Amanda the Great

10 With Tom
10 questions in 10 minutes

I’m a big fan of Amanda El-Dweek’s daily comic strip, “Amanda the Great.” It started appearing on the GoComics website in November, that’s when I first noticed it.

Amanda

Amanda El-Dweek

TOM: I noticed all the strips are in black and white, in this age of full color webcomics, why black and white? (which I like, just asking).

AMANDA: Two reasons: I like the look of the black and white contrast (I also use an ink wash for gray tones). The other thing is, coloring is kind of piddly work, and I’m unsure I’d ever get done with the strips if I had to color them!

The comics I read growing up were black and white (newspaper comics), and I always thought they were so singularly beautiful that way.

TOM: Are all the stories/adventures true to life? Did they all happen to you or are some fiction and just there for the enjoyment of readers?

AMANDA: The story is my real life, and the timeline starts about a year before my husband and I were married. (I drew the comics this past year, but they are set in late 2012/early 2013 so far.)

Most of the things I draw did actually happen – sometimes I have to paraphrase things, and sometimes I have to kind of re-format how things happened in order for it to make sense in a three-or-four-panel comic strip format. Some of it is verbatim because if it was something funny, I wrote it down in a notebook, which is fortunate because sometimes I am a poor historian.

But – all of the events are real, and the characters are real. (Except the alter-egos, natch.)

TOM: Is “Amanda the Great” created digitally? Or do you draw with pen and ink?

AMANDA: I create Amanda the Great using smooth Bristol paper, a pencil, ink, brushes, and a Kuretake brush pen for the letters. I use an ink wash for the gray scale. Then I dust off the cat hair and scan them in.

TOM: Who were/are your comic/cartoon influences?

AMANDA: My first comic book was a Garfield book, and I also read a lot of Archie comics – I really tried to emulate these two when I first started drawing (I was pretty young). When I was old enough to pay attention to the newspaper, my favorites were Cathy, Calvin & Hobbes, The Far Side, and Foxtrot. My grandma always had those Peanuts, B.C., and Wizard of Id paperbacks around, which I enjoyed. I think Luann was in a girls’ teen magazine when I was young, which is the first place I had seen it.

All of these different comics kind of shaped how I wanted to do things, and how I wrote comics when I was younger. They still do, to some degree.

I enjoy character development – I always liked how the characters aged in For Better or For Worse.  They experienced things as we do – the circle of life, death of charcters (Farley!), et cetera.

I have read here and there that some cartoonists won’t read other comics because maybe they don’t want the impact on their own stuff, but I don’t know – I think we were all inspired early on by someone’s work.

TOM: Which comic strip, other than your own would you like to crawl into and visit for the day?

AMANDA: I’d love to be in a Cul de Sac or Wallace the Brave comic strip – they have such beautiful backgrounds! My comics lack this feature, usually – haha!  They are so beautifully drawn and colored. I want big curly hair like Viola’s (Cul de Sac) – mine isn’t big enough.

TOM: How far ahead do you work?

AMANDA: I should be further along, but right now I have strips drawn through March, and possibly into April? I need to hustle more!

TOM: Who is the most famous person you have ever met?

AMANDA: If you mean in real life, I met Ron Campbell at an art gallery in Bismarck, North Dakota – he was an animator for the Yellow Submarine movie. I don’t have much opportunity to see famous folks where I live, so that was cool!

TOM: What song would be the theme of your life?

AMANDA: Oh boy, Tom. I’ve thought a lot about it, and I don’t know that I can come up with one. I think my themes sometimes change.

TOM: Biggest fear?

AMANDA: I think it’s a tie between spiders, and everything else.

TOM: Superpower if you had one?

AMANDA: It’s hard to pick just one, isn’t it? I’d like something akin to the Force, but I’d just be tempted to use it Dark Side-style once in a while, so I probably shouldn’t have it.

Thank you Amanda!

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Images courtesy GoComics

Kim, Willie and Andrew

10 With Tom
10 questions in 10 minutes

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Kim Zolciak-Biermann (Photo: BravoTV), Willie Geist (photo: NBC) Andrew Farago (Photo: Amy Osborne)

I’ve been pumping out a bunch of 10 With Tom’s for the Huffington Post, so rather than post them all separately here, I’ll link to the Huff Post instead.

I recently interviewed Andrew Farago, who has one of the coolest careers as the curator of the Cartoon Art Museum in San Francisco. You can see that interview at the Huffington Post here.

