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Laughs and Parenting: Meet the Minds Behind "You're Not a Real Parent Until..."
Picture this: the city that never sleeps, where humor and heart collide, and two Aussie blokes are cooking up a storm of relatable tales about the wild journey called parenting. Yep, you guessed it – we're talking about Scott Dooley and Jason Chatfield. These guys aren't just hanging out in the Big Apple; they've teamed up to serve you a book that'll have you nodding, laughing, and saying, "Oh man, that's so true!"
First up, Scott Dooley. He's an Aussie funnyman who's tickled ribs across the globe with his stand-up gigs. Plus, he's got some serious writing chops, dropping gems in The New Yorker that make you snort with laughter. Oh, and he's got this hilarious knack for sharing tales about random stuff – like the time he witnessed a fish's not-so-natural exit from this world. He might call it a modest bio, but we call it an epic journey of wit.
Then there's Jason Chatfield. This guy's like a cartoon wizard, and his artwork speaks to people all over the planet. He's the genius behind the iconic comic strip "Ginger Meggs," which is like a slice of daily laughter served up to more than 30 countries. But Jason's not just a cartoon king – he's also got this cool gig doing portraits for a meditation app. And guess what? He's even the big cheese at the National Cartoonists' Society. Yep, he's basically a big deal.
Now, let's talk about their masterpiece – "You're Not a Real Parent Until...". This isn't just a book; it's like a spotlight on all the chaos, love, and hilarious moments that come with being a parent. Whether you've faced the horror of dried-up vomit or proudly helped your kid move into their first place, these pages capture every bit of the parenting whirlwind. Imagine over 100 pages jam-packed with cartoons that'll have you cackling.
But here's the twist: it's not just about them. Scott and Jason dive into all sorts of families – single parents, same-sex parents, you name it – celebrating the beautiful mess that is parenting. And there's a sneaky little storyline woven through the book that's like a treasure hunt for funny connections.
So, grab your coffee, find a cozy spot, and get ready for a chat with these two legends. We're diving deep into their hilarious, heartwarming book, swapping stories about parenting escapades, and uncovering the inspiration behind the laughter. Get ready to nod along and chuckle, because these guys get it – they're not just authors, they're your partners in crime on this wild ride of parenthood.
Excerpts from the Interview :
Q1) What inspired you to create a book about the experiences and challenges of parenting? Can you tell our readers here more about the motivation behind this project and why you felt it was important to delve into this topic?
Scott & Jason : The reason we wanted to write this book was ultimately to make Parents feel less alone in the day-to-day challenges of being a parent. There are things that can be despairing, but knowing that others are going through the same things, and being able to laugh at them, is a very good way to manage the exasperated mood one can find themselves in. It helps to laugh. Always. And so, we wrote over 100 jokes about all levels of Parenting.
Q2) How did you come up with the concept of "You're Not a Real Parent Until…" and the specific situations depicted in the book? Were these situations based on personal experiences, anecdotes from other parents, or a combination of both?
Scott : It all started from a bit of stand-up Jason was doing on stage, which was about “You’re Not A Real New Yorker Until…” (incidentally, that is the third book in the series, due out in 2024). We built upon the idea as a catch-all for Parents, Dog-Owners, Lawyers, Teachers, and, of course, Parents. (And many more!). The jokes were definitely inspired by a combination of personal and extrinsic examples.
Also, my wife and I were trying to, you know, start a family. And, um, sorry for getting into this stuff, but I'm kind of a planner, so I started doing a bunch of research. It all kind of started when my friend's kid, who I won't name, kept doing all these things. And I gotta tell you, there were so many times I just had to ask myself, "Is that even normal?"
Jason : My sister-in-law wouldn’t be thrilled with me sharing this, but many of them were derived from my two nephews and wonderful niece. We’re very close, and often share stories over our Whatsapp group with funny photos of their endless japery. My nephew, Zachary, found his dad’s beard trimmer one morning and decided to shave a massive reverse-mohawk strip out of his noggin. They stopped him before he found the dog.
