In an age where tech gadgets seem to be part of every aspect of our lives, how great would it be to have a channel-surfing robotic dog? Well move over Snoopy, there’s a new top dog taking over the funny pages that’s part canine part PC. Meet Bleeker: The Rechargeable Dog, a comic strip that chronicles the friendship between a boy and his robotic dog Bleeker, who not only fetches the newspaper but is a walking cell phone, iPod, camera and GPS all rolled into one nifty, barking device (that does not shed!).
Bleeker may be new to the comic pages, but he has already generated a huge following thanks to the unconventional thinking of the strip’s creator Jonathan Mahood who decided to launch the strip online. Four years and thousands of tech savvy followers later, Bleeker has now caught the eye of King Features Syndicate, who is introducing the strip to a broader audience of families and kids through daily newspapers across the country. I know I cannot wait to read Bleeker along with my regular daily dose of Dilbert and Foxtrot
GeekDad Interview with Bleeker creator, Jonathan Mahood
GeekDad: Here is a basic question that has interested me in this new digital age; how do you draw your comics? Is there a special tool that you use?
Jonathan Mahood: I still draw mostly old school. I use blue pencil first and then go over it with pen and ink. After I scan the comic I knock out the blue pencil and color it in Photoshop. I’ve tried drawing digitally but I think I would need a Wacom Cintiq for that. Lately I’ve had fun drawing on my iPad but it still doesn’t replace real ink. Nothing flows (or smears) like good old ink.
GD: Where does your character(s) come from? Have you been doodling Bleeker sketches since childhood?
JM: I’ve been drawing comics since I was a kid but I created Bleeker and launched him online about 5 years ago. At the time I kind of joked that I had two constant, loyal companions…my dog and my iPod. Also around that time I was seeing news stories about parents using cell phones to keep track of their kids. I figured it would be funny to combine them into a super gadget/robot that did double duty as a traditional pet and as a parental monitoring device. Since I’m also a bit of a gadget junkie, I really wanted to tap into the world of consumer electronics, with all of the apps, accessories and constant upgrades. It’s impossible to run out of story ideas! Plus, who wouldn’t want to have a robot sidekick?
GD: Is there a major influence from any other cartoonist?
JM: I was influenced by a lot of different cartoonists and comedians. Definitely Bloom County and Doonesbury were favorites when I was a teenager. Seeing classic comics like Krazy Kat really opened my eyes as did Pogo. Also shows like SCTV and guys like Bob Newhart were big influences.
GD: How long does it take for a regular strip?
JM: Each daily comic takes about 3 hours from start to finish. Sunday comics take and hour or two longer.
GD: How and where do you get your ideas for content?
JM: From blogs like GeekDad! Robot and gadget blogs are a great source for me. For instance, when the iPhone 4 reception problem was in the news, I gave Bleeker a similar issue and the matching rubber bumper as well. Also, every time I buy a new gadget or game I get a ton of new material. It’s a great excuse to update my gear. “…it’s research!”
GD: If you took Bleeker animated, who do you see as doing the characters’ vocals? No Bill Murray right?
JM: Yowza! That’s a tough one! Animation would be a lot of fun but thinking of the characters with real voices (not just the ones in my head) makes me kind of squirm. I think I’ll cross
that bridge when I come to it (….although meeting Bill Murray would be a blast!)
GD: What is next for you?
JM: Since Bleeker just launched with King Features Syndicate in January, all of my focus is on the comic right now. I have an idea for a graphic novel but so far it’s still at the concept stage. I just need a few more days in the week!
GD: Anything else you would like to add?
JM: I wish someone out there would build a working Bleeker…I could really use one!
I bet if anyone could build a working Bleeker, it would be a fan of GeekDad. To see more of Bleeker: The Rechargeable Dog visit BleekerComics.com
Special thanks to Jonathan Mahood for the custom GeekDad Bleeker!