Willie Geist, NBC newsman is one of my favorites. You can see his 10 With Tom here.

And Kim Zolciak-Biermann, who rose to fame in 2008 as one of the Real Housewives of Atlanta can be seen here.

10 things you didn’t know about best-selling author Brad Meltzer

10 With Tom
10 questions in 10 minutes

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Brad and his two new children’s books. Photos courtesy Brad Meltzer.

Brad Meltzer is a well known, best selling novelist who writes political thrillers and non-fiction. He’s also a comic book author, having written for DC Comics’ Green Arrow, also Superman/Batman, Justice League of America series, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and so many more. Brad is also well-known from his excellent TV shows, “Brad Meltzer’s Decoded” and “Brad Meltzer’s Lost History.”

He has two new children’s books out, “I am Jane Goodall,” and “I am George Washington,” also “The House of Secrets.”

I asked Brad the 10 With Tom questions. Here they are:

TOM: I see you were one of the entertainers at Barbara Bush’s 90th birthday party. What did you do to entertain the guests?
BRAD: The only thing I know how to do: Tell stories.

TOM: Who would you rather be Batman or Superman? Why?
BRAD: Batman. He’ll never win. He’ll never stop crime. He’ll never bring back his dead parents. But he’ll never stop fighting. Superman is who we wish we were, but Batman is who we know we really are. We all fight a losing battle every day. But we never stop.

TOM: I watch “Lost History,” your History H2 show. If only one piece of lost history could be found, which would you prefer it be?
BRAD: The 9/11 flag. That’s the one.

NOTE: Good News! Looks like the flag was finally located thanks to Brad’s determination!

TOM: Favorite junk food?
BRAD: Ice cream. Scooped ice cream at Haagen Dazs for four years. Still never tire of it.

TOM: Which comic strip would you love to jump into and spend the day?
BRAD: Calvin & Hobbes.

TOM: Last show you binge watched?
BRAD: Stranger Things.

TOM: Word of the moment
BRAD: Sad.

TOM: I was hesitant to ask why.

TOM: If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?
BRAD: Hawaii.

TOM: Last book you read, other than your own.
BRAD: Southern Bastards by Jason Aaron.

TOM: What did you have for breakfast today?
BRAD: Blueberries and granola. But I tell my brain it’s Count Chokula.

Thanks, Brad!

10 things you didn’t know about newsman Ayman Mohyeldin

10 With Tom
10 questions in 10 minutes

Ayman Mohyeldin, shown here, is one of my favorites at MSNBC. I love saying his name, but even more than that, he is an excellent newsman, whether he is traveling the world or anchoring behind the desk. I had a chance to ask Ayman the 10 With Tom questions, here they are:

aymanTOM: You travel a lot, how many miles do you think you’ve gone this year?
AYMAN: I think I’ve made it around the world at least twice so far.

TOM: Favorite location to visit?
AYMAN: With all the traveling I do… Home is my favorite location to visit.

TOM: You must have some airport or travel secrets?
AYMAN: I could make millions with the travel secrets I’ve learned. How much are you willing to pay? I can get you through any airport pretty easily…wait, is TSA going to read this?

TOM: Do you prefer anchoring the news or being out in the field reporting?
AYMAN: My heart will always be in the field. But anchoring is a mental challenge as well. They both have advantages and disadvantages. I am a huge foodie, so field food was not good on my waistline. I pretty much ate my way through life when I was field reporting.

TOM: Favorite season. And why?
AYMAN: Summer. More reasons to be lazy.

TOM: Do you believe in Bigfoot?
AYMAN: No.

TOM: I really thought he would.

TOM: What song would you sing for your American Idol audition?
AYMAN: No Sleep Till Brooklyn

TOM: What did you have for breakfast today?
AYMAN: Iced Coffee and a cheese Man’ousha (google it and thank me later).

TOM: What’s something you always wanted to do as a child but never got to do?
AYMAN: Go to band camp.

TOM: What are two things you would do if you woke up to find yourself completely invisible?
AYMAN: I would sit in on a few high level meetings at the Oval office between world leaders specially some specific country leaders. And I would definitely crash the finals of the World Cup.

Thanks, Ayman! Good sport.

