Interview - Colin Hayes

Interview: Colin Hayes, Illustrator & Cartoonist: 19th July 2003

We conduct a rare interview with acclaimed illustrator, Colin Hayes.

You will also discover that words don't do his work justice, hense, click on the website links!

What's your background?

I graduated from the Art Institute of Seattle in 1989. I've been a Freelance illustrator since 1993 (see I do predominantly technical and informational illustration, working for companies such as Microsoft, Hewlett Packard, Home Depot, Bank of America, Sprint, AT&T, Worthington Steel, Golf Digest Magazine, and dozens of others.

How did you get your break in the media, and specifically the cartooning business?

I've long been interested in both cartooning and politics. In early 2002, I decided to combine a political cartoon with a comic strip, thus "The Leftersons" was born.

What motivates you?

I love to create. I would feel lost without being able to express myself artistically in some way.

Where do you get your ideas from?

From current events, from political ideologies (even stereotypes), and from my own warped mind. The comic strip is a parody, so I often throw in a bit of exaggeration and irreverence.

Explain the creative process - from idea, to drawing, to marketing etc etc

The writing of the strip (the most difficult part) comes first. I keep several notebooks in which I jot down ideas, either in rough form, or finished dialog. I then sketch the strip, scan the sketch into my computer,then redraw it in a vector-based program, adding the color and text. I then send the finished file to my webmaster at, and to a DBR Media, who also syndicates one cartoon per week to weekly newspapers around The U.S.

Where can your work be found?

Online at,, and several political and news-related websites, such as In print, the largest newspaper carrying the cartoon is the Salt Lake Tribune.

What do you consider to be career highlights?

Just getting the opportunity to take a shot at something like this. Two newspapers interviewed me, as well as three radio programs and about three magazines, and you! One of the newspaper articles can be found at:

I was honored to be featured in all of these forums.

How much creative control do you have over your work?

I have (so far) total freedom with the cartoons. As the client list grows, my responsibilities also grow, so I find that I "self-edit" more than I used to...although some (my detractors) would say that I should edit far
more than I do!

What's the difference between an illustrator and a cartoonist? (I hope this isn't a stupid question, but sometimes the question not asked, is the stupid one).

Not a stupid question at all. In all my years as an illustrator, I still have family members that are unsure of exactly what I do! As an illustrator, I receive commissioned assignments from clients that have a specific illustration need (i.e. a drawing for a corporate brochure, illustrations for an educational textbook, or an illustration to accompany a magazine article, and the like), whereas a cartoonist is primarily known for creating his or her own work to distribute (through a syndicate or on their own) to the general public. However, many cartoonists often seek out and receive commissioned work as well.

What are you most famous or infamous pieces, and why?

I can't think of any in particular, although there have been several cartoons that have received a good share of both hateful responses, as well as some very positive feedback (sometimes the same cartoon). I've done several "mini-series" that have been quite popular. During the most heated part of the Iraq War, I had an ongoing series that included the little "Breaking News" ticker at the bottom of the strip, to replicate the annoying tickers that most of the major news networks ran day after day...but mine were a bit different in content!

What's the best / worst reaction you ever received?

I've had people write me and say they were "hooked" or addicted to the strip. Some have nearly begged to see the strip go daily (it's currently released three days per week). Even a few people who adamantly disagree with my viewpoints have expressed their appreciation of the strip. Others, however, have let me have it. Recently I caught flak for a vacation series in which the Leftersons family members were searched at the airport, while several apparent Middle Eastern terrorist were allowed to board carrying weapons. Sometimes a "tongue-in-cheek" approach is misinterpreted by readers. Sometimes I don't quite hit the nail on the head, in terms of what I meant to say and what is perceived...and sometimes folks just plain disagree with me and call me every name in the book.

How anyone tried to "censor" you?

So far, no. I did recently contact everyone who runs the strip, showing them a cartoon I was about to release to ask if they had any problem running it it featured a politician with his head up his rear, although tastefully drawn). None of them had any problems with it. Some e-mails I've received
over the last year and a half lead me to believe that a few folks would like me permanently censored!

Do you, or did you, have any mentors?

I'm probably like the majority of other new cartoonists, as far as role models go. Bill Watterson (Calvin & Hobbes), Berke Breathed (Bloom County, Outland), Gary Larson (Far Side), Jim Unger (Herman), and Charles Schulz Peanuts) were big comic strip influences, while political cartoonists such as Michael Ramirez, Scott Stantis, David Horsey, Chuck Asay, Jim Borgman, Steve Breen, Mike Luckovich, Steve Kelley, and many others (even though I disagree with some of them politically) have also been inspirations.

Judging by the website addresses you listed, you must be quite technology has the internet and other technologies helped you?

Well, I'm darn good at SURFING the internet! Both and were built by my webmaster, a wonderful, patient woman in Tennessee. Without the internet, this comic strip wouldn't have had a chance. I'm one of those hypocrites that both sing the praises of, and curse, the internet. Often simultaneously. I've made my living working on a computer, so it certainly can't be all bad.

What are your tools of the trade?

Pencil, paper, scanner, Macintosh G4, 21" monitor, optical mouse, newspaper and internet news sites (for research), brain, hands with opposing thumbs despite the rumors), high-tech eyeglasses, patient wife, coffee.

What's the best thing about being you?

Wow...I'm not sure there IS a best thing! Honestly, working from my home has been a blessing. Getting to draw and create for a living has been something I have never taken for granted.

What do you do to relax?

I run, ride a bike, hike, play with my kids, read. All at the same time.

In 50 years from now, how would you like to be remembered?

I'd like to be remembered as someone who didn't take himself too seriously. Someone who enjoyed life and his family, and continued to learn during the entire journey. Someone who stood up for his beliefs while understanding that, in the long run, some things were actually important and some weren't...and knowing which was which.

What other important information should our audience know about you and your work?

Despite what some people say about me, I'm really a nice guy! I answer nearly all of my e-mail! Well, except the ones that promise $40 million in an African bank account, a 2% mortgage, earnings of $5000 per day, and a larger...


Colin T. Hayes
Colin Hayes Illustrator, Inc.

Editors note: An insightful, entertaining and witty interview. We will be hearing lots more from Colin Hayes in the future.



The Leftersons

'Leftersons' creator is 'right' on - Seattle Post - 27th March 2003

CNS News

Media Man Australia: Cartoons section