Interview: Bud Grace

Bud GraceBud Grace, known for his comic The Piranha Club (Ernie in Swedish), is immensely popular in Sweden, and he has been published in numerous comic books and other publications.

Why do you think you and Ernie (The Piranha Club) are so popular in Sweden?
– My Grandmother was Swedish. And I was born in what many years ago was the Swedish Colony of Christiana on the Delaware River. My family had been there for generations, and so I am sure that there’s quite a lot of Swedish blood in me. So I believe we think alike, and share the same sense of humor. My best friends are Swedes and Norwegians.

You’ve been to Sweden a couple of times, can you speak any Swedish?
– I don’t really speak any Swedish. I can barely speak English. I do recognize some words and phrases.

OK, but do you think Americans and Europeans laugh at the same things then? Or do we have a different type of humor in Sweden for example?
– We laugh at some of the same things. But more often than not I don’t appreciate much of American humor. I find most of the American comics to be unfunny. Cultures are different in different countries, and humor is a part of a country’s culture. For example, I find British humor to be very funny, but many Americans do not.

What are the ingredients needed for a successful comic strip?

– It’s hard to say, judging by the comic strips here in the US. I think what you need most is a dumb editor. Over here they seem to publish anything. The idea of having a comics fan edit the features is beyond their comprehension.

You’ve drawn for quite a while now … Is it possible to estimate how many comic strips you have done?
– THE strip has been out for over 22 years, calculate 365 times 22. Before I drew Ernie I drew single panel gags for magazines, about 10 or 12 per week. I’ve been cartooning for about 30 years.

Do you still think it is fun and inspiring?
When I can think of good jokes it’s fun. When I get stuck it’s a pain in the butt.

Which character is most fun (or easiest) to work with?
– I think I like Arnold and Arnoldine the most. I also love to draw Beardo and Quacko.

If you had to choose between these three alternatives, which would
you do?:

  1. Go to Doctor Pork for a minor surgery.
  2. Eat dinner with Effie
  3. Buy a house from Uncle Sid

– You are out of your mind. I’d rather go hunting with Vice President Cheney

But if you had to eat dinner with Effie, and bring three famous guests,
which would it be?

– Vice President Cheney, President Bush and Osama Bin Laden.

Do you have time to read any comics yourself? Any favourites?
– I love the comics, and of course I like mine the best because it’s my sense of humor. I prefer the old comics from years ago, like Popeye and Moon Mullins. I don’t suppose you are familiar with Moon Mullins. I had an Uncle who was named after him. And I still love comic books. Of course, Carl Barks was the best. I also loved Little Lulu. I don’t know the cartoonist’s name for it because, like Barks he didn’t own the copyright and he was not allowed to sign his work.

If you, for some reason, would create a new Swedish character for The Piranha Club, how would he or she be like, you think?
– I do that all the time. I’ll bet I’ve had a hundred different characters over the years. Mu favorites I bring back every so often. I just drew another Bob the Zombie story. I bring back Zerblat every two years or so. Strange characters are easy to write for. Their strangeness provides sources for jokes.

Earlier, you said that you can’t joke about certain things in the United States. How can a joke be more harmful than … let’s say … a violent movie on prime time? Can you say that humor is a kind of weapon? Especially in the United States?
– If I were to mention certain things newspapers would drop me like I was radioactive. I did an Osama Bin Laden story about 3 years ago and the Muslims in Canada had me tossed out of the Toronto paper. I agree with you, and it’s not fair. I insult everybody, regardless of race, religion or political affiliation.

Is there a topic you think you can’t joke about?
– Politics and religion. They get me out of papers faster than anything else.

What do you do in your spare time? In addition to baking rye-bread and chasing stinkbugs?
– By the way, the stinkbugs have finally left. They were here around Washington D.C. since the middle of last summer. But they seem to be gone now. I kind of miss them. Other than that I like to dig clams and sing. No kidding.

Quick questions

IKEA or Wal-Mart?
I never go to WalMart.
Go fishing or lying in the hammock?
I can’t bear lying around and doing nothing. I grew up in florida trying to catch fish and I never could. I’d rather go clamming.
PC or Mac?
Mac. I’ve owned ten or so.
Urban life or life in the countryside
Both. I love walking in a forest. I often hunt for mushrooms. But I like the city as well. You can crawl home from the bar.
Donald Duck or The Phantom?
Donald Duck

Ted Stridh
ted.stridh@digitalescape.se

This interview was originally published in DigitalComics.nu

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