Ask or you won’t get

I’ve been doing this 10 With Tom interview thing here and for the Huffington Post, and I’ve noticed something interesting with the people I interview. They are not shy about asking for changes to the questions, content or even publication dates. I’ve been interviewed many times myself and it never dawned on me to ask for anything, except a few years ago, I would ask publications to refer to me as Tom Falco, cartoonist, rather than writer or editor.

I’ve had subjects for 10 With Tom ask me to remove certain things and to replace certain questions and to change a word here or there and to even publish on certain dates to coincide with something they were promoting. I don’t mind, I’m not doing investigative journalism, so I’m glad to do it, but I learned from these successful people to ask for what you want.

I used to have a boss so many years ago. He used to tell us in the advertising department of the newspaper we worked for, “Ask or you won’t get. Ask 10 people and maybe one will say yes.”  Words to live by.

10 things you didn’t know about The Vamipre Diaries’ Daniel Newman

10 With Tom
10 questions in 10 minutes

daniel-newmanDaniel Newman is best known for his TV roles on The Vampire Diaries, Heroes, Homeland, One Tree Hill, Drop Dead Diva7th Heaven and soon The Walking Dead. He was a Calvin Klein, Tommy Hilfiger and Louis Vuitton model when photographer Bruce Weber discovered him. His musical work appeared on the Twilight soundtrack. The seventh season of The Walking Dead TV series hinted at Daniel playing the part of Richard, working security with The Kingdom’s leader, Ezekiel. Fans are excited for the series’ season 7 premier on October 28, 2016.

I had the chance to ask Daniel the 10 With Tom questions. He has an excellent sense of humor and loves his fans friends.

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TOM: Which show did you have the most fun on – The Vampire Diaries, The Walking Dead or Heroes.
DANIEL: Is this a yes or no only interview? Rapid fire? Lol.. well I’m gonna fuckin fail this then. Ha. Vampire Diaries was awesome in the fact that my Twitter jumped up 300,000 fans after it, with the most amazing kids from all over the world. And they all bought my album on iTunes and sold out all my concerts so to go from a broke waiter bartender to selling out places was mind boggling. That wouldn’t have happened without it. To still get so many messages daily from kids in Europe, Egypt, Russia, Dubai, Japan, USA, Philippines, and hardcore in South America. They just love that show so it was a privilege.

But joining Walking Dead has been a whole new level. My role’s only barely been revealed so far, but the network used my character’s images for so much press and publicity for this new season, so a ton of people on the streets here in the US have come up to me to talk and on airplanes. I’ve never had that before. I was just trying to build my tech company this year, so a couple random lucky breaks and tons and tons of hard work have been a huge blessing this year. I was amazed after I was revealed on the finale half a million new people followed me on Twitter and Instagram, and all write to me about their families and lives and cool stuff. Blown away by all the love and excitement they have for my character and the plot this season.

The show is Iconic, and the cast and creators have created such a worshiped legendary series that people are so invested in and love, it’s really an honor to be able to be a part of it.

TOM: You are great about following fans back on social media. Why do that? Isn’t that a lot of “voices” coming at you at once when you follow almost 600,000 on Twitter alone?
DANIEL: I don’t have any fans. They’re friends. We’re all equal people. The reason I try my best to follow so many people back is, a couple of my heroes I admire followed me on Twitter and I got the biggest thrill out of it. I know it’s so stupid and silly but for some reason I just felt like I was “connected” to them, and mattered to them. It’s the smallest little gesture of respect and connection. I realized how special and powerful it is. And it only takes a second to acknowledge someone in real life. Smile at them or shake a hand and listen. And sometimes it means the world to people. Inspires people. Or just makes them have a happy moment they’ll manifest positivity that day to other people. It was so simple and silly, but really meant a lot to me. So that left an impression with me and I wanted to give that feeling to everyone that follows me. So whenever someone that’s following me writes to me, I just click the follow button back.

TOM: You went to Yale for a bit, what did you major in?
DANIEL: Trouble.

TOM: Who would you rather be, Batman or Superman. Why?
DANIEL: Method man. Or Ginger man. Uber man. Venmo man. Elon Muskman. There’s so many legendary people right now reinventing life, industries, societies. I’m far more fascinated with modern revolutionaries changing the political and socioeconomic landscapes. It’s magical to be able to steal glimpses into the hidden secret worlds of our generation’s leaders. Especially the ones that think they’re incognito with no one the wiser as they puppet master global change. So much is happening right now, and with the internet, everything is right under your nose, you just have to know where to look and what you’re searching for, and it’s all exposed. I’m kind of a fin-tech nerd.

