I’m so pleased to announce our next guest. He’s the creator of one of my favourite comic strips and we’re honoured to say that this is his FIRST comic con!

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Please welcome Piers Baker, creator of Ollie and Quentin.

How did you start the strip?

The RNLI (Royal National Lifeboat Institution) asked me to create a comic strip for their children’s magazine using their character ‘Stormy Stan the Lifeboatman”. I realised quite quickly that he needed a sidekick to bounce ideas off. Seeing as the comic was set out at sea the obvious choice was a seagull. Thus Ollie was born. As his character developed I felt he too needed his own sidekick. As an homage to all the poor lugworms I’d used as bait in my sea fishing days I chose one as the new character and named him Quentin after my youngest brother.

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How did the syndication with King Features come about?

I’d been working on ‘Ollie and Quentin’ for many years and didn’t want to submit it for consideration until I felt it was strong enough. They receive 6,000 submissions a year and only launch one or two new features so I could only send them something I was really happy with. I decided a long time ago to take the slow, steady approach. My plan was to get a weekly strip running in a few small U.K. papers and then see if a daily version was possible. I’d say it took three years or 150 strips before I felt the strip was ready. As King Features is the world’s premier cartoon syndication company, I thought I’d aim high and start there. I sent a submission of about 30 comic strips to them in the summer of 2006 and heard back in October when I’d completely forgotten about it. That phone call was the happiest and most exciting moment of my cartooning career.

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How has O&Q gone down in the US, and what plans do you have in store for them in this country?

To be honest it hasn’t connected with the US audience. British readers love it so I see it’s future this side of the pond. At the moment I am busy on a completely different cartoon project. I am a partner in a whiteboard animation business called Doodle Ads which takes up all my time. However I see this only being a short to medium term enterprise and will return to Ollie and Quentin as soon as I can. The biggest surprise in creating the comic was how much I enjoyed the writing. Spending an hour or so in a coffee shop doodling in my sketchbook until a joke emerged is so much fun. I’d always seen myself as a cartoonist first but actually it’s the writing that I really love.

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What else are you working on/planning?

As I mentioned above I draw the cartoons for Doodle Ads. We create quick draw whiteboard animation videos. Here’s a link to our website which has a good example on the home page: http://doodle-ads.co.uk/ Years ago I noticed how people loved watching me draw if I was sitting in a public place. Before long there’d be an audience stood behind me watching what I was doodling. Watching an artist is very engaging and from a business point of view if you can engage your audience you can get your message across to them. That’s what we do.

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How do you go about creating a comic strip?

I know the characters so well. I can throw them into any situation and I know how they’ll react. Sometimes I just think of an item (say, a ladder) and see what happens when I give it to them. I also try to create spontaneity in my writing. By that I mean I write quickly in the hope that something witty will pop into my head in the same way it might if I were chatting around a table with friends.

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What can we expect from you at this year’s NCC?

This sounds terrible but I’ve not been to a ComicCon before so I am not sure what to expect myself. I’ll bring along some Ollie and Quentin books and merchandise but I expect this will be a huge learning curve for me. I’ll do some doodling of course.

Make sure you get a hold of Piers’s book and sketches!!