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This interview was conducted by the now defunct, appeared on that web site during 2001-2004, and was SO LONG even Rik fell asleep reading it! So this is EDITED FOR LENGTH (and outdated news topics).

Rik Livingston: Interview

DC: Who Are You? Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Photo by Kirsten Hepburn

Rik: I was born in a really small Kansas town. Think Superboy's Smallville, or Andy Griffith's Mayberry.
Actually, I look a lot like Don Knotts, the actor who played Deputy Fife on that show. Except I'm more slender and my eyes stick out more.

Say, you ever wonder what would happen if Barney Fife and Gilligan got into a fight, like on WWF Wrestling? Whatta match, eh? Another thing about me is that I have a short attention span. What was the question?

Oh yeah, fast forward many years: I had to beat off the girls, of course, since I looked so much like a famous movie star. Eventually, I wound up in San Francisco, where I got a Master's Degree from "the oldest art school west of the Mississippi", the San Francisco Art Institute. I'm very proud of this fact because when ever anyone questions the strange stuff I draw or paint, I can say, "Hey, Philistine, I hava piece o' paper here, from a very established institution, SEZ I know esthetics!" Let's me get away with almost anything: You wouldn't believe all the galleries I've tricked into hanging what is essentially junk and trash that I screwed together and painted on! And those scribbles I call cartoons! Hah! Got those published, too! And despite all the affronts to cultured people everywhere, the Art Institute STILL hasta say, "Yeah, (sigh) we gave him that Artistic License..."

DC: Why do you draw Cartoons?

Rik: You'll probably be sorry you asked this question. I could talk for hours on this subject, and HAVE when I've taught Comic Book Illustration courses at the Academy of Art college and elsewhere. To put it in layman's terms: Comics are like making a tv show or movie without having to water down your dream by committee.You can use technology to view it, but you don't HAVE to have a machine to enjoy it because it can just be printed on paper and then you can carry this movie around with you ANYWHERE, on the bus, in the john, sneak it inside of your textbook - read it over and over and only pay for it once! Try doing that at the movie theatre - they'll throw you out! If you do use technology to view it, it's relatively cheap to make a TV 'toon, especially if it's something where you'd otherwise be paying for elaborate sets or special effects. (Of course, with TV you DO start getting into the whole committee-mind thing.) Or if it's on the web, most of the files can be made to download fast. You CAN use Flash or Shockwave to animate it, and we'll be seeing a lot more of that, but you don't HAVE to, because the human mind is hardwired to make the pictures "move" - we can even "hear" sounds and dialogue!

But mostly I make comics because, darn it!, I'm a good *American*! Yes, comics are one of the few truly indigenous *American* art forms! Sure, we've treated it like a big-eared, bow-legged, bastard child but it's inner, pure light has come shining through, not just from sea to shining sea, but beyond - to Japan where they call it "Magna" and venerate it by drawing lots of panels with half naked pubescent girls - to France, where they draw such good comics that it makes us look bad, but they just do that because they're French and LIKE to offend! And all over the, what was the question?

DC: What inspires you; what other comics do you look at?

Rik: As you may have guessed, there's very few main stream cartoonists doing strips that interest me greatly. Those that I like and come closest to main stream are Bizarro, Kaz, Dangle, Tom Tomorrow, Tom the Dancing Bug, etc. I read a lot of comikz material, though, besides syndicated strips. I've got a huge library of comic books ("Corporate companies", alternative, and Underground), comic strip collections, art books, picture books, etc. Current comic book creators I groove on are: Ware, Allred, "Ribs" Weisman, Sala, "Howdy Pardner". There's a LOT of, unfortunately underdistributed, but very good stuff out there. TOP SHELF does some. ROBOT does some. LAST GASP.COM is a distributor of a lot of it.

DC: Your cartoons, feel politically motivated! What are your views?

Rik: No, no, naw. I'm NOT a political cartoonist. In fact, I'm not even very political. Politikz makez me very depressed when I'm around them for too long. I do vote, EVERY TIME, but I actually see very little difference between DemoFarts and RepubliNixons. Anything that looks political in my comikz is really just me noting some absurd situation in which folks have been placed.

DC: Have you ever sniffed glue?

Rik: You're supposed to sniff it? All this time I've been taking it orally! (Sticks to the ribs).

DC: Where do you think your comics need the most improvement?

Rik: Where? In Kansas. Seriously, it's my old home state and the one paper that carried ZONO Comikz shut down. It'd be an improvement for my comics to be published in my original friggin' home state. And it'd be an improvement for Kansas, 'cuz they REALLY need something like ZONO. (Remember this is the state where Bob Dole was elected over and over.)

DC: Actually,I mean in what area, like artistic, humour, etc.!

Rik: OK, OK, I'm a cartoonist - I'm SUPPOSED to make jokes! But, really, I DID answer you: I need the most improvement in the areas of distribution and marketing! I'm always trying to improve my writing and art in every way, but it's the business side of things that gives me fits!!

DC: What's your favorite animal?

Rik: The Bison. (That's Kansas' state animal. I figured if I said somethin' nice about Kansas, they might publish me again.)

DC: Any advice you want to leave the readers of this wonderful interview?

Rik: Really, if they've made it through this long interview, they've gotten more than just my 2 worth! Like I've said, I'm not really a political cartoonist, and I'm not trying to preach to anyone, just trying to tell the truth, as I see it. If I inspire any others to stay solid and do the same, and that makes things a little better, then, no punch line here - I'm happy!!