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MOME Interview 6: Tim Hensley Print
Written by Gary Groth   
Friday, 01 September 2006
Article Index
MOME Interview 6: Tim Hensley
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gg: Tell me a little about your working method: how do you sit down and plan a strip? Do you write the entire thing first?

th: Yeah, I write the entire thing first. It goes back to my method when I was songwriting. I make it like an assignment. It's not like something where I wait for inspiration to arrive, I just sit there and methodically try to put it together. Once it's all written, I put it into thumbnails, and then I letter the whole thing, and then I jump around, usually, in different parts of it. Now, with Gropius, I wrote out the entire story, 53 pages, so it's already written, and I've also lettered the whole thing, and I'm just taking the pages down as I work on it, just filling in the boxes.

Illustration by Tim Hensley
From sketchbook

gg: When you work on the composition of each panel, do you work directly on the board? Or do you play with it on overlays, or — ?

th: Oh no, not at all. I have a real simple thumbnail of what it is I'm working on, and usually I try to... Sometimes I draw the figures in first or sometimes I plot the perspective and put the figures in after. A lot of times, there always seems like things I need to refer to, like do a Google image search of a dumpster, I had to do that the other day. Or something to root it in reality, I guess.

gg: You changed from art to being an English major in college, so I assume you're something of a reader. Who are your favorite writers?

th: Whoo, boy.

gg: Or who are the writers you feel most of an affinity for in terms of style and language?

th: Gee, I don't know. That sort of puts me on the spot, I don't know. [Groth laughs.] My favorite books, or something like that? In college, Dickinson and Poe were favorites, but nowadays I find myself reading naturalists like Theodore Dreiser, who's also from Indiana.

gg: Your own writing is as far away from Theodore Dreiser as one can imagine.

th: Well, I mean, to be honest, I think when you're asking about the language stuff, I think it's that my sister has a learning disability — she could also be described as borderline mentally retarded, although that's not the terminology in favor — and takes medication to stop her from hearing voices. She'll say words like "o-beast" instead of "obese" and doesn't know what World War II is. I maybe could have gone the route of becoming an autobiographical cartoonist and become a spokesperson/advocate type, but I prefer to use my affinity to simply drop people into a parallel kind of confusion that is second nature to me by now. And when you're asking about my experiences in school, I had a problem that I didn't realize at that time. My attitude towards learning, how words are put together, things that are considered irrational, was different.

Illustration by Tim Hensley
Thumbnail of last page of Jillian Banks

gg: That makes sense. I think your whole approach to language is inspired.

th: It's something that I feel that the comics that I do, the language part I feel more comfortable in than I do the drawing. The drawing is a real struggle for me. I feel that the actual storytelling, the panel-to-panel type stuff, I can get OK, but the actual solving drawing problems is where I really struggle. How do you draw a curved staircase, that kind of thing.

gg: Well, I have to say I think the images and the your particular use of language go together perfectly, like they do in the best cartooning, I think.

th: Oh, thank you. I think there are other cartoonists who don't work from a script. The thing is, like in the Jillian story that I just turned in, if you read through it, it's kind of like a dialogue, and it was written that way, and the thing I added to it when I was drawing is all the business with the hot dog and the caviar. It wasn't something that I put in a thumbnail. I hope as I'm working on it that I can come up with these kind of sight gags that I can throw in. I'm hoping that that will make it less dry. I think other artists just start in with a piece of paper, and I'm sort of the opposite of that.



 
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