Q3) Can you talk about the collaboration process between the two of you in creating the illustrations and captions? How did you brainstorm ideas and decide on the final selection for the book?
Jason : The process was very organic – the first round of writing from Scott came down to editing around 250 jokes to 100, then sorting them into chapters/ages. Scott and I worked together to then build out the jokes and work out how to visualize them, and perhaps ‘show don’t tell’ for some of the material.
Q4) Were there any particular themes or messages you wanted to convey through the cartoons in the book? What do you hope readers will take away from it?
Scott & Jason : The most important thing we’d like people to take away from the book is that despite the fact that you’ll never stop being a parent, there are things on the other side of whatever situation you’re in right now to look forward to… You’re not alone. (Especially in the bathroom.)
Q5) How did you strike a balance between highlighting the rewarding aspects of parenting and the more challenging or humorous moments? Was it important for you to present a realistic and relatable portrayal of parenting?
Scott & Jason : There is a delicate balance between making fun of people in peril, and empathizing with them. We made very sure to have a kind sense of humor about the situations; and never be judging, or mean. It was a case of seeing how it sounded out loud, seeing what the image felt like on first or second draft, and making sure nothing was too ‘rude’ or inappropriate. (Or rather, ‘just the right amount of inappropriate.’)
Q6) How did you decide on the visual style and color palette for the illustrations in the book? Did you feel that certain aesthetics helped enhance the humor and overall message of the cartoons?
Scott : It took a long time to land on the finished illustration execution you see in the book.
Jason : Yes, I wanted to make it feel very real, and loose, but also cartoony and fun- with an organic (not digital) feel. I did all the art in dip pen with ink, then did the colors digitally, and did watercolor wash for the backgrounds. The color palette was very important, so everything was contrasting correctly. The Art Director, Erin Tyler helped with that a lot. So did colorists Sarah Buck and Nahia Mouhica.
Q7) Were there any cartoons or illustrations that you had to revise or discard during the creative process? What factors contributed to these decisions?
Scott & Jason : There were hundreds. Literally 150 or so…Sometimes it could be because there are too many of the same kind of joke, or it isn’t the right tone, or the topic has been addressed, or the characters have already been in a sort of similar situation. Every image had to be clear and concise as to what the issue was, so we nixed many jokes that didn’t quite line up as ‘stand-alone’ jokes that hadn’t already been done.
Q8) What was the most challenging aspect of translating parenting experiences into humorous and relatable illustrations? How did you tackle this challenge?
Scott & Jason : We had to be very deliberate about it from the outset: The rules were—No judging, No put-downs, and it should always have an air of fun. Even chaos can look fun. We wanted to tackle it in a way that made sense for parents, so we definitely did a lot of testing of the material with other parents to make sure they got a sense of what the jokes were, and whether they’d land the way we intended. We A/B tested some jokes, moved words around, changed premises, illustrated different characters where needed. Whatever it took to make the highest possible quality end product.
Q9) Your book captures the humorous and relatable moments of parenthood in a unique way. Could you share a bit about how you collaborated to bring these experiences to life and why you decided to approach parenting from this comedic angle?
Scott & Jason : You know, the thing that struck me was how this situation sort of falls into this overlap between two groups: people who have kids and those who don't. It's like this unspoken standard of what's considered gross, and it's kind of this blurry line that you just walk right through. The standard you used to walk past becomes the one you suddenly accept. And when you have more than, let's say, two kids under a certain age, you just start saying, "It's not bubbling up yet, we'll deal with that later, no big deal."
There's this one scenario that really stood out to me and it's something I enjoyed drawing the most. It's about how explaining dress codes to them is just impossible, so you end up letting them dress however they want. I mean, seriously, think about how many little Elsas or Spider-Men you see in public places – it's a whole parade. The image I had the most fun drawing, and I know it's a bit of a generalization, is the one where a person's tidy house is basically seen as a personal attack. You know, that moment when someone hands you their baby while they grab a glass of wine and the look on the baby-holding person's face is just pure disbelief. It's relatable, and someone out there is bound to say, "Oh my God, the same exact thing happened to my friend!"
