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Cole Goco makes me feel like a slacker. At 13, I was sleeping whenever I got the chance, not writing and drawing a comic strip every other day. Cole’s surrealist web comic, Billy the Pop, features a boy named Harley, a talking ice pop named Billy, and Pete, a pet turtle. Last year, Goco won a Washington Post art contest and a national Scholastic Art & Writing silver medal in comic art.
Some of the questions we typically ask adult cartoonists don’t really apply to Goco, but his answers aren’t all that different from some established professionals.
Arts Desk: What type of comic work do you do?
Goco: I draw a web comic called Billy the Pop, which I post every other day. I don’t even know where the idea of a popsicle came from. I suppose that I was just trying to make an original character, but the more I try to remember how that idea happened, the weirder it seems in my head.
How do you do it? Traditional pen and ink, computer or a combination?
I draw with normal pens on paper, and then the drawings are scanned onto the computer to be posted. I color some of the strips, which is done using a digital art program. It’s a really simple way to do it, but it looks nice.
When and where were you born?
I was born in 2001 in Washington, D.C., and I’ve always lived in Arlington, Va. I’m 13 now.
What is your training or education in cartooning?
I’ve mostly taught myself. I’ve been drawing since I was really little, but I realized cartooning was for me when I was about 7. I’ve basically gotten better because I stuck to it. I did learn some good techniques from a cartooning summer camp at the Smithsonian and one at the Art League in Alexandria.
Who are your influences?
Practically every comic book or newspaper comic that I’ve read has influenced me in some way. I love comics like Pearls Before Swine, Lio, Zits, and Sherman’s Lagoon. But mostly Calvin and Hobbes. Every time I read my own strips, I notice how similar they are to Bill Watterson’s. Calvin is my biggest inspiration.
If you could, what in your career would you do-over or change?
I dunno; everything’s been going fine so far. I guess there’s a few things. The main character in my web comic is a popsicle. This can be annoying, because when I’m trying to convey a strong gesture or emotion, I only have his face to work with. I should have used something that at least had arms or something as my main protagonist.
What work are you best-known for?
Not much, really. Last year I won the KidsPost wrapping-paper contest, though. It felt really good to get some attention like that.
What work are you most proud of?
Actually, it’s one I haven’t finished yet! I’ve been working on a six-page comic story called The Island Adventure for a while now. It’s about two kids exploring an island and having fun, and it’s based off my family’s trips to Maine every summer. Now I’m in the phase of watercoloring it, so I’ll be done soon. It really is one of my favorite comics of mine yet.
What would you like to do or work on in the future?
What do you do when you’re in a rut or have writer’s block?
Sometimes that’s hard. When that sort of thing happens, I usually just ponder about it for a while. After some time, something funny will pop up, and then you can work with it and make a nice joke with it.
What do you think will be the future of your field?
I hope to be a newspaper cartoonist when I grow up. It’ll be great to do what I love professionally.
What local cons do you attend? The Small Press Expo, Intervention, or others? Any comments about attending them?
I’ve been lucky enough to be a part of the Smudge Comic Arts Expo. It was a totally new experience for me to actually sell my stuff. It’s great to talk to people and hear their feedback. It made me want to do it again.
What’s your favorite thing about D.C.?
I like how there’s a lot of people around where I live, but not too many. It’s not super crowded but not empty, either. I have a lot of great friends here, too.
Photos courtesy of Cole Goco