Rick Smith is the cartoonist behind Yehuda Moon, a daily online comic strip. BikeRadar caught up with the 36-year-old insurance company web developer, of Shaker Heights, Ohio, just as the married father of two launched his second Yehuda Moon book, based on the strip’s last six months.
BikeRadar: Who’s better – Bill Watterson (Calvin & Hobbes) or Charles Schulz (Peanuts)?
Rick Smith: Gosh, both Watterson and Schulz captured children so well, each in their own way. I probably return to Schulz more, but find Watterson more humorous. I admire and read Harold Gray (Little Orphan Annie), Chester Gould (Dick Tracy) and Frank King (Gasoline Alley) as much, if not more.
Your first Yehuda Moon strip appeared on 22 January, 2008. What prompted you to publish a daily strip online?
The first Yehuda Moon comic strip appeared on 22 January, 2008
I had started commuting by bicycle again and figured I had enough ideas for a few comic strips. Those few quickly grew to 30 strips, and I just kept going. I have biked to school or work off and on throughout my life; I’ve also drawn comics off and on… the two pursuits finally came together. ‘Draw what you know’ became a mantra I actually tried to stick to.
What’s your background? You certainly have a distinctive style, and you seem to know bikes…
I need to know a lot more about bikes. The readers know bikes! I know about classic bikes, and new bikes with traditional gear. But I’m learning about new technology now – mostly through the character of Joe King (Yehuda Moon’s foil), a roadie who owns the Kickstand Cyclery with Moon.
I have colleagues who know more and teach me, and I read more about different niches in the bicycling world than I did when I started the comic. (Smith purchased the entire Rivendell Reader catalog on eBay, and subscribes to the same ideology as Rivendell owner Grant Petersen, reflected in the comic strip ed.}
How long does each strip take to produce?
I usually spend a little more than 2 hours on each comic. Writing and editing take the longest time. Depending on what’s going on in the strip for that day, penciling it can take anywhere from 20 minutes to 35 minutes. And then inking, scanning, colouring and lettering takes another 40 minutes.
How do you produce them?
I keep notes in a book which get turned into stories and dialogue on cards, which then get sorted and organised (over and over sometimes). Then I sit down and usually pencil a week’s worth of comics using a Dixon pencil on bristol board (thick paper).
After, I ink each one with a Pentel brush pen, then erase the pencil lines before scanning the strips into Photoshop, where I colour and letter them. Finally, I publish to the web (which is done semi-automatically now). I do most of the writing in the evenings during the week, and the art gets done over the weekend.
For more information, visit www.yehudamoon.com.