COCKTAIL MOLLY: How do you define yourself artistically?
TONY SINGLE: I’m definitely a cartoonist. I don’t think I could be anything else really. While I’m quite capable of drawing in a more realistic style, aesthetically speaking I much prefer to play with the pulp sensibility of comics. It’s what my heart has always responded to, and ever since I was a child I knew that this was what I wanted to do with my life. And besides, I like words too. You get the best of both worlds with comics.
COCKTAIL MOLLY: Tell the readers of cocktailmolly.com about Crumble Cult & how it came in to existence?
TONY SINGLE: Crumble Cult is an introspective, semi-autobiographical, magical realist tale about Ernest Crumb, a forty-something year old guy who so far has drifted through life with little to no purpose. He comes to a point where he must do something, anything, to kick-start himself into engaging with the world again, and so he sets off on a road trip of the heart. This comic has a dash of humour, some existential pondering, and unicorns.
As to how it came into existence, Crumble Cult grew out of a need to write and draw a comic that was… well, a true reflection of who I am. I felt that my previous works hadn’t done this to any meaningful degree, so I went into this project with the intention of making it my most personal yet. Hopefully I’ve achieved that to some extent as I feel it’s pleasingly idiosyncratic, something that only I and I alone could have dreamt up in the first place.
COCKTAIL MOLLY: Who has influenced you the most artistically?
TONY SINGLE: I have many influences actually, and they’re all cartoonists. Tove Jansson’s Moomintroll books were a staple when I was growing up. I also enjoyed Peyo’s Smurf comics, Morris’s Lucky Luke, Goscinny and Uderzo’s Asterix, and Hergé’s Tintin. There was Murray Ball’s Footrot Flats as well as Watterson’s Calvin and Hobbes as I grew older. Rumiko Takahashi’s Maison Ikkoku, Osamu Tezuka’s Astro Boy, and Hayao Miyazaki’s Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind came later on. I also greatly admire the works of Michael Leunig, Adrian Tomine and Eddie Campbell, and am currently reading through the amazing Love and Rockets series by the Hernandez brothers.
Really, the list is kinda endless BUT I guess the biggest creative influence in my life so far has been Charles Schulz’s Peanuts strip. There was a deep level of humanness and, dare I say, a certain undercurrent of melancholy in his words and lines that I’d never encountered before. It was truly the definition of idiosyncratic and also quite simply a thing of minimalist beauty. No one but Schulz could have produced this comic, and I absolutely adore it to bits. I always will.
COCKTAIL MOLLY: I know that you have the comic strip and the podcast for it, are you interested in moving Crumble Cult into an animated project for wider viewership or are you content with providing the project for a coterie of loyal followers? My aim in this question is what are your goals for the project Crumble Cult?
TONY SINGLE: Animation of any kind is typically a huge undertaking, even for a large production studio, so I have absolutely no intention of turning Crumble Cult into a cartoon film or TV project any time soon. It would be grand to see my characters walk and talk but I need to be realistic in that I probably don’t have the will or means to make it happen. Also, I kinda like the idea that Crumble Cult can only exist as a comic. I feel it’s a story that’s suited to being told in this way and no other. And this is hopefully another thing that will set it apart from everything else out there.
Regarding goals, I intend to release this strip in a series of print collections some time soon. While it has primarily always been a webcomic, there’s something about the tactile nature of turning a page that cannot be beat. I don’t tend to read other creators’ webcomics for this very reason. I much prefer to curl up with an actual paper volume and lose myself in their comics that way. I’m hoping that folks will feel similarly about Crumble Cult. I think what I do could be perfect for print.
COCKTAIL MOLLY: What other things are you involved in creatively?
TONY SINGLE: I run Unbolt Me with the obscenely gifted and patient Tetiana Aleksina (or Tati, or Teti, whichever name her friends are most comfortable with), so that’s a full time job in and of itself. I’m also prepping an illustrated poetry collection with her, and we have a number of other writing projects in the pipeline. We’re determined to see these all through to completion no matter what. Tati has even been scripting some Crumble Cult strips for me, so those have been quite fun to draw.
I also make art for Tony Single, my online portfolio, and I take black and white pictures for my photo blog, Once More, With Foreboding. Oh, and last but not least I contribute the odd illustration and text piece to a community blog called Hijacked Amygdala every fortnight. It’s a group of talented and crazy writers, artists and photographers who’ve decided to band together to create an online presence. There’s a lot of brilliant stuff going on over there so I would definitely encourage your readers to check them out. Creatively speaking, it’s all go!
COCKTAIL MOLLY: I know you are involved with assisting in the Unbolt project as well. Would you mind explaining to readers your involvement & how it came into fruition with your partner Teti Aleksina?
TONY SINGLE: I don’t remember how I even stumbled upon Unbolt Me in the first place but I’m glad I did. Unbolt Me is Tati’s brainchild. It wouldn’t exist if not for her, and quite frankly I was captivated from the moment I started reading. I think I spent the first few weeks poring through every post and leaving the occasional comment. It was at this point that she visited Crumble Cult and did the same, and so we soon began to communicate via email on an almost daily basis. I admired Tati’s work so much that I eventually decided to ask if she’d like to run a blog together, and that’s when she invited me to come aboard with Unbolt Me instead. So I did. And I haven’t looked back. Working with Tati is a dream!
COCKTAIL MOLLY: Also, you and Ms. Aleksina have collaborated on a book. Would you mind sharing with readers your experience with that endeavor?
TONY SINGLE: Yes, that’s Mooreeffoc. It’s a project that grew out of a short prose trilogy that Tati and I collaborated on. Putting it together as an eBook and releasing it on Amazon was entirely her idea. In fact, an overwhelming number of ideas in the story itself were also hers. I won’t give away the plot but it should be noted that Mooreeffoc wouldn’t be half the cracking read it is were it not for Tati’s considerable input. She has an insatiable creative drive, and she doesn’t settle for dross. We’re similar that way. We also like to push our ideas as far as we think they can possibly go. It’s a privilege to be her writing partner, I can tell you, and it’s one I don’t intend to squander.
COCKTAIL MOLLY: How has your homeland influenced you artistically?
TONY SINGLE: Not overmuch, I would say. At least, that’s how I perceive it. Of course, there may be cultural things that poke through from time to time that I’m simply not seeing, but they’d need to be pointed out to me. When all’s said and done, I don’t consider myself to be particularly patriotic. I’m not so sure I’d even be willing to go to war for my country as I believe no nation is worth more than the individual lives that populate it. Nationalistic identity doesn’t trump personal identity for me, nor should it ever. Frankly, I feel I have more in common with Tati in Ukraine than I do with my own countrymen. Souls connect regardless of race or creed. That’s what I’ve always found.
COCKTAIL MOLLY: What is next for Tony Single?
TONY SINGLE: Ha ha. Watch this space. Even I don’t know, but it’ll be fun finding out.
by GAIYAIOBI XZANDIS-ZAEVAN
© All rights reserved 2016