Then there were a couple more images that I found really enjoyable to create. One was about how you're not entirely sure, but there's this feeling that maybe you could have afforded a Ferrari if it weren't for all the baby stuff. I mean, you build this car-like contraption out of all the things you end up buying, like diapers, pacifiers, and Legos. It's like a Rube Goldberg machine made out of parenting necessities – quite the creative feat! The other one I really liked was the idea that "it's just a phase" has become a kind of mantra for parents. A lot of my friends who are parents have told me that this phrase is a daily affirmation because, honestly, it's just so darn true.
And then there's one that my parents would totally get – the intense reaction to finding a random blue pen lid. That tiny piece of plastic sets your nerves on edge, but at the same time, you hesitate to scrub away those little wall doodles because, who knows, they could be the work of the next Banksy. That's something my parents always did – "Don't toss it out, just in case our kid becomes a famous artist!"
Q10) Did you intentionally include diverse parenting scenarios in the book to resonate with a wider audience? How do you think this representation adds to the overall impact of the book?
Scott & Jason : The families of characters in our new book “You’re Not a Real Parent Until…” were not designed to be your average cookie-cutter 1950s nuclear family. There are as many ways to parent a child as there are stars in the sky, so we very deliberately worked to try and reflect the vast variety of parenting backgrounds that exist in the modern-day. We felt that the characters we wanted to show in the book would have to be encountering all the same kinds of tribulations while remaining as different as possible if they were going to be… well, real!
Not all parents are married, not all parents are raising their kids with a partner, not all parents come from the same countries, cultures, races, religions, sexual orientations or backgrounds —and they don’t all have the same ideas about how to raise their kids.
The book doesn’t just cover babies: it covers the full lifelong commitment of parenting: from babies to toddlers, tweens, teens and beyond!
We had a lot of fun exploring these dynamics in narrowing down the final 100 jokes in the book from hundreds more. —oh, and they all return for more appearances in the second book, You’re Not A Real Dog-Owner Until… Coming in Fall this year.
Q11) How do you think "You're Not a Real Parent Until…" can provide reassurance and comfort to parents who may be going through similar situations? Did you receive any feedback from readers that confirms this?
Scott & Jason : Yes indeed. We got lots of feedback at San Diego Comic Con in person from parents relating very hard to these jokes. It was very reassuring!
Q12) Humor can be subjective, and what some find funny, others may not. How do you navigate the line between humor and potentially offending or alienating some readers? Were there any specific considerations you had in mind during the creative process?
Scott & Jason : I think the trick is to make sure the references are accurate before you make the jokes – i.e. The set-up to the joke has to resonate before you can deliver the punchline. If the audience doesn’t understand the first, the second falls flat. We made sure the tone was fun, but also consistent. We wanted nobody to feel discluded or marginalized, so we went to a lot of effort to be as inclusive in the humor as possible.
Q13) Could you provide further insights into the content and themes of your book? Additionally, how have readers from diverse backgrounds responded to the relatable parenting moments you've shared?
Scott : You know, one of the most gratifying things for a comedian, writer, or musician is when someone comes up to you and says, "I thought I was the only one who experienced that!" And that's what we're hearing from so many people who've seen our book. They're like, "How did you know about that quirky thing we go through?" It's like we've tapped into this universal parenting wavelength. And let me just add, this book isn't limited to just one stage of parenting. We've got it all covered – from babies and toddlers to tweens and teens. Parenting is a lifelong journey, and we've captured the full spectrum of experiences. We've even added a bit of a storyline throughout the book. It's like an Easter egg hunt for those who read closely. You might spot some narrative connections that tie these humorous moments together. We could only fit a hundred in this book, but believe me, we've got thousands of these moments. So, parents are definitely going to find some of their own unique experiences missing, which is actually exciting because they can suggest new ones to us.
