An Interview with Tye BourdonyBy Amy Hightower
Posted at January 13, 2001 - 12:32 PM GMT
Tye Bourdony is a name some of you out there should be familiar with. A life-long sci-fi fan, Tye is also a free-lance cartoonist and a convention circuit regular, best known for his 'The Lighter Side of Sci-Fi' comic strip, which pokes fun at everything from 'Buck Rodgers in the 25th Century' to 'Star Trek', from 'Star Wars' to 'Battlestar Gallactica', often mixing and matching series and stars to create bizarre and often hilarious cartoons - even 'The Jetsons' has been known to make a shoe-in.
Over the past two years, Tye’s cartoons have found their way into 'Starlog Magazine' and, more recently, 'Parsec Magazine', in addition to a number of online sources. He's also done a number of charity satires for various sci-fi celebs, including Voyager’s Robert Duncan McNeill (Tom Paris) and the Original Series' Grace Lee Whitney (Yeoman Rand) and Celeste Yarnell (Yeoman Landon). We’re now pleased to announce that we will be publishing the ‘Lighter Side of Sci-Fi’ here at the Trek Nation and that Tye agreed to take some time out to speak with us about just what he does.
Name, Rank and Serial number:
- My name is Tye Bourdony & I actually do have a rank and serial number that I can give out to the public. As a sci-fi cartoonist, I do quite a few shows and conventions throughout the Northeastern part of the US, the most recent being Chiller Theatre in New Jersey, The United Fan Con in Springfield Massachusetts & Creation at Hofstra University. At these shows, I am often accompanied by an amazing group called the 501st Empire City Garrison. Basically, they are a group of Star Wars fans & costumers that look nothing short of amazing.
I myself am a Storm Trooper Officer (Black Uniform), and hold the rank of Capt. Officially, I am Capt. Toonz and my serial number is TK 1018 (my birthday.) Often accompanied by Darth Vader, Bobba Fett, Imperial Officers and Storm Troopers, we are usually the visual hit of any show and always make a lasting impression. As this is a Star Trek site however, I will admit to having three Starfleet uniforms in my closet as well. You can visit the Garrison’s web site at www.empirecitygarrison.com
- Vital Statistics:
- I am New York born, of Spanish and French decent and work for a 3D Stereoscopic imaging company in Elmsford New York. I am in the content and creative department and also happen to be a professional science fiction cartoonist.
I am happily married (newly wed) with no children, live in Stamford Ct, and absolutely love science fiction. I have a degree in Art as well as in Philosophy and try to do a little of both in my satires, life and work.
- How would you describe yourself?
- I would say that I am a very easygoing kind of guy with a very large and I think, funny sense of humor. My wife says that I am too nice, but I think that being a nice guy is one of my better qualities. My creativity however, is I believe my strongest quality. If it weren’t for this creative part of me, I think that I would be a very boring man, but luckily I am not.
My friends and family say I am weird, but that is of course weird in the nicest sense. I just tend to look at things around me in a very different way; I am always trying to simplify things in my mind. The kind of simplicity that makes things work for me, like my satires. I try to keep them simple in their punch lines and their style. Even in every day life around me, I try to see the good things around me. Does it always work? No, it doesn’t; as a matter of fact, my life can get down right complicated when I have five deadlines, work, and my home life. But somehow it all works out in the end and simplicity is one of the things I strive for in my work and every day life.
- How did you get started cartooning and when?
- Professionally, I started cartooning around two years ago and I have been going steady ever since, but I have been an artist practically my entire life. Cartooning is special for me though, I never started out with the idea of becoming a cartoonist and only in the past couple of years have I turned a large part of my focus toward it.
My cartooning career specifically however, began as a keen interest in the sci-fi cartoons that have been a long time staple of Starlog. For years, I very much enjoyed reading the “Log Toons”
Section of Starlog, as a matter of fact, whenever I used to pick up Starlog, the first things I would read were the sci-fi toons. And I always thought that I could do those kinds of illustrations and jokes, so; I began drawing sci-fi cartoons with the idea to get them published in Starlog. And as I began drawing them, I also began submitting them and several rejections later; I got a letter in the mail from the editor that wasn’t a rejection, but rather my first cartoon publication.
It was really a great feeling, having finally become a cartoonist in the magazine that inspired me to become a cartoonist, and it also drove me to continue and to this day, two years later; I am still cartooning and having a great time. There are ups and downs, but for the most part, I really love being a sci-fi cartoonist.
- Do you draw inspiration from other cartoonists? Is there any particular person you try to model your work off, style-wise?
- I actually strive to become my own artist and continue to evolve my style of illustration and humor, but there have undoubtedly been huge influences on my career as a cartoonist. I would also have to say that I do draw inspiration from other cartoonists, although there really aren’t many professional sci-fi cartoonists out there, those that are doing their thing however, are nothing short of amazing.
Some of my fellow Starlog cartoonists are I think among the best out there. I have even spoken to a few of them and have found them to be pretty nice guys with huge talent, as well as down to earth. Among my favorites are Alain Chaperon or Big Bad Bubba as he calls his cartoon self, he lives in Australia and is one of my hands down favorites, along with Tom Holtkamp and another artist called KEV.
