An in-depth interview with cartoonist Bill Holbrook was broadcast on WMLB-AM1160 on Saturday, Jan. 28. Holbrook chatted about his life and work with Bryce Maxim, a graduate of The Atlanta Broadcast Institute and recent addition to the AM1160 staff, who hosts "Backstage Atlanta" every other week. WMLB, dubbed "The Voice of The Arts in Atlanta," offers fans the opportunity to listen online at its Web site at www.am1160.net. To listen to the interview, click below to download the MP3 file.
Click here to listen to Bill Holbrook's interview.
It was while doing editorial cartoons for a newspaper going through a difficult merger that artist Bill Holbrook found the material for his first successful syndicated comic strip, "On the Fastrack".
Holbrook was born in Los Angeles in 1958, and grew up in Huntsville, Ala., after his father was transferred to work in the space program.
According to his mother, he started his career as an artist by drawing on the household walls. Holbrook sketched even during classes at school.
"I would draw a cartoon based on what the teacher was saying, and it would go around the class until the teacher confiscated it," he recalls. "It would get laughs from the class, and laughs from the teacher, too."
One teacher remained angry until he realized that Holbrook was drawing cartoons based on the material presented in class.
"He realized I was paying attention," Holbrook says.
Holbrook majored in fine arts at Auburn University in Alabama. While a college student, he created his first comic strip in 1979. The strip was rejected everywhere he submitted it. But he was having editorial cartoons published regularly in The Huntsville Times and The Monroe Journal.
After graduation, Holbrook joined the Journal and Constitution in Atlanta as an editorial staff artist. But his ambition remained to do a syndicated strip of his own.
During a 1982 visit to relatives on the West Coast, Holbrook met with "Peanuts" cartoonist Charles Schulz. The comic-strip legend advised him to continually work on comic strip ideas, "weeding out the bad, keeping the good, rather than waiting for one big concept."
Armed with that advice, Holbrook created a strip in the fall of that year about a college grad working in a run-down diner. It did not stir syndicate interest, but what he learned on the strip helped the young cartoonist create his first winner, On the Fastrack.
Eleven days before Fastrack made its syndicated debut; Holbrook met Teri Peitso on a blind date. They were married on Pearl Harbor Day, 1985, and now have two daughters, Chandler and Haviland. Teri is an accomplished writer; her first mystery, "A Far and Deadly Cry," was published by Bantam Books in 1995 and was nominated for an Agatha Award (named after mystery writer Agatha Christie) for Best First Novel. The family lives in the Atlanta area.
In September 1995, Holbrook began a strip called "Kevin & Kell," and sold it exclusively to on-line clients. Kevin & Kell are a rabbit and wolf, respectively, married to each other, with three children and stepchildren. Readers can access the strip at http://www.reuben.org/holbrook/kevkel.html.
There are three books of collected On the Fastrack strips. "How to Get on the Fastrack" was published by Perigee Books, a division of Putnam. "On the Mommy Track" was published by Avon Books.
The latest collection, "On the Fastrack: Spore 2.0," is available for purchase through Plan Nine Books. Visit the Web site for Plan Nine books at http://shop1.got.net/plan9/Search.bok?category=Bill+Holbrook.