Artist Katie Cook Interview

Gronk, Dale, & Kitty by Katie Cook


See also: My Little Pony #1 review.

Recently, IDW‘s My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic #1 had over 90,000 pre-orders and many reviews and chatter all over the Interwebs. Hopefully this launch will be a big launch for our subject’s career. She’s the author of the webcomic Gronk. She’s also done sketch cards of the Indiana Jones, Lord of the Rings, and Star Wars franchises.

I gave a positive, although pun-laden, review of MLP #1. Katie Cook is very capable and with artist Andy Price, et al., the MLP of the funny pages is in the right hands.

This interview was done over chat Wednesday night.

Red-Headed Mule: Hey, Katie.
Katie Cook: Hello!

RHM: It must be a big day today for you.
KC: It’s been a little overwhelming!

RHM: How’s your husband?
KC: He’s off reading reviews for me. He’s under strict instruction to only tell me nice, fluffy things. (us cartoonists have tiny, fragile egos that can burst with just one “meh, it was bleh”)

RHM: Ah, I see. Has he read mine yet?
KC: I don’t know! He and I are going to sit down in a bit and go over things. I’m actually finishing up the lettering on friday’s gronk! I’m in my dungeon of a workspace… he’s upstairs where it’s warm. (but I did send him the link!)

RHM: Congrats on the launch of MLP & getting that new house!
KC: Thanks! The house was a long time coming. we’ve been looking for over a year (i work in a windowless basement right now. that will thankfully change!)

RHM: How many hours are you in there?
KC: Usually 8-12 hours a day…. more if i’m on deadline.
working for yourself AND having a kid mean I don’t sleep much.

Katie Cook's Detroit Comic Book Stores variant coverRHM: How did you research for MLP?
KC: I was already a fan of the show when I was approached for the comic… so my research was basically going back and watching every episode AGAIN… and again… and again… (no hard to do… I have a daughter. she helped)

RHM: That’s nice. What’s your favorite episode?
KC: “Lesson Zero”. Twilight and her manic list making/missing deadline phobia speaks to me on a level MLP shouldn’t.

RHM: Is it because that episode hit close to you as an self-employed artist? Was there a specific line spoken that resonated?
KC: I’ve been like that since CHILDHOOD… it’s just gotten worse as a self-employed person. I’m a list maker. I have lists for my lists. I have 7 lists in front of me right NOW. (and Twilight’s twitchy eye when she’s “failed” is what resonates with me)

RHM: Would you share one of your list titles?
KC: “Sub-list of things to pack for CA. Non-art specific”. That list basically is reminding me to pack a toothbrush and my iPad.

RHM: I hope you’re not as forgetful as I get when I’m stressed.
KC: That’s why I make lists! otherwise i’d forget everything.

RHM: That’s not a bad to do. We all need to keep tabs on our activities. You’ve been to San Diego, New York, and Chicago this year. What’s your favorite comic-related destination this year?
KC: I’ve been eeeeverywhere this year. but, one of my favorite shows is C2E2 in Chicago. Great creators, great crowds, great vibe. I also LOVED Seattle’s ECCC. It was my first year and I’m happily doing it again.

RHM: What cool stuff happened in Seattle?
KC: Lots of new fans I’d never met… probably the most fans of my webcomic i’ve ever had in one place.

RHM: Any interesting fans there, like cosplayers based on your work?
KC: Ha! Every blonde nerd girl on the planet is already dressed like Dale. I did get a great Gronk plush this year! I have a collection of fanart folks have given me, I love it when I get to see someone take on my characters.

Katie Cook (right) interview by YouTube uploader TurtleGirlIvey

RHM: Cool! How were you chosen to do the gallery in Chicago this December?
KC: I’ve been friends with the Challengers Comics crew for a while. It’s a great store… they asked if I was free in december to do the show. they’re amazing, so I said “yes”. I want to support them and they want to support me, it’s a win-win!

RHM: About MLP: did you have any contact with Hasbro?
KC: Most things went through bobby, the editor of the book and then on to Hasbro… but I’ve met some Hasbro folks that were really positive about what Andy and I were doing. I’ve also seen a lot of their comments on the books, they’ve been very supportive and positive.

RHM: Was there a list of do’s and don’ts given to you about what to do with the MLP characters?
KC: Nope… More of the general “keep it in the show”. I never tried to push something the show itself wouldn’t have done.

RHM: That’s good, because I did notice a little dig at mules. I couldn’t let that slide. :P *cough* *cough*
KC: HA. That mule is actually my husband, ryan! The unibrow and the gardening hat are kinda’ his signature thing ;) (He’s not a pony fan, so the dig is at him… not mules in general)

RHM: Wow! What were the discussions between you and Andy like?
KC: I’ve known Andy as a friend for years… so we very openly communicated. Mostly, he sent me texts saying “I have to draw WHAT” and some insults (loving insults). We work great together.

RHM: So you did a full script?
KC: Yep. Lots of descriptions with the dialogue. The curse of me being an artist is I had to describe, in detail, what I envisioned for panels. Andy was allowed to ignore that or run with it.

RHM: Do you like any of the covers other than your own?
KC: I love ’em all… but I love the jill thompson one the most. (because she’s jill thompson and she did a cover for a book I wrote. she’s been an inspiration to me for years)

RHM: Do you have Fluttershy-like anxieties at the drawing board?
KC: Nope! Drawing is what I DO. Writing is what sends me into a tizzy.

RHM: How many issues have you scripted?
KC: 4 so far. More to come.

RHM: What’s more nerve-wracking? Doing the beginning of an arc or the end of an arc?
KC: The middle. You need to cram it full of interesting stuff to get you to the exciting end.

RHM: In the middle, would you be more concerned about the plot or handling the characters?
KC: Both. You want to make sure everything connects to the end point while still keeping every character engaging and fresh.

RHM: So, for example, I think there’s more to do with Twilight Sparkle and Applejack who can drive action than with Fluttershy who could become a one-note gag in the wrong hands. Do you agree with this?
KC: All of the ponies have their challenges… Fluttershy is the one that I think can be the hardest to “get in there” because she’s not up for the fight (usually).

Twilight Sparkle in action. Video by YouTube uploader shiropoint.

RHM: If a Hollywood producers want a pitch for Gronk the Movie in 10 seconds, what would the pitch be?
KC: An introvert that lives in a cabin in the woods befriends a cute monster that changes her life. It’s like suddenly having a little kid tossed at you and getting to revisit the world through their innocent, curious eyes (and the kid happens to be snarky).

RHM: That might be quirky enough to work. :) Again, congrats on your successes. You have any final words or thoughts.
KC: There’s a pic I use in the about me section of (It’s a cartoon of myself). Thanks so much for the interview! Nothing really to add… if you have any follow-ups, just e-mail me!

RHM: Sure, I will. Thank you.
KC: Cheers!


Thanks, Katie! She and Andy Price will be at Beach Ball Comics in Anaheim December 1st. Find Katie at Challengers Comics in Chicago on 14 December where she’ll hold her own gallery show.

Find her at her official web site, her Twitter page @KatieCanDraw, and DeviantArt, among others. Her original webcomic, Gronk, can be purchased in book form. My Little Pony #1 available now in comic book shops, where available, and at Comixology for 399 cents.

Author: Clarence

Webmaster, editor, writer of Red-Headed Mule. RHM was founded in 2011. Currently is liking British TV better than U.S. TV, mayhaps.