Other huge influences on me have been Sergio Argones (of course), Mort Walker, Charles Shcultz, Bernie Wrightson, John Byrne, George Perez and Calvin & Hobbes along with the Farside. All talented individuals and cartoons, with I might add; important messages. That’s also really important to me as well, and only now as a cartoonist have I really been able to appreciate the subtle wisdom inherent in much of the work that has influenced me. One of my highest goals is to one day be included in the club that the artists I just mentioned, they are all amazing and to them and all the others I neglected to mention, I take my hat.
- How did you get involved with Star Log?
- As I mentioned earlier, I was really attracted to the cartoons section and decided that I wanted to try and do sci-fi cartoons for Starlog. In the end, it was my persistence that paid off and brought me to where I am today. Rejection after rejection, I continued to come up with toons, draw & submit them. I didn’t take no for an answer and believed in myself, and this is one of the secret formulas to achieving your dreams and ambitions. At least, I think that is the answer, but always keep the faith and press on no matter what!
As far as Starlog is concerned, I want to continue my relationship with them as it is a great magazine to be in, but I also want to expand upon my print career. I have just recently had some satires printed in Parsec Magazine and I am continually aiming for all the other Sci-Fi magazines such as SciFi, Starburst, TV Zone, Cinescape and all the others. All I need to do now is keep trying and eventually, my persistence will hopefully pay off.
- Do you have a favorite sci-fi series and character? Or a favorite to parody?
- I definitely have a favorite TV sci-fi series, and that is Farscape, hands down!!! That show is by far, one of the most original, fun, exciting, cool looking and all around greatest sci-fi shows to come around in a long time. The Sci-Fi channel better keep that show for as long as they can!!!
But, I would also have to say that Voyager is another favorite of mine. I think that her crew is well-rounded and beloved characters, not to mention that in my opinion, Janeway is definitely a captain to be respected. I am very saddened to loose Voyager after this season. I also do a celebrity satire for charity with Robert Duncan McNeill as well as for his Fan club, 'Random Flight'. So far I have been able to raise about $150.00 for charity with his specific satire alone.
As far as a favorite series to parody, my satires, “The Lighter Side of Sci-Fi” cross the entire genre of science fiction, so that any and all characters can find their way into my wacky universe. But, undoubtedly, huge influences on me such as Star Trek & Star Wars find more than there fare share of parody in my cartoons. I have a good number of Star Trek satires alone that are either all trek related or cross series satires. But that’s because the Star Trek universe is so vast and well rounded, the character base alone is so rich that I could probably do nothing but Trek satires for the rest of my career and still have jokes to spare in the end. But I pretty much like to stick to my basic Lighter Side of Sci-Fi premise of everything and any thing in Sci-Fi being fair game for me to parody.
On a similar note, one of my favorite kinds of satire is the celebrity satire series which have been fortunate enough to be able to cultivate. Currently I do satires for quite a few celebrities such as Robert Duncan McNeill, Grace Lee Whitney, Celeste Yarnell, BarBara Luna, (those are my Star Trek celebrities), as well as other great sci-fi personalities like Richard Hatch & Claudia Christian, among others.
Basically, I auction off their signed satires at various charity auctions to help raise money for those less fortunate than our selves. Being able to work with these individuals is not only great for my cartooning career, but it is also a dream come through to a sci-fi fan such as my self. But in all honesty, all of the celebrities I have had the pleasure to work with are wonderful people who are very eager and open to the science fiction community. With their help, I am proud to say that I have helped to raise over $1300.00 for charity, while that may not be a huge number; for cartoons, that is not bad at all.
- I’ve noticed you have a tendency to do cross-overs between various sci-fi series - is there a particular reason?
- In a nutshell, that is exactly what the premise of “The Lighter Side of Sci-Fi” is; it is a little bit of everything Sci-Fi if you will. Everything and anything in the Sci-Fi genre that either catches my eye or seems to fit with some other science fiction related funny topic is fair game for me.
I like many aspects of so many different shows and movies that span all of Sci-Fi that it’s a way for me to express my love and affection for science fiction. I try to create wacky situations that I wish or think could happen on some other lighter plane of existence in my cartoons, and I have been very fortunate to be able to explore this in my satires.
I am also a little weird and disturbed, (in a good way of course) so my cartoons are also a cheap form of therapy for myself, and hopefully for any and all who read, laugh and enjoy my work.
- Since this is an interview for a trek site, if feel duty bound to ask what your favorite Trek series is and if you have anything you’d like to see happen in the last season of Voyager.
- My favorite Trek series varies on the nature of the particular discussion or question that I may be asked, “What is your favorite Star Trek series?” In this instance, I would say that Voyager is my favorite series, but only because it is the current Trek show and I honestly like Voyager’s Captain and crew.
But if the question where, “Which Star Trek series is your favorite show from a philosophical point of view?” I would say STNG. Picard was in my book the most philosophical of all the Captains, but if on the other hand you said, “What is your favorite Star Trek series from a romantic point of view?” I would say classic Star Trek in that it started the whole enchilada.
