Dogs and Cartoons–The perfect concoction for happy times
Meet illustrator Debra Sifen. She’s a famous cartoonist and captures small joys of life on tiny comic strips. Her recent work in Hair of the Dog comics is a delight to read. Take a trip back and relive those 90s nostalgia with this fun-filled comic series.
Tell us a little more about your love for cartoons and dogs.
I have always loved dogs and I have enjoyed drawing ever since I could hold a crayon. My love for cartoons also dates back to my early childhood days. My father would read me the “Funnies” every day from the newspaper. I even have a 1968 letter from Charles Shultz thanking me for a drawing of Snoopy I sent him when I was four years old, and wishing me a life-long love of comics.
Do you have a professional degree in design?
Besides continuous doodling on the sides of my schoolwork, I received a BFA in Graphic Design from the University of Georgia. This was before the computer age, so I was classically trained in cutting and pasting. I burned the midnight oil surrounded by marker and paint fumes. I spent a couple of years working up ads for a newspaper and then I became a freelance artist. I had three children’s books published between 1990 – 1992, Manny’s a Thief, Then I Got 3 Scoops, and The Stonecutter Who Wanted to be Rich, (all out of print, but generally available on Amazon) and went on to illustrate several other books for other authors as well.
How did you balance your personal and professional life?
My professional career was put on hold to raise and home school my three children, but for the past several years as they have grown up, I have continued my art, stepping into the digital age. I design labels for Fun & Function, a sensory toy company for children with special needs. I have illustrated for JNF UK fundraising. I work on my two comic strips, Seaweed’s Oasis and Hair of the Dog (be sure to look for my new book Hair of the Dog, Lookin’ for Food in All the Wrong Places available on Amazon in October). Along with my husband and son, Joey, I have recently finished three more children’s books: Building Blocks, My Dolly and Bully For You! (currently available on Amazon). Recently people have been sending me their family histories and asking me to memorialise those stories by illustrating their manuscripts.
You do only dog cartoons or others too?
While Hair of the Dog is all about life from a dog’s perspective, Seaweed’s Oasis is a bit of a soap opera with characters who work at a bar and grill by the sea. Of course, Seaweed the dog is the main character, but not the only source of humor. I also have a life-long ongoing collection of cartoon greeting cards for various occasions!
Why this affinity for dog cartoons?
Dogs are the man’s best friend, and part of being a best friend is absorbing and reflecting our ups and downs. These humble beings teach us many life lessons. Reflecting the humor through our faithful friends makes it easier to laugh at one self. And when you can laugh at yourself, it makes everything more bearable.
Do you have pets?
My dog, Sammy, a Havanese, shares my life and studio and inspires me every day. She is super friendly, loving, loyal and fun! Our long walks, ball chasing, frequent ‘curled up on the couch’ time, and even our weekly grooming sessions provide the much needed therapy for the kind of creative work I’m into.
Anything you would like to share with our readers?
I’d like to thank the greats in cartooning who inspired me, including Charles Shultz (Peanuts), Gary Larson (The Far Side) and Bill Watterson (Calvin and Hobbes). Where would the world be without cartoons? To contact Debra Sifen/Goldylox, visit: ww.seaweedsoasis.com and be sure to follow Hair of the Dog Comic at: www.facebook.com/hairofthedogcomic