I met comic book author and illustrator Cam del Rosario last year at Chicago Zine Fest. I was wandering aimlessly and stopping at tables that caught my attention. After picking up his comic book adventure Bubblegum as well as a cassette and a miniature zine, I started following Rosario ever since. With Chicago Zine Fest scheduled right around the corner and a finalized sketchbook magazine known as Vacation, I chatted with the Louisville resident about sitcoms, persistence, authenticity, Peter Parker, and calling the cops.
How would you describe Vacation to a stranger on the street?
Vacation is essentially a "sketchbook" magazine. I felt the need to put something out because it's been nearly a year since I released the two books that I put out last year. There isn't really a theme to the book, it's just a collection of drawings that I did over the winter. I decided to call it Vacation because I was working on other comics to the point where I got burned out, so I took a "vacation" from comics to do a sketchbook magazine.
Alongside your sketchbook zine, what else is in the works for you?
I'm currently working on a book called FRANDS that is just a comic about the cast of the 90s sitcom Friends being put into 2018 and how their characters would react to certain things and situations that are happening in society today. Even though that show ended in 2004, the world is such a different place now that I thought plugging them into a current timeline would be funny. I'm having a lot of fun working on it, but I'm burned out on it at the moment. I've been working on it for about two years now, so it'll definitely come out in the fall of this year. I'll have it ready in time for SPX in September.
I'm also working on a mini comic of short stories that will be out before the FRANDS book in the early summer. I don't have a title for it yet, but that's coming along. Besides that, I've got a few freelance design jobs that I really can't talk about due to non-disclosure agreements and whatnot, but those just help pay the bills and add to my resume, yanno?
You're planning on Chicago Zine Fest, yes? Anything that you're timing with that event?
I'll definitely be there! This is my 3rd year doing CZF and I absolutely LOVE that show! I've met some of my best illustrator friends through that show and it'll always be a destination for me if possible. Last year they actually let me do the official reading for the event and that was a blast. I was on that event with a ton of tremendous talent, so it was really humbling to be included. As far as anything that I'm timing for the show...I'll definitely have some risograph prints, copies of Vacation and the as of yet untitled mini comic that I mentioned earlier. I'll also be tabling with my good friend, Dylan Chadwick who you can find online under the moniker "drugdogs"...he has a new comic coming out for CZF called Spirit Prison that I think is gonna blow a lot of people away.
I saw on your Instagram about superheroes doing normal things and I love that idea. Do you think Spiderman gets his own groceries? This could be an entire podcast, but I picture The Hulk getting acupuncture.
Hahaha, what a great scenario. The Hulk getting acupuncture definitely needs to be done in comics or somewhere. I really don't draw too many superheroes...I do love them as I think any cartoonist will tell you that Marvel and DC heroes opened the doors for them to get into comics, but I rarely draw them. I did do that illustration of Superman checking out clothes, because if I were to ever have the opportunity to draw a hero for one of the big two, I'd never be able to do the type of story that they wanted. I'd keep them doing mundane things as I feel that side of their characters isn't explored enough, if ever. As far as Spiderman getting his own groceries, I think that Peter Parker is a pretty human character that has always vocalized his struggles with real life, so he definitely gets his own groceries.
You went through a phase where you were calling the cops on a lot of people. Have you been taking it easy as of late?
Hahaha, this is incredible that this is a question you've asked me. I kinda stepped off the gas on that whole thing. For those of you reading that aren't aware of the running joke that I was doing for a few months, I would vocalize my gripes with society and claim that I'd be calling the cops on any offenders of things that I found upsetting. In my heart, I want to call the cops on everyone for every social faux pas that they commit, but I stopped running with that joke because people kept asking me in real life if I was going to call the cops on them. I'll probably call the cops on you for bringing this up in this interview though.
What have you been reading / watching / listening to as of late?
Ah, man. I've been reading a ton of comics. I've really enjoyed reading old Jack Kirby stuff from DC recently and I will buy any and every Archie comic because that was the first comic series that I ever read, so I'm constantly buying old issues from the 50 cent bins and devouring them. I picked up this comic called Palace No. 0 by Antoine Cossé from Quimby's a week ago that just blew me away. I'm always reading and re-reading anything by the Hernandez Brothers. Love & Rockets really is the best comic book of all time to me. The hype around them is very real and they deserve all the accolades and critical acclaim that they receive.
This is so sad, but I've only read 4 actual books this year so far. They've all been autobiographical or history books, though.
I just ordered a copy of Suspiria on Blu-ray, so I'm looking forward to watching the 4k remaster of that. Otherwise, I just watch wrestling and old crime caper movies like Charade, Hopscotch, and The In-Laws.
Music wise, I've been listening to that new Glassjaw record. It's so heavy and the bass tones are incredible. I also am always playing jazz or bossanova when I'm working on things. The new Rhye album is awesome too. No Vacation's last EP has been getting a lot of rotation as well.
Do you ever grow tired of comics and reach for a novel or non-fiction instead?
I used to work at a comic store and I do little odd jobs for my local shop that I frequently visit. I don't think I'll ever grow tired of comics, so nah. But I do love reading actual books too. I used to read at least one book a week until a couple of years ago. Now I'm lucky if I can read 20 in a year. It's really sad. I do love fiction books if the story is interesting enough to keep me entertained. But I'll mainly stick to history books. I love reading about wars. War is obviously a bad thing, but I'll tear through books on the Civil War and Vietnam at any chance that I get.
Do you create every day or does it come in waves?
I try to do something creatively stimulating everyday. However, sometimes that can be limited to me literally drawing on a Post-It note at work and that's it. The times that I work on something nonstop usually comes in waves though. Or when I know I have a deadline coming [laughs].
What's your typical studio setup?
My studio setup is entirely on my computer now. I do everything in Photoshop nowadays. Sometimes I'll do rough pencils on paper, but I've moved over to almost 100% digital in the past year or so. As far as the area, I have a lot of things hanging up around my workstation and a ton of piles of comics and books laying around the room. There's always definitely coffee cups and empty bottles of water scattered about too though.
Do you have any advice for artists working on their craft?
The only thing that I can say, is to keep at it. I don't consider myself a great artist by any means, but I just do what I wanna do and make comics that I want to put out. Eventually they find their way to someone who will read them. Also, look up interviews and podcasts with creators that you're into. It's really inspiring to hear about their processes when they're working on things or stuck in the trenches of a creative rut. I've had my attitude on creating things do a complete 180 after hearing someone else's perspective on things. I've been fortunate in the opportunities that I've had so far and I can only stress that you remain humble and try to learn as much as you can about what you're doing.
Any final thoughts / words of wisdom / shout-outs?
I just wanna shoutout my buddy Dylan Chadwick again aka Drugdogs. He does incredible work and his comic is gonna be something else. Blake Sims is a cartoonist out of Bowling Green, Kentucky that is SO good and has the work rate of a machine. Seriously, the amount that he draws in the little time that he accomplishes it is not human. Also, the podcast WE BUSY BUT CREATIVE, MY DUDE is a great show that my friend Doug does where he talks to creatives about their day jobs and how they balance their personal lives with their creative projects. It's a fun show. And finally, I also wanna give a shoutout to Javier Suarez, Raziel Puma and Eric Reyes over at Low Key. I wouldn't know anything about how to sell your own comics and definitely wouldn't be where I am today without their guidance. Plus, Raziel is my favorite cartoonist. Seriously. He just won't put out his book. Go yell at him about it.