But I will make a stand for the purpose of this interview and say that Voyager is my favorite Trek show. All though I have had some issues with a lack of continuality or easy short cut answers to some dilemmas that Voyager and her crew has faced, but on the other hand; when Star Trek is good, it is great!!!
As for what I would like to see happen on Voyager for the last season, I will admit to being torn between whether or not I would like to see the crew reach Federation space or not. I think that it could go either way, so long as the story line is well thought out. I am also torn as to whether or not I would like to see a crewmember killed off in an epic & heroic show of self-sacrifice.
I would definitely wish to see Voyager go out in a BANG, and by this I mean a big show finale which ties some loose strings and gives us a good sense of closure. More Borg would be nice and lastly, will sparks ever fly between Chakotay and Janeway? Probably not I think, but that might be an interesting way to say goodbye to one of my favorite Captains and First Officer.
But, in the end, so long as the show writers and producers don’t let me down, I will be a happy camper.
- What do you see yourself doing 20 years from now?
- This is most definitely a tough question, but I plan to stay true to myself and my satires, in one way or another. By this I mean to say that I hope to still be a working artist/cartoonist, but by the same token; I hope that I will have matured and evolved as an artist to such a degree that my work is much more widely seen and warmly accepted.
I definitely have plans for The Lighter Side of Sci-Fi into the next two years, such as animating many aspects of my work. I also plan on creating a more cohesive & story oriented satire universe with a central character, but twenty years from now I would love to see The Lighter Side as Saturday morning cartoons or even a prime time show on the Sci-Fi channel or Cartoon network.
In the end though, the most important aspect to my work in respect to where I wish to see it in the future is that I will have kept my integrity as a sci-fi artist and cartoonist and created some great work that I can look back on and feel very proud of.
- If you could meet anyone, living or dead, who would you choose and why?
- If I could meet anyone, I would have to say that it wouldn’t be anyone from the Sci-Fi world, but rather; I would love to have a discussion with Frederick Nietzsche and Socrates. I know I’ve stepped a little out of bounds here, but those are the two men I would LOVE to meet and just talk for hours upon hours about everything and nothing at all. I was actually a philosophy major in college (my second degree, the first being in illustration and graphic design) and two of my idols were Socrates and Nietzsche.
Both were extraordinary men with a vision far beyond their time, and while I will admit that Nietzsche is a bit radical, I would also say that his philosophy is still not understood properly and has been in the past, greatly distorted by people who went running with his ideas in a total different and wrong direction.
Socrates on the other hand was in my opinion the philosopher’s philosopher, with a thirst for knowledge that drove his thirst for knowledge. Interestingly enough, the man never wrote a single book, yet he helped influence all of Western Civilization. If I could meet these two philosophers in a small little café or cave, maybe even Quark’s bar or even on a holodeck, that would be amazing.
- Do you have any words of wisdom for prospective cartoonists?
- Firstly, there aren’t enough of us if you ask me, so it is my hope that more people will endeavour to become professional sci-fi cartoonists. But for the most part, those people that I have met who are into sci-fi cartooning are first and foremost huge Sci-Fi fans who absolutely love everything about the genre. That is probably the most important ingredient needed to be a successful Sci-Fi artist, you must be a well-cultured Sci-Fi geek.
But in all seriousness, in my opinion, the most important aspect of endeavouring to be a working artist is a love of your craft, accompanied by a good deal of patience, as well as a tenacity in the way you approach pushing & marketing yourself. It really isn’t easy on the whole, I have been working professionally with my sci-fi cartoons for two years, and I still have to deal with tons of things that are very discouraging. Not everyone is going to like your work, so you have to be very self-assured and be able to take criticism. People all have opinions and you need to be able to accept that and let it be OK, otherwise, it will devastate you when an editor rejects your work. And that is another thing, rejection is a part of the game; they say you aren’t a cowboy until you fall off of a horse and by the same token, you aren’t an artist until you have a box full of rejection letters. Keep submitting, keep drawing, keep coloring; and when you’re finished, do some more.
Don’t be satisfied once you’ve succeeded a little either, that is when you are just beginning. After a while, it isn’t enough to be doing the same thing that you’ve been doing for the past year or two, you’ve got to mature both as a person and as an artist. The bottom line however is, hang in there; don’t stop, believe in yourself and go after what you want. If you want it bad enough and you work at it hard and long enough, you will achieve it!!! You just need to believe that and continue to remind yourself of it, especially when it seems hopeless, and believe me; it will at times seem hopeless. But in the end, it is definitely worth it!!!
I would like to also thank Trek Nation for being kind enough to give me the opportunity to reach their audiences with my humor and in particular, I would like to thank Amy Hightower for what I thought were great questions and of course Christian Sparborth for all of the hard work on Trek Nation, keep up the good work.
Live Long and Prosper
The Lighter Side of Sci-Fi
We'd like to again thank Tye for taking the time out to speak with us (and for saying such nice things). 'The Lighter Side of Sci-Fi' will be making its Trek Nation debut shortly, so keep your eyes open!
Amy Hightower is one of the two Trek Today editors and a life-long Star Trek fan.
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