Reza Farazmand is the creator, writer, and illustrator of the popular online comic strip Poorly Drawn Lines (PDL for short). He began drawing the strip in college and has since expanded it into the web sensation that it is today. Currently residing in Los Angeles, Reza continues to work on PDL, along with several other writing projects. Despite what the strip’s name would have you think, Reza’s comics are anything but poorly drawn. His ability to express many unique shades humor with just a tiny amount of written and visual information is a rare talent, and requires much more thought and planning than the effortless laugh-ability of his comics indicate at first glance. Here are ten questions that grant a glimpse into Reza’s thoughts on the strip, and what he has planned next.
1. How does living in LA affect your drive to formulate new ideas?
LA is filled with creative people. It seems like everyone is doing something interesting. That type of environment can help motivate an artist or writer to create more. It can also lead to cool collaboration projects with like-minded people.
2. What cartoons did you grow up reading when you were younger? Do you still read them now?
I read the comic section in the newspaper back-to-back every Sunday. Some of my favorites were Pearls Before Swine, Get Fuzzy, Foxtrot, Peanuts, Brevity, and Rhymes With Orange. I also loved The Far Side and Matt Groening’s Life In Hell.
3. How many of Poorly Drawn Lines’ different characters and situations are influenced by people you admire outside of cartooning, such as authors, directors or comedians?
A lot of my work is informed by non-comic artists. Writing actual words is obviously a big part of cartooning, and I think my writing style has been influenced a good amount by some of my favorite authors. For a long time I wanted to write novels and short fiction (I still do), and I try to carry over that same voice into my visual work.
4. What are the advantages of drawing an animal character over a human one for setting up a joke?
In a lot of ways my animal and human characters are basically interchangeable. But sometimes it’s funnier to see a hamster having a mental breakdown than a human. I also just really like drawing animals. It lends variety to the comics.
5. Matt Groening has been known to say that in cartooning, the writing should come first, followed by simple visuals to accommodate that writing. Do you agree that too much visual information can degrade a joke?
I definitely feel that way about my own style. Too much background noise or detail can distract from a joke. Ultimately, though, it really depends on the artist. Some cartoonists can draw in an extremely dense and detailed style, but are still hilarious and only benefit from more visual information.
6. With a few exceptions, there are not consistent recurring characters in Poorly Drawn Lines. Do you want to start incorporating them, or does that jeopardize keeping the humor fresh?
I’ve started introducing more reoccurring characters in the past few months, and I’ve really enjoyed doing it. I’ll never make PDL a character or story-driven comic, but I’m not averse to using a few established characters in different strips. Mainly I want PDL to be accessible to anyone who finds it. I don’t want readers to have to familiarize themselves with a character to understand the latest comic. Any one of my comics should be able to stand alone as an individual strip.
7. One of your characters has been adapted into a comedy central show. Can you tell us a bit more about that?
The show is called TripTank, and it consists of a bunch of animated shorts written and developed by different artists. It is very funny. A few of my comics have been adapted for the first season, along with a couple of original sketches I wrote. The show was just picked up for a second season, and I’m looking forward to working on it again.
8. What other projects are you working on right now, or hope to start? Where can we find out more about them?
The biggest thing I’m working on right now is trying to get a book published. I want a collection of PDL comics in print form.
9. How do you handle writers block, or any other pressures to produce now that you have a sizable audience?
If I really can’t come up with anything, I’ll just take my mind off writing for a while and try to do other things. Sometimes I’ll doodle in my sketchbook until I accidentally draw something I like, and then try to build a comic off that. As for having an audience, I think it’s important to always write what you enjoy and not focus too much on trying to write for other people. My readers are really awesome and supportive anyway, and it only motivates me to create more when I see them enjoying my stuff.
10. If you made what you thought to be perfect comics, would you be okay burning them up or putting them in a place where they would never be seen? How important is getting a reaction from others?
I like knowing that people are going to see my work and react to it in some way. I’m drawing these things to make people laugh, after all. It’s definitely fulfilling on a personal level as well, and like I said before it’s important not to write too much for other people. But I’m always conscious of the fact that others are seeing my comics, and I definitely do want them to be seen.
Reza’s comics are all available at poorlydrawnlines.com
You can also follow him on Twitter @PDLComics