Any fan of the Pug breed is sure to enjoy the comic, Puddin’ Don’t, featuring a legless Pug named Puddin’ who “don’t” let life get in his way. Puddin’s creator, Jake Barlow, was kind enough to take time from his busy schedule to respond to my questions.
LG: How did you come up with Puddin’? Was there a real-life pug who inspired you?
JB: Puddin’ came about while doodling during an insanely boring meeting. I was trying to draw a pug, but ended up with something more like a bulldog. Instead of finishing the drawing, I just put Xs where his legs would have been. A co-worker sitting next to me chuckled at that and asked what a dog like that would be named, and I said “Pudding.” He asked “What does Pudding do?” I replied, “Well, he certainly don’t fetch!” By the next day, I had like ten or so cartoon ideas for what “Pudding don’t do.”
LG: Are pugs your favorite breed of dog? What characteristics of pugs did you “call out” or make known in Puddin’ to make him seem real?
JB: I don’t have a particular favorite breed of dog, as I love all dogs. But pugs are living cartoons! I love ‘em. They’re so goofy looking, and they make the funniest sounds and have such strong facial expressions.
LG: When did you start drawing?
JB: I started drawing as early as five years old. My father was pretty good at drawing, but he rarely did it. I remember teaching myself to draw as well as him, and I started by tracing Snoopy cartoons.
LG: Did you attend art school?
JB: I’ve taken a couple of college level art courses and excelled in them, but I’m mostly self-taught with drawing and painting. I tend to pick up a medium and play around with it until I figure it out, then move on to another medium. But my favorite medium has always been comics and cartoons.
LG: Have you won awards? Have you won awards for Puddin’?
JB: I have won a few awards for my professional work that was submitted by others on my behalf. I don’t really care too much about awards to be honest, though maybe I’d get paid more if I did. :) One award I’m particularly proud of was for the caricature I painted of Bob Hope on the side of his USO plane back in 1987. It was the second time I had done that for him.
LG: Is Puddin’s cartoon the only one that you’ve designed or are there others?
JB: I’ve played around with other comics and characters in the past. When I was in high school, I did a Bloom County knock-off with a talking platypus and air-guitar playing mullet-head. I can’t remember their names, or any of the cartoons. Around 1988-89 I was working on a strip somewhat inspired by The Far Side, but nowhere near as funny. I don’t know what happened to those, and that’s probably for the best. I also had a brief series of political cartoons called “The Low Bar” that I was working on in 2007-2008.
LG: What happened to Puddin’s and Puddy’s legs?
JB: Maybe someday I will get around to writing the standalone book that will explain what happened to Puddin’s and Puddy’s legs.
LG: Puddin’s handicap doesn’t seem to stop him. What drives Puddin’?
JB: I take the issue of disabilities very seriously, having family members and close friends with disabilities of varying severity. But disabled animals so rarely seem to know that they are disabled. They don’t let missing limbs stop them from doing what other animals of their kind do. That’s amazing and inspiring. Puddin’ is like that. I hope people see Puddin’ (and Puddy) as inspirations.
LG: What inspires Puddin’s exploits? What topics/situations does Puddin’ come across most frequently?
JB: So many of Puddin’s exploits were inspired by my late kitty, Grendel. Grendel’s exploits nearly all involved food, or trying to get into places he didn’t belong.
LG: How long have you been chronicling Puddin’?
JB: I started Puddin’ in late 2010, and was drawing cartoons daily for about three years. I took a break from drawing the cartoons in late 2013 after Grendel died; I was emotionally devastated, and it took me quite a long time to recover to the point that I could draw Puddin’ again. Since that time, however, I haven’t been motivated to draw Puddin’ cartoons with any kind of regularity. The upside to that is that the cartoons I do draw tend to be more fresh and relevant.
LG: Does Puddin’ seem more negative and Puddy more positive? Are they “yin” and “yang?”
JB: I think Puddin’ and Puddy get into a lot of role reversals. Their interactions were inspired by the way Grendel and his much larger step-brother, Beowulf (my other cat), interacted.
LG: Besides your website, http://www.PuddinDont.com/, where else can readers/admirers see more of Puddin’?
JB: Puddin’ has a Facebook page with over 8,000 fans (https://www.facebook.com/puddindont). His cartoons are also on Imgur.com and Pinterest.
LG: Besides the cartoons themselves, what all kinds of products bear Puddin’s likeness? Who publishes Puddin’s books?
JB: For a brief time, a woman named Denise Lindquist who I had found on Etsy.com was making a Puddin’ plush doll and a smaller beanie doll. I’ve looked into other products, but the start-up costs can be quite high. All of the books are self-published through Amazon’s CreateSpace service. I have been trying to find a publisher to work with in order to get larger distribution, but that has not materialized as of yet. I also made two of them into iBooks available on iTunes. There is a print-on-demand service called Red Bubble where clothing and other sorts of merchandise can be ordered with Puddin’ cartoons. The CEO is a huge fan, and wears a Puddin’ Don’t t-shirt in all of his public appearances. http://www.redbubble.com/people/puddindont/shop. All profits from the sale of Puddin’ merchandise gets donated to rescues and shelters.
LG: Any upcoming projects?
JB: I’ve been thinking about creating iPhone/iPad games and apps with Puddin’, but I need to find a developer to work with first.
Thanks for talking with me, Jake! Keep us posted!