Jason : During the editorial process, we had friends telling us, "This exact thing happened to me yesterday!" It's a good sign, you know, a sign that we've hit the nail on the head and captured those relatable moments that bond parents together. Being a parent is a continuous adventure. I mean, my mother, for instance, will never stop wanting to know every detail of my life. And speaking of diversity, we've made sure to include all sorts of parents – single parents, widowers, same-sex parents, mixed-race families – to represent the rich tapestry of parenting experiences.
Q14) Did you face any challenges in translating the visual humor of the cartoons onto the printed page? How did you ensure that the humor and punchlines were effectively conveyed through the illustrations?
Scott & Jason : None at all, thankfully. Scott and I have been making cartoons for the New Yorker for many years, so we already had that part nailed. That gave us more time and attention to put into the jokes themselves, rather than getting caught up in the translation of the idea into a visual format.
Q15) Were there any particular influences or inspirations from other cartoonists or comedic writers that you drew upon for this book? How did these influences shape your creative approach?
Jason: I think the biggest influences are the cultural zeitgeists we grew up with like The Simpsons or Gary Larsen’s The Far Side. Scott and I both have similar sense of humor and a similar pedigree regarding what we liked growing up, so we were happy to work in that vein.
Q16) In your opinion, what makes cartoons such an effective medium for conveying the joys and struggles of parenting? How do visual elements enhance the comedic impact of the content?
Jason : Brian Fies once said, “The combination of words and images are more powerful than either one standing alone.” That resonates very deeply with me; because both mediums are effective at different things. Where words fail, art picks up the slack. We have to be very deliberate about what we ‘say’ and what we ‘show’. That is the joy of the process of making a book like this: ensuring we get that balance right. It’s very rewarding when you do.
Q17) Can you discuss the role of timing and pacing in creating humorous cartoons, especially within the context of parenting? How did you ensure that the jokes and punchlines were well-timed for maximum comedic effect?
Jason : The eye is led around an image by several things, but mainly a good composition. If you can tell an eye where to look, and when, you can deliver an entire joke without saying a single word (or writing one, for that matter.) The wording is edited down to within an inch of its life: Not one word in each sentence is there by accident. Every syllable has to pull its weight. Every word is in the exact order it needs to be, in order to deliver the joke (and have it interpreted) the way we intended. It can be hard doing this across cultures, which is why the international editions are edited using local translators and humorists.
Q18) "You're Not a Real Parent Until…" is described as being in the spirit of books like "For Dummies" and "The Far Side." Can you elaborate on how these books influenced your work and the overall tone and style of the cartoons?
Scott & Jason : The “For Dummies” is more of a technical thing: We’re only really replacing a single word in each of our books in the series. Ie. Golfer, Teacher, Dog-Owner etc. The Gary Larsen piece is really just that we love how he uses absurdity and cartoons to make the whole situation feel silly – to defang sometimes serious topics, or to simply tell a good joke.
Q19) Finally, what do you hope readers will take away from "You're Not a Real Parent Until…"? Is there a specific message or feeling that you wanted to leave with your audience?
Scott : It is the very same message we began the process with: That you’re not alone.
Jason : No parent should feel like they are alone in their journey – even if, like my Mum, you are raising kids as a single parent, you are not the only single parent in the world; there are others going through the same struggles and challenges as you, and if you can share the load, it is made lighter with humor.
Thank you all for reading and a big thanks to Scott & Jason for collaborating in today’s post!
It’s a pleasure!
If any of my readers here , wish to know more about Scott & Jason and their work. They can open the links mentioned below. It has all the essential details.
Book Website : https://yourenotarealparentuntil.com/
Instagram : https://www.instagram.com/newyorkcartoons/
Twitter : https://twitter.com/newyorkcartoons
You’re Not a Real Parent Until…
SIMON and SCHUSTER (Distributor)
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