Debbie Huey, Creator of Bumperboy Comics

July 16, 2008

    Beginning with a short series of mini-comics, Debbie Huey is slowly, surely, building a reputation as an independent creator in the comic book arena. Brought to life from sketches in a notebook,Bumperboy is a delightful comic that is the opposite of the usual comic book - there are no ripping muscles, no flashing of female skin - just a lot of fun for a boy, his dog and their friends who live in the land of Bubtopia.

    I was much more of a cartoon watcher than a comics reader when I was young," she told Adrienne Rappaport in a Sequential Tart interview in 2005. She did enjoy creating characters, but didn't have story lines to flesh them out. Studying fine art at the University of California at Santa Cruz, Debbie Huey found she didn't like the "attitude" of the fine art genre, seeing it as focussed on suffering and unhappiness. She wanted to bring smiles and happiness, and comics became the medium.

     In an odd twist, Debbie had never read a comic book until 2000. Captivated, she began her own comic book two years later. Utilizing characters that she accumulated in a sketchbook, she first created handmade books to show to her colleagues, featuring Bumperboy placed into a photographic background. It was an inventive success. She brought the Bumperboy star to the page in her first independent mini-comic, Bumperboy Loses His Marbles. The boy and his dog, Bumperpup, are on a hunt for Bumperboy's lost marbles. They must be found before the marbles contest! The story appeals to both kids and adults, something publisher Adhouse says, "not many people are doing that."

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    To create the comic book, Debbie writes the story lines, then draws rough storyboards. She uses Bristol Board as the surface, drawing first with pencil and then inking with Higgins Magic Black ink and 170-nib Gilotte. Then into the scanner and computer with her art for touch-ups with Photoshop, and the comic page is completed.

    The look of the Bumperboy character was an incidental creation, according to Debbie. "I was trying to draw a regular little kid wearing snow gear, but some of my lines didn't come out as I intended," she said on Sequential Tart. In fact, the accidental lines made the characters unique to Debbie, with no others like them to be seen. The art is minimalist with strong, defined lines. Her work is pleasing to the eye and it is easy to grasp the fun storyline.

     Debbie created three mini-comics, and then combined the set into one book. Self-published by the cartoonist after winning a Xeric grant to move the process along, the mini-comics and Bumperboy Loses His Marbles graphic novel book have been popular at venues like the San Diego Comic-Con and MoCCA Art Festival. Debbie has also used promotional goodies to help Bumperboy along, such as T-shirts, buttons and even Bumperboy marble bags.

    Good luck with your blossoming career in Indie comic books, Debbie! You're off to a great start.

    Visit the Bumperboy site for a real treat. Bumperboy books are available online from Chapters and Amazon , among other bookstores.

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© Susanna McLeod 2008
TheCartoonists.ca