Written by Bakersfield Magazine
Name: Ray Friesen
Birthplace: Los Angeles, CA
Title: Cartoonist; Author; Publisher
How he got started: Friesen likes to say that his professional career started at age 4, when he was first paid to draw something. The truth is, he’s been a doodler and a lover of comics his entire life—which led him to draw and sell his own comic in 7th grade. “Of course, I made all my friends buy it,” he joked. Then, a trip to Comic-Con cemented his desire to immerse himself in the comic (and business) world.
Career highlights: At age 16, Friesen was nominated for the prestigious Ignatz Award for promising new talent. “I’d consider it the Golden Globes of the comic world,” Friesen said with a chuckle. He’s also been featured by the American Library Association numerous times. And while at his booth at Comic-Con, he’s also been introduced to a number of famous graphic artists, major celebrities (like Leonardo DiCaprio), and cartoonists. He’s even spent time at Disney Studios, Cartoon Network, and Nickelodeon Studios, where he was asked to develop a series.
His heroes: “Without a doubt, meeting Matt Groening was a big honor,” Friesen said of one of his heroes in the industry. He was invited to visit the studios of The Simpsons comic book in L.A. and he’s become friends with the animators and cartoonists there. He actually submitted an original comic and it was included in an issue. But Friesen also admires old comic book creators from the 1920s and ‘30s.
His favorite part of the industry: Naturally, it’s the creativity. But the friendships he’s made with other cartoonists and authors, including famous British author Terry Pratchett, has to be counted as a major perk. “There’s a lot of collaboration,” he said. For instance, Pratchett asked him to do some illustrative and graphic design work for him, including shirts and sculptures. “In this industry, you can be a writer and an artist...it’s the best.”
What he’d still like to accomplish: Friesen started his own publishing company, Don’t Eat Any Bugs, in 2005, and he’s since put out thousands of works from other cartoonists. But he’s got his own book deals to work on, too. He has a three-book deal with Top Shelf Productions (the first of which, Pirate Penguin Vs. Ninja Chicken: Trouble With Frenemies came out in June of 2011). “I’m still just looking to grow the business,” he added. And have fun, of course.
Article appeared in our 28-6 Issue - February 2012