By Michele Brittany, West Coast Correspondent
As dusk was settling on an early June Saturday evening, humorist Lonnie Millsap was putting out his t-shirts, prints, and his latest book, I Asked for a Fork, on a table set up in the side room of speakeasy bar named The Copper Still Bar located in Los Angeles' Koreatown. Toonhole.com's Chris Allison, who wrote The Greatest Book Ever Written by Chris Allison, had his own table set up next to Millsap, as they frequently team up for such events.
The party officially started at 7:30 PM and it did not take long for local artists, actors, musicians, friends, and fans of Millsap and Allison to rub elbows as free Stella Artois were poured and chased by free pupusas. Composer/musician Gene Micofsky and his band played a set of familiar rock covers plus a few of Micofsky's original songs that got the evening rocking as Millsap and Allison's art panels were projected behind the band on a projection screen.
Regular con attendees in the SoCal region probably recognize Millsap's one-panel cartoons that are reminiscent of Gary Larson's The Far Side, but Millsap adds his own brand of humor and style that leaves a reader smiling right along with Millsap. And, he must be tickling a lot of funny bones because this is his fifth book! Add to that accomplishment, he also brokered a t-shirt licensing deal, which distributed a number of his designs to national retailers over the past several months.
Michele Brittany: You have such incredibly hilarious humor Lonnie, how did you start doing one-panel comics?
Lonnie Millsap: I think I subconsciously started drawing one panel strips while I doodled on my notes in high school. Single panel cartoons were always the ones that made me laugh…and the good ones still do. I think I was just trying to model my work after what I enjoyed when I was growing up.
MB: Have you always been drawn towards artistic expression? And, that unique sense of humor?
LM: I guess I've always been artistic. I always tell the story about how I drew a giant Batman in crayon on the carpet and on the refrigerator door on Saturday morning when I was 4 or 5. My mother still says it's the best cartoon I've ever drawn. I guess my sense of humor is somewhat unique. I was never the funniest guy in school, but I was the one who made the supplementary jokes about the guy who made the jokes.
LM: I never imagined putting out more than ONE book. It took so long to get to that point, but the response was so good that I had to keep it going by releasing a new book every year. The t-shirts and the prints were kind of a spin off. It's pretty satisfying to create shirts that can actually make people laugh.
MB: What do you hope readers will take away from your books?
LM: I want people to take big laughs away from my books. My cartoons are simple with little bits of complexity thrown in. I hope readers will enjoy the books and laugh at some secondary elements that I throw in from time to time. And I use complicated words sometimes…at the very least some people may laugh AND learn a new word.MB: What's next for you Lonnie?
LM: This summer I will be making the rounds trying to promote and sell my latest book titled, I Asked For A Fork! I will be exhibiting in small press at San Diego Comic-Con [booth K-02] and some other conventions after that.
MB: And last question, where can people find you online if they cannot meet you at SDCC?
MB: Lonnie, thank you so much for your time and for a fun book release party!
Event photos were taken by Michele Brittany.
Michele Brittany is an independent popular culture scholar and semi-professional photographer and editor of James Bond and Popular Culture: Essays on the Influence of the Fictional Superspy (McFarland & Company) as well as the forthcoming book Essays on Space Horror in Films, 1950s – 2000s. Read her reviews and analysis on the spy/espionage and space horror genres via her blogs at Spyfi & Superspies and Space Horror Films. Follow Michele on Twitter: @mcbrittany2014.