Words: "Hauuuuu Omochikaeri!!") With a spin-off story, Magical Girl Melody, there are some magical girl influences: Saint Tail, Princess Tutu, Shugo Chara. I wanted to take a scenario like that and make it so that the Magical Girl (Melody) is pretty much improvising as she goes, finding her mad luv skillz as she sneaks round looking for ways to help her friends.

(And then there's the idea I gave above for a new Johnny Briz series, which is inspired by Sonic X, where Sonic and co is placed in a "real" world. But that isn't as much into the forefront right now.)"

>Now, I wasn't online during the heyday of Blood and Metal, but I remember references to a young girl named Emily Smith, her character Sonia, and some kind of controversy. This is really intruding, but what happened?
((Let me kick in that I was worried as hell to ask this. Asking David about THIS is like someone asking me about that massive bullying thing in 6th Grade.))

"What happened was me having one too many temper tantrums online. I was younger then and somewhat less in control over what I'd do on the chat screen, and there was always a temper that would erupt in melodramatic fashion. I think I've scared a lot of people away with my anger, and that includes Emily. Add the part where I was forced to leave AIM, taking myself out of a lot of Role Plays, and that's how my standing in a bunch of people was brought down a few pegs.

I realize now that when I identified myself as "The Internet's Most Dangerous Cartoonist," I was pretty much stating that the one thing I had the most danger toward was myself, especially back then. I regret having those blow ups online and not being able to reconcile with those I hurt, or scare away, up to now."

>Do you still like Sailor Moon?

"I kinda like the series, but I really don't have a care for the show's fans.  It was with Moonies (and in a lesser degree Sonic fans) where I learned how narrow-minded, shallow and vindictive Otaku can get. Nowadays I won't even consider them as a readership because of my non-conformist tendencies and the desire to think outside of the box. (Something I think other writers are experimenting with, sometimes with disastrous results.)"
>Has someone you've known in real life ever met up with you by finding your stuff on the internet?

I can think of two people: Mr. Lapansee, I think that's his name. He's the one who created the Mechtail character. He dropped by at Granite City for a week by the late 90s. And then there's Rob Britting, the creator of Rashir (who'll be in the Blood and Metal recreation) whom I visited up in Michigan twice.

I'm happy to report that I haven't had gotten a personal visit by a troll. Once every blue moon I get a dream about some detractors banging down my door with torches and pitchforks. <shrugs> Proves that most of them are just cowards, anyways.

>You're familiar with quite a few Japanese media, but have you seen/read anything by Osamu Tezuka?
I was just curious.

I have. I think I've seen a little bit of Astroboy and Cyborg 009 (I think that's the title). But what I really remember out of that Japanese Manga God was a story of "Phoenix" which was in Mangajin, an old magazine that uses comics to teach the Japanese language. In it there was an artist who wanted to make a painting of the legendary bird, only to dream that he's been killed and reincarnated multiple times until he became a baby bird and finally met her.

>This is unrelated, but do you know of your cameo in this video, 1:40-2:15? (here's 6/7 of the flashing "Super Gonter Spin Attack" pictures)

I haven't even heard of that video until just now, and I've gotta admit that I luled my butt off. It helps when you get the last name pronounced right.* It's a very true standing at my change of heart brought on by the change of my medication, if I can laugh along to jokes like this. As long as it's done in good fun, and doesn't rub my face in my past mistakes, I won't mind.

*My biggest pet peeve in the world has to be my last name, Gonterman. It sounds like there was some Facists in my family tree, and it's nortoriously prone to be butchered. Not only can it be mispronounced--the correct version uses three syllables and all short vowels: Gon as in 'Gone,' Ter as in 'Turn', Man--but it can also be used in vain more times than some deities. Gontermania, Gonterego, Gonterforce, Gonterf***etry, Gonter-Fill-In-The-Phracking-Blank, and my personal favorite (not) that I got shackled with from seventh grade to my non-existant High School Graduation, Gonterwoman. The main reason I didn't join the military because I knew in my heart that I'd go "Full Metal Jacket" on my Drill Sargent/Instructor the instant he calls me "Gontermaggot" just once, and I won't remember a single thing afterward in my court martial. Now you know why I created an alias for myself.

>What motivates you to keep writing and drawing?

Some would think that what motivates me to keep going is because of the fear associated with what I'd do to myself if I ever stop. Sometimes I feel the same way.  But I have to go on record and say that there was a time, probably with the first chapter of Blood and Metal, where I felt that I had something to offer to the rest of the world, that people could look at me, think of a story or comic that I made, give me a nod or a pat on the back and say what a good thing I made. Granted, I'm writing books to sell on Lulu and I get $2.50 to $5.00 per copy out of it, but I really wanted to know that I have made something productive, not just for myself, but for the world around me. I want to know that I can connect to another soul and be understood, and even liked like a friend. For too many people out there, just the concept of outward affirmation is little more than a fairy tale. Believe me, I know how that's like. Even if I continue to get those occasional message telling me that my existence hurts them more than Ombama invoking Ronald Regan in a nice way, I can go on a long time on someone just sending me a "Keep up the good work" every now and then.

>What do you plan to do in the future?

Right now I'm working on Blood and Metal and creating a revision of Lost Boy Found, after that, I'm going to work on a project that really puts me out on a limb. You have probably heard of cases where a child was cyberbullied online into committing suicide--The Megan Meyer case didn't happen that far from where I live, where Megan was driven off this planet by someone's mother who lived four doors away--and I thought that I could do the unfortunate kids getting harassed online by writing a book that explains how they can deal with the trolls targeting them. The idea is that, unlike in the School Yard where people tell the victim to "Stand up for yourself" without telling them how to do that, I show them the tools that they already have online and the encouragement to do so, while they weed out the jerks haunting their screens and seek out for more supporting groups that are out there. Some people think I'm asking for trouble, but I feel that this is a book that needed to be written."
And that just about wraps it up, ladies and gentlemen. But to be honest, I've learned something - David Gonterman is not hard to talk to. As long as you keep your questions and comments from using the word "crap" many times, you can communicate with him.
Now, why did I do this interview? Well, all of us cartoonists, big-time of not, have had our weird days. Tezuka drew Uran with constant pantyshots for thirty years, Lynn Johnstan killed off Farley the Dog in "For Better of For Worse" (and then her stories all got filled with emotional crap), I was a slight furry at 12 with a Darkwing Duck psychosia, my friend Stephen had these comics about a stick-figure robot with only a helicopter and a horizon line, David had Piasa Bird. Remember kids, you can laugh at people for a while, then you've got to move on. I know plenty of Lolicon artists you can poke at.
Here's his official page. His books, Lost Boy Found and Murder in Main Street U.S.A can be purchased through the respective links.

All written material here is 2007-2011 Fauna Crawford, along with any images identified as such. All other copyrights belong to their respective owners and creators. Permission is required to use any original material from this site.