TOM: Last shows you binge watched?
DANIEL: House of Cards, Homeland, Narcos, Queen of the South, Golden Girls

TOM: Favorite season
DANIEL: The other one

TOM: What did you have for breakfast?
DANIEL: Peanut butter and banana sandwich with mayonnaise and a Redbull

TOM: Favorite beer/cocktail
DANIEL: Sober for years. I mastered that class. Was everything, then just tequila in the end. But I died in 2009 when I was walking through an intersection and a drunk driver ran a red light and ran over me at about 50 mph and left me dead. Fortunately I was right by a hospital and witnesses got the ambulance there in minutes to revive me and after a coma and years of surgeries and physical therapy they got me back to brand new. I feel incredible with only a couple tiny scars on my knee and elbow. Huge miracle. Gave me a clear focus and purpose and passion for people and great hard work.

TOM: I see you’re the only Walking Dead cast member who’s been featured nude before. You’re on the cover of the international hit art campaign REDHOT100 absolutely naked. After they featured Olympic athletes and the top 100 celebrity redheads, and you were featured on Connan Obrien, GQ, vogue, BBC, and pretty much all the press and news worldwide. Congrats. How did that happen?
DANIEL: I was honored to be picked. I love how they fight against bullying and teach people to love themselves the way they are. It’s a cool cause all going to the Anti Bullying Alliance, and I was amazed to get the cover and be in all the art galleries. Besides, it’s pretty humbling being in the company of Olympians and this group. I’m definitely proud of it.

TOM: If you could remake a classic movie, which would it be?
DANIEL: Goonies? Indian Jones? Porkies? Flashdance? Haha ok maybe not.

Thanks, Daniel! Good sport. We’ll be watching for you in The Walking Dead!

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The queen of reality tv

10 With Tom
10 questions in 10 minutes

Glenda Hersh 1Glenda Hersh shown here, is an Emmy award winning producer and co-president and CEO of True Entertainment and Original Media, two leading producers of reality tv. True was taken over by Endemol which makes me laugh because I had a friend who worked for Endemol in Miami and he would always tell me to come and pitch some of my reality show ideas that I had. I never did, but it’s almost coming full circle with Glenda doing 10 With Tom today.

TOM: You produce the Real Housewives of Atlanta and Real Housewives of Potomac, but not the others (NY, NJ, OC, Beverly Hills, Melbourne, etc.). How do they have that same flavor and look if they are done by different production companies?
GLENDA: What makes the franchise so great is that each location has its own distinctive personality, but they all share a similar grammar and feel.

TOM: Of all the housewife shows, which would you like to be a part of if you had to, not including your own?
GLENDA: I would love to be a part of my own [RHOA and RHOP], because I am so proud of them. However, if I had to choose another location it would Beverly Hills because the weather is better.

TOM: What would be your housewife opening tagline?
GLENDA: “You can sleep when you’re dead.”

TOM: You also produce Don’t Be Tardy, Vanity Fair Confidential, Hack My Life, A Baby Story and Trauma: Life in the ER, and Mystery Diagnosis. Original Media’s series include renowned Ink Master and spin-off Ink Master: Redemption, Swamp People, Dual Survival, Comic Book Men, and I Love You…But I Lied. That is some lineup, when do you sleep and what do you do for relaxation?
GLENDA: I am also married with a 7-year-old son, so sleep is not a huge part of my life. But I do run off to my lake house for relaxation when I can.

TOM: Ink Master is back for its 8th season on August 23 on Spike TV. Do you have any tattoos yourself?
GLENDA: I don’t have any tattoos personally, but I am a huge fan of the art.

TOM: Last show you binge-watched?
GLENDA: House of Cards

TOM: Breaking Bad or Better Call Saul?
GLENDA: Breaking Bad

TOM: Favorite city you have lived in?
GLENDA: New York City

TOM: Last song you listened to?
GLENDA: “I Took a Pill in Ibiza,” by Mike Posner.

TOM: Glenda, interesting name. Were you named after someone?
GLENDA: I don’t know what my mother was thinking. I can’t say that it was easy as a kid, but as an adult I love it. I rarely have to use my last name; how many Glendas do you know?

Thanks Glenda! Check out some of Glenda’s work when Ink Master returns to Spike TV with a new season on Tuesday, August 23 at 10 pm eastern time.