Bob Questions and Angry Flower AnswersQ: Why a flower?
A: Basically, because a flower is easy to make into a cartoon. You just draw a generic cartoon face -- a circle with eyes and a mouth -- and then add petals. Ta-da -- a marketable character.
Q: Why is he angry?A: The simple answer is that angry is more fun to draw. If you're just doodling, the easiest way to inject a little vitality into your doodle character is to draw him frowning. Nothing better than angry, unless it's bored, which is why I always draw Stumpy looking bored.
There is no complicated answer. A guy told me that his two kids had asked what it was that made Bob so angry. Well, jeez, I don't know. What makes Donald Duck so hyper? Nobody knows. It's just the kind of person he is. Same with Bob. The advantages of having a really hyper, excitable cartoon character for jokes are obvious.
Q: What kind of flower is Bob?A: I'm not sure. I think he's a daisy-dandelion-sunflower crossbreed, the kind that walks and talks.
Q: Where does Bob come from? Does he have an origin?A: No. When I first started my cartooning career at The Gateway, there was another cartoon also starting up called Chainsaw Rabbit. In the first few strips, we saw how Chainsaw acquired the ability to walk and talk from a bunch of weird scientific experiments. He then kills his creators and becomes a normal anarchic cartoon character. Chainsaw was always rather more popular than the cartoon I was doing at the time, and that haunts me. Whenever I think of origin stories for Bob, I invariably think of Chainsaw Rabbit-type origins, so I try not to think them.
Q: Is Bob ripped off of El Seed from The Tick?A: Apparently not. I've had this question and answer on the page for a while, and I used to sheephisly say that I wasn't sure if I'd somehow seen the El Seed character from The Tick. I knew I'd invented Bob before the TV show, but I wasn't sure if he'd been in the comics that I'd seen.
However, in the last few months I've received a few e-mails from people informing me that I was right, and that El Seed had only appeared on the TV show, so I was in the clear.
Not, as I said before, that it realy mattered. Bob is not El Seed. El Seed has many petals, multi-leaved hands, a human body and always wears a matador's outfit. Bob has seven petals, uni-leaved hands, a flower stem for a body and almost never wears clothes. More importantly, El Seed is a one-shot parody villain with a joke name. Bob is an everyman protagonist. How could you confuse them? Sure, they look kinda similar, but so do Donald and Daffy and Howard, but it's pretty clear they're all three very different cartoon ducks. Same with Bob and El Seed.
Q: Is Bob ripped off of that angry flower cartoon on MTV's Liquid Television?A: The cartoon in question is called Crazy Daisy Ed, and no, I didn't rip it off.
Again, I started Bob in the summer of '92, and so even if Crazy Daisy Ed had existed then, living in Canada as I do, I had never seen it. I only discovered it about two years ago on videotape. That said, there certainly is a strong first-glance similarity between the two. Why? Because, deep down, there's nothing all that astoundingly ground-breaking about an angry flower as an idea for a cartoon. The first two Q&As on this page address the issue of why it's not impossible that two people, completely separately, might decide that an angry flower was cool.
It's a good illustration of the creative axiom that it's not the idea; it's what you do with it. If somebody says they have an idea for an action/adventure story set in an underwater base, you can get The Abyss or you can get Deep Star Six. Similar starting points; very different final products. In the case of Bob vs. Ed, I'd say that Bob is a little more surreal, and possibly a little more literate than Ed. Don't get me wrong-- I liked Ed. But he's not Bob, and Bob isn't him.
Q: Why don't you do a girl flower, and she could be his girlfriend?A: Oi. A couple of reasons. Firstly, I prefer not to accentuate his flower-ness. To bring in a girl flower to be his girlfriend would suggest that there's some kind of community of walking, talking flowers, just like there's a community of mice and ducks that Mickey and Donald live in. Well, I just don't think there is such a community for Bob. That's why he hangs out with a tree stump and a floating foetus.
Secondly, not to put too fine a point on it, I want to stay away from the topic of Bob's sexuality, for obvious reasons; being a flower, he has no penis -- in fact, you could say that he is a penis, or that his penis should be sticking out of the middle of his face. Neither of these ideas appeal to me.
Q: What's with that Angry Flower Comic I've noticed at the comic store? Is he ripped off of Bob?A: The comic is called Fred The Possessed Flower, and it features as its star a suspiciously Bob-like angry flower. It's only appeared recently, so there's no question about me having ripped him off, but did they rip me off? Again, I doubt it.
It's the same old thing... there's just nothing that super special about an angry flower. Fred, as far as I can tell, lives his life in a flower pot, and I think he's part of some larger Heaven/Hell continuity invovling Satan and God and all that crap. Sure, he looks a bit like Bob, but not that much.
I'll admit, I'm a little nervous that when I bring out the next Bob book, people may get the idea that Bob and Fred are the same thing. Since I don't think Fred is all that particularly funny, I'd hate for people to write off the next Bob book because they mistook it for Fred. But the way I look at it, Fred is likely to be like most new comic startups, and it'll fold after a few issues. Hey, I wish the guy luck... but I haven't seen an issue of Fred in quite a while. And if he's still around when Bob book #2 comes out, it'll just be my job to make sure everybody knows the difference.
*New* Q: What's with the last three panels of "Attempts to Reconcile Relativity and Quantum Physics"?
A: Some readers have noticed that the last three panels of this cartoon look a little strange, almost as if somebody else had drawn them. Actually, maybe "strange" isn't so much the right word as "crappy." In particular, readers don't seem to like off-the-cuff Bob of the fifth panel. For my part, I kind of liked that drawing... I had a tiny space, so I knew I couldn't do fully-rendered Bob, but I still had to convey an emotion, and that seemed like a good compromise...
But now I look at the cartoon, and I suddenly notice that the crappy art in the last three panels makes total sense, more sense than I even intended. What's the cartoon about? Bob up against a deadline, and totally faking his way through it with a picture of a hot chick. Read: I, the cartoonist, am up against a deadline, and I fake my way through it with a picture of a hot chick. I start out with an idea I think is funny, throw in my desperate attempt at a hot chick, and hope nobody notices that the spaceships aren't flying by the last panel. The cartoon is about itself. A little recursive humor for y'all out there...