Profiles in Geek: Kind of Annoying’s Gabe González
Freddy doesn’t know who he is, and that scares him.
In his nightmares, he runs across comic book frames, talks to a bug that claims to be his self-worth, and shoots a beam from his mouth that projects an image of his falling naked self.
Freddy deals with his problems like many others would: He drinks (to excess). He entangles himself in a half-open relationship. And he gets into pointless arguments with his best friend Jimmy (who looks more bear than human).
If you haven’t realized yet, Freddy’s a doodle.
All of these details develop in a depressingly humorous fashion through the first arc of his story in Gabriel González’s web comic Kind of Annoying. When Gabe started drawing Kind of Annoying in June, he meant to make it a collection of short stories that are kind of annoying, either to him or the reader. The plot for Freddy’s story is actually a finite one that Gabe finished writing before he started any illustration.
When he started drawing and posting it three times a week, however, Gabe saw Freddy’s story take on a life of its own and head down a completely different path. Two and a half months in, not only did Gabe have to rethink the story completely but get over a bit of a road block.
“I did burn out,” he said in an e-mail interview. “I was still working digitally with a Wacom. You’d think it would be faster than working in ink. Working digitally you can erase your mistakes. So… you do. Over and over again.”
This perfectionism, Gabe says, is one of the reasons there’s a style shift with the Sept. 13 comic “After a Break…”. He decided to go back to his crow quill for a bit, and then over to technical pens.
Gabe owes much of his formal comic artistic training to Ivan Brunetti, another Chicago-based cartoonist. From the late 90s to the mid-00s, Brunetti penned Schizo, an extremely dark and equally hilarious collection of underground comix. For inspiration, Gabe looks up mainly to James Kochalka, the artist behind American Elf. “That man is a beast with a brush. A brush beast, if you will.”
Gabe’s motivation for the web comic goes back to high school. At that time, Jhonen Vasquez’s Squee and Johnny the Homicidal Maniac started shaping his comedic timing, as well as Sesame Street. “I would make these terrible drawings in MS Paint and use snippets of instant message conversations as the dialogue.” Gabe found these comics hilarious, but he did not have the enthusiasm to publish anything in high school. He had the idea to start a web comic again immediately after college, but he wasn’t sure on what he wanted to draw comics. “Then I found myself in the middle of a life crisis,” Gabe says, “and figured I’d draw about that for a while.”
More than five months in, Kind of Annoying still carries on with Freddy’s crisis story. The goal of the web comic remains the same — a collection of annoying short sketches — but Gabe is willing to let Freddy’s story run its course first:
“Just because you start something one way, doesn’t mean you have to finish it that way. Sometimes your work has a life of its own. Everything does, really. Haha, am I getting too much into it? That’s kind of what Freddy’s story is all about.”