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Leonard Cachola: Inside and Out - Part 1

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Neil Figuracion checks in with Leonard Cachola, creator of the web-strip Innies and Outties about his characters, his strip, and his life.

BROKEN FRONTIER: Why don’t we do a capsule description of your main characters? You start with Otis...

LEONARD CACHOLA: Otis is basically this kid, got a bit of a chip on his shoulder. He wants to rule the world. He’s got a grand scheme for things. He’s really highly imaginative. Unfortunately, he’s a little bit short on execution. Whereas Iris, she’s more the down-to-earth type.

BF: Which one is the Innie and which one is the Outtie?

LC: Originally it was very clear. It’s opposite physically, but Otis is supposedly the Innie, because he’s more imaginative. He’s more stuck in his own head. And I think that’s one of the things I wanted to get across in the early strips. He’s trapped in his own head. He can’t relate to people.

BF: Which is why he has all the imaginary...

LC: Characters, the monsters and Harold.

BF: How did Harold come about?

LC: Harold? Ah, my love of Zombie films. Night of the Living Dead and Dawn of the Dead.

I wanted a monster. I didn’t want a cute fuzzy character. I knew that. At the same time, I didn’t want a "monster" monster. They were kids. So, it was still supposed to appeal to the teen, under-teen set.

BF: You graduated from college. You stopped doing [your college strips]. Fill in the blank.

LC: I had a real job doing print production work. Went through a couple of jobs doing the same stuff. Did that for a year and a half, then something snapped. I couldn’t tell you exactly what it was... ex-girlfriend.

BF: [laughter] They’re evil, aren’t they?

LC: [laughter] And basically I realized I didn’t just want to be working pre-press for the rest of my days at a printing company. That wasn’t gonna work. Then one of my friends, she was in animation school here in Los Angeles, we talked for a little bit, and she was telling me about animation school because she knew that I was drawing. I would go to bars and draw. Mainly just drawing people. They weren’t great.

Basically, once I moved out here, I talked to the people at the school, and got really serious about getting into drawing. That led to more cartooning. Eventually, some of the characters I’d designed there became Otis and Iris, but they were much older in the designs that I was doing. They were actually teenagers.

BF: What led you to create the strip with children?

LC: I wanted something fun to draw. If I’d have kept it as a teenage/college thing, it would have been more of a drama.

BF: My So-Called Outties?

LC: Something like that. It wasn’t something that really turned me on as an artist. It’s fun to draw kids. It’s fun to draw kids having fun. It’s fun to draw kids with imaginations ‘cause you can go all sorts of ways with it.

BF: Teenagers are different?

LC: Actually after reading Zits, that was actually a good example of a teenager done right. How much fun it could be. I never saw it as that. I was a little more short-sighted.

BF: So what was the spark that led to you publishing your own work on the internet on a daily basis?

LC: I ran into a few sites that had comics on them. There was Melonpool. That was one of the first ones that I looked at and was like “this is actually kinda cool!” This was the first strip that I looked at and this guy updates seven days a week, and he doesn’t expect anything back from it. The sites that I found at the time were mainly geared towards comics communities, and they were all free. Back then it was like a free for all. You could get instant feedback from fans. That was a big thing, because all of a sudden you could get people to say “hey wow! You suck!”

BF: [laughter] It is the internet.

LC: You could also post your stuff up there and be with a bunch of other creators who were doing the same thing, and I thought that was really cool. You didn’t have to go through a newspaper, or a syndicate. You just post it. Maybe advertise just a little bit. Say “Hey! I’m here.” In that case it was really easy because there weren’t that many online comics.

I got through the first six weeks, people really liked it. At the time I was updating five days a week. I stuck to that schedule for a while, and then gave up, because it was more than I could handle at the time. I dropped to three days a week, and then I did that for a year. Then you look at other people’s work. Then you see that some of them can update seven days a week, handling a family. It gives you a nice swift kick in the butt. Where you’re just like “what am I doing? I’m single. I don’t have a family. What’s my excuse?”

I switched the schedule around. A lot of it was just experimenting as to what time would be the most convenient for me to do it in. Like when I first started I used to put them all together on the weekends. Basically it was just cram five strips together on a Sunday. And you burn out fast.

BF: What kind of a schedule are you on now?

LC: Every morning. I wake up at six in the morning. Laze around the house for an hour, hour and a half, and then finally go “Okay! Deadline!” I think it took a good three years to figure out that working in the morning was best for me. It’s a lot of fun! Because I can switch the story line. Depending on whatever mood I’m in that morning, the storyline just changes. So the readers have no ideas what to expect, and I have no idea what to expect.

What I like to do is take those improvisations, take those and when I put ‘em in book form, that’s when I look for the story. What am I trying to say with this collective? That’s another kinda thing that changed with my writing over the years. It was more like “okay I want to get a humor strip done. I want to get into syndication.” After a while, I got kinda tired of doing that.

The biggest change that happened was, one day I just said “what am I trying to say TODAY?”

It made such a huge way in the way I approached the comic strip, that I enjoyed it that much more. Some days it’s nothing, and some days I’m trying to like, go “well, okay, this is really bugging me.” Especially for the past couple of months.

Concluded on Wednesday...

- Neil Figuracion

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