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Dogster Exclusive Interview: The Creative, Comedic Men Behind “Draw the Dog”

Watch the above cartoon as it's "drawn" before your eyes. It's kind of like having a fast and fabulous -- if invisible -- artist right...

Maria Goodavage  |  Feb 3rd 2010


Watch the above cartoon as it’s “drawn” before your eyes. It’s kind of like having a fast and fabulous — if invisible — artist right in front of you.

Welcome to “Draw the Dog,” the brainchild of creative geniuses Jim George and Bruce Kasanoff. Jim, who used to do animation for Disney, among his myriad other animating and creative projects, draws these wonderful cartoons. And Bruce does everything else. As their website states, this is because Bruce cant draw and Jim doesnt want to do anything else.

We love Jim’s style, and his cartoons’ gentle humor about our very favorite animals. Many of the cartoons are inspired by people whose dogs do things worthy of cartoons. (And whose don’t?) They send in little stories and pix of their dogs, and if they resonate with Jim, and he hasn’t already done a cartoon of the same ilk, voila! A cartoon is born. Here’s some info on how to immortalize your very own dog in one of these cartoons.

This will give you an idea of how this works: The above cartoon was inspired by this little anecdote from the dogs’ owner: I love your illustrations! Attached are pictures of my Great Danes. Torre is the one laying on the couch (110lbs) and it’s HER couch. Alex is 155 lbs and wants desperately to share with her like he can in the living room. I’ve had him for 18 months (he’s 4 1/2) and he just started getting up there this month and TRYING to look like he is comfortable! (The reader’s photo looked remarkably like the illustration above.)

Jim George, Draw the Dog cartoonist

I thought Dogsters would like to know a little more about what makes these two tick, so I bring you an exclusive Dogster interview. Enjoy!

MG: This is such a unique, fun idea. How did it come about?

JG: Bruce and I were working on a much more elaborate book project that involved dogs

BK: And each illustration was taking about two weeks to create, which frustrated both of us.

JG: I started “seeing” different possibilities in cartoon form. It occurred to me that we could do one of these per day on the web and go directly to our audience. For years, I’ve been intrigued by the idea of having cartoons draw themselves. Having been an animator for most of my career, it presents a way to more deeply involve the audience, and to have even more fun in the creative process.

BK: Of course, our other big idea was to have each cartoon be inspired by a real dog. This creates a wonderful community around Draw the Dog, and erases the usual separation between “creators” and “audience members.”

MG: Why dogs? Why not chickens, or dead presidents?

JG: Tell ’em, Bruce.

Bruce Kasanoff, who does everything else for Draw the Dog

BK: I’m a fanatic. I love dogs. I cross the street to say hi to a dog, have been visiting the pound regularly since I was 12, and own three rescue dogs.

JG: Plus, they are really fun to draw and there is a magical connection between dogs and their owners. Chickens, not so much.

MG: Jim, whats your background in art?

JG: I was at Disney back in the seventies, working as an animator. Over the years, I’ve been both an animator and director for TV and film projects. As a kid, what I really wanted to do was to draw a comic strip, and Draw the Dog is very close to my dream.

MG: Bruce, whats your background in whatever it is you do?

BK: I’m sort of a very creative entrepreneur. Back in the early 90s I started a venture called Sunday Comics Store, where we worked with 29 famous cartoonists selling gifts based on their work. Over the past fifteen years, I became a specialist in how companies can deliver more personal services to their customers.

MG: Who is the genius behind the cartoon unfolding before viewers eyes?

BK: That’s all Jim. It’s extremely difficult to do, and it requires numerous techniques to make it all look effortless. Jim, do you want to reveal your top-secret techniques to Dogster readers?

JG: Hmmm, let me think about it. Nope.

MG: What are you looking for in subject matter? What would you suggest to Dogsters who want to immortalize their dogs in one of your cartoons? I imagine you dont take every idea or photo that comes down the pike.

JG: Action! Or emotion – something that I can translate into a cartoon many people will enjoy. I pulled a great example out of our files, which I’ll read to you:

Our 4 or 5-year old adopted Yellow Lab, Carly has a perfect poker face. She has terrible posture (and just a hint of a pot belly), and most of the time, you wouldn’t know she was aware of what was going on, based on her vacant stare. But, she can snatch a fly out of mid-air (or a piece of chicken out of your hand) faster than any frog we’ve ever seen. Then, just as quickly, she’s back to her blank expression, as if nothing had happened.

Here’s the cartoon that I drew from this story.

The_Original_Flyball

BK: It helps to send us a photo or two, and to include a bit of detail when you write. We get a lot of stories, but we read every single one, and your chances are pretty good.

MG: I hear that you might be doing a cartoon of a certain dog of mine sometime soon. You have such good taste! May I run it on Dogster when and if that happens?

JG: You have such good taste for recognizing our good taste! It would be wonderful if you run it on Dogster. We love making new friends.

MG: Are you in this for the pleasure of it? Because you probably arent making a lot of money at this point, right? Do you have day jobs?

BK: We are definitely in it for the pleasure, but our goal is to one day publish Draw the Dog books and make enough money to quit our day jobs.

MG: Anything else youd like to add?

JG: Send more stories! The more stories we get, the earlier I get to go to sleep at night.