Interview: Norm Feuti

Norm FeutiNorm Feuti is a well-known cartoonist among the Swedish comic book readers. In addition to his comic Retail, he has created the web series, Gil and also created the book Pretending You Care: The Retail Employee Handbook. We at DigitalEscape took the opportunity to have a chat with Norm.

For those who do not know you – who is Norm Feuti?
– According to Wikipedia, I’m an American cartoonist best known for my nationally syndicated comic strip Retail. Other than that, I’m just a guy with a wife and two kids living in Massachusetts.

What is the best thing about being a cartoonist?… and the worst?
– The best thing about being a cartoonist is being able to work from home making my own hours. The worst thing is the constant, never-ending deadlines.

If you could be a cartoon character for a day – any one – who would it be? And why?
– Superman. Because he’s Superman. I’d spend the day flying mostly. But I’d definitely set aside enough time to punch some big rocks and melt junk with my heat vision. I’d also pay somebody to shoot me for a while.

Do you read a lot of comics?
– I wouldn’t say a lot, no. I read a few newspaper comics, and a couple of web comics. I enjoy the occasional graphic novel, or comic anthology, but I’m not the kind of guy who is constantly immersed in comics.

Have you always wanted to be a cartoonist, or was it just a coincidence?
– As a kid, I always had a pipe dream of becoming a cartoonist, but I never made an honest effort towards becoming one until I was 30 and had been working in retail for way too long.

As you said – you worked in stores for quite some time before your comic strip Retail hit it big. Do you miss that job (or some parts of it)?
– I’ve had the opportunity to work with some nice people during my retail career, some of which I ’m still friends with to this day. Other than that, I don’t miss anything about it.

Do all stores have a secret slack-off corner in the stockroom?
– No, but all stores have at least one secret slacker-offer … and probably several not-so-secret ones.

I guess Stuart has some shortcomings in his leadership – how do you think a good manager should be?

– I think the problem with most big corporate retail chains is that they don’t allow managers to be managers. The typical retail manager is so neutered by micro-managed policies that they’re never allowed to make any real decisions.

So I guess I’d have to say that a ”good” manager is someone who is actually trusted enough with his/her abilities to make real decisions.

How much time do you spend on making a comic strip?
– Nowadays it takes me (on average) between 2 and 3 days to create a week’s worth of Retail comic strips, start to finish.

What’s the secret behind a really good comic strip?
– I think the best comic strips are the ones that convey a point of view and make a genuine connection with a general audience across all age groups. Of course, there is room for all sorts of comics in the world, but the truly great one’s (Peanuts, Calvin & Hobbes, The Far Side) all seem to have an almost magical, universal appeal to them.

What do you do when you have a day off?
– Well, I’m always busy, but compared to actually working in retail, every day is a day off for me now. I draw funny pictures for a living. I couldn’t ask for a cushier existence.

Quick questions:

Coca-Cola or Pepsi?
Phineas & Ferb or The Office?
Thankfully they’re not on at the same time, so I don’t have to choose.
Pop or Rock?
Is there a difference anymore?
Summer holidays or ski holiday?
PC or Mac?

Ted Stridh


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